Monday, February 29, 2016

small miracles and leap week

February 29, 2016

Malo a lelei!

Things are great here in the Tongan ward! These past two weeks have
consisted of many small miracles. Since it's easier to write them in
list form, that's what I'll do.

1. On Tuesday we felt pretty inspired to drive to a little park on the
very edge of our area. It was so far on the edge that we had to check
twice just to make sure it was in bounds. We got here and there was
literally only one person in the whole park. So of course went over
and talk to him. It turns out that he had attended another ward for
many months like two years ago but couldn't get baptized because he
was on probation. Now he's off probation and he talked to us for about
an hour and a half telling us how much he loved being part of a ward
family. We gave him the number of his ward's missionaries.

2. We have gone a full week without eating at Mongolian Grill. It's a
joke among the Tongan missionaries that you'll gain half your weight
in Mongolian food in this ward. So far in this ward I have eaten there 23
times ha. Why Do the Tongans love Mongolian Grill?  It’s all you can

3. Last night we showed up to our dinner appointment and our dinner host
had brought an investigator. They made some dang good bbq and we were
able to teach the first lesson afterwards.

4. After we left that dinner we noticed we had a missed call from our
bishop. We called him back and he said hat he had a friend for us to
teach in his house the following night (which is tonight).

5. President Taylor has returned as our full time mission president
much sooner than anticipated. It is great to have him back, and it was
also great to have President Ferrin for a little bit. He was Mission
President over the top baptizing mission in the world for a while. One
year, his mission baptized over 400 people in December. So you can
imagine he had a bunch of handy tips for us.

6. I guess I can't really count church as a miracle, except that it's
pretty remarkable that, considering Mormon standard time, 70% of the
congregation was seated in the chapel and listening to Tongan hymns 15
minutes before the meeting started this week.

Overall, these last two weeks have been killer. Really hard in some
ways, but killer great in others. I really want to stay in this ward. We will be
getting transfer calls later today, so I'll include my location at the

This just in: I’m staying right where I am with Elder B. for the next 7 weeks.  Yes, we get an extra leap week this transfer. 

Love you all,

~Elder Paul Thomas

Monday, February 22, 2016

Stick to your task til it sticks to you!

February 22, 2016


It's been a good week. Nothing as crazy as last week, but we had some
solid appointments. We also had a regional broadcast from SLC for our
church which was pretty good. Elder Renlund spoke about how to explain
things to nonmembers or people who question church policy. He said
that every time a question arises, we have to answer it by first
explaining revelation or the Plan of Salvation so that it can be
understood in context.

Most of our investigators have been kind of flakey this week, but at
least we finally got the ward mission plan to every family. Pretty
exciting ha.

We also went to a great baptism yesterday. It wasn't our investigator,
but he was Tongan so we decided to go so we could meet his nonmember
friends. It ended up being one of the best baptisms I've been to so
far on my mission. He had been taught by many, many missionaries while
he was investigating and most of them were able to get a ride back to
the baptism. A lot of them started crying when he got baptized and
that got me thinking about charity and developing love for the
people we teach. It's important to baptize, and we're told to do that
over and over again. But if we are unchanged by the experience we've
completed only half of our purpose.

Sorry for the short email, I was on a hike took most of our P-day.
Have a great week!

~Elder Paul Thomas

        “Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
         Beginners are many, but enders are few.
         Honor, power, place and praise
         Will always come to the one who stays.
       “Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
         Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it, too;
         For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
         Will come life’s victories after a while.”      --Author Unknown

Sent from my iPad

P.s. Sorry apparently the email server in our mission didn't really work
last week so if you were expecting an email and didn't get one just
let me know it didn't go through

Monday, February 8, 2016


February 8, 2016


Holy cow this has been a week of miracles! I guess the most obvious
one would be The Broncos pulling out the win against the panthers! No,
We didn't watch the game, but we heard all about it from the
pedestrians on the 82nd street bus stop. What a way for my man Peyton
to go out!

Another awesome miracle happened last Monday night. We're supposed to
proselyte from 6-9 on Mondays and we found ourselves at 8:30 and
absolutely nothing to do. That is by far the hardest time of the day. We
decided to go street contacting by one of our favorite spots near our
apartment. Like I said, it was 8:30, it was dark, we were tired from
pday, and as soon as I put the car in park it started raining a lot
harder. But we got out anyway and found ourselves at a large hotel we
pass all the time. Walking into the hotel was a receptionist that
looked islander. Of course my intelligible first comment was "Hey! Are
you Tongan?"   "Ummm yes."   "Sweet! Can we talk to you for a sec?"
"Sure. Come inside" ha. Not my smoothest. But when we got inside (the
hotel) we started talking to her and learned that she and her husband
were both members but went totally inactive when they moved to this
side of the river. She said she had been praying for help because her life
was really hard, then all of a sudden we showed up. She told us she had
a strong desire to come back to church and got kind of emotional when
we presented her with a Tongan Book of Mormon. Then she printed off
different routs to take to her house depending on the time of day and
the traffic on the road.

