Friday, May 23, 2014

Well Done Thou Great and Faithful Servant

We welcomed home and celebrated our missionary from Sacramento, California this week.  Thank you everyone for reading her emails, your love, support, prayers, fasting, letters etc.  Hermana Thomas (Taylor) will be speaking in sacrament meeting on Sunday, May 25th at 9 a.m. Our chapel is located at 450 East 2000 North in Orem, Utah. If you are in town Memorial Day weekend, we would love to see you.  

Por lo tanto, gloriémonos; sí, nos gloriaremos 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 misericordia 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

Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel. Alma 26:16

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Book of Mormon Changes Lives of Young and Old

This week was a roller coaster for sure, but of course, there were muchas bendiciones. I love being a missionary. Each minute is so precious.  Something funny I noticed is a similarity with Tracy and Utah. Instead of there being a church on every corner, there are parks on every corner. SOOO many fun parks, I always want to go play on them...haha.

On Sunday we were really determined to get in our 20 contacts so we worked really hard and talked with everyone we saw! Of course, we had some awkward moments (inevitable as a missionary) but we also saw some great miracles and tender mercies.We were able to turn a lot of these contacts into lessons and extend invitations.Every child of God is sooo different. We were able to really listen and testify of God's love for each of them. I found myself really searching for people to share my testimony with week. It was a great tender mercy.

We had an AMAZING lesson with Suegro. He is the cutest old man (probably in his 70's). We went over to visit the Gomez's and Hna's dad is living with them (hence we call him Suegro). I guess before I got here they gave him a Book of Mormon to start reading after a dinner appointment (so about 2 weeks ago). He is already in Alma 30! He said "hermanas, I LOVE this book. I read 3 hours every day. The church has changed my life so much. I see baptism in my future." It was the best news ever. Then he said, "Yeah, maybe in 3 months?" hahaha. Oh no, we will work on that :) but he has tons of friends and he was even in the Mothers Day Activity program on Saturday. He played the guitar and everything!  He is the best viejito ever haha. 

Rey is doing great, still progressing but wants a little more time before his baptism so it's been moved back a few weeks. He is soo funny. He loves church and lessons. We were able to teach about the Word of Wisdom and tithing this week and he says, "Oh yeah.. that makes sense. I like this word of wisdom thing. I tried weed once and it wasn't good anyway". . . .haha. So he already has a testimony of that! We are really just trying to work on his spiritual conversion. He knows everything to be baptized we are just working on him living all the commandments and having him "experiment with the word".

I want to thank specifically everyone for all of their prayers, love and fasting. It has mean;t the world to me. I really have felt so much love and feel so blessed. I have grown in ways I didn't even know were possible.  I have never felt this much joy before as I have the opportunity to help my fellow brothers and sisters come into the restored gospel. Every day I always pray for 2 things specifically. First, I thank him for the opportunity to be a missionary and serve and second, I ask him for help to be an instrument in his hand. I have been so blessed and really understand the gospel and have such a greater and deeper appreciation for my Savior. Life is good. I hope you all have a great week, Happy Mother's Day to the most beautiful madre in the world! Love you all :)

My love for the book of mormon has grown so much this week. I loved how Nefi puts it in 2 Nefi 4:16  He aquí, mi aalma se deleita en las cosas del Señor, y mi bcorazón medita continuamente en las cosas que he visto y oído.  Translation:  Behold, my asoul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my bheart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Sister Tracy Missionaries
Hope some day she shares their names with us

Monday, April 28, 2014

Answer to Every Man that Asketh

What? You had Hermana White over for dinner? Oh how I love her. So glad you got to meet and spend time with her. Isn't she the best????? Tracy is great and very different! There are a lot of amazing things happening in our area and ward. We had 6 investigators at church and a less active, my new best friend Juan! Tracy is great and I am learning a lot. We cover Mountain House and the West side of Tracy.

We were contacting in the park and we met a guy named Israel. Special moment. We asked him if he wanted a picture of Jesus and he said he wanted a book. So we gave him a Book of Mormon and then he told us about his family and how they all just passed away. We shared the plan of salvation. We prayed with him and then invited him to be baptized and he said, "yes if he knows the Book of Mormom to be true!" Before we left, he hugged the Book of Mormon and looked up to the sky and said, "thank you God." He is the best and we are so excited to start teaching him! Miracles happen when you talk to everyone!!

