Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 54

Dear fam, friends, loved ones..

The best thing about being a trainer is that it forces you to be positive, even when things are less than happy. I love it. There were some disappointing things this week.. but I am so happy!

Sister Stancliffe is so awesome! She has such a passion for learning korean and a love for the korean people. This week she had her first little 'break down' moment during our 12 week study while we were doing a teaching roleplay. When I asked her what was wrong she looked up with me with tear filled eyes and said "This is hard." In that moment I wanted to cry with her. I knew why she was crying. She wasn't crying because she felt sorry for herself because she couldn't say what she wanted to.. she was crying because of how badly she wants to be able to communicate her feelings and her testimony to these people, because of her love for them and for the gospel. I remember having those same feelings at the beginning of my mission especially, and even still throughout my whole mission.  All I could do in that moment was hug her and tell her how great she's doing, and also let her know that those feelings are natural, and that with time she will be able to say things naturally, and that she needn't worry. It was only a small moment of discouragement and she was right back in the game with a can do attitude and a smile on her face! Something I wish I would've done more of when I was a new missionary! She is such a wonderful example to me and serving with her so far has been the best thing ever. My daughter ;)

Well, this week we met a new investigator named Seo Uee Ryeong (holy cow translating these names into english is impossible haha), we'll be doing family english with her. We are excited. Rose, our investigator with a baptismal date isn't progressing very well.. and she doesn't seem to understand the significance and importance of baptism yet. She kind of sees it as a "i'll get baptized because I like the missionaries and it is fine for the time being" kind of a thing.. so we'll probably be delaying it. She doesn't have much desire yet. But we do know that she wants a better relationship with God. So we'll help her see how to do that.. through baptism! We just need to be able to meet with her more! As for our other investigators.. we'll be dropping a few this week. I'm not thinking about is as dropping, but as my mission president says, putting them back in God's hands for a little while. It is needed. That was made very clear to me yesterday during church. Its always hard, but I know it's what's right. Jeong Sung Kyong dropped us this week. She's been making excuses for a while, saying she's so busy with work, not feeling well, excuses to get out of meeting with us. I called her and talked to her about it on Saturday night and she was honest in saying she didn't want to meet anymore. She still loves us and she says someday she 'wants the faith that we have'.. but she doesn't want to right now. I was pretty heart broken. We've worked so hard with her and made so much progress.. but what can you do! Keep praying and hoping that someday she will be ready.  We're looking hard for new investigators right now! I love teaching Sister Stancliffe how to jundo. She's so good at talking to everyone and being sincere! I'm a proud momma, seriously.

A couple days ago we helped a 할머니 (harmony- a grandma) carry her groceries to her apartment. That's the first time a 할머니 has actually let us do that! They usually don't let us help, they're quite independent. I don't know why but as we were helping her my  heart felt extra happy. Even though we tried to start a gospel discussion and got shut down, I was still so happy. The fact that we got to carry her groceries was a privilege. Even if people don't want to accept or hear our message, at least they see that we really love them and have a desire to serve and help them above anything else. This morning I read Elder Bednar's talk from conference, "Come and See". Such a killer talk. I just want to hand out copies of it on the street to everyone we meet haha! It really emphasizes that the reason we share the gospel is because of our sincere desire to help others. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want people to know how much it has changed and helped me!

Love you all! Everyone have a happy halloween! Me and Sister Stancliffe are thinking about being canadians.

Sister Holmes 홈스 자매
Literally this describes my companion! I love her so much!

Taebaek in the fall is quite lovely

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 53

Dearest everyone...

This week I hit my year mark. It has been a year since I entered the mtc. It has been a year since I've seen my family. It doesn't feel real to me!!!! Seriously I can't believe it!! I didn't ever believe time could be this fast. I'm so scared I feel like these last 6 months are just gonna FLY by. Its crazy. Its been the best year of my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything. :)

Welp. this week was an emotional roller coaster to say the least! BEING A TRAINER IS CRAZY HARD. We went into Seoul on tuesday, got there at night and had trainer's training at President's house on wednesday! That's where I got my greenie! Thursday (which was also my year mark) was probably the most draining day of my mission, my first full day of being a trainer. It is so exhausting to be with a brand new missionary because they are SO reliant on you. Everything they know about being a missionary is what they learned in the mtc and what they are seeing you do. It is hard. But it is awesome. I got blessed to have the coolest greenie ever. Her name is Sister Stancliffe. She's had a smile on her face since the moment I met her last wednesday! She is so happy and positive. She isn't afraid to talk to people and try new things. She seriously is great. She's from Washington! She studied at BYU Idaho for 2 and a half years before her mission.. yeah she's older than me! But guess what I'm the mom so HA. :)

