Monday, October 28, 2013

Glory in the Lord

What a great week! Have I ever said that before? haha. Every week just gets better and better.

FELIZ CUMPLEANOS A MI TORI JEAN! :) HAPPY QUINCE hahaha. I can't believe my little sister is turning 15. Crazy! Only 4 more years and you can serve a mission :) haha.

I cant' believe my dear Heather (Jackman) is married! So crazy. I am so glad you were able to spend the day at the temple with her, it must of been so special.  Thank you for the pictures.  She is absolutely glowing.

Well we had an AWESOME miracle this week. We went to go see the Vazquez family. They are less actives. I have only met Hermano Vazquez once. They are really hard to get a hold of! This week we went on Tuesday night and Edith (the daughter, she is in her 30's) answered and let us in! Turns out she has been less active for the past 18 years but still has her testimony and knows she needs to come back to church. She has been praying for help, and we came along :) She wants to come back but knows it will be hard. She has a 14 year old daughter Leslie. She is so sweet and so great, turns out Leslie is not a member, but wants to be baptized!! We invited her to be baptized in the end of November and she said YES!!! So we are so excited to work with them to help Edith come back to church and for her daughter Leslie to get baptized :) 

Ashley came to church again and the Hernandez's are doing great. Hermano told us that he really appreciates that we come over and bring the spirit. We also took Alan with us to a lesson with Jesus. I talked about Jesus in my fist letter in Lodi.. well he is doing great and progressing now! :) We had an awesome lesson with him on Friday and now Bro. Hernandez and Alan are best friends. They relate to each other so well. Jesus CAME TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY!! Hna. Pitcher and Elder Gilray gave great talks and it was a powerful sacrament meeting. He even stayed for Gospel Principles Sunday School class and loved it! Everyone was so kind and welcoming to him, he LOVED church. He talked about coming next week and then when we got home he text us with 5 messages. All 5 were great questions! 

Gabriela is doing great! She is pretty much firm for baptism on the Nov.23rd. Her family will all be here and she came to the trunk or treat activity and made a lot of great friends. Fellow shipping is soo important. So she works A LOT. Most of the time we have lessons at her work. Have you ever heard of anyone teaching at Burger King? It's so funny to me, but it works. I had never really been to Burger King before the mission but now we are there 1-2 times a week haha. We did get to have a lesson in her home this week and cute little Sophie calls us "Las Nanas" haha. love them. We have a great lesson planned tonight so I am very excited. The Timalach's also came to the trunk or treat and had a great day. Ashley (8 years old) accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 23rd, and Omar (dad) wants to be baptized too! Just need to get Omar and Magdalena married first. Magdalena is indecisive on marriage and baptism so we will be studying a lot from The Family Proclamation this week :). We are hoping for a family baptism on that day. Pray hard :)

This week I have learned a lot. I can't tell you how blessed I feel and how happy I am. I truly have the best area, best rama, BEST companion, and we are teaching the best people. I am not bragging, just glorying in what the Lord is blessing me with right now. Alma 26:35-36 come to mind. Did you know that Alma 26 is my FAVORITE chapter in the whole Book of Mormon. It describes everything I feel. The Lord is so merciful and has blessed me to be able to teach these wonderful people. My heart is somehow growing bigger and bigger each day. I didn't even know there was that much room! I know that the Lord is helping me because without him I am nothing. He is my strength, joy and comfort. I truly know what it means to love. What it means to have charity. No it isn't perfect, but that is why Moroni (Moroni 7 is also a great chapter) told us to pray with all of our MIGHT that we can have perfect love. I LOVE the Book of Mormon and I know it is another testament of my Lord and Savior. I LOVE reading from it every day and am learning so much. I wish I could explain how I feel but it is hard to do in words, so I will let my favorite scripture speak (it's more powerful in Spanish), "Por lo tanto, agloriémonos; sí, nos bgloriaremos en el Señor; sí, nos regocijaremos porque es completo nuestro gozo; sí, alabaremos a nuestro Dios para siempre. He aquí, ¿quién puede gloriarse demasiado en el Señor? Sí, ¿y quién podrá decir demasiado de su gran poder, y de su cmisericordia y de su longanimidad para con los hijos de los hombres? He aquí, os digo que no puedo expresar ni la más mínima parte de lo que siento." (Alma 26:16). 

