Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Heart is truly full of Gratitude

Feliz dia de las gracias! I have so many things to be thankful for! Where do I even begin? 

Last week we had zone conference and Elder Baxter of the Seventy came. The conference was SOO powerful. Elder Baxter and his wife are from Scotland. Tiff would have loved their accents. He is very bold and blunt but I think it was what we all needed. They spoke to us about teaching with the spirit and really focusing on listening to the spirit.  I loved when President Lewis said, "It doesn't matter what they know, it matters what they feel." I received a lot of great revelation for myself and our investigators. President also asked us to do a few new things. Read everyday from Preach My Gospel, The Book of Mormon and sing to investigators. Elder Baxter shared with us so many promises will come from just opening our mouths.  Elder Baxter also read a lot from D&C 31 and he told us how we are angels on earth. Think of that powerful thought and promise. We have been called, but after his explanation it has an ever deeper meaning to me.  After Zone Conference, we as sister training leaders and zone leaders, got to have a little meeting with President and Sister Lewis and Elder and Sister Baxter. We went over what we learned and what we are going to implement to help those we help lead and teach. At the close of our meeting, we kneeled in prayer and it was INCREDIBLE. The spirit was so strong as Elder Baxter pronounced all these blessings on us in the room and over the entire mission. I wish I could have written every single word down.  I do remember that he blessed us with more power in teaching, accelerated work in our area, every missionary to see a baptism, etc. Words can't even describe.

Lets start with the 3 intercambios we had this week. Sister Gutierrez (she is an English speaking missionary from Mexico) came into Spanish work with me for a day and we had the best time ever. We just spoke Spanish all day, she was so happy to have a day of work in her native language. We did some service for the Timalach's and Magdalena (mother) finally prayed out loud. Hermana Hurley also came up to Lodi with me, she has been out for a few weeks and is doing awesome and we had a fun short day. I also went down to Stockton with Hermana Dando and we had an incredible day full of miracles. For companionship study we went over what we learned from zone conference (since we are in different zones) and decided to try to apply it. We had the coolest experience ever. We were out finding and knocked on a door to this lady Helen. The first thing that came out of my mouth was, "You are a child of God". Then Hermana Dando said we wanted to sing her a song. So just right there on her doorstep we sang "I am a Child of God". The spirit was so strong and she was a quiet, then just as we finished she started crying. She said she really needed to hear that message from her Heavenly Father. She told us her faith and hope had been dwindling. She told her son had just killed himself a few days before and it has been really hard. The Spirit was so strong as we testified of the plan of salvation and the spirit we felt. WOW. I have never experienced anything like that before. She was so receptive and has been prepared. She is English so they will have to pass her off to the English missionaries.  The power of intercambios!

I was able to go back to East Sac this week to see Roxana get baptized! Oh it was an incredible night. She is Ana's sister, remember when I was teaching her? Her prayers are incredible, she talks to God like they are best friends. It was such a blessing to sit next to Hermana Skimore and watch Roxana enter the waters of baptism. I was also asked to give a talk on baptism. It was so fun to see the Woodlands, Hermana Cardullo, and all the ward members.

Out of time now, but I hope you all have the best week ever. Eat lots of Turkey, I don't know what we will be eating today :) LOVE YOU!!!
Hermana Gutierrez from Mexico

The Amazing Timalach Family

Baptism of Roxana (Anna's sister)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Best Week Ever!

This week was so great! We were incredibly blessed! La familia Timalach and Gabriela came to church! It was the best! Also the Lodi elders baptized Sergio and it was the best day ever. He feels like he is all of our investigators because we have seen him change and it's awesome how we all really care and strive to help each other! He asked Hermana Pitcher and I to sing a duet... haha it was alright.

The Timalach's have decided to get marrried! The date is December 14th and the baptism will be the 15th. Hna still hasn't said yes but she did say she is ready to act on her faith. Poco a poco. We are working on moving it closer! Hno. Ku is taking them to get their marriage license on Wednesday so we are really excited!

Gabriela is doing great, it was so great to sit next to her at church! She also passed her interview. She just needs to come to church one more time but this week she has one of those Pakistan parties at her house again so we have a date for December 7th. She is progressing so much, it's incredible to see.

We had some great and fun exchanges this week! Hermana Gigger came to Lodi with him and we had a great day and were blessed to teach a lot! I also went down to Tracy West with Hermana Kennard and Griffith. We had a good day and an interesting experience. We were in a house and they were doing the Rosary y orando a la Virgen, we just watched. It was... interesting. After they wanted us to participate but I said, "How about we say a prayer together to God?" haha. They were like o.k! I know it doesn't sound that crazy but it was.... I just felt empty during their prayer of repetition, I am so glad we can pray to our loving Heavenly Father and that he listens to our individual needs.

