Friday, May 23, 2014

Well Done Thou Great and Faithful Servant

We welcomed home and celebrated our missionary from Sacramento, California this week.  Thank you everyone for reading her emails, your love, support, prayers, fasting, letters etc.  Hermana Thomas (Taylor) will be speaking in sacrament meeting on Sunday, May 25th at 9 a.m. Our chapel is located at 450 East 2000 North in Orem, Utah. If you are in town Memorial Day weekend, we would love to see you.  

Por lo tanto, gloriémonos; sí, nos gloriaremos en el Señor; sí, nos regocijaremos porque es completo nuestro gozo; sí, alabaremos a nuestro Dios para siempre. He aquí, ¿quién puede gloriarse demasiado en el Señor? Sí, ¿y quién podrá decir demasiado de su gran poder, y de su misericordia y de su longanimidad para con los hijos de los hombres? He aquí, os digo que no puedo expresar ni la más mínima parte de lo que siento. Alma 26:16

Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel. Alma 26:16

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Book of Mormon Changes Lives of Young and Old

This week was a roller coaster for sure, but of course, there were muchas bendiciones. I love being a missionary. Each minute is so precious.  Something funny I noticed is a similarity with Tracy and Utah. Instead of there being a church on every corner, there are parks on every corner. SOOO many fun parks, I always want to go play on them...haha.

On Sunday we were really determined to get in our 20 contacts so we worked really hard and talked with everyone we saw! Of course, we had some awkward moments (inevitable as a missionary) but we also saw some great miracles and tender mercies.We were able to turn a lot of these contacts into lessons and extend invitations.Every child of God is sooo different. We were able to really listen and testify of God's love for each of them. I found myself really searching for people to share my testimony with week. It was a great tender mercy.

We had an AMAZING lesson with Suegro. He is the cutest old man (probably in his 70's). We went over to visit the Gomez's and Hna's dad is living with them (hence we call him Suegro). I guess before I got here they gave him a Book of Mormon to start reading after a dinner appointment (so about 2 weeks ago). He is already in Alma 30! He said "hermanas, I LOVE this book. I read 3 hours every day. The church has changed my life so much. I see baptism in my future." It was the best news ever. Then he said, "Yeah, maybe in 3 months?" hahaha. Oh no, we will work on that :) but he has tons of friends and he was even in the Mothers Day Activity program on Saturday. He played the guitar and everything!  He is the best viejito ever haha. 

Rey is doing great, still progressing but wants a little more time before his baptism so it's been moved back a few weeks. He is soo funny. He loves church and lessons. We were able to teach about the Word of Wisdom and tithing this week and he says, "Oh yeah.. that makes sense. I like this word of wisdom thing. I tried weed once and it wasn't good anyway". . . .haha. So he already has a testimony of that! We are really just trying to work on his spiritual conversion. He knows everything to be baptized we are just working on him living all the commandments and having him "experiment with the word".

I want to thank specifically everyone for all of their prayers, love and fasting. It has mean;t the world to me. I really have felt so much love and feel so blessed. I have grown in ways I didn't even know were possible.  I have never felt this much joy before as I have the opportunity to help my fellow brothers and sisters come into the restored gospel. Every day I always pray for 2 things specifically. First, I thank him for the opportunity to be a missionary and serve and second, I ask him for help to be an instrument in his hand. I have been so blessed and really understand the gospel and have such a greater and deeper appreciation for my Savior. Life is good. I hope you all have a great week, Happy Mother's Day to the most beautiful madre in the world! Love you all :)

My love for the book of mormon has grown so much this week. I loved how Nefi puts it in 2 Nefi 4:16  He aquí, mi aalma se deleita en las cosas del Señor, y mi bcorazón medita continuamente en las cosas que he visto y oído.  Translation:  Behold, my asoul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my bheart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Sister Tracy Missionaries
Hope some day she shares their names with us

Monday, April 28, 2014

Answer to Every Man that Asketh

What? You had Hermana White over for dinner? Oh how I love her. So glad you got to meet and spend time with her. Isn't she the best????? Tracy is great and very different! There are a lot of amazing things happening in our area and ward. We had 6 investigators at church and a less active, my new best friend Juan! Tracy is great and I am learning a lot. We cover Mountain House and the West side of Tracy.

