Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beja, Portugal! (with pics)

Our arrival at the Portugal Airport!  Can you tell I'm psyched to be there? 

 Our group with President and Sister Taveres!

Me with my trainer.....Elder Hansen from Washington!

Hi family and friends.  Here is Lee’s first letter from the field.  He is certainly excited to be in Portugal.  Thanks for supporting and loving our boy!  xoxo — Carolann

What is up! It has been a crazy week to say the least but I am loving it! Last Tuesday we woke up at 2 in the morning to catch a train to the airport from Provo to Salt Lake, took a plane from Salt Lake to New York, to paris, and then to Portugal! we got into the airport in Portugal at about 10 or so on Wednesday and were meet by President Tavares and his wife and the assistants! They gave us all flags and took some pictures it was fun! On the way to the mission office I got to ride with president and his wife and enjoyed attempting to speak Portuguese with sister Tavares, but I couldn´t understand too much! Haha Once we got to the mission office/chapel this random kid came up to me and started talking to me all in Portuguese! I’m like 'who in this world is this kid!'  I thought maybe he knew me from home.... then I realized 'Lee this has got to be your companion!' Haha it was indeed. Elder Hansen, from Washington. Nice kid and was definitely the most excited out of any of the trainers to be there with the opportunity to train. He gets so jazzed about everything I love it. But he literally only speaks Portuguese to me. It’s crazy. Rarely does he speak english, unless there is something really important I need to know that Im not understanding in Portuguese. I have been trying my best to pick it up and as the days go on I understand more and more of what he, as well as the other people in Portugal, are saying!

That first night, we took a bus to BEJA. He told me the first day that Beja is the desert of Portugal and that it was 115 degrees fahrenheit at the moment! Baptism by fire, I guess. We took a bus for about 3 hours to beja, met our roomates Elder Sanderson and Elder Sutton, both from Ohio, who I really like, saw our SICKY DOPE house and then went out for a little. We didnºt have much time so we just saw a little of the city and on the way back met my first friends! Ze, João e Anchorman! The kid was wearing an anchorman shirt and it was my first day so thatºs practically all i said to him. The next day I saw him walking with his mom and sister and yelled to him ANCHORMAN! hahah He and his family were dying laughing and enjoyed my enthusiasm!

My first lesson was the next night, I believe, with a recent convert, António, and his son that isnºt a member, Leonel. Kinda like Lionel Messi my dawg! haha Anyway Leonel has been super busy with life latley but it has kind of winded down so we got to teach him this week. Way fun kid, 18 years old and chatted my ear off about computer games and music of America. It was super fun. We taught the restoration and I taught as much as what I could from what I learned at the MTC. He came to church with us this week as well and seemed to really like it!

The next day we were just doing some contacting and we ran into Rose and Alice. Rose is the sister of the President of the Church here in Beja and Alice is a recent convert who lives with her that is seriously the nicest lady ever I love her. Oh and Rose´s kid Bernaldo, a rascal haha about 10. Alice bought us Gelato and I was in HEAVEN! Haha the first Portuguse food, besides the PIzza we got when we first arrived. Alice then had us over Saturday night and the other elders were all jealous they couldn´t come because she always prepares like a feast! They were right.  Pizza and lasagna and chicken and cheese and ham and bread and FANTA and icecream and so on. It was delicious and it was fun getting to know them. Already can tell I´ll be really close to Rose, Bernaldo and Alice. The elders told me Rose who is about 27 likes to flirt with all the american missionaries because she wants to marry an American RM so they said I stole her heart the other night. I was dying. She talked my ear off as well and slowed it down a little so I could understand better. 

That day we also met Silve (Mom), Avolina (Daughter 13), and Jocita (daugter 9) who are from Angola. SOOO Nice. She took a photo with me on sunday and I believe she posted it to facebook mom. They were a little hard to understand at first but I loved getting to know them. Before we taught them a little she brought elder Hansen and I into a classroom in the Church and began trying to teach me Portuguese and had me say all these phrases that are hard for americanos to say. I then wrote ´peter pipper picked a patch of pickled peppers'' on the board´and pointed word for word for them to read and when they got to picked peppers I totally lost it. They lost it as well. Haha Probably how I sound in Portuguese.They seem to like me. Yesterday we taught them another lesson. They are recent converts and are such strong members. Dad you would have loved it. They made Laranja Natural for us. It  was delicious. 

