| Sister Emma Lynn Holdaway | Honduras San Pedro Sula East Mission | October 2013-May 2015 |

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week #59--God is my loving Heavenly Father

Who we are is a result of everything that we've heard, seen, felt, thought, or lived all mushed and molded into one.  All of our experiences- our happy days, our hard days, our friends, our strengths, our weaknesses- make us who we are.  We're all unique.  But we all have one thing in common: God is our loving Heavnely Father.

I've heard the words "I am a child of God" ever since I can remember.  I sung them over and over and over again in primary, but despite the countless number of times I heard them, I don't think I ever really understood their true meaning.  I didn't understand what they truly entail, the blessings that they bring, and the potential that they promise me.

Until I came on my mission.

If you ask me what has been the greatest lesson that I've learned on my mission or the greatest miracle that I've had, I would tell you: "Learning what it really means to be a child of God." 

It seems like such a simple lesson, doesn't it?  Something so ordinary, something that everyone knows.  But for me, it took 19 years to believe.  19 years to come to really know.  19 years that were catalyzed by my 14 months here in Honduras.  I used to ask myself, "Why Honduras?  Why Honduras with the terribly hot weather and the scary men and the frequent power shortages and the fatty food and the Spanish and the everything?  Why, Heavenly Father?"  And it took a little while, but I don't ask why anymore.  Because now I know why.  I know that God sent me here because He knew that only here, in the Honduras San Pedro Sula East Mission, could I really grow to understand who He is.  Only here could I learn and discover who I really am.  Only here could He make me who He wants me to be.

God loves every one of us, but because we're not the same, He talks with each one of us in a different way.  And part of our job here on earth is to discover how He communicates with us.  And sometimes it's a little difficult.  It's like trying to figure out what exactly that smiley face means in the text that that one guy just sent you.

Lol, I mean.......kind of.

But anyway.

These past couple of weeks have been difficult: our appointments have been falling through, our investigators have been disappearing, and our baptismal dates have been pushed back or even entirely cancelled.

And when things get rough, I do the only thing that I know to do: I pray.

And these past couple of weeks, I've prayed.  

And I've felt like God hasn't heard me.  

And one night this week, I was laying in bed, thinking about everything and stressing out about everything.  I felt alone.  I felt forgotten.  I felt ignored and unimportant.  Basically I felt all the things that you don't want to feel.  And I was just thinking, "God, where are you?"  

And then I realized that I'm not the first one who's asked that question.

Someone a lot bigger than me asked it as well, while he was suffering for me and for you on the cross of Calvary:

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?  that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" - Matt. 27:46

I'm not the first and I will not be the last to ask that question.  But there is an answer.  An answer that's sometimes hard to understand.  Sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers in the way that we want Him to.  Sometimes He let's us figure things out on our own.  And He doesn't do it because He wants to see us suffer, He does it because He wants to see us grow.  A good teacher doesn't give the student all of the answers.  A good teacher helps the student to figure it out for themselves.

And God does the same with us. 

If He doesn't give us the answers right away, it's because He trusts us enough to let us decide.  Silence is golden.  

And that's what I learned this week.

And it's been the biggest miracle that I could have asked for.


Hermana Holdaway

Week #58--La da de da deeeee

To be honest, I don't really know what to say.

This week was hard.  But that just means that this week will be full of double blessings, right?

But I'm safe and happy and stressed, so I guess everything's normal.

I hope everything's going well with all of you.


Hermana Holdaway.

Also I'm in the pictures from Sister Klein's recent blog post.  (Cute pictures of Emma in action!)

Week #57-- Will you follow the example of Christ...?

Hello, everyone!
Happy new year!  I hope that your year is full of miracles, love, sprinkles, and happiness.  And even when life throws you up and down and all around, never forget to stop, breathe, and find peace in the little things.  Remember that life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.  

Hermana Alfaro and I had an amazing week, and if I had to sum it up in two words, I would say, "Miracles exist."
As a missionary, I'm here to invite people to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
But sometimes it's scary.

I've been called by a living prophet of God, and I've been set apart and given power and authority to preach the gospel, but I'm still human.  I'm still imperfect.  Just because I have a missionary nametag doesn't make me a super-baptizing robot all at once.  Becoming an effective missionary is a process.  It takes time.  And just like anything else, it requires practice, practice, practice.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I can become a better missionary.  And my conclusion was..........
I shouldn't be afraid to challenge people to be baptized!
The hardest words that I've ever had to say as a missionary are:
Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized?
I don't know why inviting people to be baptized is so scary, but it is.  I guess that I don't want people to think that I'm weird or pushy or that I'm forcing my religion on them.  And I don't want to be rejected.  Because getting rejected is the worst thing ever.  If you don't believe me, just go look up marriage proposal rejections on Youtube.  They're the worst.

