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