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

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.
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