Monday, September 28, 2015

Losing myself in the work!

Hello all!

This has been the best week of my mission! So much has happened but it went by so fast. Elder Raveneau and I are killing it right now! Even though we are whitewashing an area, we are trying to be diligent...even if we have to take a 2 hour bus ride to get there! Yup, we're still in Didcot, which means we are still looking for a flat in Witney. There are only two beds in our flat, and my blow up mattress got a hole in it so now I'm sleeping on the wood floor! Not the best on my back, but it's actually not that bad. Can't wait to get to Witney though. Elder Raveneau is so in tune with the spirit. He received revelation that we needed to stop working in Didcot and start working in Witney..everyday! It's tough to get out there everyday but it's worth it. We have TRIPLED our numbers from last week! And the members always feed us; which always helps :)

I received a very special blessing this week. On Sunday, as sacrament meeting was about to start, in walked Ken and Joy Woolley!!! They are in Oxford for the week and it made my day to see them. I loved getting to talk to them because they are very close family friends. They also brought packages from my family. Not just for me, but for Elder Raveneau too! His face lit up when he read his name on one of them and he was so happy. I've never seen a happier Frenchman. So that night we dined on American candy and it was great! Thank you to my family!! And thank you to the Kossin Family for their letters, I love them so much!

I have learned a lot this week, from the spirit and from my companion. I am learning to trust the spirit to tell me what to say when I am teaching. That has been a problem for me because I don't want to not know what to say and embarrass myself! That usually ends with me trusting myself more than the spirit, which is a problem. As I have studied the scriptures and prayed with faith, I have began to trust the spirit and it has made all the difference in our lessons. We are a very effective companionship. I'm so lucky to be trained by my companion. Elder Raveneau is an animal. He's so good on the streets! He didn't speak any English before his mission and now he's fluent. Amazing!

Most people don't listen to us: we've taught some catholic priests, some Jehovah's Witnesses, some Atheists, and most of them don't listen. Once in a while though, we talk to that one person who is ready. And it is amazing! On Sunday after church was over, this random guy walked into the chapel. Nobody knew him, and he was just wearing regular clothes. So we started talking to him. Turns out his name is Philip, he's from London, and he's been investigating the church for a few months! We taught him a lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon, he was one happy dude. After a prayer, he was on his way--hopefully to baptism!

Guess what? I didn't lose anything this week! But I think I am beginning to lose myself in the work. I love talking to the people here and reminding them that they are valuable in the eyes of Heavenly Father.

Funny thought of the week: While at a dinner appointment, Elder Phelps and I had the opportunity to try Vegemite. I guess it's supposed to be really good on bread and stuff like that. I just had a nibble and hated it. Meanwhile, Elder Phelps thought it was chocolate or something, so he ate a whole spoonful! He nearly threw up at the dinner table and it was hilarious!! Haha, he got an extra piece of cheesecake for it though.

Spiritual thought of the week: my buddy Elder Seelos is serving in New Zealand right now and he shot me an email last week. He told me to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and pick something that stood out to me. The first paragraph says that it contains "the fullness of the everlasting gospel." Fullness means everything, so that means that the Book of Mormon contains everything we need to live the gospel here on earth. That is why the Book of Mormon is so important! We need to read it every single day in order to get the most out of it. It has blessed my life and it will bless yours too.

Until next week!

Elder Thomas


Church from Downton Abbey

Ruins in Witney - 500 years old

The Woolleys

Packages from home!

In Oxford with the Woolleys

Emailing at the library in Oxford


A cartoon :)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lost and found ... again!


Hey, It's your favourite missionary! Things are going great here in Oxfordshire. The last few weeks have been really warm and sunny for the most part, but this week it got really cold and really wet! Elder Raveneau and I are still living in Didcot because we are still trying to find a flat in Witney. Hopefully we will be able to find one and move in next week, but for now I'm still living out of my suitcase! Our flat is still super packed, but I'm getting better at Uno so I don't do the dishes every single day. The mission life is moving pretty fast though. My day consists mostly of studying, proselyting, and eating, so things are pretty good. I've had so many testimony building and faith confirming experiences lately so whenever I'm discouraged, I remember those experiences and all is well. I have set a personal goal to talk to everybody I see during contacting hours. And I mean everybody! I want to come home every night and know that I did my best to talk to every person that I crossed paths with because as scary as some people look, they might be waiting to hear the message. Most people think we're trying to sell something but when I tell them that we're giving what we have for free, people get interested! I've noticed that the English people are pretty firm in what they believe (even if it's nothing) and it's tough to get through to them. But I still talk to them. It's the African people and the Spanish people that are the most open to what we have to say. I haven't met one of these people that didn't listen to us! They all love God already, we just need to bring them to the gospel.

