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

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.

Week #51--An attitude of gratitude

Roberto passed away this Saturday.  Hermana Tito called me around 9:30 in the morning to tell me.  I cried a little bit after the phone call, but I've been doing my best to be happy and positive.  It's been a lot easier this week than it was last week.  I think it's because last week I mentally prepared myself for what was going to happen.  And when I saw the incoming phone call, I knew what it was.  I didn't need to hear the words.  But I'm okay.  I'm pressing forward.  I'm making it through.  And it's mainly because I've felt this peaceful, calm feeling in my heart that's a little hard to describe.  A feeling that makes me know that everything will be alright.  

In other news....


I hope you all enjoy your all-American holiday.  All of us gringo missionaries here in Mezapa have been planning our Thanksgiving celebration ever since November started.  No one could remember if Thanksgiving was the second or third or fourth week in November though.  I swore it was the second, but then one of the elders was like, "Nope.  It's definitely the third."  And then we found out it's actually the fourth...so oops.  What is America, we don't even know anymore.  But anyway, we're going to buy a roasted chicken and make powdered mashed potatoes and gravy from the packets that this one elder's mom sent him in a package.  And maybe we'll sing the national anthem or something.  Almost the same, right?  Probably not, but hey, you've got to make the best out of what you've got.

In the April 2014 general conference, Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,

"Everyone's situation is different, and the details of each life are unique.  Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives.  There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.  We can be grateful!"

I am blessed.  And I am grateful to be blessed.  

I am grateful for my mission, for the wonderful opportunity that I've had to serve here in Honduras.  I am grateful for everything that I've learned and experienced.  I am grateful for each one of my companions, for each one of my investigators, and for each one of my converts.  I am thankful for baleadas, for tajadas, and for beans.  I am thankful for sunny days and for rainy days, for my missionary nametag, and for Crocs.  I am thankful for Spanish, for the once in a lifetime opportunity that I've had to learn to express myself in this beautiful language. 

I am thankful for scissors and headbands and umbrellas.  I am thankful for bug spray and Peptobismol.  I am thankful for fans and colored pens and janky internet cafes.  I am thankful for cows and chickens and horses.  I am thankful for tortillas.  I am thankful for USBs.  I am thankful for orange juice.

I am grateful for the night sky, for the breeze, for the sound of the ocean.  I am thankful for the challenges and trials that I have, because I know that they're making me stronger.  I am thankful for laughter and for tears.  I am thankful for hugs and for smiles.  I am thankful to be alive.

I am grateful for my family, for my friends, and for my God.  I am grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am grateful for the Book of Mormon.  I am grateful to be led and guided by a living prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson.  I am grateful for Jesus Christ.  I am thankful to know that He lives, and because He lives, I do too.

I am thankful to have the truth, to know who I am, and to know who I can become.

I am blessed.  And I am grateful to be blessed.

What are you grateful for?


Hermana Holdaway 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Week #50--Endings are not our destiny

Wednesday night, 10:15 PM.  

I'm kneeling down at my bedside saying my nightly prayer, and I hear the phone buzz in the other room.  Thinking it's just one of the other missionaries, I finish my prayer and climb into bed, letting Hermana Vergara answer the message.  I close my eyes and try to fall asleep, although the 5 billion itching bug bites on my legs make sleeping pretty much impossible.  But then my companion calls my name saying, "Hermana Holdaway.  The phone's for you."

She brings me the phone.  I open the text, which is from my last companion, Hermana Tito, who's still in Ceiba, and read: "Hermana Holdaway.  I have bad news.  Roberto's had two heart attacks.  He's in the hosptial.  And things aren't looking too good."

Fear floods over me as I think about Roberto, the grandpa that I'd grown to love so dearly.  I call Hermana Tito, asking for more details, and she tells me that medically speaking, Roberto shouldn't even be alive.  He's still here because he's a fighter, but the doctors say that he's in his last days.  His kidneys are failing, and only 25% of his heart is functioning.  He's on oxygen and can't talk.  We don't know how much time he has left.

