"Oh remember, remember . . . I urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God's kindness."

President Henry B. Eyring

Saturday, June 13, 2015

"The Prince and The Pauper"

On our mission we often heard the question, "If there is a God, why would he allow such suffering in this life." Sound familiar? This would hopefully lead to a discussion of the "Plan of Salvation" but too often people wanted a quick fix one sentence answer. We would then teach the three minute version, explaining that we are here on earth to gain experience and be tested. Abraham 3:25 "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them." 

I wish I could have explained it better and have often pondered how. Then this morning the story of "The Prince and The Pauper" came to mind. Of course! You all know the story. The Prince, while living the harsh, humiliating life of the pauper, gained EXPERIENCE he could have attained in NO OTHER way. After regaining his throne, he became a great king who then ruled with compassion, fairness, justice and love for his subjects! D&C 122:7 ". . . and all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

In I Nephi 11:17 in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi did not know "the meaning of all things" but he knew, and I know—I KNOW—that our Heavenly Father allows us to have these harsh and often painful life experiences BECAUSE of His great love—for us—His children! And IF "we endure it well" we can realize His great promised blessings found in D&C 29:12!

One Year Later

Well it's been a year since I posted! We're home from our for 8 months now. We are still getting settled. Our basement is nearly finished and I've developed Carpal Tunnel in my hands and Plantar Faceatis in my feet. All because I did most of the finishing work in the basement! Well FINALLY I have the time and urge to write again.😀

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Lord Sent Us to Their Door

I thought our family letter might be of interest to my blogger friends this week!

Dear Family,

Last Monday was Memorial Day. We spent part of the day delivering lunches for the local “Meals on Wheels.” No one else wanted to see us and we had no graves of loved ones to visit so it was a very slow day. I think I sent Elder Holt to the grocery store three times.

It was also a hard week. We have been so blessed most days to teach two, three or sometimes four lessons, mostly to lost sheep who are very mixed up people with multiple, difficult problems because of not keeping the commandments. Truly we have witnessed again and again the truth that "wickedness never was happiness!" Way too often people sin because they do not understand the gospel, or take it too lightly as though it is like a restaurant menu, from which they can pick and choose, when, and which commandments to keep. It is very exhausting and frustrating to help people realize the need to repent, and keep commitments! Yet, we have those wonderful moments when people do catch the vision!

Last summer, we drove to a home about 10 miles east of our small Texas town, in search of an inactive member named Richard. No one from the Ward knew anything about him. We found the house, and Richard’s father came to the door and told us he wasn’t home, but invited us in. He explained that his name was Richard also, and that he and his wife Jean had moved in with his son about five years ago. He also said that he and his wife were members, but they had not been to church for about ten years. He gave us information so that we could request his membership records. Several weeks later, we visited him again and met his wife. We encouraged them to come to Church, but they did not show any interest. However, we learned that they were converts, and were sealed in the Temple about twenty years ago. Also, they were very involved in family history then. We continued to visit them each month, and then Richard went with Elder Holt to General Priesthood meeting last October. Shortly after Christmas they came to church and Richard, along with another less active member, came to General Priesthood meeting with him in April.

At our next visit, we showed them a five minute video on the Temple. We challenged them to take the Temple Preparation Lessons and go back to the temple. Jean then shared with us some dreams she has been having about her father and then her mother. In one dream her mother was crying and telling Jean, “I cannot find your father, please help me find your father.” Jean said she absolutely knew the meaning of this dream because she has not completed her parent’s temple work. Well, what a testimony and a relief to know, that their loved ones on the other side are also reaching out to them. As with so many others we have found, we know the Lord sent us to their door.

In the first lesson we taught the Plan of Salvation. While reading D&C 76 about the three degrees of glory, they were absolutely stunned to realize, that to qualify for the Celestial Kingdom, we must be valiant in the testimony of Jesus. (In their hearts they knew they were not living as they should) They had been completely certain, that because they had been sealed in the temple, they WERE going to be saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Much like they had honestly believed that just because they loved and accepted Jesus Christ, they were automatically born again and saved in their old Baptist faith. The shocked look on their faces registered the very tangible moment they truly began to repent! It was an amazing thing to witness! The spirit was SO strong! 

