Monday, November 28, 2016

Much better than last year's cold, overpriced mac n cheese Thanksgiving dinner!

November 28, 2016

Hey y'all.

I really don't know where all the time went this Pday. For some reason
I've found myself with no time to email. But since I know everyone is
wondering- I will confirm that this Thanksgiving was much better than
last years where we planned all day and bought overpriced mac n cheese
for dinner. This year we had dinner with two families on Turkey day and one of
them was the Brown family I taught 7 months ago!

Life is good as always. The church is still true. I would share a
thought on gratitude, but I'm probably the 12th missionary email you
will read today and thus the 12th spiritual thought on faith and/or gratitude so I'll
Leave you with an Elder Petitta Quote on success:

"When you desire to succeed, but desire to please God more, then you
will be successful"


Elder Thomas

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I have never felt the spirit that strongly tracting before!

November 21, 2016

Maannnn. It is been quite a week. I guess I'll start off with Wednesday. Wednesday morning we work up at 5:30 to drive two hours to the transfer site in Longview. Once we got to the transfer site I handed over the keys to the minivan   and went inside to meet my new trainee. His name is Elder Fouts and he is from Bountiful Utah. He loves insects and reptiles and wearing suits. Seriously. It took like three days of rhetoric to persuade him he'll wear out his suit if he wears it every single day ha.

From the transfer site we drove to our new church building and made plans to contact and meet our investigators. (We were getting doubled in)( Two new missionaries to a new area). We would have driven to our apartment but it was being sprayed for bed bugs so we couldn't unload our stuff until evening!

Our area- we have a really great area! There is so much work going on that it is the only area in the mission with three sets of missionaries! It has one of the best bishops I have ever met. It's mostly full of apartment complexes which would be fine except that literally after 6 months of working perfectly, my GPS randomly stopped working after being in our new area for 3 hours! Haha needless to say this week has been stressful. So stressful in fact that I got kinda sick yesterday and continue to be so today.

Miracle - Wednesday night, our first day in the area, we were looking for a members house and got really lost (Remember, no GPS). We pulled over to what I thought should be the members house and opened the gate. Then I realized four things. 1) This was not he correct house 2) There was a big dog barking inside the house. 3) There was a beware of dog sign on he fence. 4) It was like 8:30 and it had been dark outside for like 4 hours already. We decided to knock the door anyway and a 60 year old Kris Kringle came out to meet us. For some reason the first words out of my mouth were "We have a message that your family can be together forever" Then he got all emotional right there on his front porch (Dog still barking in the background) and told us his wife was dying of cancer and that it was a message he needed to hear. I felt the spirit sooo strong. I have never felt he spirit that strongly tracting before. Then I handed him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and when we came back later we learned he had read the whole thing!

I definitely miss Elder Flynn and Astoria, but I live with Elder Petitta again which is fun and the church is still true!

The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. -Ezra Taft Benson

Happy Thanksgiving,

Elder Thomas
 New Companion, Elder Fouts
 New Zone
Good-bye to Astoria

Monday, November 14, 2016

I have not prayed or fasted more for anything else in my entire life...

November 14, 2016

Another great week here in Astoria. ...also my last week here in Astoria.
To start off I've got to rewind 6 weeks to when Elder Flynn and I set our goals for the transfer. I said 1. I wanted to speak Spanish every time we were in the minivan and 2. that we should try to get 15 investigators to church on November 13th (the last day of the transfer). The first goal i quit after the second day, but the investigators turned into our focus for the whole transfer.

How did we try to achieve? lots of prayers and lots of fasting. I have not prayed or fasted more for anything else in my entire life. We even talked to the bishop and he designated on the Sunday before that every member of the ward fast for missionary work and invited them to bring their friends the following week. We asked the bishop's counselor who was presiding this month to pick the "all-star lineup" of speakers for sacrament meeting, and Elder Flynn even got a solo in the choir that was going to sing on the 13th.

Unfortunately we didn't really have much time to proselyte this week because of all the meetings, but things just seemed to work out. Wednesday we had a meeting with a General Authority (Elder Kopischke) in Longview until 4 and then on Thursday we had weekly planning, then on Friday we had another meeting in Vancouver (two hours away) with Elder Kopischke. But despite all the meetings, it seemed like every door we knocked on there was someone home and they wanted to be invited to church.

