Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Of Torrents, Talents and Teeth


…of blessings, but mostly of water.

Yes, so remember how I'm supposed to be in the desert? Well it's been raining for almost an entire 24 hours straight, which makes driving quite the adventure. Here is my postcard to you. Imagine it with a super cute stamp, and red cursive-y letters saying "Greetings from California" 

Yes. Needless to say, we vetoed driving a half hour to dinner last night so.....frozen pizza it was!

Also, this Friday was the ward "talent show," which basically everyone attended because basically everyone was in it.

Imagine: endless tables of food meet three talent numbers per class/quorum/relief society... and old men who love to tell jokes about Mexico.  It was great!

My favorite was all the primary kids dancing to "Gangnam Style" mainly because I was an English speaking girl watching Spanish speaking kids dance to a song sung in Korean.   

.........Yes, I know what you're thinking, and the missionaries DID do a talent. Some random white girl who speaks the least Spanish out of anyone (oh wait, that's me)  was put in charge of re-writing all the SPANISH words of a shiny-shirt, poofy-hair, 14-year-old-heart-throb 80's pop song  into SPANISH lyrics about being a missionary. I will hold for applause. If you would like to see what I had to work with, my mother will kindly put a link to the song "soy un desastre" (thanks mom) below

yeah. One of the members recorded us doing it and uploaded the video to Youtube. So if you happen upon our version....so be it.

And try to keep at least some degree of respect for me.

Continued WIWTK (What I Wish They Knew): So as I was saying (7 days ago) I have learned that repentance is a blessing.  Most people think of the word "repentance," and imagine some huge process of guilt and shame and delving into the depths of despair, only to emerge and never sin again. Another common misconception is that repentance is a one-time thing, or a one-time a year thing, or an “I'm-on-my-deathbed-so-I-should-probably-ask-forgiveness thing.” These are some of the slipperiest lies the devil tells us to get us to put off repentance and therefore postpone or totally miss the grand blessings that accompany it.

Repentance is this: A change of heart, and a sincere resolve to stop doing the thing for which you are repenting. That being said, we should recognize the gift of repentance as an opportunity to forsake that which we know is ultimately holding us back from being the happiest we possibly can.

When you're doing something wrong, and you know it, whether you recognize it or not, it's adding a weight to your conscience and thus impeding your progression toward happiness. Have you ever done something to a person, and felt so badly about it that you couldn’t'  feel better until you apologized? How great was your peace after you finally made things right?!  Repentance isn't supposed to be a punishment, it's actually a huge gift!  Because of Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice for us He has given us the opportunity to repent, be made clean and experience the resulting peace and happiness!

The hardest part of repenting is deciding to do it.

What if you do the same thing again?
Well, notice that in the above definition, it is a change of heart and a SINCERE resolve to stop doing whatever you’re repenting for. When you repent, you should never think "I can repent for this now, and then do it later and just keep repenting." That is not repentance. It is neither a change of heart nor a sincere resolve to stop. But, if you DO sincerely repent, and then slip up again, my guess is that your conscience will drive you to repent (i.e. sincerely try your hardest to change) again. To me, repentance is less about your actions and more about your heart and sincere desires.  

So, How do I repent?

Well, let me preface this by saying that I repent daily. I always see the need for change in my life, and I sincerely want to try to become the best person I can be and have the most joy possible. I usually repent in my prayers at the end of the day.

1. Review in your mind what you want to repent of.
2. Feel a sincere desire to change that behavior, and resolve to do so.
3. Ask for forgiveness from God.
4. (Optional step) Ask for His help in changing that specific challenge.
5. Stop doing it.

Easier than you thought?
Repentance is one of my favorite things to talk about because it is such a merciful gift, and many people's perceptions of it can be so distorted. If you have any questions, or just want to talk about it....write me!!!!!!

Also, I thought you might like a picture from this morning. This is me brushing Hermana Sudweeks's  teeth. Long story. Enjoy the photo.

I pretty much love you!!!!!
-Hermana Thomas

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eliza Doolittle in the Desert

August 19, 2013

Yes, so the moral of the story is to never pour boiling hot corn-water into a stubbornly soapy water bottle. Story unnecessary, just don't do it.

In other tidbits of information, I am no longer homeless (hallelujah) and therefore have an actual factual address to which I can receive large, bulging amounts of mail.

Sister Hope Thomas
Mediterra Apartment Homes
43-100 Palm Royale, #1724
LaQuinta, CA 92253 

You should probably send me five or six letters to make sure that the postal system is functioning properly. As a concerned taxpayer I might even go so far as to call it a duty.

This week was an adventure. Well, missionary work is an adventure, and I have officially relinquished the idea that a "normal" transfer exists. It's just not possible. And if there DID happen to be a normal transfer, it wouldn't be normal anyway because having a normal one… isn't normal.

THIS transfer, between sharing an apartment between 5 girls (one bedroom, one bathroom....yikes,) which is why we moved by-the-way, and having to basically start from scratch looking for housing because we found legitimate mushrooms growing in our kitchen (like good-sized mushrooms,) has made the first couple weeks crazy-hectic, but also crazy-fun!