I hope you have a great week and HAPPY HALLOWEEN. (Feliz dia de las brujas, except they all love to say Halloween haha). Las quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Trunk or treating with Gabriella and the Timalach Family

Monday, October 21, 2013

Best week yet! Oh wait, every week just gets better and better! :)

I LOVE being a missionary. This week was a week of miracles! We have been struggling to get people to church and we had 4 come! We have been working really hard with the Hernandez family. They are a part member family and Ashley came to church! she is 9. She came with Alan (he is 19 and is a memeber. working on getting ready for a mission!!) and Hermano came (recent convert of 2 years). We are working with Ashley and are hoping to teach Christ (14) and Alex (16). We are having a Noche de Hogar tonight so that should be great. Also, the elders have been teaching la familia Timalach but Magdelena told them she would feel more comfortable with sisters teaching her, so we get to teach the whole family now! :) We are so excited, it will be a lot of work but we have the Lord's help so everything is going to work out. We will get them married and then have a baptism! They also came to church yesterday. Our district had 24 people to church and one of the Spanish elders 9!  MIRACLES!!!  So that was pretty great and crazy! Hermana Pitcher has a beautfil voice so she volunteered us to sing in church Sunday... haha. The Theme was missionary work, the branch presidency spoke and the missionaries did a special musical number. Hermana Pitcher, me and Elder Gilray all sang "Senor Te Necesito" and Elder Fernandez played the violin, and Elder Hart the piano. It turned out pretty good! I was super nervous though haha.

There are so many great things happening but i don't have enough time to tell you details about each one. Mom, you are always asking me who the family can pray for so I am going to list out their names and a brief sentence on what is going on so you can include them in your prayers if you would like :)

We made a lot of progress with Gabriela this week! We stopped by the house and her husband was kind to us and actually invited us in! We were able to have a real lesson and the spirit was so strong. It feels so great to testify from your heart to someone you love. We also went over on Friday and did some service and she made us lunch and we taught her sobre el evangelio de Jesucristo. She kept saying "I want to have the spirit with me all the time. I really want that."  She is progressing but having a hard time making it to church. She was so surprised when her husband let us in their home.  She said, "Your prayers are working Hermanas!" haha. The Lord DOES answer prayers. I knew that and she knew that, but it was such a testimony builder. We are praying that his heart will continue to be softened!

I had a great exchange with Hermana Sharp! I am soo glad she is back, we had a great day. It truly was a blessing. She is trying to work so hard and is so strong! I know as she continues to lose herself in the work she will continue to feel better. Crazy that she is in English work for this transfer but she is really loving it so that is great! (the pic is us at dinner with the familia Aguilar).

Hermana Pitcher and I had our 9 month party together last week. We can't believe we are 1/2 way through. I can't believe how time flies. I am learning soo much and I am definitely a better person than I was 9 months ago. The last 9 months have been the happiest of my life because I am truly trying to live and understand charity. I love that even though we mess up and aren't perfect, we have a way to try to be better each day! I love my Savior and that I can repent and one day become perfect, just like him.

I hope you have the best week ever. I love and miss you all so much! Can't wait to hear how the family missionary council goes :) Just come up with ideas that you can all do together to share the gospel. Pray for experiences and the Lord will grant your desires. Alexis emailed me about a cool experience she had with sharing the gospel with a passenger on her flight. I was so excited for her! Things happen when we open our mouths and testify of truth. We are all missionaries and we must work together to build the Lord's kingdom on earth!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
"She's Back" . . . . Exchanges with Hermana Sharp
The Aguilar Family

Hermana Pitcher and Thomas "Halfway mark"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exchanges, Stake Conference and a Member Missionary Fireside!

We had 3 exchanges this week. Hermana Crane from Tracy East and I had an awesome day. We found 10 new potentials! I also had a bike exchange with Hermana Sierra. She is from Panama. We spoke Spanish the entire day and had an awesome lesson with Juan and the Campos. We were trying to help Hermana Campo and Isaac invite Juan (their neighbor) over to watch a Mormon message. They were nervous to invite him. So what did we do? We did a role play with her! It was so great. You could tell she thought it was so weird at first, but I explained that we do role plays every day as missionaries and it really helps. She did it and felt good, then walked next door and invited him over! We all watched a Mormon message together and the spirit was so strong. It was such a cool experience. Also, my dream came true. I GOT TO GO TO STOCKTON! I really hope I get to serve there one day. It is everything in one place. There are bullet casings on the street. Awesome. I spent the day with Hermana Fullerton and we focused on finding, being CEO missionaries and staying positive.

Funny story. We were teaching Ludi and her kids this week. We have been a little hesitant to invite them to baptism, which meant we needed to do it even more. We had a great lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ with fun activities for the kids. The spirit was strong and we knew it was time. So we extended the invite! They all said YES!  Mia is only 7 so she will have to wait but she is excited for the family baptism date. Ludi said, "Yeah I will be baptized, sure, why not?" haha. Well.. that is a start! We are working on having her understand the importance of baptism and making covenants with our Heavenly Father.  The desire is there so that is a start!

