Monday, March 25, 2013

The Greatest Joy in Life

Wow, what a week! I LOVE being a missionary. I didn't even know this much joy in life was possible. I love, lov,e love it. Every day I learn something new but this week I learned a lot. 1) The importance of prayer. What a wonderful and powerful tool it is. Prayer is a missionary's best friend. As I prayed more frequently each day I could feel the Savior's love stronger and more present and everything worked out better. 

ANDREA CAME TO CHURCH!!! I wanted to frolic around the church I was so happy! She came and brought her son Ismael (who is 8). She loved Sacrament and gospel principles. She knew all the answers in class and loved reading and participating. He also really enjoyed primary! We are going to try to have her finalize a day for baptism this week. Then she will be firm!! :) Sister Lewis, Mission President's wife, came out on Thursday night. Sister Lewis, Hermana White and I and we were able to teach Andrea. It was such a powerful lesson even though Sis. Lewis didn't understand the Spanish. We talked about living prophets and got Andrea excited for conference. We had Sis. Lewis testify of what a prophet has meant in her life and then we translated. Sis. Lewis said that she didn't understand a lot but she knew the spirit was present. Then she watched us do a planning session. She said that the mission is blessed to have Hermana White and I in it. It was a fun night to get to know her and feel of her love. It was like you mom, coming out to appointments with us.

I don't think I have told you about Omar yet! He also came to church on Sunday!!! He is actually friends with Hermano Garcia in the ward. He has been trying to get him to come to church for years. He came once like a year ago and said it was nice but really long. He said he had to sneak out and thought "get me out of here, 3 hours is way to much time" haha. He is so cool though. We have been teaching him and his wife a lot and they have 3 little kids. He said that he has been to a lot of churches before but never wanted to go back to any except our church. He came to sacrament and he said it was so uplifting and wants to be a better person. His wife is super catholic but she likes to listen but doesn't want to go to church (ours or theirs) because she is tired. They have been reading from the book of Mormon together though! They invited us over for dinner Tuesday night and we are going to teach them El Plan De Salvacion! He said last week he would be baptized if he knew it was true so I am hoping between church and reading the scriptures we can commit him to a date! He said he even had a dream about Jesus! 

So exchanges in South Sac were fun and interesting. Hermana Novacovich is super nice but way trunky. She goes home in 2 weeks. She also isn't the most obedient missionary so that was awkward but we were able to teach a lot of lessons. And everyone kept telling her that I have better Spanish than her and so I felt bad. We taught a lady named Luz and I was able to testify to her about the love Heavenly Father has for her. I have never felt such a strong love and power as I testified in that moment. I also got to teach the restoration a lot and as I stated Jose Smith's words of the first vision, again I felt this power that I can't describe. It was the spirit leaping out of me testifying and I again was reminded of how true this gospel is. Also we read about the great and abominable church in 1 Nephi 13 with her and she says, "This sounds like its describing the Catholic Church" haha. It was funny. We also taught his Catholic guy Jose all about the Restoration and he was so impressed. He was all "Wow, that is the exact organization as Christ had. Where does your prophet live, etc? he loved it and had lots of questions!

SHAYLA GIBB IS ENGAGED!!!?? I knew this would happen.... well I am really happy for her and Stephen and a little upset they don't want to wait for me to get back. June 7th. That is soon! You better send me her invitation. Tell her congrats and good luck! I am so happy for them both! I will be expecting a letter with a sincere disappointment that I wont be able to attend Tiff said Kait Manscill is also engaged! Crazy. Everyone will be married when I get back, cant wait! haha.

We visited the mission office this week to get some supplies and it was so fun. I felt like a celebrity. Everyone is so nice and wants to hear all about the work! President Lewis was also there so we can to talk to him for a few minutes. 

I decided that tracting is like Hide and Seek. All the Latino's are hiding in these White Areas and we have to go find them! I had my first days of tracting in the rain. Not gonna lie, it wasn't as much fun haha. 

We have an investigator Ana who is awesome! We were able to give her a recorrido de la capilla and she loved it! The missionaries have been teaching her for over a year now. She was a drop but we decided to go visit. We have had some great lessons with her and she is actually reading the Book of Mormon and praying and doing her compromisos so we added her! She is progressing but slowly. She might just be ready now!