I couldn't sleep at all that night.  And this whole week has been a struggle, trying to smile and fake away the pain, trying to hold back my tears.  And it's been hard.  It's been hard because I've honestly never met anyone as sincere, loving, and happy as Roberto.  He was my miracle: the best convert that I've had my whole mission.  And I never thought that I would have to say goodbye like this.  And honestly, I don't even really get to say goodbye.  Thursdaymorning, I called President Klein, asking for permission to go and see him, but President Klein said no.  I don't understand why, but I know he has to have his reasons.  It's just hard knowing that I'm here in Honduras just a few short hours away while Roberto's suffering and dying, and I can't do anything about it. 

But this was just something so totally unexpected.  A few short weeks ago, I was in Ceiba, laughing and talking with Roberto, as he shared with us stories from his past and gave us chips and Coke.  And in the blink of an eye, everything changed.  I know that death is a real and necessary part of life, but who would have thought that it would come on so soon?  I didn't come on my mission expecting to say goodbye like this.  

I came on my mission to help others prepare to meet God.  And this week I've learned in a very real way that we don't know when that is.  It could be today, or it could be tomorrow.  Are you prepared to meet God?  Ask yourself that question.  And if you're not, then change what you need to change.  And change it now.  Because you don't know how much time you have left.  

I'm here is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  I'm here to help others be happy in this life and receive exaltation in the world to come.

And I know that there is a world to come.

This can't be the end.  And it isn't the end.  I know it's not.  After death, we will continue to exist.  And one day, we will resurrect, just like Jesus Christ was resurrected: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).  As a missionary, I teach and testify each and every day of the great plan of happiness that God has created for each one of His children.  And our life here on earth is only a small fraction of that plan.  Our lives didn't begin at birth and they don't end at death.  Death is hard.  Separation is hard.  Goodbyes are hard.  And honestly, this is something that I've never had to deal with before.  My grandma died when I was a little girl, but I was too young to understand, too young to remember.  But I'm not too young now.  Now, as a 20 year old, I understand death.  And it's been hard.  It's been hard because I loved Roberto.  There's a special connection that exists between missionary and convert.  It's something that's hard to explain, and it's something that I think you have to experience to understand.  It's a special kind of love.  A love that binds us together for forever.  A love that I'd never experienced before my mission.  A love that's more precious than anything else.  A love that makes saying goodbye very, very hard.

But I am grateful to understand God's plan of salvation.  I've found peace and comfort knowing that I will see my dear Roberto once again.  I don't have the words to express how honored I am to have found him and to have helped him find and know the truth.  I know that Roberto is prepared to meet God.  And I am privileged to have been a part of his life.  And I will always remember him.


Hermana Holdaway

"In the light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us?  There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings. 

Why is this?  Because we are made of the stuff of eternity.  We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number.  Endings are not our destiny.

The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all.  They are merely interruptions- temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.

How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."

Week #49--Cannibalism and avacados

Hermana Vergara and I had a good week.  It was a little long and a little hard, but we're smiling and pushing forward, and we're happy!  And we're especially happy because we got to nap today.  Sleeping is theeeeeeeee best.

This week the missionaries and some of the members of our branch had a few choir practices because we were going to sing during sacrament meeting on Sunday.  So one night Hermana Vergara and I showed up to the chapel a little bit early, and no one had gotten there yet (I don't remember if I've put this in a past email, but there isn't a church building here in Mezapa, so we meet in a little house that's been converted to a chapel.  #ghetto).  Anyway, we sat down under this super big tree to wait for the elders to get there and open the church.  And there were a freaking ton of bats flying around this tree.  And I mean A TON.  And like most people here in Honduras, these bats don't know what personal space is, and they were just flying around super close to your face and I was like, "NO MORE."  So we left the tree.
The end.

Just kidding.  It's not the end because it gets better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  During choir practice one of the other hermanas, Hermana Peterson, was like, "Hermana Holdaway, what's that on your shoulder?"  And then we realized it was bat poop.  So a bat pooped on me.  I think I humbly win the award for luckiest person in the entire world.
But maybe I'll get converted into Batwoman or something and then it will all be worth it.