I haven't cut my hair for about two months now and it's getting pretty long. I really need a haircut but I don't want to spend 10 pounds on it! I decided that I'm just going to get one in Oxford today. Elder Raveneau is the hardest working person I've ever seen and he's so organised! I also love Elder Phelps. We've been buddies since the MTC and we are really good friends. I'm going to miss him when we go to Witney.

We did service for brother Sutton on Wednesday and then on Thursday we had zone training in Reading! It was a really long meeting, but we had a lunch break in the middle so that helped things go by faster. We also did a lot of awesome role plays and musical numbers so it was fun. The missionaries in my zone are so good! I can't believe how good they are. They're all such good speakers and teachers! I'm learning so much!

Things are going good though. I loved watching that video of Luke,  I can't believe he can ride that thing! [He is referring to a video of Luke riding a unicycle.] The other Elders think it's awesome too. Elder Raveneau also thinks it's cool that Sam and Luke are learning French.

Funny stuff: I was really tired one day last week after working in Witney and then going back to Didcot. We had to switch busses in Oxford, and I was still tired. As I got off the bus, I said my usual "thank you sir!" To the bus driver. The reply I got was "what?!" I looked back and it was a lady! I told her I meant ma'am...whoops. Also, when we were going into the train station, I took too long to go through the gates and they closed on me so it took me a while to get out. Everybody was laughing and the other Elders pretended they didn't know me! It was kind of funny.

Spiritual thought of the week: you know how last week I lost my wallet and then found it again? I lost my name tag this week. I had no idea where it was. Our zone leader told me that if I prayed with real intent to find it that I would. I really had no idea where it was and it was almost impossible to find it...note that I said almost! The next morning we went out to look for it. I had prayed so hard to find it and I had faith that we would. We had looked for an hour with no luck and decided to go back to the flat. But I needed that badge! I was sad but I didn't let my faith down. As we were nearing the flat, I looked to the left of the path and guess what I saw?!? Nope, not my name tag: a bouncy house full of little children! Next to the bouncy house was a tree surrounded by some freshly mowed grass...I love that smell! Something caught my eye as I looked at that tree. I went over there and under a patch of grass was a taco! Haha I'm just kidding, it was my name tag. I have no idea how it got so far off the path! There really was a bouncy house though.

Talk to you next week!

Love, Elder Thomas

Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Bampton, Oxfordshire 

Panorama of the church of St. Mary

At church

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 4

Well, I guess I have 1 month down, 23 to go! It's moving so fast! It feels like I gave my farewell talk yesterday. So much has happened in the last month and it's been awesome. This week was very busy. So much has happened and we've been on the move all day every day. Elder Raveneau and I have been looking for a flat, and we found one we like in the middle of Witney. It's really nice and we would be really close to stores and the bus stop. On Tuesday we street contacted a lot and we went to young mens that night. There aren't very many young men but they are great. The activity was missionary meals so we had to be there!  

On Wednesday we had District Meeting at the chapel and the senior couple, the Nymans, brought muffins. They were gone so fast! But the thing we are stressing right now is obedience. Our motto is "obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings miracles." And miracles have been happening: I lost my wallet, which contained my driver's license, my temple recommend, my debit card, and some money. So pretty much all I have! I was super worried about that because I needed it to get around from place to place and to buy food! I looked
everywhere. I called the bus company to see if I had left it on a bus, but nobody had it. I thought of every place I had been the last week but I couldn't think of where I might have left it so I was about to give up. Then one of the Elders suggested that we say a prayer so we did. We each told each other where we felt it would be and none of us had an answer or anything. I stood up to start looking again when I suddenly remembered that I had used my wallet at a grocery store in Witney. I called them as fast as I could and I had a really good feeling. Sure enough they had it!!! It was a miracle and I know that the Holy Ghost let me know that it was there. So awesome! Then one day Elder Raveneau and I were proselyting in Carterton and we weren't having any luck. I was getting frustrated because I felt like the spirit wasn't getting through to people but I realized it was because I was trying to memorise everything I was going to say before I said it, which is a bad idea. I decided to trust the spirit to know what to say, and the next lady we talked to said she believed what we were saying and that she would read the book of mormon! It was so awesome!!! Miracles are bounteous in the London South Mission. 
We've been doing a lot of service his week. On Saturday we helped a family move into the ward for 5 hours! It was really hard but the family is great. We got McDonald's afterwards too. 

Something has clicked this last week as well. I used to be nervous to talk to random people but now I say hi to everybody and talk to everybody I can. Even if they don't want to hear the message, I talk to them about anything and eventuality bring the conversation back to the book of Mormon. There are so many different kinds of people here. People from all over the world come to Oxford and I've learned so much from them! We are teaching a family right now, the mom is from Georgia (not US) and the dad is from Estonia. They speak 4 different languages! They have two little kids who also speak multiple languages. So crazy. We stopped by on Saturday to say hi and they let us in and made us pizza! We got to talk to them for a while and they are doing great in the gospel. I did the dishes and played their piano and they gave us meat pies to take home and told us to come back this week for a crepe/piano/gospel party! Too bad we are moving to Witney in a week, I wish we could keep teaching them. 