We are teaching Rey who is the best thing ever. He is 44 and from El Salvador. He reminds me so much of A. Mata (they talk the same). We had the best lesson with him on the la ley de castidad. So awkward but soo great haha. After our lesson, he was all, I'm Latino, I love romance, but I will do it because it's a commandment from God. He calls us "hermanas de la caridad" (charity) whenever he sees us. He is great! He is getting baptized in a few weeks and is soo excited about it!

The Amezcua family is so great (they live in mountain house). Frank (dad), Erika (mom), and Galilea (10 year old daughter) and Anthony (8 year old son). THEY LOVE COMING TO CHURCH and know so much but they don't feel like they know enough and don't have the "desire" yet. They have just started reading the Book of Mormon and praying together. We are just trying to help them realize the blessings and the conversion that is actually taking place.  Any ideas are greatly appreciated. They come every week, know everyone and just fit right in.

Hermana Sanchez is the greatest. On our first day together she said, "Hermana Thomas, I already learned a lot from you and I know the Lord put us together so I could learn so much more."  She is the sweetest. She is such a great missionary and is fearless.

We got to do service "Mormon Helping Hands" on Saturday all over Tracy putting mulch down. It was so much fun and I got a great work out shoveling haha.

1 Peter 3:15  But asanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give ban answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the chope that is in you withdmeekness and efear:  We must be ready to share the gospel. Open your mouths and talk to everyone.  I am glad dad had a missionary experience while traveling this week.  I love you all!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

Rey with Tracy East Hermana's
Dinner in our home with Taylor's first companion
Hermana White 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Finding la Luz

Last night was pretty tough. President called with transfer calls............ I have been transferred to Tracy West. I will be follow up training Hermana Sanchez. She is great new missionary and I had a great time with her on exchanges so I am excited to be her companion. My heart is breaking in a million pieces. This is SO much harder than it was in East Sac. It's going to be so hard to say bye to my family here. I am from Lodi. Lodi has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have seen miracles and my heart has grown, my love and joy have been full in ways I never even knew were possible. I guess the Lord has a new plan for me and I am excited for this new adventure. Change... I am going to miss my best friend Hermana Cardullo sooo much though. She has been incredible to me. The sweetest companion I could have ever asked for on my mission. I have learned so much from her and am soo grateful for her. At least I will see her once again on exchanges!

Luz was baptized this week and it was one of the best days of my life. She is so brave. She was really nervous but she did it! She was just smiling so much after. She has changed so much even in the past few days. Oh how I love her. That night she texted us thanking us, telling us how much she loves us and said that we will be part of her life forever. I can't wait for you to meet her one day! It was so great. Hermana Pitcher, Elders Fernandez and Ruiz also got to come back. The Navas family are now complete and preparing to go to the temple to be sealed. There is nothing greater in life.

I spoke in church yesterday (Easter) and it was such a blessing! I used the talk by Linda K Burton about helping hands to hasten the work and then added some scriptures about the resurrection. I learned a lot. One thing I loved from her talk was how she said that we should always be asking ourselves, "What would a Disciple of Christ do?" Are we going to be ready to serve when called at any moment? In the mission each morning at 9:59 a.m. we have the opportunity to recite 3 Nefi 5:13. Such a blessing,

Thank you for the Easter package. It was such a blessing to read your letters and  the ways I have blessed your lives by serving a mission. I am soo blessed to have the best family in the world! I love you all so much and hope you have the best week ever. 

Baptism Day for a special young woman
Navas family and friends

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grateful in any Circumstances

This week was a really tough week, maybe one of the hardest but I learned a lot from conference and we decided to turn every day into a day that we could be "grateful in any circumstance". So let me share with you the gratitude and joy I found this week.

Satan worked really hard this week on Bety and Lucy and they didn't end up getting baptized :( We know they will soon but they need just a little more time. Every night we tried to have the baptismal interview something happened and they weren't able to make it. Brother in a car accident, working, etc. Luckily they and us are not letting it stop them and we are going to keep working to progress towards baptism. Angel turns 8 on May 4th so we are looking at that as a possibility for the 3 them to be baptized together as a family. They were doing their baptism with Israel Velarde (an 8 year old from the branch). It was a wonderful service, Luz and Erastro came to see, I was able to play the piano (grateful that I can do that and the spirit helped me learn the songs in a day. So even though it was like pulling teeth to practice at home when I was young I am grateful that we did that so that I can develop and share that talent here on the mission).

