Monday, August 26, 2013

Fuente De Mis Bendiciones

Hola Everyone.  Shout out to the cousins this week.  Ashley loved, loved the engagement pictures and story. Congratulations.  I am so happy for you and Zach.  Karissa--wow, you look gorgeous.  Karissa and Andres are married!  It will be fun someday cousines to meet both of your men.  I love you all so much.

Wow, I have soo many blessings. Serving a mission is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, have I told you that I LOVE my life? I have the best companion, area and people to teach ever. We have really been blessed this week to find so many great people and FAMILIES to teach!!! La familia Ortiz let us in because we offered to help Cythina (7 years old) with her homework, then they fed us a dinner and we shared a message and had a family prayer. The spirit was so strong and Julio (the dad) said, "I really want my daughter to grow up and be like you girls". We also got a referral from Hermana Melix for a guy named Miler and his family. WOW, they are soo prepared to hear the gospel. They just hang on to every word we say and he said, "So what I get from this is like Jose Smith we need to ask? If it's true, pray, come to church and we can know too?" WHAT!?

We had one of the most special moments of my mission this week. Hermana Jimenez had us over for dinner and made us a great meal. Hermana Skidmore tried her first "chile de arboles", then we shared a scripture with her (the one mom sent me in D&C 98:2 about being patient in the Lord) and talked about the Lord's timing. She bore her heart and soul to us with her testimony and then we sang a hymn and she just cried. She said every time a hymn is sung it makes her think of her mother. In her prayer before we left she thanked the Lord for having us over and giving her comfort that can only be found through HIS servants. It was very powerful. We have actually been singing a lot now in lessons and they LOVE it! Who knew that a little song is the key to a Latino's heart? haha. I love these people soo much.  I am pretty sure I am Latino now.  This is such a beautiful language.  

Great news!! We have been teaching Andrea Mata (Ana's daughter, she is 9 almost 10 years old) and she wants to get baptized!!! We have had some really fun object lessons (also another golden thing Latino's love) and she is so excited. Ana is amazing and has been such a good influence on her. She works so hard for her daughters and is a great example. So Andrea's baptism will be Friday!! It has been such a blessing to teach her. We are hoping this will soften Tati's (her 13 year old rebel daughter) heart. Also Roxanna, Ana's sister has been coming to church too. Great things are happening with the Mata family.

We had a really fun lesson with Juan Carlos this week! We went over "La Armadura De Dios" and he was loving it. He is so ready and soo excited. After he came out of his interview with Elder LaDuke yesterday he was just beaming!!! He has been reading his scriptures every day. Such a stud, his baptism is Saturday!!!

I went out to South Sac this weekend for intercambios with Hermana White and Hermana Carlson (visa waiter to Argentina). We taught soo many Guatemalans I was loving my life. One of them , Flor, even invited me to go visit her and stay in her house. They have some really great investigators out there and it was fun to learn from those sisters. Hermana Skidmore did a great job of taking care of our area, she is incredible and I am so lucky to have her as my companion. 

This week will be crazy but I am so excited. I love you all and hope you have a great week. Thanks for you love and prayers :)

 Hermana's Carlson, Thomas, White Intercambios in South Sacramento
"La Armadura De Dios" lesson with Juan Carlos
Taylor (Hermana Thomas) - Family Home Evening 12 years ago

Monday, August 19, 2013

Count Your Many Blessings

This was definitely the hardest week of my mission but we also had so many miracles. "Vale la pena" was definitely the theme of the week that we had to remind each other. The song "Count Your Many Blessings" comes to mind. We seriously are so blessed by our loving Heavenly Father. 

Well the hardest part of the week.  Francisco dropped us. He told us that he has been lying to us all long and he wanted to be honest. He isn't living in harmony with God's commandments and doesn't want to change. He came to Sacrament meeting yesterday and then pulled outside and said sorry but he wants to keep living the way he is and knows its wrong. My heart broke. I cried for the first time on my mission.  I think I better understand what Heavenly Father feels when we sin and disobey his commandments. He still loves us but is heartbroken. We are going to continue praying for him, one day he will come back.

