Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 104

July 24, 2017

Hello from Longview!
The most exciting news of the week is Cindys baptism! As usual, it was not without opposition. She got bit by a spider the night before that made her throw up constantly up to an hour before her baptism. But we had so many people praying for her and after she got baptized she relaxed a ton and said she had never felt peace like that before. So cool!

I'm writing this email while driving down to Vancouver to have our departing testimony and departing dinner. (No mom I'm not in the drivers seat) and it has got me in quite the reflective mood. One story really sticks out:

When I was training for the first time in Longview Elder Davenport and I fell into an anti-Mormon ambush. We had set up an appointment with some people and were coming back for the return appointment. When we arrived there were 5 different editions of the Book of Mormon spread out on the table and a pearl of great price, and of course a bible. The couple sat us down and proceeded to unload their bazooka of theological warfare. I had been out 8 weeks and didn't have any answers to their questions. I left that house with a really discouraged spirit. 

As we drove home I remembered a quote from Joseph Smith that brought me right back. He said, "I see no faults in the church, therefore let me be resurrected with the saints. Whether I ascend to heaven or descend to Hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to Hell we will turn the devil out of doors and make a heaven out of it. Where this people are, there is good society."

It made me realize that more than anything I want to be with my parents. I want to be with my friends that are also serving missions, I want to be with President Taylor and Moroni and President Uchtdorf. Wherever they go, I want to be with them. And most of all I want to be with the Jesus Christ I learned about in the Bible AND Book of Mormon. 

96 weeks later that quote still means a lot to me, mostly because I really have seen how good members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really are. I have seen members wipe out all the flowers from their garden just to give an investigator that they don't know a great wedding. I've seen Bishops give up work time to help a new family move into the ward. I've seen missionaries fast weekly for less-active members who have no idea of the sacrifice. 

So much, if not all of this goodness, comes from the reality of a Savior Jesus Christ and his infinite Atonement that reaches out endlessly. I know that Jesus is the anointed one. I love him 100%. It is unreal what can happen when people develop a relationship with Him. It's changed me, changed my companions, changed members ....and yes even changed the populations of Longview, Gresham, and Astoria that will accept it!

Love it! Love my mission! See you tomorrow!

Elder Paul Thomas

Elder Paul Thomas

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

10 seconds later a dog appears out of nowhere

July 17, 2017

Hey Fam!
Great week here in Longview. 

  • Cool miracle this week: we were going to contact a potential that lives on kind of a busy street. We parked the car and were about to walk to the apartment. As I was getting out of the car the strangest Impression came to me. I felt prompted to just stand there - on this busy street - with my car door open. I'm not kidding, 10 seconds later a dog appears out of nowhere and jumps into our car. Obviously the owners come running after it. We start talking to the couple and learn that the husband is a less-active member and the wife is a non-member who works for an active family I knew in Astoria!

This transfer I have had a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon in a transfer and underline every reference to Jesus Christ. After 5 weeks I'm in the first chapter of Alma yeah I'm going to fail. But as I was reading and underlining last week the thought came to me that "the Book of Mormon makes it easy to believe in the restoration." If your testimony is struggling, take the advice of President Monson and read the Book of Mormon! Abide by its precepts and pretty soon you'll feel as good as you ever have!

Have a great week!


Elder Paul Thomas

Reminders to pray for our mission goal

After not having seen Elder Andrews for 15 months

Monday, July 10, 2017

Trunky? Nahhhh! Really I'm just happy to be here!

July 10, 2017

Life is good, just like usual.

4th of July! It was an all day Pday! We did the family history booth in the morning for a couple hours, but then had the rest of the day to relax. We were allowed to wear non-proselyting clothes and stay out until 11 to watch the fireworks. So sweet!!  
4th of July festival

I think President McAteer must have known that fireworks and the Katy Perry songs at the lake would not be the most spiritual setting, so he scheduled our whole zone to go to the temple the next morning! Sorry Katy, but heavenly choirs are better!.

On Saturday we had exchanges. I was staying in the area but we had a baptism we were all attending so we saw each other there. Somehow during the baptism Elder Atwood got the phone. We went back to our apartment after the baptism, then i realized that neither one of us had the phone. We decided to knock on our neighbors door and ask to borrow her phone. Turns out that this neighbor has taken her son to mutual before and befriended the previous missionaries, but has never received a copy of the Book of Mormon. Of course we were happy to give one to her - and she was happy to commit to read it! It was a good reminder that people are prepared everywhere to receive the gospel ..and everywhere includes next door!

I randomly ran into the previous Elder Funk and some former companions at the mission office!

So yeah i have two weeks left. Trunkey? Nahhhhh. Really im just happy to be here. It was pretty interesting because on the way home from the temple i had a brand new missionary in my car, a kinda new one, a mid-mission missionary, and two dying missionaries. I was asking them each for the biggest wisdom they have learned on their mission. No matter how long they had been out, the answers were all along the same lines - "love other people, and choose to enjoy it." I know that that's true! This church rocks and Jesus Christ is real!