So last week I was complaining about having to eat pig brain, but life just keeps getting better and better because this week I had to eat pig tail and pig feet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And it was disgusting.  There's just something about seeing little pig hooves on your plate that makes you lose your appetite.  And then they handed me this little piece of tail and were like, "Just eat around the bone!"  And while I was eating/trying not to throw up, I could only think of one thing:

My mind was going crazy, like, "Holy crap, I'm eating Dudley Dursley.  Like I'm pretty sure cannibalism isn't a good thing, but okay...."

Hermana Vergara and I always see this one old guy in our area who rides around on a bicycle selling avocados.  So, avacados are the best things ever, and whenever I see him I want to buy one but I never have any money with me.  Anyway, one day we started talking with him, and he started flirting with me (#casual), and was like, "What would you say if I gave you an avacado for free?"  And I was like, "Umm...thank you?"  And then he gave me a free avacado.  He was like, "A beautiful avacado for a beautiful muchacha.  And from now on, every time I see you, I'm going to give you a free avacado."  #SCORE.  Hopefully we see each other often, old man! 

And lol, this week we did indeed see each other often.  We ran into him two more times.  But he's a man of his word, and each time he gave me a free avacado.  Maybe Mezapa isn't that bad after all...

And I've already started freaking out about coming home in just a little over five months.  It's super weird because I feel like I've been a missionary my whole life and I'm just super confused and conflicted and scared to come home because what am I even going to do and who am I even going to be.  And like wow.  Emotions are stressful sometimes.  And then Hermana Vergara played me this song, and I just started crying because WOW THE MISSION IS JUST THE BEST THING EVER OKAY AND I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS.


Be happy!  Be Mormon.

Love always,

Hermana Holdaway

"Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which theLord can comprehend." - 
Mosiah 4:9

Week #48--525,600 Minutes

I've officially been on my mission for a year.  Well as of today, I guess it's been a year and 4 days.  But it's casual.  I've just spent 365 days casually wearing a missionary nametag and a skirt (#amishlife) and casually living in Honduras even though I'm a gringa and casually speaking Spanish #TACOS.  It's just like super casual and normal and ordinary, but whatever.
And even though I graduated high school like twenty years ago (or I mean 3 years ago...), I'm still a theatre nerd and woke up singing "525,600 Minutes" at the top of my lungs because some things just don't change and this is one of those things.  

525,600 minutes.  525,000 moments so dear.  525,600 minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?
In baptisms.
In bug bites.
In gun shots, in baleadas.
In miles walked.
In scriptures read.
In laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes.  How do you measure a year in the life?
What about love?  How about love?  Measure in love.
Seasons of love.