This week we completed the last lesson. During the lessons on the temple, Richard especially, has been very tearful and grateful that these lessons have reawakened his love for the temple. He has expressed sweet memories associated with the Dallas Temple Open House, and then having their deceased son and two others sealed to them. They have been coming to Church regularly, paying their tithing, living the Word of Wisdom (which they previously weren’t) and two weeks ago they met with the Bishop. They are excited to go to the Temple with us as soon as the Bishop feels they are ready and have a track record of keeping the commandments. We feel it is a great blessing to know them and we are becoming great friends. It is also a great testimony to us that when people truly understand how absolutely essential the commandments and ordinances of the church are, it gives them the motivation to be valiant, faithful, committed members of Christ’s church!

This week we visited our convert Jeannette again. She received her Patriarchal Blessing several weeks ago and it was a wonderful blessing. She had just received a copy of it in the mail and was excited to read it to us. We always knew she was a special woman and the Lord confirmed it to her and us. She is so golden! What joy!

Dad & Mom

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Third Trimester of Missionary Service

I wanted to share with y'all a letter I just wrote to the Taylor's,(center) a missionary couple who served in our zone at the institute, who have recently returned home. It's a little update on our mission!

Dear Elder & Sister Taylor,

It was good to hear from you. We miss you. The Shanz's were transferred way down south and we aren't going to institute on Wednesdays, so we feel pretty isolated from other senior missionaries. We have invited the new Senior Institute couple to go to Dallas if the weather EVER warms up in North Texas.

A mission is really hard. It looks like we are in Gainesville for the duration. We have been in this ward for a year now, and members are calling Elder Holt "Brother Holt" now. Our ward stretches about 70 miles wide and forty or so miles long. I've (Sister Holt) started to get carsick, so when we get home we are NEVER going on a road trip EVER!

We have visited every, I mean EVERY member and less active too many times to count. But with that all said, we have had some wonderful and amazing experiences. Child birth is a good analogy and we are definitely in the third trimester, and admittedly (though we feel a bit guilty for it) we look forward to birthing this baby and going home. Elder Holt says this is so different than being a young Elder with only his own agenda to worry about. We do miss our children, and especially our grandchildren who still keep asking when we will be home.

Sometimes we envy your set schedule in institute. We really feel like "hunters and fishers" of the honest in heart. It would be a nice change to have someone else set a schedule for us. But we sure love The Lord, and this is a small price to pay for all that He has done for us. We never stop marveling at the privilege and honor and RESPONSIBILITY that is ours to be missionaries for our Savior! As you know President Ames is amazing, and the young missionaries are too. They are such righteous, pure sweet ambassadors. We learn soooo much from all of them! We absolutely adore the sweet you Sister Missionaries in our ward that we work with! We count this whole experience a choice and blessed time in our lives.

Thank you for your kindness and friendship. Your smiles and warmth have always made us feel loved and wonderful. We are certain that you are a great blessing to your family and friends back home. It was wonderful to hear from you!

Love, Elder & Sister Holt

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Song of The Heart

I feel impressed to record some things I have learned about the Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In D&C  25:11-12, the Lord instructed Emma Smith, "And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”

