Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I Love Toulouse

Bonjour!!
It's been a great week in the beautiful city of Toulouse. I love it here, I'm really happy, things are great. I'm just happy:) Also my companion is wonderful, Soeur Stapley is from California and I just love her. She has such a sincere love for others, she's so patient, so kind, and always trying to work her hardest. She takes missionary work seriously and doesn't waste a minute of Heavenly Father's time. I'm learning a lot:) Also I've never been so tired, we are constantly going! But I love it!!

So Tuesday we had a really cool lesson with our amie Sophie. So last week she just randomly showed up to church so the Soeurs fixed a rdv with her. Well turns out that about 3 ish years ago she was meeting with the elders. She's heard all the lessons more than once and even had an interview to be baptized. She knows her stuff. Well turns out that she never had a testimony of Joseph Smith so then she ended up not getting baptized. Then she just felt lost and stopped meeting with the elders about a year ago. Well then last Sunday she just showed up at church. We asked her why and she said she had no idea why she came and she also didn't know why she fixed a rdv with us. She expressed her feelings of not receiving answers to prayers and feeling kind of abandoned by God. I know it wasn't an accident that she came to church on Sunday or that she met with us. God is answering her prayers, she just isn't really recognizing, that the answer is coming to church and seeing us:) So we proposed to start over and just reteach her the lessons. She agreed so I'm excited to see where this goes! Also her mom was there the whole time and actively engaged in our lesson so I hope that she'll want to learn more as well!

Maxime!! Maxime is another really cool ami that the elders just passed over to us. He's agnostic, so he's really struggling to create a relationship with God. But he's willing to try so that's the most important part. It's funny because he's French like born and raised but only wants to speak to us in English. Haha random. He's having some apprehension about prayer but he told us he would try it out and try coming to church, so we're really pumped about that!!

Ok we had the coolest mangezvous with the coolest family!! Their name is the Ortega family and they are awesome. Soeur Ortega is from South Africa and Frere Ortega is from Portugal. They have two adorable Asian children who they adopted and they are lovely! Frere Ortega is like a lab technician for teeth, pretty much he makes fake teeth. His office is like a small house right next to their house and so he pretty much works from home but it's like a legit lab with like these crazy ovens and stuff. He tried explaining it to us, but mostly it just sounded complicated. Also he was looking at our teeth and trying to decide what shade of color they were and we both got real self conscious, but we passed and he said he finds it strange that Americans have such white teeth. Haha but really they are so cool! She served a mission in France and he is a convert of 20 years, he found the church through the military. He was in the military and he had a friend who was Mormon, so he got all interested and met the missionaries, and voila he got baptized! They were just awesome. Like I know I'm rambling but I can't find the words to describe them besides awesome. I felt so much love and peace in their home. They all acted so kind and lovingly towards each other. You could tell that the spirit resides in their home and that they are living the Gospel.

COOLEST MIRACLE EVER!! So we were on a bus heading back from trying to see a less active who wasn't home, when I met the coolest woman ever. I sat down next to a woman with really cool Chanel earrings with the intent of giving her a nice compliment. So I tell her I like her earrings and we start chatting, she asks where I'm from, etc. I start telling her that I'm a missionary and explaining why our church is different than other churches. So I did like a mini restoration and she was just speechless and said that what I had told her really made sense. She's catholic but has been searching for the truth for a while now, I explained the Book of Mormon and testified of the truthfulness that comes from it and how we can receive answers to our prayers from it. She just started crying and kissing my cheeks. It was so tender. It was like she had found what she had been looking for. She just held the Book of Mormon to her chest with tear filled eyes. It's these moments that makes every hard moment worth it. Unfortunately she lives in Paris so we sent her information to the missionaries in Paris. But it's ok, because as long as she gets the Gospel, I'm happy:) I'm so grateful for her.

Sunday was good, the first Sunday of the transfer in a new place is always a little bit scary. But the Ward was really kind and they seem pretty happening so I'm pumped to be here! Also remember Sophie?! Well she couldn't come to our Ward this morning (so in Toulouse there is the Capitole ward and the Concorde ward, I'm in Concorde) so she went to the Capitole Ward this afternoon and we were able to teach her before church started. She's still having the same problems trying to get answers and such, she's expecting answers before she makes decisions, so we encouraged her to try taking steps of faith and making decisions then seeing if the answers come then. She really is great and I'm excited to see where it goes.

This week was good! Busy busy busy. Being an Stl has been really cool so far, we haven't done any of our exchanges yet, but it's been cool to really just try and figure out how we can help our sisters be the best they can be. I'm grateful for this opportunity to serve:) I love Toulouse, I love you all, I love being a missionary, the church is true! Have a lovely week!

