Monday, August 31, 2015

Last Week of Transfer!

Olá Amigos!!

The last week wrapped up with some highs and lows and some humerous experiences.  hahaha 

Anyways, this week I learned how to use the area book a lot better, had a lot of meetings with some less active members, and met a lot more people that I haven´t met the last six weeks. For this, I am excited to use what i have learned this week and the past 6 to really help this branch grow and bring more unto this gospel. I am ready for this!

Tuesday we had a cool experience! I found this guys adress who was taught a while ago but we didn´t have a house number, just a street name. We went to the street and the rest of the events was just Heavenly Fathers hand in our work. We didn´t know what house to knock or who to ask for or where this guy lived. We just picked a house and started talking to the lady about the gospel. She didn´t know the guy we were looking for but she talked our ear off until another lady walked behind us and she called to her. After they talked for a little, she turned to us and asked who called her!? She was the mother of the guy we were looking for and they lived right  next door to this lady! We have an appointment with them tonight... but it isn´t in my area now so the new elders will take over that appointment. Just crazy how everything really lined up to find this house. Tuesday was also a very sad day for me. The week before, we had an awesome lesson with Isabel and her family and her mom. But when we knocked her door a day or two later, her dad answered and didn´t look too happy to see us. Long story short we tried to contact her tuesday for  our appointment we had with her and she didn´t answer. She then sent us several messages saying she doesn´t want to see us again and hopes we can respect her decision. I don´t know what happened. It was just so sad. They are such an incredible family and I could see our visits really changing Isabel’s life, as well as her family's. Who knows, maybe they will accept it all later. We will see. 

The rest of the week we had a lot of street contacts with people who then didn´t answer there door or we couldn´t even find their houses.... it was a bummer. The week was a tough one for sure! Isabel dropping us, Leonel not answering his phone (so not really sure he still wants to get baptzied) and a lot of appointments etc. falling through. We did a lot of walking with not a ton of success day to day. Definitely one of the hardest weeks of my life! The times we had an appointment and felt the spirit teaching people, that is what it’s all about. That is what makes those long, hot days, walking from one side of the city to the other worth it. To see the holy ghost really touching someone’s heart. We had a lesson with this lady Anna and her daughter Joanna (probably the cutest little girl I have ever seen) and they aboslutely loved it. Anna practically taught us the second lesson about the plan of salvation and said she would get baptized. We don´t really know if she has a testimony of Joseph smith or how much she really remembers about the first lesson, but she is such an awesome lady. I hope she continues to want our visits and follows through with baptism. I loved her and her daughter!!

As far as the funny and just unfortunate things.... our refrigerator broke on monday night. We had to take all our groceries to the church, and then when we got back at night... it was just magically working again. Don´t know why??  I also met a lady named Maria de Jesus.... These portuguese people are so clever! This guy attempted to speak english with us and finished off the conversation saying ``See you later aligator!`` haha  He couldn´t speak a lick of english but said that line straight fire! Another experience... Elder Sutton was a little farther up from Elder Hansen and I and tried to contact this lady who just looked at him and was like nooo.  No time! So 20 seconds later as she passed me, I said in portuguese ``I´m a lot nicer than him. Would you like to talk with me?`` haha  She responded and said ``No... but you are a lot funnier than him, too.`` Haha  Hey gotta mixed the street contacts up a little bit and put a smile on their face here and there. The most embarrassing part of the week was when we went back and saw that Rodrigo kid I played soccer with and his family! Met the dad of Rodrigo’s mom, Susanna, and the guy talked my ear off! Loved him. Hopefully one of these times they will let us actually teach them. Anyway, when Susanna came back, I asked her what ``Causas`` meant... she told me that it means “Woman’s underwear”! haha!  I said ‘every time your son scored a goal on me last week in soccer, he would scream this to you! She laughed and said  ‘ohhhh! You also use it when someone kicks a soccer ball through your legs!” ... I guess he did that plenty of times. She was all laughing about how I asked that, but it made sense to her at the end what I was meaning! haha 

And lastly, my new comp is Elder Sutton, who I have been in a trio with along with Elder Hansen, for the last 2 weeks. It was super random. Saturday night the elders called us and told us Elder Sutton and I were going to work together and Elder Hansen is going to the Azores. So all saturday and all sunday I was thinking I was with elder Sutton this next transfer...But then we got a call that I am comps with an elder Dorius. So he came in today, we bought groceries together, got to know each other, etc..... and then we get told I am actually comps with Sutton! Haha that is the long story short. Anyways, I am now serving with Elder Sutton which I am excited about. He works hard. Is fun, Friendly, gets my humor, and is ready to baptize! Elder Hansen is with us until Tuesday when he will go off to the Azores!

