Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 41

My dear dear family and friends

This week was a good one. It started out awesome with my birthday on monday. It was a day full of feeling lots of love. :) We had lunch at one of our members, Kim JiHey (I love her so so much) house for lunch. I thought it was basically just a going away party for Elder Moon, but she made special traditional korean food that people eat for their birthdays in my honor. So I felt loved. Then after email Sister Lykins took me to baskin robbins. So I felt loved. Haha then right after that, we went to the church and the Elders surprised me with an icecream cake from baskin robbins.. and yes you know that it was a birthday wish of mine to eat icecream more than once... So I felt loved. For dinner, two of our other members, Kim Kyesook and Park KyongMi (they are the best) took us to dinner for some spicy chicken. So I felt loved. Then we had a super fun family home evening at the church, and every one sang to me. So I just felt so dang loved on my birhtday this year. Even though it was different and I was far from home, I felt so much love and felt so blessed. :)
This week was basically just like Christmas.. My birthday, and then a few days later the Elders came back from transfers in seoul with all my birthday letters and packages... AND COSTCO. We have tortillas, real chicken breasts, and cheese. I repeat, CHEESE. Its a christmas miracle. I was almost crying happy tears. Oh the little things

This week we met with Jiny and Dorthy together for the last time. It ended well. We were sad, but its what needed to be done for the time being. They are the ones who initiated it. They were very aware of our purpose and they didn't want to be invited to do something they didn't want to do. So it was the right thing. I've learned so much from this teaching opportunity. They are such good people. They have really good feelings about our church. They think we have very good teachings and we're very good people. So if nothing else, they've established that basis of trust with us and our religion. I pray that from their experience with us, they will be prepared someday to accept our message for themselves! I hope!
Leann is doing great. This week we had a lesson about baptism with her. We explained exactly what is was to her and we  were very clear. After we explained everything she said "So... you want me to come to your church? And be baptized?" And without hesitation, we both said "well actually.. yes! That is what we want!" We went on to explain the reason why we would want that for her. We talked about the blessings that come from baptism, and that because we love her we want to experience these same things. She really truly was so thankful for our sincerity, but she said she just wasn't sure yet. She said she hasn't really been thinking of our meetings in this serious of a mindset. She said that the things we talk about with her are good and they make her feel good, but she hadn't really thought about 'doing' it for herself. She said she wasn't ready. But she really does have desire. We told her that has we teach her we will help her understand more, and prepare her to make this promise with God.. and she said okay. Now its just about helping her to recognize the spirit! This week we're meeting with her and we're planning on having a lesson on the Holy Ghost. It will be awesome! I hope. :)
We also had a great lesson with Kim Koee Young this week about the plan of salvation. She brought her friend and we had an awesome discussion the led to faith in Jesus Christ. It was a cool experience. I'm not sure how open she is to accepting our message yet, but she's definitely improved and more open than when we first met her!

So yeah. We're working a lot on finding. We've talked to a lot of people and knocked on almost every door in Taebaek I think haha. One particular little miracle this week was during a long day of knocking doors. We'd been knocking doors for hours, with no answers, no interests, and a few mean words and door slams. We were on the last couple doors of an apartment, and we meet the sweetest harmony who invites us in and wants to hear our message. We talked to her about the book of mormon and how we've felt God's love when we read it. She is a good christian woman who believes in God.. the scripture Matt. 7:7-8 was on her wall. I felt the spirit so strongly while we were with her. It was a tender mercy. We asked her if we could come visit her again soon and she said that would be fine. She was such a sweetheart. She tried to feed us rotten corn but hey I'll eat rotten corn any day for a girl like you grammy. After the long hard trials come the sweet blessings! I love being a missionary.

Today I read in Alma 2 about the Nephites and Amlicites in battle. Verses 30-31 really stuck out to me in a way they haven't before. Alma is facing Amlici and asks God to help him defeat Amlici. It reads "Alma, being a man of God, being exercised with much faith..." This passage really stuck out to me. He was exercised with much faith! Meaning that he had exercised faith many times in his life before. I read the verse in Korean, and it translates to something like he had a record of faith. He had a history of exercising faith. So God trusted him and listened to him. In verse 30, after he pleads unto God to have mercy and help him become a tool to save and preserve his people, he was strengthened. So if I have a 'habit' of always exercising my faith, God will always give me help and strength in time of need. I have seen this on my mission in simple ways. If I just push myself out of my comfort zone to talk to that one person who just looks too busy or uninterested, God always gives me the strength to keep talking, to talk to the next person, and the next. He gives me the strength to be a stronger and more hard working missionary. Exercising our faith helps us become people God can trust, and therefore we will always be worthy of His help. Isn't that just dandy to know?

