Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Your Own Personal Christmas Program...Merry Christmas Everyone!

Today we will be having a Christmas program. it will proceed as follows

1. Christmas poem written especially for you by Hermana Thomas

2. Christmas poem written especially not for you because it is in Spanish and will accompany the cookies we're dropping off to people. Basically only included because I'm super proud that I wrote a poem in Spanish. By Hermana Thomas

3. Words of wisdom by Hermana Wong. "Food doesn't taste as good when you don't have anyone to share it with"

3. Christmas message from Hermana Thomas

Missionary Christmas

my very first Christmas
with no hint of snow
it's fifty degrees
'stead of fifteen below

I haven't once listened
to jingle bell rock
save the horse and the sleigh
cuz we park and we walk

the extent of our gifts
are the pamphlets we bring
and the jingle of bells
are the doorbells we ring

the only rain, dear,
comes from clouds in the sky
and santa this year
will be passing us by.

there's no wrapping, no snowmen
no lit temple square
the walls where we live
remain pitifully bare

the house smells like house
and not fresh mountain pine
no décor (we're too poor)
no hung socks in a line

some may ask if I'm missing
my family at home
when I see a lit tree
if my heart starts to roam

back to presents and parties
and decking the hall
but I'm telling the truth
when I say "not at all"

for I can't miss the things
that are counted and priced
when I spend all my time
sharing teachings of Christ

and that very first Christmas
there was no hint of snow
on a calm April night
with the sky all aglow

and because of the birth
of that sweet baby boy
on a mission I bring
the glad tidings of Joy

Luke 2:10 :and the angel said unto them, fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.

2. Words of wisdom by Hermana Wong: "food doesn't taste as good when you don't have anyone to share it with" ......i.e. Hermana Thomas is having a hard time sharing Christmas treats. 

3. Message Yesterday, I was asked (with a whole 3 hours notice) to give a Christmas talk at a young Single Adults fireside. As already mentioned in the above poem, Christmases as a missionary are quite a bit different from those of the average Christmas celebrator. It got me thinking about "the true meaning of Christmas."

O.k. before you roll your eyes and shut off the computer, keep reading. The answer is different than you might think.

Old and young year after year have tried to tackle "the true meaning of Christmas." I think we can all agree (as songs and movies and books are constantly reinforce into our heads) that it is NOT about presents or candy or money or big red bows. But what IS it about? Some songs and movies claim that Christmas is all about "the joy of giving" or "keeping love in your heart all year round."


 While I agree that these are important themes, they completely miss the point of Christmas. They seem to miss the first syllable, which is  "Christ."

Other media (mainly church produced productions from congregations around the world,) emphasize the birth of Christ as the true meaning of Christmas. Surprisingly I also disagree that this is what we truly celebrate during this Christmas season.

While His birth was miraculous, accompanied by such grandeur as the world had never known, it is not this that we should focus on during this special time. What we are really celebrating is His life, and more specifically, His atonement. Without this, without His Atonement, what joy could his birth bring us?

Instead of focusing on the fact that He was born, we should pause and remember WHY He came into this world, and what He did for us that was so miraculous. In John 14: 6 it says

 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me."

There was LITERALLY no other way for us to be saved, which is to be able to live in the presence of God again, except that Jesus fulfilled the atonement. Without it, we would be doomed to live forever in a condition that one prophet described thus

"the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt; which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord and doth fill his breast with guilt and pain and anguish which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever" Mosiah 2:38

And not only did he save us from this miserable fate, he took upon him our infirmities and sicknesses and heartaches and trials to know exactly how to comfort us while here on earth. (Alma 7:12) So this Christmas season, I invite you to focus on WHY Christ came to earth, and give thanks for the greatest gift ever given. The Atonement.

-Hermana Thomas

Monday, December 16, 2013

Don't see people as furniture in your life

December 16, 2013

I may or may not be nutritionally deprived today so I will patiently wait as you all lower your blog standards......thank you.  

Tis the season.
And If you are Hermana Wong, tis the sneeze-on. Poor girl has been fighting a cold all week, although we are not fighting THE cold. (I'm pretty sure that the last time I looked at our car thermometer it said 60 degrees.)

