Monday, June 23, 2014

Kindness goes a very very long way

June 23, 2014

Mormons are pretty cool I guess. 

Today is my roommate's birthday (a sister from the other companionship we live with) so we decided to go to panda express. When we walked in we heard a "hello sisters!" which either means that someone has mistaken you for their parents' other children or.... they’re Mormon! It was the latter. A man of like 50 started talking to us and asked if we went there a lot. We expressed that it was just for sister Tatioli's birthday (subtle shout out goes unnoticed by most of the blog reading audience) he insisted on paying for all four of us. It was so generous! He made sure that we knew that we could get anything, including dessert if we wanted. We declined, but when we were half way through our meal, he came up to us and handed each companionship a $50.00 gift certificate! ho. ly. cow. 

Moral of the story: be friends with Mormons. Actually, just be a MormonJ


This week was great! I would give you photo evidence, but the card reader is on the blink. Which is better than being on the wink, because we're not supposed to flirt as missionaries, but either way it's frustrating. So instead, let me paint a picture for you.

Two sister missionaries: the exhaustion is evidenced in their worn shoes, sweat stains (TMI? it's 120 degrees here so sweat stains are practically a fashion statement.) They wipe their brows as the mirages of future investigators start to appear before their eyes..........o.k. o.k I exaggerate. They walk toward an apartment complex where a man of about 50 is exiting. shortish. rotund. may or may not be Hispanic (you can never tell now-a-days. I've met blonde, blue eyed Mexicans) the girls lift their faces and give their signature sister missionary wave. "Hello! How are you?" They brace themselves for the passive grunt, or -if they're lucky- a slight head nod. but no. he stops. "Are you missionaries?" "yes" "for what church?" The sister missionaries become super animated as they talk about their unique and important message in about 30 seconds. "Can we come teach you more?" They are praying that this isn't a dream caused by a dehydration induced coma. He looks at them "Yes. I'm ready for your message."

Wow. Every day we pray probably.....oh I don't know 5 times a day to find people ready to hear the truth. To have someone say those exact words "I'm ready" was like the space mountain of missionary work. Even after an exhausting day, it didn't even matter, we were floating on air. 

He's going to be taught by the English missionaries, but it just reinforced to me that we never know who may or may not be prepared to hear the gospel. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth and share!  

And thanks for being kind to the missionaries, we really really appreciate it!

-Hermana Thomas 

Monday, June 16, 2014

My companion's conversion story

June 16, 2014

You know when you have a friend and you're with them "like 24/7?” well false. I am with MY friend literally 24/7. Her name is Hermana.....or that's what I call her anyway. Hermana Granado is the name and I would like to share with you her conversion story (with permission of course). (As I write this I realize that we have been together for 3 weeks and still have no pictures together. wow. I will consider that my homework for this week.) 

So my lovely little miss Hermana Granado was not always a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. In fact, she hasn't even been a member 3 whole years. So (rewinding the clock) 

Three-ish years ago, she was sitting with her cousins and suddenly she had a desire to regain a relationship with God. She had gone to a church with her mom for a like a year and a half, but hadn't been for 6 or so years. Not knowing where to start, and thinking that no one would recognize her if she went back to the same church, she started thinking of people she could possibly ask about religion. One of her best friends was always unavailable to do anything on Sunday because of his church. She decided that he seemed like a pretty dedicated church-goer so she texted him and asked what he believed. He may or may not have gotten a little enthusiastic and started sending her 13 page text messages (she does not recommend this) and inviting her to everything: seminary, church, youth activities, mutual, anything and everything. 

She began going to some things, but she became frustrated because she couldn't understand everything being taught. The first time she went to church she felt out of place and resolved never to go back....a month later she tried again (atta girl!) and began receiving the missionary discussions. After a couple of months of reading the Book of Mormon for an hour every night (she REALLY wanted to make sure it was true) she decided that she wanted to get baptized, but her family was really against it. Since she didn't live with either her father or mother, she held the bonds with her cousins really dear. She decided she wouldn't get baptized. Still, she continued going to church and participating in ALL activities (she tells me that one time she was asked to work during the summer of girls camp and she told her boss "if you make me work over girl's camp I'll quit.") 

When she went to girl's camp she decided she was going to get baptized! The friend who had introduced her to the church baptized her. And now, less than 3 years later she is on a mission and is an amazing missionary at that. I love her and admire all of her courage and dedication. She’s amazing and I get to be her companion! 

-hermana Thomas 

Monday, June 9, 2014

....and things are really heating up!

