Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Feliz Navidad

I cant wait to Skype you soon! :) I will give you a brief summary of our week.

We acted out the Nativity with the Timalach's. BEST EVER. Sooo funny haha. Omar was Jose, Magda was Maria, Jayden was baby Jesus, Kevin was a shepherd, Ashley was the angel, I narrated and was a wise man and Hermana Pitcher was a wise man too. Don't worry, we filmed it! But after we talked about it and the spirit was strong and Ashley and Kevin wanted to us all about why they love Jesus and Christmas.

Sunday was incredible. I felt the spirit so strong and my heart was so full. Omar and Ashley got confirmed. They both were just glowing. Earlier in the week we had a lesson with Omar and Hermano Velarde on the priesthood. It was so powerful. I feel like we all came to better understand and appreciate the priesthood together. He kept saying, "I am going to do EVERYTHING I can to be worthy. I won't even drink soda. I want to bless my family". "Quiero mantenerme digno". Yeah, my heart just melted. I can't even tell you how much I love this family. He was able to receive the priesthood on Sunday :) This joy is so hard to explain. He was like a little giddy boy haha. 

Sunday Gabriela was confirmed. Her blessing was so powerful. She will be an example to her family and help bring them into the church. She said she feels like a new person. We also taught Gabriela about service and callings this week and immediately she said, "So when can I get a calling?" She has such a big heart and desire to serve. She went to Riverside to visit her parents for the week and asked us to come over and say a prayer with her to bless her trip. So cute.

We were able to do a lot of fun caroling this week and it really brightened up people's days. Our investigator Tere (I told you about her a while ago, she is a single mom with 3 children) loooved it and started recording us. She came with her children to the branch Christmas dinner and program. It was a night in "Belen" and everything was decorated like Belen, we sat on the floor with tents and ate and it was so cool. We were so happy she came. She is progressing but we are having a hard time getting her to church. Her teenagers Maria and Ruben come to mutual though, so we are working on it.

Oh and I forgot to tell you that last p-day I got to play tennis! It was THE BEST. I was a little rusty a first but everything came back. Some of the Elders played in high school so we all had a great time hitting for a few hours. Since then they got transferred so tennis probably won't happen any time soon, but that's ok! I am just glad we got to play!

I hope you all have a great Christmas as you truly ponder about the birth of our Savior. I am so grateful for him, this love, this life, his example and sacrifice. I love that we get to do our best to learn and be like him each day. What a blessing. Thank you for all the cards and gifts. I feel so blessed and loved. I am grateful that I get to go tell all of my Latinos in Lodi about my love for the Savior. Love you all! 

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Feliz Navidad
Nativity with the Timilach's
Night of "Belen" Bethlehem

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

White Christmas in Lodi!

Transfers happened....... HERMANA PITCHER AND I GET TO STAY TOGETHER IN LODI! :) We are so happy. This will be our third transfer together and we feel so blessed. Others are leaving in the zone which is always sad, but we go where the Lord needs us :) 

So let me just tell you about the BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!!! First, I want to follow up on the Christlike attribute we were all working on this week. I really studied and practiced my patience. It was a great week and learned a lot. I feel like I understand patience a little more but while working on it I noticed I learned a lot about God's will. I love 2 Nefi 10:24. I really learned what it means to pray always. I experimented with this for a day straight and I was more humbled, more grateful and felt closer to the Savior then ever before. Constantly having a prayer in our heart and being able to express our desires to a loving Heavenly Father is such a blessing and gift. I came to better understand the Atonement, service and losing myself in the work. Who would of thought that I would have learned all of that from focusing on patience. I LOVE the scriptures!

Wednesday we had our zone temple conference and it was such a great day. You won't ever believe this, but my companion LOVES to sing, so she signed us up to sing. Hermana Pitcher, Sister Oliphant, Sister Langi and I sang, "Mary's boy child Jesus Christ" and it was really fun. I had a line of solo... haha I actually did it. It was fun and everyone loved our song. We had a little Christmas program with talents and then we were able to go to the temple and do a session with President and Sister Lewis. It was so great to be in the temple with them. I love the temple! It was much needed and I received the comfort, revelation and guidance I was seeking. Aren't we so blessed to have temples?

So Gabriela got baptized on Saturday. It was a beautiful day. The spirit was strong and Gabriela was radiating with joy. We had a great turn out from the branch members and that night she texted us and said it was one of the most special, happiest and best days of her life".

