Monday, July 29, 2013

Delta Breeze

Can I just tell you how much I love my "life as a missionary!" I seriously am in heaven. Everyday gets better and better. You bet it's hard and you get really tired, but there is joy that you can't even imagine! I so wish I could describe it eloquently in words but that would be impossible. My cup runneth over. Let me tell you about one of the best weeks ever! Ready?

So did you know that prayer is one of the greatest tools we have? I thought I knew and understood that before my mission but boy, I didn't even understand. Hermana Skidmore and I have had the wonderful opportunity to hear some of the most humble, sincere and powerful prayers I have EVER heard in my life. Lets start with Stefani. We went to these apartments to visit some potentials and started talking to this little 4 year old Stefani. She told us where all the Spanish people live (bonus!) and would follow us around to each door and just stand there haha. When it was time to go we asked her if we could say a prayer with her. She said o.k. but that she didn't know how. We taught her very simply and then Hermana Skidmore repeated words for her to copy. WOW. The spirit was was soo strong. This overwhelming joy came over me as I realized that this could be her first time talking with her beloved Heavenly Father. If I felt so much joy for her to talk with him, how do you think Heavenly Father feels? We have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of children and young teens lately and I KNOW Heavenly Father loves them so much. Each person has so much worth and potential and some don't even know it. We also had a little lesson on prayer and then prayed with Ana's sister Roxanne. Wow. The spirit was so strong and she sincerely pleaded with the Lord for help. It was a perfect prayer and she was so nervous. I LOVE HELPING GOD'S CHILDREN REALIZE THAT THERE FATHER IN HEAVEN WANTS TO HEAR FROM THEM. 

Let me tell you a story that you will LOVE. So we met this kid named Jose. He is about 15 years old. We gave him a Book of Mormon and told him to read it. A few days later he sends a text saying, "Hey are you Sisters around? I need helping with a decision". We both just froze. What could it be!? So we gave him a call and he was super weird on the phone and just really wanted us to come over and said he only had until 1. So we left our lunch and drove over. A million things were racing through my mind! Was he o.k? Family problems? So we said a prayer, got out of the car and headed up to his apartment. He came out and we all talked outside and he said, "I really need your help with a decision. I don't know what to do...There are these 2 girls. I don't know which one to choose. I like them both so much." WHAT!? You called us over for girl advice? hahahahahaha. Don't worry I didn't laugh in front of him but I smiled big. So being the sister missionaries we are, we told him to pray about it and read his scriptures. pretty great huh? haha. Probably not the answer he wanted but that's o.k! I think about the situation and it is so funny to me, yet it makes so much sense. He had only met us once but KNEW he could trust us. Why? Because we are representatives of Jesus Christ and with that comes trust. You wouldn't believe the things people tell us after meeting us for only a few minutes. People know they can trust us.

Hermana Barerra moved Juan Carlos' baptism to August 24th so the whole family can be there (all the Catholics! yay! :)  So we are still just finishing up plans for that. We were able to read with him in the Book of Mormon in English and Spanish and it was a really special experience. We picked up Leticia again (from back in April)! We were able to see her and guess what, she has been working pretty much every day with no day off. We taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited her to be baptized and she is sooo excited. She is preparing for the end of August. She says she knows she needs it and wants to feed her spirit. She was even talking about quitting her job if that's what it takes so she can come to church every Sunday. She is so great. So excited for her.

We finally got the Aleman's (the less active family with the cute girls) to go to church!! Their parents wouldn't take them, it's so hard. Every time we go over the girls beg and cry because they want to go to church so bad but Hermano y Hermana don't do anything about it. So Ana Mata (the greatest new convert ever!!) drove the church taxi and piled them in. The girls LOVED primary and had so much fun. They really love learning about the gospel and want to be baptized. We are hoping the parents will see this desire and become reactivate in the church! I love those girls so so much. 

Elder Austin went home this week, Elder Branchini is now are new Zone Leader and Elder La Duke is our new District Leader. Lots of fun exciting changes. We have the best district ever! This is a pic of our last District Meeting before Elder Austin went home. Such a fun group!

