Happy Christmas, mates!
You know, there's just something special about Christmas as a missionary. It's different than other Christmases. Maybe some of you RMs can explain this better than I can, but it's just different! If you came up to me a few years back and told me that I'd spend a Christmas in a small, remote village in the middle of England in the freezing cold, I probably would have told you how crazy you were because it sounds crazy! But despite that, and although I wasn't with my family, it felt right. It's not the location that matters, it's the purpose and the reason. So I think purpose is one of the reasons that Christmas is different here. Everyday kind of feels like Christmas as one of Christ's representatives!
We didn't get any snow here, but we were about waist-high in blessings this week! Here are a few:
-Exchange with Elder Brown from Arizona
-members made us feel like family
-we are teaching some people who are just downright ready
-we now have a 10-year supply of chocolate
-got to Skype my family
I had another really unique experience last week. I was stopped by a couple young men after stepping off the bus, so I stopped to talk to them. Usually when kids like that stop us they do something weird to impress their friends, but these kids did something really unexpected. The older one looked me in the eye for a few seconds, and then in all seriousness said "...are, um...are you Jesus?" I sensed that he was a bit disappointed when I responded no, but I quickly told him that I was one of his missionaries. He said he thought that was cool and then ran off with his mate. Elder Baum and I laughed about that all day, though! He must have been feeling the Christmas Spirit and my name badge must have confused him. Either that, or my Christlike attributes are starting to show :D
God has been teaching me a pretty profound lesson lately. As you know, we've been teaching a man from San Francisco who is WELL off. In a worldly sense, this guy has it all. However, he's been searching true happiness for a long time. Now that he's found it, he has been changing and the hole in his life is being filled. It's amazing to see God take a hold of somebody and mold them into something spectacular, and that's what's happening with this man. He has found what he's looking for and will get baptized on the 28th of next month. In contrast, we spent time with some members who don't have much as far as worldly possessions go. They live in very humble circumstances, but because of their faith their problems have been minimized and pure joy emanates from them. They have found "the Bread of Life" and "the well of everlasting water, springing up into everlasting life". They have turned their lives over to Christ, who has taken their yokes upon Him and has given them rest. These two circumstances have taught me what truly matters most and where lasting happiness is found. It can only be found in a testimony of Jesus Christ. Anything else is counterfeit and, frankly, short lived. Jesus Christ is the only source of peace. He is the best gift.
Thanks to all those who gave me those ornament-shaped letters for Christmas! They are all on my tree and it looks amazing. I'm so lucky to have such awesome people in my life! See if you can find your ornament in the picture.
Man, things are so good right now! Our trust is in the Lord and his blessings are upon us. These really are days never to be forgotten. I hope you all had a merry Christmas and I hope you have a happy New Year! And don't forget to set New Years resolutions!
Love, Elder Thomas
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Hey family! Hope you're all lovin' the Christmas season and spreadin' the Christmas cheer!
Great things happened this week. The experiences over the past few days have been real turning points for me in my mission and my life. For starters, we were privileged to attend the temple with our mission president last Thursday. After a year without going through, it felt so good to go back and feast on the Spirit that was there. I didn't realize how much I missed the temple until I was actually inside! I got some great direction and counsel concerning the remainder of my mission, and I'm confident that I will be able to accomplish what the Lord wants me to do. Good things are coming. So that was the end of the temple attendance drought.
One of those good things is our investigator, John Paul. He is firing on all cylinders over here and will be baptized on January 28th...how crazy is that? We've literally taught him twice and he's basically ready to be baptized already. God has blessed him a lot recently. We're excited for him. Now I just hope I don't get moved to a different area in the meantime! Keep JP in your prayers. So that was the end of our baptismal date drought.
We've had a few other extremely powerful teaches. We taught a recent convert's friend and we really tried to focus on her and follow the Spirit as we began teaching. The Spirit helped her to share some experiences and also helped us to understand her needs. In fact, the Spirit was so strong that she became overwhelmed, broke down and started crying. We sat in silence as the Spirit comforted her and bore witness of our message. Such a special experience!
