Monday, September 28, 2015

The week where I cut all my hair off

Bonjour!!
This week was good, kind of a rough one I won't lie, but good quand même:)
We had the super great opportunity to go to zone conference and hear
from Elder Adler of the Seventy. Him and his wife were there and they
were so great!! I took stacks on stacks on stacks of notes, but
something that really hit me was when he talked about that we chose to
come on missions. No one forced us, no one made us fill out our
papers, but we did it. We signed our papers and we made the choice to
come and serve. I made that choice. Sometimes on missions you have
highs and lows and it's really easy to get down and ask Heavenly
Father why these things are happening when we are working so hard to
do this work. It's easy to think that the grass is greener on the
other side. But something I did today was made a list of all the
reasons I came on a mission/all the reasons I love being a missionary.
Sometimes we just need a little reminder on why we signed our papers,
when you're having a low week it's easy to forget why we came, but
with a little self reflection it's just as easy to remember:)

He also talked a lot about really focussing on the language. He talked
about how important it is that we can bear a sincere heartfelt
testimony in French that will touch others hearts. He even gave us the
challenge to bear testimony to our companion in French every morning.
He wants us to work so hard on the language that we remember it forty
years later! This is also something that really stuck out to me. I
think I'm not alone when I say that at the end of your mission it's
easy to just get complacent with where you are at in the language. But
I was reminded that there is always something new to be learned and
that it's something that we still need to work on every single day!!

It was a great conference. It was so good to be there with the Adler's
and of course President and Sister Brown. I love them a lot and I'm so
blessed to be guided by these incredible people.

So we had a super cool miracle this week!! We were out contacting and
we had planned the night before to have a miracle at 5:45. So we were
contacting on a bridge when we saw a man a little way ahead of us. We
were a little hesitant about talking to him but we did it anyway. We
talked to him about the temple and how we've received these ordinances
through a living prophet today. He was all over it! He was super
interested so we asked if we could fix a rendezvous with him. So we
got his number and fixed a rendezvous with him. At the end he was like
thank you for stopping me, I am looking for a church and maybe this is
a sign. So cool!!! His name is David and he's great! So here's the bad
news we made a goof and wrote his phone number down wrong!!! BUT he
has our number and he wrote down the rendezvous on a card with the
place and time, so we feel like he's serious about coming. So if you
could pretty please pray that he'll come to our rendezvous on
Wednesday at five o'clock that would be soooo great!
I have a testimony that God expects us to expect miracles. Something
we've been taught in our mission is to expect miracles. To plan for
them and to not live our mission without them. We planned a miracle
and it happened. I know that when we show God our faith he blesses us
immensely.

So our amis, remember how I said that it had been a rough week? So
this week we had to drop a bunch of amis who just weren't progressing,
then Sophie came to church and handed us some cookies and said she
doesn't want to come anymore, and then Angela called us all
frustrated, said some stuff in Romanian and hung up. So yeah :/ so
yesterday I was pretty sad. But I know the Lord has a game plan. A way
better game plan then I have. So I'm going to trust Him on this one.
So we are starting at zero, we'll be knocking lots of doors and
pounding the pavement with contacting. But it's ok:) missionary work
is work right? I know the Lord has blessings and miracles in store for
us.

I know He lives and I love Him. I love you all and I hope your week is
full of miracles!

Love,
Soeur Holmes

"For the faithful, our finest hours are sometimes during or just
following our darkest hours."-Neal A. Maxwell


I love being a missionary!


I cut 5 inches off my hair!!!!!


Beautiful Toulouse!


soeur Neff, soeur Alder, the Poitier soeurs and me


Monday, September 21, 2015

The week we got punked!!

Bonjour!! I home everyone is doing well and had a good week! This week
was really good, it was so jammed pack with stuff that by yesterday we
were exhausted, but in a good way:) it's always like a good
exhaustion:)

The week started off with an exchange with the Perpignan Soeurs! They
came to Toulouse and I was with Soeur Pelucchi. Soeur Pelucchi is from
Italy but has been living in France for the past 10 years and is just
awesome!! You wouldn't even know that she's only been in the field for
5 weeks, she's just an incredible missionary. I was really impressed
by her teaching skills and her people skills. She's just so good with
people and when she teaches them she just talks to them like they are
her friend. It was great:) she's also a bomb singer and she sings a
couple of songs on the efy cd (the French version) and they are so
good! She's just great all around!

