Monday, December 29, 2014

Week in Review Dec 22, 2014 - Dec 28, 2014

On their way to the Young Single Adult
Christmas party
December 22nd 2014

Ok, so today was a pretty quiet P-day, but a p-day nonetheless.  Played soccer, emailed home, the norms.  We do however had a secret Santa activity we are part of this week as an attempt to reactivate some people.  So, today we also went shopping for these gifts.. A limit of 7 soles, but we will see who will actually follow that.  I bought a desk decoration of some local historical well.... and it can hold your pens as well.  Stuffed some North American Candy inside and called it good.  In the evening we (us 2 missionaries and the president of the Elders Quorum) went from house to house singing Christmas Hymns, sharing the story of Christmas, and inviting for the activity tomorrow night in our ward building.  Was a great and wonderful way to end the day.

December 23rd 2014

Panettone Bread/Cake
Ward Christmas activity!  Woo hoo!  More hot chocolate!  Woo hoo!  More Panettone [A type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan. It is prepared for Christmas and New Year in parts of South Amercia. This also looks very much the same as a Norwegian Christmas Bread that our family has eaten over the years. I have actually seen this at Target and our local grocery store, where you can buy the bread in a box mix. Not sure if the American version is even close to what Elder Holmes has been eating.].... well... ya... The ward activity was a hit. Videos and photos from the past years activities here in San Luis, then a time for some talks on Christmas, and the importance of Christs birth for us.  Then came the festivities.  A clown.  I won't lie, Peruvian clowns are even more scary than the U.S. Ones.... But everyone seemed to like it.   Then came the Panettone.  I swear, that stuff multiplies like the Sermon on the Mount when Christ broke the break for the 7000. Panettone Everywhere!  Always.  I'm over it already.

December 24th 2014
View from Elder Holmes apartment on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve!  What is normally in my evening of the 24th a family night, pot roast, or the like with a reading of Luke 2 and twas the night before Christmas was replaced with dinner as a Zone with Pizza from... Pizza Hut!  3 slices of Pepperoni Pizza... All for me!  Then we played signs as a large group with is always fun, then off Elder Chapeton and I went to our other dinner appointment!  Had some very well prepared food , Panettone, and fruits from Family Santiago who is the family that invited us over.  But once the time for our curfew was up, Bam... off we went!  We went to our room later with 2 other Missionaries from Ambo who is Elder Pizzarro

and Elder Pincock.  Once we finished what we needed to do, we went up to our roof and was able to see all of Huanuco and all the fireworks which I kid you not was constantly about every 6 or 7 houses all night past 12. Grabbed some awesome video and a few photos, sorry I cannot show it until 2016, but just know that I have it! I finished the night by reading in English and Spanish Luke 2 and remember that tomorrow is the day we remember the Birth of Jesus Christ which led to his eternal role to become the savior of our sins and create a path for us to follow to receive our eternal life.

December 25th 2014

Can you see the Panettones? lol
Christmas!  What and where do I start?  Well, at the very least, today was a great day!  My companion called home today (That in itself was a blessing for him, because there was in the past some issues with him talking to his family because he left for a mission and his family is not members and did NOT want him to go...) 

Had breakfast and lunch with Family Jara, Turkey was delicious, a pretty tranquil day.  In the evening we had our Gift Exchange with the Young Single Adults which I gave my gift, and in return I received a new tie (I love it) and a shirt for P-day.  Lets just say that nobody followed the 7 sol limit.  Oh yea, we also received about 3 or more Panettones today.  Will it ever end?

December 26th 2014

Well, I believe this was our last weekly planning session as this companionship, and all was well!  Things are a lot better between us now, so we should be parting on happy terms... hahaha... After that and Lunch back at the pension, we had a Baptismal interview ( my companion is the district leader, and conducts the interviews for our area) and he passed! Woo hoo!  And guess what... After that I received a Packet form home!  Thanks Grandma Janet!  

The Chocolates were great,, and I still have a few left..Also received my letters from Craig and Bonnie, thank you both, I just love receiving letters to read later again! hahaha....After that, It just got better  because was able to call home via Skype.  Woo hoo!  As I am sure my family can attest, we were all so excited to have this 1 hour opportunity to talk. [That was the best call for our family. Make sure to check out the 1 minute video that Elder Holmes left on his Facebook page. Now to wait until Mother's Day, May 10th, 2015.] 

