Monday, June 24, 2013

Best Week Ever Doing the "Work of Salvation"

This has been the GREATEST week ever. I am soo blessed. Sooo many great things and blessings happened but I will just mention the most exciting!

Ana is GETTING BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY!! We are soo excited. She truly is converted to the Lord. She hasn't had any coffee since Wednesday (almost a week). We were able to take her to a YSA baptism a few days ago (she understands English as well) and it was the best thing that could have ever happened. She was so nervous, but loved it all and is so much more confident for her own baptism this week. The young man (25?) that got baptized is named Frank. The spirit was so strong. He is from Africa and speaks Portuguese as well. So they had a cute RM sister give a talk on the Holy Ghost in Portuguese and I could understand it all!!! So could Ana, she was just loving her life. It was so cool. Sitting there in that baptism I was so full of love and gratitude for the Savior, for the gospel, my testimony, my love for Hermana Sharp and Ana and my life and the wonderful opportunities I have right now. I don't think I have ever been happier in my life. WHO KNEW THIS MUCH JOY WAS POSSIBLE!!!?? And can you imagine what it will be like when Ana gets baptized this week? If I can feel this much joy and love for others, imagine what my Father in Heaven and brother Jesus Christ feel for me!? I am beyond blessed.  Ana came to all 3 hours of church and just soaked it up. We are going over tonight to plan her baptism. So excited. Thank you for your prayers for her. Christina (an older investigator) also made it to church and it was such a miracle.

I had the opportunity to do exchanges with Hermana White this week! We had a blast and worked so hard. It was just like the old days. We taught in perfect unison and just spoke Spanish all day. I am grateful for all the great things she has taught me and the dear friendship we have developed. We had a great day.

I taught a little training in District Meeting this week on obedience. It went really well and I learned so much from preparing! I love in Preach My Gospel where it says "Obedience is an act of faith". What I am really learning is EVERYTHING is dependent on faith. There is no time to be weak or not do the great things to strengthen our faith. Hebrews 13:17 is a great scripture on how we can receive joy by being obedient and listening to our leaders counsel. 

I hope you all were able to see the "Work of Salvation". Was that not the greatest broadcast ever? The spirit was so strong! I had chills the whole time and just thought about how we are all working together to bring our brothers and sisters into the gospel. "Everyone is a missionary!" I loved when Elder Nelson said, "Actions motivated by love" and when Elder Anderson said, "He works in us according to our faith". Of course I loved everything but those two phrases really stood out to me. And how fun was that to look up and see my dear friend and fellow missionary Sister Jessie Beck (serving in the Tampa, Florida mission)! She is so amazing and great example. 

Well I am out of time now but I love you all so much. I hope you had a great week. His work is great and we are being blessed. Les quiero! :)

Con Amor, 

Hermana Thomas

Had a little haircut
Exchanges with Sis. White

Monday, June 17, 2013

What a week! Where should I even begin?

Hola mi querida familia! What a week! Where should I even begin?

Well I had the most interesting meal of my life this past week. We were fed fish. Not just fish, but fish from a bag, put  in the microwave... it tasted...yucky haha. I was just laughing so hard inside while trying to eat it. So funny. I also got to play Mexican bingo with the Aleman's and won! I also got some Pine Sol and Bleach in my eyes this week..haha. Smart huh? We did a lot of service and cleaning and so I have been washing my eyes out A LOT and wearing glasses. Yep, just rocking the glasses haha. Don't worry, they don't burn as much anymore :)

We had a special zone training with President and Sister Lewis. President shared Mark 9:23 where it talks about how anything is possible through believing (faith). Then we focused one 3 main things. How to become 1) Believing, 2) Bold, and 3) Baptizing missionaries. I really learned a lot and it helped change my perspective. I have faith, but its not enough. I need to believe with everything and put my trust 100% in the Lord. There is no room for doubts here and there. Not in the Lord's work. So my goal is to continue working on increasing my faith and  attitude. That is one of the greatest blessings of a mission. You realize you have a lot of weakness and things to work on to become more like Christ. We have tools to help us, we can change and become like him. What a blessing.

We got to go to the elders baptism of Marta y Mario Friday night! It was so great and the spirit was so strong. Hermana Sharp and I sang a duet while they were changing. ME? SINGING A DUET? I know, pretty funny huh? Well it was in a Spanish ward so I sounded good to them! haha. We messed up a little and Hermana Sharp's face went BRIGHT RED. But we made it through. A funny memory for sure.  We are moving Ana's baptism from June 22nd to June 29th. She needs a little more time preparing to live the Word of Wisdom.