Bisous,
Soeur Holmes
Challenge: read the talk "thy kingdom come" by Elder Andersen

Ps: we went to go visit a less active and bring her cookies, so she came to the door and was just so confused why we were there and so we tried to be all friendly and give her the cookies and she straight up said no! Haha so we sat at the bus stop and ate them:)
Pss: So I guess a long time ago Toulouse was called Tolosa and the spoke this ancient language called l'occitan. So it's weird cause when you get on a metro it announces the stop in French and then it says it again in this ancient l'occitan language. So cool. #longlivetolosa
Psss: sorry if you write me this week and I don't reply we only had a few minutes to email and then we are on a train to Lyon. Love you!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

la ville

Bonjour!! Well everyone I got transferred! After spending three
wonderful transfers in Cannes, I have been transferred to "la ville
Rose" also known as Toulouse, to be a STL here! I'm really excited
about this new opportunity to serve here! My companion is Soeur
Stapley and she is soo great and I'm excited to work with her!

This past week was great! Full of more miracles! So remember Amelia
the woman I talked about last week? Well we had another rdv with her
this week and it went really well. Ok well first it was bad but then
it ended up going well. So at the beginning of the meeting she was
like "I'll never be Mormon so don't try and convert me." Not exactly
what I was expecting, but as we kept talking to her and trying to
discern her needs she opened up more about how she just feels so lost,
she wasn't going to come to our meeting but something told her she
needed to come. The spirit:) by the end she accepted a BOM and said
she would pray. Even though she said she would never join the church,
at the end of the rdv she said that a lot could happen in a week and
maybe she would change her mind:) I really hope she keeps looking for
the truth and doesn't give up.

Brice! We met the coolest guy named Brice! So we got on a bus to go to
the church and we started talking to this woman. Well she wasn't
really interested, but there was a guy about 20 years old who was
listening to our conversation the whole time. Ok so rewind, I had seen
this guy about 5 times before and I always had the impression to talk
to him, but I never did. I always had really lame excuses like " oh
he's smoking, or he's young he won't listen to us, etc." Well he was
totally listening to our conversation with that lady when he
interrupted and asked if we were nuns for the Catholic Church (we get
that a lot cause it says Soeur on our badge) anyway we explained who
we were and he told us that he was actually really interested and he
was in the process of searching for truth!! So cool! Well I got
transferred so I don't know the rest of the story, but I hope Brice
finds what he's looking for:)

Ok so I don't know if you remember Claude, I taught him way back in my
first transfer in Cannes. Well we had a rdv with him two days before I
left and he accepted a baptismal date for October 3rd! He's so
adorable. The only thing is that he has a lot of health problems so
it's hard for him to meet with us and to come to church, but I know
the Lord will help him.

Remember Soeur Rouby our cute member who is blind and in a retirement
home? Well she gets a lot of visits for members, and the missionaries,
etc. Well her niece always ends up coming when we leave or members
leave and one day she told Soeur Daval who was visiting that she was
really impressed by all the support the members of the church were
giving Soeur Rouby. She then proceeded to ask for a Book of Mormon and
has started reading it!  So cool. All it took was examples of love
that intrigued this woman to want to know more. I have a strong
testimony that our examples go a long way. People are watching us and
they do notice that we are different.

We got to see Elodie Giaccardi again before I left. She's the less
active that we gave a Book of Mormon to her daughter. She's so great.
We shared the video Because of Him and she seemed touched. I had her
write a little goodbye note in my book and she expressed her gratitude
that we weren't pushy or forceful about getting her to come to church,
but that we really just tried to be her friend and loved her. I know
one day she'll come back, it's just a matter of time.

The rest of the week was full of goodbyes and last meals with members,
it was hard to leave but I'm happy here:) OH GUESS WHAT?! So remember
Soeur Caldwell my trainer?! Her and her family came to Cannes so we
went to lunch! It was such a happy reunion!:)

Well family that's about it, I'll send picture next week cause they
are all on my camera and I'm emailing on the iPad from a little cafe.
You are wonderful, I love you. Keep being great. I know our Savior
lives and loves each one of us, I've felt that recently.  Your
challenge is to read Grateful in any circumstances by Uchtdorf. Have a
great week!:)

Bisous,

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

blessings

Bonjour!!
I hope everyone had a good week and hopefully no one melted from the heat;) Shout out to Mama and Papa Holmes who celebrated 26 years of marriage on Saturday! Way to go! I love you:)