We were going to have the Timalach baptism Saturday night but it interfered with every church building having their ward Christmas party so we moved it to Sunday after church. Sunday morning we went over and made them breakfast and helped everyone get ready so they could make it to church on time! Sacrament meeting was great and powerful and then after we had the baptism! Can I just tell you that it was THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE! I have never felt more joy. Ever. Alma 26:20 about sums it up. Omar had teary eyes, it has been amazing to see him change and become converted. Ashley was just beaming. After when she came out of the font she said, "Hermanas. I feel really happy right now". My heart just melted. I can't even tell you how much I love this family. It was also Omar's birthday. What better gift can you give the Savior then be baptizing and making a special covenant? It was just perfect. So Magda said the opening prayer and in her prayer she blessed that she would be able to follow the same path as her husband and daughter. After the baptism we felt prompted to invite her to be baptized! She said yes and is preparing for the beginning of January. We are so happy :). This family will be eternal and I can't wait to come back in a year and watch them be sealed in the temple. 

Ashley quotes, "You two are the best Elder girls ever", then in Spanish "Mom, for Christmas I don't want toys anymore, I want a Book of Mormon, the Bible, Doctrine and Convenants and all of the scriptures. Big ones, like the Hermanas" hahah. She is the cutest little 8 year old ever.

Hermano Ku took six of us missionaries in the branch to a senior living center and to carol. It was so fun and they were cute and funny ancianos. We had a great time and they loved having us!!

I am excited to Skype with you next week :) I hope you all have a great Christmas and really ponder what you can give the Lord. With all these baptisms, we are having a "White Christmas" in Lodi!  Love you all!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Gabriela's Baptism 12.14.2013
Timalach Family Baptism 12.15.2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wedding!!!

This week was so incredible!!!! Seriously though, every week just gets better and better. How is this possible!?

So we had Mission Leadership Council and it was really good! We focused on simple and effective teaching. So President Lewis stood up and did a role play (a role play is when we kind of go through a lesson, someone pretends to be the investigator and the other the missionary), then he had the Assistant's do a role play. After he said, "Sister Thomas and Sister Pitcher, why don't you two come up in front of everyone and do a role play to demonstrate..." WHAT!? I was only a little nervous... haha. See if you know me, role plays are not my favorite thing. But I always learn so much from them and I always receive revelation so I just do it anyway. I'm working on LOVING them. So on the spot we did one and it turned out pretty good! I guess President forgot to call us and prepare us in time but it all worked out and I learned so much :)

Can I tell you how grateful I am for the wonderful branch members here? They are the best thing that has ever happened to me, Sister Pitcher and missionary work. The branch always want to help and have such strong testimonies. Brenda and Hermana Cardona came with us to visit Gabriela this week. Gabriela came to church!!!! We were late, but she made it. Her baptism will be Saturday morning! She is so ready and excited.

Let me tell you a funny story... so have you ever heard of the talk "the missionary next door?" well it sums up the Campos family. Ah, they are the greatest. So Isaac brings friends over (non members) and Hermana has church music playing. Then she went in the other room and called us and said, "Hey so Isaac is here with his friend Samuel. If you aren't in a lesson right now you should come over and watch a Mormon Message and teach him!" hahahah, isn't that the best thing you have ever heard? So we stopped by, watched a Mormon Message and had a little lesson with Isaac and his non member friend Samuel. It was so cool. We hope we can start teaching him soon!

The Timalach's got married this week! Oh, it was the best thing ever!!! They were so happy, we were so happy and a lot of members came and gave great support! It was such a testimony to me that marriage is ordained of God. It is part of his plan and they are on the path para seguir adelante y hacer lo que El quiere! Such a blessing. So this Saturday Omar and Ashley (8) are getting baptized. Magdalena (mom) is still praying and receive her answer. She has gone a whole 3 days without coffee. Please keep her in your prayers and pray for a miracle baptism with her this weekend. It would be so special if they all get baptized together!


My little Brendita got her mission call!!! She is going to the MARYLAND BALTIMORE mission, speaking SPANISH, leaving January 29th!! We are so excited for her. She opened her call after church yesterday in the gym with the branch, her family and the missionaries. I am going to miss her so much love, she really is one of my best friends but I know she will be such a great missionary. We will miss taking her out teaching with us though!

I hope you all had a great week, I love hearing from you. Thank you for your prayers and love. I want to invite all of you to choose a Christlike attribute this week and do all you can to emulate it. I am doing this as well. Next week we can report on how it went and how we grew and noticed changes. LOVE YOU!!!!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
 Brenda receiving her mission call
Timalach Wedding Day

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Miracles

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! I don't have too much to write since I just emailed on Thanksgiving but in the past few days some really cool things have happened!  We had a great Thanksgiving! We visited with the Ku's, had a feast with la familia Cortes, went to downtown Lodi and took some fun pics and just relaxed, it was really nice.

La familia Timalach is doing so great! They are getting married this week! :) We are soo excited!!!! We had some really powerful lessons with them on the spirit and prophets. They are SO prepared and SO ready to make this special covenant. My heart is overflowing with love and gratitude.  Gabriela wasn't able to make to church because of work :( So we are moving her date back a week. She is so close though!  