Let us take a moment and get to know the lovely Hermana Wong. She is from Alaska, but both of her parents are from Samoa. if I had to describe her with four nouns they would be volleyball, xxxtra flaming hot Cheetos, fresh salmon, microphone.

---- As I was sitting here I said to her “Hermana, I'm trying to describe you" and the person sitting next to me on the computer said "ravishing with a touch of class." and then we started talking. It turns out that he is a writer for a magazine, but he used to be an entertainment lawyer. I asked him all about Hollywood (since I'm thinking of going into movie production) and he explained to me all about Beverly Hills life and how shallow it is. --It just reminded me of how much everyone needs the gospel, the "good news" that we have. Here is this man, cast out of Hollywood for his age, having been surrounded by celebrities and superficiality his whole life, who now sits at the local library working for $80.00 a article as an entertainment writer for a magazine sold in grocery stores. And yet our Heavenly Father is mindful of him and loves him more than you or I can comprehend. How much responsibility we have to open our mouths and share the joyous message of Christ with our brothers and sisters.

I used my writing time talking to my newfound neighbor, but I encourage you to think of the people you see this week not as furniture in your life, but as real people with real stories aching to find the truth of The gospel of Jesus Christ. Then... share it.

love love love,
Hermana Thomas  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Don't wait until the first of the year

December 9, 2013

Dearest friends around this spherical globe we call earth,

Let's all say this together. Thomas. Tho-mas. T-H-O-M-A-S. (tah)-mus. Thomas.

Thank you…Just a little review because to 80% of the members and investigators here I am Hermana Thompson. 

O.K. Begin. 

This week was one of personal reflection and self-evaluation (redundant synonyms, acknowledged and purposefully left alone.) This is one reason why I love having missionary transfers: They cause you to ponder on the person you are, the kind of missionary you have become, and how you can better improve during the next transfer. 

I think that in normal people life, we often forget to evaluate our progress and get stuck in a predictable rut; not only of routine, but of personality and attitude. This continued apathy toward progression eventually and oh-so-subtly leads to a deteriorating quality of life and self......How sad! How much more productive and happy would we be if every 6 weeks we were forced to honestly reflect on the people we have become. Self-improvement should not be limited to the first of every year, when our bad habits have rusted into us for 365 whole days.  Rather, we should always be shaking off the dust of yesterday to make room for a better ME today.

I found this Mormon message that goes along with what I'm trying to talk about.  Please watch it and we will reconvene. 

Good right? So here is your homework. Think of three things that you've been slacking on, and work on those things for the next six weeks (we'll be doing it together.) And so you don't forget, write them down and put them somewhere you can see them often. I invite you to have a transfer right now in your life,  a transfer from where you are to a better "place" in your life.

-Hermana Thomas 

Oh, p.s. I'm staying in the same area, but getting a new companion.    

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanks-giving in prose and pictures

I promised you holiday poems, and here is my (late) one for Thanksgiving.

What I'm grateful for, Mish Edish. (mission edition)

for good water pressure, for toilets that flush
got a nose, got some toes, more than 3 teeth to brush  
 At this point right now, I do not have to cram
for impending, dooms-day-like college exams

for the on-the-go-corndogs for out-the-door lunch
the occasional leaf on the sidewalk to crunch.
for those two-for-one sales on ice cream (mint chip)
that my kindly companion will loan me her slip

that she no longer squeals when I go to change lanes
that my chapstick smells fondly of mint candy canes
for those tan sock-y things that I wear with my flats
the people 'round here that own dogs and not cats 

the apartment I sleep in is way beyond par
for excedrin at home, benadryl in the car
that my Spanish, though simple, is starting to flow 
por las fotos de gente a que le amo 

for support from my friends, for my nephews I miss
for the people right now that are looking at this
though I'm not at my home to share holiday cheer
I'm so grateful to be on a mission this year.

