Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Favorite Week Yet! (with pics!)

What an incredible week. Probably my favorite in the MTC so far. It's so crazy I'm already 3 weeks down and 3 weeks to go. Time is truly flying right now here in the MTC. 

Regarding all your emails, I LOVED LOVED LOVED them all! I would have to say my favorite thing was receiving Claire and Scotts wedding Video. Elise you did such an incredible job! You are so talented. I watched that today and I was crying my eyes out. Not just because I miss you, but because of how happy our family is and how much I love my new incredible sister in law Claire! How wonderful it is to know we can all be sealed as a family for eternity. You all are what bring me so much joy in my life. I love you Rachel and Claire, my brothers really scored!! The video was so awesome. As I was crying and laughing and just smiling, my companions were looking over my shoulder and they are like "HOLMES! What are you doing kissing that girl??" hahahaha I said  "that's my brother!" I told them how Scott and I always get mistaken for each other, other than the fact that he is much taller than me. I'd have to say my favorite part of the video is when Scott is dancing to his Jam "Danza Kuduro" and just killing it!  As fat Amy would say: "Crushed it." Love you Scotty. So happy for you two. 

First off regarding the week, this week there were 126 mission presidents that came in to be trained by the 12 apostles. The main building was closed down just for them so we didn't get to go in and see them, but I had two encounters! I saw Elder Ballard jump in his car when we were walking to the temple so once we got to the other side of the street, I told all the missionaries to stand on the side of the road and wave to Elder Ballard as he turned our way! As he turned our way, he rolled down the window and gave us all a wave. I was SO JAZZED! Hahaha (I bet Christian is missing my lingo so I had to include that for him.) When we were walking back, we crossed the cross walk and there was a man in the car that waved to us so I just waved back not thinking anything, and then I realized that it was Elder Oaks! Haha funny. Anyway, super cool to have 8 of the 12 apostles on the campus. It shows me how important missionary work is to the church if the Apostles of the Lord come to train these Mission Presidents.

On thursday and friday every district in the MTC had a president seminar with a mission president for an hour each day. We have 4 elders going to Mozambique so their mission president, President Kock, came in. So awesome. He spoke a decent amount of english. It was hard to understand but I picked up a very good amount. On friday though, our teach Brother Nothum challenged us to a "Jejum do Engl├ęs" (English Fast) until Sunday!!!! It was hard but I learned so much and my portuguese really got a whole lot better! But that meant that friday with this mission president it was all Portuguese! He would ask a question and then call on someone so everyone had an equal time to share, but oh boy.... some of the elders and sister's in our zone struggled. I felt so bad! President Kock engrained in my head though the importance of knowing why the Book of Mormon has changed my life? Why am I teaching about this book I know to be true. Investigators are going to want to know why the Book of Mormon has really touched me.

On friday night after President Kock, we had the opportunity to meet our mission president Tevarez and his wife. I have meet them a couple of times in the cafeteria and always try to talk to them. T,hey are just so awesome. This was my favorite part of the week. Sister Tevarez shared an incredible story. She served in Lisbon as a missionary years ago, and when she was about to leave she felt like she would never return to Lisbon in her life and that made her really sad. But one night, before she was about to leave, she was reading the book of mormon and was overwhelmed with the spirit (that is why we read the book of mormon to feel the spirit) and had this feeling in her heart that one day, she would return to Lisbon to serve. Years and years later, she and her husband received their assignment to be mission Presidents: Lisbon Portugal. So cool.

Their English is poor and so they only spoke portuguese to us. I could understand a good amount but for the most part, our class was pretty lost. We finally had a translator come in and translate for us as the President spoke about our potential as missionaries. How in the MTC we can grow a good amount:  the first 4 months if we work hard, we can become fluent with the language, and the rest of our mission we can meet and even exceed our potential and his expectations. What really touched me though, was what he wanted our mission Motto to be. He said that when the mission presidents were being trained, President Eyring held up a plate with the words "I came to Bless." He said, "You can put your sacrifice on the alter... you came to bless." I am going to Portugal to bless the lives of others. With this gospel, with my friendship and joy, and through service. Service service service. Through service we become Christ like which should be a goal for all of us in this life. I love the President already and I know I'll have a strong relationship with him and his wife.

