Monday, November 30, 2015

Lost in the wilderness

Hey guys!

Hope you guys had a good Thanksgiving! Since there's a bunch of Americans in the ward, there was a big party at the Oxford Chapel and it was awesome. So don't worry because I didn't miss thanksgiving this year :) I had my fair share of food. I had some good turkey and pie and probably gained a few pounds (not currency). It was nice.

This week was pretty good. We set some transfer of them is to baptize the Rathbones! Hopefully it happens before Christmas. Imm (the mom) is just about ready and she loves the Book of Mormon. It's really cool. They couldn't come to church this week but hopefully they'll come next week and then get baptized in the next couple Saturdays!

One day we went out to a town called Hailey to see one of our potential investigators. It was too dark to go on the busy streets so we had to take shortcuts through fields and stuff. Eventually our iPads stopped telling us where to go, so we didn't know what to do since it's a serious journey from Witney. We eventually got there, knocked on the door (she didn't answer), and started back. We got lost again! We made a wrong turn somewhere and had no clue where to go. We said a prayer to know what to do and started walking again. Eventually we saw the unmistakable lights of Witney! We thought we were out of trouble and it was fun and all... until we got stuck in the mud! It has been raining a ton lately so mud was everywherrre. We might have ruined our shoes. Sorry mom! I know that's a pretty cliche prayer story, but it was still amazing. We probably could have found a different way home somehow, but Heavenly Father helped us make it back in time to get to our lesson with our investigators. Prayer and faith work every time!

Not much else happened this week, it was pretty boring so sorry for the short email! Things will get interesting next week because we are going to commit our investigators to baptism. It's going to be a white Christmas and not because of snow!  Plus, we get to go to the temple on the 10th so I'm excited for that! Thanks for the emails, I love hearing from everybody! Sorry if I didn't respond, we were short on time today and it's tough to type on this iPad. Anyways, have a good week! Talk to you l8er.

Love Elder Thomas

Birthday card for Imm Rathbone

Muddy shoes!

Good times at Thanksgiving dinner

Brother Sutton

Pday at the Sutton's house

Tuesday, November 24, 2015



So transfers were this week. On Friday we got a call from president and...we're both going AP! Just kidding, we're not! In fact, none of us, not even the Didcot Elders are moving...which means that the fantastic foursome lives on! I'm pretty happy to be staying here because I think this is the best area in the mission. We have an awesome district and an awesome ward--which will be receiving an addition shortly. Elder Raveneau on the other hand has already been in this area for 8 months so he wasn't as thrilled as me to be staying. Personally, I'm glad he's staying because things are rolling here in Oxfordshire.

Looking back, it was a pretty good week. It only rained once! It started last Monday and ended yesterday.  People never left their houses, so it was tough to street contact this week. We did a lot of knocking which was a good change. The spirit really kicked in towards the end of the week and we had a bunch of lessons and some new investigators. On top of that, our current investigators are golden! We're teaching a man from Carterton named Jonathan who is looking for the truth. He's also studying with the Jehovahs Witnesses, but that won't be a problem. He's reading the Book of Mormon and praying so we just need to get him to church.

Speaking of church, the Rathbone family also came on Sunday! As you know, we found them as we were knocking a street which the Sutton family had prayed for where somebody would be baptized. They Suttons felt good about Teasel Way, and that's where we found the Rathbones. They are soliiiiid. But they enjoyed church even though kids were screaming and stuff and Simon even asked me to give him a blessing for his broken hand. I did so and they felt the spirit. Boom. Love that family! We are so tight with them--they even invited us over for dinner next month. It's been so cool to whitewash his area. We have built it up from scratch and it's now one of the most fruitful areas in the zone.

One day as we were walking through Witney, this lady ran up to us and asked us where our church was. I instantly recognised her Utah accent and told her I was from Utah as well! Long story short, her name is Candace and she's a less active member and wants to start coming back to church. We stop by and visit her at the phone shop where she works and share a thought with her every day. Her coworkers have been listening in and want to come to church as well. It's awesome!

It also got really chilly this week. It's nothing like Utah: this is humid. It feels like I'm swimming in ice and the wind goes right through my clothes. One day we froze while trying to find an investigator's home and walked for ages to find it. We always walk a lot every day, but we kept going and going and going until we were in the middle of nowhere and we froze!! Fortunately we found him and although we were cold, we didn't freeze. As President Gubler says, "many are cold, but few are frozen."