That is all folks. Love and miss you all!

Elder Holmes

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Working in a trio! (with pics)

Olá meus amigos!

So happy to get the chance to write you guys today. We had an interesting, crazy, fun, spiritual week here in  BEJA! 

First off, the temperature is rising, and will rise this week and next apparently! It is so hot!! The nights are cool though right now which is nice but the daytime is brutal sometimes. This week, Elder Sanderson flew back home to the United States. The church wants him to return home and receive better medical treatment, so now Elder Sutton is working with Elder Hansen and me! It was a great week having him but a little hard to work in a trio at times. The gospel is supposed to be preached 2 by 2! haha We will see what happens with transfers next week! I was also soooooo EXCITED to hear that Anna Dobbins got baptized. So happy for you Anna and the step you have made in your life. Never forget the spirit you felt with those missionaries hearing the lessons, your baptism, and all that the church has to offer through our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday we had a great lesson with President Rubervale and his wife Chella with a recent convert Antonio (father of Leonel) who is aweomse! They shared about family history and he loved it. Leonel was suppose to be there to plan the next couple weeks for his baptism but he wasnt....he didn´t answer any of our calls as well and didn´t go to church yesterday so he can´t be baptized this Saturday. BUMMED! We will see. Antonio told me he still seemed like he wanted to get baptized. We will see all that happens. Stil have the faith everything will work out! Tuesday, when we got home the Casals here, Brother and sister Robers, dropped off Elder Sutton to us. They inspected our house and told us that if every Elders apartment could look that good, even when we weren´t planning on them inspecting it, they would be so happy! They said it was the best one they´ve seen cleanliness! haha Gotta live clean!

Wednesday I got my soccer on with good ol´Rodrigo! We were doing some contacts in the road and knocking doors and weren´t getting much success. I saw this 6 year old or so just sititng on his soccer ball while his Mom and grandma were talking on the bench! I asked him to pass me the ball but he wouldn´t until his mom yelled to him to pass it! We then started passing and a big smile went on his face. We then walked over and started talking to the mom and the grandma. It is hard with 3, and Rodrigo was just hovering around me, so I decided to play soccer with him while Elder Sutton and Hansen talked, taught and answered questions. Rodrigo was so JAZZED! At first he wouldn´t say a word, but after 10 minutes he was chatting my ear off! We then played a game and everytime he scored he would run over to his mom and tell her how he was beating the american!  He beat me 4-1 (I swear it was 4-2; he totally cheated me out of a goal! haha) He was loving it. As this was going on, apparently the mom and grandma had sooooo many questions about our church. The elders said it went well but they wouldn´t give them an address or a number. Just told us to come back to the field and they are here a lot sitting on the bench talking. Although we didn´t get a time set up to talk and teach them again, I know that no work was wasted. Maybe we were just planting a seed. Their experience with the Elders was great. I have faith that one day, missionaries will knock on their door or see them in the street and they will have been prepared by our Heavenly Father to accept our message. I know we were a part of preparing them. 

We have had a tough time getting another appointment with Isabel and her family, but we knew that thursday was her daughter Joanna’s birthday! So wednesday night we made her cookies and a card. On thursday, we were walking on the opposite sidewalk of her house, about to cross, and she and all her friends peak out the window and she yells ´´Elders!!´´ We walked over, gave her the cookies and the card and wished her parabems! She was sooo excited for our cookies and just kept laughing with her friends that I made them (or they were just laughing at my accent). She asked if they were good and I responded 'Of course'! She took one cookie and took a little nibble and replied ´´tá bom!´´ and then said ´´mas precisa mais açucor!´´ Hahaha (needs more sugar) 