Man, I am doing so good our here ( I think) with being away from my family, but on days like today, you feel really trunky when you actually see and talk live with your family. Totally different. Also, today marks my 4 months since I left home on August 26th, 2014, so here is to 3 more calls home in the next 20 months!

December 27th 2014

Back to the Grind today!  Normal day, not much to report....

December 28th 2014

Church today, and last day of Church here starting at 8 am, for the rest of 2015 we will be starting at 10 am which means we will have more people who actually show up!  Woo hoo!  Ward council was great today, maybe because everybody actually went home with some "homework" to do....

Also had an opportunity to have divisions today and try to teach and learn with a different person who is actually our Elders Quorum President in our ward....

All in all, I had a good time during this week of Christmas.  Duh, I missed my family, but I'm doing good here, and I am glad that wherever I go I know that I'm taken care of, and that I have people back at home (family and friends) who care about me... hahaha. or at the very least send me emails that make me feel like they do.  Hahaha... :D

Happy New Year!! See you in 2016. Here is a great video, Because of Him, a great reminder for the new year. I hope you enjoy it!

Elder Holmes
Huanuco Peru,
Last Email from 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week in Review Dec 15, 2014 - Dec 21, 2014

Woah, it's Christmas this week....

Well, because of the time and convenience, I am writing this email post in a plain *here's what happened* kind of format.

Remember last week when I said I was going to go crazy with my credit card a t the New Totus?  Well, as I am sure you noticed, there was 0 activity on my card. Even when I told them that I have used it in Peru before, and it was a Visa that they recognized, they were calling in a manager, it was a mess, all just to find out if they could use it or not.  So to avoid the trouble, I noticed during the confusion that they also accept U.S. $ and so I actually thought ahead and brought a bit, and was able to use it .. Woo hoo!  Who knew that would be easier than using my universal credit card? [I guess we ever see any Visa commercials and they say that it can be used anywhere. I will laugh. Good thing he has some cash, U.S. money no less.]

So, this might not sound like a perfect missionary thing to say, but I want to have it in my blog for future missionaries to read. We've all heard that there will be companions that you either don't like, or do not get along with, etc.. I knew that day would come, but I was hoping it wouldn't come until had more time in the field.  Never allow yourself to become discouraged, even if you have the extreme difficulties with your companions. I am not talking about language barriers, we are past that, *enough that it isn't an issue* but it is the cultural differences, habits that others are accustomed to in their proper places, that you might not be.

But the hardest thing to overcome or to persevere though is patience with them, and with yourself.  There may be things that they pick at that are super dumb, but just stick through it, and always remember that you can at the very least attempt to resolve the issues in companionship inventory which has been a very big help in our companionship. I will admit publicly though, transfers are on Dec 31st, and I won't be crying at this switch up.

Also, we had a stake Relief Society activity where we sang as a ward mini choir *and won I might add* and they noticed my voice was deeper than all of theirs, so they utilized me , ahh... I know... I don't have the best voice, but it appears so much better here!!!

We've encountered 2 new investigators while searching for mentors in the ward, and we can say now that the both are committed to baptism|!  Doesn't mean a whole lot at this point, but they are super receptive and have invited us back...

It is these kind of experiences that make the time I have feel so much shorter and brings a different type of happiness into your life, when you have the opportunity to teach and affect another's life... For eternity.

Elder's Holmes, Whitaker, (not sure) and Elder Bell
So, the highlight of this week was our P-day on Monday, then our Multi Zone conference on Tuesday.  5 zones, all met in Huanuco for our Christmas Devotional.  From special Christmas videos to watch, to pizza, fettuccine, Ice Cream, and even a gift from President Henderson, and his wife. It was a good day.  I have attached photos of what we received as s well as a photo of all the missionaries that are in the field for Christmas.  I was a nice day to just have, relax, have a fun missionary gift exchange  with a limit of 5 soles, listen to Christmas music, and sing Christmas hymns... I think we sang all the ones in the Spanish hymnbook!
Gift from President and Sister Henderson
After these festivities we had our skits from each zone. I won't like, aside from the zone leaders skit, I think ours was the best. The 12 days of Christmas, but for things in the mission. .We had everybody rolling the whole time, and they song that Elder John arranged, and I assisted in singing came out great.  One day I will be able to show a video, but that wont be for a long time,,,, sorry!  After lunch we went out to a real field with grass and played soccer on a large field, and not a basketball concrete court!  I got to run, and play, and wait... I sound like a dog describing freedom... anyways... it was a great day, especially with all the others.  Our team was basically gringos, vs. Latinos, but we actually held our own with a big help from Elder Pincock!
I think this is so cool. It is like a Missionary Yearbook
Elder Holmes is on the Center Panel, 5th row from top, 1st position
I'm looking forward to Skyping this week! [We get to hear from our Elder on Friday. We are so excited.]  I try not to think about it , but yeah, we all know I do... I will only have to go through this Christmas Madness 1 more time!

