Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Interview with Missionary Wife, Lori Holt

Wife, mother, teacher, counselor - Lori Holt wears many different hats. The most inspiring thing about this young lady? She strives to serve the Lord with every talent and ability He's given her. Today I have the wonderful opportunity to introduce you to Lori. Join me in welcoming this missionary wife ministering in the country of Chile.

Maria: Thanks for joining us today, Lori! Tell us a bit about yourself:
Lori: I’m a sinner saved by God’s grace and blessed way beyond what I ever imagined! I’m so thankful for all the people God has put into my life to help me to know Him more fully. I have an aunt who led me to the Lord when I was 14, and she and her husband were so instrumental in my life when I came back to the Lord at the age of 19. I don’t know where I’d be without them. I really do believe with all my heart that I have the best pastor and pastor’s wife in the world! Austin Gardner knows God, and he knows, preaches, and lives out God’s Word. And he and Mrs. Betty have helped us more than any other people we've ever known aside from our own parents! It’s such a privilege to have a pastor who is also a father.

I’m married to Jason Holt. He puts up with me and loves me unconditionally. We have three healthy, beautiful kids who have all accepted Christ as their Savior. What more could I ask for?

I enjoy cooking very much. I get real pleasure out of feeding my family and friends. I love hosting people in my home. God has given us a beautiful home here in Chile, and it’s always full of people. I love to decorate and garden. There’s something about getting my hands in the dirt and working with plants that make me feel relaxed.
I play piano, horribly, but I play. I learned out of necessity when we got to the mission field. It’s hard on my pride to play piano because I’d like to do it better, but I do it for the Lord.

I really enjoy reading. I actually only read  non-fiction books to help me get closer to God. I feel like I got a late start in my walk with the Lord, and I always have a lot of catching up to do. The Bible is my authority, and I like to read other books by godly, wise, people to help me more fully understand how I can live for Him better. My favorite author is Nancy LeighDeMoss. I have to give her a quick plug. I listen to her radio broadcast on itunes daily, and I've read almost all of her books.  

Anyone who knows me well is laughing right nowJ I fully understand that I talk about her all the time! But I really do appreciate the influence her writings and recordings have had in my life and ministry. And I’m also an advocate for the “True Woman” movement she heads up. I appreciate the effort she and others are making to help women fulfill their God-given roles. 

Maria: I appreciate you giving us a glimpse into your personal life. Did you always dream of being a missionary’s wife?

Lori: Yes and no. I wasn't raised in church. I have a wonderful family; but we never talked about God or Jesus, or attended church.  My testimony isn't pretty.  It’s characterized by ugly words like drugs and alcohol.  But it’s also filled with a very beautiful word:  Grace! So, no, I didn't always dream of being a missionary. I didn't even know what missionaries did growing up.

But once I accepted Christ and gave Him control of my life, He put that strong desire in my heart almost immediately. Yes, being a missionary was a dream I had, but more importantly a matter of prayer in my life.  I knew God would more likely lead me to a man of God instead of a ministry.  I really longed for my own Christian family. So I took missions trips while in Bible college, and trusted the Lord to line my desires up with His. And after what seemed to be a very long time, He brought Jason into my life. We dated for 10 short months, got married, and left for the mission field one year later! It’s so fun looking back now at how God has worked, and it reminds me to trust Him to keep doing awesome things in the future!

Maria: What an amazing journey! It's so neat to hear how God worked. Describe the mission field in South America: 

Lori: South America is very diverse; and obviously Chile is my favorite country. Actually, Chile is one of the most advanced countries on the continent. It costs a pretty penny to live here:  gas stays between five and six dollars a gallon, and I spend double on my grocery bill compared to costs in Atlanta. But even though we have to pay a lot to live here, it’s worth it! Chile is a beautiful country. It’s 2500 miles long and only about 90 miles wide, with terrain ranging from the driest desert in the world in the north to the Patagonia region in the south.
Chile is a great harvest field. The predominately Catholic population is looking for something new. This is true in most parts of South America. And though they aren't begging to hear the Gospel; with hard work and persistence, you can see much fruit here. Jason really believes that this is the time for action in South America. In Chile for example, people are ready. But we’re not the only ones here working for their souls.  There are Mormon temples in every community, and Jehovah’s witnesses on the streets visiting everywhere you look. So we’re working hard here and anticipating that God will continue to do amazing things!

Dressing up for Chilean Independence Day

Maria: The majority of Chileans speak Spanish, right? How long did it take for you to learn the language?