So Mezapa's cool I guess.  We're literally in a little town in the middle of nowhere.  But there's still a Chinese restaurant and a bakery that sells really good donuts so I think I'll be okay.  There aren't any laundromats like there were in Ceiba, so I'm back to washing all my clothes by hand.  My favorite thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  -__________-  I washed clothes this morning and now my hands are all hurt and blistered and peeling.  #gringaproblems. 
My companion's name is Hermana Vergara.  She's from Mexico and has been on her mission for 7 months.  She's super fun and likes to eat cake, so we get along just fine.  She's only been here in Mezapa for a month, so she doesn't know the area that well yet, so we've been doing lots of exploring and meeting lots of new people. 
On Thursday we met a woman named V.  We met her contacting!  And we had an amazing experience with her.  We knocked on her door (o sea, we stood and yelled "BUENAS" outside her house), she let us in, and we started talking.  Her family is Catholic, but she doesn't attend any church because she feels like organized religion is full of pride and corruption.  She told us that she was meeting with the Mormon missionaries a couple of years ago, but nothing ended up happening.  I told her that it wasn't a coincidence that we knocked on her door, that everything happens for a reason, and she said, "I know.  Before you guys got here, I was praying to God about a personal problem that I've been having.  I asked Him for guidance and answers, and then you came over.  I know that he sent me you two angels as an answer to my prayer."  We felt the Spirit so strongly in that moment. And when I invited her to pray that night to ask God if our message was true, she said, "I don't need to ask.  I know it's true.  I can feel it."  And then we challenged her to be baptized, and she accepted.
#SCORE #casual #thechurchistrue
It rained a lot this week.  Like a lot a lot.  Like 5 days of constant rain.  And the streets here are literally rivers when it rains.  I'm not even kidding.  It was raining so hard one night that we had to go home early.  We were about five or six blocks from our house, and the water was all brown and yucky and almost up to our knees.  So there we were, casually walking/swimming home.  I felt like Bear Grylls (SIDE NOTE: I actually really am Bear Grylls because I'm pretty sure I ate pig brain this week.  We went over to visit this family and they were all like, "HERMANAS EAT THE FOOD," all Napoleon-Dynamite-when-he's-feeding-Tina-style, and then they started scraping meat of the bone which I realized mid-chew was actually a skull.  In my past life, I probably would have thrown up, but Honduras changes you, so I took seconds instead*.  Take that Bear Grylls).  But anyway, there was a lot of rain and a lot of water in the streets, and I was about ready to call up Moses and have him come down and divide the Mezapa Sea so Hermana Vergara and I could cross on dry ground.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha. -_-  Bu anyway, I was going to take a picture, but then I changed into my pajamas and made hot chocolate and read the Book of Mormon instead (#superrighteous #spiritual #whitemormongirl), so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.
So yup.  That's been my week.  Today I was going to send you guys pictures from the baptism that Hermana Tito and I had last week and from all of my goodbyes in Ceiba but this computer has a virus and so if I plug my camera in, it will die.
So mejor no.
Until next week, my fellow white people.  And fellow Asians.  Shout out to Tim Chan.  BRAIN TRUST 4EVER.
K, whatever.

Hermana Holdaway

*DISCLAIMER:  I actually didn't take seconds because even though I've lived in Honduras for like ten years, I'm still a white girl who prefers Spongebob mac and cheese or Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Nutella over pig brain.  Some things just don't change and this is one of those things.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Week #47--It's like a symphony...just keep listening

Hey everyone!

Sorry for not writing on Monday.  I'm sure you were all dying of anticipation and worry and everything.  But actually probably not because no one even cares about me anymore because I've been away for so long.  But I mean, whatever, guys, whatever.  #missionaryproblems.

But anyway, I didn't write on Monday because I was super stressed/worried waiting for transfer calls.

And then transfer calls came.

And my zone leader was like, "LOL HERMANA HOLDAWAY YOU HAVE TRANSFERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  And then I cried because I hate saying goodbye more than anything in the entire world.  And I especially hated saying goodbye to Ceiba.  It was super hard.  But I did it because I can do hard things.

So here I am in my new area...Mesapa!  It's a small pueblecito that's about an hour outside of Progreso.  I've only been here for about an hour, but I already love it from what I've seen so far.  It seems to be super tranquilo, and it reminds me a lot of Olanchito.  And I love Olanchito.  So I have no complaints.  :)  

Now I'm excited to go out, get to work, and find out why the Lord wants me here!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my two transfers with Hermana Tito these past couple of days.  I learned a lot from her.  At times, it was hard.  Before she came I remember thinking, "Wow!  My marriage is obviously going to be all perfect and happy all the time because I've never fought with any of my companions and each and every one of them have literally been my soul mate."  And then Hermana T came along.  And it's not like we fought and hated each other and didn't get along, because that's absolutely not the case.  Because I love that little Peruana with all of my heart.  But with her, it was a little bit different.  It was hard at first.  And it's because she showed me my weaknesses.  She wasn't afraid to point out my imperfections with blunt, sharp language, haha.  I laugh thinking about it now.  Hermana T can be a little sassy!  And it was a little hard to swallow sometimes.  I had to learn to be humble.  To close my mouth and turn the other cheek.  And I'm not claiming to be perfect or anything like that, because I know that I'm the farthest thing from perfect there is.  Sometimes I feel so unworthy of all of the blessings that the Lord has given me, and I ask myself, "How is it possible that the Lord continues to bless me when I continue to make mistakes?  When I continue to be imperfect?  When I can never do things right?"  

