Letter from December 29, 2014

****PRE-POST-NOTE from Hannah: Hey guys, it’s me! I’m finally writing on my own blog again!! Crazy, right? Sorry that we’ve not been able to put stuff on here for a little while. We have been just so tight on time: things have been pretty crazy lately but they’re going really well. I’m going to be putting some last things on here to wrap all of this up. Just so you guys know, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and your support. You are all the BEST!!! Also, second side-note, we’re having a little technical difficulties with the photos on here, so we’re going to have to put the ones from this week into a public Photobucket account and link it from here so y’all can see ’em until we’ve gotten everything straightened out here on this end of things. The link will be at the bottom of the post.

 

I HOPE THAT YOU ALL HAD A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! I sure did. Things have been NUTS this week—every day, we’ve had something crazy.

 

Monday — We had our zone practice for the sketch we did at the mission Christmas party! A blast.

 

Tuesday — Mission Christmas party, all day! It was so fun! Unfortunately, this time we had to break it up into two halves of the mission at a time, but it was still awesome. We got to play a lot of games and watch some Christmas short films.

 

Wednesday — Zone Christmas breakfast and games. Afterwards, we went to a place called Mini-mundo and played our GUTS out. I’ve never been more exhausted in my life. Then we spent the night visiting a ton of members! It was awesome. We ate soooooo much though.

 

Thursday — Pretty much didn’t eat anything today. We were still full from yesterday! We went bowling in Larcomar and it was awesome. We also got to do skype with the lovely family!!! So great to see you all!!!

 

Friday — Zone temple trip! It was a really great, as always… :) In the evening, our mission leader invited us over and we got special permission to go up San Cristobal (the huge mountian/hill with a cross on it) and see all of the Lima light nights. It was really scary at night, being up so high! But very, very cool. Neither Hermana Choque nor Elder Gonzalez had been before.

 

Saturday — Got one more thing crossed off of my bucket list. There was a member who was cool enough to find us real SURI, which is like this huge, fat tree worm from the jungle. Peruvians eat them fried and also… alive. As far as I was aware, we were going to eat it fried, and I was down for that, but when we got there…. they were ALIVE still!!! Agh!!! There were four of them — one for each missionary. It was AWFUL! but we did it. And we kept the heads. I did it only to be able to say that I did. Wow haha but I’m glad it’s over with. I ate mine the fastest. It didn’t really taste like anything but it was pretty watery inside. We’ve got a TON of priceless photos and videos….

 

 

 

 

Sunday — We went up and attended church here in San Silvestre. Got to see a ton of my old pals. The bishop totally caught me by surprise and called me up on the spot to bear my testimony during sacrament meeting, but it went fine. It was really great to see a lot of them again. In the afternoon, we also visited a family from Pueblo Libre and one from Magdalena.

 

Even though this week has been a crazy blast…. the last couple of days have been pretty melancholy. Hermana Choque and I have both been feeling a little blue. I love this mission. I love this world. I love these fiends here and I love the work that we’re doing. When I came out here to the field, I had to leave one world behind and establish another from scratch. That was hard. And now, I have this world established. I’m so happy here. I have friends here. The members are even like a family to me, even though they don’t replace the friends and family that I have back home. But it’s like they say in my favorite book series of all time, ”Neither can live while the other survives.” (Harry Potter) I have to live in one world, or the other. And now it’s time for me to go through the same process again. I have to leave this world and return to the old one. I told Hermana Choque that I kind of wished that this all was a dream, that I woke up and it was still November and we were still working as if everything was normal again and I still had more time… I’m not ready to go home yet. If my family could come down here and stay with me in Lima, it would be the perfect life. I would live here for years and be a missionary forever. A perfect combination between the two worlds. But, nope! It can’t be..