We had an awesome miracle happen yesterday! We went to visit la familia Hernandez (a part member family we have been working with for a few months) and Alex was there! We invited him to church and he actually came and sat right next to us! The testimonies were so great and powerful. I think he was really touched by the spirit. After sacrament meeting, before he went back home we invited him to be baptized this month and he said yes!! WHAT!? It was soo cool. So we are really going to focus on him and help him get his life to where it needs to be so he can follow the Savior and be baptized. Such a blessing.

We had another exchange this week! I went into English work for the day with Sister Parkinson. WOW. English work is sooo different but we had a great day! We had some really powerful lessons. The spirit was so strong in our lesson with Anne and I feel like we were really able to listen and be guided by the spirit to know what to say and promptings popped into my mind and she was able to open up and let us help clear her doubts. Sister Parkinson is incredible, so humble and a great and powerful teacher. It was great to see Hermana Sharp again. Her and Hermana Pitcher had a great day in Lodi!

D&C 50:41,44  is my favorite scripture of the week:  41 Fear not, little bchildren, for you are mine, and I have covercome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath dgiven me; 44 Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the agood bshepherd, and the cstone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this drock shall never efall.  I know this is true.  He is there for us and we can build on Him and receive the comfort and strength para seguir adelante!

Can you believe its already December? Time is just flying by!!! So crazy, I can't even believe it. I feel so blessed. I love my life, it couldn't be any better. I love this time of year as we get to really focus on the Savior, his birth and the many mighty miracles that He performed. We are still seeing so many miracles today. What a blessing!! I love you all and hope you have a great week! :) 

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Thanksgiving with the Ku and Cortes Families
Hermana's Parkinson, Sharp, Thomas and Pitcher



Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Heart is truly full of Gratitude

Feliz dia de las gracias! I have so many things to be thankful for! Where do I even begin? 

Last week we had zone conference and Elder Baxter of the Seventy came. The conference was SOO powerful. Elder Baxter and his wife are from Scotland. Tiff would have loved their accents. He is very bold and blunt but I think it was what we all needed. They spoke to us about teaching with the spirit and really focusing on listening to the spirit.  I loved when President Lewis said, "It doesn't matter what they know, it matters what they feel." I received a lot of great revelation for myself and our investigators. President also asked us to do a few new things. Read everyday from Preach My Gospel, The Book of Mormon and sing to investigators. Elder Baxter shared with us so many promises will come from just opening our mouths.  Elder Baxter also read a lot from D&C 31 and he told us how we are angels on earth. Think of that powerful thought and promise. We have been called, but after his explanation it has an ever deeper meaning to me.  After Zone Conference, we as sister training leaders and zone leaders, got to have a little meeting with President and Sister Lewis and Elder and Sister Baxter. We went over what we learned and what we are going to implement to help those we help lead and teach. At the close of our meeting, we kneeled in prayer and it was INCREDIBLE. The spirit was so strong as Elder Baxter pronounced all these blessings on us in the room and over the entire mission. I wish I could have written every single word down.  I do remember that he blessed us with more power in teaching, accelerated work in our area, every missionary to see a baptism, etc. Words can't even describe.

Lets start with the 3 intercambios we had this week. Sister Gutierrez (she is an English speaking missionary from Mexico) came into Spanish work with me for a day and we had the best time ever. We just spoke Spanish all day, she was so happy to have a day of work in her native language. We did some service for the Timalach's and Magdalena (mother) finally prayed out loud. Hermana Hurley also came up to Lodi with me, she has been out for a few weeks and is doing awesome and we had a fun short day. I also went down to Stockton with Hermana Dando and we had an incredible day full of miracles. For companionship study we went over what we learned from zone conference (since we are in different zones) and decided to try to apply it. We had the coolest experience ever. We were out finding and knocked on a door to this lady Helen. The first thing that came out of my mouth was, "You are a child of God". Then Hermana Dando said we wanted to sing her a song. So just right there on her doorstep we sang "I am a Child of God". The spirit was so strong and she was a quiet, then just as we finished she started crying. She said she really needed to hear that message from her Heavenly Father. She told us her faith and hope had been dwindling. She told her son had just killed himself a few days before and it has been really hard. The Spirit was so strong as we testified of the plan of salvation and the spirit we felt. WOW. I have never experienced anything like that before. She was so receptive and has been prepared. She is English so they will have to pass her off to the English missionaries.  The power of intercambios!

I was able to go back to East Sac this week to see Roxana get baptized! Oh it was an incredible night. She is Ana's sister, remember when I was teaching her? Her prayers are incredible, she talks to God like they are best friends. It was such a blessing to sit next to Hermana Skimore and watch Roxana enter the waters of baptism. I was also asked to give a talk on baptism. It was so fun to see the Woodlands, Hermana Cardullo, and all the ward members.

Out of time now, but I hope you all have the best week ever. Eat lots of Turkey, I don't know what we will be eating today :) LOVE YOU!!!
Hermana Gutierrez from Mexico

The Amazing Timalach Family

Baptism of Roxana (Anna's sister)


Monday, November 18, 2013

Best Week Ever!