We had some other great lessons with some investigators as well who are progressing slowly, but saturday we had the opportunity to teach Isabel and her famiy again! She said the family loved the cookies and Rita, the sister, kept telling us to bring more with more chocolate! When we got into her house, I was so pumped because one of my first friends was in the house!! João! Friends with MY DAWG ANCHORMAN! I told him to tell good ol´anchorman hi for me but apparently he moved up north! I was so sad!!!  Isabel’s Mom was there and as we taught the second lesson, the plan of salvation, they loved it. The mom loved it and kept telling elder sutton how she really liked us and would be there at the next appointment! They are such a great family, all 3 generations. We tried to commit Isabel to baptism but she doesn´t want to rush it. She is just such an incredible person! Hopefully with time. They still haven´t attended the church which has me a little sad. 9.30 on sundays is too early I guess. 

We had more lessons with recent converts and less actives as well. I don´t have much time to write about them but they were good! Just trying our best to get the church strong here in Portugal!

A few funny things that happened this week: I accidentally bought the most expensive ham and cheese the grocery story had to offer (I thought I was saying 'least expensive' not 'most expensive' hahahah); we were going to be late getting home again and I heard these girls yell across the street to us, asking in Portuguese if we were running from the cops hahaha; AND then Elder Sutton, being a member of a family of 5 boys as well, knew what RICE KRISPIE TREATS are! haha Not your generic rice krispies, but the TREATS version that is MONEY! And finally, we aw this Gangham-style flashmob of singing and dancing this Saturday in the center street in Beja. It was bumping!

Love you all. Until next week! This church is true. I have no doubt about it. I am so honored to be trusted with this great work! Miss you guys!

Elder Holmes

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dia de Aniversario (with pics!)

I took this picture.... because i turned from a boy into a man on my birthday!  But a day later, I realized I wrote 'Eu sou um homen' instead of ´´eu sou um homem.` I was trying to say 'I am a man' but accidently said 'I am the men' hahahahaha  Just shows I still nead to be working on my portugues...adds character to the picture and even makes it better.

Then some birthday pics with Alice, Rose, Bernaldo, Elder Sutton and Elder Hansen. And of course, a pic of my delicious cake!

Finally, my zone of missionaries!

Oi Amigos!

What a week it was! First I want to thank all of you for all the birthday wishes I received! They definitely made it one to remember!! It really means a lot that you would all think of me. 

This past Tuesday, my Dia de Aniversario, Alice, Rose and Bernaldo spoiled me. Alice bought me lunch, bought me Pastel de Nata, and even had us over for Bolo (cake) around dinner time as well with bernaldo and rose! So fun. Alice is incredible. She is like our mission mom out here, and she has only been a member for a year! I had a great birthday with them, with contacting, and finished it off reading the scriptures and the Book of Mormon with a less active, probably the highlight comically of the week. We always visit him and read with him but he never comes to church... when we asked him to come this week he shared how the church use to be some much better, how he remembers how their used to be activities (we can work on this) and he stopped and said, ´´Elders I remember this one activity was great.....I got there, and you know what they had?? You KNOW?... PIZZA!!´´  Hahah I was getting a good amount of the convo but wasn´t saying much so at the end i addressed him and said, ´´Alright... If we have pizza tomorrow.... Will you come to church??`` He started laughing and said "elder elder elder".... I then texted him saturday night and said we were going to have pizza in church tomorrow and asked if he would come? Of course I told him I was just joking. Love the guy, just need to get him to come to church! 

Wednesday we had some Rei De Sabor (Love that place) and taught Leonel again. He has been hearing the discussions forever but still doesn't feel ready to get baptized. We shared how this week we really wanted him to think about it and pray about it, that we really felt like he was ready and that it would be just the beginning of a new life centered on Christ. We told him we were going to call him at the end of the week to simply ask this question. I felt the spirit so strong in this lesson. On Saturday, we called him, and simply said again how we have prayed a lot for him and know he is ready, and how we are having a baptismal service on the 29th of August.  We asked ´´will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and get baptized on this day?´´ All he said was SIM!!! (Yes!) And then he asked, how about the 22nd instead? Like how awesome! We were so excited. Now we got to plan with him. I love this gospel. I am so excited. So excited he feels ready, and wants to. 