I love sharing these things with you! What a powerful week it's been. Christmas time is definitely an interesting time for missionary work and it is definitely not quite the same as the rest of the year. If you're like me, you feel a nice, fuzzy, warm feeling as the holiday season goes by, and I've noticed that others feel that as well regardless of their race, ethnicity, culture, background, or belief. We speak to many people each day and, interestingly enough, even those who don't believe in Christ have this same gut feeling! Their smiles are a little brighter and their loads are a little lighter. My solution to this can be found in the scriptures! They teach us that the Light of Christ "is given to every man, that they may know good from evil." You'll all agree that there is nothing bad in the slightest about Christmas. Everything about it deals with love and light and is therefore from God! It is the Light of Christ which gives us these feelings and helps us to know what is from God and what isn't. I'm grateful for the Light of Christ...He is the light, and we never have to walk in darkness without him. He has commanded us that we are also to be the light so that others may find their way to Him. This is the reason I am serving a mission and this I know to be true. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.
I truly hope this email has lifted you and blessed you in some way. Love you all so much!
Merry Christmas all the way from London, England!
Love, Elder Thomas
|Elder Baum, Dan (investigator), Callum, Cameron, Michael (potential investigator), and moi|
|The temple drought is over!|
|Tri-zone conference at the temple|
|Christmas banner contacting in Kingston|
|Saw Hyrum (member) on the bus|
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
This week was utterly fantastic! Although the meetings never seemed to end, we got stuff done and things just sort of fell into place. Compared to last week, this week was a diamond in the rough!
Here's the rundown:
-MLC & DLC
-exchange with AP Cloward from Heber City
-an Elder in our zone went home this week
-Brazilian child of record baptism
-exchange with Elder Olson from Texas
-investigators are progressing
-got a new suit
Time just seemed to go by in the twinkling of an eye this week. In the Spirit of Christmas, our meetings focused on how we can better "light the world" as a mission by using social media, pass-along cards, and the Christmas initiative video (which, by the way, is brilliant). I still need to get in gear with it all, but Elder Baum has gone nuts with it. It doesn't matter where we go, he always manages to show that video to somebody...probably about 5 times a day. And that's why he's the brains of the companionship! To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if he went AP next transfer. I sure hope not, though, because I love serving with him. Shout out to the Bomb!
The AP exchange...I don't really know where to start. Some of the most interesting experiences of my mission have been during AP exchanges, so I always look forward to them. This time I was with Elder Cloward and we had a blast! I can't tell you how nice it was to be in a car again, but we were still super busy and we worked hard talking to everybody we could along the way. We played a lot of basketball with the other elders and some of the ward and it was fun, even though I'm really rusty. All 3 of the APs were high school ballers so they use that to their advantage. One of them, Elder Rivera, was absolutely on fire with his 3 pointers...like, lights out! At one point he got frustrated and in his anger started missing a few of them. At the end, we likened him unto Teancum, who also missed when he when he attacked Ammoron in his anger. That kind of cheered him up! Only on a mission would you liken a basketball game unto Teancum.
We had a great opportunity to get people out to a child of record baptism, and our investigator Dan actually came! The Spirit filled the room as the covenant was made and Dan definitely felt something. He might take longer than we anticipated, but he is on the right track.
Our investigator Sophie has come to church 3 times in a row now. We are super proud of her!
The Huertas fed us dinner last week and it was the best food I've had on my mission hands down. Better than Cafe Rio, it was proper Mexican food made by a Mexican. She also gave us something called horchata, which I highly recommend.
We had a miracle referral from America! John Paul is from San Francisco and he is living in Richmond for work. He's the CEO of a huge company and does just fine financially...probably a millionaire. We skyped in his counselor, who is a member from Georgia, and taught the first couple lessons to him and answered a lot of his questions. I've never taught anybody so humble and so prepared before...It's a dream come true! Hopefully we can get this man taught, fellowshipped, and baptized this transfer. He certainly is a miracle. Elder Baum and I feel like we just got a million bucks!