This week was SO good. I'll start out with our amazing zone conference with President and Sister Brown! They are such kind, loving, happy people. They light up a room. When they were talking I felt so much love from them. I really could feel the love they have for each and every one of us. When we went up and shook their hands they already knew our names, even our first names! So cute. They really have been preparing to come here. We all were able to have an interview with President Brown, and it was so good!! During my interview he promised me that even though the work is hard here in Cannes, that miracles were coming our way. I saw that promised fulfilled this week in more ways than one.
Miracle 1: Amelia. So we were coming home from zone conference and we decided to contact on the way back to our apartment. So we are going along and talking to people and we are hearing lots of no, no, no. Then we stop this lady. We ask her if we could do the questionnaire with her and she told us yes we could if we hurried:) so we start talking to this lady when she stops us and says, "are you Mormon?" We told her that we are and she said, "actually I don't really like Mormons that much.
" So we asked her why and she told us that we do weird things like pay 10 percent of our income to the church, and that we are some sort of weird sect, etc. So we start talking to her about tithing and explained why we do it and the blessings we receive from paying our tithing. By the end of the conversation she told us that paying tithing actually makes sense and that in comparison to everything God gives us, it is the least we can do. Then we clarified that we aren't a sect:) We kept talking to her and she just opened up and really told us how she was feeling and how she is going through hard times but she knows that God is there and He never leaves her alone. SHE IS SO COOL! By the end of the conversation she gave us her number and let us pray with her on the street. As we were going to leave she said to us "you know, I don't think it was an accident that we met today." Turns out she never really leaves her house because she is just really lost right now and she doesn't want to go out and be surrounded by "the world". She just randomly decided to go take her dog for a little walk as soon as we were walking up the street. Not a coincidence. God's hand is in every situation of our lives. I'm so glad we met Amelia.

Miracle 2: So we show up to our ward council on Friday when a member of the bishopric walks up to us and says, "Sisters, remember that friend I have been trying to share the Gospel with for a while? Well she came over to our house on Monday for FHE and she wants to meet the missionaries!" That might not sound exciting, but here, that NEVER happens. Very rare. We were so stoked! Not only is someone interested in learning more about the church, but she is the friend of a member! It's a missionaries dream:)

Miracle 3: So I don't know if you remember this, but there is a recent convert in Cannes named Raphael. He got baptized in January and is so cool! Well since the end of March he's been mia. No one can get a hold of him, he doesn't answer his door, won't call us back, nothing. It was so weird. He was coming to church and meeting with us and then all of a sudden he just stopped and no one knew what happened. So since March we have all been super worried. Well we were on the bus on Saturday and guess who I saw walking down the street?? Raphael!!! I about died in my seat! So I quickly pick up the phone and call him and he answered! What?! He was being kinda weird on the phone and he wouldn't fix a rendezvous with us because he didn't know his schedule, but hey he is alive! It was a really cool tender mercy.

Plenty of really cool little things happened this week, but those were the three that stuck out to me the most. I really saw President's promise fulfilled. Not only that but two fast Sunday's ago we had a ward fast concentrated on missionary work. I'm certain that those miracles came from the fast. It's also really cool because Frere Rutily the one who his friend wants to meet with us, bore a really powerful testimony on Sunday about his desire to share the Gospel and his hopes of having opportunities. God answers our prayers. He loves us so much.

Also in the week we had the opportunity to go to Aix and do an exchange with the STL's there. It was so great! Like I said I love exchanges and the opportunities we have to learn from one another. Aix is beautiful and the people are so nice! We were able to meet really cool less actives, recent converts, amis, and members there. We had a really cool experience with a recent convert there named Rachelle. She got baptized about a month ago and she is so cool. So solid. We sat down and prayed to start our lesson when she said, "sisters, can I ask you a question?" Of course we said yes and she began to pour her little heart out to us about how scared she was to give a talk in Sacrament because she felt inadequate since she hasn't been a member that long. We reassured her that Heavenly Father would help her and that she didn't need to feel like she had to impress the members, that the Spirit would teach them. It just was really touching to see this recent convert of a year so humble and ready to do what Lord asked of her, even though she was scared of messing up. Then we showed her a video by Elder Holland called Good things to Come. In the video there is a quote that says something along the lines of, "some blessings come soon, and some blessings come late, and some blessings don't come until Heaven. But for those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they come." This is true. Heavenly Father will always bless us for doing what He asks, but sometimes we have to be patient and wait for these blessings to come. At the end of the video Rachelle was like, "Honestly I'm not even waiting for blessings, being a member of this church is a blessing enough, I couldn't want anything more." Now that is a humble disciple of Jesus Christ. I want to be like her.:)

Yesterday we had a cool experience with the Tantely Family! So Saturday Frere Tantely texts us and invites over for lunch on Sunday! Yay! In his text he told us to be praying for opportunities to teach during our time at his house. So we go on Sunday and they have their kids over who are inactive. They were super nice but not really interested in the Gospel. The whole time we shared the spiritual thought they just looked at the ground and didn't participate. But it's ok! Even if they weren't really listening, hopefully something we said touched them or stays with them. Then Frere Tantley took us to go see some of his neighbors. None of them were home, but his desire to share the gospel really impressed me! He has so much faith and really wants to share with others the happiness of the gospel. I'm grateful for members like him.