By the way, the 40 day fast works, folks! Elder Raveneau and I are doing it as a companionship to have the spirit with us and we have seen an increase in miracles. I want you to give it a try too. Just make a list of every thing you do that drives the spirit away and then just stop doing those things. Pretty simple. Just go for it and see what happens. You'll be a different person by the end of those 40 days.

Great things are happening. We got to go through the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford last week so that was cool.  It's one of the oldest libraries in Europe. And we're playing ping pong and soccer for P day today so I'm really excited about that.

That's all for this week, have a good one guys!

Love Elder Thomas

A guy was burned here a while ago

The Bodleian Library

At the Bodleian Library 

The district 

The shirt Jaden sent me

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sleepovers for zone conference and Robin Hood

Hey guys!

Alrighty! So not much happened this week.  Last week was crazy, but next week is going to be even crazier with transfers and everything. There's a 99% chance that I'm losing Elder Raveneau so it's going to be pretty sad because he's the best. He goes home in 3 months and he's not even trunky! The Paris attacks shook him up pretty good though so it hasn't been his best week...he only lives 3 hours from Paris.

We had a combined zone conference with president Gubler on Tuesday so we got to sleep over at the Didcot Elders' flat on Monday! It was so fun! We ate loads of pizza and had a blast. Elder Phelps is a party animal. It was just like old times--except I slept on the couch instead of the floor. Zone conference was in Staines, a town on the edge of London. Half of my MTC district was there so it was like a family reunion. One of them (Elder Baines) is still waiting on a visa to be sent to the Orem Utah Mission. He should be there soon--you'll know him when you see him! He's 6 foot 6, has an accent, and will probably be being fed. But zone conference was awesome! I got to play the piano the whole time and it felt good. But Elder Phelps took my thunder because he got to sing a solo--he killed it. Then President Gubler stole the show and told us that he had a revelation that our mission is going to have a season of miracles starting now. It's going to be a white Christmas! Later that night Brother Sutton took us out for McDonald's. It hit the spot.

Later in the week we went to see a recent convert named Ian Watkins. He's really cool! He lives in a small town called Woodstock, where Winston Churchill was born actually. Not only does he have a pet falcon, but he's also an archery national champion. And he's got a really stringy mustache. But he makes his own bows and arrows and wins every contest he competes in. He told me if I wasn't on a mission he would teach me. He's a modern Robin Hood!

On Friday I got to go on an exchange with Elder Wagaman. We did a lot of good work in one day and it was nice to be with somebody from Utah for a change! We had a good lesson with the Rathbone family, who are coming to church this Sunday. Hopefully we can get them baptized soon. I brought them some brownies so I'm on their good side right now.

I've been learning a ton lately, including how to cut my own hair. Elder Raveneau taught me how so I just buzzed it myself! I'll send a picture. 

That's about it though. I also decided to begin something called the 40 day fast. It's not fasting from food for 40 days, but from everything that takes the spirit away. So I made a list of every little thing I do that drives the spirit away. I want to find 40 things. Starting yesterday, I try to stop doing those little things. After 40 days, I hope I will be a different person. I won't be perfect, but I want to have the spirit as my constant companion so more miracles can happen. And guess what is 40 days from yesterday? Christmas. That's going to be my Christmas present to Jesus: a better Elder Thomas. I'm excited to do this, it's going to be awesome! And miracles will happen too.

Have an awesome week!

Love Elder Thomas

My new haircut

Selfie with some random missionaries at zone conference

Me, Elder Brown, Elder Baines and Elder Phelps

zone conference

Elder Raveneau wearing his Real Salt Lake shirt

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pubs and bonfires!


So this week has been really joke. It's getting really cold here and it rains a ton. I never know how cold it is though because everything is in Celsius and it's kind of annoying. My umbrella broke too so it's just me and my coat now.

I'm sure many of you know this, but there is a holiday on November 5 here in England called "Guy Fawkes Day." Apparently it's a celebration of a guy named Guy who tried to kill the King of England a while back by blowing up the parliament building, but he got caught and was burned at the stake. Kind of a crazy thing to celebrate, but it's similar to the 4th of July. To celebrate, they do fireworks and have huge bonfires all over the place. Sometimes they even make dummies and chuck them into the fire with firecrackers shoved into its head. It was interesting to witness. We got to go over to brother Sutton's house and make a fire with him to celebrate.

