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!

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