That is so fun that Sister Holt is back! I cant wait to hear all about her stories one day! in 2 Nephi 16:10 it says, "Make the heart of this people fat.. and be converted". That is my goal. I want to make every one's heart fat. Filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I LOVE being a missionary. Every day I wake up and say a prayer. I ask for help that I can accomplish the Lord's work and I thank my Heavenly Father that I have this amazing opportunity to be his servant and invite others to come unto Christ. Have I told you yet how much I love it? I can;t even describe my joy. My favorite scripture Alma 26:16 sums it up. I love you and I hope you have a great week and a great Easter! Be safe! Estas en mis oracions diariamente!!

The pic is with the Rojas Bustos family! Hermano Bustos is a Recent Convert. We had a noche de Hogar with them monday and they invited us over for dinner Saturday!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

Rojas Bustos Family

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crazy people, crazy week

I can't believe it's already Monday again, wow. Time just flies by out here!! I have some crazy things to tell you about this week!

CONGRATS DALLIN! Wow, the Netherlands!? That is awesome. Missions are the greatest things in the world. That is funny that he is leaving during the reunion. I am so excited for him! He is going to be such a great missionary! :) (Dallin is Taylor's cousin leaving July 24th for Belgium, Brussels, Netherlands speaking Dutch). Thank you so much for the package! I loved it! You had all my favorite things inside! You are the best family in the whole world! I am so lucky, its true. Oh and the elders were excited about the ties, thanks! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Bob last week! I hope he had a great day! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOCELYN this week! Do you have any fun plans? I hope you all have a big party and celebrate the two birthday's!

We have had some weird things happen. We go by every week to visit a potential Marta. Last time she had her mother over, and they are all devout Catholics. They love the Virgin de Guadalupe. Well her mom told us that she respects us that we are serving the Lord and talking about Jesus. She kept calling us prophets. So I told her that we are called of a prophet but we are only missionaries. She told me that I was wrong and that we are prophets. She was so impressed that we don't date or call boys on the phone haha. Not a big sacrifice, not gonna lie haha. Then we ran into this black guy named Petey. Some of the English Elders have been teaching him. He told us that he would rather have us, "The beautiful female missionaries" teach him. We told him we only teach in Spanish and he was willing to learn Spanish haha. Oh boy. He told us all about his life and his "baby mama". Luckily, we only teach Latino's haha. We also ran into a man that said something that made me really sad. He is from Mexico and is Catholic and told us that we can't pray to know which church is true. Whatever Chruch you grow up in is right. So I asked him if when he prays if he asks for things and he said yes, so I asked him "why can"t we ask God which is church is true then?" He just wanted to argue. So all we could do is testify that we know our church is true and we invited him to pray and ask God.
So finding people is pretty hard. On Thursday we tracked for over 3 hours with no results. We usually have to knock on people's doors that speak English and then ask them if they are any Spanish Speaking people in the apartments. (Since we have already visited most of the Spanish speaking people in that area/apartment).
Here is the Andrea update. She didn't come to church this week :( Her friends little boy has cancer so they had a little fundraiser for him yesterday. We did go over that night and they gave us fish tacos and we got to talk to her and her husband. We always invite her husband to join in on the lessons when we are there but he always says "Estoy ocupado". Last night we got to teach both of them and it went really well! He believe in Extra Terrestial stuff and had lots of questions so that was interesting but we invited him to church and everything and told him that some of this questions can be answered by coming to church. We are having a noche de hogar with la familia Rojas Bustos (the dad is a recent convert) today and we invited Andrea and her son (the dad has to work) so it should be really good. I am excited!!
I can't remember if I told you this but every week we have English Classes at the church. This week Hermana White and I taught. It was so much fun, we also get to learn a lot of vocab words in Spanish from they so it is beneficial for everyone. Jesus (menos activo) has been coming every week now and he even came to church one week so the work through classes is paying off!

Sis. Schow went to the dermatologist to have her skin tested for cancer.  They had to cut out a big chunk of skin off her nose. She needs daily wound care. Guess who gets to help her!? Me!! I love it. She always tells me, "I love having a little nurse in the home to help me". I think I love it more than her though haha.
Last night we had dinner with el obisbo and his family and the elders in our district. It was really good (and normal food haha) and we talked about how to help the ward out.

Well it's time for me to go to zone sports! We are playing soccer today, I'm excited! I have intercambios tonight and tomorrow with Hermana Novacovich in South Sac tonight so that should be exciting! I hope you had a great Dia De Dan Patricio! I love you all and miss you!

