Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The FINAL email!

Well, it has been the CRAZIEST past few days of my entire life!!! The last week in the mission was bittersweet.  Saying goodbye is never easy but knowing I would see my family so soon made it bearable!! I returned home with 26 other FTM missionaries so you can imagine what an exciting time it was for all of us! I'll never forget the strong spirit that was felt at the final devotional the night before we all went home.  It was incredible and President and Sister Smith bore powerful testimonies to us.  I am so grateful for them and know they will be in my life forever!! Not sure if any of us really slept that night but then morning came and it was time. Flying from Atlanta to LA to SLC with layovers in between felt like the LONGEST day of my entire life!! When we finally started descending into the Salt Lake Valley all of us missionaries were just FREAKING OUT!! We walked so fast through the airport and then were welcomed by tons of families cheering us on! I sprinted down the stairs because of all the excitement and running into my family’s arms was one of the greatest moments of my entire life! I will never forget it!!! The rest is all truly a blur haha!! Getting released was bittersweet; I never thought the name tag would have to come off :( But since then I've been able to reunite with loved ones, give my homecoming talk, and attend my Provo temple! <3  Provo is so beautiful and the cool weather makes me so happy!! Home sweet home never felt so sweet but my mission will FOREVER hold a HUGE place in my heart!  There isn't a minute that goes by without me thinking about it! It has been so great to reconnect with people from all my areas.  And now it’s time to face the future and begin NEW ADVENTURES!!!! The Lord’s work will continue on!! I'm just simply transferred to Provo for a time now :)  THANK Y’ALL SO MUCH for being faithful blog readers!!! I truly could feel your thoughts and prayers!!! I LOVE Y’ALL SO MUCH!!! God speed!!!! <3/ Lauren....aka...the former SISTER HOLMOE.

To continue following the many adventures of the former Sister Holmoe/ now LAUREN.... please add me on… 
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*potential new blog coming soon....stay tuned*


Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 73

Well I've been thinking about what I wanted to say in my final email as a full time missionary and honestly, I'm completely speechless. Haha! This has been the greatest experience and I'll never be able to put into words how I feel right now.  Yes, I'll come home and try my best to express what I've learned, experiences that I've had, and moments that changed my life but truly no one will ever be able to know the full extent except for me and my Heavenly Father and that is I guess what makes this time so special and so sacred.  I can't imagine my life without my mission.  This experience has strengthened my foundation deeper than I ever thought possible! The truths I've learned and the testimony I've gained are so embedded deep within that I'm ready to face the future ahead!  Serving a full time mission at the age of 19 was the best decision.  I have not regretted it ONE TIME. Not once.  I remember flying into Tallahassee like it was yesterday and I can relate to Alma in the 36th chapter when he says...

"Yea and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.  Yeah, and now behold, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors."

As I type this email I'm smiling from ear to ear because of the happiness I feel!!! This truly is the GREATEST WORK IN THE WORLD, THE LORDS WORK! Along with my happiness naturally flow tears full of emotion.  The love I have for the people I've met is so strong and it has been amazing to even feel a TINY SPECKLE of the love that Heavenly Father has for them.  Now of course the mission hasn't been full of rainbows and butterflies every second BUT, it has been worth EVERY hot humid day, EVERY sleepless night, EVERY disappointment, EVERY bump in the road, EVERY pound gained, EVERY tear shed.

I will miss serving my Savior in this capacity SO much.  I will miss knocking on a door and having absolutely NO clue who is going to answer.  In fact this week we had an amazing experience where we tracted into a single mom of 3.  She cried on her front porch as we read a verse from the Book of Mormon.  We went back two days later and taught the Restoration.  Tears flooded her eyes again and she's agreed that if she reads and prays and finds out it’s true, she will be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood of God.  Nothing beats that.  I will miss being given the EXACT words at the EXACT time I need them. I will miss praying SO hard with my companion for people that the Lord has trusted us with.  I will miss that feeling you get when you see a returning member walk in the chapel.  I will miss that feeling when an investigator prays for the first time. I will miss being surrounded by 250 other missionaries in the FTM singing Called to Serve.  I will miss being on the front line of this great work but I know I'll be a missionary for the rest of my life wherever I am. Henry B Eyring once said,

"When you give your heart to inviting people to come unto Christ, your heart will be changed...You will find that He keeps His promise to be one with you in your service...By helping others come unto Him, you will find that you have come unto Him yourself."