So things are great. Investigators are progressing, Christmas is around the corner, and we're just ready to baptize. Please keep these people in your prayers, because I know God will carry us the rest of the way. This work is true and it is so exciting to celebrate the birth of God's Son. I'd encourage you all to read the second chapter of Luke sometime before Christmas and ponder about the true meaning of Christmas. Love you all so much and I hope you light the world! Happy Christmas!
Love, Elder Thomas
|District leadership conference at Staines|
|Ballin' with the APs|
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Hey, folks! This week was one for the books!
Well, things are going great here in Staines. Although "Staines" sounds like a horrible place, it's actually not that bad. This week was honestly so great though...if I could give you some of these experiences, I would. It's just that great!
Our ward Christmas party was last Saturday night, and it too was one for the books. It has been a much anticipated event, as it was announced to the ward about 100 times. In young men's it was announced that it would be a "crazy part-ee, so ya'lls betta be there." It was a crazy party indeed! It had a Bethlehem theme, so people built some stables and we had a live nativity. Our bishop decided to go all out out by dressing up as a middle eastern guy with robes and all that. You'd expect somebody dressed like that to speak Arabic or something, but it was hard to mistake him after comments like "hey, what's up, dude?", or "how are ya, eh?" Gotta love Canadians...
Another crazy thing happened this week. We got a random call one day from a missionary in the London mission. He notified us of a new referral for us in Richmond, and his backstory is nuts! Apparently there is a member who lives in Georgia who is a counselor. He works with people by teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ, and slowly helps them live the gospel. One of the steps is meeting with missionaries. And one of his students happens to live in our area! We haven't met him yet, but we will see him this coming week.
This week we also had to kiss our car goodbye. Due to the increasing number of senior couples who need the mobility of a car, we sacrificed ours. So we had one last drive to the temple and it has been public transport ever since then! Losing the car is like ripping off a bandaid...hurts pretty bad. But the good news is we are now talking to loads more people by riding the buses everywhere we go. It just takes ages to get places.
Our week ended with a bang. As it was fast Sunday, we decided to fast for our investigators, especially the Huerta family. To be honest, our expectations were not that high as we walked into church, but the Lord gave us an awesome surprise. Although the Huertas didn't come to church, a less active lady and our investigator Sophie came to church, for the second time in a row! Sophie even bore her testimony in sacrament meeting...what investigator does that? Hearing our investigator bear sweet and sincere testimony is music to any missionary's ears. Sweet tender mercies!
This week I've made an effort to pay attention to my feelings as I've read the Book of Mormon. I finished it again this week, and the feeling I get at the end of the book is the same every time. I remember reading it for the first time with my dad when I was twelve. The spiritual high that I got after reading it all those years ago allowed me enough physical strength to do the unthinkable...do over 5 pull-ups, which was my record at the time. Even though I probably can't even do a pull up anymore due to my worn out missionary body, the spiritual strength I receive from that Book is something I need everyday. The Book of Mormon is true and will help you in every circumstance. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Merry Christmas, and don't forget to do the Christmas initiative on Mormon.org: 25 ways in 25 days!
Love, Elder Thomas
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Wow, another crazy week! Since they aren't big fans of Thanksgiving here, you're probably assuming that I just had cereal or something for the holiday. But if so, you have assumed incorrectly! When there's a will, there's a way, and such was the case for Thanksgiving. I was able to squeeze through the gaps and into the home of an American family for a filling Thanksgiving dinner. Also got to introduce a Tahitian missionary to Thanksgiving since he didn't know what it was. But I'm thankful for the people in my life, for investigators, for members who feed us and do missionary work, for wool socks, for custard creams, for ice cream, for the gospel, and for Jesus Christ. Thank you all so much for your letters and emails and prayers. On some days they make all the difference.