This week was so great! We were incredibly blessed! La familia Timalach and Gabriela came to church! It was the best! Also the Lodi elders baptized Sergio and it was the best day ever. He feels like he is all of our investigators because we have seen him change and it's awesome how we all really care and strive to help each other! He asked Hermana Pitcher and I to sing a duet... haha it was alright.

The Timalach's have decided to get marrried! The date is December 14th and the baptism will be the 15th. Hna still hasn't said yes but she did say she is ready to act on her faith. Poco a poco. We are working on moving it closer! Hno. Ku is taking them to get their marriage license on Wednesday so we are really excited!

Gabriela is doing great, it was so great to sit next to her at church! She also passed her interview. She just needs to come to church one more time but this week she has one of those Pakistan parties at her house again so we have a date for December 7th. She is progressing so much, it's incredible to see.

We had some great and fun exchanges this week! Hermana Gigger came to Lodi with him and we had a great day and were blessed to teach a lot! I also went down to Tracy West with Hermana Kennard and Griffith. We had a good day and an interesting experience. We were in a house and they were doing the Rosary y orando a la Virgen, we just watched. It was... interesting. After they wanted us to participate but I said, "How about we say a prayer together to God?" haha. They were like o.k! I know it doesn't sound that crazy but it was.... I just felt empty during their prayer of repetition, I am so glad we can pray to our loving Heavenly Father and that he listens to our individual needs.

This week I thought a lot about D&C 18:14 "Wherefore, you are called to  cry repentance unto this people."  I am here to invite people to change and what a great blessing it is! I hope you have a great week! Love you all, I will email next on Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for all of you. Have the best week ever, love you!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
 Baptism Day with Sergio
Intercambios with Hermana's Kinnard and Griffith
My hometown Lodi

Monday, November 11, 2013

Changes, Changes and Conversion

We had a surprise leadership council this week and it was really great! There are a lot of changes happening in the mission. We were all excited and ready for iPad and Facebook since it was such short notice but it's not our time yet. President Lewis had a Mission President's seminar last week with Elder Ballard. With this council our mission will be making some changes. We have been asked to not use any analogy's, visual aides, eat dinner with less active and part member families (so each active family can feed us once a month). As an experiment he has asked us not to hold any zone sports activities on preparation day during the month of November.  A companionship or multiple companionship can get together for some kind of sport on preparation day but no zone organized sports are going to be held. My world came crashing down when I heard the last one... haha jk. I sat there stunned but a thought came to mind.  I can either do what I want or obey. I chose to obey. This counsel has been revealed through choice leaders of the church from God. Even if I don't understand everything and it might be hard or uncomfortable to incorporate at first, I must obey.  I know it will be different for Spanish work, but I will do my best and the Lord will help us and we strive to be exactly obedient.

We watched the Restoration DVD with Gabriela and after she said, "I know that happened." It was so cool. Unfortunately, she didn't make it to church again :( her husband is Pakistani-an and they have family here visiting.  The past 3 Sunday's they have been holding little parties for them (I guess it is a tradition  and they just happen to be during church. Satan! Yesterday she was going to try to come but her husband didn't want her to leave and come back. Next Sunday is supposed to be the last one. We are going to try to take her to an English ward if she can't make it to the Spanish Branch because of the party. My faith has increased this week. I know that everything will work out. It is on the Lord's time and we must do all we can to prepare her and a miracle will happen. Please pray that she will be able to make it to church this week. 

The Galt Elders had a baptism in our branch this week and I played the piano. haha learned the songs that day.... Lets just say i better start learning new hymns because everyone wants me to play now! haha. Tori, help! The cool thing was a lot of people came to the baptism. This branch is incredible!

La Familia Timalach is incredible.  They are doing so great. We had some awesome lessons this week with a really strong spirit. Then listen to this, they came to church again. All 3 hours. It was the Primary Program and Ashley (8) and Kevin (6) participated.  They all came dressed in their Sunday best too! They loooved Gospel Principles Class and hermana's testimony is growing. Everyone also helped out with little Jayden so that she could really focus. Then there was an English baptism in 1st ward and they wanted to go! So we took them over and it was a great baptism with a strong spirit. There were tons of people. It was great but way different then the Spanish baptisms.  They didn't understand what was said but they felt the spirit. Magdalena turned to me and said, "Hermana, me siento algo. No se que es, pero algo." I said, "Hermana, eso es el espiritu." It was the best feeling ever. My heart and soul were so filled with joy! 5 hours of church yesterday? Sounds like conversion is starting to happen..... :)

I love you all and hope you had a fantastic week. This week I studied Alma 13:27-29 . If we can develop those attributes we will become more Christlike and a tool in the Lords hands. Thank you for your support, love and prayers. I am just livin' the dream in Lodi. LOVE YOU!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
La Familia Timalach

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Promised Land and Transfer Tuesday

I am all scatter brained today so we will see how this goes... Well transfers happened and HERMANA PITCHER AND I GET TO STAY TOGETHER!!!!! I am so happy. Lodi really is the promised land.. :) also our whole district and all the missionaries in the branch all stayed the same. We went to the GALT flea market today and it was awesome. I got a cool California hoodie for cheap. It is starting to get a little cold here but it's funny because people have coats and scarfs like it's the middle of winter. It's not THAT cold. 