 

But the key is that even though my environment is changing, I can’t let myself be changed. Peru will always be a part of me. ALWAYS! :) I love it too much. Man, I’m going to fill my room up with SO MUCH Peruvian stuff!! And it’ll keep me remembering all of the people that I met here, all of the things that I learned and how I personally grew during this time. I am NOT going back to the person that I was before the mission. No way, José. Sorry. It’s not part of the game plan. Those weaknesses are staying in the past!

 

So here we are, in my old sector in San Silvestre, right now.. We just visited a couple of members here (the mission gives us our last two days to go pass around) and we’ve got to visit a handful more right about now. Then from there, we’re going home, packing the whole night, then getting up, getting the last few things into order, and then I have my final interview with President Borg and off I go to the airport to pick up my parents at about midnight. From there, we’ll be staying here for a little while longer to visit more people and to also visit around a bit. I’m so excited to see them. It’s going to be fun. Man, leaving the mission is the weirdest, bittersweet feeling ever!! As we say here, ¡¡asu maquina!!

 

Sorry I can’t write very well today. there’s just too much that has happened and too many photos to send, but no time at all to do it. But there’s just one more thing that I would like to touch on: the miracles that we’ve seen this week. On Saturday (after we ate those worms), we got talking a lot with those members and sort of reflecting back on how far that we’ve progressed. I remember just sitting and feeling so overwhelmed with happiness, joy and gratitude. Every single cambio, there’s been a different lesson that I’ve learned. Every transfer, every ward. There’s always a theme. And these last two cambios have been just full of blessings and happiness. Before, I guess my testimony of God was strongest when it came to adversity — or in other words, I had felt and recognized Him most in my life through the most difficult things that I had gone through. But these last couple of months, I’ve really gained a testimony of the fact that He’s with us too even in the happiest, most rewarding times! Even though I feel like this last week we’ve really gotten a break, I still felt the Spirit with me and I felt like it was just the biggest tender mercy and greatest way to finish off a mission — feeling so many blessings and having fun too! It seems like everything has just been falling into place. And one of the greatest blessings was finding my camera! Last Monday, we had to write in a crowded, tiny, dirty market, and we were in a real hurry too. I’ve always been really careful about my things, but this time, I left my camera behind, still plugged into the computer, as we had to dash out like lightning to meet someone. And that’s a heartbreaker. I had my last week in the mission ahead of me! Now guys, let me tell you, with Lima being one of the most dangerous cities in South America…. if you ever lose something, you’ll never get it back. It’s just the law of nature. I mean, a crowded market? Forget about it! Well, I was quite sure that I would never see it again, after I realized that night that it was missing, and I knew that it would be pointless to go back, so I didn’t make a hurry of it. Plus, we were like SUPER busy and that market was kind of far away. Sort of out of denial, I waited to go back until Saturday (I know….. don’t say it!!) . I wandered in there and as soon as the shop owner saw us, he jumped up and said, “Hey!! You guys forgot —-” and pulled my camera out. He had kept it for an entire WEEK. He didn’t even sell it on the black market after a couple of days. Hermana Choque and I just stood there with our jaws on the floor. We took it back, thanked him profusely and started to walk to lunch. I mean, we couldn’t even talk to each other, we were so surprised. We literally walked in silence the entire way there. Talk about a Limeñan MIRACLE! Wow.

 

Well, I’m sorry for writing an entire book this week. It’s just because it’s my last week! Well, I’ve gotta run!!!

 

Take care mom and everyone! See y’all soon!!!!!

 

Love,
Hermana Hollberg

 

Click on the link below to see the photos!!

http://s166.photobucket.com/user/hannahhollberg/embed/slideshow/Last%20Official%20Week

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¡FELIZ NAVIDAD!‏

 

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… ¡y prospero año nuevo!

Can you guys believe that Christmas is already here?? I can’t. What the heck, it’s like, in two days. Here the 24th is counted more as Christmas than the 25th. Odd, huh? What do you guys want for Christmas? I don’t want y’all to be jealous, but I’m kinda going to have the best Christmas present ever: I’ll be seeing my family crazy soon. And I’ll be seein’ my mom and Tom in like a week. I know, pretty great, right? It’s because I finally learned how to behave.

