Monday, July 29, 2013

The REAL fiesta is missionary work!



crinkle clank
crinkle clank
crinkle clank

In case my attempt at onomatopoeia wasn't precise enough, those are the sounds of blowing up balloons, curling ribbons, and throwing empty soda cans into the garbage. Yes, This week I was involved in not one, but TWO Fiestas!

Fiesta #1:
We went over to see Carmen (one of our investigators) but lo and behold she was shopping for her daughter's Quinceanera the following day.

----Hermana Thomas's quick word on Quinceaneras:
WHERE WAS MINE??? Basically when a girl turns 15, she dresses up as a princess, gets accompanied by 15 men to her own private (for lack of a better word, BALL), full of dancing, eating, and fiesta-ing until two in the morning. There are fabulous decorations, fabulous snackies, and 350 of your most fabulous friends (I kid you not, three-hundred and fif-ty) Yeah. I don't know who missed the memo on throwing me MY quinceanera, but my closet is definitely one Cindarella-dress short. (hey I think I've kissed enough frogs to qualify.)

Anyway, Carmen wasn't there but the house was sardine-d with people getting ready for the big day. Being "misioneras" we offered to serve, and they accepted! My job was to try as hard as I could to ignore one of my favorite movies playing as I curled ribbons around the Mexican candy party favors.

-Hermana Thomas's quick word on Mexican candy:
I don't know why why why Mexican candy insists on being 40% chili powder? A really popular flavor is mango and chili. Yes, it IS very strange and inexplicably addicting. You have to eat at least 12 before you realize that you don't really care for mango and chili.

It was fun. Too bad we didn't get to attend (not exactly missionary approved.) But, I plan on having my own when I get back (I could pull off 15, right?)

This is a nice time for a photo break. My family sent me a HILARIOUS picture of a real Mrs. Potato head, and I HAD to re-create it to make an "Hermana Potato Head." earrings courtesy of Hna. Woller.

Fiesta # 2:
The next day, we went over to see if one of our members could accompany us to a lesson later that day. When we got there, she was preparing for the Batman party to end all Batman parties for her little hombre turning three. Again, because we're always looking for ways to serve (and because the mama is pregnant) we asked what we could do to help. She said that we could blow up balloons and that, by-the-way, we were invited to the party.

***Necessary insert: No, we do NOT normally go to parties, even if we're invited, BUT she mentioned that one of our former investigators who has been avoiding us would be there with her son. We did a quick drive by and, since she was there, we briefly attended.

***second necessary insert: No, we're not creepy, just enthusiastic about sharing the message of Christ!

Anyway, it was probably the happenen'-est party every held for a three-year-old. Seriously! I'm pretty sure it was more intricately planned that any party I've ever had, and I'm 19!! --poor kid, all he wanted was the Batman toy on the top of the cake. (don't we all?)

Highlights of our 20 minutes of attendance:
1. Trying NOT to be creepy about approaching our investigator, and then trying to nonchalantly bring up when we can come over and visit.  All this in between bites of cake.
3. Delicious delicious delicious cake pops, how many of which I am ashamed to say I ate.
4. Being weirded out by hearing normal music (what? that Justin Bieber kid is still making music? I thought the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was all the rage)
5. Goody bags (oh goody!)

Don’t worry, we helped clean up afterward (i.e. slyly searching for where those cake pops went.....) which included the aforementioned crushing and recycling of empty soda cans.

These experiences were fun, but the REAL fiesta is missionary work! This week we were able to see so many people progress in their testimonies of Christ and His teachings. One investigator in particular is such an example to me of faith. She has kept every commitment we have given her (missionary's dream!) and you can tell how much joy has been magnified in her life. The only reason she's not baptized is that she's not married to the man she's living with. They have two a-dorable daughters, which has complicated her situation, but she told him that they either get married or separate. what?!?!? I cannot even believe the courage it would take to do that, and she is such an example to me of the believers. She accepts every commandment without question because it is asked of God. Even the biggies like the law of chastity or tithing. Wow. Every day I see people grow so much, and I can feel my own testimony strengthen. See? Missionary work IS a party! (Although more cake pops would be nice.)

WIWTK (What I Wish They Knew) for today:
One thing we have come across lately is that people get turned off from the church because of the behaviors of the members/bishop or other leaders in the ward. This is poisonous! It is a testimony to me of how we as members need to always live the gospel to the best of our abilities because people ARE watching. But more than that, I wish these people understood that NOBODY in this church is perfect. Nobody in this world is perfect. We do not profess to behave perfectly. In fact, the second lesson  missionaries teach is that we're NOT perfect! We do claim to have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but while the TEACHINGS are perfect, the followers are not. If someone in this church has offended you, please remember the gospel of Jesus Christ was established by the only Perfect Being to ever live on this earth. Therefore, His instructions, words, and the organization of His church ARE perfect, but we are not! Even as a missionary, I make manymanymanymanymanymanymany mistakes. But the things of which I testify are 100% correct.

