Monday, December 28, 2015

He is the reason for the season

Bonjour!!

It was so great to see your cute faces on Skype!! I want to first say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who wrote letters for my Christmas package. That was so nice of you and I really felt so much love. Thank you:)

So this week was pretty much a massive P Day! I'll give you the highlights:)

CHRISTMAS CONFERENCE!!!!
So our mission wide Christmas conference was 2 days. So. Much. Fun. The whole thing was just kind of a massive surprise. Tuesday we were told to wear p day clothes and that was it. We all went to the Confluence, it's a river in Lyon. We met up there and took a massive mission picture!:) Then we all just played games and had fun. It was great to catch up with old friends and companions. It was honestly the perfect last Zone Conference, because I was able to see everyone I love for a last time.
Later on we headed to an Aquarium that the mission had rented out for the evening. There we had a presentation by President Brown where he told us that we had reached our goal of teaching with 1000 members in December! Not only did we reach it, but we passed it! Right now we are at 1112, and we still have a couple of days to go! So cool. It was just awesome to see the members combine with us the missionaries to really work together to bring people to Christ.
After the presentation we played some minute to win it games that Soeur Brown came up with and we watched the Lion King!!! Best day ever.

Wednesday was the more spiritual side of the conference. The conference consisted of beautiful musical numbers and powerful talks and testimonies given by President and Sister Brown and also members of their mission presidency. It was so edifying and I could really feel the real spirit of Christmas.

CHRISTMAS EVE!
Christmas Eve was awesome! With all the Lyon missionaries we went and sang Christmas songs at a nursing home. It was so fun. We went from floor to floor singing to these cute little old people. Tears filled their eyes as they were touched by the Spirit. At one point we were singing White Christmas and Soeur Sweeney walked up to this little old lady and grabbed her hands and sang to her and this little old lady just started to cry so then we all started to cry and it was really just tender. That is what Christmas is all about. It isn't about the presents (even though they are nice) but it's about sharing the love that the Savior has for each of us.
Later on that evening we went to the Monclin's house. They are hilarious! Before this night, I had never really spoken to them, but they are just lovely! We spent our whole night laughing and it just felt like being at home. I loved it:) They even went to a fancy American store and bought us Rootbeer!!!! It was a perfect Christmas Eve!

CHRISTMAS!
We had planned on sleeping in, but our bodies still decided to wake up early:( So we woke up and did presents and made crêpes. Yum. Then we headed to the Conesa's house with the other missionaries in our ward for lunch. We ate duck for the second day in a row. It's actually pretty good!
Christmas night after Skype we went to the Sweeney's and watched Wreck it Ralph with a bunch of other missionaries! It was ADORABLE. Also it many multiple French references so I was so sparked. It was a great Christmas spent with so many people that I just love:)

After going hard with all the holiday fun I got hit with the flu/coldish thing! Sad right?? I think it started early on in the week but I tried to ignore it because I didn't want to miss out on any fun! So by Saturday I was beat. We pretty much were stuck in our apartment all day except for the lesson we had with Jonas. So bad news with Jonas... he moved:( Since he is a refugee his situation isn't all that stable so they moved him to another shelter in Lyon. Bad news is that it is in a different ward. AND when he was in the process of moving someone reached into his pocket and stole his legality papers and all his money that his daughter had given him. Isn't that horrible?? He was so sad. But during our rdv with him he just kept talking about how even though everything is really horrible right now, he just keeps turning to God. He said that he has just been praying constantly and that he knows that everything will work out how it needs to. WOW. If I had just been through all of that, I don't know if I could say the same thing. His faith is incredible. He is a remindeer to me, that no matter how bad things get, God will never leave us without help. He will always be there to comfort us and help us. I love Jonas. I don't know what is going to happen to him, whether he will go to another ward or not, but I know that everything will work out how it should. God's hand is in this and we just need to trust in His perfect plan.

Sunday I was feeling a little better, so we went to Church and it was great. I think that is something I will miss the most, going to church in France and having church in French. It'll be odd to have it in English again. haha After church we went to the Piscitello's house. They are easily my favorite family in the ward:) I love them. They wanted to do another meal together before I go home. They have really been like family to me and I have felt so much love from them the past couple months that I have been here in Lyon.

It was such a good week! Even though I was sick haha but really my heart is filled with so much gratitude. I'm grateful for President and Soeur Brown who put so much time and effort into the conference. I'm grateful for the senior couples and all they did as well. I'm grateful for my mission friends who are more like family. I'm grateful for members who opened their homes up to us this Christmas, I'm grateful for Jonas, Sarah, and Martha who are doing their very best to follow the Savior and who will forever be examples to me. Above all I am so grateful for my Savior who is the reason for the season. Who gave His life for us. He is the best gift we have ever recieved. I love Him.

