Monday, April 25, 2016

Crazy, not too crazy!

April, 25, 2016


This has been a crazy week. The great news is that Frank got
baptized this week!!! I really didn't know if it was all going to come
together at the end. He had some issues about paying tithing, so
Monday night we watched the Joseph Smith movie with him and the next
day he said he was ready to totally commit! The downside is that they
held the baptism at 9 am on Sunday and that was the exact same time as
the sacrament meeting in my new ward. So unfortunately I couldn't go.
But President Taylor called me afterward to tell me that everything
went smoothly and that Frank bore a powerful testimony of his
conversion to the gospel.

Although not Polynesian, my new area and companion are both really
great. My companion is Elder Petitta, he is from Atlanta Georgia and
apparently he's an incredible baseball player. Like good enough that
he has worked out with professional teams, spent winters training in
Puerto Rico, and signed to pitch for LSU on national signing day. Then
two weeks later he tore his shoulder apart and he took that as a sign he
needed to serve a mission

My new ward is awesome as well. Our bishop is the CEO of a fortune
500 company and one of the most spiritual, happy, go-lucky guys I have
ever met. Not to mention our ward mission leader looks exactly like
Daniel Cornelius, served in Guatemala, and gives us nightly calls to
help with anything we may need. This ward is awesome!

We live with members, the Ravenbergs, and we have a pretty sweet set-up.
Sister Ravenberg is what I imagine Annie Pugsley to be in like 70
years, ha. She keeps fresh fruit and sugar-free cookies on the counter
for us at all times and about 70% of her remarks toward us are sassy
comments about how we need to make our beds more or do more yoga in
the morning.

Other than that, this week hasn't been too crazy, just a lot of
getting to know new people and saying goodbye to old friends.

Thanks for everything,

Elder Thomas


 Adidas employee store
The Unga Family

Elder Price

The District

FHE with The Ravenbergs, the couple we now live with.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tribute to Tonga!

April 18, 2016

Tribute to TongaπŸ‡ΉπŸ‡΄

Yes, the seven week transfer is coming to an end. Along with that, my
4.5 month stay in the Tongan ward is coming to a close. I have learned
more here about missionary work and the essence of the gospel than I
think I could have learned in any other ward.

Memories from the Tongan ward:

- Driving to mutual or church and only seeing hummers, suburban’s, and mini-vans.
- Ward council, priesthood meetings, and sacrament meeting all conducted totally
in Tongan.
- Family dinners that turn into rugby matches
- Driving up and down Killingworth St. Hitting up all he good food places.
- Teaching lessons sitting on woven mats or by the light of one lamp
because that's the only light fixture in the house.
- Being told that I'll be more spiritual if I eat more.
- Taking priests out street contacting every Sunday to give them
mission experience
- Knocking every house that has a really nice driveway, because a
Tongan probably did it.
- Ward parties with 500 plates of food left over
- Our fridge constantly full, not going grocery shopping a single time
- Members constantly asking us for Books of Mormon to give away to
their friends.
- Eating at Mongolian Buffet every week. About 2-3 times each week.
- Being offered Kava on multiple occasions ha.'s a controversial topic
- Members starting to take their seats for sacrament meeting an hour
and a half before the meeting starts
- Constantly looking for and creepily following cars with Polynesian
looking bumper stickers.
- Barbeque almost weekly with practically the entire ward. Always
complete with nonmembers and either rugby or kickball.

This ward and these people have learned to call upon the powers of
heaven. It is apparent to any observer that the gospel works for them.
What is the key? What makes this ward so incredible? A lot of things,
but mostly I believe it can all be tied in to charity. They don't care
or judge, everyone is part of the family. Anybody who wants to worship
Christ with them is their brother or sister in Christ.

Needless to say, I'm pretty bummed to be leaving. But we have the
baptism of Frank next week that I can go back for, and hopefully one
of our Chuukese families will get baptized soon after that. I'll be
going up to Vancouver and my new companion will be Elder Petitta. I
don't know much about him except that he was trained by Elder
Davenport, who I trained ha so that should be fun!