Thursday Sister Tavares (mission president’s wife) came in town and I finally had a conversation with her and really understood like 70 percent of what she was saying I was jazzed! I told her how our portuguese books say to prounounce the r´s in portuguese like d´s and she was laughing and thought that was ridiculous. We then took a bus to Faro that night for our zone conference the next day. So fun and learned so much. Faro is awesome too!! On the coast and a bigger city. I also got to see Elder Empee and ELder Collete and was so pumped about that. We were all smiles! The zone leaders, AP's and President and his wife spoke. I took so much out of it. But mainly, that we need to have Faith!! HAVE FAITH! And believe we will baptize. If we believe we will baptize, we WILL BAPTIZE!! On the way home Friday, the radio was literally playing all my jams…. like seriously.... it was like another road trip with Scott, claire and I to Utah or even Christian, Scott and I to Lake Powell, where I would have been just jamming. Adele, Coldplay (my jam "sky full of stars" of course), the FRAY, and Kyga (that guy who does all the instrumentals, Scott and C-bear hahaha). Of course.... I didn´t listen or sing along to any of it and just read my scriptures on the way back.... alright partly true. haha

The next day, we finally had the opportunity to give a little lesson to Isabel on her doorstep. We tried several times this week but none worked. She shared how she feels so much peace when we teach her and family.  That is the spirit we shared. She is so awesome and her kids are so awesome, I just love them. But they didn´t come to church again. They just seem like a family that would thrive in the gospel. We will keep trying!

And last night, Sunday, we got some appointments set up with people for this week and I got bit by a dog!!! Don´t worry mom, it didn´t go through the skin, but it really hurt! We were walking and these dogs were chasing each other into this house and I was thinking ´´man I love dogs! They look like they are having so much fun!`We then walked past their house and they came running out and were right behind me on my heels just barking and then he just chomped on my calve! it really hurt but hey, you´ve got to be bit by a dog a least once on your mission right?! Check that off the list!  Haha  One for the journal.  

This week was great. Loving it. Praying Leonel goes through with his baptism. He is such an awesome kid.  I’m excited to see what this week has in store for me! Love you all.

Until next week.

Elder Holmes

Monday, August 10, 2015

``Tem Fé´´


Another week down for good ol´ Elder Holmes!! Crazy that I have already been here for 3 weeks!! Time is really flying. It seems like yesterday I was just here writing an email! 

Anyway, last monday after I emailed, we had an appointment with a Lady and her family that we met on the street. She´s about 40 and has 2 daughters who are about 14 and 7! Anyway, we had the first lesson with the Mom and the 14 year old and they absolutely loved it. Thought it was so awesome and loved the Book of Mormon and the Scriptures we shared in the bible, the first vision, how the gospel can bless families, etc. We were so excited because they just seem like such a great family and that our Heavenly Father has really been preparing them to meet us. The younger daughter ran in several times, kinda disrupting the lesson, and when I asked her if she was the daughter that loved frozen (the first day we met the mom she was holding a frozen poster) she broke out in song and wouldn´t stop singing the rest of the time. Haha i loved it and I LOVE THEM! They said they would come to church and that we could teach them tonight... but then they ended up not coming to church and we haven´t heard back from them about our appointment tonight. So I´m not sure. We will see. Just gotta ``Tem Fé´´ (have faith) that if we do everything on our end it´ll all work out with our Heavenly Father. 

The rest of the week was hard. Probably the hardest week I´ve had out here on the mission so far. The first two weeks I felt like I was understanding a good amount... but this week really humbled me. I don´t know why it was just so hard to understand them! Things I´ve never heard before. The language is coming slow and steady and I´m really making goals every week for studying and listening and speaking. One night I returned and had the biggest headache because I literally just zone in and try to listen to every word these natives are saying! You would be proud mom, my listening skills are really improving! This week we taught a good amount of less actives and had a couple meals with some members, along with some meetings with Simão (our mission leader here). He is an awesome member and so passionate about the work. I loved hearing his conversion story he shared with us, 20 years ago, and how great those sister missionaries were. 

We also ate at this members restaurant which was incredible! He feeds one set of missionary dupla every week. What a nice guy! I love the food here and love cooking as well.