Sister Schow always tells us about the Delta Breeze at least once a day haha. It is so hot but sometimes there is a nice breeze and I guess its called the "Delta Breeze." There is this big long story about it with history of same place or lake called Delta. I should have listened better haha, but because of it, we are surviving in this heat :) Can I just tell you how blessed I feel to live with Sister Schow? Her spirit and love for the Savior is incredible. One of the most cherished moments of my mission happened with her yesterday. We were able to sit and talk to her after she got home from church yesterday and she shared her favorite scripture with us (Moroni 10:32-33).  It helped her what to do and how to live when she became a widow. These scriptures gave her confidence and feel love.  She told us about old memories and her love for us. We all cried and laughed together. I seriously feel so blessed for my life, I can't ever imagine coming home and not being a full-time missionary. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! I hope you have a great week. I love and miss you all!

Con Amor, 
Hermana Thomas
 The Aleman Family
New East Sacramento District 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Week of B's. Blessings, Baptisms, Bosco and Baby Grant!

What a week! BABY GRANT IS HERE!!!! :) He is the cutest little thing I have ever seen. I am so glad that he is doing o.k. and I will keep him in my prayers! I hope they will be able to take him home this week. Also, Happy Birthday to Glen tomorrow! I hope you have the best day ever. My cousin, Elder Bosco is already a great missionary!  Thank you for sending me your talk on "Enduring to the End."  You will love the MTC!  I hope everyone has a great time in Park City at the Holt Family Reunion. I really don't know how anyone will have fun since I'm not there... but you can all try and have a little fun :) I am glad to hear Uncle Rule's surgery went well, I will continue to keep him in my prayers. I just have the greatest family ever!!

SOO many great things happened this week. Let me tell you about my two favorite. We went to go visit Francisco and he said he LOVED church. He really felt the spirit and loved the lesson in Priesthood. He then said, "I have been thinking about baptism a lot, and I think I want to do it!" WHAT!? I was so happy. The rest of the lesson I was just grinning from ear to ear. He is preparing for the middle of August! We are SO excited for him!!! He loved church again yesterday so things are going great with him! We had one of the greatest lessons of my mission so far with that new family we found (Rodriguez). So we start to watch the movie "Como Hallar fe en Cristo" and Angelica pauses it. She says, "Why don't we pause it every 10 minutest and talk about what we are feeling and learning." What!? That is the greatest idea I have ever heard. So about every 10 minutes we paused the movie and everyone talked about what they learned, how they can develop more faith, related stories about experiences with faith and how to become more like Christ. The spirit was so strong. Hermana Skidmore at the end testified in perfect Spanish! She didn't even realize it. The spirit was so strong and the gift of tongues was present. I am so blessed to be a missionary right now!

We went to visit the Aleman's (the less active family with all the cute little girls) and Miley (4 years old) said the greatest thing to us. We just talked to her and her mom on prayer and made her captain to make sure they have family prayer every night. After she turned to her mom and said, "Mommy, can I be just like them when I grow up?". Wow. My heart melted. We really have such an impact on all these lives. I get to be a part of and help Heavenly Father's children realize their potential and the love HE has for them. How great is my calling!?

So Juan Carlos might be getting baptized this weekend! We will know for sure tomorrow if it will be this Friday, Saturday or next week. We are so excited for him. He is the cutest little 9 year old. He really wants to do good, be good and follow Christ. No wonder we are suppose to become like little children to be "perfect" like Christ.

It was a great week and lots more great things to come. I hope you all are just loving little baby Grant. Give him a big hug and kiss for me. Love you all!

Con Amor, 
Hermana Thomas

 Welcome Hermana Hansen to East Sac.  She flew to Sacramento with me. I have missed her.
Hermana Busto's made catfish for dinner.
Luckily we had an appointment and couldn't stay to eat it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Hasty Lumbago" and Sunday Surprises

This week was definitely one of the best of my mission so far. We worked SO hard and we were SO blessed. We really focused on exact obedience and WOW, the lord blessed us immensely. One of my friends serving in Argentina shared this quote which is so true, "Obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings MIRACLES". You bet we saw soo many miracles this week! Now, where to begin?

