Monday, November 30, 2015

The best part of being a missionary is being able to be a direct answer to someone's prayer!

November 30, 2015

Dear Family,

It was a good week in the WVM. Unfortunately it was a holiday weekend
and my comp got pretty sick but besides that it was a good week.

Because it was Thanksgiving week, the majority of our teaching pool
was out of town or didn't have time to meet. Meaning we had a lot of
fun tracting and street contacting with all of our spare time! Nothing
too exciting happened for us. Couple of crazy drunks and tweakers,
some hooligans here and there, but nothing extraordinary.

THANKSGIVING! Just so you know, this wasn't a normal Thanksgiving. But
I'll explain what we did. So as missionaries, we usually spend a big
holiday like this with families in the Ward. You know, "building up
the members". Unfortunately, the majority of our Ward was out of town.
So we had dinner with one of the most amazing families. The
Vippermans. They are a young family that is super on board with
missionary work and they are just super great. Anyways. They invited
us over to their house along with two other companionships and it was
a party!

We had a great feast and it was a grand old time.

Personally I think one of the best parts of being a missionary is all
the opportunities you have to be a direct answer to someone's prayer.
We had that opportunity on Saturday. There were some non-members who
were getting evicted from their apartment and they had found a new
place to live but had no way of getting their stuff there. ...and they
had a lot of stuff. Basically it had gotten to the point where they
had two days left to move their entire house or they would be fined a
lot of money that they didn't have. Somehow they found out about
missionaries and asked the zone leaders for help. It took the whole
zone ten hours total, but we were able to get them out on time. We all
had to reschedule appointments and move stuff around. But to see the
difference it made in their life, it was totally worth it.

Then Sunday night we had a musical fireside, which was way sweet. This
guy we are working with did his hair and beard to look just like

Here's a thought for the week:

“Perhaps the greatest indicator of character is the capacity to
recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are
experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately
and forcefully pressing upon us.” -Elder Bednar.

Love you guys, hope you have a great week!

~Elder Thomas

Monday, November 23, 2015

Have a great Thanksgiving

November 23, 2015

Hey Fam! This week has gone by SO fast. To start off we had Exchanges on Wednesday with the zone leaders which way way nice because I stayed in our area with one of the ZL's who served in Rocky Butte about a year and a half ago. He had all sorts of potential and former investigators he knew of that weren't in area book, which was way helpful.

Then on Thursday we had Elder Johnson of the seventy come and speak to us. It was good; he talked about how our job as missionaries is to baptize those people who are ready to receive the gospel. If they're not ready then it's not our job to prepare them, and we've got to let them go for a short time so we can focus on the investigators who are prepared. 

My thoughts on gratitude are extensive and I doubt I could put them into adequate words if I were given a week. To summarize, I believe that if we completely understood what we have been given just with life and our families and the blessings to follow in the next existence, we would not have a sad moment on this earth. I’m getting frustrated trying to put this into words because I can't, but I guess suffice it to say that because of what I have seen and felt on my mission thus far, I cannot be jealous of others as I was before and I can't take my family or religion or clear mind for granted as I had before.

This is a really short email since we went on a hike today, but I hope the pics make up for the lack of words!

love you guys and hope you have a great thanksgiving!

Elder Thomas

Monday, November 16, 2015

If you ever want to see really happy missionaries, just go to a baptism!

November 16, 2015

Hey family!

It was another good week up here in Portland.
Unfortunately Elder Holt was pretty sick most of this week and had to
stay in, but we were still able to have some cool experiences.

By far the coolest experience was the exchange we had in the Tongan
ward. The members are SO missionary minded. For the first couple hours
of the exchange, the district leader and I were going around to
member's houses and offering them a spiritual thought. Without fail
the first thing each member said was, "oh my Elders! you are too
skinny! Come eat!" Then after they force fed us they're like "thanks
for helping us be better missionaries. I'm already working on these
three neighbors and two of my co-workers, but we can be better!"  Then
we went to their young men's and young women’s that night because we
were supposed to give like a 5 minute spiritual thought. When we got
there the bishop was like "Elders! We’ve set aside 30 minutes for you
guys to speak!" So we kind of winged it, but I thought it was ok ha.
Without us doing anything, the young men and young women brought 8
non-members to the activity. I asked the bishop how he got the young
men and young women how to bring friends and he said that they couldn't get
funding for activities unless they brought non-members. Ha the Tongan
ward is awesome!

We also had the baptism on Saturday, which was awesome and only
included a few hiccups. Phoebe was so happy and a lot of her non-member
friends and family came. Elder Stone baptized her and Elder Reyes
confirmed. If you ever want to see really happy missionaries, just go
to a baptism!

The hiccups included having mysterious green water in the font, and
the Elders who were filling it up for us forgot to put hot water in
the font haha. President Taylor also came to the baptism, which was very
cool! Missionaries always give the restoration lesson while the baptized and baptizer are changing into dry clothes, so it was nerve wracking giving the message in front of the president, but we did a pretty good job considering how sick my comp was.

We also got a letter from our mission president today that says
starting on Thanksgiving we can listen to ANY Christmas music! Yes!!
So if anyone has an extra Christmas CD lying around feel free to send
it to Portland!