This week we had district meetings! We had our district meeting
Wednesday and the Capitole Soeurs district meeting on Thursday. The
theme for the meetings was how we can be better planners. As
missionaries planning is KEY. As we were going through preach my
gospel and really talking about how we can become better planners I
realized that I haven't been planning as effectively as I can be.
We've been given so many tools so that we can make the best plans for
our amis, so we can really teach to their needs. Teaching to their
needs is so important, if I've learned anything on my mission it's
that every ami is different from the other. They all have different
needs, problems, etc. It's so important that we prepare specifically
for them and not just give them a generic watered down lesson plan
we've been using for the past couple of transfers. I'm definitely
going to work on being a better planner!

Angela! We were able to see Angela like 3 times this week and then she
came to church!! She's doing well:) she still has all of her problems,
but she's progressing slowly but surely. We have reset her baptismal
date for October 10th, we are praying that everything works out well:)
she came to church for the whole three hours yesterday and I was so
impressed. Nicolas (the baby) was being kind of a pill the whole time
but she was able to focus and I hope she got something out of it, it's
hard to get a lot out of church when you don't speak the language
super well. But he spirit is the same in every language so I hope if
anything she felt the spirit.

We visited the Bertola family this week and they are awesome!! Frere
Bertola is a convert and Soeur Bertola was raised in the church. Frere
Bertola met the missionaries through a friend and they gave him a BOM,
he read it in 8 days. Then he just showed up to church and asked to be
baptized! Haha every missionaries dream. That was 39 years ago, and
him and his wife are still going strong. I love hearing conversion
stories, it's cool to see how much faith they have and you can really
feel the power in their testimonies.

Ok are you ready for this story??? So on Friday we totally got punked!
Like Ashton Kutcher style punked. So we were on the metro heading to
an activity at the church and we hear two guys speaking English, well
we get off the metro and they keep saying, "sisters!" And trying to
get our attention, so we ignored them! Not because we were trying to
be rude, but usually when young guys are saying, "sisters!" They are
usually being creepy or making fun of us. So we keep walking and they
eventually catch up to us and say, "hey are you the Mormons??" So we
are walking to the church and they're asking us loads of questions
about Mormons, missionaries, etc. and we are answering all of them and
we even gave them a tour of the church! So we give them our card and
they leave. So we're feeling pretty accomplished! Two young normal
people are actually interested in the church! Well guess what???
THEY'RE MEMBERS!!!! They are in the other Ward so we don't know them
and they thought it would be really funny to play a joke on us.  It
was actually pretty good, they had us fooled!

So after getting punked we had an activity with the ja's! We made
cheesecake with them and they all loved it of course!! Then we talked
about the temple with them:) I really like talking to the young adults
of the church about the importance of the temple, I feel like they get
excited about it and they are the ones preparing for missions and
marriage so it's perfect!

Saturday we had a relief society activity in the morning and a
missionary fhe at night. The both of them were really good! We didn't
have a great turn out at the fhe but the elders ami came and some
members came and it was still good. We talked about preach my gospel
chapter 4, the power of the spirit in conversion, then we taught them
how to make American cookies and played games:) it was a lot of fun in
the end!

Oh! We also had interviews with President Brown this week! They were
through Skype because we gave a member of the seventy visiting our
mission this coming week. So yeah the interviews were super short, but
it was still good to be able to talk with president and get advice. He
really is inspired and I'm really grateful for him and Soeur Brown.

So for p day we were supposed to go to this really cool space museum
but like most other things in France it is closed on Monday:( sad
right?? So we decided to do a picnic instead! We all got Macdo to go
and took it to the park and had a picnic. This park isn't just any
park it's like a big kid park! It had this massive teeter totter and
this huge spider web thing that we climbed on. You bet your life we
played jump rope and swung on swings and played card games. Such a
simple P day but I laughed so hard I cried and felt like I was back in
elementary school. It was a lot of fun:) pictures and videos will be
following:)

Well kids that's it for the week! Sorry this email is kind of all over
the place, my brain has been kind of scattered lately. I love you all
and I hope your week is great!