I feel like I'm in the most interesting area of the most interesting mission...these truly are days never to be forgotten. Elder Baum and I decided to think outside the box and try something new this week. A while ago we were invited to a church called "The Church of Christ" in our little town, so this week we decided to go. We were assured that it was a very multi-cultural congregation, but it must've been a joke because the everybody there was pure Philippino. It was pretty funny! Their fellowshipping skills were off the charts as well. They swarmed us as soon as we walked in and I probably shook 100 hands. It was cool to be on the investigator side of things for once. We were hoping to get a chance to share our message with everyone and eventually create a Philippino branch, but our wishes turned out to be short lived since they didn't let us say much until the end. They put a camera on us and asked us a bunch of questions at the end. So don't be surprised if you see Elder Baum and I with some Philippinos on FB. It wasn't as effective as we though it would be, but it was so good to be around some strong believers. Their church wasn't all true, but the people were so good and they know how to have a good time.
Our investigators have been extremely blessed recently. We taught Dan over skype and read the Book of Mormon with him. He and his family will be coming to church next month. The Huertas, our Mexican family, have also made progress as a family and we taught them the Plan of Salvation last night. I don't know what it is about Mexicans...they too are natural believers. They all became sponges while we were there, soaking up every morsel of doctrine they could. With my grandpa passing away, the Plan of Salvation had a different light to it than usual and it really came to life. I'm so grateful for it. Hope we can keep teaching this family and eventually get them baptized. We're just doing our best to manage our time wisely and give everything up. The Lord takes care of everything else...all glory to God!
Mission life truly is the best...it kind of feels like a dream, but I love it. I've found that focusing less on myself and more on others usually leads to happier and more fulfilling moments, and greater success. Thanks for helping me so much along the way.
The bad news is that today is our last day with a car. Tomorrow we will drive it to HQ and deliver it up unto the senior couples, who are in need of enhanced mobility. We trust that the Lord will somehow provide for us!
Love you all!
Love, Elder Thomas
|I may be away from home, but I never miss Thanksgiving|
|Thanksgiving lunch with the Kingston District at Nando's|
|A royal book|
|Hampton Court Palace|
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
It has been a pretty humbling week for us! Lots of ups and lots of downs.
We had a pretty interesting zone training last Thursday. Decided to try something that I'm pretty sure has never been done before. Our mission has been encouraged to read a talk called "Spiritual Bonfires" from 1992 October conference. A long time ago wolves were a big threat to travelers, and the only way to keep them away was to build a massive bonfire to scare them off. The talk teaches us that our best weapon of both offense and defense is our testimonies, which will also protect us from the dangerous, faith-destroying things that we face each day. So we built a bonfire outside our chapel and gathered 'round. Then we went around the circle and everybody shared their conversion story and their testimony. It was too cool and the Spirit was so strong that our fire almost went out. We love our missionaries so much! Everybody left that meeting on fire. Not actually on fire, but spiritually on fire. Best zone training of all time! And that's not even the coolest thing about it. The forecast showed that there would be no rain until 6 pm, which is when we planned to have our fire. And it was a 100 % chance of rain during that time as well. But when we went outside to check, there wasn't a drop of rain and it stayed clear until we went back inside. How about that?
In a meeting this week I heard a story of a guy who challenged a less active man to a bowling game in an attempt to reactivate him in the church. The guy had never bowled before, but he got six strikes in a row. Pretty tough to beat. He won even though the less active was a professional bowler, and he ended up coming back to church. Pretty sure that angels were guiding his ball! That being said, I decided to put it to the test. I'm no bowler, but I do love golf. One of our investigators is a golf fanatic and had previously invited us to go golfing with him. We decided to take him up, but on condition that he would come to church if I beat him. It was a pretty close game, and I probably would have won, but we didn't get to finish because he had to get back to work. Dang it! I felt like I played pretty well, but I could definitely feel some angels guiding some of those shots :) it was good to get back on the course though.
One more insane experience:
About a month ago, we saw a man walking down the street wearing a kilt and a captain america shirt. As crazy as this place is, you don't see that everyday. Elder Baum vowed to find that man and speak to him someday, but we just kinda laughed about it...until last week. As I was looking through our area book, I felt prompted to randomly call a random number of a less active. The man answered and told us he was free for a visit that very afternoon, so we went for it! We walked in and lo and behold, the man was wearing a kilt and a captain america shirt. It was him! Our jaws dropped so low that I almost tripped. God works in mysterious ways!