The next really cool thing this week happened on Wednesday during
mutual. Brother Tatafu (the previous ward mission leader) pulled my
companion and me into another room and then brought in three
investigators he was working with and told us to teach them. As soon as
that lesson was done, a young man came into the room with one of his
non-member friends and told us to teach him. It's almost unreal how
incredible these members are!

Then on Thursday we had a prompting to go up to North Portland (about
a 25 minute drive). It has been our experience that it's best to
follow promptings so we went up there and the man I was thinking about
wasn't home. So we worked around in the area and a couple hours later
I felt we needed to go back again. So we went back again and this time
the member was home. So we talked to him for a bit about his family
and then almost out of nowhere he started telling us about these
questions he has had for a long time.  But then he was like, "last night
I was praying to God to send me something ...anything to know that
this is his church and that he cares that I'm here. Then just a few
minutes ago when I heard my wife yell and say that the Elders were
here, I felt and knew that this was a message from God. So don't worry
about answering those questions, I will not question God again."

Then the day after, we were in a pretty dang sketchy part of town for
our dinner appointment. It turned out that our dinner forgot about us.
But that's ok because while we were down there we ran into two more
less-active Tongan members who also were not in any records we could
find. So we were able to talk with them and share a quick message.

I don't know if this counts as a miracle, but on fast Sunday there was
no awkward silence during sacrament meeting, In fact, there was a pretty
long line and nobody went over 5 minutes!

This isn't quite a miracle story, but while we were in the sketchy
part of town talking to the less-actives, somebody slashed our rear
tire ha. We were able to drive it to the church, but then it was too
flat and dark and raining so we just fixed it the next morning on

As always, have a great week!

Elder Thomas

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…..get up in the
morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.
Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life
casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.

- Abraham Joshua Heschel

Monday, February 1, 2016

LEPA (Trunkey) but not really!!

February 1, 2016

What a week! The highlight of my week and the reason for the title was
the lunch visit I had with the Van Tienderens! I had to sweet talk the
AP's a little bit, but in the end they said I could take an hour lunch
with them. So I called them up and set up a visit for Saturday! It was
soooo nice to talk and see people from back home! I got to meet their
new(ish) baby girl Wendy and eat classic Thomas family recipes I.e.
Grandma's chip dip and her famous marbled brownies! They're totally
the same people and definitely had the spirit in their home. Couldn't
have asked for a better lunch!

Besides lunch, we had a lot of other cool experiences this week. We
found 2 REALLY solid investigators tracting. Sadly we have to hand
them off to the Palangi (American/English) ward in the area, but I really
think they'll progress.

Church this week was really good, but not limited to -----

* Bishop had a meeting with just us before church started where he outlined
families he wanted us to teach.
* They sang two of my favorite hymns during sacrament meeting.
* Two of the speakers sang a hymn in Tongan before they gave their
talk. And halfway through the whole congregation joined in.
* I am starting to learn more people's names. (Half the ward is named Sione)
* Sunday school was just good.
* The bishop decided that we should go meet with the youth third hour
and that the youth should watch "The Prince of Egypt" haha
* Sister Finau came up to us after church with two bags of food for "a
snack" because "you Elders looked hungry last week"
* Bishop's son brought three non-members to church who we are now
going to teach this week.

As I mentioned earlier, it has been a really good week, and that has
got me thinking about a blessing I received the day I went into
the MTC. Dad put his hands on my head and one of the things he said
was "you will have times on your mission where you will be happier
than you ever have been before." When I heard that promise I assumed
there would be a couple of instances where I would be standing in a
baptismal font, about to baptize someone, and feel a surge of crazy-
intense happiness. I'm not saying that now I've realized that's
impossible, or even that it won't happen. But it was my observation
this week as I sat in a humble home, half the size of my apartment,
teaching a family of 10 about the love of Jesus Christ that there is a
whole different type of happiness. Completely different from what you
feel at track meets and football games, It's the kind of happiness
that makes you sit back, take a deep breath, and smile from the inside


~Elder Thomas