Monday, March 24, 2014

Rarin' to get back to work!

March 24, 2014

My eyes have felt very patriotic as of late. That is to say: red white and blue.....but mostly red.

I have spent the past almost seven days straight in strict quarantine. My trusty companions have been: my water bottle, my scriptures, my Spanish to English dictionary and of actual companion. yep. that pretty much summed up my last week for you. I couldn't even go to church, so we held our own "sick"-rament meeting (instead of sacrament meeting) with me, my companion, and the other two missionaries that live with us (before they headed out to real church.) sick-rament was a success! we had an opening prayer, and song, then Hemana Stuber gave a talk about faith, I gave a talk about repentance, and then we had a closing song and prayer. It was definitely the highlight of my week, but I was so sad not to be able to take the sacrament, which is the most important reason for going to church.

All in all it was a very interesting week, and I am grateful for the extra time I got to study, and the self reflection, but I am more than ready to get back out and start sharing the happiest part of my life with the people I love so much of Palm Desert California! 

con carino,

Hermana Thomas


Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patty's Day with a touch of pink

March 17, 2014

Let us consider the possibilities either: 
1. my eye is confusing valentines day and st. patrick's day or 
2. my eye is very supportive of the fight against breast cancer 

yes. I have pink eye. and a cold. (which is hard to do in a state that's so hot.) sympathy-invoking picture follows

can't tell if that picture is blurry or not because at this point in my life, everything is more or less a cloudy blurb of color. 

Alright enough ILL-directed attention to the eye. The REAL highlight of this week was that an Apostle of the Lord came to speak to our mission! Yes, like one of the twelve special living witnesses of Jesus Christ came to speak to the Redlands, and neighboring Rancho Cuchamunga missions. We were all-a-flutter for about a month in anticipation of this experience, and it did not disappoint! I would like to share a few highlights from his remarks. 

First of all, before we even started, he shook each and every hand of the missionaries. (remember this is two whole missions, and ours alone has 234) at the conclusion of the hand-shaking he spoke about why he wanted to do that. He said it was because he wanted us to understand that he wasn't addressing us as a large congregation of missionaries, but as a large gathering of individual "one's." and that everything about this gospel is meant for the whole, but is really meant to be applied individually and personally.  

Bueno, so his first real subject was the Atonement, and the power of it in our lives. He talked about the difference between understanding the Atonement in theory and understanding it by experience. He quoted the part of the Bible where Jesus explains that the “ones” most grateful for the doctor are those who are most sick. As a pink-eye-quarantined, I can attest to that truth. As members of the human race, we can understand and develop a somewhat shallow appreciation of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. But it is when we really go through a repentance process or go though a difficult trial and really put that Atonement to use that we realize how deep and necessary and wonderful the Atonement is. 

Next, and along the same thread of thinking, he talked about how it is NOT too late. We often see ourselves in short term means, based on today, yesterday and tomorrow. And while we should strive to improve each day, we sometimes cheat ourselves from improving little bits over time. He pointed out that most of the missionaries in the room had lived about 20 years (give or take a few), and that for us, twenty years had been our entire lives. But for him, he has lived that amount of time three times over. It is NOT over. If we have a long-term difficulty, we need to remember that we still have a long way to go ahead of us. Even people who are 80 years old still have the possibility of living another twenty years. If they give up because they are "too old to change" then they are deciding to waste an entire lifetime! 

I lack to capture the concept adequately, but it suffices me to say that we have a very warped view of time, and too often we do not give ourselves time to change, and instead live out our time with the burden of sin, or inadequacy or guilt or shame or simply not reaching our full potential.  

It was a very powerful talk, and I know that he is a divinely called Apostle of the Lord.

Have a great day! I hope it's especially green. As in turning over a fresh leaf. not as in envy. 

-Hermana Thomas 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Movie night on the mish

March 10, 2014

Movie night!!!! Bring on the popcorn, bring on the soda, bring on the barbecue pringles (the strange addictions you develop on your mission.......) because this week was movie night for us and our investigators. Explanation to follow: 

We are always trying new things to do with our investigators to build their faith, and this week, we watched "Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration" with them and some members of the ward. All in all, quality film, highly recommended for children and adults of all ages. Rated G for Great-scott-that-was-a-nice-film! 

But really, it was such a unique chance to be able to feel the spirit with one of our investigators who wants to get baptized this month. She is so great. About once a week she starts the lesson off telling us that she doesn't have time for us to come by anymore and by the time we leave, she has promised to make a greater effort to read the Book of Mormon, and try to get work off on Sunday. It is such a great testimony builder to me of how people already know the right things to do, and they WANT to do them. All it takes is an invitation from someone, and it clicks. How much potential do we have stored up, just waiting for permission to release it? 

This week, go ahead, Be awesome. Because you are!


Hermana Thomas

Monday, March 3, 2014

One thing or another just happened to work out perfectly

March 3, 2014

ok, second things first. I am officially going to be here in the same ward for another transfer. Woo Hoo! Sadly, Hermana Wong will be transferred. same ward, different area. I'm going to miss that girl! 

First things second, we had an amazing week full of miracles! Would you like to know why? Members, my friend. members. 

We had a goal this week to have a member of the ward with us as much as possible. Our week exploded. We had many of the best lessons that we've ever had with investigators, one less active committed to try and get Sundays off at her job (and then actually asked her boss!) we were able to have 3 lessons with an investigator who has been pretty lukewarm, and he is excited for our next appointment. One thing after another just haaaaapened to work out perfectly!!!

One miracle in particular especially touched this little sister missionary heart. So, backstory: Two or so weeks ago we were having a lesson with a woman in our ward who hadn't been to church in a few weeks. We figured that it was just because she was sick or on a trip or won the lottery and moved to the Caribbean. Not so. At the end of the lesson we asked her if she was going to go to church the following week and she looked at us and said "no." - at first we thought she was kidding, but then she started to explain that since her husband didn't want to go to church, she was going to give up trying. She bore her testimony that she knows that this church is true and that she knows that God wants her to go to church, but that she wouldn’t go. This Woman has two children preparing to serve missions, and all three of her kids have been attending church by themselves. My heart broke as I thought of them losing confidence in their mother's faith. She has been so strong for years and years and now she has finally reached a tipping point. Hermana Wong and I were devastated. You could see her grief as she quietly cried, knowing what she should do, and yet resolute in her decision. 

We visited her a week later and read the Book of Mormon with her. She enthusiastically testified of it's truth, and then again refused to go to church. We set up an appointment to go visit her this past Saturday, but at the last minute something came up, and she said that she wouldn't be able to make. 

One day later.

It was fast Sunday yesterday, when members of the congregation elect to go to the pulpit and bear their testimonies of Christ and His church and the scriptures etc. I was trying to entertain two kids of an investigator when I saw her go up to the pulpit! She began her testimony with "I know that there is no better place to be on Sunday than at church." 

Synonym for shock and surprise. 

We have no idea what changed her heart, but it was one of the sweetest miracles I have seen on my mission. Some people think that missionaries only care about converting people, but that is absolutely false. we are here to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. And that includes everyone. It's like the story of the Prodigal's son in the bible. The father rejoices over the one that was lost, and had come back. His joy was full, as it always is when we decide to come back to him. 

-Hermana Thomas