OK now I'm going to rant about my new obsession for Elder Neal A. Maxwell! So remember that talk Endure it Well that I read a couple weeks ago? Well it lit a fire of obsession for Elder Maxwell. Soeur Hurd and I are obsessed. The way he writes is so beautiful, so poetic and so touching! Everything he says just amazes me. I created a list of every single talk he has ever given and I plan to read every one of them before the end of my mission. If you don't know Neal A, go check him out!!

I love you all so very much! I'm so grateful for the Gospel in my life and for the opportunity I have to share it with my friends in France. I know He lives and loves every one of us individually. He knows us personally. He wants to help us. Have a great week and watch for the tender mercies in your life, I invite you to write them down:)

Challenge: read this talk by Eldrr Maxwell https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1975/04/the-man-of-christ?lang=eng

Love,
Soeur Holmes

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Endure it well

Bonjour!
This week was a good one here in Cannes. Hotter than ever but still good.

We had some really cool experiences this week that I would like to
share with you:) On Tuesday we had a rendezvous with a less active, so
I super awesome relief society president offered to come with us. Her
name is Nancy and she is great. So we went to this meeting and it
started out good but then her crazy husband just started trying to
tear down our testimonies and was spitting out so much false doctrine.
I was pretty irritated. But in that moment I have never felt so
strongly that the church is true. This is the true church of Jesus
Christ. He lives and leads His church. Even though it took everything
in me not to freak out at this man, I calmly kept smiling as my
companion and I testified of the truthfulness of the church and
invited this man to really pray. Sadly this meeting was to go see his
wife because she really has some potential of coming back, but he
kinda just made it a mess. Even though it was a not so great meeting,
I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to testify to this man that
this is the true church on God. I know it.
After that crazy rendezvous Nancy took us to see Soeur Rouby the blind
sister in the retirement home. She's so precious and I always feel the
Spirit around her, she's just so close with Heavenly Father.  I'm
grateful for her humble example.
Then we went to pick up Mama Gentil (I think I've told you about her,
she's like the grandma of the ward and 3 of her 5 sons are in our
ward) and headed to Laurent and Sandrine Gentil's house for dinner. I
love this family so much. Being with them makes me feel at home. We
did a family home evening together and talked about the importance of
the Priesthood in our lives. I'm so grateful for the Priesthood in my
life and for the countless times I have received wise counsel or
blessings from worthy priesthood holders.
After the lesson we all ate together and this is where it gets funny.
So Laurent is like hey sisters do you like dr pepper?? Um yes!! So he
brings out some dr pepper which is hard to find and we start sharing
it amongst ourselves. So we gave Mama Gentil a little bit and she just
scrunched up her face and practically spit it out and was like
coughing and freaking out and saying it was poison and it was
hilarious. We then got her to try rootbeer as the kids chanted "Mami
cool, mami cool!" Haha it was one of those moments where I just felt
like we were all family.

Saturday we had a cool experience with the Freund family. They are the
ones who live in like a medieval house and she isn't a member. They
are great and we went there on Saturday to celebrate Soeur Hurd's
birthday. When we were getting ready to leave, Soeur Freund thanked us
for the Spirit that we bring into their home. She told us that when we
come it's so strong, and when we leave it isn't the same. I was really
touched by that. Sometimes I have a hard time feeling the Spirit. I
think it's because as missionaries we try and have it always so it
just becomes kind of normal. But it was cool to see that people notice
a difference. Even though she isn't a member she still recognizes the
Spirit. I'm grateful for the Spirit that leads and guides this work.
Well after the Freunds we headed home but our bus never came so we
waited for a small eternity and then took a bus to a different city
and then a train back to Cannes. Whoo. Although it was slightly
irritating, I'm so grateful it happened! Because of that when we
finally got back to Cannes and started contacting we saw really cool
miracles. We were able to testify to different people that God is
there and He isn't a make believe being but He is living and loves us.
We also met a really cool Jewish couple from Canada who loves Mormons
and they've visited Utah several times and love the motab! They were
so kind and gave us so much encouragement that was well needed after a
long week of walking up and down the streets of Cannes being told no
over and over again. I learned a valuable lesson about patience this
week, we all have challenges and trials, that's sure. But sometimes we
have hard situations so that we can learn to be patient and prepare
for other experiences. I'm not sure why we don't have Amis right now,
or why when we go contacting on the street for hours every day that
still at the end of the day we don't have any new Amis. I don't know
why it's like this, when we are doing all we can to hasten the work.
But I do know Heavenly Father has a plan and I know He is watching
over us. And even if I don't understand it now, I know that if we
endure it well and have patience I'll understand later. And that's
enough for me:)
I love the Savior and I love this work. I know He lives. Have a great week!!:)

Love,
Soeur Holmes
Challenge: read Endure it Well by Elder Maxwell, it's incredible.



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