Let me tell you about Hermana Melix. She is the greatest. Such a funny lady. She is awesome and calls us all the time with great referrals. She made us all dinner the other night. Boiled mixture of cabbage and hot dogs. Grandpa and Bopie would have been in heaven haha. Let's just say I have never had a meal quite like that before. She gave us what she had and she is so sweet. It is so humbling.  You would all LOVE her. One of the referrals she gave us is an awesome family! They have desires to come to church. We have met them once for a few minutes and they seem great so we are excited to start teaching them.

So I read an article this week that has seriously changed my life. In the June 2013 Ensign there is a talk by Elder Kevin Pearson called, "Improving your Personal Prayers". I would love to invite all of you to read it because it has truly changed my whole mentality of prayers. After reading through it I have changed my prayers and feel so much closer to my Savior. My favorite part was when he talks about Aligning our will with the Fathers. How many times do we go to pray and ask for help before trying to understand what God wants for us. Please read it, I promise that if you apply the principles your communication with the Lord with be stronger and you will feel more of this love.

Remember our lovely primary class on the stairs? Well guess what!!??? Diana (our superstar of the class that begs for homework and LOVES reading from the Book of Mormon) talked with her mom and we stopped by and her Mom Tere invited us in!! We taught them the Plan of Salvation and her mom loved it! The whole family (except the dad who is working) comes in and participates, asks questions and wonders when we can come back. It is such a blessing. No wonder Jesus always surrounded himself with the children. I feel so blessed that her heart was open and we are able to teach the family now.

So remember that crazy Sunday when we invited Gabriel (the guy off the street) to come to church and then he moved and we couldn't find him? We have been praying hard and guess what!? We were tracting and found him and his brother!! He, his brother Pepe and their cousin Jose all came to church yesterday!! We then went over after church and had a lesson with Gabriel and Jose. They LOVED church and have already started reading the Book of Mormon. We invited them to be baptized and they said yes and are pretty excited! They will be preparing for that first week in September!!! MIRACLE!! :) The Lord answers prayers.

We helped the Aleman's move out to Rancho Cordova this weekend. I will miss those cute girls so much and just pray that Hermano and Hermana will come back to church and help their kids be baptized. They are now in Elder Russel's area (he came out with me) so they are in good hands!

Well I love you all so much and hope you have a great week. The Lord is watching over and blessing us. My faith and understanding of the gospel have really increased this week and I know that everything happens for a reason and the Lord has his timing. He placed so many people in our path at exact moments that were possible because of our diligence. I am so grateful to be serving a mission right now, I am livin' the dream. Las quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

New East Sacramento District
Moving the Aleman Family to Ranch Cordova

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ostrich, Camel and Kangaroo!

Being a missionary is just the greatest. We had a good and really tough week. Let me give you the low down! First of all Transfers!! Hermana Skidmore and I are staying together and finishing training here in East Sac. Can you believe that I have been in East Sac for over 6 months!? I love the Del Norte ward so much. We seriously have the greatest members. They are always willing to come out to lessons with us and have such strong testimonies (they are all converts so it is so powerful). We took Jesus with us to a lesson with Isidro about prayer. WOW. The spirit was SOO strong and it was just incredible to watch Jesus teach and testify to them. He has come so far and will always be a dear friend. He is always willing to help us out and is so strong.

One of the greatest opportunities we have had this week is so teach a lot of kids. At the Marconi Apts (we are there pretty much every day.) There are lots of investigators and potentials.  These beautiful children just follow us around! So we have started having primary class on the stairs. They BEG us to read from the scriptures and have prayers with them. It is so humbling. I love it. The prayers of children are so special. Last time we asked them if they would go home and teach their families what they learn and they all did! The parents are slowly opening their hearts which will hopefully lead them to open their doors!!! 

Francisco didn't get baptized this week :( He needs a little more time to prepare. We went over Saturday afternoon and he was really nervous and had a lot of questions. He is really nervous but knows it's true. He wants to talk to the Bishop a little more for comfort (Bishop was out of town this weekend). So hopefully he can help him feel that peace. We are hoping for this weekend or the next, so I will keep you updated. Please keep him in your prayers. I was so sad, but we want him to be completely ready so we understand. The scripture that came to my mind was Alma 31:31. "Consuela mi alma en cristo". I don't know if that was more for me than for him, but I know everything will work out. He realizes that it is a big step, a sacred covenant and he wants to be completely ready and committed to the Savior. That made us happy that he understands the importance!