Some funny things this week that went on was first: we were about to begin our district meeting and we all shared quickly an appropriate joke so I of course shared an anti-joke haha. It reminded me of the time that Andrew Christian Rachel and I were driving in the car years ago and had the anti jokes pulled up on my phone and christian and I were just dieing laughing at all the ones we were reading and rachel was like ´´why in the world are these funny?´´ hahah. Oh Rachi poo, I miss you. It also reminded me of the time we were driving in Mexico, as well, and Rachel kept saying “Babe, stop!" to Andrew for talking in a mexican accent. hahaha.

Last night, we went to Elder Suttons area (which was like 4 miles away haha) becuase Elder Sanderson is still sick (been like 3 weeks!) so we are in a trio until Sanderson gets back from Lisbon. We contacted two super awesome people. One family we made an appointment to meet them on Tuesday, my birthday. We saw them walking around the city and then the next time we saw them we asked the little boy holding a soccer ball if he was a soccer player! He replied yeah, we talked a little, asked their names, and shared how we could see what a great family they had, mom and dad son and daugther. How we have a message about families that we´d love to share with them. Super excited now for Tuesday!!

This week, while contacting, we also got told by a guy that he was going to call the cops on us. Then another person, when we rang her door bell, she talked to us over the intercom and said ´´Vai Chatear um outro!`` Which means ´´Go annoy someone else!´´ Lets just say people are either really friendly to us or the contrary! But I´m loving it. Loving it here. And loving the work. I can´t have the fear of upsetting them. If I do, I risk the opportunity of saving them.

Well not much else. Last story I´ll share is about the other Elder that lives with us, Elder Sutton. I figured out when I got here that he has 4 brothers as well, just like me! For that, we have been able to relate on a lot. The other day when they were all getting their hair cut, I shared how I´ve only gotten like a few hair cuts at a barber, and that the rest have been from my dad with the FLOWBEE! Elder Sutton got so excited and said ``No WAY! My dad would always give us haircuts with that too!´´ Haha. No one ever knows what in the world the Flowbee is and I finally could relate to someone! You´ve gotta talk to Elder Sutton’s dad, Dad. You’d probably have a lot in common, raising 5 boys. 

Well, That´s about it. Kind of a slower week but I´m ready to work hard this week! This week I read an address called ``Becoming a Consecrated Missionary´´ which I absolutley loved!! It was so awesome and I set my goal on becoming a consecrated misisonary over time. There are plenty of good missionaries, some great ones, but only a few consecrated ones. Ones that really leave it all out on the field. Who get home from the day knowing they couldn´t have given any more. Who put their fears, their pride, their negativism and sarcasm, selfishness and disobedience on the alter and become an Extra miler, a consecrated misisonary that has power. With time, 2 years here in Portugal, I´m keeping that as a goal. 

Love you all,
Elder Holmes

Monday, August 3, 2015

Just talking to the World!


Como Estáo!? Another great week here in the Desert of Portugual...BEJA! Haha the temperature is going down but walking around in pants and a tie gets a little hot. Anyway, I´m loving it here. I´m loving getting to know the people, the culture, Beja, my companion, my roomates, and eating Pastel de Nata cada dia. Well as many days as I can haha they are so good! I´ve seen them around before, but the other night this member brought some out that she had made and they were delicious i wanted to eat all of them! Haha

This week we worked a lot and I studied hard. Both the language, what to teach, and how to teach. The language is really coming and I´m trying as hard as I can! Haha my companion says I´m doing good and says I talk to the whole world. Even if I don´t always understand completely what they are saying back. I´ve been really picking up on the words and the accent. It just sounds like a bunch of shhhhing here with the shhhhing of the s but it is such a cool language. 

This week I really saw the blessings of obedience. I was really striving to be as obedient as I could to the misison rules and there were so many times we were blessed for doing so. The other night we left the house on time to get over to an appointment and we ran into 2 gentlement from Romania. They stopped us and were super nice. Pedro spoke Portuguese but Daniel not so much. We testified about the Book of Mormon, felt inspired to give them a copy and got their contact information. Yesterday we ended up having the first lesson with them and I know Pedro really felt the Spirit. He said once he felt it was true, he would get baptized, and wanted another appointment. The spirit was so strong and I could see that he was touched by the message we had to share. Just having the faith we can meet with him again and that this is his time to progress. 