Love,
Soeur Holmes

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart
of man [meaning we cannot even imagine] the things which God hath
prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).


Me and Soeur Wolfe on the giant spider web



The missionaries of Toulouse 
"pday in the park"


me and Soeur Pelucchi eating a Twix!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Toulouse for the win!!

Kicking us off,
Zone training! So it went better than I thought it was going to go. We
talked about all the new rules that president wants us implementing
into our missionary work and how exact obedience brings so many
blessings. Soeur Wolfe brought up a really cool point, she said that
God promises us that when we are obedient we are blessed. So when we
are always striving to be exactly obedient, God has to bless us. He
has to. Or He would cease to be God. God keeps His promises to His
children. That really hit me. I'm so grateful for obedience. It's not
just to keep us from doing stupid stuff, but it helps us become who
God wants us to be.

Angela! We FINALLY had a rendezvous with her! We decided to meet her
at a park near her house and so we showed up and I just about cried.
She was sitting outside the little pharmacy with her little basket in
front of her begging for money. While cute baby Nicolas sat in his
stroller crying with a runny nose. She looked exhausted. My heart
literally broke in half as I saw this struggling young mother. Her
life is so hard. She keeps being handed trial after trial. And you
know what she says to all of it? That it's the will of God and that
she knows that He is there for her always. She knows she isn't
forgotten. What faith. If I was in her situation and I don't know if I
could say the same thing. I'm so impressed by her willingness to move
forward. She's still reading the BOM every day and praying. I'm
excited to continue to move forward with her in this process as I know
that the Gospel brings so much joy, for I have seen how it has blessed
my life and the lives of so many others.

Exchange with Soeur Wolfe. Ok Soeur Wolfe is SO COOL. We had a
fabulous exchange. She's hilarious and such a good missionary. She
just does what God wants and she does it being completely herself. She
doesn't change who she is to fit situations. She's just honest and I
really respect that. We saw miracles together. We talked to tons of
people, fixed rendezvous, taught lessons on the street and had a blast
doing it. I'm grateful for her example of diligence but also her
example of that you can just be yourself and still be an awesome
missionary.

Remi. We had a heart to heart with him. Like he keeps meeting with us,
but he hasn't really been keeping his commitments and we weren't super
she if he really wanted to get baptized. So we talked about the
Temple. We just gave it to him straight, all the reasons we meet with
him and that his end goal is the temple, and that baptism is a step in
the process. By the end he still wanted to keep seeing us and we set a
date for October 10th, so hopefully he'll be ready. I know if he
really prays to know if the church is true he'll get what he's looking
for.

Hakim!
So on exchange Soeur Wolfe and I contacted this super cool student
named Hakim. He had literally been in Toulouse for like 2 days and is
from Africa. We taught him on the street and fixed a rdv to talk some
more. So we met up to talk some more, I got 7 mosquito bites during
the lesson but it was so worth it cause he is so cool!!!! So he's
Muslim but really open. We explained the restoration to him and also
eternal families and he loved it!! He loved how in our church the
family is such a big focus and how through Christ we can become closer
with our families. It was great! He's super open to listening but also
like really practicing Muslim. I hope we can continue to see him.

The Ducrocq's! Gosh I love them. So Saturday we went with them to
teach one of our Amis who lives far away. They are hilarious and keep
me laughing the whole car ride. Unfortunately our ami isn't
progressing very well and hasn't been for a while so we decided to let
her go:/ she's so great but she just can't grasp the concept that she
needs to be baptized again. I hope she'll be ready one day to accept
the gospel. Then we headed to go see Sophie who lives down the street
from our other ami. Sophie isn't doing too hot either. She keeps all
her commitments and comes to church either way but she is stuck.
Completely stuck. Can't feel the spirit and can't get answers to her
prayers. Now I'm not sure if it's so much that she can't get an answer
or that she won't let herself receive one. We've given her every
answer we could but still nothing. It's quite frustrating. We know how
much the gospel blesses lives and the truthfulness of it, but
unfortunately you can't force someone to believe. So we are giving
Sophie time. We're going to let her finish reading the BOM then we'll
see how she's doing. So it was kind of depressing because we had to
drop two Amis within like two hours, but the ducrocq's just have so
much light and love that they really cheered us up. For dinner they
fed us French fries and chocolate mousse. Score.:) even thought it was
kind of an exhausting day, it was still really good and we were able
to feel the spirit doing our lessons.