I was just going to continue by saying, "I guess I just don't understand how the Savior can love me when I continue to fall down....when I can never seem to give my all or do my best."  And right when I was going to type that, a thought came to my mind...  I thought of all of my investigators, of my converts, of the less active members that I've visited during my mission.  Of all of the wonderful people that I've met and grown to know and love.  Are they perfect?  Of course not.  They make mistakes.  There were times when they didn't read the Book of Mormon, when they didn't come to church, or when they drank just that one more little cup of coffee.  And did I stop loving them just because they aren't perfect?  Of course not.  If anything, their imperfections made me love them even more.  Seeing them fall made me want to help them even more. 

And I guess it's exactly the same with Christ and us.  Isn't it?

I've been trying my whole mission to understand more profoundly the love that Christ has for me.  I've often asked myself, "What more can I do?  What scriptures can I read?  How can I understand?"  And the answer has been right in front of me the whole time, and I just haven't realized it: Do what Christ did.  Serve others.  Love others.  And then you'll grow to understand.  

And I've loved others.  Really.  I can't look you in the eyes and say that I've been a perfect missionary because I haven't.  It would be a lie.  I can't say that I haven't had my days where I just want to quit and go home.  Because it would be a lie.  I can't say that I've always been a perfect companion because it would be a lie.  But there is one thing I can say without a single doubt in my mind: I've loved.  I've loved a lot.  I developed charity, the pure love of Christ.  It's a gift that I didn't have before my mission.  But now, it's a gift that I can't contain within me, even with the extra pounds that Honduras has graciously given me.  I honestly cannot even begin to express the amount of love that I have for the people that I've met on my mission.  The thought of leaving and having to say goodbye honestly breaks my heart.  I could spend the rest of my life as a missionary and be perfectly and completely happy.  :)

So I guess I do understand why Christ loves me despite my imperfections.  And I understand because I have a small portion of that love for those around me.  

I feel all happy inside now!  The Church is super true.

It's funny how God answers our prayers sometimes, isn't it?  My whole mission I've had this question, this desire to understand Christ's love.  And God answered me right now.  With a thought that came to my mind as I sat in a small internet cafe in Mesapa, Honduras, writing my weekly email.  It's a testimony that God really does here and answer our prayers.  And even though sometimes our answers come when we least expect it, they always come.



Hermana Holdaway

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week #46--The longest email you will ever read

I am still here in Honduras.  It is still really hot.

I'm in a trio again.  With Hermana Garcia from Mexico.  I don't think she likes us very much, but I mean, whatever.  She'll be with us for a week until transfers come.

This week was hard, but trials help us learn and grow, so it's okay.

I love you all.  And sorry that I'm super lame and don't want to write anything this week, but whatever.

Oh yeah.  One of our investigators made us eat sting ray so that was my fun experience of the week.

Sting ray isn't very good.  But #honduras.

Week #45--I'm where I'm supposed to be

I was doing a lot of thinking as Hermana Tito and I were sitting in church yesterday....alone.  Not one of our investigators was able to come.  (And let me just go on a little side note right now...you all think you know what stress is, but let me tell you, stress on Sunday mornings in the mission field is a whole new level.  Cause we wake up and we call everyone in the entire world to remind them about church and then we run around our entire area going to pick people up, and we get to their houses, and then they're like, "Lol, hermanas, we're not going to church."  And it's like, " Your mom.  It's super hot and I'm super sweaty and you just made me run all over La Ceiba to come pick you up so we could go to church and be nourished together by the strengthening power of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and now you're saying that you're not going even though you promised me throughout this whole week that you would, and I'm actually a little annoyed with you right now, but you're a child of God and I'm a missionary so I'll just smile and pretend I still like you.")  