I feel so blessed that I was able to attend my second Stake Conference here in Lodi. I was able to help translate again and this time it went a lot better! It's crazy to think that I have been here for over 7 months, i love it! Gilma (a new investigator) came too which was a surprise and tender mercy.

I had a wonderful experience this week. We were visiting Susana y Alejandro (RC's) and Hno was talking about an interview he had just had with OSHA. A year ago at work chemicals were spilled into his eyes and he is still fighting with his work and the courts to help with medical treatment because he is pretty much blind. He was really opening up to us and stating how he has faith but it's hard waiting so long. While he was talking I was thinking so hard of what scripture would help comfort him and nothing was coming to me. So I stopped and just listened. After a few minutes D&C 121 popped into my head about Joseph in Carthage jail. It was exactly what he needed to hear. I know that the spirit helped me because I just listened. I didn't need  to worry about what I would say because if you listen with love, the Lord will ALWAYS give us what we need to be his instrument. It was a tender mercy for me. I love being a missionary.

We had a really tender experience with los Ku this week. I don't even know where to begin to describe my love and respect for them. They are truly amazing.

I have a new love for 2 Nefi 32:20. " 20 Por tanto, debéis seguir adelante con firmeza en Cristo, teniendo un fulgor perfecto de esperanza y amor por Dios y por todos los hombres. Por tanto, si marcháis adelante, deleitándoos en la palabra de Cristo, y perseveráis hasta el fin, he aquí, así dice el Padre: Tendréis la vida eterna." Enduring to the end just might be one of the hardest commandments that we strive to keep daily but it is also the commandment that brings us the most joy. I am grateful that as a missionary that is part of my purpose. Nothing could make me happier. I am so grateful for trials and hardships, how else would we learn and grow? 

Les quiero mucho! Espero que tengan una semana maravillosa! Happy Birthday Jared!
Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

FHE with los Navas y Los Campos and I learned how to roll and make real Guatemalan tortillas de maiz.

District lunch at Bety's lunchera

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Olympic 4 minutes, Atonement and Testimony

This week was incredible, oh how I love my life!  April 1st was Hermana Cardullo's birhtday and we had a blast at MLC and in all of our lessons that day. She got her face shoved into cake a few times haha.

We had one exchange this week. Hna. Freestone came to Lodi with me and we had appointments every hour and were super busy but it was a great day. She started her mission here so it was great to see her reunited with members at lessons and less actives. We had an incredible lesson on the Restoration and Prophets with our new investigator Magaly. She was blown away that there is a living profeta hoy en dia and that we were going to have the chance to listen to him this weekend! She is a great missionary and a great teacher.

Conference was amazing! Where do I even begin? It seriously was perfect. Saturday afternoon we watched conference with Erarstro (Mexican Rocker). He LOVED it. He said that he received the revelation he was looking for as to baptism and what to do with his family. He for sure wants to be baptized now and we are working on a date with him. He said it just brought so much peace and joy to him and he was so grateful we invited him.

Sunday was the busiest day. I LOVED the morning session. It was just power packed. We were able to watch it en la estaca with Angel and Lucy and then one of our new investigators Juan surprised us and came! Lucy (13) is the cutest and took even notes. She is so excited for her baptism this week. I loved every talk and received so many answers to my questions. I loved the analogy with the Olympics. One thing that I am so grateful for is how I have grown a deeper love and appreciation for the Gospel. Life makes more sense. The gospel is the only thing that matters. We MUST do our best every day. I  loved Bishop Stevenson's talk---This is our "4 minutes" how can we waste one minute? I loved Elder Bednar's talk. It was so powerful. I still don't understand the Atonement but I love how each day I am learning more. 

The Sunday afternoon session was great and different for us. We prayed and fasted for a way to help Bety watch conference. She was working all day  from 8:30-5:30 at la lunchera. So we went over at 12:45 and asked if she could take a break for like 20 minutes to watch conference with us but she couldn't leave. I am stressing inside but not loosing faith. So we decided to watch it live on her phone at work in between customer orders (we were praying no one would come order anything). The Spanish translation wasn't working on the phone. BUT WE DIDN'T GIVE UP. SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. So Elder Packer was speaking, bearing testimony and we sat there at the door of the lunchera and I translated his talk. I don'

t know how it all happened but the spirit was strong and Bety loved it and felt so much peace. She said that her boss at work has been talking to her about God and really encouraging her to get baptized! (he isn't even a member... yet :) haha). Such a blessing. She is so excited for her baptism this weekend. It was just a blessing and witness to me that we must do all we can withing our reach and the lord WILL bless and help us. After the talk her phone died and she had to go back to work so we went over to the Navas and watched the last part with Luz and her family. 

