Monday, April 28, 2014

The best two types of service for missionaries

April 28, 2014      This week’s breaking news:


     This week was a wonderful week for LDS missionary Sister Hope Thomas and Her companion Sister Charity Stuber. As full time servants of the Lord, they have the unique opportunity of meeting a wide array of people, and serving them in a variety of ways. This week was especially fun as they participated in the "Mormon Helping Hands" Project conducted in their area. "I picked up trash with both hands,” comments Stuber reflectively as she emails her family. The interviewer laughs and replies, "that's the best quote you could come up with? I'm writing down history here!"

     "Mormon Helping Hands" is a worldwide organization of young and old alike coming together to help their communities. Their unique fashion statement of sweaty yellow vests has sparked runway designs in Italy, Paris, and Milan*.   (*Our fact checker has confirmed that this fact is false.)  More importantly however, these vests signal to the world, that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (nicknamed "Mormons") are involved in their communities and delight in taking part in bettering their neighborhoods, cities, and countries.

     "I love to serve,” comments Sister Thomas" even when it involves digging up beer bottles and deteriorating take-out containers in the middle of nowhere." She leans back in her chair remembering the fun times had by all, despite the heat of the day. "This is the same church that Jesus Christ set up, and we believe in doing what He would do. That very much includes serving other people." But an even more exciting experience for Thomas, was when she was able to witness the baptism of someone she has been teaching for months. "It's such an amazing experience to be able to see someone really decide to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, and then act on that decision. Jesus commanded us to be baptized, and baptism is the beginning of a life dedicated to honoring Him and finding true happiness." Despite the struggles that LDS missionaries face, Thomas says that what it all comes down to is "serving others by teaching them the way to find true and lasting peace and joy." She says that she wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

Called to "serve" most blesses me!

Have a wonderful week!

-Hermana Thomas

Monday, April 21, 2014

Up close and personal with Dumbledore

April 21, 2014,

In much of well-known literature, cinema, and true stories there is often a mentor who helps the protagonist recognize his or her full potential. One of my favorites is Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. Possibly no one else could look at the scrawny 11-year-old wizard and see past his awkwardness, insecurities and lack of magical knowledge. But somehow, through those half-moon spectacles Albus Dumbledore is able to look past Harry’s character as-is, and sees the final, end of the book product. He encourages, instructs, guides and loves Harry into being who he truly is throughout the first six books, giving the tools and confidence he needs for Harry to progress.

We all need a Dumbledore. We all need those people or situations that bring out the best in us and nurture our spirits. We all need a pat on the back, someone who really loves and understands us, someone who encourages and strengthens us. We all need a situation that creates an environment where we can explore who we really are, and cultivate our talents. Yes, we all need a Dumbledore. But more important than that, we need our Dumbledore to die.

The death of Dumbledore in book six (I just realized how completely nerdy I sound) is one of the most heart-wrenching moments, not only for Harry, but for the reader also. The quest to conquer Voldemort now seems not only daunting but also insurmountable. The safety net is gone, and Harry has no one else to fall back on but himself. HIs Dumbledore is dead.

Sometimes we get too stuck in that comfortable spot, with the same comfortable people doing the same comfortable things. The atmosphere that once nurtured us has now reached equilibrium. It is now a crutch, an excuse not to grow anymore. We know that we probably COULD do greater things, but we always have that safety net underneath us that "if it comes down to the wire, someone else can do that. Someone else can shine." The truth is that Dumbledore HAD to die, because if he had not, Harry would not have been able to face Voldemort. When Dumbledore was gone, Harry’s last resource became himself.

This week, my Dumbledore died. I got a new apartment, new area, and new roommates. Three things that have stayed constant throughout the last 9 months finally changed, and I felt completely lost, exposed, and vulnerable. My roommate for the past 9 months and one of my best friends got transferred to a different city, I moved from the nicest apartment in the mission, to a former elders’ apartment (enough said), and my area grew by three times. All the familiarities I had were suddenly gone, and I was forced to put into practice the things I have spent my whole mission learning.

All in all it was a week full of quite a bit of change, but at the end of the day, I am grateful. After all, a mountain bike can't traverse the most difficult terrain with training wheels. So here we are, Dumbledore gone, and down the mountain we go!

-Hermana Thomas

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My 7th transfer in Palm Desert...woo hoo!!!!!

April 14, 2014

Extra Extra! Read all about it! Hermana Thomas is going to remain in the same area for the seventh transfer! Yes, you heard correctly, I said SEVENTH. For all of you who are unfamiliar with the inner workings of missionary work, a transfer lasts 6 weeks, and most missionaries get moved every 2-4 transfers so…..woo hoo for miracles! I absolutely LOVE this area and this ward. I have gotten to know them so well and this area is a dream for Spanish missionaries. Todos lo hablan aqui!

So this week we had this big event in the valley which -frankly- I've never actually heard of before in my life; and yet apparently it is this huge deal. It's called "Coachella Fest" and it's two weekends of like a million bazillion music artists (o.k. I exaggerate....but not by much) who come and perform in front of many adoring, hipster clad fans. (What are the young whippersnappers wearing now-a-days?)