Sorry I am out of time, but everything is going great and I love my life. Have a great week! Halloween was fun! We watched "Ephraim's Rescue" and then had zone training. I loved the movie! I am so grateful for the pioneers. I don't know if I could have been a pioneer. Mom, will you send me some family history stories? I would have never thought that I would be so interested to know and study stories from my ancestors.  All it took was your example of family history and a church movie to get me pumped! haha.

We found a few new great investigators this week. Tere and Carmela. both single moms with solid hearts to do what is right. The highlight this week was the lessons with Gabriela (she is now firm!!!). She told us that she is so excited and happy for her baptism. She just needs to attend church a few more times.  We are progressing with La familia Timalach.  We had a lesson with them on marriage and The Proclamation to the Family. Then in Gospel Principles Sunday we talked about how families are forever. They stayed for all 3 hours of church!!! :)
 
I want to tell you about some of my favorite families in the rama (branch) here in Lodi. La familia Lopez is so great. They took us out for breakfast and Hermano Bili asked me what it was like to ALWAYS have the gospel in my life (they are converts of about 10 years). He was so amazed and just in awe as I described our daily family scripture study, prayer, FHE's, seeing the example of my parents kneeling in prayers, etc. It made me so much more grateful and appreciative for the gospel we had growing up in our home.  I love that I am helping families discover the joy of having the Restored Gospel in their family. Hermano Ku is our ward mission leader. There is just no one like him. His family is incredible and they have some of the strongest testimonies I have ever heard. They truly love the Lord and put him first. They are such great examples.

Tu me has dado muchas bendiciones Dios. Que tengan una buena semana, y no se olviden que las quiero mucho!
Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
The Lopez Family
The Promised Land 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Glory in the Lord

What a great week! Have I ever said that before? haha. Every week just gets better and better.

FELIZ CUMPLEANOS A MI TORI JEAN! :) HAPPY QUINCE hahaha. I can't believe my little sister is turning 15. Crazy! Only 4 more years and you can serve a mission :) haha.

I cant' believe my dear Heather (Jackman) is married! So crazy. I am so glad you were able to spend the day at the temple with her, it must of been so special.  Thank you for the pictures.  She is absolutely glowing.

Well we had an AWESOME miracle this week. We went to go see the Vazquez family. They are less actives. I have only met Hermano Vazquez once. They are really hard to get a hold of! This week we went on Tuesday night and Edith (the daughter, she is in her 30's) answered and let us in! Turns out she has been less active for the past 18 years but still has her testimony and knows she needs to come back to church. She has been praying for help, and we came along :) She wants to come back but knows it will be hard. She has a 14 year old daughter Leslie. She is so sweet and so great, turns out Leslie is not a member, but wants to be baptized!! We invited her to be baptized in the end of November and she said YES!!! So we are so excited to work with them to help Edith come back to church and for her daughter Leslie to get baptized :) 

Ashley came to church again and the Hernandez's are doing great. Hermano told us that he really appreciates that we come over and bring the spirit. We also took Alan with us to a lesson with Jesus. I talked about Jesus in my fist letter in Lodi.. well he is doing great and progressing now! :) We had an awesome lesson with him on Friday and now Bro. Hernandez and Alan are best friends. They relate to each other so well. Jesus CAME TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY!! Hna. Pitcher and Elder Gilray gave great talks and it was a powerful sacrament meeting. He even stayed for Gospel Principles Sunday School class and loved it! Everyone was so kind and welcoming to him, he LOVED church. He talked about coming next week and then when we got home he text us with 5 messages. All 5 were great questions! 

Gabriela is doing great! She is pretty much firm for baptism on the Nov.23rd. Her family will all be here and she came to the trunk or treat activity and made a lot of great friends. Fellow shipping is soo important. So she works A LOT. Most of the time we have lessons at her work. Have you ever heard of anyone teaching at Burger King? It's so funny to me, but it works. I had never really been to Burger King before the mission but now we are there 1-2 times a week haha. We did get to have a lesson in her home this week and cute little Sophie calls us "Las Nanas" haha. love them. We have a great lesson planned tonight so I am very excited. The Timalach's also came to the trunk or treat and had a great day. Ashley (8 years old) accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 23rd, and Omar (dad) wants to be baptized too! Just need to get Omar and Magdalena married first. Magdalena is indecisive on marriage and baptism so we will be studying a lot from The Family Proclamation this week :). We are hoping for a family baptism on that day. Pray hard :)