I love being a missionary and I love conference. How grateful I am for living day profetas and aposotles that lead and guide us back to our Heavenly Father. We have so much to be grateful for. I hope you all enjoyed conference and reciedeved the answers and revelation you were looking for. Les quiero, que tengan una buena semana mis quieridos!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
April 2014 Spanish Missionary Conference
Happy Birthday Hermana Cardullo

Monday, March 31, 2014

Working hard in the rain . . . . . .

I forgot to tell you that last week I was able to go down to Tracy and do an exchange with Hna. Sanchez. This is her second transfer out and she is incredible! She really works hard and strives to do her best, we had a really fun day together. Her dad just passed away a few weeks ago. She is incredibly strong and an amazing example for all of us hermanas.

Hna. Skidmore came to Lodi with me for intercambios! It was SOO fun and SOO great. Oh how I miss her. It was so fun to be together again, teaching and testifying. She is training now and doing a great job. We found some really new cool investigators from El Salvador.

On Friday both Hna Cardullo and I went down to Stockton to work with the ASL sisters in their area. It was a fun day contacting in the rain. We talked to EVERYONE we saw and had so much fun working in the rain. We found some great potentials and a family that we probably wouldn't have found if we didn't go out of our way just because it was raining. The Lord knows are efforts and gives us strength and courage. Lets just say English work and ASL work are SOO much different than Spanish work....haha. I learned a lot though and which helped me with contacting everyone.

As I have the privilege to do all of these exchanges, I feel so blessed to be able to work with other sisters and learn from each of them. Each is so unique and a great instrument in the Lords hand. It also makes me so grateful for my companion and my area. I know that I am where the Lord wants me to be. 

Hna Cardullo and I have really been striving to better use the scriptures in our lessons and it makes all the difference. It has been so insightful as we read together and find stories that apply specifically to each investigator. We did this with a lesson with Bety and read Enos 1. Wow. The spirit was so strong and she even started likening the verses unto herself. It really has helped me increase my testimony of the Book of Mormon and I feel like as I testify it is more sincere and the spirit is stronger. How blessed are we to have the scriptures?

So Luz did not get baptized this weekend but we had a HUGE miracle with her. We were over there a lot this week, teaching and serving and one day we were outside walking and Luz said, "Hermanas, I want to be baptized next Friday!". WHAT!? We were so excited, Hna Cardullo just fell to the ground with excitement haha. I am so glad it is finally her desire now. I know she wanted to before but it was a lot more of the missionaries and her family. Hna Cardullo and I both agreed that we don't want to drag her to baptism, we want it to be her decision and desire. So Sunday we met with her parents, the branch president and planned everything. She is firm for the 18th of April and we couldn't be happier. She has taught me so much and I love being with her. She reminds me of Tori in a lot of ways. What great girls.

Bety just started a new job which is such a blessing. We had some powerful lessons and we are so excited to watch general conference with her, Lucy and Angel! 

We also had a Spanish Conference with the Mission Presidency. Presidente Martinez gave us some great training's and it was great because everything was in Spanish and catered to the people. The culture, how to best understand and love them. We had a great scripture study really focusing on how the Book of Mormom is their ancestors. I love being a Spanish missionary and it was so great to be reunited with all the Spanish missionaries. We took lots of reunion pictures!

I hope you all have a great week! Love you all dearly. Don't miss the opportunity to watch conference and hear the beautiful and powerful testimonies of the Prophet and Apostles. I can't wait to hear what your favorite talks were and what stood out to you. Les quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
 Tracting in the rain
 Cherry blossoms out in Lodi
 Richard the lizard
Spanish Missionary Conference in Lodi
with President Martinez

Monday, March 24, 2014

This is better than being in love. . .

Buenos dias todos!! Mis queridos, como estan? Well I am just LOVIN my life here. Let me tell you about a great week. I wish I could just tell you everything. I wish I could tell you about each amazing family in the branch, each amazing person I have met that has forever changed my life. One day :)

Friday night we were having dinner with Hermana Luna. She is incredible and has so much sass. She had a visitor and he was nice and said hi and was like "oh las hermanas, ok pues mucho gusto". Then Hna Luna was like, "oh no no. THESE hermanas are different. Nothing is impossible for them."  We felt so special! I love the eternal friendships we are creating with these lovely members. During dinner she was saying how she wants Bety and her kids to come to her house on Sunday for dinner. We were so excited. 