Anyway.  That was my little side note.  But basically, it sucks when no one comes to church.  It's like the feeling you get when you're the last one to get picked for the kickball team during gym class or when the vending machine is all out of Snickers bars or that guy that you like doesn't ever, ever, EVER text you first.  We were just sitting there like, "Wow.  No one loves us and we don't have any friends."    Like a moment of complete and total rejection.

Anyway, so this is turning out to be a really big venting session, but I promise I'm getting to the "AWWW LIFE IS THE BEST" part.

So as I was sitting in church thinking and pondering about the many things that missionaries think about, I was just like, "Wow, I'm actually really blessed."  God has given me far more than I deserve, starting with my family and ending with my mission.  He's led me to where He wants me to be.  And right now, He wants me to be here in Honduras.  And even though it's hard, I know that right now I'm becoming someone that I couldn't become in any other way.  And it's true, there will be hard moments.  There will be Sundays when I'll sit at church alone.  But as I looked around at the members of my ward that I love so much, as I walk down the streets of my area trying to avoid the crazy, drunk men (Lol, Mom, don't freak out.  Those drunk men don't got nothing on me cause I workout so I'm super strong and can take anyone on.  KEEP SLAMMING THOSE TRAILS HARDCORE PARKOUR), as I eat greasy Honduran fried chicken, and as I preach the gospel that I know and love, I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.  And yesterday was one of those moments where it all just hit me.  Like wow.  God knows me.  And He's guided me.  And maybe I don't fully understand all the reasons why I'm here, little by little, I'm getting there.


On the list of cool and casual things that happened this week there is a dead cockroach in my apartment and Hermana Tito ate it.

I mean.  Just kidding.  But whatever.

I LUV U ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hermana Holdaway

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Week #44--Why I'm a Missionary

When he came out in his baptismal clothing he was like, "I work for NASA.  I'm going to the moon really quick.  I'll be right back.  Just call me Neil Armstrong!"  I was laughing so hard.  He's the funniest grandpa ever.

I hope you all had the opportunity to watch or listen to General Conference this past weekend.  General Conference is honestly amazing!  What a blessing it is in our lives to be able to listen to the words of our living prophets and apostles.  Conference weekends are the best weekends.  I definitely give them a 5 star rating.  

I especially loved Elder Bednar's talk from the Sunday afternoon session.  He addressed his talk specifically to those people who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (in other words, Mormon Muggles).  He said, "I know a lot of you must have this question in your minds: 'Why are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so eager to tell me about what they believe?  And why do they always invite me to learn more about their church?' "  His question made me laugh as I thought about us 88,000 full-time missionaries serving around the world.  I'm sure this is a question that more than one person has had as they meet and interact with us Mormon missionaries.

Mormon missionaries: all day, every day, we knock on doors, talk with people on the streets, and invite people to learn more about our church.  But why?  Surely we, a bunch of 18-25 year olds, have better things we could be doing with these 18 months or 2 years.  We could be in college, we could be working, we could be living a normal, young adult's life.  But we're not.  We're working hard from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM seven days a week.  We live in other countries, eat weird food, speak different languages.  We get laughed at and mocked at, get rained upon and sunned upon.  Sometimes we get robbed or get kidney stones or have some weird fungus growing in our ear.  But it doesn't matter.  Because we laugh, and we cry.  We learn, and we grow.  And we serve with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.  And even though it's hard, we keep marching on, day after day, week after week, month after month.  And some of you might say, "But why?"  And it's a good question.  If serving a mission is such a sacrifice, we do we do it?

Elder Bednar's question to the Mormon Muggles made me ask myself that very same thing.  Why am I a missionary?  Why am I here?  Why do I do what I do?

I do what I do because I have a testimony of this church.  I have an unexplicable knowledge deep within my heart that this is the truth.  I don't doubt.  I don't even have the capacity to doubt.  Because I know that this is true.  I know that it's true because this gospel has made me who I am today.  It's changed me.  It's made me a far better person than I could ever be without it.  I so wish that each of you could see the change in me.  Maybe it's not huge or drastic, but it's real.  I know it's real.  Because I've seen it in myself.  Okay, let's get one thing clear, I'm not just referring to the terrible and visible physical changes (aka the grey hairs and the weight gain) that have happened these past 11 months, if not the changes of my very being BECAUSE IT'S THE INSIDE THAT COUNTS OKAY.