SUNDAY WAS THE FUNNIEST, CRAZIEST DAY OF MY LIFE! So first I have to tell you about Edgar, Oh Edgar... well he was our Miracle Monday! So we were out the door at 6 p.m. Monday night after P-day and if we would have been just one minute later we would have been missed him! So we met him, taught him a little (out on the street) and invited him to be baptized and he said yes! It was unreal, we were so excited. We have taught him a few times since and it was good but a little difficult (he is 62 and loves to go off on random tangents...haha). Well I did intercambios with Hermana White (so fun, love that girl so much) and it was soo funny. He told her at least 8 times that she was soo pretty (she is, can't blame him). The day he seemed a little drunk so we just stopped in the middle of the lesson and left. We are passing him off to the Elders to go teach just to be safe. But then . . . . he wanted to come to church so we had to find him a ride. So Sunday morning we call Jesus and ask him if he can help get Edgar a ride and he said yes! So we drive out there and Jesus is behind us in his car. We get there and Edgar is standing outside all ready for church and is talking to some other Spanish guy. We get out of the car and go talk to them. Edgar's friend was Gabriel. So I invited him to church and he said yes! Wait, what!? yes? that doesn't happen everyday! MIRACLE! so Edgar and Gabriel (this guy we don't even know) hops in the back of Jesus' car. Then Hermana Skidmore said, "hey we should call Alan (this little 14 year old we found tracting)." I was like ok! (I hate to say this but I didn't think he would want to come). So we called him and he said he wanted to come! wait, WHAT!? MIRACLE! So he also got into Jesus' car. Then they all went off to church and we went and got Francisco (remember him? he gambled and lost faith and hope? Well now he has now come to 3 baptisms and church once! And he is praying every night for help. Hopefully we can get him baptized real soon) and he followed us behind in his car. You know how when I am super happy I just laugh? Well on our way to church we just laughed the whole time because we were in awe of all these miracles and soo excited. We had 4 investigators at church!!! It was so crazy and great. Best Sunday ever! haha. 

We found a new FAMILY! Yay! We are now teaching Angelica (the aunt/mom) her daughter Esmerelda (13) and her cousins Cynthia (13) and Mari (13). Jose (the uncle) is actually a less active he was baptized back in Mexico when he was 9 but didn't understand why and lost this way. Well we LOVE them! We have already taught them the restoration and plan of salvation. Both lessons went almost perfect! We taught in such great unity (Hermana Skidmore is doing so well with practicing her Spanish), the spirit was so strong and they are all praying about baptism! They love having us over. Actually last time when we taught them the Plan of Salvation they all participated, asked great questions and loved it! So we said a closing prayer and got up to leave and Angelica goes, "Wait. Aren't you going to read from the Book of Mormon to us? We want to know how to read it and analyze it so we can start doing that as a family." WHAT!? CAN WE READ TO YOU FROM THE BOOK OF MORMON? OF COURSE WE CAN! So we read some of 2 Nefi 2 and talked about what the verses meant. They were just like thirsting for more. They said they want to do that all together every night. It was so great.

Well we had our first day on bikes and it was soooo much fun! We looked like children I am pretty sure. We were just laughing the whole time and said hi to everyone. It is a little tough biking in a skirt but we did it. Our area is pretty big so it took us a while to get to each appointment but we made it work. I am excited to bike once a week, but I wont lie. I am grateful we have a car and have so much respect for the missionaries on bikes everyday!

Ana started her family history and really loves it! The spirit was so strong and it was fun to hear memories of her family. She wants to come to Utah and visit all of you one day. Juan Carlos picked a date! He is getting baptized August 4th! We are so excited for the little guy. 

Whenever we leave in the afternoon to go out and proselyte Sister Schow says "Hasty Lumbago" haha. She is so cute. Its kinda of like Hasta Luego right? :) Well I love all of you so much and hope you have a great week. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. I am so blessed. I get to work so hard, do crazy things, talk to crazy people and invite others to come unto Christ. You could say I am living the dream :).

Con Amor, 
Hermana Thomas
Living the dream riding our new bikes!
Hermanas Skidmore and Thomas

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Blessing of Training with Hermana Skidmas!

Best week! Each week just gets better and better. How is that even possible? Oh wait, ANYTHING is possible! Are you ready to hear about it?