This week has been quite eventful. So on Monday I had dinner at the President’s house. I think I could write like an entire book about how that went. Luckily I’m like out of time to write you guys! But it was really odd because it doesn’t feel real yet that I’m going. I just felt sort of out of place. (There were 5 of us there, and three already left this week, including my BFF Hermana Brudnicki. She’s already with her family!!!) But it was a VERY edifying meeting and a VERY delicious dinner. Seriously. AMERICAN FOOD! We ate Lùcuma Pie for dessert. Yum.

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President and Sister Borg’s engagement picture!

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And their sweet wedding photo.

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Dinner at president’s house.

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Elder Unguez signing the tie that president cut off. It’s a tradition with everyone who finishes. Hermana Borg has been saving all of the Elders’ ties and is going to make a huge quilt out of all of them when she and president finish their mission. She has us sisters sign little squares of fabric.

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View out of their window

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On Tuesday, we went over to our mission leader’s house and helped them set up for Christmas as a service project. His wife is still down and occupied with the new baby and so we were happy to help. It was a lot of fun!!!

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Also, in the evening we had the relief society party!!! It was cool. It was supposed to start at 5 though but it started at 8pm…. we were going to show this presentation we made about the Living Christ, (basically the PowerPoint that mom made, but in Spanish) but after about 20 million technical difficulties and a whole lot of frustration, we weren’t able to show it. We were really bummed, to be honest. Totally destroyed. But then we thought that we could show it at the ward Christmas party on Saturday.

Thursday we spent in the family history center, covering a couple of shifts.

And Friday was my LAST SHIFT EVER…… sad stuff. We have to close the center for the holidays. It won’t open up until January 6th. So that was it!! My baby… the center…. now it’s all grown up and I have to let it go :'( I wonder who’s going to take my place as the next family history sister ??? I’m going to suggest Hermana Zumba.

On Saturday morning, as we were leaving missionary correlation with the mission leader, we passed by a little wooden house on the same street where our mission leader lives. Elder Scott turned to us, and said, ”Hey, have you guys contacted that place yet?” No, we hadn’t. He said, ”Well, you should. Because when we passed, I felt something really good about it. Bye!” And that was it. So yesterday after lunch, we went back and knocked on the door. A little old woman came out and we began to contact her. We told her that we share a message about Jesus Christ, and she said sincerely, ”¿Qué cosa es Jesucristo?” We started to explain about how He is the Son of God who was sent to free us from the burdens of the weaknesses and errors of this world, and to help us perfect ourselves, etc. And she became really interested with the way that we were explaining him. She said, ”And do you have anything more that you could let me borrow to read? Or just this little card?” We gave her a booklet for lesson 3 and told her that we could come back to explain it more this week, and she said that she would love it! She was so sincere! She told us that she was excited and that she would be waiting for us, then said, ”Hey, knock on the next door down—-my neighbor would also be interested!” And there we had it — a new investigator and another reference, all from a feeling that Elder Scott had. It’s so true that the only way that we can find new investigators with true intent is through the Spirit. Without it, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack! The Lord sure works through mysterious ways.

 

On Saturday, the ward Christmas party was a BLAST! A good number of people turned up, including a lot of less active members, recent converts and also investigators! We got all geared up to give the Living Christ presentation, but it didn’t end up working out again :/

BUT — we didn’t lose hope. Norma (the RS Pres.) told us that we could show it in the last 10 minutes of relief society. We started getting everything ready during the second hour block, and boy, I can’t even tell you everything that we went through. EVERYTHING POSSIBLE that could have gone wrong… DID! EVERYTHING. I think that the adversary was REALLY working hard against this thing. There were so many interpersonal problems, technical problems, logistical problems, social problems, communication problems, support problems, leadership problems…. It was such a complete nightmare that believe it or not, we ended up literally crying in frustration and sadness. But somehow, after 2 hours of fighting and fighting to figure out a way to make it work, it came through. We were able to project it in the sacrament meeting room and share it with the ward. It turned out great and I really hope that it was able to touch their hearts. The Living Christ document is such a powerful testimony of the Savior and it’s one of the perfect scriptures to read and study for the Christmas season.