I hope everyone has a happy week full of... happiness! Love you all!


Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Birthday fun!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 40

Dearest loved ones..

I can't believe I'm 20 years old today. Didn't I just get my drivers license and go to the prom like last year? And all of the sudden I'm 2 decades old. No more teenage years. What happened? Its so crazy.. But actually at the same time I feel like I'm already past twenty.. because I've been telling everyone for the past 7 months that I'm 21 because that's my korean age haha.. so now I'm 20? I don't even know anymore..
Thank you everyone so much for all of the birthday wishes, I felt so much love today and I'm so grateful for each of you in my life!

Transfer calls.. Sister Lykins and I will be together for another transfer! Woohoo!! Its what I expected, and I'm really happy about it. One would've been too short! Probably after this one she'll leave though, and I'll get a new companion.. All the Elders keep saying that I'm gonna train soon. They thought I would train this one, but HA in your face Elders.. I don't know if I'd be ready for that! Just last week I went on exchanges with a new missionary and it was fun, but SO EXHAUSTING. They just suck the energy right out of you!

Man this week was kind of a long one, but it was good! Last pday we went to the biggest cave in korea! Which was cool! until we found out that it was man made. Then we were all like wow this is kind of lame.. well we met with Leann twice this week and she is keeping our commitments of prayer and reading the scriptures. Last Thursday we talked with her about baptism. We extended the soft baptismal commitment. She said that she didn't really understand what it was.. but that she would read the chapter we assigned to her about baptism and she would think about it! So that was probably our bad. We didn't explain it well enough.. but even so, she has so much willingness to learn, something I was very doubting of in the beginning! We asked her what it would mean to her if the things we were teaching her were true, and she said that it would mean everything, she wants to come to know God for herself. She just needs that one spiritual experience!
 As for our other investigators. Oh haha we had a great experience with our investigator who wants to be a buddhist monk, Kim Kooee..? Young (ah man I don't know how to translate these names into english haha) We went to her house to teach her. We show up and she is folding she and her husband's underwear in front of us, holding it up to model it when necessary ! No biggie. And right as we start our lesson, after we pray, fried chicken arrives. So we pause and eat chicken together for a minute haha.. afterwards we start teaching the plan of salvation.. and she starts having some pretty violent gas from the chicken. Well it wasn't the most spiritual of lessons you could say... but hey you know you're 'in' when someone folds their underwear and has no issues letting a few ones rip in front of you right? Score!

We hiked TaeBaek San (mountain) this last Saturday with our branch president and his kids.. It was the most awesome thing. I was back in waterton :) I was seriously on cloud nine. Literally, like we were in the clouds on top of the montain. It was awesome. Pics to come.

This morning I had a cool experience reading my patriarchal blessing. I can't believe I recieved it almost 3 years ago! Time is so crazy. I remember it so clearly, one of the most spiritual moments of my life. I felt like God was speaking directly to me. Now reading in on my mission I am able to see some of the blessings fulfilled. I love this gospel. I love this work! I am so happy to be starting my 6th transfer on my 20th birthday as a healthy happy missionary here in Korea. Man I'm blessed.

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매
Some cave fun (man made cave, mind you)

 Taebek san!

half-way pic :D

man, I love it here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 39

Dear everyone...

And just like that I blink and the transfer is over. I hit my halfway mark this wednesdayNext monday I turn 20. I'm basically on my death bed. What is happening? I literally feel like I just got to Taebaek last week.

Oh man we had a busy week! Zone traning, companion exchanges, lots of good meetings with people. We hardly had any time to street contact! But we talked to people every chance that we could get! Gotta find that prepared person.. They're waiting for us!