But anyway, after reading this amazing talk, my perspective as a missionary changed forever.  If you are a missionary, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS TALK.  It will help you become more productive than you have ever been before, and it will help you do all that the Lord wants you do it.  Trust me.  Just read it.
And so I changed.  I made the goal to challenge at least one person to be baptized every day for the rest of my mission.  I decided that I am going to overcome my fear and instead, exercise my faith.

Fear verses faith... A choice that requires bravery and courage.  A choice that sometimes seems impossible.  But the scriptures are full of examples that show us that we can do it.  Because with God, nothing is impossible.
For example... 

- When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Issac, what side did Abraham choose?  Fear or faith?
- When Nephi had to face Laban and ask for the brass plates, what side did he choose?  Fear or faith?
- When the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi were being attacked and killed by the Lamanites, what side did they choose?  Fear or faith?
- When Joseph Smith was ridiculed and imprisioned and mocked, what side did he choose?  Fear or faith?
When you're faced with the decision between fear or faith, what will you choose?  Choosing fear might make us feel safe for a little while, but the question, "What if?" will always remain.  Don't rob yourself of your potential.  Always chose faith.

This week in Porvenir....
1.  I ate really delicious strawberry cookies that are the best things that have ever happened to me.  The end.
2.  There was a fish in our tree.  I don't have the slighest idea how that happened, but I have pictures to prove it.  I'll send them next week.
3.  There was a toad in our house last night but Hermana Alfaro and I were too lazy/scared to get it out so who even knows where it is now.  All I know is that I was super scared when I got up last night to go to the bathroom that this toad was going to attack me, wahhh.
4.  Hermana Muñoz, my companion from Olanchito, is staying with us for a couple of days because she finishes her mission this week.  I'm so happy to see my little Columbian again.
5.  We don't have any food and we are poor and don't have any money either, wah.
6.  I got to do exchanges with Hermana Tito!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I love her.

And that's all the exciting things that happened this week.

Hermana Holdaway

I know I've been the worst at sending pictures these past couple of months, and today I forgot my camera, but here are some random pictures that I found in my email, whoohoo!!!!!!

Fancy dining at KFC

 Christmas caroling cause yolo

Week #56--My year as a missionary.

Happy last P-Day of 2014!  I can't believe that this year is almost over.  And I also can't believe that I spent this whole year wearing crocs and skirts and a missionary nametag.
I know you're all thinking, "Oh my gosh, Hermana Holdaway, stop talking about your crocs."  But I will never stop talking about my crocs, so....
Lol what will you all do if I have just been completely converted to crocs and wear them even after my mission.  Will you all still talk to me????  Because I'm seriously considering it.
HAHAHAHHAHAHA JUST KIDDING I WILL NEVER WEAR CROCS AGAIN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.  Obama will dye his hair blonde before I buy another pair of crocs.
And speaking of Obama, how's he been doing these days?  How's the good old land of the free and home of the brave holding up?  Has the government had any more shut downs???  Are pizzas from Little Ceasars still $5?  WHAT EVEN IS AMERICA I DON'T EVEN KNOW.
But anyway.

2014 was the craziestfunniesthardestbestlongestshortesthottestsweatiest, most amazing year of my life, to be honest.  Lot's of animals peed on me, I got robbed a couple of times, I ate lots of weird food, I had lots of weird diseases, I lived with lots of cool Latinas, I learned Spanish, I baptized some Catrachos, I grew some grey hairs, I passed some kidney stones, I read some Book of Mormon, I ate lots of mangos, I met lots of amazing people, I laughed, I cried, I bought a cat umbrella, I got stuck in mud puddles, I danced in the rain, I ate chicken, I held a chicken, and I killed a chicken, I held a tarantula, I fell down a mountain, and I did lots of other things too.

But I still haven't finished the chapstick that I started at the beginning of my mission.  That's one of my new year's resolutions though.  But let's be honest, I get ten points for not having lost it!  Because only champions actually finish a whole chapstick before losing it.  But it's true though, don't even deny it.
Um...well, this email was super random but life is also super random so whatever.
I LOVE YOU GUYS!  The church is true!

Hermana Holdaway

Week #55--Christmas time....... and pictures!

