Monday, July 28, 2014

New lessons from: The Blind leading the Blind

July 28, 2014

Isn't there a proverb or a saying or a scripture or a quote or moral of a story or a parable that talks about the blind leading the blind? I can't remember exactly what it was (get back to me in 3.5 months and I'll look it up for you.) but I think the gist was that if the blind led the blind would be bad (Luke 6:39). I know, the eloquence of that last sentence was profound. 

Well. I would like to disprove that rumor. Lately, we have been doing a lot of service in the community and one of the things we have done is volunteer at a School for the Blind. It's a place where blind or legally blind people of any age can go and participate in activities like wood-shop, braille classes, cooking classes, and macramé (think 70's home decor.) They also get a free lunch every day at 12:00. 

Lunch is my favorite part of the day. The "students" are all sitting at one of 6 tables, when their table is called, they stand up, walk to the serving center, and pick up their prepared tray of food. They are all strongly encouraged to pick up their own tray, but many of them have no sight at all, and this is very difficult for them. This is when the others, the ones with just a shadow of sight, or those who have been blind for a longer time take the others by the arm and lead them to the serving area. It doesn't matter who they are, if they need assistance, one of the more able ones will lead them lovingly by their arm and help them pick up their food. 

Many times it becomes a chain of 3 or 4, all holding on to the other's shoulders, slowly making their way up to the front. They are all friends even though their ages, races, interests, and levels of wealth differ widely. They all bond and care for and look out for one another. 

How much easier would it be if we all recognized how blind WE are? We would help, lift, inspire, and bless one another instead of trying to compete, tear down, or judge. People often see this life as a competition. If you do well, then it lowers my standing. When, in reality we all have the same ultimate goal. We want to get back to our Father in Heaven and have eternal life. There aren't a limited amount of seats available, there is no bouncer at the door going to tell us that we aren't as good as someone else. The only person we will be judged against is our self. Why not help as many other people as we can, get there as well? And instead of focusing on our own problems, let us help others with theirs. Every person in that lunchroom is blind. But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they use their limited abilities to bless others that are having an even harder time. Let us follow the council of our savior Jesus Christ, echoed by a living day prophet, Thomas S. Monson to love and serve one another. 

-Hermana Thomas 

On the way to the School for the Blind


Simple answer to "Why do we need organized religion?"

July 21, 2014

Now, you may mistakenly think that I have not given you a single photo for this week. Let me explain how that is not true. If you follow these simple instructions, you will see that this week's blog has not only one or two, but one or two THOUSAND pictures attached. 
1. go to Google images
2. type in one of the following words or phrases: 
-cough syrup 
-chamomile tea 
-completely drained of all energy. 

(I would be especially interested to see what images come up with that one.) Voila! that's about all I've seen for the past couple days so they should be just as accurate as if they were from my camera. gotta love modern technology. 

think. think. think. well. either my brain is still very fuzzy (more than likely) or....nope that's it. But I still have this 






So I think I will just address a question that I get presented with a LOT as a missionary. The question is this:


I love how many people think that this question will leave us stumped, flustered, and questioning every decision we've ever made in our lives. I will answer this question through a role-play. (that's something we do a lot as missionaries) 

SISTER THOMAS: (something about inviting someone to church this Sunday)

EVA (because we get this question from Eva--ryone.): But I have a strong relationship with God. If I have a good relationship with God, why do I need an organized religion? 

SISTER THOMAS: well, why do you think that God would want us to have an organized religion on the earth? 

EVA: I Don't know 

SISTER THOMAS: Well God Loves us, and He wants us to know that He exists and to know His plan for our happiness. This is why He wants His organized/authorized church on the earth. Otherwise, there would be no way to know what we need to know and do to live with Him again. There would be no way to follow His plan if we didn’t have a way to receive and follow the plan.  

EVA: but I can just pray and read the bible. I don't need a church telling me what to do. 

SISTER THOMAS: it's not the CHURCH telling you what to do, it's God speaking through servants He has chosen to guide us. 

EVA: but I have the bible. It already has the commandments and the commandments never change. Why do we need a living prophet? 

SISTER THOMAS: God loves us! Why would He stop communicating with us? We (His children) have constantly changing challenges, and He wants to help us through them and give us guidance us as much in our day as He has His children in the past.

Tune in next time when Eva asks: but if I'm a good person, why do I need religion? 
-Hermana Thomas 

Monday, July 14, 2014

No, we're not in Kansas anymore!

July 14, 2014

So I now live in one of the cities with the highest crime rates in the whole United States..... No wonder it's stolen my heart! 

hola hola from San Bernadino my fine friends. things they are a'changin' as we like to say out here on the west coast. New..........everything. I'll explain in a second, but first, a picture. 

this is my very first day in my new ward! recognize the clothes? yeah, they're all mine. Hermana McCartt and I have begun sharing all things closet. (shout out to Jane who I hear is ALSO sharing my closet. enjoy it while it lasts.....) actually, how about another picture? this is us going to city hall trying to find a map of San bernadino. guess what? They don't have one! but now i have photographic evidence of my existence here.