Basically I love all of you.
like. a lot.

-Hermana Thomas     

Monday, July 22, 2013

Care for another slice?

July 22, 2013

Hello wonderful people that I love! 

I had two fun experiences that were the bookends of my week (7 days apart) so i will make them the book ends of my blog. 


I was given the gift of tongues. No, no, not THAT gift of tongues. My Spanish is as embarrassing as ever (I literally got corrected by a three-year-old. Try THAT on for a humbling experience!) I'm talking about the literal gift of chewy, chopped up cow tongues in a light chile verde sauce. Yep. All I could think was "my taste buds are touching taste buds, my taste buds are touching taste buds!" yeah, that experience was a little hard for me to swallow. I mean, I don't want to sound too tongue-in-cheek, but there was an actual tongue in my actual cheek! I managed to eat about half of it, when the hostess asked if something was wrong, or if I didn't like it. I was completely tongue-tied! 

Now I would like to take you on a little photo-journal of my week. 

This first picture is of California. I include it only so you can appropriately calibrate your level of jealousy. How luck am I to live in such a beautiful state?! 

 This next picture is of my first Californian rainy day (hour). I Loooooooove the rain, and the combination of palm trees, misty rain, mild heat, and a matching boots/umbrella combo inspired the foot-pop of happiness displayed below. 

The last photo is dedicated to my brother Paul because 1. From ages 7-11 80% of his body mass was made up of Kraft mac'n cheese (to this day he can't give blood because there are still cheesy, orange lumps floating around in his circulatory system) 2. He, my dad and I are forever faithful Phinias and Ferb fans. Fabulously fitting photo follows.    

End of Photo Journal. 

My WIWTK for this week: Many people that we talk to don't want to listen to our message simply because they feel that all churches are good and correct. They think that it is possible for someone to have a religion that is right for them, while another person can have a different religion that is right for them. The only problem with this thought is that religion isn't supposed to be based on opinion or preference, it's supposed to be based on truth! People tell us all the time that we all worship God in our own way, and it's all the same to God, because there's only one God. Yes, true, there is only one God (who is separate from Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost of course, but more on that at a later date.) But God is a God of order. Didn't he teach us how to pray? How to worship? How to do his will? How to live? The reason why there is only ONE way is because God's way is the BEST way, and there can only be one BEST. There are a lot of GOOD ways. I have met a lot of good people who have very good lives doing very good things. But they're not necessarily living the BEST way that they can with the MOST happiness. Granted, people are people and we're all human, so no one is ever living perfectly, but it's the teachings, not the people that are the BEST. They are perfect. 

I readily and enthusiastically know that many churches have a lot of truth. They teach correct principles and know correct doctrines. But think of this: You're at a party. There are many different tables, and all of them have your favorite cake on it. But one table only has half a cake. One has a slice. One has three slices. They all have a different portion of cake, but there is one table that has a whole cake. Which table would you choose to eat at? (keep in mind, this is calorie-free guilt-free cake.)  The one with the whole cake of course! This is strawberry-raspeberry-whipped-cream-deliciouness-with-extra-ghram-cacker-crust we're talking about!!! (For me at least. For you it might be carrot. bleh.) 

We know that there is ONE God, he taught us ONE way, because it is the BEST way. Why would you settle for a good life, when you could have the best that you possibly can? Why would you settle for two slices when you can have a whole cake? Why would you be so stuck on one piece of truth, that you wouldn't be willing to receive more? 

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, we rejoice in the truth you have! We celebrate it, we love it, we live it, we want to add to it. 

Care for another slice?

Challenge for this week: Think of someone you can invite to a church activity within the next two weeks. It can be anything from a no-pressure young-women's activity, relief society get-together, or scouting thing-a-ma-bob, to an actual church meeting. If you're not a member, find out where and when the Mormon church meets in your language, and attend. I promise that the Holy Ghost will bear witness to you that this church contains the fullness of truth.....and the missionaries will probably pass out with delight. 

The matching bookend: 

I am well known in my family for being a frog-kisser. Yep. like a literal frog kisser. Hey, I'm looking for my prince charming here! I've kissed frogs all over the -Yes- WORLD (Dominican republic, Canada etc.) and still haven't found the prince-making warty wonder. 

Family photo file, via la mom


somewhere along the line, my past-time turned into kissing any amphibian-reptile like creature. 

So last night, when I saw a baby lizard, my first instinct was to catch it. It struggled in my fingers while I took it inside (against the council of my oh-so-wise-companions) to take a picture, because it was already dark out. I gave it a swift little peck and....IT BIT ME! 