I've come closer to my Savior in the past 18 months and for that I am eternally grateful.  I have felt his constant love and support and I KNOW he has been working with me the entire time.  I know He lives and that because He lives we can live again.  We can make it home to our Heavenly Father.  We can live with families forever.  This is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.  Though I only have 3 days left you better believe I will testify of the Book of Mormon as much as humanly possible.  I LOVE that book.  I will treasure the sacred time I've had to study from it for two hours EVERY morning.  It is the word of God. 

To every person considering a mission, GO.  And never look back!  I know it will bless and change your life just as it has mine!!! We are ALL called to serve and though my full time service in the South is ending, my new mission begins!!! I just thank my Heavenly Father again and again for allowing me this opportunity.  I love y’all so much!!!!!!!!!!!! Farewell to the South with its thunderstorms, hurricanes, cockroaches, fire ants, revivals every weekend, fried oreos, mean dogs, no sidewalks, crazy drivers, freezing AC, football worshippers, strong hick accents and much more.......it has now become my second home!!!!! FIXIN TO SEE Y’ALL AT THE AIRPORT REAAAAL SOON! HAVE A BLESSED WEEK! ;)

<3/ Sister Holmoe

Be sure to check back next week...there will be one more post with stories from Sister Holmoe's last few days in Tallahasse as well as details from her homecoming!

Last dinner with the Mills! They are the greatest!
A less active threw me a goodbye party.  It was awesome!!!

Trunk or Treat! Happy Halloween!
Thanks for the decor mom :)
Violet and her 4 kids came!
One of our investigators Ms. Leah!!!
Love Francis! I just know she'll be baptized one day!!

Sister Winkels FIRST exchange ever and my LAST exchange ever! She's great!
Sister Witschy <3 Really special lady to me!
Final lesson with the Wilkersons!! Oh how I love them!
TRADITION! The last supper at BJ's!
Best pazookie EVER <3
ROSEMARIE!!! Gosh I miss her already!!!! :( :( :(
312 Stadium Drive. SO many memories <3
The last sabbath <3
Dodge ball

Tally 1 and 2 Zones

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 72

It was truly an incredible week y’all. INCREDIBLE! Filled with the moments in life that matter most. <3 I'll start with the baptism on Saturday.  Who would have thought that the night we knocked on Shirley’s door or the day we got that HQ referral text about Rosemarie that only a few months later these two daughters of God would enter the waters of baptism and join the fold! I feel soooooo grateful to Heavenly Father for Him trusting Sister Satterthwaite and I to teach these two precious daughters of His.  Some of my most sacred moments of my mission were with these two ladies as we witnessed them strengthen their faith, truly repent, and follow their Savior.  And the wonderful thing about it is both Rosemarie and Shirley have their eyes locked on the temple! The program went great, much less stressful than previous baptisms! Rosemarie was BEAMING with happiness the whole time and Shirley was BAWLING with tears of gratitude.  Both felt the spirit so strong, just showed it in different ways <3 Their confirmations the next day were awesome as well. It will be hard leaving these new recent converts but no doubt the 4th ward will take great care of them! Both their new home and visiting teachers were able to be at the baptism to introduce themselves and callings are already on the way for both of them. :)

MLC on Tuesday and Wednesday was A BLAST!!!! Tuesday we had a wonderful homemade dinner, made by Sister Smith, and then had a campfire.  Around the campfire we sang songs and all the departing missionaries bore their testimony.  Yep, that’s me.  It was just the perfect night.  Great weather, great people, great spirit.  One of the best nights on my mission that I'll cherish forever!! The next day we had our meetings and oh how motivational and inspiring they were.  Wonderful things for the future of the FTM! I also had my final interview with President that day which was......wow, really really great. I am so grateful for President and Sister Smith.  I know they are called of God to be here in the FTM!