Friday night we had an incredible lesson with Bety, Lucy and Angel. We taught about the restoration and El Libro De Mormon. Wow.  Words can't even describe the spirit in the room. I know the whole lesson was lead by the spirit because when Hermana Cardullo or I would speak it wasn't like we were teaching at all, we were just testifying with our "whole" hearts. We weren't the ones convincing her, she was sharing our love for the restored gospel. She was blown away by the Book of Mormon and so excited to read it. As we read through the introduccion con ella she kept shaking her head and had a face like "yeah, this is right". Then we asked her to read Moroni 10: 3-5 and pray to know if it's true and she said, "I can FEEL its true already. No doubts at all. I have never felt this way before". She has been soo prepared. Lucy, (her 13 year old daughter) posted a pic of the Book of Mormon on Facebook and said, "Thanks to the hermans for helping me and my family". They are so much closer and unified now. Bety's boss asked her to work on Sunday and she said "No way! I can't miss church. I think I understand what that man said about taking the sacrament and giving you that power to live through the week. I can't miss that!".  She is incredible right? After the lesson we got in the car and said a prayer of gratitude to our Heavenly Father. After Hermana Cardullo turns to me and says, "Wow. This is better than being in love...."hahaha. She is so great!  I love my companion!  She loves everyone inside and out. She truly see's their heart.  I am sure it is one of her many gifts.

Sunday, church was so great and so busy. After church Bety, Lucy and Angel followed us to Hermana Luna's. We had a fun lunch and a great lesson on the Plan of Salvation. Again the spirit was so strong and Hermana Luna was incredible at sharing her testimony and experiences. They have a lot in common and she is a perfect fellow-shipper for her. At the beginning of the lesson Bety said she didn't feel ready for baptism, as we taught and spirit testified of the truth we asked her again and she said she felt unworthy. Then we shared D&C 37:20 with her about the qualifications for baptism. After we asked her, "what are you missing from this scripture?"  She then said, in the most humble voice ever, "Nothing". Her and Lucy accepted the invitation to be baptized on April 11th!!! W are soo excited for them. They are such a miracle and my love and testimony of the Savior grows so much each time we are with them. Angel is 7 and will turn 8 in May and wants to be baptized too. So many miracles and blessings this week. The Lord is truly blessing us.

Luz was out of town all week in San Francisco with her grandma. We are hoping and praying firmly that she will put her fears aside and be baptized this weekend. Her grandma is not a member and told her all these crazy things, like Jesus drank coffee and there is beer in heaven.  She doesn't believe what her grandma said, but she is also scared that her grandma will treat her differently. We are going to the church tonight for our lesson and doing a "pre baptism" (going through everything, working out the nerves) to see if it helps. Please keep her in your prayers. I have faith that she will do what's right.

The Timalach's were called as branch missionaries today! :) So so so excited for them. They were just beaming! If you have time this week I would like to invite you all to read D&C 11. I especially love verses 8 and 11. It is such a powerful section and I learned so much. To sum up how I feel I would like to quote Ammon, 11  Pero Ammón le dijo: No me ajacto de mi propia fuerza ni en mi propia sabiduría, mas he aquí, mi bgozo es completo; sí, mi corazón rebosa de gozo, y me regocijaré en mi Dios. (Alma 26:11). My joy is full to the rim. I hope you all have a great week! Love and miss you dearly. 

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas

 Happy St. Patricks Day
Bety, Lucy, Angel----Visitors at Church Sunday

Monday, March 17, 2014

Life Can't Get Any Better?

So this week was probably one of my favorite weeks, on my life. Words can't even describe the love and spirit I felt, but I hope as you read you are able to capture a glimpse of the happiness I experienced this week.

Remember how members make all the difference? Well Hermana Susana Martinez gave us a referral to her friend Bety. We went over on Wednesday to met her. We walked into her home and there was a different and special feeling. She told us all about her life, trials, faith, etc. Halfway through the lesson her friend Magaly came into the room. Bety told her friend that we were missionaries and coming over to teach and help her so she invited her too. Wow. We had a great lesson and the spirit just filled the room, we invited them to be baptized and they said they want to learn a little more and we set a return appointment for Friday.