For example. one of my companions, Hermana Sudweeks, said that one of the best ways to learn the language was to read the Book of Mormon. Out loud. In Spanish. With a PEN in my mouth........yes. please share in my confusion. (Suppose to help with pronunciation?) But I decided to try it (oh the desperateness of missionaries to learn the language.)  And I thought you might enjoy a tasteful photo of Language Study Time.

Yes. Not sure if it really helps, or if the Hermanas just needed a good laugh, but as of now I can add "reading Spanish with pen in my mouth" to the "talents" portion on any job application. Should undoubtedly propel me toward success in the business world.

Another semi-noteworthy note worth noting is that I completely threw out my back this week. I have NO idea how it happened, but I am now walking around in a graceful 95-year-old fashion. BUT the upside is that I have become REALLY good at picking things up without actually bending down. (My resume is just getting better and better.) Have no fear, though. It is definitely healing and my Venezuelan companion has taught me the little song  they sing to their kids when they get an owie.

"sana sana,
culito de rana
si no sana hoy
sanara manana"

Which basically just says if it doesn't get better today it will get better tomorrow. So I decided to make up my own little saying and embroider it on my hand towel. (keep in mind that last transfer I was very sick for a few days)

"I've thrown up my food
I've thrown out my back
but I won't throw in the towel."

O.k. I think Mother Goose would be satisfied with my number of rhymes for this week, so let's move on.

WIWTK: Repentance. It's not a punishment, it's a privilege.

But more on that next time. I'm running out of minutes.

-Hermana Thomas


Monday, August 12, 2013

Woo Hoo! We're opening a new area!

August 12, 2013

I lied.

I'm not in Palm Springs, I'm in Palm DESERT. And Desert it is. I break into a sweat walking to the car so........sun dresses it is! Also. I am currently homeless which means I am currently home-address-less. Thus: When (notice my deliberate use of "when" and not "if") you decide to send me mail, just send it to the "Highland" address listed conveniently to the right side of this post. High fives for Highland. Also, some parties have asked who was driving when the car crashed......the person filling out the accident report is in this picture.


I don't even know where to begin. Which is exactly how I felt when I arrived in my new area be-cauuuuuuuuuse… it hasn’t been opened to missionaries for a long time! Woo Hoo! This is the paperwork part of missionary work--where you are re-writing lost information--finding lost data and updating outdated info. *SNAP* open up the binder rings, add new pages to the New Area Book and presto we’re excited and ready to get to work!

(Missionary Dictionary: The "Area Book" is a binder containing all the records of the people who were/are interested in meeting with the missionaries.  It includes important facts like what we've already taught and discussed with each interested person.  This is helpful to subsequent missionaries so when they start meeting with these same people, they don't sound like a broken record or a broken record or a broken record or a broken record or a broken record)

Anyway, there is a LOT of work that goes into opening a new area, but a lot of work and a lot of love is a great combination. And SPEAKING of love, I LOVE my new companions!!! I am in a trio again, and my companions se llaman (call themselves) Hermana Sudweeks and Hermana Taboada. y ellas son de (" They are from" ...see, my blog is educational and everything. Watch out Dora, I'm teaching people Spanish!) North Carolina (shout out to all of my fav North Carolina-ers) and Venezuela (She's the only person I know from Venezuela, so shout out to the whole population).

They're pretty much the best and we've already spent enough time together that we basically all say the same thing at the same time. At this very moment they are probably writing the exact same sentence home to their families.

Adventure of this week:
well. I ate a fish.

Yeah. Not like grilled fish or breaded fish, like an actual whole complete fish with eyeballs and fins and bones and a spinal cord and everything. The family that fed us just *PLOP* put it in the deep fryer for half an hour and served it to us with a side of lime.

It. was. delicious!!!! minus the spinal cord which Elder Sloan dared me to eat (oh goodness I'm turning into an elder. must remember to put nail polish on the grocery list)

Something I have grown a testimony of, especially as a missionary, is that receiving challenges is a gift from God. Some people I talk to say that God cannot exist or be merciful because if He did, He wouldn't allow such horrible things happen to us. I say that God can ONLY be merciful by letting us go through trials. We rarely grow when we keep ourselves in our safe daily routines.  Most of us, left on our own, wouldn’t deliberately choose difficult, stretching challenges.  There is a really great chapter in the Book of Mormon that likens the Children of God to a vineyard, and likens God, to the "Lord of the Vineyard." Many times the Lord goes down into the vineyard and does everything He can to help it grow. It says that He prunes it and dungs it and digs about it. How could a loving Lord of a vineyard prune a tree? How could He not let the branches keep growing however they want to?  How could a loving Lord of a vineyard "dung" it? It smells bad; it’s unpleasant, and gross! How could He do that to a vineyard that He loves? Well, because he wants it to grow and flourish and bring forth much good fruit. He knows that cutting it down and dung-ing it will yield the best results for the tree eventually, even if at the time it seems harsh or unpleasant. God doesn't make us go through trials to punish us, He allows us to go through trials to bless us. And if we invite Him, He wil love and guide us through every step of our trials.  He walked through a storm to help His apostles and He will walk through our storms to help us too!

He is the perfect, loving gardener and with His care we will reach our greatest potential and be our happiest selves!

(If you want to read that chapter, it is in the Book of Mormon in the book of Jacob, chapter 5)

(here is a video related to Hermana Thomases preceding thoughts, titled: God is the Gardener.  This insert is via la mom!)

I love you.
Hermana Thomas