Con Amor,

Hermana Thomas
                                         Dinner with the Bishop, his family and our district.

            Alan, age 8.  The Pinto's family pet chameleon.
        Look Stratton and Easton I am holding a mini-dragon!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Querida Familia!

How is everyone doing? It was another great week out in East Sac! Hopefully, I can remember everything!

We met a Diane Bounds. She is a RM! She got back from the Concepcion, Chile mission last month. She knows Cy!! (Who doesn't though haha). She comes out to appointments with every once in awhile and is so great!

Now let me tell you about the best part of my week. Milagro Wednesday!  BEST DAY EVER! We went to visit a lady named Marta who was listed as a potential from a few weeks ago, and she actually let us in! We were able to talk about the restoration and she seemed pretty interested. She gave us a return appointment for this week so I am excited! 

Then when we had dinner with Hermana Jimenez. It was my turn to share the spiritual thought. I was getting ready to share the scripture that I had prepared but I had a feeling to do a different one. I wasn't sure why, but I just went with what the spirit was telling me. I shared in 1 Nephi 19:23 about likening the scriptures unto us. I asked her how she does that in her life after she reads. She then told us that she can't really read very well because the writing in the Book of Mormon is so small so she hasn't been able to read the Book of Mormon for years now! She has had people just read to her. I am so grateful I listened to the prompting of the spirit so we could help her! We went and brought her one of those huge ones so she can read (kinda like the one's you and dad have you use when you don't want to wear your glasses haha). She was so grateful and excited. 

Now, are you ready for the best part of the day? We went over to teach Andrea about the doctrine of Christ. The lesson was going so well and the spirit was so strong, I started shaking like crazy and then extended my first baptismal invite. Andrea said YES!! It was the greatest feeling in the world. She said it is something she wants to do. She knows that we are representatives of Jesus Christ. We haven't committed her to a date yet because she said she still wants to learn a lot more and still needs to come to church 3 times, but hopefully we will be able to do that this week. It seriously was amazing. Definitely a "The District 3" moment and we were able to complete all of our Goals Wednesday. Wow, do I love the mission.

Some random things: There are SO many squirrels here! And I think they are flying ones because about 90% of the time I see them in the air. Oh, everyone thinks we are Jehovah's witnesses at first. There are a lot around here and they go out all day on Saturday's. Don't worry, they soon notice we are LDS since we are two white girls speaking Spanish haha. Everyone is so impressed if you can speak Spanish and you aren't Latino haha. We ran into like 3 people this week that were baptized into our church when they were in their 20-30's but then "found another way". It is so sad because all they want to do is argue or fight. All we can do is invite them to read the book of Mormon and come to church again.

We teach English classes every Friday night for the members in the ward and investigators. It is so fun and I learn some stuff too! haha. Let's just say I'm better at Spanish.

Food this week. Well I tried my first Chicharones y papa's con chile y limon. I LOVED it! Who would have thought that Hermana Thomas now LOVES chile y limon and comida picante? Tiff would be so proud haha. We also went over to Hermana Jiminez's house for dinner one night and she has a chicken in her front room. Kept in this little cage for like a cat. Gotta love it. Hermana Pallares also made us pupusas one night. They are so good! We also have mole every once in awhile. It was good and has this chocolate sauce stuff mixed in. I am loving this spicy Mexican food. I even eat like peppers and stuff now. Oh I also had cactus salad. It was pretty good! No more picky Hermana Thomas!

We found some potentials last week and added 4 new investigators so hopefully we will have a successful week! I love and miss you all so much but I truly am the happiest I have ever been. Missionary work is definitely tough, pero vale la pena!

Con el amor de todo mi corazon,
Hermana Thomas

Arriving in Sacramento, CA.  Mission President and Sister Lewis.

                        Trying new foods. Cactus salad and Chicharones!                                 

Monday, March 4, 2013

A new kind of LOVE

Hola querida familia!!! How is everyone doing? This is THE greatest thing of my life. I can't tell you how much I love serving a mission. It really is everything I ever thought it would be and more! It is no longer just a dream! On Thursday Hermana White and I were walking down the street and I looked at us and then the ghetto apartments, the sun shinning down and it hit me. It's real! I am really here and am a real missionary. I couldn't imagine anything better.
Where to even start? Well Hermana White is my trainer and new companion! I love her so much! She has only been out for about 7 months but her Spanish is amazing and I am learning so much from her. She works so hard and is such a great teacher and so sincere. She is from Massachusetts and went to BYU before her mission. She is 21 and we will be together for my birthday and possibly her's too! We get a long so well, I just love her!

