Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 63

Dear family and friends,

This past week was one of the best on my mission so far. Such a wonderful Christmas. Our whole district worked hard to make Christmas special for our branch. We had the funnest party on Christmas day. It was a huge success. Lots of investigators came and some of our English class members. We all had so much fun together. We watched the First presidency christmas devotional as a district Christmas night and it was so inspired and wonderful. Talking to my family the next day was so wonderful. Man I feel so blessed.. and I felt the light of Christ in my heart stronger than ever before this Christmas.

One of my favorite things we did this week was Christmas street boarding on Christmas Eve! ! And it was such a huge success! We set up a table in this pond/park area called Hwangi Pond, which is right in the center of the town. We set up a table, wrapped book of mormons as presents and had the "He is the gift" video playing. We had a board that had the question "What does Christmas mean to you?" on it, with the options of a. Santa Clause, b. Jesus Christ's birth, c. day off, and d. couple day. Most people knew it was about Christ's birth.. but lots of people just chose Satan Clause haha. We got a lot of contacts that day and met some great potential investigators. It felt so great to be able to share the Christmas spirit like that! It was awesome. At the Christmas party the next day, Sung-u, our branch president's youngest son saw our board sitting in the corner and was reading it to himself. I went over to talk to him to ask him what he was doing and he said to me "Sister Holmes! I know the right answer!" I said "What is it Sung-u?" He said "Santa Claus.. is Jesus Christ's son!" I laughed at the cutness of what he said.. but the very next day I read the scripture in Mosiah 5 that talks about how we all become children of Christ through faith on his name. So Sung-u knew what he was talking about haha. It made me so happy :)

We had a cool miracle this week! One of our old investigators, or as I like to call them, 'less active investigators', Jeong Sung Kyong came to our Christmas party this week. She's also been coming to English class every week as of late. We felt like we needed to visit her the day after Christmas. She was one of our most progressing investigators, and the way it ended with her was so random.. It happened around the time when Sister Lykins left. We never really got the chance to talk with her about why she stopped meeting with us. She loved the book of mormon, and said she knew it was true. She was working hard on overcoming her addiction to alcohol and cigarettes.. and she had made a lot of improvement.. The she kind of just gave up. It was really hard for me, and I felt there was never much closure. So because she's been coming to english class and what not, I felt it was a good time to talk to her about it. We went and visited her at her house and had one of the best lessons ever with her. She expressed her concerns to us. She says she feels that she doesn't even understand the bible enough, so she wanted to understand it more before she tries to do anything else. She also says she has a hard time believing in any prophets after the apostle Paul. She said she still believes the book of mormon, she just doesn't 'believe' Joseph Smith. We really focused on the book of mormon and the feelings she felt when she read it. We talked about what it means if the book of mormon is true. If it is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet. We have to trust God. We talked about how the book of mormon and the bible go together, and one without the other is incomplete. We promised her that if she reads the book of mormon, she would understand the bible more. The spirit was so strong in this lesson. We invited her again to start meeting with us, to give it another chance. She accepted. We are so happy and so grateful for this opportunity the Lord has provided us with to teach her again. I pray that this time her heart and mind will be opened and she will be able to act upon the truths we teach her.

Well.. its hard to believe I'm finishing up 5 transfers in Taebaek. I can't describe in words how much I love it here. I love our  branch. They have become my family. I love our district and our zone. I feel confident when I say that every single missionary in our zone out here has such a strong desire to be the missionary the Lord wants them to be. We've seen so many great things happen this transfer. I feel so blessed to be serving here, and to have served here for as long as I have. I don't know what will happen with transfer calls this Saturday... it may be time for me to go.. I don't have too many transfers left.. but we'll see what happens. Whatever happens will be amazing, I just know it. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!! Love you all and wish you a wonderful new year.

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Christmas at our little home :)

Christmas party fun!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 62

Dearest fam, friends and loved ones.....

This past week was insane!! Between being in Seoul for our Christmas conference and service projects, I didn't even have time to think it feels like. It zoomed past! Just like the week before, and the week before.. and all the weeks before.. and before you know it I'm in Korea for my second Christmas in the mission field. I can hardly believe it. I am so happy. I feel the spirit of Christmas burning in my heart more than ever before! I have never felt so happy. There is no where else I'd rather be this Christmas season than here with the people in Korea that I love so much.