Wow. I must be a reeeeally bad kisser! 

So I dropped it in surprise. The screams that my companions let out were so loud and shrill, I'm surprised they didn't interfere with the radio frequency. Hermana Woller ran out of the room and refused to open the door until I had caught it, which took about 15 minutes. 

needless to say, I will go a-frog-kissin' no more. 

love you this much <------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>
(the arrows signify infinity) 

Hermana Thomas     

Monday, July 15, 2013

Missionaries Are People Too!

July 15, 2013

commence to start (commence to start!) 

If you have never seen Father of the Bride Part 2 then you... 

1. will not recognize the ___ quote and 
2. must must must MUST watch it. blankets optional. Kettle Corn not optional. 

Gather 'round lovelies. Today for circle time we have TWO stories. 

1. This happened early on in the week. It might have even been last Monday, but let's be honest that's neither very important nor that interesting. So, it was a bright and sunny day (as opposed to  "a dark and stormy night") when we were walking down the street to go to an appointment. Our new mission president has told us "No more tracting" (I will wait while you collect yourself.)           

yes. That's how I felt too. What is missionary work if not tracting? --His reasoning is that the members should find our investigators for us so we can spend our time actually teaching. We're tentatively waiting to see the outcome of this new plan. ANYWAY, we saw a man in his yard, and decided to talk to him (this is not "tracking" this is "OYM-ing" and very, very allowed.) 

Us: Hey! How are you?

Him: I really don't have time right now 

Us: Oh that's O.K! Would it be O.K. if we came back sometime next week to leave a blessing on your home?

Him: Um I really don't have time to talk right now, and I'm Mormon.

*pointing to our nametags*  Us: Oh that's great! We are too!

awkward silence 

*sheepishly* Him: oh, uh, I thought you guys were Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm not actually Mormon, I was just saying that so you would go away.  


*jokingly* Me: Well, is it O.K. if we come back next week then, since you're already Mormon?

Him: um yeah, that sounds fine.... 

Aaaaaaaaaand Scene.

Yeah. It was pretty hilarious. I hope he joins the church because that would be the best story EVER! 

While we're at it, can I just say that a LOT of people think that we're Jehovah's Witnesses, and when they find out that we're not, they want to know the difference. 
Short answer: Um. pretty much everything.  

If you want the whole long explanation, write me a letter. If you don't want the whole long explanation, write me a letter anyway. 

Story number 2: 

We were driving to a less active-member's house (la dee da dee da) and I was in the back seat (We're in a trio, so I'm usually in the back because as a trainee I'm not allowed to drive for the first 6 weeks) and, like any sane person driving around in 100 degree weather, I nonchalantly stuck my arm out the window to cool off. Thirty seconds later I feel something weird and look at my arm. My first thought was "someone threw milk at me!"...............It wasn't milk. I got pooped on by a bird! What?? That must be the sharp-shootingest-robin-hood-of-birds because we were going like 40 MPH, and my arm is NOT that big of a target. 

Yes, you have my permission to laugh. I had to laugh too because it was so randomly weird. My companions didn't stop smiling for the rest of the day (should I be worried?) And NO ONE would answer their door when we tried to find some place to wash it off! I wanted to yell into the houses "I swear I won't say a word, just let me use your sink!" --------yeah, that experience was for the birds. (if you're under the age of 75, you probably have never heard it but yes, that is a real expression.....Goodness, I'm an old lady! ) 

I suppose that has to happen to everyone once in their life, so *whew!* got mine over with. 

Also, and just as a side note, my health has OFFICIALLY gone down the drain. Or, More specifically, into the frying pan with a side of toasty tortillas. Yum! 

Update on Sonya and Francisco: Sonya came to a pioneer day activity with two of her kids, Kevin and Jennifer. It was so amazing! I just adore that family. The only hard thing is that the kids don't speak Spanish, so it was difficult to make them feel welcome, as most of the adults ONLY speak Spanish! This language barrier isn't hard only for me, but between the members themselves, as they are all on different levels of English and Spanish. Thank Heavens you can feel the Holy Ghost regardless of whether or not you understand everything being said!  

My WIWTK for this week (What I wish they knew): Is just that missionaries are normal people. We get hurt feelings like everyone else. We don't like having people yell obscene things at us just like you don't like people yelling obscene things at you; and when you verbally abuse us, you are not endearing yourself to society. It isn't acceptable to treat missionaries poorly just because you don't agree with their religion. Would you ever flip off random people in the street because you knew that they attended a different church? (I'm assuming the answer is no. If the answer is yes...find a pre-school near you to learn proper etiquette) Nothing changes when you see a missionary. And MOST importantly… sometimes all we want to do is wash bird poop off our arm, so answer the door dang it!  

Love You Like Always. 
Hermana Thomas