Pres. Monson quotes
"We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all."  —Thomas S. Monson

"Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved"

~Elder Paul Thomas

Running into the prior Elder Funk and Elder Petita

July 4th Festival

Bro Plourd photo-bombing

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mexican Food, Our Family History Both, and Teaching Dish Employees

July 4, 2017

Great week here in Longview!

I can quite honestly say that almost half of my week was fueled by Mexican food and ice cream! You think im kidding. Not kidding.   Friday for lunch we had ice cream. Dinner that day we had Maria's Mexican. ...then fried ice cream for dessert. Then we had a service project the next morning ...fueled by Taco Bell. Then a member made lunch for us ...tacos. Washed down by some ice cream. And so on, and so on. Hey its all good though, im really just making myself more soft and easy to hug at the airport!  

Family History
So this week Longview has the biggest festival of the year and fourth biggest festival in the state! It is pretty much like a big fair at the lake with ton of people setting up booths and rides and food truck and stuff. Since this is the only exciting thing that happens in the city all year, pretty much the entire city turns out for the event!

All the missionaries got together this year and we decided to do a family history booth. Since about 30,000 people come to the park these three days, you can imagine we have been pretty busy! Probably the most interesting thing about the booth is the diversity of people that have stopped by trying to figure out some of their ancestry. I expected to mostly be talking to older people this week but over half of the people have been ysa age or young families that want to know their heritage. The spirit of Elijah works on the most unlikely people!

Another cool experience we had with the booth is that we have been looking for an investigator, Jadyn, for weeks. She stopped answering her phone and quit working at the place where we used to meet her. It was kinda sad but we continued to pray for the next two weeks to run into her somewhere. Lo and behold Sunday afternoon she walks right past our booth and we were able to talk with her and get in contact again. It turns out that her phone has stopped working, but that she had taken the pamphlet we had given her, read the whole thing, looked up all the scriptures in the back, and answered all the questions!

Holy cow! Out of a crowd of 30,000 people, when we were just working 3 hours out of the day, the Lord blessed us to run into someone we couldn't meet any other way!

Baptize your replacement
Recently I've been thinking about a thought from Elder Kopishke when he did a mission tour almost a year ago. He invited each of us to pray for the opportunity to baptize our replacement - meaning, baptize someone who will go on a mission. Like i said, I've been thinking about that a lot so on Sunday i fasted to find someone who could go on a mission.

During church a ysa I never met before got up and bore his testimony. We went over to talk with him after the meeting and he said he was working for Dish and that this is his first week in the area. Dish apparently hires a lot of people to go door to door and then rents a house for all of them to live in. He said he would check with the people he was living with to see if they were interested at all. He texted us later that day that they were interested and that we should come over. It was like a Book of Mormon experience preaching to this huge crowd of people. There were a lot of people at the house so i figured a lot would leave or start making dinner or something, but almost everyone stayed on the couches and listened to the first lesson and then asked for Book of Mormons after!

God answers prayers and he cares about the desires of your heart. Love you all,

Elder Thomas

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

When the subject line is longer than the blog text....

June 26, 2017

Great week and many miracles! 

Love y'all! 

S/O to two of my great friends, Jake Anderson and Hans Lehnardt who return home this week!

Monday, June 19, 2017

You never know who's listening

June 19, 2017

Hello from the great city of Longview!

This was my journal entry from Saturday night: "Tired. Taco Bell. Nice apartment. Book of Mormon." Need I say more?

In reality "nice apartment" is underlined in my journal because it is still making me so happy. Even though we're staying in Mint Valley they had us move apartments so we could be closer to the second area that we are covering. It used to be a sisters apartment and dk what I was expecting, but I forgot that sisters are generally really good at decorating haha and these were no exception! There are like motivational sayings all over the place and Easter decorations and an entire drawer full of candy! Haha it’s awesome. I think we had one motivational quote written in our last apartment ...and it was sharpied onto the back of an old t-shirt.

We had a really cool miracle this week; After church, following a prompting of the spirit, I Asked Sister Moses if we could set up a time on Thursday to meet with the family. My intention was just to share a thought about missionary work. But then later that day we were driving down the road and got an impression that we should park the car and talk to someone across the street. We did it and the person was not interested. But right after they said no, a family friend of the Moses' drove by and we talked to them for a bit. He said he had been wanting to talk with us. Conveniently we already had an appointment with the Moses on Thursday so he said he would come with us and we could teach him the first discussion in their home!

Something else that was pretty cool was that we have been going to all the members and asking them to pray for missionary opportunity every day, and then following up in a week to see if they have had any cool experiences. We stopped by the Cook family last week and had dinner with them yesterday. When we asked if they had had any experiences, the parents both responded in the negative, but their 7 year old daughter, who we thought had not even been listening, said that she had been praying for an opportunity and had invited her friend at school. You never know who is listening!

Also, Elder Lawrence of the 70 came to visit our mission. Here is the best definition I learned from the Conference: Spirituality = the ability to recognize truth and act on it.

I love this work, I love the savior, I love the Book of Mormon, and of course I love my dad - best dad in the world!

Elder Paul Thomas