So I have the best new companion ever! Hermana Skidmore! She is just the greatest. She is 19 years old and from Kansas City, Kansas. She is so fun, has such strong desires to learn, grow, work hard and she is helping me so much. I feel like she is training me! I am so blessed. One thing that is so great about her is that she loves to talk to EVERYONE! It truly has been such a blessing (since I have a mindset of usually just Spanish people but it's true, we shouldn't let one person go by!). We have been having so many cool experiences and getting lots of referrals for the English missionaries. I love her and am already seeing so many blessings! :)

The 4th of July was pretty fun! We had district meeting, weekly planning and then from 6-9 p.m. we had a zone activity! We played sports and games. The Zone Leaders were all like, "K Zone we are going to play a fun game now. It's called Bunco!!"/ Hermana Skidmore turns to me and said, "Isn't that a Mom game?" hahahaha. I was laughing so hard. It was hilarious. We all played it and had a lot of fun. I won the award of "the least amount of points" so I got some fake mustaches as my prize.

Isidro is progressing! He keeps wanting to learn and grow. We are going over tonight for a great lesson, can't wait. We are going to try to commit him to a set baptismal date. Herman Skidmore extended her first baptismal invitation to Romy and she said maybe! Her faith is continually growing and she told us she has peace when she is with us and wants to continue to grow and learn. Hermana Bustos came to a lesson with her last last night and it was perfect. The spirit was so strong and they really relate with each other. Having members present in lessons is so such a blessing.

Have I told you about Juan Carlos yet? Our little 9 year old that we are working with to get baptized at the end of July? Cutest and sweetest kid ever. His family are members but no one has ever invited him to get baptized so now we (missionaries) get to make it happen! He is so excited and has the purest heart. I can't wait! Ana Mata is doing so great. Still just gleaming and acting like she owns the ward haha. We have started teaching her 9 year old daughter Andrea! Ana brought her to church this week and she LOVED primary! We are so excited. We are starting to work with Ana on the temple and family history work this week (your favorite mom! :) ). She is so excited and is just loving her life. We were able to attend the elders baptism of a 14 year old boy this week and Ana came and went up and bore her testimony of all the blessings she has already seen in a week just from her baptism (her brother-in-law finding a job, her finding a small job, the relationship with her daughters increasing, etc). How great is this gospel!?

Well I did it! I was asked to translate for Sacrament Meeting (the Spanish talks/testimonies to English through a microphone and headset for all those that come and speak English). I was so scared and nervous at first but it went really well and was such good practice. I had to really concentrate and focus on everyone's testimonies. I really learned a lot and the spirit was very strong during the meeting.

I will leave you with a funny story. Remember how Relief Society is my favorite because it is so funny and you never know what is going to happen? Well the piano player didn't show up so they all looked at me to play (I wish I could have practiced more before the mission. Sister Schow has a piano and it looks like I will be playing a lot more so I better start practicing! :) haha). So I tell them what hymn we were going to sing and start walking over to the piano. Hermana Cifuentes (a hoot) raises her hand and says, "Yo puedo tocar el piano". Some people are giggling because you would have never guessed that she could. Well she says that she will in all seriousness play and moves me out of the way and walks over to the piano. She then touches the piano and rests her hand on it and says, "Si? Puedo tocar el piano". Wow.... haha. She just touched the piano and then sat back down. She thought she was HILARIOUS and everyone was laughing so hard. haha gotta love it.

Well it has been a great week and there are so many great things to come! I LOVE being a missionary. The best scripture to describe my life right now is 2 Nefi 33:3. I have the blessing to be continually praying for these wonderful people I love and teach. I am praying that God will hear their pleas and answer their prayers. I know he will answer them, but how great is it that I get to spend all my time thinking and praying about others? I am so blessed. I hope you all have such a great week. I am glad to hear it was a fun 4th of July. LAS QUIERO! :)

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Missionary Bunco Night
Juan Carlos Age 9
New companion and District
Hermana Skidmore from Kansas City, Kansas

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Humbled and Grateful

 Mi querida familia!!