Saturday was pretty awesome as well. We had these  like random two girls run up to us and tell us that they wanted us to come to their house later that day. They are seganos, which is gypsies in Portugal, and aren’t too popular amongst the people of portugal... can be a little dangerous as well. Anyway, later I asked Elder Hansen if he wanted to go and he was like Iºm not sure... and then he was like alright let’s do it. So we left most of our stuff at the house and then just took a book of mormon and a pamplet of the restoration. As we got close to their house, Elder Hansen said 'ahhhh lets keep walking' and we walked past it. In English I was like Are we not going in? Haha He said he didn´t want to. I was like Elder... There is a difference between not wanting to and having a bad feeling about it. If you don´t feel like we should and have a bad feeling about it I trust you, but if you just don´t want to because it might be uncomfortable, That is a different thing and I say we should go in! So he was like alright lets go, if you say so. We walked back and started going into their camp and they were all looking at us all funny! The kids all ran up to us and started yelling and talking about the book of mormon we had and I couldn´t understand anything!  We then asked them where the house number we were looking for was and started walking towards it and this old man in a chair yelled at me to come over. I went over and he just ripped the book of mormon out of my hand and was like practically it’s mine now. Haha He continued to go through page by page and told me who the pictures were of, what happens in each chapter etc. I tried to flip a page for him and he smacked my hand!!!! and asked what I was doing, saying ‘it's mine!' haha I was so confused. As we began talking to him and his wife we foundd out they both are baptized as well as his son and his wife. He brought me over to his car and he had a book of mormon completely marked up and told me he reads  every night and that this new book would now be for the house! BUT he doesn´t go to church. What´s up with that? He said one day he will, but his wife told him not to lie to these elders! The son who was about 40 called me over with a watermelon and a knife in his hand for me to cut it. I told him 'no I´m fine' so he just grabs me a bag and gives me the whole Watermelon! hahaha It was money. He then showed me his book of mormon and all the markings he has done in it! Seems like they love the book but they never go to church. Maybe we can get them to come one of these weeks! 

Sunday I got to meet the ward as well. About 30-40 come everyweek and all very nice!! Went around meeting people and socializing and practicing my portuguse. They then had me introduce myself in church and share my testimony. I shared where I’m from, my family, my time on the mission etc. and said How i don´t speak portuguese super well so if they could all have mercy on me that would be great! I then shared my testimony of this church and how true it is. How loving our heavenly father is and how incredible his plan is for us that we can return to live him some day. How I´m excited to grow closer to him this mission, Grow closer to his son Jesus Christ and follow his example, and feel the spirit more abundandtly in my life. 

I am absolutly loving it here in Portugal. The people are definilty different from Americans but I already love them. President Tavares says the people here in Portugal are like an egg... hard on the outside but soft on the inside. I have definitly noticed that. Some people I smile and wave to are like 'who in the world is this loco american?' My companion says everyday that I talked to everyone. In portuguese it transfers over to ´talk to the whole world elder holmes.´haha Never been the type to be shy, I guess! After I tell people I’ve only been here for like 4 days they are always so surprised! Elder Hansen says I´m doing well and learning really really quickly.  I think they are cutting me some slack but I guess all the studying at the mtc really paid off, as well as all the praying to be blessed with the gift of tongues and trying to be as obedient to the misison rules as I can. 

The people here also don´t prounounce h´s so my name here is Elder omes! They have a hard time with it but I love it. I try to teach them to say it correctly. I also made my companion my mom´s famous toad in the holes this morning for breakfast and the other elders were all jealous. They are very nice and we get along great! 

Anywho, to finish this off I just wanted to say I love you all and appreciate all your support and prayers. Don´t worry about elder Holmes here. He is doing just fine in good ol´ Portugal! I try to get up every morning with the thought in my mind that I can make a difference in someone´s life, who ever that may be. Whoever God puts in my path that day. 

Love you all, 

Elder Holmes

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Remember Him!

Awesome Reunion with Nick!
 My companion Elder Collette, my teacher Elder Machado and me
We all have matching raincoats!

Oh what a week!!!

This week really flew by and I absolutly loved it. There were so many highlights and I just don't know where to even begin! 

We thought we were going to hear from a General authority last tuesday night but we ended up not. We still had some great devotionals though. On Wednesday I had the awesome opportunity to be the Host for new missionaries and it was sooo fun!! I had this elder, Elder Nixon, who was dropped off at the same place as me and was saying goodbye to his awesome family, just crying his eyes out, and then said to me "alright Elder I'm ready to go." It made me start to tear up as I thought about how only 3 weeks ago I was on that same curb crying on my Mom's shoulder saying goodbye for 2 years. He's going to be a great Elder I could see it and I could see the great family he comes from, just like me. 