Update on our investies! Jeong Sung Kyong has been in Seoul this week.. so we weren't able to see her very much. We met her right before Sister Lykins left on tuesday and had a short lesson with her about hope and faith. We talked to her on the phone the night before and she said she felt like she had "no hope". She's kinda really been slipping away from us. not meeting with her as much is really taking a toll on her progression. She doesn't really read the book of mormon very much any more.. she's kind of at a loss of motivation. :( So obviously that's a downer. But hopefully when she gets back to Taebaek this week we'll be able to meet with her and help her get back on track! Pray for her!!
Our investigator Rose came to church yesterday, so that was awesome! We taught her the restoration after church and she accepted it all really well! We gave her a baptismal date for November 15th! WE ARE SO EXCITED :) 
Cool miracle! We were eating dinner out at a resturant and the woman sitting next to us introduced herself to us, she had met with missionaries a few years ago, she learned english from them and she thinks highly of our church! She wants to meet again. I love little miracles that are evidence that God really is placing people in our paths, wherever we are.

Becoming a trainer has been hard. I have been struggling with feelings of inadequacy a lot. But I found a talk that my mtc teacher gave me while I was in the mtc called "Notwithstanding My Weaknesses" by Elder Neil A. Maxwell, and it really helped me out. It reminded me that I need to take a step back and recognize that the feelings of inadequacy are normal. Some things I really loved from his talk.. 
- there is a difference between 'divine discontent' and the 'devil's dissonance'. Divine discontent is good for us. it pushes us to be something more than we are, we need it to progress in this life. it lifts us up. The devil's dissonance is disdain for one's self, the feelings of discouragement that satan wants us to feel. it tears us down
- accept help from others and gladly give it.
- write down and act upon the feelings that prompt self improvement.
- God is more concerned with growth than geography.
- Remember this truth. God can lift us from dispair amidst any care. He is always, always there.
This is a gospel of grand expectations. But His grace is sufficient.

Love you all! until next week.

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매
Autumn selfie.

We went to our branch president's kids' piano recital for family night! :) don't mind my scary face

Goodbye dinner for Sister Lykins with our members Kim Kye Sook and Park Kyong Mi :)

MY CHILD! Sister Stancliffe and I! :) also the random elder who tried to slip out of the picture.

In the background, our depressed investigator Rose...but she's not depressed any more because she's getting baptized woohoo!!

Another autumn selfie.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week 52

Dear friends and family,

BIG NEWS! Saturday night we got our transfer calls. The aps told Sister Lykins that she'd be transferring to a new area... and then they he said "Sister Holmes! You better bundle up because you'll be staying in Taebaek this winter! And your new companion is.... well, actually we don't know yet. Because you'll be training!!!" I can't believe it! I have a million different emotions running through my mind. I feel so excited, and honored to have this opportunity. At the same time I feel inadequate and scared haha! The anticipation is always the worst part! I know it will be such an awesome experience. Everyone says training is the best and hardest thing. We'll go into Seoul tomorrow and I'll pick up my greenie on Wednesday! I'M GONNA BE A MOM!!

Well besides that big crazy news, this week was also a crazy one. We had exchanges with the Donghae sisters, which felt like it almost took up the whole week. We met them after district meeting on Wednesday and because of lessons, we weren't able to exchange back until friday morning! It was such a wonderful exchange though. This time I went to Donghae with Sister Jackson, my sister training leader. It was awesome, I learned so much from her in the short time we had together. Loved it. She was super awesome about setting goals, applying them during our exchange and evaluating. Some of the things I asked her to help me with was to make conversations (on the street, with members, with investigators) more meaningful. We decided to focus on using short, powerful statements of truth. So we applied it in our lessons and jundos together.. and I really felt a huge difference, it felt so much more meaningful to me. Often I find myself going through the notions, saying the same things over and over again.. and if I'm not really focusin on it, those things just start feeling like empty words. This exchange with Sister Jackson helped me be a lot more conscious of what I am saying and more importantly WHY I am saying it. 

