Monday, November 10, 2014

A testimonial post script

November 10, 2014

Tomorrow is a very special day. A very special and unique day indeed. It’s....................Veteran's day! woo hoo! 

o.k. o.k. It's also special because it will be the day that I fly home. My first day as a missionary veteran. I have fought the good fight. And now I will return home to my loved ones to continue the cause. 

I have not had to think about what to say for my last missionary blog post because I have known from the beginning that I wanted to share with you -the people I love so much- that which is the most important thing I have, my testimony. 

For a year and a half I have shared it with strangers, people on the street, members in southern California, atheists, companions, the mission president, investigators, less actives, and most everyone I have met. Now I want to share it with you.

I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. Everything in this world testifies of that. I know that He created a perfect plan for us to learn and have happiness and become like Him. I know that Jesus Christ is the center of that plan and that He took upon himself our pains and sins and temptations. I know that He knows perfectly how to help us and that if we go to Him we will receive joy and peace.

I know that following His teachings and example is the only way to happiness. I have felt utter joy and calmness at points in my mission that I know came from trying to follow Him. I would not trade those feelings for anything. 

I know the fullness of the teachings of Jesus Christ and His true church were restored by our loving Heavenly Father for us to enjoy. I know that they were restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. 

This makes me happy. 

This makes me smile 

This is what I live for; because this is why I have been sent here to live. I choose to follow God's plan for me because He knows how to perfectly lead me along the path of happiness.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

-Hermana Thomas 

Monday, November 3, 2014


November 3, 2014

I thought I would change things up a bit and put my picture first. This (cardboard? paper mache? linoleum? ok probably not linoleum) Pumpkin sits proudly at the Northern end of our area. -- after a year and a half things like random (wooden? plastic? metal?)  entrance- size pumpkins have ceased to phase me. I just have grown to adore the random oddities of California. 

The original plan was to take a picture IN the pumpkin but Hermana Wong said “no”. This was my reaction 

​and hermana wong just said, 

​“I certainly love that girl.” 

Rewind 18 months:

She stared at the much anticipated envelope. It was thick but not too thick. Foreign or state side? foreign or state side? Her future was there sitting in front of her with a first-class stamp. Rush delivery to know where in the world she would spend the next year and a half. 

“Oh please let it be out of the country. oh please oh please oh please…” 

Her family gathered around her: Uncles, aunts, cousins, a fluffy white poodle whose tail was wagging at a caffeinated rate. Every three wags was another three wags closer to knowing. 

German? Spanish? Swedish? A white and gold flag? green, yellow, and red? Eating baguettes and cheese or rice and beans? 

The family settled down and sang a hymn. She wished she could change the tempo from 4/4 to 100/4. 

"Dear sister Thomas, 


"You have been"...........whereisitwhereisitwhereisit? "called to serve in the"
She stopped talking. She read it. She did not say it. She wanted to say something else. She didn't want to cry in front of anyone. Everyone actually. She thought about the cheesecake that her mom had prepared. She did not want to say it. 

"California Riverside mission." 

The disappointment that should not have been there was evident and settled like a bleak mist chocking her mood. She was frustrated with herself. She had been so excited to go where the Lord had called her. So excited to be a missionary. But with a sister and mother who had both spent time serving missions in California, she hadn't even considered it as an option. She was excited to serve, but why would the Lord call her there? 


I sit at the computer not typing. What shall I write? What shall I write? I bite my nail. What can I say that will convey my feelings about my mission? What can I say that will capture the magnitude of the journey? Shall I even attempt to dust off my writing skills? I haven't told a story like this in a long time. 

As I think back on all of the experiences that I have had I am filled with gratitude for every blessing I have received on my mission. I am so happy for the tears of sadness and frustration as well as the hugs of happiness and smiles of utter surprise and delight. The things I have learned from successes and the things I have learned from the days that wore on me like sandpaper. back and forth, back and forth on raw feelings. I am grateful for the companions I have had. Each of them has taught me so many invaluable lessons. Things you learn when you are with someone for 24 hours a day. I am filled with gratitude.