Have a great week!
~Elder Paul Thomas

- Enjoy the pig brain eating video

 Giving our ties to this departing missionary

Monday, April 11, 2016

A four month story in four short paragraphs

April 11, 2016

Hey Family

This week has been good. The majority of my email this week is going
to be a story that started back when I was in the Rocky Butte ward. As
I have mentioned previously, I HATE trying to find people from 8:30 to
9:00pm. So I printed off a sheet of all the less-actives in the ward and
if we didn’t have appointments, I would call les-actives from 8:30-9. I
did this for a couple of weeks without any real success. Finally one
evening a woman named Peggy answered the phone. She said she hadn't
heard from anybody in the church in years but invited us over.

So we went over and had a really great lesson with her. She is one of
those people who was just completely ready to return to church. Along
with her we met her mother (85 years old) and her daughter (40 years
old) who both lived with her. Her mother was very nice and possibly
the sassiest old woman I have ever met ha. Her daughter had such a
dark countenance that it was almost hard to look at her. She never
spoke to us. Her mom said that we were lucky her daughter didn't say
anything to us. Apparently she had become atheist, had committed every
sin imaginable, and normally didn't have kind words for Mormons. Well
Peggy started coming back to church, a week later I was transferred
and didn't think much of it.

Fast forward four months to last Saturday, My comp and I were doing
personal study when the Rocky Butte Elders called us and asked if we
could teach The Restoration at a baptism since they would be
baptizing. We agreed, and to my surprise we walked into the font area to find that very same girl with a glowing countenance in a white
jumpsuit. To add to my surprise, Peggy's mom also was wearing a white
jumpsuit. It turns out that she had once been a member but had her
name removed from the church records.  Now, 60 years later, she had decided to be baptized again and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost!

I talked to Peggy's daughter for a little bit afterwards and all I can
say is wow. The atonement is real. She has gone from a woman who
refused the principle of prayer at its very core, to a woman who
apologized for forgetting to say a prayer on the refreshments.

The blessing of the Atonement are so real. 

Have a great week,

Elder Thomas

Monday, April 4, 2016


April 4, 2016

Well it seems that another week has passed. Another solid week.
Obviously the highlight of the week was General Conference. But
besides that we had some other cool activities.

We had a zone service project where we went down to the City Council
Building, got reflective vests and picked up trash on the side of the
road for a while. It was pretty fun except I'm quite sure most people
who saw us probably thought we were juvenile delinquents and not

I also had exchanges two days this week, which switched things up a bit.
To be honest, I was probably too sick to go out and work but we taught
some good lesson on exchanges so it was definitely worth it.

Last week we asked our investigator Frank to start reading the
Book of Mormon, when we went back this week he was already 10
chapters in! He's really solid and his daughter really wants him to be
baptized. The hardest thing with Frank is keeping him on track with
the lessons. For instance, last lesson we started talking about the
Tree of Life and ended the lesson with him telling us the dramatic story
of when he was in a street chase with the Japanese mafia!

Thoughts from conference:
- Listen carefully to testimony, speak testimony slowly. It is a time
when men are most lead by the spirit.
- πŸ˜€
- We all have in our own lives Saul-like individuals with Paul-like potential
- Nobody needs to be judged by the worst thing he has ever done.
- Tell God your action plan while you pray.
- The greater the difference between the giver and receiver, the more
the receiver has feelings of entitlement.
- πŸ˜€
- Mervyn Arnold talk --> missionary work
- Being born again comes through the spirit, by ordinances. -Joseph Smith
- We are not meant to feel the joy of baptism just once in our lives.
- Ordinances put spiritual power and purposes into our lives
- The priesthood I hold is the same power by which God created worlds
and exalts his obedient children
- Pray to learn how to pray for more power
- The enemy to charity is pride. Pride is selfish and easily provoked.
- Pride is the defining characteristic of Satan
- Mercy triumphs over judgment
- Pray to baptize families.
- Steps of faith = obedience.
- πŸ˜€
- Life is understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.

Favorite quote I heard this week:
Americans eat to live
Italians live to eat
Tongans eat to die

Thank you all so much for you support and prayers,

~Elder Thomas