This week I have learned a lot. I can't tell you how blessed I feel and how happy I am. I truly have the best area, best rama, BEST companion, and we are teaching the best people. I am not bragging, just glorying in what the Lord is blessing me with right now. Alma 26:35-36 come to mind. Did you know that Alma 26 is my FAVORITE chapter in the whole Book of Mormon. It describes everything I feel. The Lord is so merciful and has blessed me to be able to teach these wonderful people. My heart is somehow growing bigger and bigger each day. I didn't even know there was that much room! I know that the Lord is helping me because without him I am nothing. He is my strength, joy and comfort. I truly know what it means to love. What it means to have charity. No it isn't perfect, but that is why Moroni (Moroni 7 is also a great chapter) told us to pray with all of our MIGHT that we can have perfect love. I LOVE the Book of Mormon and I know it is another testament of my Lord and Savior. I LOVE reading from it every day and am learning so much. I wish I could explain how I feel but it is hard to do in words, so I will let my favorite scripture speak (it's more powerful in Spanish), "Por lo tanto, agloriémonos; sí, nos bgloriaremos 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 cmisericordia 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). 

I hope you have a great week and HAPPY HALLOWEEN. (Feliz dia de las brujas, except they all love to say Halloween haha). Las quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Trunk or treating with Gabriella and the Timalach Family

Monday, October 21, 2013

Best week yet! Oh wait, every week just gets better and better! :)

I LOVE being a missionary. This week was a week of miracles! We have been struggling to get people to church and we had 4 come! We have been working really hard with the Hernandez family. They are a part member family and Ashley came to church! she is 9. She came with Alan (he is 19 and is a memeber. working on getting ready for a mission!!) and Hermano came (recent convert of 2 years). We are working with Ashley and are hoping to teach Christ (14) and Alex (16). We are having a Noche de Hogar tonight so that should be great. Also, the elders have been teaching la familia Timalach but Magdelena told them she would feel more comfortable with sisters teaching her, so we get to teach the whole family now! :) We are so excited, it will be a lot of work but we have the Lord's help so everything is going to work out. We will get them married and then have a baptism! They also came to church yesterday. Our district had 24 people to church and one of the Spanish elders 9!  MIRACLES!!!  So that was pretty great and crazy! Hermana Pitcher has a beautfil voice so she volunteered us to sing in church Sunday... haha. The Theme was missionary work, the branch presidency spoke and the missionaries did a special musical number. Hermana Pitcher, me and Elder Gilray all sang "Senor Te Necesito" and Elder Fernandez played the violin, and Elder Hart the piano. It turned out pretty good! I was super nervous though haha.

There are so many great things happening but i don't have enough time to tell you details about each one. Mom, you are always asking me who the family can pray for so I am going to list out their names and a brief sentence on what is going on so you can include them in your prayers if you would like :)

We made a lot of progress with Gabriela this week! We stopped by the house and her husband was kind to us and actually invited us in! We were able to have a real lesson and the spirit was so strong. It feels so great to testify from your heart to someone you love. We also went over on Friday and did some service and she made us lunch and we taught her sobre el evangelio de Jesucristo. She kept saying "I want to have the spirit with me all the time. I really want that."  She is progressing but having a hard time making it to church. She was so surprised when her husband let us in their home.  She said, "Your prayers are working Hermanas!" haha. The Lord DOES answer prayers. I knew that and she knew that, but it was such a testimony builder. We are praying that his heart will continue to be softened!

I had a great exchange with Hermana Sharp! I am soo glad she is back, we had a great day. It truly was a blessing. She is trying to work so hard and is so strong! I know as she continues to lose herself in the work she will continue to feel better. Crazy that she is in English work for this transfer but she is really loving it so that is great! (the pic is us at dinner with the familia Aguilar).

Hermana Pitcher and I had our 9 month party together last week. We can't believe we are 1/2 way through. I can't believe how time flies. I am learning soo much and I am definitely a better person than I was 9 months ago. The last 9 months have been the happiest of my life because I am truly trying to live and understand charity. I love that even though we mess up and aren't perfect, we have a way to try to be better each day! I love my Savior and that I can repent and one day become perfect, just like him.

I hope you have the best week ever. I love and miss you all so much! Can't wait to hear how the family missionary council goes :) Just come up with ideas that you can all do together to share the gospel. Pray for experiences and the Lord will grant your desires. Alexis emailed me about a cool experience she had with sharing the gospel with a passenger on her flight. I was so excited for her! Things happen when we open our mouths and testify of truth. We are all missionaries and we must work together to build the Lord's kingdom on earth!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
"She's Back" . . . . Exchanges with Hermana Sharp
The Aguilar Family

Hermana Pitcher and Thomas "Halfway mark"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exchanges, Stake Conference and a Member Missionary Fireside!