On Sunday Elder Collette and I taught our district meeting. We taught about repentance and forgiveness. I taught about repentance and how we shouldn't delay this critical saving ordinance in our lives. Christ wants us to use his atonement so that we can return to God's presence and live with him. Through repentance we can have a fresh view about God and our lives, and feel forgiven for the sins we committed. Christ promises this. But you might ask yourself, why do I still remember the sins I've committed? Satan is a liar and tries to make us believe our sins are not forgiven after repentance, because we can still remember them. But President Uchtdorf has taught us that  "…Remembering will help us avoid making the same mistakes again. But if we stay true and faithful, the memory of our sins will be softened over time." I felt good about the lesson we taught.

And lastly, we had an incredible devotional yesterday and then I had the privilege to watch Meet the Mormons again. While watching meet the mormons i couldn't stop thinking to myself, "why wouldn't anyone want this life style? If you live the gospel you are going to be blessed, you are going to be happy! You are going to have so much joy in your life and overcome your challenges." The video shows the lives of mormons all around the world. If you haven't watched it, I truly encourage you to. It brought me to tears when the last member is talking about how her son is going on a mission. How her mind keeps telling her he should stay but her heart knows the importance of the work he is about to be doing and how much he will touch the lives of others. How her son was on loan, how he is the Lord’s, and the Lord needs him to spread this great gospel. As I was crying, I thought of my Mom. Sending her 4th missionary out must have been hard, but she has such a strong testimony that what we are doing is for our Heavenly Father and is so so important. I love you Mom. You're the most incredible person I know. I miss you each and everyday. Thanks for shaping me into the man I am today. 

Have a great week and remember your Heavenly Father believes in you. "I came to bless."


Elder Holmes

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Getting the Hang of this!

Date: June 23, 2015 at 1:05:21 PM MDT
Subject: Getting the Hang of this!!
From: Lee Holmes <lee.holmes@myldsmail.net>


What a week. I'm really getting the hang of this place and I'm loving it!! The days get long at times, but I've just been laughing and smiling and having a grand time. 

To start off, it was kind of funny the other day when I was buying some lunch. This guy who was working in the lunch room looked at my name tag and said "Elder Holmes?? I remember when I was in here there was an Elder Holmes with an Elder Watson! They had to have been lined up on purpose! haha Someone was getting a good laugh." And I said “Yeah that was my brother Scott! Haha I guess Scott really made an impression on that Kid ;)

Twice a week in here we also have to do service which can get a little ridiculous. With so many missionaries, I think they have a hard time finding userful things for us to do in the MTC. What they do is there's a zone that cleans each building every day so pretty much we are cleaning rooms that were just cleaned the day before and they are spotless! haha This week Elder Collete and I had to vacuum these rooms for an hour and 15 minutes that were literally spotless and every time we finally ran over a piece of dirt or something and the vacuum made some noise, indicating that we picked something up, we would just cheer and then start laughing! It was also 6:15 in the morning so we were a little out of it. 

This week was a blast when the new missionaries came in. We had lunch and then after lunch there is a hall way that all the new missionaries walk through so Elder Collete and I got on each side of the hall way with like 10 other Elders including Elder Easton and Elder Namok and were just so pumped for the new Missionaries coming in. It was hilarious. We were all just so jazzed. My friend Elder Mingus from BYU is in my zone now so it's been super fun with him this week and of course it was a party seeing Elder Curtis. He didn't walk through our line though. Must have missed him. Probably the most fun part of the week.