Now for the area. We are serving in East Sac in the Del Norte Area. We have a HUGE area to cover (because we are the only Spanish speaking sisters in the area). We cover Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and a little of East Sacramento. We live just outside our area in Carmichael with a member. Her name is Sister Schow. She is 82 years old and is a hoot! I love her to pieces. The mission home is actually just outside our border and so it is in the Roseville mission. That is where we had dinner the first night, it was so fun.

Some fun facts about the California Sacramento Mission. It is the best mission in the world. It is also one of the most diverse mission's in the world! We have over 12 languages: English, Spanish, Cambodian, Mhein, Marshallese, Tongan, ASL, Laotian, Hmong, Korean, Russian and Chinese. Crazy huh? I am blessed to be in an all Spanish district (which is rare). It is Hermana White and I, Elder's Rizo and Austin (who are actually the Zone Leader's as well, rare to have Spanish one's) and Elder's Lee and Torres. They are great! We had our first district meeting Friday and I really enjoyed it! We also have 3 other English speaking companionship's. Elder Hinckley (English speaking) is serving here and his dad served her 30 years ago!! cool huh?

We are so blessed to have soo many great members here. They LOVE the missionaries. We have dinner appointments at least 3-4 times a week. This week we ate with Hermano Garcia. He was so kind and made really good rice. I love having dinner and talking in Spanish. It is the best! We have like 5 dinners this week from other members of the ward and they know I'm new so they are making authentic stuff, I'm excited!

Something really cool are mission does is MIRACLE CALLS!! Whenever anyone in our zone has a miracle happen (a great lesson, someone wants to get baptized, investigator came to church, etc) they call and leave a message to the Zone Leaders and they send it out to everyone and you get so excited and pumped for each other!

I met the Pinto family this week. They are less active, which doesn't make sense to me because they have such strong testimonies they are just flojo. They are amazing though! Leslie is 15 and we go once a week for an hour and do service and help her with her homework (English) because she is failing.

We went and taught Angelica Mora and her family. She is a recent convert. Wow do I love her. She is so strong and and this desire to continue to learn everything. It is amazing to me how easy it comes to love people out here. Especially the Latinos.

I also met two investigators! Susana! We went by and her son told us she wasn't home, so we left and then Hermana White thought we should call her so we did and she told us to come back! Her friends were over and her one friend talked the whole time about how we has been baptized into every church because they are all true haha. It was very interesting. We tried to remind her of her baptism and to read from the Book of Mormon. I got to testify to her and it felt AMAZING.

We taught Andrea last night. She is our most progressing investigator. We taught her the importance of el dia de reposo and we are going back Wednesday so hopefully she will read and keep her compromisos!

Church yesterday was probably the weirdest, funniest thing of my life haha. At 11 there was like 5 people. Then at like 11:10ish everyone came. They aren't really the best at following schedules that well. Testimony meeting was amazing and the spirit was so strong! RS was very interesting. Hermana Sanchez (yahoo, already loved her once she told me her name) taught about fasting. She said she fasted for one whole week! Fasted from food and water. She also didn't shower because Jesus didn't either when he fasted for 40 days... haha. She took it very literal. I'm over in the corner dying because the Elders brought a new investigator and I bet she was thinking in her mind that we are crazy people, fasting and not showering for a week. Luckily, Hermana de Mexico (that's her real name, so cool) corrected her and told her you fast because you want to and its only for 2 meals. It was interesting haha. Then they left the last 15 minutes for testimonies and the Hermana's would get up and say stuff and others would shout out loud their approvals and stuff. Example "I have a strong testimony of fast" oh yeah, me too! haha Hermana White and I were cracking out.

Well I love it here so much. I am so grateful that I already knew Spanish before because it would be so hard. I love being immersed. I feel at home when I speak and teach in Spanish. It is the language that will be spoken in the Celestial kingdom, no doubt. Verdaderamente, estoy viviendo el sueno. les quiero muchisimo!!!

Con amor,
Hermana Thomas

We live in the home of Sis. Schow

My new companion beautiful companion Sis. White
Sis. Schow let's me study in her snuggie!