I've been playing the piano a lot, usually in every meeting I go to. People love waterfall and kids love Charlie Brown and toy story. I'm still studying a lot and learning everything I can. It's fun to learn about stuff. I always pray for revelatory dreams, so hopefully I get one soon! I know I'm being blessed because of my faith and I'm grateful to have so much support back at home!

The members are so nice here! The Suttons have had us over for dinner so many times already and they are having us over tomorrow too! Even though they don't have a lot, they are so happy and giving. You guys would love Brother Sutton, he's so funny. He has English humor so sometimes I don't get his jokes but he's hilarious. 
On days where we don't have dinner appointments I'm always hungry because food is expensive here and we don't have much for 4 people, but we get by. 

Today is P day so we are in Oxford for the day to explore. I'm excited!  Anyways, happy birthday to Luke! I can't believe he's almost 13! Keep being awesome and make sure to read the scriptures. Sorry I can't be there!

Love, Elder Thomas

Emailing at the library

Riding the bus

Panorama of the bus life

Me and Elder Wagaman

Monday, September 7, 2015

The field

Hey everyone!

Well, I'm finally in the field! I left the MTC early last Wednesday morning to go to the field. We got to a chapel in South London and went through some training, and then got our new companions! My companion is Elder Raveneau from France and he is legit! The first thing I told him was "je suis le fromage" (I am the cheese). He thought that was pretty weird and now we're best buds! We stayed at a hotel in London that night and the next day we took a train to a town called Didcot, near Oxford. We are staying there until we get a place in Witney where we'll be serving, but right now we are in a flat with 2 other elders and there is no room so I've been sleeping on a pad on the floor and living out of my suitcase! Pretty crazy. The other elders in the flat are both from Utah: Elder Phelps and Elder Wagaman. We have so much fun but we all work hard! It's crazy how fast time goes by during the day when you're working all the time. Other than snack time, personal study is my favourite part of the day. I realized that I really don't know a whole lot about the gospel so I love studying. I could do it all day! The craziest thing is definitely street contacting. I'm not used to approaching random strangers and talking about the gospel! I'm working at it though.

Thursday was a long day because of traveling, but Brother Sutton, the ward mission leader came over and brought us food and bed stuff so that was good. He is so funny and nice to me (unlike most people in England). He's already had us over for dinner twice, and his wife makes the best cake ever! I always do the dishes though. But whenever I try to talk to people on the street, some of them don't even look at me! It's hard. I have been able to talk to a bunch of people and get their information though, so I'm working at it.

Sunday was cool! We went to church and I love the ward. I got to bear my testimony and introduce myself and it was great! Then I gave a blessing to a lady in the ward.

After church there was a party with a bunch of food and it was awesome! I ate a few sloppy joes. The ward is excited to have two new missionaries because they haven't had any in the ward for a year! Anyways, I've been passing out a lot of pass-along cards and talking to people on busses, but no investigators yet because we've been busy looking for a flat in Witney. I've spent a lot of time in Oxford because we go through on the way to Witney. Oxford is awesome! Today is P day and it started off rough. I lost my wallet- still haven't found it, and then I forgot my bus pass when we were already at the bus stop...but brother Sutton came to the rescue and brought us food and took us to some Roman ruins! So fun! We skipped rocks in the river and walked around the country side and the forest. I felt like I was in Robin Hood or something. But pray that I can find my wallet cuz it has my license and my church card in it. I hope it's not lost!

Also, on Sunday we had a mission-wide prayer to open the floodgates of miracles in the London South mission. President Gubler has been inspired that a season of miracles is at hand and that tons will be converted over the next two years. So good things are coming! I'm learning so much right now and there's still so much to learn in the next two years! I'm so excited and I'm loving my mission. That's all for this week though!

Love, Elder Thomas

Me and Elder Raveneau

PDay with Elder Raveneau and Brother Sutton

Roman ruins

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Quick update: finished with the MTC!

First email:  
I'm out of the MTC! It was awesome and I gained 10 pounds!!! I woke up at 4:30 this morning to get on the bus and went to Crawley. Then we got trainers for the day and went street contacting. It was cool. My trainer (today) is from Tonga, Elder Fufita. I get my real companion in 30 minutes!! I don't know where I'll go though, but I got an iPad! My mission president is awesome. He smiles all the time.

Second email: 
So my companion is awesome and we are best buds already! His name is Elder Raveneau, he's from France and he's a stud! The first thing I said to him was je suis le fromage. I'll be with him for 2 transfers (3 months). We'll be in the Reading Zone, and we'll be in a city called Witney and we'll be in Oxford!!!  I'm staying in the Gatwick Hotel tonight and then we go to Oxford tomorrow.