Lori: Let’s see, counting our time in language school, we've been in South America nearly ten years. And I’m stilling learning Spanish! For me, it’s a continual process. I do have an advantage over some of my missionary friends serving in other parts of the world, because Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn. But don’t tell that to someone who just got off the plane! Learning any language is a huge hit on your pride. And if you’re not willing to just throw yourself out there and make mistakes, you’ll never learn. 

I’d say that it took about 6 months to be able to communicate on the level of a five-year old. Then after a year, I could teach in Spanish; but it took much more effort than teaching in English.

Now, with the Lord’s help, I have been doing all my devotions in Spanish for several years (you can’t have Scripture in your heart to share with others in their language if you’re not in the Word in their language), and can teach in Spanish with about the same ease as teaching in English. But I still make mistakes all the time. It goes so much further than just grammar. It’s culture. I've got to know the people to make the right jokes, share the right illustrations, etc. Language is so important for a missionary. How can you talk to people about the most important things in their lives; salvation, marriage, raising kids, faith, forgiveness, and so on; without being able to express your heart in their language? I am always working to speak better and know the people more deeply.

A Wacky Tacky day of school
Maria: Wow! I've never thought of it like that before. How challenging! I know you’ve home schooled your children in the past. How has that changed? 

Lori: I home schooled my kids for 4 years. I enjoyed it; didn't love it, didn't hate it, but I enjoyed it. I am a teacher, I studied to be one and like doing it, and I don’t take lightly the responsibility and privilege of educating my kids. But I started feeling a few years ago that the Lord was showing me that there was a better way to juggle the roles of wife, ministry, mom, and teacher.

I know He really wants me to redeem the time. So I started praying about it. And He has led us to start a new project that we all love. Each calendar school year, a young lady from the US comes on a short-term mission  trip to Chile and teaches my kids and other missionary kids in our team. It’s really been a game changer for the whole family. The kids have more social time, I have more ministry time, and we’re all really thrilled. We’re finishing up our first year, and already have a young lady lined up for next year!  God has really led every step of the way!

Maria: What a neat opportunity for all involved! What is the biggest challenge to raising your children on the mission field?

Lori: My kids love Chile. It’s home. The boys were born here; so their “real” Chileans. When a challenge presents itself, it's through me. And the root of that challenge always grows when I fail to take every thought captive to Christ. If I keep my mind on the most important thing; world evangelism, then I’m happy and fulfilled. But I sure can throw a good pity party! I have thoughts like, “My kids never get to have family around for birthday parties.”  “I wish people would stop staring at me in the grocery store.”  “I miss Mom!”  And the list goes on and on.

Recently a childhood friend suddenly passed away. Our parents and hers have been dear friends all my life.  Leah, the 37 year old who died, was their only child. I want to do more than pray, send a card, or make a phone call. I want to give them a hug, make them some food, love on them. It’s tough. I’m detached. But then the Lord reminds me that our family has a much higher purpose than just these things. He has given us a high calling to be missionaries to share His Word with the people of Chile. And the truth is, we have an amazing life here. I wouldn't have it any other way! 

Kid’s play off of their parent’s emotions. We recently went back to the States for our first real furlough. We were home for nine months. We were all excited about it. But I remember thinking, “Life is going to be so fun in the States, I sure hope the kids don’t think their life in Chile is boring when we get back.” And we did have a blast!

We spent some amazing time with family, got the kids good and saturated with some of their American culture (they really needed that), and even went to Disney World. You can’t get any more American than that. But when we got back home, I never heard a word, not one word, about missing the States. And we came back to a house still under construction with no running water. But they were thrilled to be back. And the two youngest ones had even forgotten all their Spanish. And though I don’t want to sound like I’m taking all the credit for that; I really believe most of it has to do with Jason and me. We love Chile. When I throw pity parties, they’re very privateJ  So the kids play off of us. If we’re excited about something, they are too.  If we don’t like something, they don’t either. My pastor says, “Show me a missionary who’s kids hate the mission field, and you can guarantee that his parents hate it too.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

Maria: I'm glad your entire family loves the mission field in Chile. What is the funniest thing that’s happened there?
Lori: I’ll tell you a story that is funny now, but it wasn't in the moment! I’m a TN girl. Jason calls me his Tennessee Hillbilly. So being a country girl, I like to go fishing. And Santiago has no lakes, which make it pretty hard to fish. Mom (an expert fisher), was coming for a visit; so we planned a trip. I had been asking around and found out where everyone in the city goes to catch fish. Oh, and by the way, Jason is a city boy; no fishing background there. So we bought poles, reels, and everything else we needed to have a good time.  Then we headed out for our day of adventure!