I went on exchanges with Hermana Cosby this week! We had so much fun and went out in her area (so part of my old area). The rich, whiter area is a little more challenging looking for Spanish people. Lots of the places we tracted reminded me of Park City! We met some cool people and had fun experiences. In one lesson I prayed after and the lady (a less active) just looked at me like, "that was nice, but not good enough" so she just started praying again...haha.  We ended the night going to the Beltran's quincenera for our dinner hour. WOW. It seriously was like a mini wedding. So much dancing, food, dresses, etc. We sat with the Bishop and Sister Woodland and it was so funny. Sister Woodland was having a hoot.

So I told you that I have been reading conference talks in Spanish. I just read the talks from priesthood! I really loved this quote by David L Beck, "Tenemos el deber de ministrar donde sea que estemos. Ministrar no es solo algo que hacemos, sino que define quienes somos." That is such a great quote about the priesthood but I feel like it also applies to missionaries! I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, yes it's a title but it also is WHO I am. What a privilege. I feel so blessed to be able to strap on my badge each day. I wear it with love and pride. We will see if President McGinn can get me to take it off one day... haha jk.

Yes, we have finally heard all about the "Work of Salvation" with the mission presidents and get to attend! I am so excited to watch it and see how everything works. I am excited to be able to talk about with you and mom after as well.  Thank you for your love and prayers! I love and miss you all :)

 Homemade chicharones
 Exchanges with Herman Crosby
Father's Day at the Bishop's Home

Monday, June 10, 2013

IT IS SOOO HOT, time to cool people off in the waters of baptism :)

I hope you have a great fathers day daddy! I am so blessed to have the best dad in the world. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my best little friend Stratton! I can't believe you are turning 5 now. This week was soo hot. It reached 111 on Saturday!!! How is the weather at home?

WOW!! I LOVE being a missionary. This week was amazing! We worked really hard and the Lord blessed us. We had really hard days that turned out to be our best! We surpassed all of our goals and really lost ourselves in the work, it felt so great!

I was able to finish the Book of Mormon Challenge. So when I first came out to the field President and Sister Lewis gave all the new Missionaries a book of Mormon with a 6 month challenge. To read the whole thing and mark all the doctrine in blue and then every time Christ speaks or his name is mentioned in red. Wow, my testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown so much more. I really was able to see, feel and understand how it really is another Testament of Jesus Christ. My testimony grew as I really studied and didn't just read. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and I LOVE the opportunity that I have now to share it with my fellow brother and sisters. After I finished reading I said a prayer to know if it was true again. I felt this grand love and comfort in my heart and then a little voice whisper, "you know it's true". What an amazing, strong spirit I felt. I will never forget it and my love for the Book of Mormon and for my Savior increased beyond what I thought it ever could.

This week was a week of following promptings. There are 2 experiences I want to tell you about. One, we were tracting and saw this lady and said "hi" and walked by her. She didn't really say anything and was walking her dog so we just kept going. We were around the corner and I said "We need to go talk to her." Hermana Sharp looked at me like ok! So we went over and talked to her. Her name is Irma and she has a medical problem so it is hard for her to speak and understand everything but invited us to come back and share a message about Christ. Normally I would have just been scared and kept going, but why should I let someone go by when I have the greatest message to share? 2nd time. We have gone to this street to tract a lot and we always knock on this door but no one answers. We were about to leave again but then I felt like we needed to knock on the garage door. Hermana Sharp thought that was so weird, and I did too but i thought, "hey, what could happen?" So we did and a sweet lady named Romy answered! She was so impressed we could speak Spanish she let us in right on the spot. We got to know all about her life, testified of Christ, gave her a Book of Mormon (Hermana Cosby was with us as well on exchanges so she added a lot to the lesson) and then she told us she had a dream that night that people would come to her house and teach her about God. WHAT!? MIRACLE!! How great is that? So she is a seamstress and a client stopped by. She can speak a little English to do her business so she was talking to this lady. Come to find out she is a member and had just returned from the temple. She said she had a prompting to go visit her now instead of tonight like she was supposed to see if her dress was done. She bore her testimony and I translated. Look at all these great things that happened from following the spirit? DON'T EVER BE SCARED AND FOLLOW PROMPTINGS INSTANTLY! We are so blessed to have the Holy Ghost, and I am learning that more and more each day! So Romy is one of our great new investigators and we hope to make a lot of progress with her fast. She is ready! Thank you for your love, support and prayers. They do not go unnoticed! 

Anna had to work this week so she was going to miss church. yeah right! We had a solution for her.  She understands English and can speak it really well so we took her to an English ward at 9 am so she wouldn't miss church! She loved it and cried during a talk on being spiritually prepared. I am so excited as I watch her feel the spirit and progress. There are a few baptisms this week by the elders so she is going to go and see what hers will be like! We still have a lot to review with her but we are so excited! It felt so weird to go to church in English haha. I had to concentrate a lot more.