So anyway.  I'm not the same judgmental, self-critical, negative, perfectionist that I was before.  I'm happy.  And I love everyone.  And I'm not perfect.  But I'm okay with that.  And each day I'm working to become the person that God wants me to become.  

I know that The Book of Mormon is true.  It's the word of God.  We will grow closer to God by reading and abiding to the principles in The Book of Mormon than by any other book on Earth.  I invite each and every one of you to read The Book of Mormon and see if your life will not change.  And I promise you that it will.      

I'm a missionary because I love my Savior and my Redeemer, even Jesus Christ.  I'm a missionary because I know that He lives and I know that He loves me.  Sometimes I can't belive it, but He loves me.  Isn't it amazing that the most perfect being, the being who died for each one of us, loves me personally?  Despite my imperfections, despite my sins, despite my shortcomings, despite what the world says about me, He loves me.  And He loves you as well.  And if you don't believe me, get down on your knees and ask.  Pray, ask, and see if your life will not change.  And I promise you that it will.

I'm a missionary because God has given me everything that I have.  And even though I'll never be able to fully pay Him back, I can at least try.

Week #43--It's Worth It!

My Honduran dress! 
I made it all by myself.  Mom and Madison should be very proud of me.

 I am a Disney Princess

Roberto came to the activity!  

I know I've probably said this before, but missions are the best.  Really.  They're hard.  They stretch you to your limits.  They make you cry.  They make you want to go home and sleep in your own bed and eat 15 bags of microwave popcorn while watching Disney Channel on Netflix, but they're worth it.  They're worth it because for every 100 people who slam the door in your face, there's one person who will listen.  They're worth it because for every appointment that falls through, God will lead you to one person who is waiting and praying for guidance.  They're worth it because for every tear that you shed, God will give you a miracle in return.

And God gave me a miracle this week.

And that miracle is named Roberto.

Hermana Tito and I met Roberto on August 25.  It was a Monday.  He's the funniest abuelo that I've ever met.  We talked for a while, getting to know him, shared a short scripture with him, and invited him to church that Sunday.  And he actually came!  We tried going back multiple times during the next week to teach him again, but he was never home.  Hermana Tito and I were a bit sad that we weren't able to find him, but to our surprise, he came to church again the next week!  All by himself!  We set up an appointment to return that Tuesday, and from then on out, things went flying.  And by flying, I mean that our favorite grandpa, Roberto, got baptized this Saturday.  

We went to a stake activity this past Friday night.  It was a Honduran culture night!  So there was a bunch of food, games, and activities from all the different parts of Honduras.  A member in my ward here helped my sew a typical Honduran dress, and Hermana Tito and I went to the activity 100% Catratchas.  Everyone was obsessed with us and was taking pictures and so now I think I know what it feels like to be a princess in Disney World.  But it was super fun.  I LOVE YOU, HONDURAS.

And it's transfer week.  Again!  I'm finishing up my 7th transfer.  Only 5 more to go!  But anyway, I've been having this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach all this week which makes me feel like I'm going to be leaving Ceiba and going to a different area.  I'm really sad.  I hope I don't leave.  I love the people here so much.  :(  But we should know within the next couple hours.  But it's crazy how fast time is flying by, I almost can't believe it.

Here in Honduras there is a dead cat outside my apartment, it is really, really hot, and the hand dryer in the bathroom at church was made in Livonia, Michigan.  I don't think I've ever been so excited like ever.  LIKE MICHIGAN.  LIKE THAT'S MY HOUSE.  LIKE FARMINGTON ROAD.  LIKE NORTHVILLE.  HOME.  Hermana Tito didn't really understand me, but all my fellow Michiganders can fangirl with me, right?  Right.  

K.  I love you guys.  Talk to you next week.


Hermana Holdaway
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