I love you all:) I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are excited for the new year:) I have one week left, so I will be sending a short email next monday morning ok?

Bisous,
Soeur Holmes













Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!

Bonjour!!
I hope you all had a wonderful week and you are excited for Christmas!! We had a good week! Oddly enough it's been kind of warm here.. not like warm warm but there are times where I don't even zip up my coat! But today it's kind of rainy:/ but at least it isn't snowing so I'm happy!

Highlights of the week,

So Tuesday and Wednesday we went to Clermont Ferrand to do a district finding day/district meeting!! It was so fun! Clermont is ADORABLE. We got to Clermont and we all switched up companionships so I was with Soeur Gerritsen:) I love her:) Seriously I love being back with her:) She's great. We spent the first half of the day contacting and trying to find people to teach, I had some pretty good conversations! I met this one lady who was pretty athiest but she still wanted a card to give to her friend who is Christian. It wasn't anything huge, but I was touched by the fact that even though she didn't want to accept what we were offering, she was thinking of others who might be interested in our message.
Then later we went to go visit a less active women who legit lives in the mountains. We got off the bus and did a small hike to get up to this women's house. I got to the top of the hill completely out of breath! we had a good rdv with her and committed her to come back to church and start living the commandments, so we'll see if she stays true to her word:)
Then we did some more contacting and met the coolest lady! Her name is Lincey and we only talked to her for maybe 3 minutes and she was all like "yes I want to learn about your church! I love talking about Jesus!" and just gave us her phone number! So cool:)
At the end of the day all 11 of us missionaries went caroling in front of this giant Christmas tree:) It was great:) I mean we aren't professionals, but all these people just stood around in awe as they listened to us. I don't think it was because of our beautiful voices ;) But because of the Spirit that was there testifying of Jesus Christ. Soeur James was walking up to people and handing them cards while we were singing and they just kept saying, "this is the best part of my week." :)

L'ISLE D'ABEAU:
So we have this outer ville in our sector called L'isle d'abeau, it's where most of our members live. Well we hadn't been there in a while because usually we take a train out there and we can't take trains. BUT we found a bus that goes out there!! So we went there 3 times this last week! It kind of took up a lot/ most of our time, but it was worth it. The 3 member families that we visited needed us. We saw the Piscitello's, Ngavet's, and the Leroux's and I love all of them!! The Piscitello's feel like family to me. They have a daughter who is 20 and going on a mission soon and we are best friends, I want to adopt her into our family. The Ngavet's are hilarious and I literally laughed so hard I was crying the entire time we were there. AND they fed us RACLETTE:) My fav:):) The Leroux's are also fantastic, really struggling, but she talked to us a lot about trials and her mission, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. It was a really inspired weekend in l'isle d'abeau:)

I gave a talk in church! Even after 18 months of doing this I still am terrified to give talks in church! The subject was perfect, Jesus Christ. I formed my talk around the scripture in 2 Nephi 19:6 where it gives Him all the titles, like counselor, prince of peace, etc. I love talking about the Savior, I love Christmas because it is centered on Him. It's really easy to get wrapped up in the stuff that doesn't matter, but I know if we really try to center our lives on Christ, we can focus on the real reason for the season:)

Sarah!
She is doing so well! She recieved the Holy Ghost on Sunday and it was beautiful:) We are no preparing her to go to the temple! We have been helping her with her family history and all that jazz! She is so prepared and ready to go!

Jonas!
He is doing well:) He is in Paris visiting his daughter so we weren't able to see him, but we try and call him every other day and pray with him:) He's adorable:)

Ok kids that's it for the week! Sorry that this email isn't super exciting but I ran out of time:/ I'm so excited to talk to you in just a few days!!! I love you all and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!:)

Bisous,
Soeur Holmes

Monday, December 14, 2015

The best early Christmas present!!

Bonjour!

This week was great! It really is starting to feel like Christmas:) Lyon is super pretty and decked out for Christmas and the mall smells like Christmas and there are lights in the street and everyone is just happier and it's great! I'm so happy:)

So lots of great things happened this week, comme dab I'll give you the highlights:)

JONAS AND SARAH GOT BAPTIZED:)

It was so wonderful:) This whole week pretty much consisted of us helping them get all ready and prepared for their baptisms.  They both went so so so well:) Saturday was Jonas' baptism and it was a beautiful service:) When he came up out of the water he gave Jeremie (the person who baptized him) the most tender hug with tear filled eyes. My heart was so warm and I just could feel so much love from Heavenly Father in that moment. At Jonas' baptism with the some other missionaires we sang Homeward Bound. It's my favorite song because it talks about our journey here on Earth and returning back to Heavenly Father. I've always kind of thought of it as a song about endings but since the whole song is about returning home, I thought it was fitting for a baptism since baptism is the first step to returning back home:) We recorded it so I'll try and send.