Ready for the funniest story ever? We stopped by to visit Carmen and Ricardo to see how they are doing. Well she invited us and gave us all this stuff! She said she made me nightgown.. haha. She made Hermana Sharp this skirt and blouse. Then greatest part, Mom she said that since the first day she met me she has been working on making you a sweater for the winter. She made you a sweater "from her heart". She ignores us for weeks, doesn't want to talk to us but then makes us all these clothes? She was so excited to give them to us, she was crying and kept telling us she made them from her heart, love us like her daughters, etc. It was so sweet of her. So of course when we got home at night we dressed up and took pictures :) Hope you enjoy.

I love you all so much and hope you have a great week :)

con todo mi amor,

Hermana Thomas

 Clothes by Carmen

Monday, June 3, 2013

El Espiritu es tan PODEROSO!!

Wow, this was SUCH a great week! Trial after trial lead to blessing after blessing. The Lord is truly watching over Hermana Sharp and I. Thank you for all your prayers and fasts. The Lord answers righteous desires!! :)

Karissa is engaged!? What!? Wow. I am so excited for you! That is weird you didn't want to wait for your favorite cousins (Elder Holt and I) to be back for it??????? CONGRATS!! :)

Happy Birthday to the best sister in the world! I hope you have a great day Kand! Also, my best friend Shay Shay is getting married this week? SOO crazy! I am so excited for you and that you are getting married in the temple. You will be blessed so greatly, I can't wait to hear how it all went. I got your invitation last week and you look gorgeous!!

So about our great week. We had a Spanish Missionary Training this week out in Elk Grove for all of the Spanish speaking missionaries. It was awesome! The Spanish numbers in the mission have been decreasing so we got some great instruction on how to improve. President Martinez (in the mission presidency) shared with us a bunch of scriptures to help us understand how important the Latinos are in the gospel. He shared Alma 37:18-19 and then said, "You are fulfilling the mercies and promises of the Lord to these people". Some other scriptures you can go read are D&C 90:11 and my favorite Helaman 15: 12,16. He really helped me understand how important my calling is and gain a deeper love and desire for them to come back. They were once a covenant people. We talked about using members more for referrals, finding when we teach, etc. One thing he said really stuck out to me. "YOU are as special as the special people you teach". Could that have been explained any better!? Loved it! In one of the training segments they picked Hermana White to do a role play. She got to pick a companion and chose me! So we did a role play in front of everyone in Spanish on the restoration lesson. I was soo nervous but it went really well and Everyone gave us great comments and things to improve on. President Lewis encouraged us all to become CEO missionaries. Cheerful, Enthusiastic and Optimistic. He said not to just be "busy" but be focused on your purpose. It was such a great training and got me excited to work even harder!

Ready for the best miracle every!!!?? So Saturday night we had the privilege to attend a Spanish fireside (charla fogonera!!) and Elder Mark Bassett of the 70 came! Wow, it was the greatest thing ever. We decided to invite Ana Mata (remember how Hermana White and I used to teach her. But now Hermana Sharp and I have been doing service for her). Well she wanted to come! So Hermano Pallares picked the 3 of us up and we headed out to Elk Grove. Elder Bassett is an incredible speaker and has really good Spanish! He really focused on FEELING the spirit in your heart. What that meant, what we need to do, etc. He read a bunch of scriptures from 1 Nefi about the desire for the spirit and pondering promptings. He helped me realize that reflection=pondering in your heart, not just your mind. I seriously felt like I was sitting in the Celestial kingdom. We were surrounded by members, investigators, missionaries and church leaders. Elder Bassett included everyone and asked questions to where it was more of a discussion, the spirit was so strong and it was all in Spanish! I have never felt happier, the spirit brilliantly so strong. It seriously was like a glimpse of what heaven will be like. Being instructed spiritually by great church leaders. I was edified in my heart and mind. He said, "Yo no se todo, pero se como siento". That is the mindset we all should have! Ana Mata was loving it. She felt the spirit so strong and was crying. She has been taught by multiple sets of missionaries and most of them were at the fireside so it was great for her to see them. On the way home she just kept talking about how great it was and how much she loves our church. She talked about baptism so I gingerly asked, "when is yours?" and she said. Yes, its time now. I know. WHAT!!!?? GREATEST THING EVER! So we invited her to be baptized on June 22nd and she said yes!!! AHHH :) We were so excited and she is too. This was that push she needed. The spirit brings miracles and I am so grateful!

We were at the emergency preparedness fair this week to translate and met the firemen! So I talked to them about all this EMT stuff and they asked questions about missions. It was a neat experience. Well I love you all so much. Thank you for your example and love. Have a great week! Les quiero!

Con Amor, 
Hermana Thomas

Hermana Sharp and Hermana Torres Relief Society President
Emergency Preparedness Fair
Sacramento Fire Department