July 24, 2017
Hello from Longview!
The most exciting news of the week is Cindys baptism! As usual, it was not without opposition. She got bit by a spider the night before that made her throw up constantly up to an hour before her baptism. But we had so many people praying for her and after she got baptized she relaxed a ton and said she had never felt peace like that before. So cool!
I'm writing this email while driving down to Vancouver to have our departing testimony and departing dinner. (No mom I'm not in the drivers seat) and it has got me in quite the reflective mood. One story really sticks out:
When I was training for the first time in Longview Elder Davenport and I fell into an anti-Mormon ambush. We had set up an appointment with some people and were coming back for the return appointment. When we arrived there were 5 different editions of the Book of Mormon spread out on the table and a pearl of great price, and of course a bible. The couple sat us down and proceeded to unload their bazooka of theological warfare. I had been out 8 weeks and didn't have any answers to their questions. I left that house with a really discouraged spirit.
As we drove home I remembered a quote from Joseph Smith that brought me right back. He said, "I see no faults in the church, therefore let me be resurrected with the saints. Whether I ascend to heaven or descend to Hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to Hell we will turn the devil out of doors and make a heaven out of it. Where this people are, there is good society."
It made me realize that more than anything I want to be with my parents. I want to be with my friends that are also serving missions, I want to be with President Taylor and Moroni and President Uchtdorf. Wherever they go, I want to be with them. And most of all I want to be with the Jesus Christ I learned about in the Bible AND Book of Mormon.
96 weeks later that quote still means a lot to me, mostly because I really have seen how good members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really are. I have seen members wipe out all the flowers from their garden just to give an investigator that they don't know a great wedding. I've seen Bishops give up work time to help a new family move into the ward. I've seen missionaries fast weekly for less-active members who have no idea of the sacrifice.
So much, if not all of this goodness, comes from the reality of a Savior Jesus Christ and his infinite Atonement that reaches out endlessly. I know that Jesus is the anointed one. I love him 100%. It is unreal what can happen when people develop a relationship with Him. It's changed me, changed my companions, changed members ....and yes even changed the populations of Longview, Gresham, and Astoria that will accept it!
Love it! Love my mission! See you tomorrow!
Elder Paul Thomas
Elder Paul Thomas