Friday we went over with Hernana Susana to visit Bety. When we got there Bety looked a little shocked but let us in and we talked. The spirit filled through the room as Susana bore her testimony and as we testified of the Atonement. Bey so badly wants to find peace and start a new life. She then went on to tell us that earlier in the day she texted us to say she couldn't meet with us today. She wasn't going to let us come back. After sending the text, without our "response" for a while she double checked our number and just figured we didn't have time to reply. So then she thought she would just hurry and shower and leave when we were coming. She was just on her way out when we arrived... and she showed us the text and she had typed our number wrong into the phone. She then said that she knows the Lord had a hand in her whole day and that HE is looking for her and knows that this is what she needs to be doing now.

Sunday, we drove to her house so she could follow us to church. We got there and her and her two kids (we are teaching them too!) were all ready in the car waiting for us. The best sight ever. We got to church on Sunday and EVERYONE was so nice and welcoming to her. There were lots of powerful meetings and she enjoyed them all. She especially enjoyed the Relief Society lesson on taking of the sacrament worthily. Her daughter really liked Young Women's and her son enjoyed primary! On Friday Susana had mentioned to Bety of getting a blessing (she is pretty sick and has so much stress, single mom, etc). 

So after the meetings we grabbed Hermano Garcia and the Elders and they were able to give her a blessing. WOW. The spirit was incredible. A love filled the room I have never before felt. After the blessing she bore her testimony and said, "I think this is where I am going to the find the peace that I so anhelo (longing) por". She told the Elders that we are her angels and knows that God placed us in her life for a reason. As we walked her out to the car she said, "This morning when I woke up I felt darkness. Now, after leaving church and receiving that blessing I can feel and see the light. I have peace. I now know that the Lord really does love me." I can't even describe to you the joy I feel. This is a kind of joy that is only possible through the Savior. I have NEVER desired the gospel more for someone. I have NEVER loved someone so easily. She is so special and I feel so blessed to be able to watch her come unto Christ and receive the peace and love she desires. 

This morning I read D&C 15:6, 6 And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.There is nothing of greater worth to me. I know I say this a lot but I truly love being a missionary. Words cant describe. I have never worked harder or been more tired, but most of all I have never had this much joy, felt closer to my Savior and never better understand my Heavenly Father's plan. What a blessing my life is. I cant imagine my life without these experiences and tender mercies from the lord. I am one lucky Hermana :)

Luz is doing great and has a date for the end of March! We are so excited for her and the best part is she is excited too! I feel so blessed to be a part of her life. She is such a special and incredible daughter of God. So grateful that we have the blessing of teacher her and helping her go to the temple with her family!

I hope you all have a great week! Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Joce, I hope you have a great birthday, love you so much. I am soo excited for WES and his mission call to Bahia Blanca, Argentina leaving July 2.  I am sad I will just barely miss him. Spanish is the best!! :) Last week we had a blast going through all the caves (we are all a little beat up with bruises, scratches and wounds but it was so much fun and so worth it). I will send more pictures next week. Les quiero!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas 
Sacramento Temple P-Day

Black Chasm caverns P-Day

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Member Missionaries Make a Difference

Sorry, I don't have a lot of time today, but yes, transfers happened... The Lord answered my prayers and I get to stay in Lodi with Hna. Cardullo!!! I am soo happy!! :) My 5th transfer here and I am so excited. I really think Lodi is one of the best things that has ever happened to me :)

Let me tell you the coolest thing that happened to us. We were eating dinner with La familia Velarde. Hno Velarde is an amazing member, he helped us a lot with Los Timalach. He was a convert at 18 and served a mission in Mexico. He said that on Sunday the testimonies were really strong and he realized he needs to do more missionary work. So he asked if he could go out tracting. Of course we said he could come with us and he said, "No, Like by myself. I want to find you LOTS of people to teach and I have already talked to all the people I know, I must share the gospel with everyone and prepare them to be taught by the missionaries."  So we called the Zone Leaders, who called the Assistants and he got permission to go tracting. Sunday after church he called us and had 9 REFERENCIAS for us. WHAT!? Member missionary work at its best. He said he just went up to everyone on the street and those that listened to his short message of the restoration----he asked for their address and said he would send his friends to bring them a special book. He is so incredible. I love this branch, they really understand the importance of missionary work.