Much love,
Elder Thomas

Note from "the missionary's mom," don't worry about the CD request! We'll be sending him Christmas music!!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A great week for finding investigators

Weekly Report

Well it was another good week here in the WVM. Actually as far as finding goes it was probably the best week I’ve seen so far. In these last seven days (including p-day) we were able to find 10 new investigators! I'm most psyched about a family of three that was in our potentials list. We decided to stop by one night to see if they were interested and S**** S**** (the dad) answered the door. We ended up having an hour long lesson on his doorstep in the pouring rain where we taught him the entire restoration and the entire gospel of Jesus Christ. It was pretty killer. That was on Monday, we had our next appointment on Saturday and that was an even better lesson. By Saturday, Scott's wife had read all of the literature we gave Scott and then some. ha at the end of the lesson the whole family was way psyched about the gospel and said "after years and years of searching, this is the only church that makes sense" Heck yeah! 

I can't remember if I talked about P**** last week, but she is an investigator from the last missionaries who is on date for baptism. ...and actually her date is really close, as in its on Saturday! ha we're pretty psyched about it. We actually don't have to do much for the baptism. The other Elders taught her so they're going to come back to baptize her and everything, all we had to do was get a baptism interview for her which she easily passed. 

it's a blast living where i am! Every evening my comp and i chill with the Portland ZLs and since we all live in Portland, we always have good stories to tell each other at the end of the day. 

One story from this week happened yesterday while driving back from an appointment. But before I start this story, I have to give some background info. About two and a half months ago I found a Tongan book of Mormon in my room. Since tracting gets kind of boring sometimes I decided I’d take the book of Mormon with me every time we went tracting in the hopes of running into a Tongan. Two and a half months later I hadn't run into a single Tongan... that is until Sunday! As we were driving home, we saw the license plate of the car in front of us said "Tongan Pride" on it.  i was like "Elder, we have to follow that car!!" So we followed it to a grocery store right next to where we live. Yes! shopping on Sunday, that means he's not a member. In an effort to be inconspicuous we decided to wait until after he got out of the store to give him the Book of Mormon.  We only had to wait for like two minutes for him to come out of the store again empty-handed. I almost killed myself getting out of the car to in intercept him, but I did and then....    Surprise he's a member! Aaaggggh! He felt bad about going to the store on Sunday so he didn't buy anything haha. Stay tuned, when I finally give away that Book of Mormon it'll be a crazy story!

Oh I saw the sun today! It was only for like 30 minutes, but I consider that noteworthy! Anyway I hope you guys have a great week!

~Elder Thomas

Monday, November 2, 2015

Two new areas in one week!

November 2, 15

Hey amigos! This has been quite the week out here in the WVM. To start off, we had transfers on Wednesday so we had to get up early to drive down to Vancouver. The transfer meeting was way good though, President and sister Taylor both talked a lot about vision and trusting in the lord to take care of things that are out of our control. So after transfer meeting we drove down to Portland and I met my new comp. Elder Barton is way sick, he's been out one more transfer than I have and is not reserved or shy about anything.

When I got to the apartment in Portland I learned that we couldn't upgrade apartments even though we were moving in two more elders. So my comp and I slept in a bunk bed we assembled in the middle of the living room floor. We also had weekly correlation meeting that first day in Portland where I learned that not only were there four English Elders in the ward, but there were also four Spanish Elders as well. Lol I don't know why we have so many Elders cause none of us have any progressing investigators. There's a lot of potential in the ward though. 

There is one car for all four Elders, so we had to do some car sharing which was new to me but I actually liked it cause it make you use your car day wisely and appreciate the car more. However there are some down sides too, like when we had to walk for two hours in to pouring rain to get back to the apartment. Yeah, it has rained literally every single day for like a week and a half ha.

Well the work was going well and we were starting to find some potential investigators until Halloween came. Ha oh man Halloween was a crazy day. It wasn't crazy in the sense the people looked weird on the street; cause in Portland every day is Halloween. It was crazy cause at 7:00 am I got a call from one of the assistants to the president telling me to pack my stuff and that they'd be at our apartment in two hours. Ha so I packed my stuff and they made a tri-pan out of the three Elders remaining in the Apartment and took me to The Rocky Butte ward. Apparently my new comp's old comp had to go home asap. So I spent Halloween day in a tri-pan with my new comp (Elder Holt) and the guy that had to go home. At 6 that night we went to the mission home to drop off the missionary, but his parents weren't there yet and it was going to take them like 3 more hours to drive there from Idaho. So the three of us spent Halloween night handing out candy to trick or treaters with the mission President and his wife. At around 9:30 his family arrived and took him home, so we were able to leave Vancouver at like 10, at which time we got really lost. In a nutshell, it was the most up and down day I've had in a long time.

This new set-up I'm in though is way sick. I LOVE the apartment and the Elders in it. I'm in the Gresham zone now, but we live with the Portland Zone leaders and it's a blast. They're obedient and righteous, but they're also just hilarious guys who know how to have fun. Elder Holt is way sick too. 15 months out he got hit on a bike and had to go home for 8 months for shoulder surgery. This is his first transfer back, so we're both really excited to work hard. He played football for desert hills and this quote describes his personality perfectly "Am I as funny as I think I am? Cause I think I'm pretty dang funny!" Ha he's great and I think we'll do some great work! 

Have a great week!

~Elder Thomas