We met with Leann this week a couple times. She is such a wonderful person. She expressed some concerns about meeting with us upfront, but she is willing to do everything that we ask of her. This last week we had a really good lesson about prayer and how it can help us. She recognized that in hard times she has, in a sense, prayed in her heart before. We told her that praying to Heavenly Father can help her to receive the help she needs, whenever or whatever it may be. She said "So.. God already knows me?? But I don't really know him!" We told her, well that is our purpose as missionaries! To help you to come to know Him. We challenged her to pray that night and thank God for all of the things in her life, and to ask Him for whatever it may be that she needs help with. She said that she would! She then prayed at the end of the lesson and gave such a sweet prayer! She may be a little skeptical but she is acting on her faith. I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach her, she is such a wonderful person. Also, she referred her friend to us, Selina. We met her yesterday for the first time. Kind of the same situation as Leann, she and her family are buddhist. She pretty much told us in the beginning that she doesn't want to change or go to our church, but she understands our purpose and respects it. To be honest, after our meeting with her yesterday I hit a wall of discouragement. I was feeling so down because I feel like I lack faith with our investigators. They are all buddhist, and have told us in numerous ways that they don't want to change. I want so badly to find someone who wants to hear this message. I want to be able to share with them and affect them with this gospel. I want to see people's lives change. Then we went to Dorthy's house (we will be teaching her with her kids now) and had a great short little lesson with them.. and I realized that even though I feel like I'm not making a difference right now, we are. These people need our love. And with time and patience, they may come to accept our message, even if we don't get to see it. It was a miracle and a tender mercy for me. Sometimes I just face these moments where I feel hopeless.. but then God helps me see that I am just doing what I can, and I am needed where I am. 

Zone training this week was awesome. I learned so much! We have such great zone leaders, who really helped me see what I am already doing right and what I need to improve. We also had an awesome training from our sister training leaders about obedience and faith! Both things I needed to hear! It was just an enforcer and a good reminder of why we do the things we do as missionaries.. exact obedience is the only way that we can see miracles! I know that from experience. Also in order to see miracles we need to have faith. When we pray in faith, ask in faith and through our actions of obedience show our faith, we are 'entitled', in a sense, to see miracles. Even if they're not the miracles we expect!

This past week we went to visit one of our members, Kim Gye Sook. She is like the mom of all of us missionaries out here, I love her so much. We talked for her for a long time about some less actives, and she also told us the story of how she joined the church.. It was a faith building experience for me for a few reasons. firstly, because her story is inspiring and gives me hope and secondly because I understood every single thing that came out of her mouth. It was the first time I have understood something that completely and perfectly. Usually I get the story because I understand most of what's being said.. but this was like 100%. It was so cool... God helps us when we ask for things, that's all I'm gonna say!

A couple of fun things this week.. we 'hiked' a mountain for our missionary coordination meeting. It was the prettiest sight I've seen in a long time.. I felt like I was in Canada! I am so blessed to be hear in Taebaek (seriously as far as weather goes.. I am the most blessed missionary in our misison). Also I ate chong-yang-go-chu pepper at Kim Ji Hae's house(our member). A spicy green pepper. I might as well have swallowed a torch that was lit. It was the most painful experience I've ever had. I cried for 10 minutes straight and drank about a gallon of milk. But you know what, no regrets! Never again. But no regrets. 

This week should be great! Tonight for our FHE we're having MUSIC NIGHT!! It should be a blast! A lot of people are coming! I'm playing Maple Leaf Rag on the piano and singing "Mountains to Climb" with Elder Garff and Elder Mumford haha! Can't wait. Then transfer calls is on saturday night.. we'll see what happens! Sister Lykins has been here for the past 4 transfers.. so I could get a new companion, but she could also stay with me for one more.. or heck I could be leaving! Doesn't seem likely and I would be SO mad.. but President has done crazier things.. 

Well, I love you all! I love this work! I just love everything! Except that dang pepper that almost killed me. No regrets, but I still hate it. 

Until next week!!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매
English class buddies!! :)

Exchanges with Sister Ness! Good times

This is Kim SooJung! She is in our ward and she leaves to her mission in Hong Kong this week!!! Sunday was her farewell. And we're matching. How perfect. :)

We love Kim SooJung!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 38

Dearest loved ones

This week flew by in a flash. I honestly feel like I just blinked and the week is gone. I can't even remember what happened! 