Hna Cardullo and I had the opportunity to go to the temple today! It was so great, I felt like I had a  renewed look on life and was filled with peace. It was fun to see other missionaries as well and I saw Sister Woodland, Hermana Guadalupe and Sister Smith from East Sac so that was a treat!

We think of really fun ways to teach the gospel.... So we went to the park and played tennis with Los Timalach and taught the Word of Wisdom. Best lesson ever and it was so much fun. Little Kevin is a pro!

Erastro is amazing, every time we teach him he says it's like God and Jesus coming in and sitting with him. He is progressing we are just working on getting him to church. He has some health problems but we know he will come. Also, We are teaching Luz now, one of the most special girls. The elders taught and baptized her family in November but she didn't feel ready yet. She is 14 and LOVES talking to us. She is very shy but so smart and wants to get baptized. The elders were having a hard time teaching and seeing her so now we get to and I am sooo happy.

Sorry this is so scattered.  Next week I will update you on everyone else we are teaching. I love you all so so much and hope you have a great week. We are going out to the caves today, should be lots of fun!  Last week we went to the zoo! Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB!! I hope the family spoils you.

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
 Tennis with the Timalach's 
Neighborhood Little Meat Market

Monday, March 3, 2014

I love Domingo De Ayuno

We had our last exchange this week and it was incredible! I went down to Manteca with Hermana Hurley. She is an INCREDIBLE Missionary, I was blown away. She has been out for about 5 months and teaches with such charity. I learned so much from her and we had an amazing day. We taught really well together, sang in all the lessons, invited people to be baptized left and right and now they have 2 people preparing. I love exchanges! I Love my life.

Let me tell you about my new dear friend and investigator Erastro. He is the greatest thing. He is 61 and was a Mexican rocker. haha. so funny. Hermano Cardullo found him on exchanges talking to everyone. Come to find out all his children and wife are members but not him! He never really cared before but now is so prepared. We had some incredible lessons with him this week and he was so excited to accept the invitation to be baptized. We are so excited to help him prepare for baptism and become converted. He has a lot of health problems but has so much faith. Last time we went over he said,  "Hermanas, sit down please. I would like to share with you what I have been reading in the bible." Cute, funny endearing man. Love my life.

We also got a referral from the zone leaders for this man in Lockeford. So we drove out there and WOW. There he was, with his family of 6, waiting for us, inviting us in. We had a short and powerful lesson, the spirit was so strong and they wanted us to come back the next day. La familia Hernandez!! Can't wait to keep you updated on them. THEY ARE SO PREPARED :)

Let me tell you about the most beautiful sight. I love el domingo de ayuno (fast Sunday). As soon as it was time to start sharing testimonies, about 7 people raced up to share. Can you just picture that? Humble followers of Jesus Christ racing to share their testimony and conversion stories. It was so special. Also looking over and seeing the Timalach's so tired, yet sitting in sacrament meeting as a family. Have I told you I Love my life?

Yes dad, don't you worry. The Timalach's are inviting us to teach ALL their friends. We went over and they had a friend so Omar taught her how to pray, and invited them to a church activity. Yesterday during studies after church they called us and asked us to come over. So we went over and they had their cousins over, taught them how to pray, invited them to church and told them to let us teach them in their homes. They were really nice and at first were distant and said we like the Catholic church y "solo hay un Dios." So Magda pipes in and says, "That's what I thought, but there is a difference. With time and coming to church you too will see". BEST THING EVER.  They are already missionaries. Love my life.

I hope you have a great week, I love you all so so much! Transfers are next week and I am really praying that I stay in Lodi with Hermana Cardullo :)
 Lodi Mission District
Familia Martinez
Most humble people I have ever met

Monday, February 24, 2014

Exchanges All Over the Place

I don't even know where to begin my sweet family. This week was crazy and I don't really know what's going on in our area because of our 3 exchanges this week.. but we saw so many miracles and felt much joy.

First, yesterday Hermano Timalach spoke in church! We helped him write his talk this week. He gave his talk spoke from the heart. It was beautiful and the spirit was so strong, he was teary-eyed and bore his pure and simple love for the gospel and how it has changed his life. It was perfect. Hermana Cardullo made pasta last night and the Timalachs were in love with it!  Familia Perez (less active) has been going to church constantly for over a month now and we are helping them to prepare to enter the temple. :) I love this humble Lodi branch. My heart is here. 