At the end of district meetings on Tuesday we always gather as a district and kneel together for the closing prayer.  Each companionship gives the name of someone they are working with who may be struggling.  It is always a spiritual experience to pray for them all by name together but this week’s just felt extra special.  I think every companionship had someone who they REALLY were seeking Heaven's help for.  We all had the faith that those prayers would be answered. From talking to other companionships near the end of the week those pleadings were HEARD AND ANSWERED!! One of the people who the elders had been working with in the 1st ward had been waiting for a letter from the first presidency giving permission for him to be baptized.  He had been patiently waiting for 6 months and was starting to give up hope.  We prayed either the letter would come soon or he would receive the strength and patience to wait a little longer and THAT DAY IT CAME IN THE MAIL!!! He will be baptized next week!  Another girl we prayed for in Crawfordville was able to overcome her concern and pick a date for baptism!!! Shirley hadn't been smoking but she still was having a hard time resisting so we prayed that the urge would leave and that day she told us how the desire to even pick up a cigarette completely DEPARTED.  I know God was listening to that prayer that day in district meeting.  No doubt about it!!!

Another cool story. As missionaries we talk to a lot of people throughout the day.  Including every single cashier we meet at Walmart :) They are the easiest targets because they can't really go anywhere haha.  Well we exchanged info with this one cashier named Latoya.  She was an FSU student so we gave her info over to some campus sisters a while ago.  To be honest, I totally forgot about her just because we give referrals out like that all the time.  TURNS OUT, we saw Latoya at the baptism with the campus sisters and SHE HERSELF is getting baptized in 3 weeks!!!! HOW COOL IS THAT!?!  By small and simple things are great things brought to pass!!! All we did was give her our card and ask for her number to invite her to activities and now....3 months later, she is joining the church!

Guess what else? "Meet the Mormons" came to TALLAHASSEE!!!! whoooo! It’s here people! EVERYONE GO SEE IT!!! I've heard it’s amazing! Even if ONE nonmember in Tally goes to see it and is touched it will be WORTH IT! So glad it’s here :)

This week our Zone is doing a "Family History Focus Week" where all our finding approaches are going to be family history.  Bring on the spirit of Elijah!! We are "competing" with the other Tally Zone to see who gets the most return appointments and such.  Not sure I like the idea of a competition haha but hopefully it will motivate us all to use family history more in our finding.  Hey, look at Shirley! :) Next P-day there will be a huge dodge ball tournament with both zones and prizes given out for such.  It should be fun! Not sure when I'll have time to pack though yikes!! Also Mom, I'm so impressed with you getting into family history! Atta way!! Pretty soon it will be you attached to that computer doing it rather than Dad!

The members here are so great.  Let’s just say, we have lunch AND dinner appointments EVERY SINGLE DAY until I get on that plane! I mean that is even MORE THAN LYNN HAVEN!! haha!!

Dad, I met very briefly an Elder and Sister Rhoades yesterday in our church building.  They were driving back to Provo, just finished their mission in Jacksonville, FL.  They said they work at BYU and knew you! They were so sweet!

Well, I LOVE Y’ALL!!!!! T-12 days to invite as many people as I can to come unto Christ!!!! LET’S DO IT!!! Have a wonderful week!!!! <3/ SISTER HOLMOE

Some Troy sisters reuniting :)
Love my Dothan sisters!!
Comp loving at the campfire!
Sister Sam, Sister Ford, and I!
Last time I'll see my baby until we reunite post mission!!! :( :(
Happy Birthday Sister Ford!!
Sister Dyches <3
ALL the previous TROY missionaries!!!
Comp besties <3
Some of my previous companions!! Loved being with all of them for the day! Just a few missing!
I think I ate everything under the sea........Never consumed so much raw food in my life!
I love this lady!!!
Shirley <3
Brother Douglas (our amazing ward mission leader) baptized Rosemarie!
Selfie with Shirley! What an incredible woman!
Brother Fernandez (one of our ward missionaries) baptized Shirley
Feng Cai took us out to Chinese Saturday night! It was awesome!
Look how cute Kalia is!?! I want her dress in my size haha!