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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Estoy dejando un pedaso de mi corazon en Sacramento Este

Well the news is out, after 8 months I am leaving a piece of my heart in East Sac. I have been called to be a Spanish Sister Training Leader! I will be serving in Lodi with Hermana Pitcher. We will be doing exchanges and training for the Hermanas in the South of the mission, as well as taking care of our great Spanish area and ward (our area has been opened for about 3 transfers). Hermana Pitcher is the greatest (we were in the MTC together, she is from Park City). I know it will be a great opportunity to grow and learn from each other. I am so sad to leave East Sac, saying goodbye will be tough, but the Lord has some new plans for me and I am ready to get to work!

We were able to go to the temple this morning. The Sacramento temple is gorgeous! I feel so much peace. The temple is that extra spiritual boost you need. We are so lucky to have temples all over the world. I love going to the temple and it was so special to be with Sister Monroe, the other east sac sisters and my dear friend Hermana Skidmore.

This is a little shout out to Sister Donakey in Russia. We tracted into some apartments filled with Russians. Twelve spanish families and then like 90% of the complex were Russians. They didn't understand my English or my Spanish so I figured I needed to learn some Russian. I asked a young boy what hello was and she said "Pri-vet" probably spelled that wrong haha. So I went around speaking Russian all day and tried the words Sister Donakey taught me. No one understood me (now I know what that feels like) but I had a blast.  We found some teaching material in Russian and plan to go back.  May need to bring Sister Donakey here in the future for a road trip so we can teach the Russians together.  

On Saturday we had the opportunity to do a recorrido del templo con Rosie! It was so great, her member friends from South Sac came along as well. They actually got married in the Sac temple. They shared their testimonies of eternal families. There was even a wedding that day so Rosie was loving it. It was POURING RAIN! But we still had a great time and the spirit was really strong. She told us, "After I get baptized, I want to serve a mission! Can I?" You bet you can! :) She is incredible. Still just waiting on her mom to have a change of heart and be willing to let her get baptized.  Please keep her in your prayers.

Gabriel and Jose are doing great. They came to all 3 hours of church this Sunday and LOVED it. When we went to visit them Sunday night Gabriel said, "I feel my relationship with God growing. Today I felt more power and strength. I love how I feel!  So cool. Jose loved during Priesthood how they talked about how you can make wherever you are "un lugar santo" (a holy place). They are so great, I am excited to come back for their baptism in a few weeks! 

Ana Mata has been called to serve as a ward missionary! I am so excited and proud of her, she will be amazing.

Sorry I don't have much time, but I love you all. I know this is where I am supposed to be. I have never felt greater in my life. I have so many blessings and my life feels complete. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! :) I hope you have a great week, hope Lodi is ready for me!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Sacramento Temple--Lodi here I come!
Sacramento Temple trip with the sisters from the East Sac Del Norte Stake

Monday, September 16, 2013


So many great things happened this week. Where do I even begin?

Well it was Ana's birthday on the 11th so Hermana Skidmore and I wanted to make it special. Guess what we made? A tres leches cake. Yeah, we MADE it. haha. It was an adventure but turned out really good and tasted delicious. She was so touched. 

We had intercambios this week! Hermana Carlson came down to East Sac with me while Hermana Skimore was in South Sac with Hermana White and Hermana Freestone. Hermana Carlson and I had an AWESOME day! We taught all day. Everyone was home, it was a miracle! haha, Spanish culture is great. A mom just started feeding her baby during the lesson and Hermana Carlson was freaking out inside. There is a first for everything, especially on the mission haha.

So we had the COOLEST experience this week with Roxanna. We asked her if she has been praying and she said yes! She said that she noticed her quiet time to pray is everyday on her commute to work (its about 15-20 minutes). She turns off the radio and prays out loud. She said she has noticed her relationship grow so much closer to her Father in Heaven and she feels good, like this is right. She is still praying for her answer, but I think she has already found it :) She said the closing prayer. WOW. Mind blowing. I have never felt the spirit so strong through a prayer before. It was like a Bishop Donakey level prayer. She just talked to God like they were best friends and she just poured out her heart and soul. It was one of the most precious moments of my mission so far. The power of prayer is one of the most amazing blessings.