One more thing I HAVE To mention. So, my companion has a friend from his home ward in Lima, Peru, who is serving as a missionary in Brazil.  I also have a really good friend who is serving in Brazil who is also from my homeward.  Get this.  Both I and my companions friends knew this, but thought nothing of it.  Yup, they are both companions in Peru,  and I didn't know it until my companion was printing photos at the Kodak store and I saw Hannah Avarell!  What?  How is she here in Peru on the computer!~ Crazy huh? [This is just a crack up. Hannah is in our ward and serving in Brazil for her mission. Andrew and Hannah have known each other since 1998 and graduated high school together. How fun is that?? I shared this story with Hannah's mom, she loved it and will be telling Hannah when they Skype with her this week. Doesn't the world get just a bit smaller when this happens.]

All in all things are great here in the mission.  Learning a bunch, and not only things of the mission, but things of working with others as well.  It is my hope as a Representative of Jesus Christ that you all take some time this Holiday Season to remember what we are here to do, and who we have to give thanks for all.  Read Luke 2 with your family this holiday season, and watch the awesome video about Christ on or in Spanish if you like at

Elder Holmes
Huanuco, Peru

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week in Review Dec 8, 2014 - Dec 14, 2014

Mom's Favorite Picture of the Week. Not a bad selfie.
So far the entry in my journal and emails this week is just going to be a plain regular letter style entry because of time and sending photos.  This last week has been very busy for us as missionaries.  Our ward is very small, partly because of the area, but also because of the less actives, so this week we printed a list of all the 390 members organized by street (Whoever inputs the info into MLS, [Computer software that the ward clerks use to keep track of membership, ordinances etc] I think here it is the missionaries, have no clue what they are doing) and visited about every house.  You would've surprised how many moved to Lima, or the address is rap.  So with all this we had 45 new contacts, and about 5 of them are promising!

This week we also tried having family home evenings with families as well as a meeting with the Young Single Adults.  For both of these meetings the only people who showed up were those who live in the house we were having the meeting!  And so with that, this is the life of a missionary, and we continue.  This week and next week are kinda slow because of finals in the universities.  Basically everyone is in a school or college and nobody is at home.

12 Days of Christmas - Mission Version
On Thursday we practiced as a zone our skit we have on Tuesday (Tomorrow) for our Multi Zone Christmas conference.  I attached a photo, but you will have to translate it.  Elder John (our Zone Leader) and I are singing it while the others act it out. And we are acting in a bit of it to.  It is to the Tune of the 12 Days of Christmas, but for Missionaries in Huancayo.  It totally fits our lifestyle, and it is totally perfect!

This last Monday for P-day we went to Kotush again, but also to play soccer and Ultimate Frisbee using a football because of the wind.  It was a pretty darn good day. I also bought like a 15 Oreo's which helped a bit too.

Image taken from Google Images
They just opened within the last few days a new Tottus here ( it is basically a mini Target) and all the missionaries are freaking out and excited, so it is our P-day activity for all, to go to Tottus, and use our credit cards, and buy everything. [As a funny note, mom checked his credit card and he behaved, no spending. He must have had cash. lol] Woo hoo!

***I opened my Christmas package from Grandma and Grandpa, thank you soo so much!  Love the stocking!  And the beef Jerky, and all of it!  My Companion is a happy camper too!!!
Handmade (Knitted) Christmas stocking
from his grandmother. Notice 'Lego Guy'.

All in all, we are doing good here.  I would be lying if I didn't want some change at the next transfer the day before new years, but we shall see...

Looking forward to calling home sometime during Christmas week!  Hope we can get all that figured out too!