--The main point is that this week the streets were bombarded with neon "we need tickets!" posters and the intoxicated paying $40.00 a person for a ride to an over-booked double- priced hotel. Of the questions you are now asking yourself, one of them may be this:  What does this have to do with missionary work?

I shall tell you.

People were walking around town showing proudly what represents them. Their clothes, T-shirts with a band's name on it, beer bottles in their hands, and anything else that makes a statement to the world. Thousands of people would have a one second glance at them, and that was what they were choosing to have represent them. In contrast, I felt a bit out of place with my pass-along cards and dress. As a missionary, and in reality as a member of Christ's church, it's inevitable that we're going to stand out a little bit. But I was so grateful that to the thousands of people that got a one second glance at me; THIS is what represents me, who I am. Even though I felt a little out numbered, I'm glad that I have found true joy and happiness. Living the gospel of Jesus Christ isn't just a brief "good time"; it's a good LIFE. That is the whole point of the gospel anyway; to let us live the best life that we can, and to let us be free from guilt and shame and bad consequences for poor decisions. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to be a missionary and to represent Jesus Christ and His restored church. I LOVE the opportunity to share God’s plan of real joy with everyone I meet.

You're great. This week take a minute to think about what you want to represent, and ponder if someone saw you for just a minute, would they get that message? Just munchies for people who like food for thought.

Love Hermana Thomas

Monday, April 7, 2014

A favorite take-away from General Conference

April 7, 2014

I had it pointed out to me that my fabulous blog readers don't have the faintest idea como se ve mi companera (how my companion looks), so here's a picture to satisfy inquiring minds. 

Yeah, she's pretty great!

So. This weekend we watched general conference, which is the greatest thing since sliced bread....Actually, I'm pretty sure the first General Conference preceded sliced bread....and it is also much better so I apologize for my trendy yet inaccurate comparison. let me try again.

Yesterday we watched General Conference and it was infinitely better than any overly processed grain-based product.

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson gave one of my favorite talks.  He spoke about how, like an Olympic event, this life is our very, very short time to prove ourselves. This is IT! This isn't the warm-up or the qualifiers, this is our moment to shine and to use every moment to show what we've got.

That hit me hard as I am currently in a very short season of my life that really does require everything I've got. And not just a mission, some of you may be in school, raising a family, working, or any number of other things. At the end of this season in your life are you going to be able to look back and take pride in all the effort that you put into it, or look back and wish that you had done more?

Right before someone takes the ice or mounts the board, there are always those competitors that try and mess with their heads. They may say things like: 

1. You're not as good as the others, you can't possibly do very well.
2. You’ve already messed up on the first run, you can't possibly come back.
3. You've got this in the bag, you don't need to go all out.

Well, we've also have someone who doesn't want us to succeed, and he uses these same tactics. The Devil wants to convince us that:

1. We’ll never be as good as someone else, so why put in all of our time and effort?
2. We've already messed up in life/school/as a parent/in a relationship/at work, and nothing we can do will make up for it.
3. We're doing plenty well, no need to exert all of our effort.
We’ll just naturally do fine.

But remember. These are all LIES, meant to distract or derail us. To keep us from really shining in the short time we have. The most impressive Olympic stories, the ones that everyone remembers, are of those athletes that went through the most adversity to achieve their dreams. A setback isn't necessarily putting you on the bench, just another thing to overcome that makes your story that much more impressive when you emerge victorious. Never become complacent, never become discouraged. You are here to win!

-Hermana Thomas

link to an awesome talk I love:


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Out of the dark into the light!

March 31, 2014

Reasons why I am grateful that I am a Sister and NOT an Elder: April Fools Day!! 

Oh I pity the gentlemen who will wake up to their companions putting mayonnaise in their toothpaste tubes. Alas, our a-party-ment will have no such antics as we have all decided to leave each other fool-free. I will sleep well knowing that the promise of a missionary is extra super strong, and consequently my wardrobe will be intact, and the shower-head functioning normally. hoorah for Sisters! 

This week was probably the most difficult I have had on my mission, just based purely on mental exertion and stamina. No, there wasn't a specific reason, but I felt like I was passing through the "mist of darkness" as explained in 1 Nephi chapter 8. (Don't be TOO impressed with my missionary-like scripture referencing. We just read it with one of our investigators.) 

No, the forecast didn't predict such a mentally challenging, rainy-feeling couple of days, but I am truly grateful for what I have learned along the way. I have learned that God is truly mindful of me and loves me as His daughter. He put people in my path who selflessly offered their sincere support and love, as well as dotted my days with many tender mercies. We saw so many miracles and success, including a less active family choosing to change their life around and return to church!! 

And eventually I emerged into the beautiful daylight of joy, of which I am now enjoying. It is true that sometimes you have to have a layover of gray on they way to your destination of light. And how bright that light is! 

Love Hermana Thomas