And you may now enjoy these photos. hooray!

the cutest little kid ever! (twin nephews excluded) we had a good time playing with the mini skateboard and "skate jump" featured on the table.

another mission birthday! Elder cebreros (shown here) and his companion had birthdays within 3 days of eachother. needless to say there hads been some serious fiesta-ing going on. -we sang "22" to him by taylor swift, but he was on his mission when it came out....awkward.

 our ward's missionaries. please ignore the angelic glow around us. 

My heart is so full of gratitude and love,

con carino

Hermana Thomas 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Birthday and Merry Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2013

Just in case you are reading this after Thursday; and you've  eaten so much that you're now more turkey than human, and there is an illegal percentage of gravy in your bloodstream, I decided to make things easier for you. Instead of making you read a whole long blog post with lots of words and syllables and thinking (oh the horror!)  I'm giving you a week in pictures. so. Picture this:

In honor of Hermana Deroche's 20th birthday, Hermana Thomas made a pianta complete with letters from everyone in the zone. If it looks like it was finger painted, that's because it was. finger painted with love.

Obviously our parties our not quite up to Mexican par. (piñata tied to a ceiling vent hit with an empty soda bottle.)

For post- birthday P-day we went to a European car dealership to? look at pretty cars? (can anyone explain this to me?)

 And then got free lunch at a member's restaurant. (No need to explain this one. I am very fluent in the language of melted cheese with beans on the side.)

Happy birthday Hermana Deroche!
And a very merry thanksgiving to all of you!
~Hermana Thomas

Monday, November 18, 2013

I almost cried. Yeah, yeah, I'm such a sister missionary!

November 18, 2013

The things of which I have to tell you are so many. The time with which I have to write you is so little. With these unspecifically vague numbers (that redundantly meant the same thing) I invoke the olde tyme saying "you do the math."   

cosa numbero UNO:

 (if you don't know what "uno" means, you were severely deprived of card games as a child): This week we had a MISSION CONFERENCE!!!! i.e. every single missionary within the Redlands mission drove to the mission office and had the most spiritual 6 hours of our lives!!!!

There were speakers from almost every stake in our mission and they gave the most eloquent talks and suggestions and insights and promises. I love being a missionary!!!! One of my favorite parts of the conference was when a stake president read a scripture with us that says "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D&C 82:10) He talked about how, as the Lord, He literally cannot lie. There are Specific blessings for each commandment and when you keep them he WILL give you those blessings. It's not subjective; it's as much of an equation as 7 X 7 = 49.

yeah. Being a missionary is so amazing!

next cosa.

So we have this investigator named Enrique (my alias for him) He's AWESOME! He’s 19 and we've met with him about 3 times.

-------necessary insert-------

One of the HARDEST things to ask people to do is go to church. It's amazing how many excuses there are and how many of them sound valid. With work, family time, caching up on sleep and a million other things that are "more important" it's hard to help people put into perspective how much MORE important it is to go to church. We’ll talk about it at a later date.

So we asked him to come to church about 2 times, but he always has to work on Sundays. We talked about why church attendance was so important and how much it could bless his life, but as a new employee he didn't think he'd be able to come for a while. So this week we forgot to call him before church to remind him (bad Hermana Thomas.)  And half way through the first hour I look over and ENRIQUE CAME!!!! all by himself, nice clothes, singing the songs, pretty much a rock star. and not only THAT, but he stayed for all three hours, AND told us that he asked for all Sundays off so that he could keep coming.

I almost cried. 

Yeah, yeah, I'm such a sister missionary. But I can't even describe to you the joy that you feel when you see someone start to take ACTIVE steps to come unto Christ and learn more about his church. It's like that moment when you give someone a piece of your favorite treat, and you know that they're just about to taste and LOVE it! Only times about a million bazillion. Or round abouts there.

cosa three:

Decided to take two pictures of my new "typical" 

1. Officially turned into a Californian. I get so cold in 70-degree weather that I have to study Spanish in sweat pants.

 2. This is the story of my life. Everybody in my apartment gets a letter except for Hermana Thomas. So they "LETTER" open the junk mail so that she doesn't feel left out.

 ladies and gentlemen, I love you.
-Hermana Thomas