Monday, August 31, 2015

A great week in Warshington

August 31, 2015

So as the title indicates, it has been another week out here in
Washington or Warshington as you're supposed to pronounce it. It has definitely been one of the best weeks so far. To start it off, we had zone conference on Tuesday. Wow, President Taylor is one of the most inspired men i have ever met. The zone conference was on the doctrine of Christ, and he talked about repentance. There are a lot of doctrinal things and cool stories i could share, but i don't have much
time so I'll just share one principle.

 He talked about the NASA program going into space. Apparently they retrieve every shuttle after it has landed back on Earth. One thing that they found is that all of the space shuttles had a burned O ring which separated two chambers that could not mix. Well this kept happening and people were working on them so that they wouldn't burn. That took up a lot of time and none of them had burned all the way through yet, so they gave up on fixing the problem. That is called the
normalization of deviance. Well in 1980 a space shuttle, the first space shuttle with an average civilian on it blew up in mid air. The reason? An O ring that had burned all the way through. The devil has created the term "normalization of deviance"

So Zone Conference was awesome, and the next day we had exchanges with the traveling APs. Our mission has four APs and two of them go around to a different part of the mission every day and go on exchanges with companionships. So that afternoon i went out with Elder Braasier and we did some street contacting. We got like three new investigators in like an hour ha it was crazy. Then we had dinner with "ma girls" haha they are three widows in the ward who are best friends and retired so they just hang out all the time. After that I went out with elder Brase. it was really cool, we taught an inactive guy and his family. At the end of the lesson, Elder Brase asked the dad (S***) to say the closing prayer. At the end of the prayer he had tears in his eyes and said he hadn't prayed in like 15 years! haha but the night didn't end there! It was like 8:15 and our appointment fell through so Elder Brase and I decided to do some late-night contacting. Well we knocked on the first door and i recognized the lady who answered. she has blue and green hair and i've seen her walking around and smoking all the time. haha well surprise, she's a member! she's been out of the church for like 20 years but she said she knew it was time for her to come back to church. She said she isn't ready to meet with the missionaries yet but she said she's making her way there and she also said that she would love to give us haircuts! YES!!! haha so i got my hair cut from het today.

My last cool story for the week happened Sunday. Saturday night my Comp. and i were praying hard for what we needed to do better as missionaries. We felt that we needed to be more proactive in establishing a missionary culture in the ward. So we fasted Sunday to be better at doing that and also for baptisms. Well it was a fifth sunday, so for the third hour we all met back in the chapel and the bishop talked for like an hour and twenty minutes about how the ward could be better at helping the missionaries! wow. Then later that night, we knocked on a part member family's house. A ten-year-old girl answered the door and said "Hi. I'm going to be baptized." Literally, those were the first words out of her mouth. The lord definitely answers prayers. I love all you guys, hope you have a great week! AlsoS/O to my sister Jane it's her birthday tomorrow!

~Elder Thomas

Monday, August 24, 2015

A short sketch on Longview

August 24, 2015

One more week down! Haha. the weeks are definitely starting to go by faster and the work is starting to be more fun, so those are two good things. I also realize that i haven't talked much about the city of Longview that I’m in. so here it goes:

Longview is kind of a ghetto town. There is a little section right
next to the lake that's pretty nice, and that’s where we're staying
with members. But a lot of our area is called the highlands and it's
not the most safe haha. i think only the Spanish speaking sisters are
allowed to come to our area and that's only until 6:00. Also most
people live in a lot of poverty so they cant afford a security system,
so pretty much everyone has their own little den of dogs. After the
first two days we decided to keep a lint roller in the car. Also this
town is infested with spiders. You just have to accept them; they're
pretty much on every porch. They're in the side mirrors of every
mission vehicles. i even seriously woke up this morning to find a
spider over three inches long on my pillow. Ha my companion took a video of my reaction/ capture of the spider, too bad we can't send

As far as the work is concerned, this has been a really good week. The whole mission fasted for baptisms last Sunday and that has helped us a lot. We found five new investigators, and three of them were at the park between the times of 8:50 and 9:00 pm. Heavenly father definitely blesses us for diligence. I also extended my first baptism invitation this week. It was the most nerve-wracking thing ever, way worse than inviting someone to go on a date with you haha. It was a girl named J*** J**** and we were teaching her about the Doctrine of Christ and we got to baptism. All of a sudden I felt the spirit SO strong. so i read Alma 7:14,15 to her and asked her if she would be baptized?...Well, she said she would think about it. At least she came to church on Sunday!

Oh also don't worry about me with the wild fires raging everywhere up here, they're pretty far away but they are huge. Even as far away as 
we are, the smoke is everywhere causing the sun to be bright pink (my pic doesn't do it justice). Well those are the highlights, hope you all had a great week!

Elder Thomas

Monday, August 17, 2015

First full week and an original title

Hey Fam and friends, 

One more week down! I'm starting to get into a rhythm and to accept the fact that I'll stop being tired in two years. Haha there's no doubt about it, missionary work is tough, but so is anything worth doing. We've also seen a lot of miracles this week and I want to share just a few with you.

Last Wednesday we were going to stop by a less active's house, but the street in front of their house was totally packed with cars so we had to park a street back. Well we got out of our car at the same time that this guy with a marijuana pipe came walking out of his house. Despite being scary looking, the guy invited us into his house. We went in and started talking to him.  It turned out that he and his wife used to be members but they were offended by someone in their ward in Texas. He said he knew it was time to come back to church. Then his wife came home. At first she was shocked to see us, then her eyes got really big and said that she had prayed that morning and said that she told Heavenly Father that she knew he wouldn't care if she left the church forever. Well we talked to them for a while and they agreed to come to church! Not only did they come, but they wanted to make a good impression on the ward so they brought a bag of vegetables from their garden and laid them out on a table in the middle of the hallway with a sign that said "free produce, enjoy!" Hahaha it made my day!