We had an amazing lesson with Gabriel and Jose last night. When we were on our way over we weren't really sure what we were going to say or do. They didn't make it to church so we were really sad. We wanted them to really understand the importance of the things we share with them and understand our purpose. So we show up with Alfonso (Fonsito), the ward mission leader and I was just praying inside to know what to say or do. We start talking (we were outside) and the neighbors had the music really loud. Hermana Skidmore marches over there and asked them to turn it down. They just look at her. She doesn't leave until they turn it down. Sister Skidmore walks back Then she boldly declares our purpose and desire for them to feel the spirit and know the truthfulness of the message. Wow, can you say Audaz!? (bold). She is incredible. Lovingly bold. Then we read in Alma 5 and talked about a mighty change of heart.  We testified of the spirit. I have never felt that strong bearing my testimony before. They told us that is what they really want and are going to do what it takes (getting Sundays off work). Words can't even describe how the Holy Ghost helped us to teach a powerful lesson. I wish I could tell you every detail but all I know that we were lead by the spirit. Gabriel and Jose have such pure hearts and they have truly been prepared by the Lord to hear the message of the restored gospel.

Leslie Calderon is the cutest! She pulled all of us Del Norte missionaries into the kitchen at church on Sunday was then pulled this cake and cupcakes out of the fridge. She made us cupcakes with our mission placas and Elder Bawden's birthday is Thursday so she made him a shirt and tie cake. So sweet of her and such a fun surprise!

It was a great and spiritual week. We are going to work even harder this week and we have the blessing and privilege of bringing the gospel to these wonderful people. I have never been happier in all my life. I feel joy that I could have never imagined. It is all because of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I think Alma 5:26 helps sum up how I feel, "have ye felt to sing the song of redeeming love." I am so lucky to be serving here now. I can feel his redeeming love and I get to share that love with these wonderful people. I have been tested and tried more than ever before in my life, and I feel so blessed.

I hope you have a great week. Transfers are next week so I will write you Tuesday. I Love you all.

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Leslie Caldron's missionary cupcakes.  Happy Birthday Elder Bawden
Biking in skirts

Monday, September 9, 2013

Savior's Peace and Blessing

What an awesome, busy packed week! So in our zone training this week we learned about something called "The Savior's Peace and Blessing". What it is---as missionaries you go tract and ask if you can say a special prayer/blessings in their home. It is a great finding tool. You go into a home, and ask if they would like to be left with a special prayer. You ask them for everyone's name (that lives in the home) and anyone else they would like to include in the prayer. Then we as sisters missionaries) say, "In the virtue of our calling as missionaries and representatives of Jesus Christ we ask for the Savior's Peace and blessing on this home for the family (last name). At first, I was thinking that was a little weird, but guess what!? It is an awesome experience. The spirit is really strong and they become interested real fast. After you ask if they know of anyone else this could bless and it's like instant referrals. We had the opportunity to do this prayer with Blanca and Ana (2 people we found tracting). It was really cool. They even tell you they feel something different. You make it short, leaving them wanting more :) So we will go back this week and try to teach them now!

We had an awesome recorrido de la capilla (tour of the chapel) con Yolani (Miller and family). Ana and Andrea came and little Yennifer and Andrea were best friends. We sat down and played hymns and talked about the sacrament and the spirit was really strong. Her fears/nerves of coming to church were taken away and they are so excited to come to church! They are seriously "golden."

This week I really learned and came to appreciate better Nefi's psalm. 2 Nefi 4:15-35. It is just a power boost to read and contemplate how one can become better. I love when he says, "He hath filled me with his love". I have never felt more of my Savior's love than I do now, and I love that I get to feel a part of that love that he has for his children that I am teaching. Could my life and joy be any greater!?