There are no breaks. No time-outs. Sometimes it was learning to be patient with each other. Many times it was the privilege of learning about companions' pure goodness inside and out. I've loved learning that the people I live among  are kind and forgiving and generous regardless of setbacks. 

I am grateful for the friends I have met here who will be part of my life forever. I LOVE that the Lord sent me to Redlands California. and Indio California. And San Bernardino California. 

I love my mission with all my heart. I am sad to leave the California Redlands mission. Very sad. But I know that this is just the beginning of MY mission. I was called to serve the Lord. Now the Lord is saying: I gave you a year and a half in a beloved part of my vineyard. Now YOU decide where you want to serve next. 

I cannot wait to continue in my missionary service....wherever the Lord may guide me!

Thank you for your love, prayers and support! 

-Hermana Thomas      

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Final Holiday Poem

October 27, 2014

I bet you thought I FORGOT I am supposed to write you a poem every holiday! well, I didn't. Here is my Halloween poem for this year. 

The scariest thing this Halloween 
will not be midnight cats 
Twill not be boys with werewolf masks  
or girls in witches hats 

the thing to frighten most of all 
with not knock at my door 
won't hide around the corner
will not deafen with its roar 

The thing I dread creeps subtly 
drawing closer every day 
it sits upon my wall and  
looks intently at its prey 

it salivates with waiting eyes 
I'm trying to ignore
it stares at me uncomfortably 
when I walk across the floor 

it draws nearer ever nearer 
though I'll never see it roam 
it’s the date marked on my calendar 
for when I'm going home  

Yes. One of the things I am most frightened of is not doing everything I possibly can while still here in the field. I have loved my mission so much and I know that I will miss it dearly. But I will also begin a new adventure. Here's to conquering scary things! 

-Hermana Thomas 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Down to my last three blog posts

October 20, 2014

"I wrote you every day for a year!" ......O.K. all "Notebook" quotes aside, I have realized that I  have written no fewer than 75 Blog posts starting on May 10 2013. Now I am down to my last three. 

dun. dun. dun. 

Let's begin with a replay of the highlights. (That was very ESPN of me, wasn't it?) 

1. Tomasa got baptized!! She is so sweet. From the first moments with her I knew that she was going to get baptized. There are people who are truly prepared to hear the gospel, and she was one. Two of the people participating may not have shown up and yours truly may have forgotten to turn off the water when filling the font, but despite the stress it was a very special experience and I know that Tomasa and I will be lifelong friends.  

2.Elder David F. Evans came to visit our mission! --He is the Executive Director of the Missionary Department for the church, but even more important, he's family! He is my mom's cousin, and it was such a fun treat to be able to see him and his wife. He gave an amazing talk about how our missions are preparing us for the rest of our lives and how we are learning to go forward with faith. It was so powerful. I remember sitting in the congregation as he was closing his remarks and thinking, "there is nowhere else I would rather be right now. I can feel the spirit so strongly I would love to just sit here for the rest of my life and feel like this."  

So something strange happened to me this week. Three of our neighbors moved. The first two are a couple that lives above our apartment.  We only see them once in a while and periodically bring them home made goodies (it pays to have sister missionary neighbors.) They are very sweet, genuine people. They are moving because his father passed away and they have to go take care of his special needs brother who lives too far away to drive to each day. 

The last is one of the Saudi students that lives next door. He knows VERY little English but has committed to live here for 5 years to learn English and then "study United States" He is going to live with a family a couple minutes away so that he can practice the language more often. 

I haven't had incredibly bonding experiences with either of these neighbors, just little moments here and there. 5 minutes visits every blue moon. But for some reason their decision to move is making me so sad! It feels like a premature closing, like I actually WILL be leaving some day.

I received the letter with invitations to my missionary farewell and flight information and it kind of hit me that one day this will be over. And that is sad. But I guess like Elder Evans said it is preparing me for more happy moments, for a strong family and a different mission. 

-Hermana Thomas