Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I am realizing that I don't know as much Spanish as I thought I did!

August 29, 2016

Hey Family
It has been another great week here in the WVM! Elder Winn left on
Tuesday, I tripanionshiped with the Long Beach Elders for a day, then
got my new companion, Elder Flynn on Wednesday. He is the man, we have
such a great time together!

Spanish work is going great and I am realizing that I don't know as
much Spanish as I thought I did ha. My poor companion had to translate
all three hours of church plus an hour long interview after

The church is true.

What we love determines what we seek.
What we seek determines what we think and do.
What we think and do determines who we are--and who we will become.

-President Uchtdorf

Love, Elder Thomas

Monday, August 22, 2016

A quick recap of the last two weeks!

August 22, 2016

Hey Fam,

It has been a really crazy past two weeks here in Astoria. To recap
really quick:

Two weeks ago a girl, Ashley, showed up at church and stayed for all
three hours and then stayed for choir practice right after. We talked
to her for a while and learned that she had come from a split
household. Her mom was Protestant and her dad was Mormon. Her mom's
one wish was that she not get baptized while they lived under the same
roof. So for 10 years Ashley has gone to church, set up chairs, and
received young women's medallions without ever getting baptized. Well it
just so happens that she recently moved down to Astoria and wants to
get baptized. We set a date for September 17th!

Three days ago we were knocking doors in a trailer park we didn't even
know was in our area when we found an incredibly solid investigator. Her name
is Yolonda and she by far had the nicest trailer. After talking to her
for a while we learned that she had met with missionaries in
California and loved it but never got baptized. About 5 minutes into
our conversation she said she is really open to being a member and
that she had even attended another area's ward three weeks ago because
her friend was going!

We had stake conference last week and it was the best one I've been to
during my mission so far. Elder Richard Hansen of the seventy came and
gave a great talk about covenants. He defined covenants as "The
memorialization of promises you have already made with God." I like
that because nobody becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ right as they
are baptized. They become a developing disciple beforehand and the
baptism is a promise to stay that way and continue in that path.

After conference, our ride home forgot us and took like 20 minutes to
answer their phone and then turn around to come get us hahaha don't
worry though we made it home with 1 minute to spare before our curfew.

(mom note: Paul’s letter ends right there. Make up your own stories to go with the pictures.)

Monday, August 8, 2016

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care!

August 8, 2016

August 8, 2016

We had a great meeting in Vancouver on Thursday where the new counselors to the Mission President were announced. Their names are President Stone and President Christensen. They are both so awesome and I felt the spirit very strongly as they spoke. Also, the former first counselor is now the executive secretary, and the former second counselor is now the housing coordinator. So needless to say, we have some pretty powerful meetings and awesome mission staff!

If there was one theme I could draw from all the trainings we got it would be "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." President Stone talked about one time when he was able to meet an apostle. He was in a line of over 100 people to talk to him, but the apostle still took time to learn where he was from and remember his name and make a connection. Simple things make a big difference.

Kind of funny story: We carpooled to Vancouver from Longview (About 50 minutes) Wednesday night. And when we were dropped off at our car on Thursday I had accidentally left the Van keys in Vancouver. So we had to drive all the way back down and then all the way back up and then all the way to Astoria. Thank goodness for Jesus the Christ Lecture Series on CD!

By far the biggest highlight of the week was Kevin's baptism. He was sooo ready. I can't remember if I have told this story before, but the missionaries before us found Kevin and his girlfriend Kaara who was less-active. Kevin couldn't get married because of legal complexities and since he has to live the law of chastity to be baptized, he couldn't get baptized. The missionaries before us decided to fast that the paperwork would go through for them, but they didn't see any results. When we got to the area, Elder Winn and I decided to set a goal of August 6th for the baptism, even though the legal process was projected to take much longer. We all decided we would pray every day for August 6th to work. Well after about 4 weeks of this, Kevin and Kaara got a notification that the papers had actually gone through when the previous Elders had fasted for it! So we had the wedding last week and the baptism this week.

It was probably the best baptism I have been to so far on my mission. Elder Winn gave a great talk, and he had to stall for a while because the member who Kevin choose to baptism him was 30 minutes away when the service started. Finally Elder Winn gave up taking time and another missionary got into baptismal cloths to baptize Kevin, but right when Kevin was about to step into the font, the original member came running through the doors and was able to put on baptismal clothing and baptize him. Literally the timing could not have been more perfect. We had a lot of members of the ward show up and Kaara gave a great talk. She has probably changed more than Kevin in these past couple of months and it has been incredible to see.

Love you all,

Elder Thomas

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pondering about hope, and a panda jumpsuit

August 1, 2016

Hey Fam!

It has been another good week here in Astoria.
We had two days this week where it seemed like the appointments were
coming to us. The day just filled and the appointments stopped right at
9:00. Yesterday we had planned on stopping by a potential investigator on a
particular street and ended up spending almost two hours there because
people would not stop talking to us.

We had exchanges so I went up to LongBeach again which meant I got
another run on the beach, and it was raining pretty hard. Needless to
say I'm still trying to dry my shoes and get all the sand out of them

Kevin passed his baptismal interview on Saturday so he is going to be
baptized this coming Saturday, we are stoked!

We found a less-active named Matthew this week that we work out with
in the mornings three times weekly. He is by far one of my favorite
people ever. When we knocked on his door for the first time he was
wearing a panda jumpsuit unbuttoned to his sternum, with Ray Bans and
a SnapBack he got at a gas station. For our workout on Saturday he
wore a bat costume with uggs haha, he knows his stuff though. He is my
height and has about 80 more pounds of muscle than me ha.

This week I have been thinking about hope and its importance in the
following scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 4 "...faith, hope,
charity, and love qualify him for the work" We know the "work"
mentioned is missionary work but how does hope fit into it? Well to
start, faith is the motivation. It's a principle of action so it's the
one that gets us on our feet and actually doing things. Charity and
love are the action. They are what give meaning to our work and
yield the results. "...and without charity [we] are nothing." We are
nothing because any other method of work is faulty and cannot handle
the pressure of an eternal weight. Hope is the destination. It is the
promise that we have that our hard work will pay off. For missionaries
it's Alma 26. I believe in the Lord's promises and hold fast to my
hope that they will be fulfilled.

Have a great week,