From these scriptures I have learned to revere the hymns for these reasons:
1.       They are “sacred” to the Lord, so they should be sacred to His saints.
2.      The hymns are inspired! (“as it shall be given thee”) By this I know they teach correct doctrine.
3.      The Lord considers them “prayers” when sung by the righteous, so we should reverence them as such.
4.      If we do so, singing them (praying them) “will bring a blessing upon our heads.
Through the years I have come to realize some of these blessings. The music is sacred. We know it invites the spirit, why? Because the Lords very “soul delighteth in the song of the heart.” All of us are all drawn−̶-even compelled toward something that delights us−̶-that we love! So it is with the spirit of the Lord.
If we read the words of the sacred, inspired hymns, they testify to our spirits of the doctrines taught. Combine those truths with music and they sink deep into our hearts−̶-never to be forgotten. That is why the children’s hymns are so crucial! Remember how we learned our ABC’s?
If “songs of the righteous are prayers unto the Lord” I believe therefore, that opening AND closing hymns are part of the Invocation and Benediction of every meeting. After an opening prayer, which should be an invocation for the Lord’s blessing on our meetings, we all say amen. This signifies our affirmation and unity in invoking the Lord’s blessings−̶-likewise the benediction. Just as we fast and pray together for desired blessings on a beloved family or ward member, because our combined prayers have greater power to obtain blessings from heaven, so singing the sacred hymns together brings this greater power and they bind us together in unity and love.

I was taught years ago that when preparing for a lesson, that time is mine. I can take all the time I need. But, when I teach that lesson, the class time belongs to the Lord. It is a sacred time for the Lord to instruct His children. We should only be the vessel! I’ve come to believe−̶-to know−̶-that if our purpose is to invite the spirit and be taught by the Lord, then music is the most important part. I know there are some students in our classes who do not pray on their own, or at least not consistently. How can we fail to give them the opportunity “pray” a hymn to the Lord.  Far too often in church classes, a teacher will exceed his or her allotted time and the person conducting will announce, “Sorry, we don’t have time for the closing hymn.” Then, with children clamoring noisily at the door, we have a hasty closing prayer, instead of a sacred benediction! I believe that just as an opening hymn is a prayer to invite the spirit of the Lord, a closing hymn is a benediction, it is NOT just a song we can skip. The dictionary defines benediction as a form of blessing. Then let’s never forget to “sing a prayer” to bring forth the Lord’s promised blessings! If we do, that closing hymn will seal the testimony of the teacher and the students, and all will be edified together!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

This Is True! It's True!

Dear Family, (Elder Holt’s Weekly Letter)

I know I have written about Cindy and her progression as she accepted the Gospel, but her story is very unique and I wanted to detail her conversion for you. These dates and events I have taken from my missionary journal.

HIn August of 2013, a young single mother of five small children, moved into her mother’s home. We met Stephanie at Church. She explained that she had been baptized in South Carolina in July of this year. We asked her if she had received the new member discussions. She had not, so we asked her if we could teach them to her because we know how important these lessons are for the retention of new members. We scheduled the first lesson for October 11, 2013.

We taught her the first lesson and her mother, Cindy sat in on the lesson. Afterwards, we scheduled the next lesson for October 14th.  Between these lessons, Cindy talked to her husband, Marshall about what she had learned. Marshall is very much against the Church and talked to his Baptist Pastor about us and received a lot of Anti-Mormon information. Marshall shared that with Cindy. This time as we taught Stephanie, Cindy was in another room. Near the end of the lesson, Cindy walked into the room. She vehemently, verbally attacked us and the Church especially over polygamy, and accused us of being liars.  Sister Holt was frightened, but I remained calmed and finally was able to get her to calm down too. I explained the Church’s beliefs on polygamy and she seemed to accept it. Then Sister Holt said, “Cindy, your daughter has joined our Church. Don’t you owe it to her and yourself to find out what the Church teaches from representatives of the Church? We have lessons that teach the basic beliefs of our Church. Would you like to take them?” She agreed and we scheduled a time to start teaching her. She explained that she was a devout Pentecostal, had spoken in tongues, loved the Savior and was very vocal in her praise of him.

Our first discussion was on October 17th. We taught her about the Apostasy, the Restoration, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. There was a good Spirit there and she seemed to accept it. She also told us about a problem with her Pastor at her Pentecostal Church and that she had been praying that the Lord would direct her to another Church. We assured her the Lord had sent us to her. We continued to teach her and she came to Church with her daughter, Stephanie for the first time on October 27th.  Cindy has some sight problems and does not drive, so we were concerned about her Church attendance when Stephanie moves out. Cindy lives about ten miles from the Church on a county road.  Also, we ordered a large print copy of the Book of Mormon for her.