We had 3 exchanges this week. Hermana Crane from Tracy East and I had an awesome day. We found 10 new potentials! I also had a bike exchange with Hermana Sierra. She is from Panama. We spoke Spanish the entire day and had an awesome lesson with Juan and the Campos. We were trying to help Hermana Campo and Isaac invite Juan (their neighbor) over to watch a Mormon message. They were nervous to invite him. So what did we do? We did a role play with her! It was so great. You could tell she thought it was so weird at first, but I explained that we do role plays every day as missionaries and it really helps. She did it and felt good, then walked next door and invited him over! We all watched a Mormon message together and the spirit was so strong. It was such a cool experience. Also, my dream came true. I GOT TO GO TO STOCKTON! I really hope I get to serve there one day. It is everything in one place. There are bullet casings on the street. Awesome. I spent the day with Hermana Fullerton and we focused on finding, being CEO missionaries and staying positive.

Funny story. We were teaching Ludi and her kids this week. We have been a little hesitant to invite them to baptism, which meant we needed to do it even more. We had a great lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ with fun activities for the kids. The spirit was strong and we knew it was time. So we extended the invite! They all said YES!  Mia is only 7 so she will have to wait but she is excited for the family baptism date. Ludi said, "Yeah I will be baptized, sure, why not?" haha. Well.. that is a start! We are working on having her understand the importance of baptism and making covenants with our Heavenly Father.  The desire is there so that is a start!

Sunday was a crazy day with emotions all over the place. Saturday night we were able to attend the adult session of stake conference with President and Sister Lewis who spoke. The Lodi stake has set a goal "on hastening the work." It is so great! On Sunday during stake conference I helped translate... They were speaking so fast in English so it was more like a summary in Spanish haha. Just trying my best to translate with President Duncan haha. It was a good opportunity but not super easy. Then Sunday night we had the fireside for the branch, "Cada Miembro un misionero". It was sooo great! We had workshops and talked about how we can come together as missionaries and members. They all wore little name tags and the spirit was strong. Everyone is even more pumped to do missionary work.

Sorry this is short and so scattered but I love you all and hope you have the best week ever! Las quiero mucho!

Con amor,
Hermana Thomas
Exchange with Hermana Sierra from Panama

Cada Miembro un Misionero - Every Member a Missionary Fireside

Monday, October 7, 2013

Feliz Navidad en Octubre!

This was the craziest week of my mission so far but everything all worked out. We were late emailing today because we played disc golf as a zone! It was so much fun. The members in the 2nd ward made the course at a local park, all the missionaries got to go. It was so much fun, still got my putting game (different with a Frisbee haha).
Monday night we had an awesome FHE with la familia Campos. Unfortunately, Juan didn't make it but the Campos invited the Cortes family and they all invited a whole non-member family! It was such a blessing! Now the Elders are teaching the family! (they live in their area). It was so much fun, games, food and a spiritual activity! See what happens all just from an invite!? We have some great member missionaries here.
Tuesday we met for Leadership Council with President and Sister Lewis. It was really good. We set goals for the mission and discussed other items.  During our goal setting process, we all decided it was necessary to be on the same page. Thursday we had a leadership training with all the Zone Leaders and District Leaders. President Lewis called Hermana Pitcher and I and asked us to do a training with him on Baptizing.  The theme was "Being Believing, Bold (the Assistants and other sister training leaders did those presentations) and Baptizing California Sacramento Missionaries. My part was to talk about planning with faith. Faith goes hand in hand and then Hermana Pitcher talked about using the standards of excellence for goal setting. We had about a day to put it together but it all worked out. It was a great opportunity to teach but I think I learned more listening.
I was able to go on exchanges down to West Tracy, California this past week! Hermana Jensen and Herman Arntsen. I have missed Hermana Jensen soo much. We worked hard and had a lot of success. They took me to this street they call "Little Mexico" because almost everyone speaks Spanish. It's like a gold mine! It was so great. They are working so hard and I learned so much from their examples.
We found someone out tracting this week! Her name is Diana. We actually found her last week, scheduled an appointment and then taught her this week. She is incredible. We taught her the restoration and invited her to be baptized and she said yes! She has a pure heart and strong desire to follow Christ. Such a great blessing this week. We are working on getting her to church (she is catholic and goes to mass de vez en cuando). Please pray for her!
We also had Zone training (which President and Sister Lewis attended). It was really powerfully and the spirit was so strong. Then later in the day we had interviews with President Lewis. Every time I talk with him, I learn so much. It is such a blessing, he is very wise and Sister Lewis just feels like our mom. They are incredible and are such great examples.
FELIZ NAVIDAD! GENERAL CONFERENCE IS LIKE CHRISTMAS FOR MISSIONARIES. We were all so giddy as we got ready for it to start haha. Sadly Gabriela didn't show up :( I loved all the talks from conference but there were a few that really impressed me.  I loved that we were asked to have a "family missionary council." So Mom, Dad, Tori, Joce, Jared, Stratton, Easton, Kandace, Glen, Grant and Bob that means you too!  You could have it together after Sunday dinner. I can't wait to hear about what you come up with to help move the work along :) Also, ALL INVESTIGATORS need a copy of President Uchtdorf's talk. Wasn't it so incredible!? As I have been studying I have been trying to make a list of some of the blessings of living the gospel. I wasn't sure how to make it or present it. I want to be more specific when extending commitments and promised blessings. Well. . . Elder Bednar answered that one! His talk was so great. I can't wait to read through it over and over again. I also loved Elder Russell M Nelson's (missed anatomy a little haha). Its so true though, our bodies are such a blessing. I loved when he said we were chosen for this day based on our spiritual attributes. We must strive to refine them each day!  Running out of time, love you all.  So happy you had dinner with the Sharp family!
Con amor,
Hermana Thomas
P-Day Disc Golf with my District in Lodi