Jong Sung Kyong was sick this week so we weren't able to meet. But she did come to a couple conference sessions! We talked to her about what she liked from it last night on the phone, and she really loved the idea that if she wants to know something she can ask God. We're over here like WELL ASK HIM THEN ALREADY! Hopefully we're able to see her a lot this next week and help her really apply what she learned. As for our other new investigators.. Sister Lykins met most of them while I was on exchanges in Donghae, and a lot of people cancelled. Hopefully this week we'll be able to see a lot of miracles! Hopefully my new companion brings some greenie miracles out here to Taebaek!!

Conference was amazing. Being a missionary has made me so much more appreciative of general conference. Every single talk is packed with gold. I get so much more out of it. Hopefully I can do so for the rest of my life. I am so grateful for a living prophet who guides our church today. Something that was interesting to me was how many talks were about prophets, their role, and the importance of sustaining them. It must be important or something.. in an increasingly evil world!
 One question I had for conference was how can I love others more like Christ does? I feel like there was such a huge emphasis on Christlike love this conference. Elder Holland's talk hit it right on the head. I also loved Elder Bednar's talk. It helped me focus again on that WHY.. why I am a  missionary, why I am a member of this church.. and how to love others enough to share the knowledge that has brought me so much help, happiness, and comfort. Pres. Uchtdorf's talk from women's conference was also wonderful. Through all these talks, I felt a strong sense of God's love for me personally.. and  through that I felt his love for the Korean people. I want to share this love! :) And seeing all my babies (the korean primary girls) sing I love to see the temple brought tears to my eyes... I am so blessed to be serving among God's children here in Korea. 

This week I literally got to thrust in my sickle with my might.. Yep, we helped harvest a buckwheat field this week!! This is why I love being in Taebaek. Only in Taebaek to I get to do things like this! And let me tell you it wasn't easy! Metaphor for missionary work? OH yeah. But was it worth it? Oh yeah. I love this work. It's God's work. So it's the best.

This new transfer brings some awesome new experiences and adventures.. stay tuned for next week! AHHHH GOODBYE LOVE YOU ALL!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Week 51

Dear fam and friends..

Well, Taebaek is trying to kill me! It is already basically winter here. Freezing cold. Time to get out the boots and thermals! It came quite suddenly! Fall was only like 2 weeks dang it. 
This week was an emotional roller coaster. Most weeks have lots of ups and down, of course, but I feel like this one was extra crazy. So many good things. I was just a lot more sensitive to things this week. Next week I'm hitting my year mark.. and that is just SO UNREAL TO ME. I can't believe about a year ago I went into the mtc... and I didn't know a lick of Koren. Wow. That was fast. I feel like I just blinked and now I'm here.. ending my 7th transfer! WHAT THE?

Well, we had such a crazy week. Some of the highlights.. a killer zone meeting on wednesday. Seriously, probably the best I've had on my mission so far. I felt the spirit in such abundance, I can't even describe it! Seriously one of the best things about being a missionary is having the opportunity to learn from other missionary's testimonies and experiences. Man it was a spiritual boost. It was a great reminder to me that I am making a difference, despite outward 'results'. No effort is wasted. As missionaries when we talk to people, whether or not they accept our message, our service and love blesses t hem and plants seeds that may prepare them for accepting the gospel later on in the future. It was exactly what I've been needing to hear. We also talked about Matt. 5:48.. "Be ye therefore perfect.." God doesn't expect immediate perfection of us. He does expect progression though. Satan will try and make us think we need to be perfect. But that is not true. We just need to keep trying. Keep showing God that we are willing to change and to become the person he wants us to be. :) ANYWAYS, we also had sports day on friday in Gangneung! It was such a blast. The best part was playing the korean version of dodgeball.. you play with one ball. Tedious? Maybe. Oh man, I'll teach you all when I get home.. hahaha. Also we had a HUGE lunch.. every branch brought their own food.. but that didn't stop members from dragging me from my table to theirs.. to eat all of their food. I thought I was going to explode, literally. and then I played sports.

Sadly, Jeong Sung Kyung isn't progressing anymore.. we met with her a few times this week and had some good lessons, but she didn't come to church. She decided to get with an old friend and gave into some temptations and did some things she has commited us (and the Lord) to stop doing. We are discouraged, but we haven't lost hope. This morning I started reading Mormon. In chapter 2, Mormon talks about the people starting to cry repentance.. but not for the right reasons. They weren't mourning and sorrowing because they had sinned, they wanted to change, and were applying Christ's atonement, they were mourning because God wouldn't allow them to live in sin and be happy. When I read this I thought of her. Right now she hasn't made the decision to change because it is what will bring her the most happiness. She knows she needs to change, but hasn't yet made that decision. Right now she's still in the 'complaining because it's too hard, because God requires too much of her' stage.. And as long as she stays there, she won't have the desire to overcome temptation. When we meet with her this week, we are going to emphasize the importance of accountability and making the decision to change with her. Hopefully we see some good things happen. I love her so much. I know that God wanted us to meet her. She has improved since we've met with her. Now its just keeping her on that path of improvement, not moving backwards.