Another experience was with a gentlemen named José Rocha. We were just walking up a street and saw him sitting under a tree. We felt prompted to go and talk to him. At first, he kinda shewed us away with his hand but as we asked him if we could help him with anything or if everything is alright, he just began to cry. He shared how his wife passed away 8 months ago and shortly after he went blind. He can see shapes and what not but for the most part practically nothing. As we talked with him about our Heavenly Father´s plan for us in this life, and how he will be able to live with his wife again, I too began to tear up. I was so touched and again the Spirit was just so strong. How many 19 year old kids have the opportunity to stop on the side of the road to help an Elderly out? And truly care about him and his feelings? I realized shortly after that this is why I am here. To bless. To help these people of Portugal in their lives. Whether they are going through trials now are will soon be going through trials. Everyone needs that faith in our Heavenly Father´s plan to press on.

Saturday night we again had dinner with Alice and Rose, and Bernaldo. It was Alice´s Birthday which was fun! Simão (the Mission area president) and Tavarez (the Elders Quorum President who has taught plenty of lessons with us) also joined us. Alice had her feast of food again and I was in Heaven. I told her the next morning that I dreamed about her food the night before!  Bernaldo is a funny kid so I decided to teach them the Pig Snorting Game! Haha They didn´t really get it at first but towards the end they were all laughing. 

On the way home from Alice´s house was probably my favorite part of the week. We were kind of in a hurry to get back in time but as we were walking up an Alley, this girl came out of the door and we could tell she had tears in her eyes. We had to make a decision there on whether we were going to get back on time or help a person out. We decide to walk back a little and continued to ask her if everything was alright. She said she was down, but all was fine there was nothing to do about it. We asked her if we could offer her a prayer for comfort. She told us she wasn´t religious. We then shared how lots of people aren´t, and how that is one of the reasons we are here for 2 years. To help people belive in Christ and come closer to him. We shared how we knew the prayer would help her and she would feel the spirit. She shared how if we really thought it would do something we could offer one. As we offered a prayer I could really feel the spirit and afterwards she was very grateful for what we had done. We left her a picture of Christ with our number on the back if she ever needed anything, and scurried home. What a great experience. Again, why we are here in Portugal. To do everything we can to bless. 

This Sunday, for Fast and Testimony meeting, I had the opportunity to share my testimony again. I really tried to use what I had learned this week, both Langauge and what I was feeling spiritually. I shared how grateful I am that Joseph Smith offered his first prayer. That my life would be a whole lot different if he wouln´t have had the faith that God would answer his prayer. I wouldn´t be here in Portugal, my family wouldn´t be as strong, and I wouldn´t have such a happy life with all the blessings. I also shared how when times get hard, I think of my Savior. How in his weekest moments while he performed the Atonement in Gethsemane and on the cross, he thought of me. He thought of each and everyone of us and felt all that we would go through. Being rejected, spit upon, cursed at and laughed at. He did it for us. That we can be forgiven of our sins and attain happiness in this life and the life to come. 

Anyway, I really like the branch here.  I also love cooking here especially Breakfast. It´s great and we are eating healthy. It was funny though the other day Elder Sanderson, as I was doing dishes, shared how you don´t really realize how handy and useful a garbage disposal is until you don´t have one. I went on to say that it’s kind of  like mothers. You don´t really realize how handy and useful mothers are until they aren´t living with you anymore and don´t do your laundry and make you toad in the holes for in the morning. haha Love you mom.

And lastly, the food here is pretty great. I knew I would like it. Food of Europe is money! Today we went out to a place caled Rei de Sabor (King of Flavor) and got some nice chicken Kabobs! They were so good and actually not that expensive. It was the first time we ate out, and we´ve eaten with members frequently but mostly just cook for ourselves.

Anyways, there is a little recap of the week! I’m grateful to be here and excited to see how much more I progress in the next couple weeks and the Next 2 years. Trying to be obedient and recognize the blessings for doing so. I think of our Savior, when he visited the Americas after his ressurection, and how the first thing he taught us was his obedience to the Father, how he drank of that bitter cup. This shows me how important obedience was to Christ, in being obedient to the Father, and if I want to strive to be Christlike, I too must strive to be obedient. 

Love you all, Adeus!

Elder Holmes