The Portuguese is coming slowly but surely. I realized right off the bat that the MTC is a missionary training center and not a language training center and so I'd say I've been focusing a lot more on becoming more spiritually prepared and how to teach and what to teach. But, I do study a lot of vocab and do feel like the Portuguese is really coming along! I was a little frustrated the other day in our "investigator" lesson because I could literally not think of one word to say. I don't know why. It humbled me and that's what it's suppose to do, I guess. But then last night i was just on fire!! Everything was coming to me and although the sentences might not have been perfectly worded, I could get my Point across. Last night after our lesson, the "investigator" gave Collete and I some feedback and he said we taught him the best he's ever been taught while acting as an "investigator.” He said our zone compares perfectly to a zone he had years ago for how prepared and motivated we are. Super nice of him and he had Elder Collette and I JAZZED!! 

Elder Collete, Namok, Easton and I are really getting along. I love them. They are already some of my best friends. It is going to be sad not living with them in 4 weeks but I am just so excited to get out to Portugal!!!

This week we also saw our Mission Presidents in the cafeteria!! Elder Easton spotted them and so we all went up and I asked him if he was President Tevarez serving in Lisbon!! He got up with a big smile on his face and gave all of us the Biggest Hugs!! They don't speak English, well the husband speaks probably as much English as I do Portuguese so that'll be a little hard. But the wife was so happy and and was so excited to meet all of us. I already know they are going to be so great and I'm excited to grow closer to them over the next two years.

Lastly, I want to leave you all with the thoughts I had after Sunday Night’s devotional. First we heard from Brother and Sister Littlefields. Brother Littlefields is the Pre-field Missionary Service manager who oversees all the mission calls to the general authorities. He shared how the people of our missions, the people of Portugal, have been prepared by the Lord for us to come and teach them. He said, "Where does it say in the scriptures the field is brown already to plant seeds? No where! It says the field is WHITE! Already to HARVEST!" I know the Lord has been preparing them for me and I know Portugal is where I'm suppose to be. Brother Littlefields finished and said "if you don't believe you are going where you are supposed to go, oh boy. The stories I could share with you."

After the devotional, we watched the devotional given by Bednar on the "Character of Christ" a couple years ago to the missionaries in the MTC on Christmas. It was unreal! It was all about how are lives should be centered around Christ and finding out the character of Christ. By the time we die we should have 400-500 Book of Mormons on a bookshelf all answering a question we have about Christ. Bednar said how the Character of Christ is to turn outward when the natural man would turn inward. How when we lose our self and turn outwards to others we will find our self. But if we turn inwards to ourself, in the attempts to find ourselves, we just can't find ourselves. Only through turning outwards will we be able to. Turn outwards and put others first. He shared several stories about Christ that truly had an impact on me and my life. He shared how one can have a testimony of Christ but not be fully converted; Fully converted to Christ, who he was, how he acted, how he loved, how he healed, performed miracles, thought, believed, and so on. You need to live to become fully converted to our Savior. He finished his remarks by saying, "I am personally not capable of being one of the 12 apostles, but through Christ, he strengthens me." The spirit was so strong and I am Motivated. I wrote down in my journal, " I can do anything with the Lord, Lee, anything!" I will always remember this devotional in my life. So powerful. So real. I truly need to turn outwards to others when I'd naturally have the desire to turn inwards, even in my weakest, hardest, most vulnerable moments in life. I need to become like Christ. 

I love you all and hope all is well. I'm loving the MTC and know the importance of this place to prepare myself for the people of Portugal. I love this Gospel, I love my Savior, and I know without a doubt in my heart this Church is true.


Elder Holmes

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Call Me Elder Calhoun! (with pics)

Letter #1 from Lee, who is now off & running with his missionary adventure. At one point below, he references Brother & Sister Perez.  “Brother” Perez was Steve’s missionary companion in Chile 35 years ago.  He is Chilean and has been called to be the Mission President in one of the new Argentina missions the Church is opening. (see pic below)    Love to all….Carolann   

What's up!

Oh boy where do I even begin! First off, I'm practically Elder Calhoun here learning the language. And I get to say Tudo Bem like every 5 seconds which is so money!!! So much has happened in the last 6 days I can't even wrap my mind around it. Saying goodbye to all of you was tough and the first day in the MTC was very long and tiring. Although the week has been long, I've really loved it. 