We were contacting in the park and we met a guy named Israel. Special moment. We asked him if he wanted a picture of Jesus and he said he wanted a book. So we gave him a Book of Mormon and then he told us about his family and how they all just passed away. We shared the plan of salvation. We prayed with him and then invited him to be baptized and he said, "yes if he knows the Book of Mormom to be true!" Before we left, he hugged the Book of Mormon and looked up to the sky and said, "thank you God." He is the best and we are so excited to start teaching him! Miracles happen when you talk to everyone!!

We are teaching Rey who is the best thing ever. He is 44 and from El Salvador. He reminds me so much of A. Mata (they talk the same). We had the best lesson with him on the la ley de castidad. So awkward but soo great haha. After our lesson, he was all, I'm Latino, I love romance, but I will do it because it's a commandment from God. He calls us "hermanas de la caridad" (charity) whenever he sees us. He is great! He is getting baptized in a few weeks and is soo excited about it!

The Amezcua family is so great (they live in mountain house). Frank (dad), Erika (mom), and Galilea (10 year old daughter) and Anthony (8 year old son). THEY LOVE COMING TO CHURCH and know so much but they don't feel like they know enough and don't have the "desire" yet. They have just started reading the Book of Mormon and praying together. We are just trying to help them realize the blessings and the conversion that is actually taking place.  Any ideas are greatly appreciated. They come every week, know everyone and just fit right in.

Hermana Sanchez is the greatest. On our first day together she said, "Hermana Thomas, I already learned a lot from you and I know the Lord put us together so I could learn so much more."  She is the sweetest. She is such a great missionary and is fearless.

We got to do service "Mormon Helping Hands" on Saturday all over Tracy putting mulch down. It was so much fun and I got a great work out shoveling haha.

1 Peter 3:15  But asanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give ban answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the chope that is in you withdmeekness and efear:  We must be ready to share the gospel. Open your mouths and talk to everyone.  I am glad dad had a missionary experience while traveling this week.  I love you all!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

Rey with Tracy East Hermana's
Dinner in our home with Taylor's first companion
Hermana White 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Finding la Luz

Last night was pretty tough. President called with transfer calls............ I have been transferred to Tracy West. I will be follow up training Hermana Sanchez. She is great new missionary and I had a great time with her on exchanges so I am excited to be her companion. My heart is breaking in a million pieces. This is SO much harder than it was in East Sac. It's going to be so hard to say bye to my family here. I am from Lodi. Lodi has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have seen miracles and my heart has grown, my love and joy have been full in ways I never even knew were possible. I guess the Lord has a new plan for me and I am excited for this new adventure. Change... I am going to miss my best friend Hermana Cardullo sooo much though. She has been incredible to me. The sweetest companion I could have ever asked for on my mission. I have learned so much from her and am soo grateful for her. At least I will see her once again on exchanges!

Luz was baptized this week and it was one of the best days of my life. She is so brave. She was really nervous but she did it! She was just smiling so much after. She has changed so much even in the past few days. Oh how I love her. That night she texted us thanking us, telling us how much she loves us and said that we will be part of her life forever. I can't wait for you to meet her one day! It was so great. Hermana Pitcher, Elders Fernandez and Ruiz also got to come back. The Navas family are now complete and preparing to go to the temple to be sealed. There is nothing greater in life.

I spoke in church yesterday (Easter) and it was such a blessing! I used the talk by Linda K Burton about helping hands to hasten the work and then added some scriptures about the resurrection. I learned a lot. One thing I loved from her talk was how she said that we should always be asking ourselves, "What would a Disciple of Christ do?" Are we going to be ready to serve when called at any moment? In the mission each morning at 9:59 a.m. we have the opportunity to recite 3 Nefi 5:13. Such a blessing,

Thank you for the Easter package. It was such a blessing to read your letters and  the ways I have blessed your lives by serving a mission. I am soo blessed to have the best family in the world! I love you all so much and hope you have the best week ever. 

Baptism Day for a special young woman
Navas family and friends

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grateful in any Circumstances

This week was a really tough week, maybe one of the hardest but I learned a lot from conference and we decided to turn every day into a day that we could be "grateful in any circumstance". So let me share with you the gratitude and joy I found this week.