Jesus comes in a suit and tie every week now, It has been such a privilege to see him change and his testimony grow. He came with us to teach "the pirates" this week and gave such a powerful testimony. The "Pirates" Jose, Gabriel and Pepe are doing great! We have had some of the most powerful lessons with them. They have such pure hearts and want to follow Christ. They understand how important it is. They are preparing for the end of September to be baptized! Funny story, we went to go pick them up for church on Sunday but the gate to the apartments was closed so we couldn't get in. We went around back and saw that their window was open through the fence so we threw some sticks at it to get their attention. We looked ridiculous but it was hilarious. oh, the joys of being a missionary!

Juan Carlos is doing great. We talked about service and missionary work and he is all ready to go! :) I hope you all have a great week! Be careful in those crazy Thunderstorms, it's 102 here today!   I love and miss you all so much, thanks for helping me become who I am so that I can have this wonderful opportunity and live the dream of being a full time missionary.
Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

Jesus in his suit and tie with Hermana's Thomas and Skidmore

Juan Carlos baptized and now preparing for a mission

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Be on the Move Missionaries"

This week was soo great and soo busy! I love being a missionary!

Andrea needs a little more time to prepare for baptism. She is ready and really wants to be but her sister told her she wouldn't be able to have fun anymore and all this other stuff so we are helping her understand that the fun begins once you get baptized! She really looks up to her sister, it's just sad because Tati is going through some hard times right now and doesn't want anything to do with God. Andrea will be baptized, just not sure when yet.

We had Zone Conference this week and it was a blast! Wow, was it powerful. The theme was to "Be on the Move Missionaries". I learned soo much! A week before conference President Lewis asked us to read and then prepare a 3-5 minute talk on "Obedience brings blessings" by President Monson or "In his time, in his way" by Elder Oaks. Then we had to turn it in at the beginning of conference and he choose 2 missionaries to come up and share their talks. I did my talk on revelation by Elder Oaks and President asked me to share in front of everyone. I was really nervous but it was a good experience for me. During conference I really learned the importance of how revelation must be simple. The Lord works in simple ways, we are the ones who make it harder. We must be consistently moving and doing good things. If we are, the Lord will bless us and notice that we are grateful for what he has given us. In Preach My Gospel Joseph Smith says that "Revelation is vital to your daily work (as a missionary)". How true is that? I learned that obedience is the foundation for success. If we do it because we love him, we will love doing it. During lunch, President asked Hermana Skidmore and I to eat with him, sister Lewis, the Zone leaders, and the Stake President and his wife. I felt like we got invited to sit at the cool kid table. It was fun getting to know them better. President and Sister Lewis are amazing examples, I love and appreciate them so much.

JUAN CARLOS is baptized! We had a wonderful baptismal service with him. The spirit was so strong and he was just so excited and glowing. All of his less active brothers and sisters came so that was such a blessing to see. He is a great example to them, some even came to church on Sunday for his confirmation. The gospel is amazing and I will forever cherish these wonderful moments and blessings. There is just nothing like it. To see someone you love enter the waters of baptism (no matter the age) and covenant to follow the Lord. Maravillosa.

Yesterday we had a wonderful activity on the temple grounds with all the Spanish missionaries, investigators and members. EL CAMPO ESTA LISTO! It was so much fun! We ate carne asada, there was zumba dancing and music, soccer tournament, clowns and more! It was a lot of work but so much fun! We were able to do a temple tour with Ana, Roxanna and Andrea and it was incredible. The temple worker saw Ana looking in the windows and invited her into the lobby and the waiting room. Roxanna (her sister) felt so special to be inside and the spirit was so strong. We are going back to teach her today, can't wait!

Ah, I wish I had more time because I have so much I want to tell you about. D&C 35:13 says . . ."Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my spirit." The Lord calls weak things to declare this word. I am weak, but becoming stronger each day through the wonderful atonement of our Savior. I realize and am reminded that I am just an instrument. When you think of Mozart and the beautiful things he created, do you remember the name of the piano? No, just the Master. I am an instrument for the Lord, He is the Master. How blessed I am to do this work and have him receive the glory. Love you all, have a great week! :)

Con Amor, 
Hermana Thomas
Juan Carlos' Baptism
One year from now I will be in the beautiful Sacramento temple with Anna!