By Saturday literally all we did was stop by everyone in our Area book and invite them to church. Sunday morning rolls around, lo and behold we have….*wait for it*          ...3 Investigators at church! haha yeah so it turns out that people still have their agency. If even 1/3 of the non-members who we invited had come we would have reached our goal! Here is the cool thing though - In the process of inviting everyone we could, we ended up inviting a lot of less-actives to church and the number of which showed up was 12 less-actives. That brings the number of people who would otherwise not have been at church to a total of 15. :)

Lessons learned: people always have their agency. It doesn't matter how many times you fast or pray, how many phone calls, or even if you show up at their door Sunday morning. You cant make anybody go to church if they don't want to. But the Lord honors every exercise of faith. Also, that was by far the best sacrament meeting i had been to in a LONG time. Probably because i put a lot into it and where you put in a lot of effort, you get great rewards. 

Loretta. Loretta is a funny old lady we met while knocking doors a couple of months ago. She thinks she's really mean an tough but really she's a softie. On the day we found her she was smoking her first cigarette in over a year. We told her we could help her stop but she wasn't interested. We have stopped by every week since and invited her to church without luck. Last week Elder Flynn invited her to come hear him sing a solo in the choir. This conversation followed (i'm orange, Loretta is blue) "🔹well are you going to sing Elder Thomas?"   "🔸no" "🔹Why not?" "🔸I don't sing" "🔹you should sing"  "🔸no"  "🔹God gave you a voice" "🔸yeah i'm using it to invite you to church" "🔹i'll come if you sing in the choir" "🔸no" "🔹well then i'm not coming to church" "🔸k fine I'll sing".

Loretta came, then she asked for a Book of Mormon afterwards! Sometimes you just need to fight stubbornness with stubbornness.

McGloughlin. So for my new area I'll be training in the McGlouglin ward in Vancouver. That also happens to be the AP's ward. On the night that transfer email came out, the AP's sent us a text saying "Welcome to McGlouglin" and Elder Flynn and i freaked out cause we each thought the other person was going to be the next AP. We had a good laugh about it afterwards.

Wow this is probably the longest email I have ever sent home. So if you want the readers digest version - The week was great. I'm going to miss Elder Flynn and Astoria.  Astoria is tied for my favorite area with the Tongan ward.  God answers prayers.  Agency exists.

Love you all,

Elder Paul Thomas

After 3 months I finally received my Spanish name tag.  I only had it five days before I got news of my transfer.

 Keeping the goal present
Hermana Gee and I serve in the same ward.  There's always 2 feet between us.

 Anybody know which movie this is from? Hint- Arnold Schwarzenegger 
Probably my favorite person, Brenda!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lily's marriage and baptism

November 6, 2016


Things are good as always. Elder Flynn and I are having a blast and enjoying the bounteous feast of experience that the mission field has to offer.

To start off, Lily got baptized!!!! It was awesome. She and Trampas got married at 6:30 in the relief society room and then had their reception right after. Then at 7:30 she changed her white dress for a white jumpsuit and got baptized! She was so happy afterward, and we were able to get the whole family there. All around it was just a
really great experience.

In addition to Lily's baptism on Friday, Elder Flynn and I were able to go to Vancouver to watch the baptism of 3 kids that Elder Flynn taught in Vancouver. I swear like half the mission had taught these kids and the other half got to go because their comps had taught them. It was a blast seeing all the other missionaries. And then some less-actives took us out to a seafood buffet afterward which made the night even better!

We went on a few exchanges this week that were pretty fun. I have been in Astoria so long and been to Longbeach on so many exchanges that some members of the branch up there think I'm their missionary ha. We saw three members at Subway and all of them recognized me from a previous exchange. Yeah, I've been serving here for a while. We also had our traditional run on the beach which was way nice because it was dark but all the stars were still out and there was nobody else out there the entire time.

Now I'll be 100% honest. Sometimes I go to church and I think to myself "I'm only 19 years old and I have already heard a lesson on faith or gratitude about 17,000 times. I wonder if this will ever get really boring considering I have al least three times that amount of years ahead of me?" Then I have a week like this past one and I see the gospel and those lessons of faith work in someone's life. I feel the emotions of joy and contentment that come with repetitious living in a righteous manner. And I see that cycle begin in someone else's life. So when the scriptures start to sound boring or the Sunday school lessons seem too predictable - It is time, again, to listen to the Savior's counsel to "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."


Elder Paul Thomas