Love you all, and hope you all enjoy your Christmas Holiday Season!  If you have 3 minutes, I encourage you all to watch the video on to remember for a bit what the True Spirit of Christmas is all about!

Thats all I have for this week,

Elder Holmes
Huanuco, San Luis, Peru

A few more pictures--

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week in Review Dec 1, 2014 - Dec 7, 2014

'The Lego Guy' performing a little service....
Hello All!  I hope that you are still enjoying my emails and the small pieces of information I am able to send home!  I am still doing great here in Peru, [Andrew told me he had trouble sending pictures and that we may get some next week.] more and more I am feeling accustomed to how things are here.... I will tell you, being in the States, California, and living in Peru in South America... The Culture is totally different, the food, everything... That is probably one of the hardest things I have had to overcome here... And that includes the Language.  So, thank you and enjoy!

Dec 1st, 2014

Whoa, its December!  Looking back, yes things were quick at times, but at others the time was very slow. It can testify that overall time is moving faster because I am understanding much, much more.  I won't lie, there are difficulties in my companionship at times, but let's be honest, is anyone perfect?  I don't think so, and I am very grateful for the companionship inventory we have every week where we discuss each others strong points and then after discuss what each other can better in their characteristics, attitude, habits, and whatever basically is a deterrent for our companionship that makes it difficult for us to work fully together.

These are usually on Fridays, but you can have them whenever you feel is necessary.  Anyways, onto the fun stuff.

Today is P-Day and we had the opportunity, Elder Gonzales, and his companion, Elder Whitaker, and Elder Chapeton, and I to go to Kotosh, a national historical site which is basically centered around a mini temple structure which contains a bust of crossed arms and hands. Around the temple was also other smaller interesting things, and all in all, it was a good day.  I think I remember learning about this in AP World History but I'm not sure. It is to bad the real one is in Lima, and we only saw the replica.  I also bought some trinkets, and am beginning a small collection of things for my family, but have a fear it won't make it home.

So far... now... we wait.

Dec 2nd, 2014

Ok, I promised I would take you through a normal day of a missionary.  Aside form the fact we were on divisions *my companion, Elder Chapeton is a district leader and was visiting another area, so I had another companion* but everything else is normal.  So here we go...

6 Wake Up, Exercise, shower, get dressed, prepare for day
7-8 Breakfast at our Pension [Remember, he has a cook]
8-9 Personal Study Time
9-10 Companion Study Time
10-11 Divisions [In the states we call them 'split's'. It is where missionary companionships change up companions for a day.]
11-12 Contacting and we found a potential investigator
12-1 Language Study
1-2 Lunch at our Pension
2-3 New Missionaries Training
3 Investigator Lessons
4 Little Service and Less Active Family Lesson about Temple Covenants
5 Family Teaching Lessons to strengthen the family
6:20 Less Active Member lesson about Repentance and Need to go to church to continue
7:15 Verify Appointment for tomorrow
7:20 Family Home Evening and Blessing of Health
8-9 Dinner with our Pension
9-9:30 Planning for tomorrow with my companion
9:30-10:30 Preparation time for tomorrow, Write, Read, Clean, etc...
10:30 Lights out and sleep!

December 3rd, 2014

100 Days as a Missionary!  No celebration or anything, but it is fun to say that It has been 100 days since I entered the Missionary Training Center in Lima Peru!

December 4th, 2014

Woo hoo!  I just got a letter!  Actually, 11 letters... Dear Elder.. Yea!  And yes, there are all from home and all say from Jill Holmes, and yes everyone teased that it is from Mom, but really.... Who cares?  I have some reading material for a while!  Some of these letters are from September, but I think the letters have found their way to me. [I finally realized that Andrew can't always print the emails we send him. So I decided to use to send pouch mail to him. Totally free and easy. I just take the email I send him on Sunday's and then copy/paste that email to Dear Elder and then he gets a paper copy in a few weeks. Not trip to the post office either. Score!!] Also, we have had some more lessons today after District meeting, one of which was 3 long hours!  I wish I could say that they are progressing, but it is difficult when they only believe in 4 books in the Bible... First, we need them to believe all the Bible, then we can continue... I'm pretty sure he is a pastor, so we will see how this goes...

December 5th, 2014

Weekly Planning and normal day, not much to report.