This week I thought a lot about D&C 18:14 "Wherefore, you are called to  cry repentance unto this people."  I am here to invite people to change and what a great blessing it is! I hope you have a great week! Love you all, I will email next on Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for all of you. Have the best week ever, love you!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
 Baptism Day with Sergio
Intercambios with Hermana's Kinnard and Griffith
My hometown Lodi

Monday, November 11, 2013

Changes, Changes and Conversion

We had a surprise leadership council this week and it was really great! There are a lot of changes happening in the mission. We were all excited and ready for iPad and Facebook since it was such short notice but it's not our time yet. President Lewis had a Mission President's seminar last week with Elder Ballard. With this council our mission will be making some changes. We have been asked to not use any analogy's, visual aides, eat dinner with less active and part member families (so each active family can feed us once a month). As an experiment he has asked us not to hold any zone sports activities on preparation day during the month of November.  A companionship or multiple companionship can get together for some kind of sport on preparation day but no zone organized sports are going to be held. My world came crashing down when I heard the last one... haha jk. I sat there stunned but a thought came to mind.  I can either do what I want or obey. I chose to obey. This counsel has been revealed through choice leaders of the church from God. Even if I don't understand everything and it might be hard or uncomfortable to incorporate at first, I must obey.  I know it will be different for Spanish work, but I will do my best and the Lord will help us and we strive to be exactly obedient.

We watched the Restoration DVD with Gabriela and after she said, "I know that happened." It was so cool. Unfortunately, she didn't make it to church again :( her husband is Pakistani-an and they have family here visiting.  The past 3 Sunday's they have been holding little parties for them (I guess it is a tradition  and they just happen to be during church. Satan! Yesterday she was going to try to come but her husband didn't want her to leave and come back. Next Sunday is supposed to be the last one. We are going to try to take her to an English ward if she can't make it to the Spanish Branch because of the party. My faith has increased this week. I know that everything will work out. It is on the Lord's time and we must do all we can to prepare her and a miracle will happen. Please pray that she will be able to make it to church this week. 

The Galt Elders had a baptism in our branch this week and I played the piano. haha learned the songs that day.... Lets just say i better start learning new hymns because everyone wants me to play now! haha. Tori, help! The cool thing was a lot of people came to the baptism. This branch is incredible!

La Familia Timalach is incredible.  They are doing so great. We had some awesome lessons this week with a really strong spirit. Then listen to this, they came to church again. All 3 hours. It was the Primary Program and Ashley (8) and Kevin (6) participated.  They all came dressed in their Sunday best too! They loooved Gospel Principles Class and hermana's testimony is growing. Everyone also helped out with little Jayden so that she could really focus. Then there was an English baptism in 1st ward and they wanted to go! So we took them over and it was a great baptism with a strong spirit. There were tons of people. It was great but way different then the Spanish baptisms.  They didn't understand what was said but they felt the spirit. Magdalena turned to me and said, "Hermana, me siento algo. No se que es, pero algo." I said, "Hermana, eso es el espiritu." It was the best feeling ever. My heart and soul were so filled with joy! 5 hours of church yesterday? Sounds like conversion is starting to happen..... :)

I love you all and hope you had a fantastic week. This week I studied Alma 13:27-29 . If we can develop those attributes we will become more Christlike and a tool in the Lords hands. Thank you for your support, love and prayers. I am just livin' the dream in Lodi. LOVE YOU!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
La Familia Timalach

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Promised Land and Transfer Tuesday

I am all scatter brained today so we will see how this goes... Well transfers happened and HERMANA PITCHER AND I GET TO STAY TOGETHER!!!!! I am so happy. Lodi really is the promised land.. :) also our whole district and all the missionaries in the branch all stayed the same. We went to the GALT flea market today and it was awesome. I got a cool California hoodie for cheap. It is starting to get a little cold here but it's funny because people have coats and scarfs like it's the middle of winter. It's not THAT cold. 

Sorry I am out of time, but everything is going great and I love my life. Have a great week! Halloween was fun! We watched "Ephraim's Rescue" and then had zone training. I loved the movie! I am so grateful for the pioneers. I don't know if I could have been a pioneer. Mom, will you send me some family history stories? I would have never thought that I would be so interested to know and study stories from my ancestors.  All it took was your example of family history and a church movie to get me pumped! haha.

We found a few new great investigators this week. Tere and Carmela. both single moms with solid hearts to do what is right. The highlight this week was the lessons with Gabriela (she is now firm!!!). She told us that she is so excited and happy for her baptism. She just needs to attend church a few more times.  We are progressing with La familia Timalach.  We had a lesson with them on marriage and The Proclamation to the Family. Then in Gospel Principles Sunday we talked about how families are forever. They stayed for all 3 hours of church!!! :)
I want to tell you about some of my favorite families in the rama (branch) here in Lodi. La familia Lopez is so great. They took us out for breakfast and Hermano Bili asked me what it was like to ALWAYS have the gospel in my life (they are converts of about 10 years). He was so amazed and just in awe as I described our daily family scripture study, prayer, FHE's, seeing the example of my parents kneeling in prayers, etc. It made me so much more grateful and appreciative for the gospel we had growing up in our home.  I love that I am helping families discover the joy of having the Restored Gospel in their family. Hermano Ku is our ward mission leader. There is just no one like him. His family is incredible and they have some of the strongest testimonies I have ever heard. They truly love the Lord and put him first. They are such great examples.

Tu me has dado muchas bendiciones Dios. Que tengan una buena semana, y no se olviden que las quiero mucho!
Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
The Lopez Family
The Promised Land