Since I've been working with Elder Raveneau, I had a goal to have at least one baptism with him. I knew this would only happen if we worked our hardest and talked to everybody while being obedient, and that's what we've been doing! To be baptized, an investigator has to come to church twice and then get baptized the following Saturday. That means we needed somebody to come to church yesterday in order for them to be baptized before Elder Raveneau gets transferred. So I decided to take it up a notch and not only talk to everybody I see, but talk to everybody that might see me. One night I saw a crowd of people on the sidewalk in front of a shop, and I told Elder Raveneau to preach to them. He didn't want to, but the opportunity was perfect! So I did it. It scared me to death but I preached to those people and told them to read the Book of Mormon. Although none of them were willing, I felt good afterwards...even though I wanted to throw up.

That same night we ran into a guy in front of a pub and he told us that his friend named David Strutt would listen to us! The problem was, he was in the pub. After some nerve racking skepticism, we decided to go for it. It was a Friday night, so the pub was pretty full and everybody was going crazy. I walked in first and everybody just kind of got quiet...I felt like a dude from the old western movies! I asked the bartender where David Strutt was, and he came walking over to see us. Although he was too drunk to really talk to us about the church, he bought me a lemonade and chatted with us for a bit. Then we left.

The bad news is I won't have a baptism with my trainer, but the good news is I did my absolute best and I'm giving it all I've got. I'm doing my job, it's just a matter of the Lord doing his job now. And he will! It doesn't matter when or how, but he'll help us to find people to teach and baptize. That's the important thing: If I do my part, the Lord will do his. I have his promise! It doesn't just go for missionary work either--it goes for anything in life. We are still teaching the family on Teasel Way and they should be baptized next's going to be a white Christmas!!!

Funny Thing: I received a package from Elder Burnett last week, and inside was a zebra costume for Halloween. I've been wearing the tail all around the flat, but one day I forgot to take it off and didn't realize until we were outside. I don't think anybody saw me...people already think I'm weird enough!

President Gubler randomly showed up at our ward yesterday, so it was fun to see him! He's the coolest guy--he never stops smiling...ever. We have zone conference with him tomorrow so I'll let you know how it goes! Until then!

The district: Elder Westra (Holland), Elder Thomas, Elder Phelps (Utah), Elder Brown (Arizona), Elder Raveneau (France), Elder Wagaman (Utah), Sister Xayalath (Laos), Sister Du Plessis (South Africa), Sister Thompson (Tennesee), Sister Bristain (Phillipines)

Triple selfie at Christ Church

Bonfire at Brother Sutton's

Zebra costume from Jaden

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween party


This week has been crazy! Lots of good news and lots of not so good news.  More than half of our investigators dropped us this week! I didn't think that was possible, but 5 out of 9 of them flogged us so that kind of sucked. Come to find out out entire zone had a rough week. In fact, one of my buddies from the MTC went home so it's been hard for us Elders. He was one of the strongest missionaries too! Just goes to show how much your faith is tested out here in the field.

Mark the bearded dragon guy dropped us too! I guess he has a mental disability and his dad called us and told us to leave him alone so that was kind of was Halloween though!  Elder Raveneau and I wanted to end Halloween on a good note so we went and bought some kebabs (kebobs) and a bunch of snacks and went home and had a feast!

Speaking of feasts, that's my spiritual thought of the week. We need to feast in order to stay alive...if we don't eat, then we die. It's as simple as that, even I can understand it! But perhaps more importantly, we also need to be feasting on the words of Christ. I've learned that although it can be fun and all to "snack" on the words of Christ, or just read for fun, it's more filling to feast, or to really study the scriptures. It helps that I'm a missionary and get an hour every day to set aside for complete scripture study, but I've realized how important it really is! This week we taught our investigator family that the three components of testimony are prayer, church, and scripture study. I figure I should be living what I teach! I know that scripture study brings us closer to Christ and opens the door to revelation.

Funny thought: never give a Frenchman a glow stick. See picture to see why. Sorry for the short email, I ran outta time! Until next week!

Love Elder Thomas

The fantastic foursome in purple ties!

Elder Raveneau went glow stick crazy at the Halloween party

The cookie challenge

The Oxford Castle

In the stocks at the Oxford Castle

Elders in armor