Satan worked really hard this week on Bety and Lucy and they didn't end up getting baptized :( We know they will soon but they need just a little more time. Every night we tried to have the baptismal interview something happened and they weren't able to make it. Brother in a car accident, working, etc. Luckily they and us are not letting it stop them and we are going to keep working to progress towards baptism. Angel turns 8 on May 4th so we are looking at that as a possibility for the 3 them to be baptized together as a family. They were doing their baptism with Israel Velarde (an 8 year old from the branch). It was a wonderful service, Luz and Erastro came to see, I was able to play the piano (grateful that I can do that and the spirit helped me learn the songs in a day. So even though it was like pulling teeth to practice at home when I was young I am grateful that we did that so that I can develop and share that talent here on the mission).

I feel so blessed that I was able to attend my second Stake Conference here in Lodi. I was able to help translate again and this time it went a lot better! It's crazy to think that I have been here for over 7 months, i love it! Gilma (a new investigator) came too which was a surprise and tender mercy.

I had a wonderful experience this week. We were visiting Susana y Alejandro (RC's) and Hno was talking about an interview he had just had with OSHA. A year ago at work chemicals were spilled into his eyes and he is still fighting with his work and the courts to help with medical treatment because he is pretty much blind. He was really opening up to us and stating how he has faith but it's hard waiting so long. While he was talking I was thinking so hard of what scripture would help comfort him and nothing was coming to me. So I stopped and just listened. After a few minutes D&C 121 popped into my head about Joseph in Carthage jail. It was exactly what he needed to hear. I know that the spirit helped me because I just listened. I didn't need  to worry about what I would say because if you listen with love, the Lord will ALWAYS give us what we need to be his instrument. It was a tender mercy for me. I love being a missionary.

We had a really tender experience with los Ku this week. I don't even know where to begin to describe my love and respect for them. They are truly amazing.

I have a new love for 2 Nefi 32:20. " 20 Por tanto, debéis seguir adelante con firmeza en Cristo, teniendo un fulgor perfecto de esperanza y amor por Dios y por todos los hombres. Por tanto, si marcháis adelante, deleitándoos en la palabra de Cristo, y perseveráis hasta el fin, he aquí, así dice el Padre: Tendréis la vida eterna." Enduring to the end just might be one of the hardest commandments that we strive to keep daily but it is also the commandment that brings us the most joy. I am grateful that as a missionary that is part of my purpose. Nothing could make me happier. I am so grateful for trials and hardships, how else would we learn and grow? 

Les quiero mucho! Espero que tengan una semana maravillosa! Happy Birthday Jared!
Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

FHE with los Navas y Los Campos and I learned how to roll and make real Guatemalan tortillas de maiz.

District lunch at Bety's lunchera

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Olympic 4 minutes, Atonement and Testimony

This week was incredible, oh how I love my life!  April 1st was Hermana Cardullo's birhtday and we had a blast at MLC and in all of our lessons that day. She got her face shoved into cake a few times haha.

We had one exchange this week. Hna. Freestone came to Lodi with me and we had appointments every hour and were super busy but it was a great day. She started her mission here so it was great to see her reunited with members at lessons and less actives. We had an incredible lesson on the Restoration and Prophets with our new investigator Magaly. She was blown away that there is a living profeta hoy en dia and that we were going to have the chance to listen to him this weekend! She is a great missionary and a great teacher.

Conference was amazing! Where do I even begin? It seriously was perfect. Saturday afternoon we watched conference with Erarstro (Mexican Rocker). He LOVED it. He said that he received the revelation he was looking for as to baptism and what to do with his family. He for sure wants to be baptized now and we are working on a date with him. He said it just brought so much peace and joy to him and he was so grateful we invited him.

Sunday was the busiest day. I LOVED the morning session. It was just power packed. We were able to watch it en la estaca with Angel and Lucy and then one of our new investigators Juan surprised us and came! Lucy (13) is the cutest and took even notes. She is so excited for her baptism this week. I loved every talk and received so many answers to my questions. I loved the analogy with the Olympics. One thing that I am so grateful for is how I have grown a deeper love and appreciation for the Gospel. Life makes more sense. The gospel is the only thing that matters. We MUST do our best every day. I  loved Bishop Stevenson's talk---This is our "4 minutes" how can we waste one minute? I loved Elder Bednar's talk. It was so powerful. I still don't understand the Atonement but I love how each day I am learning more. 