We received 4 referrals from the Elders in one day this last Saturday! And 5 new investigators! That's more than this whole transfer combined! Its crazy how sometimes miracles just hit like that all at once. The first one is a mom Jo Su Kyung and her daughter So Bin. We'll be doing family english program with them. She is such a nice lady, and there is some great potential there. They don't have any religious beliefs.. She has kind of a hard life, her younger daughter is very sick so she is in and out of the hospital all of the time.. being a mom isn't easy. We're gonna focus on how this message blesses families and makes them stronger with them. We're excited to start teaching them. The second one is another mom and her son, Karen and Daniel. Elder Garff and Elder Jarrett came in contact with them through an English flyer! What a miracle! We'll also be doing family english with them. They are christian, and have a firm belief in God. We hope through meeting with them we can strengthen and add to that faith they already have! We're excited. Our last new investigator is a lady named Kim Jeong Sun, her english name is Rose. She has been coming to English class for the past couple of weeks. She is basically a native speaker. She lived in america for a few years and was an english teacher for a long time. She's in her mid 40's and right now she's living with her parent. She's really lacking direction and happiness in her life. She just wants to hang out and talk to the missionaries all the time. She came to church yesterday and stayed there to talk after we left, we had other things going on. We got a call from the elders almost 3 hours later saying that she was still at the church. We went and had a really good lesson with her. We know that she can find the strength and happiness she needs though the gospel, through gaining a stronger relationship with God. She's a really nice lady, really sassy attitude. She and Sister Lykins get along quite well... ;) a little too well..

Well one thing that added to making this week so emotional and crazy  was something that happend with our branch president's wife, Lee Hyon Ah. Out of all of the members in our small little branch here in Taebaek, she is the hardest one to understand.. She is the one that we have struggled forming a good relationship. She hasn't consistently attended church every week since I've been here (and before that) because of work and other various reasons. Lately all of us have been really focusing on trying to reach out to her and make her feel loved. She opened up to us at church a few weeks ago and was open in telling us that she has been struggling in her faith for a while. So we've been trying to visit their family more, send her loving texts, reach out to her and talk with her more at church and other activities she is present at. Anyways, we thought everything was good and fine, we had dinner over at their house on Thursday. She came to sports day, was super nice, involved and friendly. Well friday night, we received a text message from her saying to stop calling and texting her because she was leaving the church. We were so surprised.. and weren't quite sure what to do! So confused! Well we talked to the Elders about it and waited for Sunday to roll around. Well yesterday rolls around, and she came to church. We were all shocked, pleasantly of course, and everything went on as if nothing had ever happened! She was nice and talkative to us.. we're not sure what to do. We think that confronting her directly about it probably wouldn't be the best thing to do right now, so we are just going to go forward trying to help, strengthen and love her as much as we can, but also be aware that she did in fact send that text, so to be sure and keep an eye on it. This was such a manifestations to me on how much Satan is attacking the family right now. Family prayer and scripture study is so important! It is what keeps the family strong! Keep this family in your prayers!

I hope you all enjoyed general conference and feel inspired to be a little better than you were before... and I will enjoy it this weekend!!!! I can't explain how excited I am. Be prepared for an explosion of insights and thoughts in my next email. Sorry, what do you expect from a missionary? 

Quick funny story from this week. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure I met a real cave man while knocking doors yesterday. I knocked the first time, waited a while and no one answered, knocked again, heard some shuffling coming from inside the house.. but then nothing. knocked one more time.. and I hear this weird growling sound.. I thought maybe it was a big dog.. but then the growling turned into this weird growling/korean.. the door opens a slit.. I look in and see a man who I think has been alive since prehistoric times! I was so shocked and scared I didn't really know what to do! I tried my best to introduce our message, gave him a name card and he slammed the door. And that was that.  Jundoed to a caveman! Cross that off my bucket list. (it wasn't there before, but I'll put it on so I can cross it off. who am I kidding I don't even have a bucket list)


Sister Holmes
홈스 자매