Sarah's baptism was also great! They had to baptize her 3 times cause her feet kept coming up, but hey she's like super clean now right?? haha She bore a beautiful testimony about the Gospel and shared how she first met missionaries when she was a teenager and then multiple times after that, but now was the right time for her to accept the gospel. It's really cool, because when we called her the first time, it was the day after the attacks in Paris. President had us call everyone in our areabooks and invite them to church and she was one of the people we called that night:) Miracles:)

This week we also had the ward Christmas party. You bet your life we acted out the Nativity. Guess who I way? Mary. Guess who Soeur Clancy was? A donkey. hahaha it was funny. So the Nativity was a Nativity of just missionaries so that was kind of weird. Joseph was another missionary in our ward. Awkward. We literally stood a mile apart from each other haha It was just weird. But something to remember haha I'll send pics.

So we did the hot chocolate thing again! SO FUN! It is seriously the best contacting activity and we always talk to so many people and we were able to show the Christmas video to a ton of people as well. We even found a new potential out of it:) I'll let you know what happens with her:)

I was also able to go on exchange with Soeur Gerritsen this week and it was so great! It was so fun to catch up and talk about the good old times in Cannes. It felt like we never left:)

Sorry this is kind of short but our whole week consisted of seeing Jonas and Sarah. I'm so grateful for their decsion to get baptized. It's the best Christmas gift they can give to Heavenly Father, to join His true church on the Earth. Their lives will never be the same and I feel so blessed that I was able to take part in their journey:) I love them so much!

So I want to share something from my studies this week, as I was reading in the Book of Mormon this week, I came across a scripture that really hit me. In Alma 5:37, it talks about how after knowing the ways of righteousness people still go astray and it says, "O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!"

Now this scripture is kind of harsh, but I think it can easily be applied to our own lives. How often does Heavenly Father ask us to do something or change something? But we don't because we let pride get in the way. Our free agency is the only thing God can't take from us. But as the good shepherd He calls after us again and again beckoning us to change to be more like His son or to come back to the fold.

This quote goes along perfectly with this concept, "I have struggled to banish the mortal desire to have things my way, eventually realizing that my way is oh so lacking, limited, and inferior to the way of Jesus Christ. “His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.” Can we love Jesus Christ and His way more than we love ourselves and our own agenda?"-Neill F. Marriott

Giving up what we want for what the Lord wants isn't always easy. Something I really am working on, I know that by doing God's will we will always be happier. I love this Gospel and every blessing it brings me! I love this Christmas season and the opportunity we have to talk about the birth of our Savior. It's the best message we have to share:)

I love you all:)

Love,
Soeur Holmes
                                   

                                                                      BAPTISM PICTURES!

Me, Jonas, and Soeur Clancy

Me, Sarah, and Soeur Clancy




Saying Good-bye
I sure do love this sweet girl!!
We started this wonderful journey as MTC companions, and  we will end our journey just a few weeks apart from each other as we return home.
Friends Forever!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Love is the key

Bonjour!

It's been another great week in Lyon. I'm just going to stay here forever:) I love being a missionary. At the beginning of my mission I always thought I had so much time left and that it would never end. But now all I want is more time! It's funny how that happens, I think it just goes back to love. You learn to love the place you are serving in, you learn to love all of your companions, you learn to love the language you are speaking, you learn to love your investigators, you learn to love the people who are mean to you in the street, you just learn to love. One of the biggest lessons I have learned on my mission stems from one of our mottos, Love is the Key. It's true, love is the key. It's the key to everything we do. We do missionary work out of love. Love for our Savior and love for our fellow brothers and sisters we are serving. God loves us so He sent His son. Christ loves us so He died for us. Love is the key:)

So this week we were pretty busy getting Sarah and Jonas all ready for their baptisms on Saturday and Sunday:) I'll give you the highlights,

SARAH,
Sarah is incredible. Her faith is amazing. She has so much of it. We teach her a principle of the Gospel and she just accepts it. She knows what she is learning comes directly from God and she puts her trust in Him. This morning we had a lesson with her and she kept saying, "I wish I had found the church sooner!" She is an example of someone who has been prepared for a long time. The first time she was taught by missionaries a couple of years ago, she wasn't ready. But she is ready now:) She keeps telling us that this is the time, she is now ready and that she wasn't ready before. I have a testimony that everything happens for a reason in the time frame that God wants it to happen in. I'm so excited for her:) I think the thing that touched me the most was when she was explaining that she is so excited to get baptized because after she will be a new person and she will feel different. She just gets it. She is exactly right, that when we get baptized the Savior washes away our sins and makes us whole again. :)

