Monday, May 30, 2016

Family history is opening doors and hearts

Happy Memorial Day!

It has been a good week here in Vancouver. The Sun came out, along
with quite a few new investigators coming out of the woodwork.

Noteable investigators include Elizabeth - A woman in her mid 30
engaged to a member of our ward. Neither of them come to church very
often because he is on call 24/7, but he has a strong testimony and
has shared it enough with her that she has picked up a Book of Mormon
on her own initiative and has started trying to figure out her opinion
on the book. Tessa is another new investigator. We found her knocking
doors a few weeks ago. We went back this past week and she wondered
what took us so long haha. It also turns out her kids are friends with
the kids of like the most active family in our ward.

Other things this week - I had a really great exchange. We decided
that since the bishop and Stake President are so enthusiastic right
now about family history work that we would have to say the words
"family history" or "genealogy" in talking to every singles person we
talked to. The results were incredible. Way more people were willing
to talk to us and we even got more return appointments.

One man had been familiar with the church for almost three decades.
But offering to help him do family history we were the first
missionaries that actually got inside his house. We helped him set up account and connect him to his ancestors. He said
he never thought in his whole life that he would see as much of his
own family history as we found for him that day. He got really
emotional talking about his ancestors, it was cool.

This past week we also had 2 Samoan barbecues and were invited to a
third today. I may never eat again!

Also, we got transfer letters this past week and I will be headed to
Astoria on Wednesday. Newly assigned car: The minivan! Ha I'm so

Love you all!

Elder Paul Thomas

pic above is of our bball game this morning.  Man in the middle and far left are members.  Guy and guy's daughter on the right were super drunk when we walked by last night (sunday).  He said I was the tallest man he had ever seen and because of that he had to challenge us to basketball ha.  We said we couldn't play because it was sunday but if he still wanted to play today (p-day) then we'd drive back and have a showdown.  Final score was 21-8 for us.
Breakfast with the Ravenbergs

The Brown Family 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Another great reminder of the power of gency and desire


This has been another good week. The highlight was our interviews with President Taylor. It was our final interviews with him, which was crazy. He is a great example to me of someone who is striving to become more like the savior.

In some ways this week was discouraging, in other ways it was really discouraging haha. At the beginning of the week we had 7 investigators we were visiting regularly. At the end of the week we had 0. Ultimately this week has been another great reminder of the power of agency and desire. In some cases people just don't want to change and you have to respect that.

It was also really gray and rainy this week. But Elder Petitta had his birthday so that was nice!

Have a good one,

~Elder Paul Thomas

 A husky on a husky 

A yearbook photo of President Eyring

Monday, May 16, 2016

"missionaries don't actually leave their families at all to go on missions"

May 16, 2016


It has been a good past two weeks. Obviously Mother's Day and the
FaceTime was a highlight. It was good to see that Dave Heywood is
still alive…I was beginning to wonder.

Other exciting things that have happened:

1. We got a new Corolla! Now we can listen to music from USBs again

2. We did one of the most disgusting service projects of all time: One
of our investigators got sick two years ago and to be able to pay her
hospital bills, she stopped paying the trash bill ...and continued to
quit paying the trash bill. So we went in with a few members of the
Elders Quorum. Remember that this trash has been rained on and
inhabited by flies for the last two years. Wow it was bad. After the
first 30 minutes my comp and I were the only ones willing to actually
touch the trash and rebag it.

3. The Ravenbergs are out of town so we have the house to ourselves!
Unfortunately that means that the supply of sugar free cookies is

4. We almost died an honorable death of over-consumption of Arepas. A
sister in our ward is from Venezuela and that is a very popular dish
down there. I can see why. It was our third dinner of he day, but
somehow I was still able to pound down four and a half ha. (I had to
beat the Spanish missionaries' record of four).

5. We have tried literally every finding method we could think of..
and then some. This week, per the request of one of our ward
missionaries, we tried getting 5-6 families in the ward to stand on
the busiest corner we could find and sing hymns as loud as we could
and give Book of Mormons and pictures of Jesus to everyone that rolled
down their window to listen to the music. It worked pretty well except
for the rain haha.

Overall it has been a pretty eventful last couple of weeks, but also
kind of frustrating because we have tried everything we can think of
to bring this great message to the people of Vancouver, but nobody
yet has let it into their hearts.

Parting thought about families: What is family? Well in the words of Jack Kelly from the song "Santa Fe" from Newsies, it is a "Mother Father Daughter Son." And since we know that relationships and love come shared experiences together, I submit that missionaries don't actually leave their families at all to go on missions. From the time missionaries arrive in the MTC they are assigned a son of daughter of God to be with 24 hours a day. Then they get on a plane with a hundred or so other children of God and fly to "a far corner of the vineyard" Where they spend months and months pleading with, fasting for, and serving their brothers and sisters. Throughout all this time they are enveloped in the spirit of and study the teachings of their very eternal father and brother. If anything, a mission is time set apart to be with dad and enlarge his family and ultimately ours as well. Thank goodness for missions, families, and our older brother who ensured that those are one in the same.

Love you all,

~Elder Paul Thomas


Monday, May 2, 2016

"Will you join me in prayer..."

May 2, 2016


Hey! This has been a great week. It has been mostly sunny which has
been a highlight.

We had stake conference this week, which was really good. Our recent
convert (Heather) of about 6 weeks gave the opening prayer. She was
nervous about it beforehand but as anticipated it turned out really
well. She went up to the pulpit said "will you join me in prayer?" And
proceeded to give a beautiful prayer.

The whole subject of stake conference was "the work of salvation." And
so our Mission President along with the Portland Temple President and
the Stake President all got up and spoke about how even though they
held separate keys for different types of labor, this is all
one great work. The Stake President's talk especially hit me. He said
that he spent countless sleepless nights being totally consumed with
thoughts of salvation and the need to hasten the work thereof. We are not
sure exactly how yet, but we are going to start using family history
as a main finding method and a means of reactivating members.

We met with Angie again this week, which was good. It seems like she
really connected with the member we brought with us.

Besides that it was a pretty average week. I had made a deal with a
companionship last Sunday that if they talked to 10x as many people
this week as the week before, I would do 300 burpees. I felt
pretty safe. Well, lo and behold, they actually did it! Ha but I didn't
want to give them the satisfaction of watching me suffer in person, so
I have just been periodically doing them throughout the day today,
hence the video of one set of burpees I recorded in time-lapse.

Talk to y'all on Mother's Day!


Elder P. Thomas