 

Well, I have REALLY got to go but I just want to share with you guys my testimony that this work is one of the most BEAUTIFUL things that exist on this planet. A mission, if you do it with your whole heart, is one of the most amazingly powerful and edifying experiences that one can have. It’s the best way to help your current family and also your future family. I don’t know how things are going to be when I get back home, and I know that I can’t expect them to be easy, but Preach my Gospel says something really lovely that I would like to share: ”President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “We are commanded by God to take this gospel to all the world. That is the cause that must unite us today. Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 167).”  (In Chapter 1)
His gospel is a message of peace and goodwill. It’s hope and it’s change for the better. It’s progress, and true, lasting happiness. I’ve never been more happy in my life than I am now. It’s such a blessing to be able to have this knowledge of faith, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and how to endure and make it to the end—finish strong. Like any loving father would do for his children, Heavenly Father gives us all of the tools that we need to make it through whatever hurdle life (or the adversary) throws at us. Because it’s all part of the plan: we are born to succeed. Literally everything is in our favor. God is literally on our team in this game, and if we give everything to Him, there’s no way that we can fail. Like the 4th missionary says — Alone, we can only make a smudge of ourselves. But with His power, He can make ourselves like Christ. Everything will pass. It always does. And that’s what I’m going to have to be telling myself. For like my whole life. Good thing that the Mission has really taught me that principle well. And I know that throughout my life, I’ll have the opportunity to gain a whole lot more testimonies in addition to it!
That’s the Spirit!
Well, I’ve gotta run. Missionary work is calling. There are people to visit. There are families to strengthen. There is also hot chocolate to be drunk and panneton to be eaten. ¡Chau!
See y’all next week!!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Love,
Hermana Hollberg

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A really delicious lamb soup that the RS President Norma made for us! A specialty. Norma is from Ayacucho and all of them speak Quechua too. She taught me a couple of phrases. :)

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Us with ELDER UCEDA, THE AREA PRESIDENT (!!!) at our ward Christmas party on Saturday. We were totally star struck. As soon as we started talking to him, he started asking us about our ward council and if we're asking people for references or not. It was a little scary but AWESOME.

Us with ELDER UCEDA, THE AREA PRESIDENT (!!!) at our ward Christmas party on Saturday. We were totally star struck. As soon as we started talking to him, he started asking us about our ward council and if we’re asking people for references or not. It was a little scary but AWESOME.

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With the Relief Society President!!! She's our BFF!

With the Relief Society President!!! She’s our BFF!

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We were trying to bring a little more life to the party (because it started out reallllly dead), so we started taking little silly pictures and soon enough, all of the little ladies were dying laughing and doing it too!!! Spreading Christmas Cheer!

We were trying to bring a little more life to the party (because it started out reallllly dead), so we started taking little silly pictures and soon enough, all of the little ladies were dying laughing and doing it too!!! Spreading Christmas Cheer!

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Live nativity. Mission leader was Joseph!

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Sketch by the young men.

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Primary!!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 5 Months in the mission!!!

Wow, today marks five months since the day that I left good-old Salt Lake City and had my first night in the Mexico City CCM. Time is flying so fast. Before I know it, I’m going to have 6 months in the mission, and that’s just three months shy of being half-way!! These landmarks are sneaking up on me! This transfer with Hermana Bennett has been by far the fastest. We’re already in week 5 out of our 6 together! Holy Bible….

This week has been a lot of fun. I finally had time to get my hair cut (it’s grown so fast) and I don’t really have a picture but it’s just like how I had it back in June. So I found that pretty exciting.

Anyway,

So it’s the Christmas season here in Lima. We’re sweating like pigs. I’ve seen my first christmas miracle — I actually have a wrist-watch tan! Who knew?