Cindy had been sick, so we were unable to teach her for several weeks. Then we taught her on November 21st, and took one of our ward members, Lisa, with us. During the lesson, Cindy explained that she had been reading the Book of Mormon and praying. She felt good about what she was learning, but had not received an answer to her prayers. She explained that because she was a Pentecostal, she had felt the Spirit before and was expecting something stronger to happen to her. I was very concerned about what she was expecting, yet we continued with the lesson. Near the end of our lesson, we showed her a five minute video on the Organization of the Church. The Spirit was very strong during the video, and Cindy began crying. After it was over she exclaimed, “This is true! It’s true! It’s really true! I want to serve in this Church.”  It was a great privilege for Sister Holt, Sister Lisa and I to be there and witness the Spirit confirm to this sweet woman the truthfulness of the Gospel. Lisa told her she too had been a Pentecostal before joining our Church, and she bore a sweet and powerful testimony. We hadn’t realized she was raised as a Pentecostal, and it was a wonderful witness to us, that asking her to join us was pure inspiration! Lisa asked if she could give her a ride to Church, since her daughter Stephanie had moved out, and to join her in singing in the choir. Cindy was thrilled! And our problem of how to get her to church was settled.

Sunday, December 1st was Fast and Testimony meeting. Cindy was there and near the end of the meeting, she stood up and walked to the stand. Sister Holt and I turned white for fear of what she would do, considering her Pentecostal background. But, much to our relief and joy, she bore a sweet and simple testimony of the Gospel, explained that she was learning about the Church from the Holt’s and asked everyone to pray for her. Our next lesson was on December 3rd. We challenged her to be baptized and she accepted. Because of a severe ice storm, Church was cancelled on December 8th. So we moved her baptismal date forward a week.

On Saturday, December 21, 2013, it was my privilege and honor to baptize Cindy Ann into the Church. Her husband Marshall came to the Baptismal service. We have met with him twice and he seems friendly, but Cindy said that he is very much opposed to the Church. We believe over time and with her example, his heart will soften toward the Church.

Today December 22, 2013 she was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by Bishop Stewart, and was given the gift of the Holy Ghost! After Relief Society, Sister Holt asked Cindy how she felt. With shining eyes she said she knew the Lord had sent us to her home, to answer her many prayers to find a church! Then she added that she felt wonderful! Just wonderful!

Love, Dad

Friday, November 22, 2013


I am so humbled tonight. The last few weeks of missionary work have been really slow. A couple of weeks ago we finally met our next door neighbor, a seventy nine year-old woman. We had met the man she is living with when we first moved in, and many times since. He has always been so nice, very clean cut and pleasant. When we first met him Elder Holt made the comment that he should join us in church sometime. He kind of muttered that he just might. As Ron asked more questions, he admitted that he was living with a woman he wasn’t married to because they couldn’t afford to lose her benefits if they did. They have been together for many years.

Missionary work is hard and scary. Still! I’ve wanted to have the courage to ask him if he’d like to know more about the church because he is so nice, but honestly I didn’t because I judged him. We have lived next door to them for nearly eight months, but have never made the effort to meet his friend, until an ambulance showed up at their door two weeks ago. She came home from the hospital the next day, and is okay after they regulated her pace-maker. So we took donuts over and met her. She is sooo sweet and kind. She’s had a stroke and can hardly communicate, but her spirit just shines. She thanked us profusely.

Well, ever since then I have had a recurring thought to ask them if they would like to know more about our church. But, he has such hearing loss, and she can’t communicate well, and they would be too hard to teach, and they are too old, and I’m still scared to ask, and besides they aren’t married, and . . .

So yesterday, as I was praying that the Lord would help us find people to serve and to teach, the words of the Lord to the Apostle Paul came into my mind, . . . “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (Acts 10:15 )  It was followed by the thought that our missionary work would NOT pick up UNTIL we invited our neighbors, whom I had judged. Ouch! What a lesson to learn! (One of those dah, moments) Of course, I’m a missionary. Thoughts, like INVITE your neighbor come from the Lord and not just my mind. I told Elder Holt and this afternoon we visited with them. As we went into their home, she took my hand and with teary eyes, kept thanking us for coming!