Like I said, we did a lot of service this past week! We volunteer at a place here called "lunch boxes of love", helping prepare food and wash dishes (for the elderly). We always have such a wonderful time doing it, and the people there love us missionaries and appreciate the service we give so much, especially because recently everyone has stopped working there, so they've really needed the help. It makes me happy to see how much they appreciate it, and to know that we can help out an hour or so each week, and make a big difference to them. Also we were able to volunteer at a home school place making Christmas cards with a bunch of students, and that was loads of fun. The kids had a great time and really connected with us! One of the girls there was actually one of our old investigator's daughters so that was neat!

We're looking hard for new investigators. We don't have very many right now. We're still working with Rose, understanding her more and more each week. She definitely needs time. She's been reading the book of mormon a little bit and she feels strongly that it is good.. but nothing past that yet. She needs self confidence. really the biggest thing that is holding her back from accepting our message is that she cares too much about what others think. As soon as she lets go of that, she will really be able to connect with us, the gospel, our members, everything. As she continues to come to english class and activities, I think she will recognize more and more that these are good people, and this is where she needs to be. It might just take some time! We're sharing the gift with everyone we can! A few nights ago we were knocking doors in an apartment building feeling cold, and tired, and a bit frustrated because no one was letting us in or accepting us. The last door was the cutest girl who opened the door for us and watched the video with us. She really liked it and said "My family goes to church, but I don't. But that video made me realize that maybe I need to!" 

Christmas conference was wonderful! Things took an unexpected turn when poor Sister Butterfield got sick. We went in for pday on thursday and spent it in seoul shopping and what night. That night she got sick and was throwing up all night :( So I stayed with her and we went to the conference a little late on Friday.  but I was just happy to offer the bit of help that I was able to. She was such a trooper! We also stayed an extra day because riding back on the bus for 4 hours was out of the question. On our way back home on Saturday she said "This experience taught me that really with God I can do anything. I thought there was no way I would make it to 중랑 from the temple.. but God gave me the strength to get there!" It's so true! God gives us whatever strength we need, whether it be spiritual, emotional or physical. He is always there for us. It really was a great experience to be able to help her out. It strengthened the spirit of Christmas I've been feeling so strongly. I loved everything that was said at the conference and it just added to that feeling.

This week will be so great! We're planning a great Christmas party that we'll have with our branch on Christmas day. We'll be decorating the church today! I'm so excited. I am so happy. That's all that I can say. I love Christmas and I love being a missionary, so I am content with my life in every way. May your Christmas be the merriest as you think about the babe who was born in Bethlehem on Christmas day.. Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, our best friend. 

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매
Beautiful snowy Taebaek!

Christmas P-day in Seoul with the Kangneungnam Zone Sisters :)

Christmas conference!

Sister Zundel!! My sister/common friend with the Quinn family haha!

making snowflakes for our Christmas party with our members <3

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 61

Dear everyone,

I can't believe I'm here emailing again. That week zoomed by! This transfer is basically almost over!! My time training Sister Stancliffe is already almost gone! What happened? We've got a busy week ahead! We have our Christmas conference in Seoul this friday, I'm stoked! We get to go in on Thursday to have p-day there and attend a temple session. I haven't been to the temple (besides sleeping there for our mlc a few weeks ago) for about 4 months. I say that and I realize some missionaries don't get to go at all their whole missions... so I am so blessed! It will be great! :)

It was a great week! Started out awesome with a great exchange with the Donghae sisters on Tuesday. I had Sister Butterfield come to Taebaek and work with me this time. It was so fun to be able to serve with her (we came to Korea at the same time, we were buds in the mtc). We just kept saying how weird it was.. All of the sudden we're at our year in country mark.. and it feels like not much time has passed! It was fun to see how much we've changed since the beginning of our missions. She is such an awesome missionary and she has so much desire to do good. We really focused on following the spirit and set some goals so take time to say more meaningful prayers, whenever the opportunity presents itself. We had a pretty busy day but saw some really awesome miracles! A new investigator came to english class! She contacted the Elders the day before! Such a cool miracle. Her name is Kim JiHye! She is such a sweetheart. We've started meeting her twice a week. She has mainly english interest but our lessons with her are solid! She attends another church so she's not quite open to the idea of accepting ours yet but she has a great desire to learn about and understand the Book of Mormon. So we can work with that! We also had a great lesson with Rose this week (our hard to understand investigator). We've been meeting with her for quite some time, and she hasn't taken any action because of her fears about what other people say about our church. But we kind of had an ultimatum with her! We challenged her to read the book of mormon everyday for one week, and see if things change for her. It not, then she can take a break from meeting with us until she feels ready again. After a little bit of complaining, she finally agreed to it! I just want her to discover the book. It is the thing that has brought me the most happiness in my life and I just want her to know that for herself! The only way she can do that is if she just READS it haha.