June 9, 2014

miracles, miracles, miracles.

Is there a song that mentions miracles? All I can think of is "do you believe in Magic" which is KIND OF the same thing, but then again not even at all......Ahhhhh! Now I have that song stuck in my head! I guess I'll just have to distract myself by telling you about a couple of MIRACLES that happened this week.

First off. I didn't melt. Which wouldn't really be a problem for the city because they have regular street-sweepers for such occasions, but I would REALLY love to live to be able to see my little nephews again. This week it went over 115 degrees. That’s Fahrenheit, people.

Secondly. I actually got mail!!!! I'm not sure if I told you, but where I live now doesn't accept forwarded mail. THUS the mission office has to hold aaaaaaaall of my mail until someone nearby me travels to Redlands. gah! But I was pleasantly pleased to receive my mail from the office this week and probably read those little guys about 60 times each. (But that's just a ballpark figure.)

Thirdly. The number of lessons that we taught this week DOUBLED! I'm not sure what that was due to, but I loved it! We have three people who have a date when they want to get baptized, and we're about to have a fourth. I love that I have stayed in this area so long because I've been able to see the miracles that have taken a little longer to come about. Hooray for Indio, California!  Hooray for the gospel of Jesus Christ!

-Hermana Thomas 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

(oh the finite knowledge of man...or in this case woman)

June 2, 2014

If you were wondering if miracles still exist, the answer is yes. evidence? you want evidence? ok Sherlock, I'll give you evidence. the story begins now.

So a couple of months ago, one of the members of our ward invited us to go visit her friend. I was on exchanges that day, but sister Stuber and another sister went by with the member (who is a lady) to her friend's house (who is a single man) so apparently the lesson went pretty well (I can't fact check that I was in Palm Springs or somewhere else just as hot) yadda yadda. The sisters set up another appointment with him and wrote our names and phone number on a card, which they put on his refrigerator so he wouldn't forget.

Well, since he was a single man, and we would have to get a woman to go with us literally every time we wanted to see him, we thought it would just be easier to invite the Elders to go teach him. So they kept teaching him etcetera etcetera.

Fast-forward a few weeks.

Two Mondays ago we were in the grocery store buying food when we get this FRANTIC phone call from some woman we don't know who is freaking out. She’s talking in rapid Spanish (okay okay YES, I speak Spanish, but have a little mercy on a gringa girl, would you?) and she's talking about a Jose. (ummm THAT narrows it down. I've met enough Joses to populate Maui) She is talking about how worried she is for him and how we have to help her and how he's drinking again and other millionmilesanhoursentencesinspanish. She says that we left our name and number on his fridge, and that she thought she would call us. Now remember, I was not there for that initial visit, so I was completely lost. I told her that I would have the Elders call her, because they surely would know who she was talking about.

Two hours later the Elders call us back and suggest we go visit this lady because she was a little bit hysterical, but they thought she might be interested in our message. The elders gave us her address, and we visited her later that night. Well. she talked about Jose for about half an hour before we had to leave because we were going to be late for curfew. As we left her house, I looked at sister Stuber and said "I don't know what we can do for her." (oh the finite knowledge of man...or in this case woman)

yadda yadda yadda a few days pass, and I keep getting the feeling to go back and visit with her. I ignore it for a while but then tell sister Stuber  we have to go back and visit “Lucy.”

When we go back, she starts talking about Jose again, but we say "you know, “Lucy”, the thing that will help him the most, and the thing that can help you the most is the Book of Mormon. Have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon?" Well it turns out that her brother is Mormon in Arizona, as well as her dad having been baptized into the church later on in his life. She is very very religious, but even though she considers herself a member of another religion, she doesn't believe it is completely true because there are things in the Bible that aren’t in line with her current religious practices. We shared with her the message of the restoration and she LOVED IT!

The next time we came back she had told her children not to bother her because we were going to come over. When she opened the door to us, on the table we saw two bottles of water where we were going to sit, and where she was going to sit she had her bible, the Book of Mormon, the pamphlet we had left her, and a notebook for taking notes. She told us that she had read the pamphlet many times and that she would keep reading it because of how amazing it was. She also read an entire chapter of the Book of Mormon.

There are miracles in the desert still, and the Lord is putting us in the path of those people that are ready to hear the wonderful news that The Church of Jesus Christ is in it's perfect restored form on the earth again.

I’m so grateful to be able to share such a happy, true message every day.  You’ll love sharing it to!


-Hermana Thomas