No, we're not in Kansas anymore. it doesn't even seem like I'm in California anymore. We had dinner this week in the "Mountains." not quite up to Utah standards, but while they lack height, it was probably one of the highlights of my week to drive up those blissfully windy (windy as in winding around. as in a country artist would try to pass it off as a rhyme for "kindly" not windy as in blowy air) mountain roads to eat dinner at -basically- a tree house. 

How is the work different here? how ISN'T it different? Well my new companion really really really likes to sing, so we have been doing a lot of that as of late. we actually had a really cool experience. So we went to go see one of the less-active members in the hospital (her diabetes went crazy) and asked her what her favorite hymn was. she told us "mas cerca Dios de ti" (nearer my God to thee) so we sang all of the verses. When we had finished, she was crying and the man in the next room over yelled "sing to me too!) so we went over and sang him a song. The spirit was so strong and it felt as if we were encompassed in a sphere of comfort and serenity. It's hard to explain, but I can't wait to see the miracles that come from this area!

Love to all of you,

-Hermana Thomas   

Monday, July 7, 2014

Movin' on to San B and dragging my full heart behind me!

July 7, 2014

All right, all right, I guess there's no use waiting until the end to tell you......I'm getting TRANSFERRED!!!!! 
It feels weird. 

So I've been in this area, in this ward for (as of TO-DAY) 11 months. August 7th 2013-July 7th 2014........this is so crazy! 

I'm going to  (drum-roll please) San Bernardino. This is especially strange because (a little bit 'o' background) before the Redlands mission even existed there were two other missions that covered the Redlands mission area: Riverside mission and San Bernardino mission. Well, I was called to the Riverside mission, and now I'm headin' on over to San. B! (as the locals call it. I gotta get used to this San. B. talk) 

I'm really sad to leave the people here, but at the same time very excited for a new adventure. 

o.k. o.k. Let’s get to the good stuff… The Fourth of July. May I begin this festivity report with a photo: 

Yes. we celebrated the Fourth of July the only way that we really can.....FOOD! We ate hot dogs, chips, fries, slushies, and pizza. Long live America! 

Sadly, we had to be in by 6:00 pm, but we quite enjoyed watching all the Mexican-American celebrations (red white and blue meets carne asada and mariachi bands). 

Second adventure of this week will be introduced with a (slightly modified) saying: "If you can't take the heat, stay out of [Indio California]." Yes, this time they're bringin' on the heat. Things are heating up. We didn't start the fire. ---You get the picture. 

Actually, THIS is the picture. 

So we decided that the name of the game this summer is going to be to walk. Why? Because when you're walking in 113-degree weather (I checked the temperature when we got back) people are more likely to stop you and ask why you're out on such a hot day. THEY contact YOU! Plus, a lot of free water bottles. 

It honestly has been such a pleasure to serve 11 months here in the California Desert, and I'm truly going to miss it, but on to new miracles and wonderful people to meet and love, teach and serve!


Hermana Thomas 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The golden ticket of missionary work

June 30, 2014

Sister Granado and I were driving to church this week when an airplane flew overhead. I thought--said out loud actually "I think this is the longest I have ever gone without flying on an airplane." Sister Ganado laughed at me and said "this is the longest I’ve ever gone without doing a lot of things." and then we started to list things we haven't done since becoming missionaries: 

wear flip flops
listen to Taylor swift
get on Facebook
take a 2 hour nap 
sleep in
text a friend
wear pants
go to class
watch a YouTube video
see a movie in theaters 

and so forth. I began to think about alllllll of the people on the street that ask us about who we are and what we do, and about the lifestyle of a missionary. They are all fascinated by the things we give up for eighteen months or two years. They always ask, (usually about the time we mention "no Facebook") "is it worth it?" 

Well. Let me answer that question with a literary work. Actually, this comes from the movie version of that book. 

I hope you have seen more recently than I "Charlie and the chocolate factory." It's at the point where Charlie finds the golden ticket and races home to his parents and grandparents. His grandfather becomes so excited that he gets out of bed and jumps around sing-muttering something.

At this point Charlie looks around at his tiny house and few, humble possessions and says something similar to (I don't trust myself with a perfect quote) "one lady offered me five thousand dollars for this ticket, and another man ten thousand. We could really use the money." his grandpa stops dancing around the room and looks Charlie in the eyes. 

"Money is everywhere. They print more of it every day. But what you've got right there, there's only five of them in the whole world. Only a dummy would trade it for something so common as money. Are you a dummy?"

Being a missionary is hard and yes, there are a lot of sacrifices. But the things that we give up are so trivial: naps, texting, movies, even jobs or educational opportunities. Most people can work their way up the career/ educational ladder. NOT everyone has the opportunity or is able to serve a mission. 

Some people focus on these sacrifices and become depressed but the truth is that they don't see the value of what they're getting in return. The opportunity is so rare. As missionaries we are able to help other people change their lives, have a front row seat to modern miracles of God, and to change ourselves almost entirely for the better. Missions offer skills, experiences and opportunities that are incredibly unique and valuable. These benefits aren't consumed in a day; they prepare you for a lifetime. And I believe they are preparing this missionary much better for life than what I temporarily gave up could have. 

So when I think of the sacrifices I've made to be here I think "only a dummy would trade a mission for _______ (Facebook, sleeping in, swimming, wearing pants.) I'm truly lucky and grateful to be able to have this missionary experience!

Love you as always 

Hermana Thomas