Well, hope everyone had a happy 4th of July! In between jundo, weekly planning and English class, I almost would've forgotten that is was a holiday haha! But all I had to do was look down at my clothes to remember.. Yes of course I wore red white and blue mom! Don't you worry! Call me Sister Flag! Okay. That wasn't that funny but I'm too lazy to delete what I just wrote. We ate fried chicken, watermelon and icecream as a district to celebrate.. So even though I wasn't with my family, swimming and watching fireworks, I can't complain. I had a pretty good 4th of July holiday here in Korea. :) 

We saw some good things this week! We met with a new(ish) investigator named Leann! We met with her several weeks ago and hadn't been able to meet with us again until this last week. She is so awesome! We are doing the family english program with her and her 2 sons, who are the cutest things on this earth. Mark my words, I am not leaving this country without an korean child. So mom and dad, you might have to come pick me up so we can do some legal work.. either that or I might just have to smuggle one in my suitcase.. you decide, its happening either way. Anyways, we had such a fun time with them. We ate lunch them, played some English games and had a great lesson! We read "You are Special" with them (in Korean) and we talked about how we cant talk to Heavenly Father every day through prayer. They loved it! The only problem is that her husband is very buddhist.. It was the perfect opportunity to invite us over because her husband was in Seoul for a business trip. But she says that she talked to her husband about us, and he said it was alright as long as he didn't have to get involved with it. So that's good right? She's been reading the book of mormon already! She says she doesn't understand it.. but she's exercising her faith so that's what matters! We are meeting her again today so we'll help explain some things for her. I see some good things happening with her. She is such a happy person. The hard part will be getting her to see why she needs this gospel, because she is already such a happy happy person.. We just need to find a depressed person or something... Me and Sister Lykins joke about it.. but we're kinda serious haha.

This week is our last week in the family english program with Jiny and Dorthy (our buddhist ladies) and they are going to be so sad.. they love us so much. Literally last week Jiny told us that we are basically her only friends. We told them that if they want to keep meeting with us we can, but we won't be doing english anymore, just the gospel lesson. They said they would be okay with that.. but at the same time, they aren't accepting or progressing at all. They honestly do love learning about our church and they love what we believe.. but they don't want to accept it for themselves. This last week in our lesson with them, I invited them to pray, to experiment for themselves to find out if what we have been teaching them is true or not.. but they declined the invitation respectfully and told us that they will only pray to their buddhist gods, and not 'mormon style'. Well, we tried! And we will keep trying. These ladies are really so special to me.. I feel like even though they're no where near accepting our message now, that by learning about the doctrine of our church, we are helping to lay a foundation for something in the future.. that is what I hope and pray!!

Like I said before, church is such a different experience for me here.. I'm not used to having my hair done for me (aka ripped out of my head) during sacrament meeting! I'm not sure if I've mentioned Soong-oo yet.. He is our branch president's youngest son.. There are no words to describe this little boy. He is the cutest thing you've ever seen for sure, but also the most lethal. He is one naughty kid haha. and He loves us a little bit too much. He is probably one of my biggest trials out here in Taebaek, not going to lie haha! But through him I am learning patience.. and how to be a good parent someday? I don't know haha. But he is so entertaining.. Even though he likes to poke the sister missionaries in places they shouldn't be poked... oh man

This past week Sister Lykins and I had a day where we spoke only Korean to eachother all day! Haha it started out good but by the end it was like 70/30.. but still! It was such an awesome experience and a confidence booster to me that I can actually kinda speak Korean. Getting there. Slowly but surely. :)

Lately I've been reading in the book of Jacob.. and I'm learning more about what it means to cleave unto God. How can we better cleave unto God? By loving Him, serving Him, and trusting Him always. If we trust in Him, during testing times we will never be shaken, just like Jacob was when Sherem tried to shake him (ch. 7). I am learning more about how to trust God every day out here.. Its kind of hard sometimes just to let go of your will and say God, its all you now. I am doing my best but whatever happens happens. And I trust you. Its hard! I'm not very good at it yet. But I'm trying more and more. And as I do.. my faith and conviction of this gospel grows stronger and stronger. I can't express in words how grateful I am to be where I am right now, experiencing everything that I'm experiencing.

Love you all, have a kimchi slammin' week. (am I cool or what?)

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매
4th of July feast!

Flag attire.