Sunday was a crazy day with emotions all over the place. Saturday night we were able to attend the adult session of stake conference with President and Sister Lewis who spoke. The Lodi stake has set a goal "on hastening the work." It is so great! On Sunday during stake conference I helped translate... They were speaking so fast in English so it was more like a summary in Spanish haha. Just trying my best to translate with President Duncan haha. It was a good opportunity but not super easy. Then Sunday night we had the fireside for the branch, "Cada Miembro un misionero". It was sooo great! We had workshops and talked about how we can come together as missionaries and members. They all wore little name tags and the spirit was strong. Everyone is even more pumped to do missionary work.

Sorry this is short and so scattered but I love you all and hope you have the best week ever! Las quiero mucho!

Con amor,
Hermana Thomas
Exchange with Hermana Sierra from Panama

Cada Miembro un Misionero - Every Member a Missionary Fireside

Monday, October 7, 2013

Feliz Navidad en Octubre!

This was the craziest week of my mission so far but everything all worked out. We were late emailing today because we played disc golf as a zone! It was so much fun. The members in the 2nd ward made the course at a local park, all the missionaries got to go. It was so much fun, still got my putting game (different with a Frisbee haha).
Monday night we had an awesome FHE with la familia Campos. Unfortunately, Juan didn't make it but the Campos invited the Cortes family and they all invited a whole non-member family! It was such a blessing! Now the Elders are teaching the family! (they live in their area). It was so much fun, games, food and a spiritual activity! See what happens all just from an invite!? We have some great member missionaries here.
Tuesday we met for Leadership Council with President and Sister Lewis. It was really good. We set goals for the mission and discussed other items.  During our goal setting process, we all decided it was necessary to be on the same page. Thursday we had a leadership training with all the Zone Leaders and District Leaders. President Lewis called Hermana Pitcher and I and asked us to do a training with him on Baptizing.  The theme was "Being Believing, Bold (the Assistants and other sister training leaders did those presentations) and Baptizing California Sacramento Missionaries. My part was to talk about planning with faith. Faith goes hand in hand and then Hermana Pitcher talked about using the standards of excellence for goal setting. We had about a day to put it together but it all worked out. It was a great opportunity to teach but I think I learned more listening.
I was able to go on exchanges down to West Tracy, California this past week! Hermana Jensen and Herman Arntsen. I have missed Hermana Jensen soo much. We worked hard and had a lot of success. They took me to this street they call "Little Mexico" because almost everyone speaks Spanish. It's like a gold mine! It was so great. They are working so hard and I learned so much from their examples.
We found someone out tracting this week! Her name is Diana. We actually found her last week, scheduled an appointment and then taught her this week. She is incredible. We taught her the restoration and invited her to be baptized and she said yes! She has a pure heart and strong desire to follow Christ. Such a great blessing this week. We are working on getting her to church (she is catholic and goes to mass de vez en cuando). Please pray for her!
We also had Zone training (which President and Sister Lewis attended). It was really powerfully and the spirit was so strong. Then later in the day we had interviews with President Lewis. Every time I talk with him, I learn so much. It is such a blessing, he is very wise and Sister Lewis just feels like our mom. They are incredible and are such great examples.
FELIZ NAVIDAD! GENERAL CONFERENCE IS LIKE CHRISTMAS FOR MISSIONARIES. We were all so giddy as we got ready for it to start haha. Sadly Gabriela didn't show up :( I loved all the talks from conference but there were a few that really impressed me.  I loved that we were asked to have a "family missionary council." So Mom, Dad, Tori, Joce, Jared, Stratton, Easton, Kandace, Glen, Grant and Bob that means you too!  You could have it together after Sunday dinner. I can't wait to hear about what you come up with to help move the work along :) Also, ALL INVESTIGATORS need a copy of President Uchtdorf's talk. Wasn't it so incredible!? As I have been studying I have been trying to make a list of some of the blessings of living the gospel. I wasn't sure how to make it or present it. I want to be more specific when extending commitments and promised blessings. Well. . . Elder Bednar answered that one! His talk was so great. I can't wait to read through it over and over again. I also loved Elder Russell M Nelson's (missed anatomy a little haha). Its so true though, our bodies are such a blessing. I loved when he said we were chosen for this day based on our spiritual attributes. We must strive to refine them each day!  Running out of time, love you all.  So happy you had dinner with the Sharp family!
Con amor,
Hermana Thomas
P-Day Disc Golf with my District in Lodi