I was able to stay in Lodi with Hermana Dando and we had a great day! We had lots of teaching appointments. We really focused on being positive and excited to do the work every day and being urgent to do the work! There is nothing better we could be doing right now. :)

Hermana Cardullo and I both went down to Stockton with the American sign language sisters. President Lewis asked that the 4 of us stay in the area and just work in different parts of the city. So we just had a party. I was with Sister Abbott. She is an incredible missionary, Such a great teacher and teaches with such love, I really learned a lot from her. We had a really cool experience, we found this English lady named Ana because we were at an apartment complex and her door was open. We offered to help her and she invited us in, we cleaned her apartment with her, shared the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and she absolutely loved it. Sis. Abbott went back on Friday and they invited her to be baptized and she accepted, she called me so happy. It is such a blessing to be able to be doing these exchanges with so many great sisters in the mission. English work is SOO different though, I felt lost during the day but everything worked out. I also didn't understand any ASL but we had fun and a great day full of miracles and crazy experiences. We also met some crazy people...(it's Stockton but we will save those stories for later :)

I was also able to go to Tracy West and spend the day with Hermana Griffith! She is great missionary. We really focused on talking with everyone because she said it is hard to get 20 contacts a day. We had a great time really going out of our way and talking to everyone. Haha, I just love being a missionary.

President Martinez came to the branch again with the 6 of us missionaries and we studied about what the sons of Mosiah did to baptize so many people. We really tore apart Alma 31:34-35. I love that they truly PLEADED with the Lord to find the elect. Hermana Cardullo and I have some new ideas and great things we want to focus on and strengthen so we can be just like them. To be a good missionary you have to study and apply the things you learn from the scriptures! We also went over a bunch of fun new finding activities that we are really excited to try!

I know that the Lord is truly preparing hearts (Alma 16:16-17), just one more exchange this week and then things will settle down a bit and we can really focus on our area. I hope you all had a great week, keep up the faith. "Y según su fe, se realizó un gran cambiol en su corazón. He aquí, os digo que todo esto es verdad" (Alma 5:12). Les queremos mucho!"

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas
Exchanges with the Sisters
Big Tree National Park on p-day
I wish Hermana Thomas would have told me 
which tree park?
Homemade Pasta dinner with the Timalach's
Chef Hermana Cardullo

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gozo Eterno

This week was INCREDIBLE!!!

We had a wonderful zone conference "go baptize." We really studied Alma 7:11-16.  So many promoises in verse 15: Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism. We talked about what our investigators need to "know, feel, and do." It really helped me to focus on my studies in the morning to help my investigators to understand these 3 principles. It is helping really helping me to focus and teach simple doctrine. We talked a lot about how our knowledge comes from the feelings we have. I feel soo grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
I was able to do exchanges here in Lodi with Hna Cuesta (Hna Skidmore is training her). She is Colombian and has been out for a month and is doing awesome!! We had a great day and an awesome lesson with Magda and helped her realize she has felt the spirit. It was awesome.  Valentines day was really great! We had some great lessons and we decided to spread some cheer. We went to the single moms in the ward and decorated (heart attacked) their door and left chocolate. It was so much fun. Lots of them guessed it was us but we didn't tell. Hna Gauna told everyone at church that she has a secret admirer. It was the best.

Magda was baptized on Saturday!! It was THE BEST DAY EVER. The spirit was soo strong. It was so great to see Hermana Pitcher again. She gave a great talk on baptism. Elder Fernandez also came back and baptized her. All of us missionaries sang, "Donde Hay Amor" and the spirit just filled the room. Everyone was beaming or had tears. Magda got up and shared her testimony. She thanked everyone for helping her get here, for their constant support and that she is doing this and wants this for an eternal family. Just hearing those words were the best thing ever. My heart was soo happy. It was a branch baptism, it wouldn't have happened without everyone. She was happy and has changed just in these few days too. She looks happier. I love being a missionary, I love this family. It will be the best day ever when I will be able to go through the temple with them and watch them be sealed. They are now a complete family. The gospel is edifying them and I can't wait to watch their conversion grow each day. I have never been happier.

I am feeling a little better each day and I know it's because of all the prayers/fasts of family and friends. Thank you everyone. I love you all so so much.  This we was incredible just like each of you!

Con Amor,
Hermana Thomas 
 Magda's Baptism
Heart attacking the single sisters in the area
Loving our Sister Diaz