We had the best thing of my life. Francisco works at Kaiser Hospital in the cafeteria. So we took Sister Schow to lunch, and had an awesome lesson. It was so much fun. Francisco was just cracking jokes left and right and it was so fun to be with her and have her share her love for the sacrament with him. Such a neat experience that I will never forget. 

Rosie is doing great! We taught her about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and it went really well. After I asked her if she would pray to know if he was a prophet of God and she said, "I don't need to think or ponder about it. The Book of Mormon says he was a prophet so I believe it. No doubt that he was a prophet". WHAT!? It was so cool. She also told us she wants to be baptized but her mom said no for now. They go to another church and want her to be baptized in their church. We are going to work on teaching and talking with the mom. Please keep her in your prayers. I know it will all work out in the Lord's timing. 

I tried an ostrich, camel and kangaroo this week! The camel was the best. Gotta love Sacramento. I will have to take Dad, Jared and Glen. They would have LOVED it! Well I am out of time but I love and miss you all so much. Thank you for your love, support and prayers. They mean the world to me! I hope you have a great week! School starts here so we will see how our schedules change. Las quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

 Ostrich, camel and kangaroo oh my!
Primary on the stairs at the Marconi Apartments

Monday, August 5, 2013

East Sac Living the Dream

I love being a missionary! Let me tell you about my crazy week, ready?

I was able to go out to South Sac and do exchanges with Hermana Sharp and Hermana Cardullo (don't worry Mom, we got a pic for you and her mom)! We had a great time. We found a lot of potentials for them! Also Hermana Sharp had a doctor's appointment that day out in Roseville so I got to leave the mission! We were in Roseville and it felt so weird but so cool haha. 

We also had the new missionary meeting this week! It was really good and fun to see all the trainers. I got to see Hermana Romero and Gutierrez (both from Mexico) and they said I sound like a native now! YES!! MY LIFE WAS MADE! haha. President taught us the importance of the doctrine of Jesus Christ and now we are helping people be cleansed of sin. Then all the new missionaries bore their testimonies, it was very powerful.

This week was Hermano Pallares' birthday so we went out to "EL MANA" for papusas! It was really fun. He is such a funny man. He is so great at coming out to appointments with us. He bought himself a card for all of us to sign and flowers and it was his birthday! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry about that haha. Sunday after church the 5 of us sisters all sang to him, gave him a card and brownies. He is such a crack up. 

Here are the updates on the best investigators in the world! Juan Carlos. Biggest 9 year old stud ever. He is SO excited for his baptism. This week we went over and made him a paper chain of a count down to his baptism and each paper has a scripture on the back. He has already read 10 pages from the Book of Mormon (English is easier to read for him, but we are helping him read in Spanish). Isn't that so great? And Jesus (the less active we reactivated) lives with him and has been helping him and participating in our lessons. He is going to start helping with the Sacrament again! So excited. 6 years of inactivity and now he is there every week in his suit and tie. My dream is that he will baptize Juan Carlos so we will see! :)

Francisco is planning on getting baptized this weekend! We just need to review the baptismal questions again tonight and then he will have his interview this week so if everything goes well he should be entering the waters of baptism this weekend! He has really been studying the scriptures and has gone over a whole week without coffee. He said he has even locked himself in his room when he gets the temptation. He has changed so much. He prayers more and they are so sincere. I love being a missionary!

We had a miracle Sunday yesterday! We found 3 new investigators! Roxanna (Ana Mata's sister) came to church and wants to learn more! Rosie (16 year old) from Honduras just moved her from South Sac. We found her tracting! She went to girls camp a few weeks ago, has a Book of Mormon and wants to do personal progress. WHAT!? She is so prepared to accept the gospel. We had an awesome lesson with her and invited her to be baptized! She once said she knows the Book of Mormon is true she wants to be baptized! We also met Genero and he loved the Restoration and wants to learn more. He was out drying his car so I asked for a towel and we started drying it with him, then talking and then sat down and taught him a lesson. Service always opens hearts! :)

We are being so blessed right now. Alma 26:11 comes to mind. My joy is full in the Lord, I know that without him none of these great blessings and miracles would be possible. I love my Savior and feel so grateful to help these wonderful children of come learn of their worth and the love he has for him. I AM LIVING THE DREAM! :) I love you all and hope you have a great week! Til next Tuesday, las quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

Juan Carlos countdown to baptism
Hermanas Sharp, Cardullo and Thomas