The area was about an hour and a half away. We paid about $10 in tolls and another $20 in gas to get there.  So we started looking for bait when we came to the edge of the city. Everyone we asked said that no one was selling bait right now and that we could find worms by looking under rocks. I’m thinking, “Why does it have to be so hard to have fun here?  America is so easy,”  but I’m smiling at the kids and looking under rocks with them. We found a few tiny worms after about a half hour, and realized we’d just have to use the plastic bait we had instead of live bait. We didn't even know what we were going to be fishing for, so I guess it didn't really matter. So we got back in the car and started driving toward the lake.

When we got there, it was drained!!  Yes, there was no water!  No one told me that they drain the lake at certain times of the year. So Jason’s “I’ll fix this” mode kicks in, and he gets out of the car and starts walking in the mud where the water is supposed to be to see if the little bit of water that is out there could possibly be deep enough for fishing. And about 100 meters in, he falls and is covered in mud!! The story actually goes on and on, but I’ll stop there with this application:  It really does take more effort to have a good time on the mission field sometimes.  America is an entertainment culture, and we Americans are very spoiled by convenient, clean, cheap, accessible, and good entertainment. You really have to use your imagination sometimes on the mission field!

Maria: Hilarious! I wish you had pictures! On a more serious note, what is the most important lesson God has taught you, while on the field? 

Lori: That apart from Him, I am nothing and can do nothing. But He can use whomever He chooses. And for some reason I can’t understand, He chooses to use me here. My pastor’s wife told me once that she likes to make sure she’s never in a comfort zone. That’s a sign that we’re not pushing forward. So He’s taught me to keep pushing, remembering that I’m just the tool. He’s the One really doing the work, and to Him be the glory for it!

Maria: That's a great lesson for all of us to apply. What goals do you have for the future?
Lori: Generally speaking; to get closer and closer to God trying to know Him more intimately, to keep being a helper to Jason, raise these kids up to love and serve the Lord and loves missions, win and train Chileans to reach others, keep my eye on the ball and not to mess up too badly, speak less and listen more, and bring honor to the Lord through my life.

Specifically, really, I’m trying not to think too hard about it. I love goals; and I’m involved in some projects right now that I’m really burdened about. But my calling is Jason Holt’s help-meet. And one thing I've learned over these 10 years of marriage: You never know what he’s going to do next! So I’m just trying to be ready to have my heart aligned with his for the visions and dreams God puts in his heart for Chile. 

Maria: I look forward to seeing how God continues to use you! How can a person get involved in your ministry?

Lori: We need prayers! Pray for us! Pray for the people of Chile! We need co-laborers! We want to reach Chile before it’s too late. Come and do it with us!

We are taking another step of faith and starting  church number 4 in a city called Belloto. God has worked so many things together to show us that this is His will. Please pray for this new church plant!

Maria: It's a privilege to be able to pray for the ministry there in Chile. What words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?
Lori: I’m too young to be wiseJ I’m turning 36 on Oct 12. But my God is all-knowing! He says in Philippians…. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I don’t really have any words of wisdom, more like words of encouragement for the ladies who are reading:  Figure out what your mark is and press toward it! God intends for each one of His children to go way beyond just being a wife, mother, church member, etc. He has a master plan: world evangelism. And He wants everyone in on it. I’m blessed because I get the package deal. I’m married to a missionary, so it’s easier for me to keep the main thing the main thing. So just ask the Lord to show you YOUR mark in His plan, and press toward it with all you have. We can rest in eternity. Lord help me!

Maria: Thanks for those encouraging words, Lori - God bless you, Jason, and the family as you serve Him there in South America!

Connect with the Holts:

A BIG congratulations to Karen - winner of Merisa Davis' book, "Bill Cosby IS Right: But What Should the Church Be Doing About It?" Thanks for entering the contest last week, Karen - happy reading!


  1. Happy birthday, Lori. What a great testimony of God's leadership and guidance in your lives as a family.

    I really enjoyed reading about your life and especially the podcasts! I'm a fan of pod casts and had not heard of Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Thanks for sharing that... I've got her downloading on my phone right now.

    Blessings for the days ahead, for you and your whole family.
    Thanks for another great interview, Maria.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Dotti :)

  2. I have heard Chile is a beautiful country. Thank for this interview Maria. And loved reading about the beautiful work that God is doing through you and your family there, Lori.