I'd say the funniest part of my week was one night when we were teaching with a member. We had a new investigator and we were teaching her about the Book of Mormon. The member was trying to make a point that God had carefully planned for the book to come forth through a prophet, so he was like "This is a very special book, it didn't just pop out of the ground or anything." hahah oh man he had to do some serious backtracking after that.

The thing that's surprised me the most so far is how much I love all the elders in my mission. Our whole zone gets along so well and we just want to hang out all the time. Seriously, like last p-day we studied the scriptures together then went grocery shopping together then emailed together then played basketball together. My friends in different zones say it's the same throughout the whole mission. President Taylor has built a very cool culture here.

I love all you guys, hope you all have a great week!

~Elder Thomas
This was our Friday Night
One must understand Paul's arachnophobia to appreciate this photo. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

First week in the field...notes

August 10, 15

Well, twelve days later here I am sitting in the Longview Stake
Center, on my iPad writing my first email from the field. But let's
back up a little bit. Since my last letter, we had a really awesome
devotional my last Sunday in the MTC. Sheri Dew came and talked to us
about wrestling with ourselves and wrestling with God. If there were no
struggle involved and we just got answers whenever we asked for them,
we wouldn't appreciate the truths that we learn. Also, I'm wondering
if Sheri and Lisa Adams are like best friends, because that wouldn't
surprise me at all haha.

          Well, two days later was the departure date. So we woke up
at 2:30 am and went to the travel office. From the travel office we
took a bus that took us to the front-runner, which took us to Trax,
which took us to the airport, where we flew to Portland. That was

already like the longest day ever, and it was only like 10 am! From
the airport we were driven to the mission office where we were oriented
and got our iPads and everything, and then we went straight out with the
Elders. My companion was Elder Peterson, whose first name is Christian
and he said that he knew hope from Highland. Small world haha.
Actually, he requested to go with me because he said he could tell I
was Hope's brother just by my smile. I was also recognized as Lauren
Thomas's cousin and Kristen Van Tiendren's cousin just by my smile and
name tag haha. I didn't know it was that distinct.

      Now is when I would tell you about the miracles we had tracking
this week, but my iPad malfunctioned this morning so I don't have as
much email time. So suffice it to say that I LOVE my mission president
and the culture they have in this mission. Really, I see president
Taylor being an apostle... A very bold apostle haha. I love you all,
see you next week!

P.s. I forgot my camera so I can only send pics I have on my iPad.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Observations from week one in the MTC

Hey faithful blog followers, aka my mom and dad and maybe my sisters if they're feeling generous. It has been a crazy week here at the MTC. It's seriously nothing like I would expect it to be. I realized almost immediately that i would have to get really sincere in my prayers if i was going to make it through. Seriously I feel like i spend half my day praying haha. But in praying harder and studying the gospel and trying to turn my heart over to God I've found myself happier than I've been in a long time. It also helps that it's unlimited food for every meal.

The past few days have been a blur, but here are some of the highlights: I got picked up from the curb by my amigo, Abraham Smith-Driggs on my first day. Even though i tried really hard not to act nervous, i was and it was really nice to talk with him and laugh. Infact i've seen a ton of people i know. the list includes Josh Coomans (in my district) Josh Garff, Brigham Jackson, Matt Kaelberer, Rachel langston, Parker Wagner, Jeff Farnsworth, Matthew Teynor, Rachel Sorensen, Hans Lehnardt, Aaron Knudson, and pretty much half of the Skyline seminary haha. But back to highlights, my companion is such a stud. His name is Elder smith and he's from centerville. He reminds me a lot of Adam webber. he played baseball for Viewmont, and he's also the district leader.  Sunday was pretty much the biggest highlight of my life. WE had a bunch of personal study time, which was not uncommon, but it just felt extra special on the sabbath. Then the first counselor of the MTC presidency conducted our zone's sacrament meeting and left us with a message about being representatives of Jesus christ that was awesome. Then we went to choir practice which is probably where i felt the spirit strongest all week. And after that we had our sunday night devotional. Elder Stephen Allen gave it and it was so neat. He had missionaries stand up if they said they had a really hard week. like everyone stood up. then he had everyone stand up if their faith was tested this week. pretty much everyone stood up. Then he had everyone stand up that was totally surprised by their mission call. Almost everyone stood up. It was just nice to see that everyone was having the same thoughts and feelings that I was.After that we watched a recording of Elder Bednar's talk about "the character of Christ" and it totally changed my perspective on who I want to be at the end of my mission.

 I've notice a couple of things while here at the MTC;
1) IT's a lot easier to get up when there is no snooze button. I mean it's by no means easy, but when you can't put a snooze on Chris brown waking you up, it's a little easier.
2) There are SO many missionaries going to Japan and Korea. Like seriously. How many missionaries do those tiny little islands really need??
3) Don't drink the orange juice. Enough said.
4) the MTC is what you make it. Lots of elders have decided that they hate it and they're just counting down the days until they leave. But if you have a positive attitude about it you can end up each day at least not in a frown. 
5) keep an eye on your dryer sheets. haha i just got up from the computer to change my laundry and someone had stolen my dryer sheets lol. 

This is all the time i've got but I hope you've all had a great week and I really appreciate all the letters! :)

Elder Paul Thomas
Washington, Vancouver Mission