JONAS,
Jonas is also incredible! I have loved being on this spiritual journey with him. He was the first person Soeur Clancy and I taught together:) He is so excited to get baptized! He keeps telling us that he is going to take lots of pictures and send them to all his friends in Africa:) Jonas has now come to church 3 weeks in a row and has stopped drinking coffee:) He understands what kind of committment he is making with our Heavenly Father. I'm convinced that his brother who was a member who has passed on has been helping us this whole time to get Jonas to this point:) At the end of our lessons he always thanks us a billion times for bringing Him the Gospel. But honestly we didn't do anything. It was all Heavenly Father. We are just instruments in His hands. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to bring the Gospel to my brothers and sisters in France, these friends of mine that I'm certain I knew before this life began. I just love them. When I think about Jonas and Sarah the word that comes to my head is love. :)

MARTHA,
Martha is doing well and is beginning to make lots of friends in the ward:) This past week she just seems happier. The Gospel makes our lives so much better and so much happier, I can't imagine my life without it. I am eternally grateful:)

ZONE TRAINING,
So we had Zone Training this week and I think the best part was the potato soup the stls made! Just kidding:) but really it was SO GOOD. I love soup. But the training was also good! We talked a lot about the new initiative we are doing Mille Membres en Décembre. (1000 members in december) meaning that we as a mission are going to teach with our amis with 1000 different members this december! It's a great way to get the members involved in our lessons so that when our amis get baptized they actually have friends. Also doing this will help us be able to teach more at members houses and such. It's been cool and the members have been pretty nice about helping us out!

FREEE HOT CHOCOLATE,
So with the confluence missionaries we gave out free hot chocolate outside the institute building and shared the new christmas video on lds.org with people on the street! It was really cool and people would walk by and just light up and after they watched the video they would just kind of stand there silently. Too often we forget the real reason for the season. I love being a missionary and reminding people why we celebrate Christmas:) if you haven't seen the video yet watch it, https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-12-1000-a-savior-is-born-christmas-video?lang=eng

RELIEF SOCIETY ACTIVITY,
So Saturday we had such a fun Christmas relief society activity! We ate lots of yummy food, and people sang christmas songs in different languages, christmas stories were told and it was such a fun time. Martha loved it and made so many friends! The ward was really kind to her and gave her a bunch of stuff to welcome her into the ward, it was great!

SUNDAY
Ok so this Sunday in church was incredible. So the past couple of months that I have been in this ward it has been a little bit of a struggle getting the members to help us do missionary work. But yesterday almost every testimony that was given was about missionary work!! And how they have been praying for experiences and they have slowly started to see opportunites come up to share the gospel! It was so cool! Also this is the first time this has ever happened in my mission, but a meal sheet for the missionaries was passed around in relief society and it just filled up so fast! SO COOL! AND we the whole being in by dark rule it's been rough doing missionary work at night but the cutest sister came up to us and offered to drive us home from lessons at night time so we could still do missionary work after six pm. It was so cool! It was just amazing to see the ward really open up to missionary work:) I'm really grateful for the ward here and their willingness to help us out. Also for our cute relief society president who ran around after church with the meal sheet and made like everyone sign up to feed us. SO NICE! I am beyond grateful:)

I love this Gospel. I know it's true. This is the greatest thing I have ever done, and I am forever grateful to my loving Heavenly Father who has given me this opportunity to wear His son's name for 18 months. I love Him.
I love you! Have a great week and go out and see miracles!

Bisous,
Soeur Holmes
 “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26.)

Free Hot Chocolate,YUM!!!

Zone Training

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pray too much..

Bonjour!

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving and ate lots and lots of turkey;) Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in France, but we celebrated it quand même:) I'm so thankful for many things in my life. My Savior, family, the Gospel, friends, France, food, health, tender mercies, trials, awesome companions, portable heaters, a bed to sleep in, French pâtisseries, our ward in Lyon, president and sister Brown, AND SO MUCH MORE. I am blessed beyond measure. I hope you took some time this week to reflect on your many blessings. :)


So highlights for the week:)

JONAS!