It's almost Christmas!  But it's weird because it doesn't feel like Christmas at all down here.  We went to the grocery store today and it was all normal and calm, and I was just thinking to myself, "If this was a grocery store in the United States, it would be packed right now and there would be Christmas music and there would be snow outside and it would be wonderful."  I miss the hustle and bustle of an American Christmas.  But Honduras is cool too.
I have a lot of updates for you guys....

I had transfers!

I left Mezapa and am now in the lovely neighborhood of Porvenir.  And I'm a sister training leader!  For those of you who don't know, a sister training leader is someone who goes on divisions with the other hermanas in the mission and we participate in missionary leadership councils and stuff like that.  It's fun.  I'll get to see President Klein a lot more now!  I'm excited.  I love President Klein.  He's the best.

But anyway, my companion's name is Hermana Alfaro.  She's from Costa Rica!  She's super pretty and looks like Ariana Grande, haha.  She has one more transfer than I do in her mission, so she's going home in March.  But she's great!  I've only been with her a little more than a week, but I've already learned a lot from her.
We've had a busy week!  Last Saturday, we had a Christmas multizone conference!  Hermana Alfaro and I had to prepare an hour long presentation about the importance of developing Christlike attributes.  It went really well!  And we got to listen to President and Hermana Klein, which is always the best.  And we got ice cream sandwiches.  Merry Christmas to us!!!!
Last week I got to go back and visit Ceiba as well!  We had a P-Day with President Klein.  All of the zone and sister training leaders went to hike Pico Bonito.  And then we had pizza for lunch.  And I was able to go visit Hermana Doris for a little bit!  I cried.  I love Hermana Doris.  And then some missionaries threw up on the car ride home and it was an adventure!
Thursday I did my first divisions as a sister training leader.  I worked with Hermana Mazariegos, from Guatemala.  She's amazing!  We had a great day and ate lots of chips and cookies, haha.  She's had a difficult time in her mission so far, but she's positive and keeps marching on.  I admire her a lot.  And especially because she just had surgery on Saturday night.  She'll be in recovery for three weeks, but she's doing well.  Keep her in your prayers!
And a dog peed on me this week.  I think this makes it number 3240392840945723908.  I swear, all the animals in Honduras love peeing and pooping on me.  I don't get it.  But we were casually standing outside the gate, waiting for this guy to come out of his house, and this cute little dog comes up and is all calm and stuff, and then out of nowhere, it lifts it's leg up and pees on me.  LIKE UM, NOT OKAY.  Freaking, Honduras.
And these computers don't have viruses so I'm gonna send you guys some pictures!  Finally!
Hermana Holdaway.

 Hermana Alfaro and me!

All dolled up for the Christmas multizone conference, whudduppp

  Remember how I'm always freaking out about having grey hair??  Well, here's proof in case you guys didn't believe me.  My companion took this picture while I was praying. .......sinner

We threw a suprise birthday party for one of the hermanas here in Porvenir.  And we successfully made cake in the microwave.  I think that qualifies me for an Oscar or something cause, wow.

 Hermana Alfaro straightened my hair!  Whoohooo!!  My hair is long and it is also kind of red, but whatever. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week #53--Happiness: noun; the quality or state of being happy

Hi, everyone!

I hope that this email finds you happy and safe and that you're all enjoying the music and snow and lights and magic of this Christmas season.  But in midst of all of the hustle and bustle, don't forget to stop and remember the real meaning of Christmas and the most important gift of all: Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Hermana Vergara and I had a good week.  We went to Tela on Wednesday to give service with all of the missionaries in our zone.  Tela is about an hour bus ride away, and it's a city that's alongside the ocean, just like Ceiba!  So we planted coconut trees on the beach!  We planted about 300.  And Tela did a news report on us and we were on TV and everything, so we're casually just super famous, like whatever, I'm signing autographs and am already starting my autobiography.

But the bad part about planting coconut trees in Tela was that we were all full of sand, and we weren't able to shower when we got back to Mezapa because our water was coming in superrrrrr dirty.  Like it looked like chocolate milk.  Smh, Honduras, you're killing me.

Hermana Vergara and I were supposed to have a baptism this past Saturday: a grandpa named Doroteo who has a lot of swag and who always wears a cowboy hat.  We met him about a month ago when we were trying to cross this huge mud puddle.  We were struggling hardcore because crossing mud puddles is actually super hard and if you don't believe me just come visit Mezapa and you'll see.  Anyway, he just stood there laughing at us, and we were like, "Lol, yolo, let's teach this grandpa."  So we started teaching him, he went to church, we challenged him to be baptized, and he accpeted!  He was all set, literally 100% ready.  We'd passed off the baptismal interview questions with him and everything.  When we asked him if he was still drinking coffee, he was like, "Nah, ya no soy mundano."  Lol.  But anyway, when we went to visit him on Thursday, his daughter was like, "Oh, he moved this morning.  He now lives in some little town like an hour away."  Um....like...wow....not okay, Doroteo.  Not okay.   