The Sunday afternoon session was great and different for us. We prayed and fasted for a way to help Bety watch conference. She was working all day  from 8:30-5:30 at la lunchera. So we went over at 12:45 and asked if she could take a break for like 20 minutes to watch conference with us but she couldn't leave. I am stressing inside but not loosing faith. So we decided to watch it live on her phone at work in between customer orders (we were praying no one would come order anything). The Spanish translation wasn't working on the phone. BUT WE DIDN'T GIVE UP. SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. So Elder Packer was speaking, bearing testimony and we sat there at the door of the lunchera and I translated his talk. I don'

t know how it all happened but the spirit was strong and Bety loved it and felt so much peace. She said that her boss at work has been talking to her about God and really encouraging her to get baptized! (he isn't even a member... yet :) haha). Such a blessing. She is so excited for her baptism this weekend. It was just a blessing and witness to me that we must do all we can withing our reach and the lord WILL bless and help us. After the talk her phone died and she had to go back to work so we went over to the Navas and watched the last part with Luz and her family. 

I love being a missionary and I love conference. How grateful I am for living day profetas and aposotles that lead and guide us back to our Heavenly Father. We have so much to be grateful for. I hope you all enjoyed conference and reciedeved the answers and revelation you were looking for. Les quiero, que tengan una buena semana mis quieridos!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
April 2014 Spanish Missionary Conference
Happy Birthday Hermana Cardullo

Monday, March 31, 2014

Working hard in the rain . . . . . .

I forgot to tell you that last week I was able to go down to Tracy and do an exchange with Hna. Sanchez. This is her second transfer out and she is incredible! She really works hard and strives to do her best, we had a really fun day together. Her dad just passed away a few weeks ago. She is incredibly strong and an amazing example for all of us hermanas.

Hna. Skidmore came to Lodi with me for intercambios! It was SOO fun and SOO great. Oh how I miss her. It was so fun to be together again, teaching and testifying. She is training now and doing a great job. We found some really new cool investigators from El Salvador.

On Friday both Hna Cardullo and I went down to Stockton to work with the ASL sisters in their area. It was a fun day contacting in the rain. We talked to EVERYONE we saw and had so much fun working in the rain. We found some great potentials and a family that we probably wouldn't have found if we didn't go out of our way just because it was raining. The Lord knows are efforts and gives us strength and courage. Lets just say English work and ASL work are SOO much different than Spanish work....haha. I learned a lot though and which helped me with contacting everyone.

As I have the privilege to do all of these exchanges, I feel so blessed to be able to work with other sisters and learn from each of them. Each is so unique and a great instrument in the Lords hand. It also makes me so grateful for my companion and my area. I know that I am where the Lord wants me to be. 

Hna Cardullo and I have really been striving to better use the scriptures in our lessons and it makes all the difference. It has been so insightful as we read together and find stories that apply specifically to each investigator. We did this with a lesson with Bety and read Enos 1. Wow. The spirit was so strong and she even started likening the verses unto herself. It really has helped me increase my testimony of the Book of Mormon and I feel like as I testify it is more sincere and the spirit is stronger. How blessed are we to have the scriptures?

So Luz did not get baptized this weekend but we had a HUGE miracle with her. We were over there a lot this week, teaching and serving and one day we were outside walking and Luz said, "Hermanas, I want to be baptized next Friday!". WHAT!? We were so excited, Hna Cardullo just fell to the ground with excitement haha. I am so glad it is finally her desire now. I know she wanted to before but it was a lot more of the missionaries and her family. Hna Cardullo and I both agreed that we don't want to drag her to baptism, we want it to be her decision and desire. So Sunday we met with her parents, the branch president and planned everything. She is firm for the 18th of April and we couldn't be happier. She has taught me so much and I love being with her. She reminds me of Tori in a lot of ways. What great girls.

Bety just started a new job which is such a blessing. We had some powerful lessons and we are so excited to watch general conference with her, Lucy and Angel! 

We also had a Spanish Conference with the Mission Presidency. Presidente Martinez gave us some great training's and it was great because everything was in Spanish and catered to the people. The culture, how to best understand and love them. We had a great scripture study really focusing on how the Book of Mormom is their ancestors. I love being a Spanish missionary and it was so great to be reunited with all the Spanish missionaries. We took lots of reunion pictures!

I hope you all have a great week! Love you all dearly. Don't miss the opportunity to watch conference and hear the beautiful and powerful testimonies of the Prophet and Apostles. I can't wait to hear what your favorite talks were and what stood out to you. Les quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
 Tracting in the rain
 Cherry blossoms out in Lodi
 Richard the lizard
Spanish Missionary Conference in Lodi
with President Martinez