Oh how could I forget! Today we did something really cool for p day!
So with all the missionaries in Toulouse we went to this place called
Burger and Co. Now these are not your wimpy macdo burgers, these
things are huge. And it is hard to find a good burger in France. Did I
mention they sell Dr. Pepper there?! It like doesn't exist here! It
does, it's just expensive:) so yes I ate a massive burger which was
called the "highway to hell" (all the burgers were named after 80's
songs) and drank a Dp with some of my favorite people. One of my
favorite p days! Best part? Our waiter was SO nice! Gave us free onion
rings and free American candy. And when I went to pay he gave me too
much change and told me to keep it. What??  He was just so nice. It's
really rare that someone is that nice to 11 young kids wearing
religious badges. Either people take advantage of us and charge us
more money or their just rude. But he was so cool and I was really
grateful.

Good week overall! Taught lots of lessons, met really cool people, ate
good food and spent time with people I love. I love being a missionary
and all it entails. I love you all! Have a great week full of
miracles!
Bisous,
Soeur Holmes

"So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on
the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon
the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the
Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:8), a
prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving “away all [our]
sins” in order to “know God” (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self
precedes the full acceptance of Him. In the name of Jesus Christ,
amen." -Neal A. Maxwell
Challenge: go read, deny yourselves of all ungodliness by elder Maxwell


Zone Training!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tender mercy!

Bonjour!
First week of the transfer, done. Seriously the weeks are going by
faster and faster! I don't have a ton of time today so I'll give you
the highlights!

Remi! Remi is doing well! He's progressing so much better than before.
He used to ask a lot of questions that aren't really relevant but now
he asks pretty good questions! We asked him to be baptized on the
third of October! He said he would pray about it and let us know. I
pray that Remi takes this important step and follows the example of
his Savior. Oh! He came to church! He only stayed for Amis class and
like 30 minute or sacrament, but hey it's a start.

Sophie! So Sophie is doing well! Last time we saw her she said her
week was bad and she just seemed really down. Well she showed up to
church this week super smiley and happy! Also last time we taught her
she was in alma 22 and now she's about to start Helaman! She just like
was not progressing, but I feel like she's actually starting to
progress now! She even asked when general conference is! I'm so
excited about all of it. Please pray for her that she will keep up
this new attitude.

Angela! Things were going real bad. But now we might get to start
teaching her again! We have a lesson this week and we're just going to
really have a heart to heart about everything that's going on right
now in her life and hopefully we'll be able to pick up where we left
off so she can get baptized before the end of the month:)

Tender mercy! So we were on the bus going to church when we ran into
this woman who I had contacted a couple weeks before on the bus going
to church. We had been calling this woman trying to fix a rdv for a
couple of weeks with no response. Well we saw her on the bus and she
apologized for not calling back, that she had been really busy with
work. But she said that after September 15th she would love to see us!
She used to have the missionaries over every week when she lived in
Madagascar. And her uncle is a member. So cool!
Sorry this is so short, but most of our week was spent on trains/ in
Lyon for mission leadership council. MLC is always so good. The Browns
are incredible and so inspired. This Mlc was kind of intense. We
talked a lot about rules and policies that we use as missionaries. As
missionaries it's so so important that we are exactly obedient. It was
a really good reminder that we need to be giving our very best for the
Lord. We can always strive to be better, it was a nice reminder for
myself. It's super easy to get complacent, but the Lord needs our very
best. And when I think about it, 18 months is just a very small price
that I pay for all He did and does for me. I'm so grateful for my
Savior.
I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week!
Love,
Soeur Holmes
Challenge: read "beware of pride" by Ezra Taft Benson. It's like real
intense but real good.
A "Hurd" sister sandwich!

me and Soeur Zenger

me and Abby (Soeur Wallace)
My MTC Companion :)

Me and Souer Brown

reunited with some Elders and Sisters from Cannes and Nice

My MTC homies

Me and Soeur Neff