First off, my companion is great! His name is Elder Collette and he is from New Mexico! Kinda funny, a girl I went to Tonga with actually tagged me in his instagram post when he got his mission call so we both recognized each other. He is so fun, fresh out of Highschool with 8 older sibblings that all served missions. We get along great and we are just laughing all day long. The two we share rooms with are great as well. Elder Namok is from Australia and he is a crackup. Got a great accent and everything. Elder Easton is from Bountiful and is a good athlete so I enjoy playing sports with him during gym time. 

My district is good! 4 of us are going to Lisbon, 2 to Porto, and 4 to Mozambique. Only 2 sisters. Our teacher served in Brazil and is great. Really funny and super helpful. In our zone there are about another 6 elders or so that are going to Lisbon as well. 

It's been fun seeing all my friends here in the MTC. The missionaries in my zone can’t believe how many kids I know here! It was so funny though running into Brother and Sister Perez! They came up to me acting like they knew me and I couldn't understand anything they were saying so I asked them if they were our misison president and wife and they said yeah!! Then 2 minutes later, he pulls out this picture of Dad from like high school that he carries in his wallet. It was so random! Then I figured out he must have served with you because I started to understand him a little and got to practice some spanish with them. I ate dinner with them as well which was pretty fun. They think I look just like you, except Brother Perez says you're ugly dad! Haha  He was just joking though.

I also ran into Elder Rassmussen which was so fun! He said he'd post the picture of us to Facebook or send it to you mom. I walked into this class the second day with like 200 kids and I'm like 'who in the world is that?' I couldn't see his nametag but once he started walking up to me smiling I realized who it was. Crazy he served in Littleton 7 years ago! What a great guy. He does an awesome job here. 

As far as some funny things.... I didn't realize that my grey suit has like 3 holes in it already. Haha i put it on the second day and I'm like how have I never noticed these? So I got to do some sewing. You'd be proud mom. And dad, you'd be happy that no one has said anything to me about my pants being too skinny! There are some elders who get talked to everyday and I can see their seams splitting already! They look pretty good though so i guess it's probably worth it ;) 

The days are long and there is so much studying. I’m glad I've learned how to work hard.  My companion told me that the first day he got here he was so overwhelmed, but he saw how excited I was and how much I put into it on the very first day, that it motivated him. Super nice thing to say.

This hour of typing goes by soooo fast. But anyway, Just wanted to share a little about what I learned spiritually this week. The thing I loved the most was what Brother Holland said in an MTC devotional he gave several years ago. He said, "Everything in the conversion proccess must happen to you before it happens to your investigators." So awesome and so true. How am I suppose to teach if I haven't found out for myself what I am saying is really true. Another thing I pondered about a lot this week is the effect Joseph Smith has had on my life. I’ve thought about if he had never read James 1:5 and pondered its message, I wouldn't be here on my mission today. I don't know what I would be doing. It's crazy to think that someone so long ago could have such a huge influence on my life for the better by just praying to ask God. If he can have that effect on me, what effect can I have on the people of Portugal? 100's of years from now I could still be having on influence on people from what I do now on my mission. Just like Abinadi, I will never know the effect my mission will truly have. 

Lastly, kind of a cool story, an Elder in my zone the first day I could just tell wasn't feeling it. He just looked so scared and uninterested. He told me on Saturday that he wants to go home. I don't know why, but 2 nights ago I had this strong feeling I should just go talk to him when I was laying in bed about to go to sleep. I knocked on his door and he answered luckily and we talked. He told me he feels too selfish, too lazy, and doesn't think the mission is for him. I shared with him briefly that I knew he could do it, and that I knew if he showed his weakness to his Heavenly Father, He would make it a strength, and that he didn't choose this, but God Chose him. (John 15: 16). I gave him a hug and the next day while he, my companion and I were studying, he said "Elder Holmes thanks for talking with me last night. I really appreciate it." We chatted a little more, and the rest of the night he was the happiest I've seen him. I hope he turns it around. I know he can do it. He's a great kid. Just a lot of emotions wrapped up inside.

The portuguese is going great.  Said my first prayer in portuguese the second day and I’ve been doing pretty well in the investigator discussions we have been having. Sometimes I just look at my companion and laugh though! Haha

Love you all and I hope all is well!!!