He just keeps getting better and better. We had an awesome lesson about baptism and confirmation with Terencia. He is so ready and so excited to get baptized. He talks about it all the time:) He is all set for the 12th of December, so if you could please please please keep him in your prayers that everything will go well, that would be great. Like I've said his health isn't great so some extra prayers could help. He came to church yesterday! He was SO happy. He kept turning to me and saying how everyone is just so nice and welcoming. Before he left he told us that he felt like he was in a big family :) and that is exactly what the Gospel is. A giant family. All united helping each other make it back to our Heavenly Father. Also he has been completely coffee free for 4 days now! My favorite thing about being a missionary is watching people change. On my mission I have seen the Gospel change lives, including my own. It's a beautiful thing to watch someone become converted to the Gospel they once knew. :)

SARAH!

She is so great!! We were able to see Sarah twice this past week. We talked about temples in our first rendezvous and she was so touched. She's been looking around lds.org and she saw the photos of the Paris temple and she was wondering what the temple was all about, well we just happened to teach her about the temple after she saw those pictures. She really loved the fact that we can do work for our ancestors who have passed on. It was a cool lesson, because now Sarah knows that her goal isn't just baptism, but the temple. That's what we've been trying to do in our mission is really help our investigators see that though baptism is a huge important decision, the goal is the temple. Baptism is just one of the steps to get there. Sarah also came to church and had a great time, she has a huge fear of leaving her house, but always feels calm and at ease when she is at church. She should be getting baptized the 13th so please pray for her as well:)

BUSINESS CONTACTING

Ok so a couple of months ago, President Brown launched this initiative to do business contacting. Meaning find small businesses (not chains like McDonalds or something) but businesses that are self owned and operated. Businesses that would be easy for us to walk in and strike up a casual conversation about the Gospel. Well this week we were out trying to find a less active when we saw this super cute postcard shop so we walked over and were casually looking at the shop. The owner came out, she was maybe like 65 and asked us to come in. Turns out she has owned this shop for like 20 years. As we looked at her adorable postcards we explained to her that we were here as Missionnaires for our church and we were sharing a message about Christ. We gave her out card and she gave us a free post card and thanked us for the work we were doing. It was so cool! Business contacting is so cool because it's a cool way to meet people that you normally wouldn't get to meet because they are working when we are out proselyting. We are excited to go back and see if she visited the website and give her a Book of Mormon for Christmas:)

THANKSGIVING!

So we were really blessed and had the opportunity to go to President's house for thanksgiving dinner! It was SO good! I haven't eaten something that American since I left America. Haha it was fantastic. And mom, sister brown even made orange jello salad!! I really felt at home:) I'm grateful to be led by the Brown's who love us like we are their own family.

THANKSGIVING PART 2:

So we organized a Thanksgiving activity for our amis and members on Saturday! It was SO fun! We didn't have tons of amis there, but we were actually surprised with the amount of people that did come! Martha our recent convert came and she was so sparked by all of it, she was having the time of her life! Then Laura a recent convert in our ward brought her friend with her! And we had some members and the elders had amis there and it was great! We all cooked for hours getting ready for this and I would say it didn't turn out too bad :) The pictures are on another elders Ipad so I'll send them next week.

COOL P DAY MIRACLE!

Ok so as we were walking here to the church to do our emails we ran into the elders recent convert Gabriel who got baptized on Saturday! He was with his friend Ludovic and he just straight up asked us if we could teach him the missionary lessons!!!! SO COOL! We set up a rendezvous for Wednesday and we are pumped!

This week was a really good one, the first week of the transfer always feels kind of long, but I know now that the week is over the rest of the transfer will fly by. Too fast probably. I want you all to know how much I love this Gospel. It is true. I know that God and Jesus Christ lead this church today through a living prophet.

So I decided for the rest of this transfer at the end of each email I'm going to put something that I have learned on my mission or something that has really touched me, ok?? So for this week it is pray too much. That has been a theme in our mission since way before I got here. I think I have prayed more on my mission than in my entire life. I have gained such a powerful testimony of prayer. God wants to hear from us all the time. Throughout my mission I have met too many people that say, "Well you know I pray when I need something or when life is hard, but when it is going well, I don't really think about prayer or religion." It is so sad. I love this quote from Preach My Gospel, “If prayer is only a spasmodic cry at the time of crisis, then it is utterly selfish, and we come to think of God as a repairman or a service agency to help us only in our emergencies. We should remember the Most High day and night—always—not only at times when all other assistance has failed and we desperately need help” -Howard W. Hunter. It is so important that we communicate with our loving Heavenly Father all the time. It is through prayer that we come to know Him better. :)

I love you all:)

Challenge: Share the Gospel with a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or family member. You can do it!

Bisous,

Soeur Kira Holmes
                                                             
                                                                  The beautiful city of Lyon