When we explained that we were missionaries for our church this sweet woman vigorously nodded her head and said I know, I know! As we continued to visit she wanted so badly to communicate something, but she couldn’t find the words. She kept saying, “When I was a little girl.” And then she would try again and again, until she finally got it out, “I’m a Mormon!”

Wow! She is not on the Ward records, yet has lived here for many years.

We asked if they would like to come to church this Sunday and she said with hungry eyes, while vigorously shaking her head, “Yes! Yes!”

He stated that he was a Catholic, but would come. We showed them two, five minute introduction videos, “What Mormons Believe” and “The History of the Church.”  Then he even agreed to take the missionary discussions!

Moral of the story: Random thoughts to do good, always come from the Lord, especially when you are a missionary. And to remember, that now the Lord has asked us to “hasten the work” every member IS a missionary, so when the Lord says invite your neighbor  . . . just do it! I testify that He IS preparing the hearts of so many to hear the gospel, and He is depending on all of us!

Hoorah for Israel!

Friday, October 18, 2013

BIG TEX at the State Fair of Texas

BIG TEX Greeting Crowds

What an amazing month this has been! We were asked to help staff the Family History Booth at the Texas State Fair in Dallas—the largest state fair, with between 3½ to 4 million visitors each year, in the United States. Every third day since the last week in September we have driven 35 miles to the train station in Denton. There we catch a train before 8:00 am and travel one hour, then change trains in Trinity Mills and travel another hour to the Fair Park Station in Dallas. After making our way past BIG TEX who towers over the crowds, greeting fair goers with his big booming voice (everything is BIG in Texas) "Howdy folks, I'm Big Tex! Welcome to the State Fair of Texas." We then make our way to our booth, where we spend the next six hours on our feet signing people up for help with familysearch.org   It is at once intimidating, scary, tiring, and then—we meet some wonderful people who get excited, after we finally convince them the service is free! A few have inexplicably found themselves with misting eyes, as they contemplate finding their ancestry! Of course we know why. Anything connected with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints carries a wondrous spirit—of goodness, happiness and truth—which we have witnessed touching so many people since becoming missionaries over six months ago.

I am here to tell you, missionary work IS work. I've never been so tired in my life! (Well maybe) And if traveling 5½ hours round trip, plus the 6 hours at the fair are not enough, every day we spend back in our little town in northern Texas, we have been teaching, teaching, teaching. We have a wonderful baptism tonight. We taught a first discussion with a Pentecostal woman yesterday, who a few days ago literally YELLED at us in terrible anger, for living in sin with multiple wives! Elder Holt amazed me with his ability to calm her down. But I will tell that story another day, except to say that as we taught she was tearful and receptive. Oh my! We have a 12 year old scheduled for baptism on November 2nd, and many other wondrous stories of the Lords hand working his promised miracle!
Elder & Sister Holt (we were asked to dress casual)
Elder Holt got to watch the last quarter of the big rivalry game between
Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns! (Longhorns Win)
View of Dallas from the train

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sister's In Christ

About a month after we were on our mission, as Sacrament Meeting was getting started, a beautiful black sister slipped in and sat in the chair closest to the door. I didn’t know her and so I wanted to make sure I introduced myself. Just before the meeting ended I had a distinct impression to slip over and sit by her. I whispered an introduction and asked her name.

She smiled and said, “I think I’m in the wrong church. I came to pick up my grandchildren from Sunday school, but I’m supposed to be in the Baptist Church.”

“I don’t think this was an accident,” I whispered as I smiled, put my arm around her, and gave her a gentle squeeze.

I then asked, if she enjoyed the service? She replied that she enjoyed it very much, and asked what church this was? I said it was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that she was welcome anytime. She said she’d never heard of our church before, and so I whispered that we were commonly known as the “Mormons” but that was just a nickname. She looked at me with wide surprised eyes, fixin’ (as they say here in the south) to make a quick exit.

I smiled again and whispered, “God bless you my Sister in Christ!” She smiled back with a question in her eyes, and without words, I shook my head in the affirmative. Yes, Mormons are Christian!  She squeezed my hand while nodding her head, and with a big beautiful smile whispered, “Yes, sister’s in Christ!” And then immediately after the benediction, she left.

Now I have not seen her since, but I don't think it was a coincidence she came to our meeting. I believe with all my heart, that my impression to sit by her changed her perception about the “Mormons.” I know I was the Lord’s vessel that day, as He bore loving testimony to His sweet daughter, and I knew He wanted both of us to know, that we ARE literally “sisters in Christ!”

Elder Neil L. Andersen said in the April 2013 Conference. “We are witnessing the miracles of the Lord as His gospel is spreading across the world. Brothers and sisters, as surely as the Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, He is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive His missionaries. You already know them or will know them. They are in your family and live in your neighborhood. They walk past you on the street, sit by you in school, and connect with you online. You too are an important part of this unfolding miracle.”

As missionaries in northern Texas, we are literally witnessing these miracles! I testify that we are watching the Lord awaken the minds and open the hearts of good people to receive the missionaries!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Suffer the Little Children" Mark 10:13-16

Friday was just "one of those days.” After being stood up twice, I was so frustrated, I wondered if we were doing any good at all, so I cried. And of course Elder Holt tried to console me. (Bless him he's never been very good at that!)

The first appointment was with a young family of five beautiful children whose parents are recent converts, but have stopped coming to church. They had to cancel for the second week in a row, this time because the family had stomach flu. We have met with them, taught them, and prayed so earnestly for them so many, many times, but the mother is reluctant−̶ feeling that her husband pushed her into baptism when she wasn’t ready. The last time we met, we read with them the story of Helaman’s Stripling Warriors, and then played the primary song, “We’ll Bring the World His Truth!” Those precious children responded in such a wonderful way as the spirit filled their home. But still, they have not come to church.

At 6:00 p.m. we had an appointment with another young family with two beautiful little girls, five year-old Megan and her baby sister. They were just leaving as we pulled in. Had we not arrived at that moment they were simply going to stand us up−̶ which happens a LOT!

Then Friday got even better. At 8:00 p.m., though we were tired, we went to the church to clean with a family who could only come Friday night. They forgot−̶ we cleaned alone! Friday night I was really irritated with all these people! But, before bed as I said my prayers, I felt our loving Lord, gently remind me of how patient He is with all of my faults! Who was I to judge others? My heart softened!

So on Saturday, Elder Holt cleaned the church alone all morning, because another family had to work. Then we both cleaned for several hours in the afternoon because that was when the other family could come. We’re not sure what happened to them. We cleaned alone. But, unlike yesterday, I felt the spirit and with a song in my heart I recognized what a wonderful privilege was mine, to be cleaning the Lord's House for the Sabbath tomorrow, and it felt good!

Megan's family let us come back tonight because I think they felt guilty. She was hungry and whiny and needing five year-old attention, complaining about the TV program playing in the background because she wanted to watch something else, so we struggled to have a good visit. Then we showed them a couple of five minute church videos on the iPad. Little Megan’s entire demeanor changed! She curled up in her mother’s arms listening intently to the church videos! Then she listened as her Dad said they might go to church next week.
            “Oh, I want to go to the classes, can I go Daddy?”

We gave her a Friend Magazine, and she didn’t want us to leave as I showed her the pictures and stories. But, something we must have said apparently offended her mother, who got up and left the room while we were talking. Most likely, Megan won’t be going to Primary. We are devastated! Again.

This missionary assignment is like a Lagoon ride. We’re up, we’re down, we’re spinning around! But, oh how we love the Lord, and love these people! Please pray for Megan and James and Dustin and Brighton and Triston and little Baker! All precious children who long to go to church!

And pray for Elder Grandpa and Sister Grandma Holt!