How did you all like the "He is the gift video" that I shared last week?? I hope it all touched you! And if you haven't watched it yet, GO DO IT NOW. This week we saw some great things come because of it. We were able to meet with old investigators and investigators we haven't met for a while. One lady, Pak Kyeongmin (and investigator we've only been able to meet with once), we met with and shared the video with told us that it reminded her that she needed to start praying and reading the scriptures. She said although she's so busy she wanted to make time for  the savior more in her life. Because He is the gift. I think that's pretty neat. We've had lots of people say similar things to that when seeing the video! It inspires us all to be better and remember the savior. Especially during this holiday season where its so easy to get focused on things that don't matter. Christmas isn't as big of a deal in Korea, but its been so cool to share with people that Christ is the reason for Christmas. Some of them don't even know that!!

This morning I came across a scripture in Jacob that rocked my world! Jacob 4:3 "Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we do labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents." This is the hope that the prophets had when writing the record of the book of mormon. They had a hope that we would receive it with a thankful heart and learn with joy! It was a reminder to never take the precious scriptures that we have for granted. Never cease to testify of their truthfulness to others, never forget to thank the Lord for them. Take advantage of the book of mormon!

Love you all!! Have a great week! Happy holidays and be happy. Because its the most wonderful time of the year!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 60

Dear friends and fam

What a great week it was! It was such a wonderful opportunity to be able to attend Missionary Leadership council for the first time. It was such a spiritually enriching experience. I feel so blessed to be able to have the opportunity and privilege to be a sister training leader right now. We have such a great zone and I feel so blessed. I will definitely be learning more than I'll be helping! Our Zone meeting the next day was great. The zone leaders gave a wonderful training on planning and how to better use our area books. The commitment they gave us was to prepare an area book that we could give to Jesus for Christmas. How genius is that? During my training I focused on accountability to the Lord I talked about how we can let Christ into our hearts more fully by using time wisely, and being exactly obedient. My commitment was to pray for opportunities to let Christ more fully into your heart, to pray to recognize those opportunities, and when you do, to tell them to the Lord. One thing I realized during my training.. The spirit can speak through me not only to help others, but to help myself too!

At our leadership meeting we were introduced to this video. Everyone watch it right now. If you've seen it watch it again. It will change your life.

http://www.mormon.org/christmas?cid=HPFR112814529  #sharethegift

We have been asked to show this video as much as we can this Christmas season! I can't even begin to express the effect it has had on me personally. It has made this past week of missionary work so much for meaningful to me. Everytime we show it, I feel the spirit so strongly (which is evidence that the people we're showing it to are feeling it too!) It is a reminder to me of why I'm here. It has given me a new found drive in purpose in my everyday interactions with the people here. We are sharing the gift with everyone!!! We've started to bring our mini dvd player with us everywhere haha! We have showed it to people on the streets, knocking doors, receiving lots of phone numbers that way, we are showing it to our members, our investigators, everyone. One experience that comes to mind was when we showed out investigator Juliet. We haven't been able to meet her for a few weeks, she was starting to drift off the radar. We called her about meeting and she was about to cancel on us again, but I asked her if we could visit her for 15 minutes and show her a new christmas video our church came out with. She agreed that it would be fine! So we visited her and shared it with her and she loved it. We asked her if we could come back next week and share it with her whole family, and she said yes. This is a huge breakthrough for her, because she never lets us meet her husband because he doesn't like religion! Such an awesome miracle.  Each day we are trying to think of more ways to better utilize the video and share it with more and more people. This week we're going to be visiting lots of old investigators and less actives to #sharethegift! (yes that's right I just hashtagged)