The classic Peruvian Christmas treat that we are enjoying is Panetonne. I was familiar with it from my time at Caputo’s, and I remember having it in the store last Christmas and it’s so cool to be eating it in such frequency here! You wouldn’t even believe how huge the Panetonne industry is here. When the first of December rolls around, the stores literally EXPLODE with it. I love it. If you guys haven’t had a chance to try it yet, you gotta try it with a cup of hot chocolate. It’s a dream.

The mission is having a huge Christmas party this Friday and everyone is super pumped. Each zone is going to perform some sort of skit and our zone (Magdalena) has been practicing something we like to call ‘La Banda de Botellas’. You know how if you have a coke bottle or something, you can blow on the rim and it will make a sound? We’ve measured out all of these Inca Cola glass bottles to play all of these different notes and together as a zone of 18 missionaries, we will be playing two christmas songs collectively—Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It’s going to be a show stealer.

One of the best Christmas gifts so far though is to see the progress that some of our investigators are making!  I think that there’s a 75% chance that I’m going to be transferred out of Jesus Maria at the next cambio on the 31 of December… But if that’s the case I can definitely get permission to attend some of these special baptisms.  I love these guys so much and I am praying for them to continue on to baptism.
Last week we got to go to the temple grounds with our dear Esther and her family. It was so special. We spent most of the afternoon there. Tonight we have a Family Night planned with her and we’re going to help her start her family history and prepare herself to go to the temple to be baptized for her mother, who passed away a few years ago. We’re so happy for her! She is the best.

On Saturday we attended the baptism of a woman that Hermana Bennett had been teaching in her last zone. Her name is Celestina, and she’s a 74 year-old woman who has been taking the missionary discussions for literally 10 years. Every single obstacle that a person could have for knowing that the church is true but not wanting to get baptized, she has said it at some point to probably 100 different missionaries who have visited her. Everything from ”but the water will be cold” to ”but my family is sick”…. stuff like that. But she knows that the church is true and she testifies of the truth of the Book of Mormon and we finally got to see her grinning from ear to ear as she came up out of the water after her baptism. Congrats to her!

So anyway, things are going on as usual here. Lima is green (relatively… y’all know that Lima is still a hyper-arid desert), flowers are out, the Lord’s work is hastening and it’s such a pleasure to be a part of it.

Anyway, I sure love all of you guys and I couldn’t tell you how much your support and prayers mean to me. I am undeserving of such faithful love that you’ve shown me. Your help has really helped me get through the hard times, and this week I realized that I really am happier than I ever have been in my whole life. The mission is such a blessing because it really opens up your eyes to all that you have.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Also, shout out this week to Sarah, Sam and Chas, Mike, Rosie, Linda, Liesa and Lauren!! Thanks so much for those letters!!!

Love, Hermana Hollberg

P.S. I have been trying my hardest to send photos for the last 3 weeks but now my camera isn’t connecting and so I am at the end of my rope.  This is ridiculous — so sorry.  My camera is dying and I’m going to need a new one I guess.

It’s already December???

I seriously feel like it’s gotta be September or something. This is so weird. My conception of time is so screwed up. It’s probably because right now is the beginning of summer and the sun is out and it’s getting super hot but there are also Christmas trees in houses and decorations in stores and we keep singing Christmas hymns. I am so lost right now. I feel like I’ve been in Peru for my whole life, and about 20 seconds at the same time.

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I’m writing today (Tuesday instead of Monday) because yesterday we had our P-Day Grande — every transfer of 6 weeks, we get to have one P-day where we can leave our mission boundaries with our zone and go do something fun together. Usually on P-day Grande we get to email too but we got back at like 6:15 last night (P-day is over by 6 pm and we are supposed to work like normal in the night) and we had important appointments that we couldn’t miss so unfortunately we had to bump emailing until this morning. But it kind of feels like I have two P-days so I’m cool with that! Hearing from all of you guys definitely makes my week. I’m glad to hear that everyone is doing ok.