This week just FLEW by! We were SO blessed. I am truly so humbled and grateful for the many miracles and blessings we received this week. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY :)

ANA GOT BAPTIZED on Saturday!! It was a beautiful crazy day. Ana told us that she really wanted sandwiches at her baptism. Sandwiches, really? For some reason Latinos LOVE sandwiches. So what did Hermana Sharp and I do? We made so many sandwiches Saturday afternoon! We had a fun time and just laughed about it. Saturday evening at the baptism was such an amazing experience and the spirit was so strong. Best day on mission so far!. She was so excited and ready. She was just gleaming and had a smile from ear to ear. She was touched by the spirit and was very emotional during the baptism. She kept saying how wonderful she was and how happy she is. She understands and is truly converted. I feel so blessed to have been able to be involved in her conversion process.  We kept asking her to invite her family but she was nervous and said maybe. Saturday morning we were with her doing some service and she said, "Gurls (she has the cutest accent when she uses English) can I bring my family to the baptism tonight?" OF COURSE!!! We were so excited. Her two young daughters (13 and 9 years old) and her sister attended. It was so great to see them all there and you could tell they were touched by the spirit. Now we will work on getting them baptized too! :) haha. What a joyous day it was to watch one of Heavenly Father's choice daughters enter into the waters of baptism.Guess what!? For the month of June as a mission we had 93 baptisms! The Lord is truly blessing our efforts out in the greatest mission ever (California Sacramento). What a fun surprise to see the Dallin, Lex and Karissa at the baptism. Everyone was in love with Karissa and her Spanish (just returned from Argentina Mission). It was fun to say goodbye to Dallin (leaving for Blegium/Netherlands July 24th). He will be a great missionary.  Lex and I had no words, favorite cousin, lots of giggles.  I am glad they got permission to come and surprise me, it made it that more special. I have the best cousins in the world and for a moment with me in Sacramento!!!!!!!! Thank you President Lewis.


Transfers... I have been called to TRAIN again! yahooooo :) I am really excited and looking forward to learning and growing from my new companion.. Training is such a blessing. I will be picking up my new companion from the mission office tomorrow! We will be living at Sister Schow's house again and staying in our area. It's a good thing I love East Sac and can't ever imagine leaving!!

We had a specialized sisters training meeting with all the sisters in the mission this week. It was so great! President taught us as well as the 5 Sister Training Leaders. We talked a lot about how the Lord requires our ALL. That means our HEART, MIGHT, MIND and STRENGTH. We also talked about dress, conduct and companionship unity. That was a very strong and spiritual breakout session. We all could really feel the Lord's love and someone shared 1 Nefi 11:22 which is such a great scripture. 

One thing that I have really pondered and tried to apply this week is a quote from Preach My Gospel (page 11). It can apply to anything, not just missionary work, but is SO powerful to missionaries. "Your calling gives you authority, keeping your covenants gives you power". How true is that? We were able to go to the temple this morning and is was so powerful. The 4 of us sisters were going with a YSA sister. Some how none of our alarms went off this morning (super early, the missionaries alarms) and we woke up at 6 and we were freaking out. She waited outside for us and we were able to leave to go the temple a 6:30 and arrive at 7. We missed the session but had the wonderful opportunity to do sealings as daughters. It was wonderful and I realized how blessed I am to be sealed to our family. After we witnessed a lady sealed to her deceased parents then a live sealing of another sister sealed to her parents. The spirit was so strong in the room and made me so much more grateful for temple work. The sealer said that we were "Saviors on Mount Zion" today. Such a tender mercy from the Lord that we were able to be apart and witness those sealings today.

Thank you so much for the package! I have the greatest family in the world. Sister Sharp loved her Timp tennis shirt. She said she is going to wear it every day! haha. The pics you sent were the perfect ones and I loved all the special notes. Thank you so so much.

Isidro got back from Mexico on Monday so Thursday we went over to taught him and Socorro. It was so great. The spirit was so strong and we invited them to be baptized. He said yes after he learns more and she was super quiet. Finally she said, "I don't want to be baptized because then I can only talk to my family on the phone 2 times a year! I LOVE my family and that would be too hard". hahaha. She was so confused. We told her as missionaries we can only talk to our families twice a year over the phone and she thought all members of the church had to do that to show their faith haha. It was so funny and we were all laughing. So Sunday Isidro came to church! He LOVED it and said he wants to keep coming back. Learning little by little.

There are a lot of great things happening in this area. I am sad to see Hermana Sharp go (she is going to South Sac with Hermana White and Hermana Cardullo) but It will be so fun to train and get this new missionary LOVING her life in East Sac. I love and miss you all. Have a great week!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas