Monday, March 30, 2009

Sad News

Queridos amigos y familia,

I'm sorry to say that I will no longer be able to post my updates to my blog. My mom will continue to send my emails on, but I will not be able to post onto my blog. If you are not receiving the emails from my mom, feel free to send her an email ( and let her know you want to receive them and she'll be happy to add you to the list. You can also email her and ask her what my direct address is at any given time. I have been moved from the Clay Hill Drive address, so don't send anymore mail that way.

I'd love to hear from any and all of you! Feel free to email me, or write me handwritten letters! Or type a letter and send it through regular mail! I hope you all are doing GREAT!


Hermana Austin Hollenbaugh

P.S. I will be back, posting on my blog in full force in about a year from now (when I get home from the mish), May 2010! Stay tuned! :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Just Another Week

Dearest friends and family,

I hope you're all doing well. We've been extremely busy, but before I get to anything else, I need to tell you about the baptisms we had a couple of weekends ago!

First off, thanks for keeping Morgan in your prayers. She was not able to get baptized, but her mom did let her come to the baptism, and said that she can go to the Young Womens activities, etc. just not to the actual services. We are still trying to meet her mom in person but we have been having a difficult time. Continue to keep her in your prayers. The baptism was amazing and we took pictures which I need to upload as well. It was the best thing ever to see those girls come up out of the water, and see the smiles on their faces, and know that they are going to be truly happy through the gospel.

Now a little bit about how things are going in our area. I LOVE this area. The ward members are great and love coming out with us. The bishop is SO anxiously engaged in the work. He is doing all he can, including fasting and praying, to help the work along. He loves getting to know our investigators, and coming out with us as well when he can. There are also so many people prepared to receive the gospel. In a couple weeks we'll have another baptism of a man named Dolores who is SO strong in the gospel. He is at church every Sunday. He will be great. We've also found a less active family in which the dad and two of the kids aren't members. We just passed by one day and spoke to the teenage son, and the next sunday the entire family was at church for the entire 3 hour block. They came again last sunday and brought their less active grandma with them as well. We have been meeting with them, and have dates for the two younger children to be baptized (the older one is already a member), and are working on the father. I guess he's had several dates set in the past, but always backs out at the last minute. We'll see.

Our baby hermana is named Hna. Dewey, and she is doing great. She speaks great spanish because she lived in Chile for 2 and a half years with her family, so she definitely doesn't have any problems there. She is the most optimistic, happiest person, and an absolute pleasure to train. She seems to be adjusting well even though we've been working very very hard. She will make an excellent missionary.

Just a fun little side note-one of the members in our ward brought us some really pretty jewelry that they had brought up from Mexico. It's a set of earrings, a necklace and a bracelet. I LOVE it (even though I can only wear the bracelet because the rest is too flashy) because it is so authentic, and I have something to represent the people I have been serving.

Oh, and I would love it, if I could get some mail from y'all during the week. It's great to get emails from you on p-day, but p-day is usually an easy day for me, and it would be great to receive a little letter from y'all during the week to lift me up on those hard days.

Anyway, all is well, and I hope to hear from you all soon.

Hna. Hollenbaugh

ps. if anyone who is reading this has contact with any of my students from my class last year, please tell them that I love getting their emails, but I'm not allowed to reply. In order to reply, I have to have their home address so I can write a handwritten letter. Thanks!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Excuse me president... I'm doing what next transfer?

Alright everyone,

We got our transfer call on Saturday night, and the results are in for what I'm going to be doing for the next 6 weeks.

However, I got MY call for transfers on Friday morning. For any of you who have been missionaries, you know that if president calls you the friday morning before the usual transfer call, something crazy is up. That's why he calls the day before. To warn you.

We got the message from president on the way to an appointment. He didn't tell us anything, except for that I needed to call him back. I was immediately panicked and thought that surely someone had died or something. Worst feeling ever. I decided I didn't want to call him back until after we taught, because I knew if something bad did happen, I probably wouldn't be able to teach very effectively. So we went to our appointment, but no one answered, so Hna McMurtrey said she'd drive so that I could call him back. Unfortunately, he didn't answer. And neither did Sis. Hansen. The people in the office answered, but they gave me phone numbers that I already had, and then told me that he was going to be observing people's district meetings all morning (Friday we all have our district meetings at 10:30/11:30). Ugh. So we brainstormed for awhile who might know something and could maybe help us out, and decided that the assistants to the president (APs) might know something so we tried them. I explained the situation, and told Elder Rowberry my concern ("his voice didn't sound very good..."), and he just goes, "Don't worry, it's nothing bad. You'll be excited."


Did you just say I'll be excited?

Seriously did a double take after that one. He was just like, "yeah, you're going to be excited." PHEW. No one died. We got off the phone, and I told Hna. McMurtrey what he had said. She just smiled real big, giggled a little in typical Hna. McMurtrey fashion, and said, "You're training."

Alright folks. Here's the thing. I have one transfer in the mission. That means six weeks actually in the mission, speaking spanish to real spanish speaking people. People don't usually train until something like their seventh transfer... as in like 9 months in the mission. But the problem is that this transfer we have FIVE new baby hermanas coming in, and not enough senior companions to train them all. Hna. McMurtrey had several legitimate (although maybe a little bit intense) sounding guesses, which did not include me or any of the newer hermanas training, so I assumed it would be one of those. Boy were we wrong.

After an agonizing half an hour or so of trying to get ahold of president, he finally answered his phone, and this is how our conversation went:

"Hna Hollenbaugh! How are you?"
"I'm fine president, thank you, how are you?" (blah blah blah, formalities, etc.)

"Well hermana, I'm calling about transfers. Do you know Hermana Blanco?"
"Yes, president. My MTC companion."
"Oh yeah, your MTC companion. Well, the Lord has prompted me, and you are going to be working with Hna. Blanco, and the two of you are going to be training a brand new missionary from the MTC. Now, I've never done this before, but I really trust you two, and I know that you'll be great. Do you think you can do that Hermana?"

This was followed by lots of typical answers, such as, "Wow," and "I'm excited," etc. etc. I told him that I trusted him. Then we got off the phone.

Sooooooo... that's the biggest news as of late, folks. I'm going to be back with my MTC companion, and we are training. Already. It's crazy. BUT, I'm way excited and even though I have no ideas how all the dynamics are going to work out, I'm sure it'll be great.

Gotta go, but I hope you all are doing awesome!

Sincerely, Hermana Hollenbaugh

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Fainting Story, cont.

Before I get to anything else I want to finish the story I started last week.

While I was sitting on the stand trying to get my strength up so that I could get out of the chapel and out of the whole ward's watchful eyes, people began passing food up to the pulpit. We received a bunch of suckers, and some alcohol swabs. I think I scared my companion because at that point she was so worked up she started to cry. Finally I felt like I could get up and leave, so we got up and went into the hallway. We were going to sit on the couches in the foyer, but they were occupied, and Hna. McMurtrey was telling me about how the couches on the other side of the building are usually open. We decided to head that direction when I started getting lightheaded again and immediately went into the classroom we were next to and sat down again. Within minutes a group of about 10 ward members was out of the chapel and in the room with me taking my pulse, asking me if I had eaten breakfast, if I had locked my knees, diagnosing me, etc. etc. One sister gave me a granola bar, another opened a sucker and stuck it in my mouth, another handed me a waterbottle, and the best part was when another member came and handed me a plastic grocery sack from her purse, with something in it. I just took it and thanked her, and she proceeded to tell me that it was a hamburger. Our thoughts at that moment: Hna. Castaneda... why do you have a HAMBURGER in your purse? haha... anyway, eventually someone asked me if I wanted to go and lay down, and suggested the mother's lounge, which sounded great, and a ward member got us some blankets and we headed that way. We ended up spending the rest of the meeting in there.

After sacrament meeting was over a member came and told us the bishop wanted to see us, so we went down there and he just wanted to see how I was, what happened, etc. He and one of his counselors gave me a blessing (which was especially cool because it was in spanish), and then Hna. McMurtrey and I headed home. I went and got in bed, and Hna. called Sister Hansen (mission president's wife), who advised us to cancel the rest of our appointments for the day, rest, and that she'd call back in the morning to try and get a doctor appointment scheduled.

Anyway, conclusion is that we went to the doctor, and while we were there we were analyzing what I had eaten, etc. and we remembered that I had eaten a lot of fruit that morning (which was out of the ordinary... I don't usually like fruit in the morning), AND, right before we went to church, hermana was frosting the valentine's sugar cookies we had made. Everytime one broke, we'd say, "oh man... it broke... guess I've got to eat it!" which led me to eat probably at least five sugar cookies with frosting. That alone would've been enough to spike my sugar WAY up, but we also determined that I had eaten some wheat biscuits with honey for breakfast as well. The doctor said that wheat has been known as well to trigger a spike in blood sugar. SOOOO... basically I unknowingly set myself up for disaster. I've always known I'm sensitive to high amounts of sugar, but I never knew I'd react in that kind of way! I'm glad to report that I went and bought lots of high protein snacks, and other foods, and I'm just generally being more careful to make sure I balance my sugar intake. It's been working well.

Now, on to bigger and better things...

I had my first baptism yesterday! Her name is Jaqueline, and she's nine years old. Her parents have been inactive for quite awhile, but they recently started coming to church again. Since she's over eight, before she could get baptized, she needed to be taught like any other investigator, and so we've been teaching her. She was actually my very first lesson once I got out here to Houston! She's very shy, but was excited to get baptized and the baptism was a grand event. Her dad and brother-in-law had come up from Mexico, and her siblings and nephew were all there all dressed up and everything. Only her mom usually comes to church (with her of course), but it was so great to see them all their supporting her. They really are a great family.

Last Friday, we had our first really hot day. It was 90 degrees! It was definitely hot, and we were sweating, but it was manageable. I'm still worried though, because if it's 90 degrees in February... who knows what it will be like in July!

Finally, we're also teaching a group of three young girls, Jasmin, Carolina, and Morgan. Two of them are younger sisters of a recent convert who was just baptized in January, and the other, Morgan, is a friend of the girls. Carolina is 11 and the other two are 13. They are all scheduled to be baptized on the 7th of March, this coming Saturday, and we are so excited! All three of them are so excited about the church. We've already taught them everything, and we've even given them the For Strength of Youth pamphlet, which they loved and were excited to apply to their lives, but just a couple of days ago we heard of a little trouble on the home front. I guess Morgan's grandma heard that Morgan wants to get baptized, and is upset because she thinks that we aren't christians. Unfortunately we haven't been able to talk to her mom yet because she's always either busy, or we're running to another appointment. We're going to do all we can to smooth things over, but most of all, we need all of you to keep her and her family in your prayers! I have faith that Heavenly Father will help everything to work out, but we definitely need your help.

Thanks again for all your support! I got a letter from my amigas Caitlin and Kimberly this week and it was so fun to hear from them! I'll be sure to write you back soon girls.


Hermana Austin Hollenbaugh