So yesterday we went to a beach called Chacra y Mar (Ranch and Sea) that is right near Chancay where I went in my first transfer. We walked on the beach, climbed some hills, went into some Hindu temples and shrines (there was this little sanctuary that we toured) and some of the missonaries got sunburned. It was a lot of fun. We were ridiculously tired by the end of the day though. We had to meet together at 6 am, ride a bus for an hour and a half there and back, and we didn’t make it home until the afternoon, as I mentioned earlier. Another zone from our mission was there at the same beach at the same time, as a crazy coincidence, so we got to talk to them and go to lunch with them. The day was exactly what I needed to get away from the normal every-day stresses of a mission. If I come back with grey hair, guys, don’t be surprised. Actually, on a more serious note, my hair is getting suuuuuper blonde now from all of the sun. It’s interesting. My hair has never been this blonde. I don’t know if it’s showing up looking very different in pictures but it looks different in real life.

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This week we had a really cool fasting experience! Girelyn has been so worried for her family who lives in the other side of Peru — she really wants them to accept her decision to be baptized. Together, we fasted and prayed with her and the next time we saw her, she told us that her mother had called her and told her that two Elders happened to show up at their door the following day and began teaching her family about the church! What a miracle!

There’s this little old man in our ward who has been a little lonely and has recently become almost blind, so we’ve been visiting him every week or so just to sing a hymn and read a few scriptures with him. His memory is getting pretty bad and it’s been making for some pretty hilarious stories. This week, Hermana Bennett and I were standing on the sidewalk, looking at our planners when we saw him walking up toward us. I shouted to him, ”Miguel, ¡nuestro amigo! ¿Como esta?” and he smiled and said ”¿Miguel? ¡Soy Juanito!” We laughed and said ok, and then he asked us if we could come and share a scripture with him at that moment. So we walked to his house, sang a hymn, etc. When it came time to pray, Hermana Bennett asked ”So would you like us to call you Miguel or Juanito?” Miguel just stares at us, his face completely dead-pan serious, and goes ”Hermanita, where on earth did you get ‘Juanito’ from? My name is Miguel.” Hermana Bennett just lost it and we both just started laughing so hard. He was SO SERIOUS. He started laughing too but he just had this look on his face like ‘I really don’t understand why it’s so funny, though.’ He made Hermana Bennett say the opening prayer, and later, the closing prayer because he had forgotten that she had said the first one. I love old people.

We heard about an Elder who’s name is legitimately Angel Moroni Silva. And I thought that Mormon names only existed in Utah!!

Last Monday we had another earthquake!! It was like 5-point-something, from what I heard. It’s usual to have little 2-or-3-or-4-point ”temblores” literally every 2 weeks or so, but that one last Monday felt significantly bigger. People are getting scared because Lima is overdue for a full scale ”terremoto” any day now. I’m scared too. What? Who said that? Missionaries are never scared.

I’ve had a pretty good week then. I’m certainly seeing all of my weaknesses and doing everything I can to build them up. Missions are really good at pointing out every single weakness that we have, turns out, but it’s actually a blessing because then we can confront them and overcome them while were here feeling the Spirit so strongly. It’s crazy because every time that I pray to have more patience, I always get harder and harder tests of things that want to destroy every ounce of patience I can muster. But we are made strong through our trials, so I’ve gotta be faithful and I can’t give up on the fight.

I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving!! I sure am thankful for all of you! Enjoy the United States and have a wonderful first week of December!

Hermana Hollberg

PS — shout out to Mike, Suzanne and Isaac. Thank you so much for the Christmas cards that you guys wrote me! It’s so cool to have this Christmas Card Advent Calendar to look forward to opening every day :)

Our Thanksgiving meal!

Our Thanksgiving meal!

Actual rain drops!  It never rains here.

It actually rained drops for a few seconds! It never rains here.

took a million pics at the beach but no time to send them. gotta wait till next Monday :( thanks for everything! talk to you later!!!