The highlight of the week by far though was getting to speak with Nick for 50 minutes and randomly running into all of you guys!! It was so funny as I walked out of my building and I literally picked my head up and saw all of you guys on the curb and Scott yelling something like, "YOOOO!!! LEE!!! You're the Man!!”!  I'm glad you all haven't forgotten that “I'm the man!" Remember that C-bear. Anyway, back to the story, I didn't know what to do but then I was like oh well the rule of seeing your family has already been brocken so might as well go say hi. I remember Chistian said something like "There's our boy" and then Scott and Mom saying "that's our misisonary!" Love you guys, so fun, made me all trunky! Haha

Speaking with Nick was so awesome though. He has such a thick brazilian accent which is hilarious. It was so fun having the opportunity to see him and catch up for 50 minutes. I had him bear his testimony in Portuguese which I caught a good gist of it but it just showed me I've still got so much to learn! I could totally feel the spirit, and as I bore my testmony in my caveman Portuguese, I just thought to myself, Nick was at this stage at one point and look how amazing he is now. I love you Nick. You're such an example to me and seeing you was the highlight of my MTC experience so far. You gave me such great advice I'll never foget. Nick told me not to worry about callings, which Scott had shared with both of us before, to be obedient to the rules and the rules of my misison president and I will be blessed if I do so. I loved how you shared the words of a general authority who said "as we go out on missions and our families are far away, we grow closer to our families over those 2 years. Over the last 2 years I know I've grown closer to you Lee." i know that is true. I really do feel closer to Nick and know our relationship has strengthened. A missionary is someone that leaves their family for a short time so that others can be with their families for eternities. I'm so blessed to have a family that will be able to live together happily for time and all eternity. I was listening to a talk from President Hinckley this week and I loved how he shared "the secret to strengthening the nation is strengthening the family." Families are so so important in this life and the life to come. Nick also shared how whenever I put my name tag on, I need to remember the 2 names that are on it: Jesus Christ and Holmes. Nick said “As you serve, bring honor to your family name and bring honor to Jesus Christ." It's sure a privilege to have my family name so close to the Savior’s. Nick offered a prayed and asked our Heavenly Father to bless me throughout my misison. I felt the spirit so strong and was crying my eyes out. As I hugged him, I told him how much I've missed him and how special he is to me in my life.  2 years down, 50 minutes with him, and 2 more years to go. I love you Nick.

Elder Easton and Collete said when they walked me up to the front, after seeing my family and then seeing me embrace my brother after a long 2 years, they began to cry. Families are so important. They are so real and bring so much happiness. I just smile when i think of you all. When I returned, my teacher Brother Machado had an interview with me to see how I was doing. He thought it was so cool I had that opportunity and how he appreciates a man that cries. He complimented me by saying "Elder Holmes you are always working so hard. Whenever I go into that room, your studying. You have such a balance and know how to work hard but also know when to have fun, laugh and smile.” It's such a nice compliment and I don't share this to be boasty at all. I was reading about Ammon in the Book of Mormon this week and love the part where he glories in his God, how he doesn't boast in himself, but he boasts in his God. I truly boast in my God and thank him for the gifts he has given me, of leadership, hard-work and kindness I will truly try and magnify, for him, on this mission. I love the quote from President Ezra Taft Benson where he says, "One of the greatest secrets to missionary work, is work." I believe this whole-heartedly.

On Sunday we also had a great devotional from President Burgess. He shared a story about a convert to the gospel and his experience with President Gordon B. Hincklyey. This convert, when he was deciding to get baptized, was struggling with losing the respect and love from his family if he were to get baptized. He knew the gospel was true though. President Hinckley asked him what he was going to do and the man said "It's true, isn't it? So what else matters?" This man had so much faith that if it was true, and if he did change his life and get baptized, our Heavenly Father would work everything out. He would be happy and all would be well. What great faith. 

This week I was watching a video titled "the Atonement and Missionary Work!" Missionary work is hard, I get tired, sometimes we can doubt and feel weak. Elder Erying shared in this video that "When your body begs for rest--remember Him." How powerful is that? We need to remember him. Remember what he has done for us. The life he lived, for US! I like to think that when Christ was weak, he probably said to himself, "Remember them.” That's you, that's me, that 's all of us. He was crucified so that we wouldn't have to feel the pains he felt. Through him we can be cleansed of our sins and return to him. What a gift from God. 

I need to be a missionary that walks as my Savior walked. I need to walk and stand tall with the Best Missionary that ever lived, the best Life that ever was lived, that of Jesus Christ. i may experience pains, but it won't even be a fraction of what he experienced for me. I need to let the Lord’s ways become my ways. This is the Lord’s work and I am here for him. 

Love you all. Hope all is well!

Elder Holmes