Elder Holmes

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Testimony

To my friends and family,

I have been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Lisbon Portugal Mission. The time has come for me to enter the MTC! Words can't even begin to express how excited I am for the next two years of my life. I would like to share with you my brief testimony of what I believe and why I have decided to leave my friends, my family, my schooling, and my life to concentrate all my time and effort on sharing this great gospel and serving the people of Portugal.

For those of you who know me well, you know I have grown up a member of the Church my whole life. I have gone to church on Sundays, I have participated in weekly church activities, I have shared with many of you my beliefs, and I have tried to live the commandments of God that I know bring great happiness into our lives. But what do I really believe? And why am I going on a mission?

Here is my testimony for you today. I believe we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us, truly loves us, and knows us all individually. I believe He sent his Son Jesus Christ down to this earth. I know He was crucified to atone for our sins that we may be forgiven through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can be made whole again and be stripped of the guilt that eats away at us. We no longer need to linger in the pain of sin, but can be forgiven of our wrongdoings, for our Heavenly Father understands we make mistakes. We are only human. I know that we were put on this earth that we may learn and grow by experiencing both joy and sorrow, that one day we may return to the presence of our Heavenly Father and live with him for time and all eternity.

This gospel has blessed my life in so many ways and I'm so excited to bring that same gospel to the people of Portugal and bless their lives with it. One can really find true happiness in this gospel; I know I sure have. This gospel stresses the importance of families and on building relationships with them that will last for time and all eternity. I believe that families can be sealed together forever and I hope I can share with the people of Portugal the importance of that. I know my family has been blessed by this gospel and that my family is the most important thing in this life. Although I am leaving for 2 years, I strongly believe a missionary is someone that leaves their family for a short time so that others can be with their families for eternity.

For the next two years, I will be serving the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength. I'm going to give it my all. I remember dropping my oldest brother Andrew off at the MTC several years ago. The emotions I had with him leaving and the spirit I felt testified to me that I too one day would serve a mission. At that young age, I made it a high priority to serve a mission and kept that a goal my entire life. I have been preparing for my mission for as long as I can remember and there is no time that I have felt more ready and worthy than now. With my older brother's examples, and the love and support of my parents throughout my life, I couldn't be more sure of my decision to serve a mission.

Lastly, I know this Church is true with all my heart. If I didn't, I would not be leaving my life behind for 2 years. That should show the love I have for this gospel, the love I have for my Heavenly Father, and the love I have for my Savior, who I have grown so close to. I have a relationship with Him I never want to lose and am excited to see the way He works through me in Portugal and strengthens my relationship with Him. I'm ready to share with the people of Portugal something that has brought me so much joy, true joy. Something that I live each day by that I know makes me be a better disciple of Christ. I know that Thomas S. Monson, the leader of our church, is a living prophet on the earth today. He is a prophet just like Moses or Abraham were prophets in their day, and just like them, I believe he is the mouthpiece of God on Earth today. He receives direct revelation from our Heavenly Father for our benefit. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is the keystone of our religion and one draws nearer to God by abiding by its precepts. The Book of Mormon and The Bible testify of each other. The Book of Mormon is truly just another Testament of Jesus Christ in the Americas. I know that Jesus Christ appeared to the people of America in the Book of Mormon, just how he appeared to the people of Jerusalem in the Bible after his resurrection. And I know that Joseph Smith was directed by God to translate the Book of Mormon into our language that we may use it for our benefit. He restored this wonderful gospel in our day, that we too, can find true happiness and eternal life.

I hope all of you can follow my experiences on this blog throughout the next 2 years of my life.

I love you all and will miss you.  Might God bless you in all that you do while I am away.

Love, Elder Lee Holmes

BYU B9 Mission Calls

As I head out on my mission here shortly, I thought it would be nice to share a video with all the great friends I have made out at BYU opening their mission calls. We've been called to serve all around the world, spreading this great gospel. There is a consistent theme of excitement and joy. I hope this to be something you share with all your family and friends.