Yesterday after church I had a moment of frustration. Feeling like so little was in my control. Our investigator Rose, as I have said before, is a really hard one for us to understand. She wants to meet with us, she wants to learn about our church and the Book of Mormon, but she doesn't want accept help from us. She doesn't want to act. She doesn't come to church, but she shows up after church and kind of just wants to hang out with everyone. She is so hard for me to understand. I have been praying for ways to know how to help her and understand her, and this morning during personal study I think I finally found my answer. 2 Nephi 28:30. It's the scripture that talks about how God works among his children. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little... It's going to take time with her. But that's okay. My time table is not the Lord's time table. I need to have patience and understand that it won't come all at once for her. That being said, it is important to help her to understand also that in order for her to receive that knowledge even line upon line, she does need to act. She needs to show her faith. And as she does, like the scripture says, she will receive more knowledge. This is something that I might need to work on understanding more myself before I expect her or anyone else to. TRUST THE LORD!

Jesus is the Christ. He is the gift. He is the reason for the season, the reason for every season, the reason for everything. He has changed my life. Discover the gift. My commitment to all of you is to share the gift this week!!!! 

Love you all so much!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 59

Dearest loved ones,

This week was a great one! I am so thankful to be where I am right now. It was a great thanksgiving. We had a district feast. Of pizza and chicken. and we even found some little apple pie pastries haha. It was wonderful! 

 We're out of our area right now, we're in Gangneung (another area here in Kangwando). Sister Mosby (the other Sister training leader out here) and I will be going into Seoul together around 4,  Thanksgiving was awesome. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I have to be serving at this time. I am thankful to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Even though during these holidays we miss our families sometimes, there is no where else that I'd rather be. These are memories that I only get to have once and I will cherish forever!

We were able to finally meet with our investigator Juliet, she hasn't been able to meet for a few weeks. During this lesson (which was the last one for family english program with her) she really opened up to us about a lot of the trials and concerns in her life right now concerning her family. We testified of the peace that our message brings and the guidance and happiness it brings to families.. and although we finished the family english program, she agreed to keep meeting with us. Such a tender mercy! I pray that this desire she has (she really does) can work in her and grow more.

As for Rose (김정선).. We have realized that she doesn't want to accept our help. We met her a couple times this week, and during both lessons I felt like we were stuck at a wall. We've taught her what she needs to do, hugely emphasizing prayer and reading the scriptures, and we continue to invite her and commit her to do those things, but she doesn't have the will or desire to just do it. She doens't want to feel like she's being helped. She tries to act like she has no need for the gospel in her life, and that she is the one that need to help us. Yesterday one of our members said they'd be able to help us out in a lesson this week, so hopefully that will help us understand her more. 

We're working hard to find new investigators. We're seeing small miracles everyday as we strive to talk to everyone! Like last night! we were out knocking doors and we were headed back home. It was raining and freezing so we were trying to get home fast, but still talk to people on the way. We had tried to stop a few people and all had rejected us. The thought came to my mind that there was no use in trying. Everyone had their umbrella pointed to the ground and was walking with a purpose so we should do the same. But we passed a girl (she even had her headphones in) and the spirit told me to get over myself and talk to her. So I did. And we had a wonderful conversation with this girl, who really wants to meet again.  It was a reminder to me that it doesnt matter what I think is practical or ideal.. I am a missionary and I must open my mouth to everyone. Despite the weather, despite the situation. When we do that, God puts those people in our paths that we wouldn't have met if we had decided that it was more 'reasonable' to just get home, not stopping to talk to those going the other way.

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus Concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I am so thankful to be a missionary.
I am thankful for the talk "Grateful in Any Circumstances" By Pres. Uchtdorf, because it has changed my mission and my life forever.
I'm thankful for my family and for the knowledge I have that I will be able to be with them forever.
I'm thankful for kimchi (which I got to make this week!! woohoo!!!) and chocolate. 
I am so thankful for chocolate. I'm thankful for the book of mormon. It has changed me.
I'm thankful to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving and has a wonderful christmas season coming up here! First day of December and its snowing! So magical! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

My beloved branch and district!