On a happier note, we've been visiting and teaching a lot of families recently!  And I love it.  Family relationships are beautiful.  Isn't it amazing that God has given us families?  He's blessed us with people who will be with us through thick and thin, through our fat times and our skinny times, through the good and the bad. 

Things are never going to be perfect; every family has its problems.  But despite all the burdens and challenges we have, we can be happy.  It's always possible to be happy.

It's always possible to be happy: that's something that I've learned from the families here in Honduras.  These families oftentimes have challenges that I never even dreamed of having.  Some of these families don't have enough food for dinner.  Some of these families live in one room houses with sheets of metal for a roof.  Some of these familes don't have enough money to send their children to school.  But these families are happy.  They're united.  And they've shown me in a very real way that happiness isn't conditional; it isn't something that a few people can have.  Happiness is universal.  It's there for everyone, no matter who you are.  

And I know it's been said before, but happiness doesn't come from a store.

And Honduras taught me that.

I love Honduras.

So don't define your happiness on your material possessions.  Because if you do, you'll always come up short.  Don't rob yourself of the happiness you deserve.  Choose now to smile.  Choose now to be positive.  Choose now to live.  

And if you want to experience real happiness, forget yourself and serve someone else.

Food for thought.


Hermana Holdaway

Week #52--Crossing lots of things off my bucket list

These past couple weeks have been a grand adventure mainly because I'm living in Honduras and it's just a given that life is never boring.  But I've been able to cross a couple of things off my bucket list and I thought I would share those things with you:
1.  I killed a chicken.

...........Okay, I watched someone kill a chicken.  Which is basically the same thing.  But I got it all on film!  And when I thought the chicken was "supposedly" dead I got up close to get a good shot of the blood and stuff and then THE FREAKING CHICKEN CAME TO LIFE AGAIN AND BASICALLY ALMOST KILLED ME. 

I'll show you all the video one day.
But just be careful of chickens okay, because they're not what they seem.
2.  Someone got into an accident for doing a double take at me.
When you're a white girl in Honduras everyone stares at you.  Like I should honestly start charging people and I could probably make a lot of money.  Sometimes I feel like I'm a zoo exhibit or something like that.  But anyway, we were walking down the street and this one guy on a motorcycle is just staring hardcore at me as he passes and then once he drives by he turns around to keep staring and then he falls off his motorcycle. 
Ten points for Hermana Holdaway.

Um.  I can't think of anything else funny that's happened these past couple of days.  OH WAIT.  I got stuck in a mud puddle the other night.  It was the worst thing ever.  Hermana Vergara and I were walking home and it was dark.  We were going to take one of the bigger streets, but there were a bunch of men smoking and drinking and so we were like, "Mejor no."  And we decided to take a smaller street instead.  Since it's been raining a lot, there are a ton of puddles.  It was dark and I couldn't see really well, so I stepped where I thought it was mas o menos dry.  And oops that I stepped into the world's deepest mud puddle that was literally up to my knees.  I was stuck and couldn't move and when I managed to get unstuck, I left my shoe behind.  #CINDERELLASTATUS.  So we were poking around the mud puddle with the ends of our umbrellas for like ten minutes trying to rescue my shoe but we couldn't find it and then I was just like, "SCREW IT."  And I squated down and stuck my hands into the mud puddle trying to find my freaking croc up to my elbows in mud.  And then this guy passed by and was like, "What are you guys doing?  Fishing?"  And then he started laughing like he was the funniest guy in the world, like pease, IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO HELP ME FIND MY CROC, JUST MOVE ON, OKAY CAUSE I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR YOU.
And then Hermana Vergara was like, "Just leave your shoe there and we'll come back and look for it in the morning."  LIKE, UM, NO, DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THAT THIS CROC HAS BEEN WITH ME THROUGH EVERYTHING I CANNOT LEAVE IT ALONE ALL NIGHT IN THIS MUD PUDDLE.  

But then my prince charming came and fished my croc out for me and I put it on and it fit perfectly even with all the mud and poop and whatever else was on it and so now we're getting married.
Just kidding.
A little kid helped me fish my shoe out but the most important thing is that I have my croc and nothing will ever seperate us ever.  LIKE EVER.
The Church is true and I love you all.

Hermana Holdaway.

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