December 6th, 2014

Today we had our district service project at a house in our Area San Luis.  I have sent 5 photos home of us and would like most of them in the blog since they have other elders too.  Since it is all concrete, the *Paint* we made was more of a base layer to make it possible to paint at a later date.  Bunch of fun, and a bunch of mess when you bring a bunch of missionaries together with water and paint... Hahahaha.. Later in the day we had district attach which is when all the missionaries in our district and area work all focused in one area for a bit. I will tell you, it was fun to be in a different area, even for a bit.

Elder's Holmes and Whitaker

Elder Holmes and his companion Elder Chapeton
December 7th, 2014

Well, no Church today because we had another round of elections.  So, basically today was a normal day except for an *emergency meeting* with our Bishops and all missionaries in the stake center.  Basically they are worried about how the members are doing and would like us to restore the attendance to what it was. so, for San Luis, we are to in the next 3 months bring the numbers from approx 80 to 120.  This will be fun....

Elder Holmes
San Luis - Huanuco, Peru

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week in Review Nov 24, 2014 - Nov 29, 2014

Elder Holmes and Elder Whitaker
So, not a whole lot to write about this week, Got a Haircut, Climbed the Cross again, and just did Missionary Stuff!  Next week I will give you a whole day in the life of a missionary from Wake Up to sleep and all the fun stuff we do.  But for this week, this is what I have. 

Elder Holmes, 
Huanuco, Peru

Nov 24th 2014

Guess what we did today!  1st we went to metros and bought some snacks (Backer goodies) for the day.  I loved being in an industrial commercial sized and cleaned building.  I miss that.  After this, off we went to lunch and had Hamburgers!  To much to ask for normal french fries, but the burger was great!  Anyways, so afterwards we went and climbed up the cross that overlooks Huanuco, Yes... Again... But it was fun!  Took some more pictures and am sending a photo that has other missionaries for all the other families.  I also took another photo with Elder Whitaker who was in my district in the CCM and he is here too.  Such a great guy and I love being able to talk to him occasionally and relate on the new things we are both doing and experiencing here in Peru.

Nov 25th 2014

Well, others are beginning to receive their Christmas packages too, and you should see... Not the faces of the missionary, but of their companions and how excited they are that their companion has a package because everyone knows that you basically HAVE to share. [It is a unsung tradition among families to basically send 2 of everything so their missionary can share with their companion. You just don't know if their companions are receiving anything from home. So we do the same. We make sure there is 2 of everything.]

I also had a great opportunity to begin teaching a new investigator who was one of my contacts and has invited us to return.  I don't know when, but I just love the latter end of the generations here... 60+

Nov 26th 2014

So today we spent some time with a strong family in our ward (Other photo last week under the sign Cajamarca) and the mother of the family is a teacher who entered a National Contest to write a paper regarding an aspect of industry in Peru. The paper was titled something to effect of The light of Huanuco which won 1st place national! 

So part of what she won was a new laptop and a 7 day all expense paid trip for 21 to anywhere in Peru!  They leave for Cusco next month!  So awesome!

Also, as usual we helped out in Seminary which this week is just reviewing because the school year is just about finished.  They end about Dec 15th and will start back up around March!

Nov 27th 2014 - [Nothing to report.]

Nov 28th 2014

Today was the last day of seminary, and for work related reasons, the seminary teacher could not attend, so as missionaries we took care of teaching the class.  It was a great experience to wrap up with these youth, Seminary, scriptures, and the importance of persevering to the end.  I know that it is tough for these youth, because they do not have the family backbone supporting many of them.  They all have the desire but basically only have each other and those in the ward to rely on.  Well, and us of course!  The evening was so well that the youth decided they would like to continue some sort of religion class during their time off from school.

Nov 29th 2014

Only note for today is that I am trying to teach the Peruvians how to speak English of Course, and the difference in pronunciation of a "Sheet of Paper"and a S*** of Paper"I will not lie, they pronounce it exactly the same... my new goal this next week to emphasize.  Pronunciation.

Elder Holmes, 
Huanuco, Peru

[Elder Holmes did let us know that he sent his first Pouch Mail to his family. We are very excited to receive that in the next few weeks.]

If you look close enough, Lego Guy

So love the Selfie. You have to know,
he was never a fan of Selfies.... loving the haircut too.