Monday, September 30, 2013

Loving My Life Here in Lodi

Dearest Familia,

Lodi is way different but I love it here so much! I was a little worried about how everything would go here in Lodi because I didn't know if it could get any better than East Sac. It's amazing how your heart can grow and open up even bigger. Seriously though, soon it won't be able to fit in my chest anymore because there are so many great people to love. It's amazing how fast you come to love others when you see them as a Child of God and only desire their salvation. I have the best life ever! Hermana Pitcher is so great, we are working hard and having a great time. We are going to be very busy with all the meetings we attend as Sister Training leaders. Sis. Pitcher and I are so excited.  To answer your question---A Sister Training Leader is like a zone leader pretty much but more spread out. We have exchanges, lots of meetings, write transfer reports, do projects from the President etc. My new district leader is Trevor Bennett from the 1st ward in our Heatheridge Stake from Orem, Utah.

I know you have a lot of questions so I will do my best to answer them. All the Hispanics here are really into "Herbal Life" and there are lots of vineyards. Free wine tasting signs everywhere in the fields. The fields cover a lot of our area.  So we are a little branch out here.  It is Lodi and Galt Spanish members combined. The branch is incredible! The members are so awesome, love missionary work and love the missionaries. We get fed every single night haha. Also our ward mission leader, Hermano Ku, is great and really focused on doing everything he can to help us succeed. Everyone is really into missionary work, it's like a dream come true. Brenda is my new best friend. She is 20 and waiting for her call right now. She goes out with us all the time and has such a pure heart. I love her so much! We are so lucky she comes with us and testifies during lessons, so powerful. Hopefully she will get her call soon, she has been waiting since July!
We have a mixed district here which is weird haha but its good. Our district has the zone leaders, 2 of the English Sister Training leaders, the Lodi Spanish elders and Lodi English elders (so our district leader is an English Elder). It is way different but good so far, lots of great missionaries out here!

Friday I was invited to the new leadership meeting for newly called district leaders, zone leaders and sister training leaders. Somehow the assistants found out I can play the piano and asked me to play for the meeting. The playing went ok, but it was a really good meeting! I learned a lot about my responsibilities, how to be a good leader and do my best!
Investigators: We have Gabriela and she is great. She is a manager of Burger King, I only met with her for a minutes because she is so busy but she wants to be baptized this month so that is exciting!
The best story of all is about la familia Campos and their son Isaac. He is 14 and already starting to be a missionary! This week he decided to invite his friend Juan to seminary. Guess what!? Every morning Juan came! He really liked it and accepted the invitation to come to church. So yesterday was testimony meeting and very powerful. Isaac bore his testimony to and Juan seemed to really enjoy church. We got to meet him after and are having an FHE tonight with Juan and the Campos family. We are so excited! They are such a great family and look what happened all because Isaac invited him to seminary? We can all be missionaries!! I encourage all of you to think about ways you can invite nonmembers to church activities. 

Jesus is 21 and is a searcher! He is Catholic so he is held back a bit. but just by talking to him you can tell he is yearning for the truth. We had a great lesson with him at church.  We talked about what we do during our block of meetings. The spirit that exists in this holy place.  Everyone felt the spirit so strong.  We had to cancel our first lesson.  He didn't end up coming because his girlfriend called him from the Navy (she only gets to talk for a short time and it's random). So hopefully he will come next week. Something funny happened though. We met his grandfather visiting from Mexico and when he shook my hand he said, "Oh... la huera. Sientate conmigo" hahahaha. We were all laughing so hard. Translated---white girl, speaking Spanish, confounding all.
We were able to watch the Relief Society Broadcast in Spanish and it was so powerful. I loved how the Relief Society talked about the importance of keeping our sacred covenants. It is so vital, and I am coming to understand that more and more each day. How truly blessed are we to be able to partake of the Sacrament every week, attend the temple and make and keep promises.
Sorry this letter is so scattered, but I love you all so much. I hope you have a great week and I can't wait to hear about which talks from General Conference really stood out to you!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
My new companion Sis. Pitcher from Park City 
My new friend Brenda (back seat) preparing to serve a mission