We also taught a man named Dan from Arizona. Good to build up the church back in America!
On a more serious note, I received news from my family that that my grandpa passed away. That wasn't great news to hear, but I'm so grateful for my own testimony because that's probably the biggest things that has held me up lately. I have God and the Savior to thank for that. Sometimes things are tough, but you just gotta keep going! Looking forward to more success with Elder Baum! Love you all.
Love, Elder Thomas
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Hey there! Goodness, this week was literally the craziest week ever! Like, absolutely bizarre. Elder Baum and I have been moving non-stop ever since I sent this email last week. Though the work is not always necessarily physically exhausting all the time, it is definitely mentally exhausting. Sometimes feel like my brain keeps telling me to slow down so it can catch its breath. But I guess that's what sleep is for?
I bring glad tidings to you that we have finally wrapped things up with the Staines house! We "professionally cleaned" it and then handed the keys back to our Vietnamese landlords. The whole moving process has been a huge pain to be honest, but we are glad to have that out of the way so we can completely direct ourselves to preaching the gospel. To liken ourselves to the scriptures, we "delivered up the [Staines House] to [our Vietnamese landlords], and confined [ourselves] wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to the testimony of the word, according to the spirit of revelation and prophecy." (Alma 4:20) It will be good to get back in business and hopefully baptize a few people here with Elder Baum. It is the harvest, after all. Now we're just a bit concerned about staying on top of everything without our car, which we be taken away in 2 weeks due to the increase of senior couples, who need them.
Went on an exchange with my friend Elder Rivera, one of the APs. Most of the day was spent cleaning the Staines House, but we also attended a baptism in London and I had to get us there. I'll just tell you now that I thought I was an ok driver over here until I drove us into London...it was war! There was loads of stop and go traffic, so our nav tried to take us on the fastest route, which ended up taking us right next to central London. I was really surprised when I looked over and saw Big Ben and the London Eye...but anyways, we made it to the baptism on time and it was great.
Sunday was one of the best days ever. We got stuck in some traffic on our way to church from a community activity and arrived in the middle of sacrament meeting. As we walked in, a member grinned at me more than usual and ushered us to two seats he had "reserved" for us for some reason, so we sat down feeling pretty confused. I noticed we were next to two sisters, and when I turned to say something to Elder Baum I was totally shocked. There, sitting right next to us, was the one and only Haley Vanoverbeck! I couldn't believe my eyes, so I had Elder Baum pinch me. Haley's been studying here in London for the past couple months and she decided to surprise me by showing up at our ward. And I was definitely surprised to say the least! So I got to sit next to one of my best friends at sacrament meeting while I'm on my mission. How cool is that? A tender mercy indeed! Shout out to Haley for being awesome :D
Some of our investigators have plateaued in their progression lately, so we plan to create more specific and secure appointments with them and teach them in different ways. I've learned that most of the time it works better to help them see the importance of doctrine and what it can do for them rather than just hooking them up to the firehose of knowledge and letting it rip...although that is tempting sometimes!
As I mentioned, we attended a memorial service for in our community last Sunday. It was a day to honor those who served England in the wars. Basically England's memorial day. I was surprised at how many people showed up, since most people only come to church on Christmas and Easter. And although we couldn't proselyte, the Spirit was definitely there as we sung hymns and listened to prayers together. One phrase from the ceremony stuck out particularly: "They gave their 'today' so we could have our 'tomorrow'." And isn't that true! We are blessed to live in a place where we can enjoy freedom to speak, freedom to act, and freedom to worship, and I'm grateful for those who have fought for the cause of truth. They really have given up their entire lives so that we can have a bright future. Definitely important to remember them. During the ceremony, my mind was also turned to the Savior, who also gave his life for our tomorrow. He was motivated by total love to offer himself on our behalf. Just think if He hadn't performed the Atonement...life would be bland, and frankly speaking, pointless! Jesus Christ is our only hope and our only way back home. We need to remember Him and His sacrifice if we want to make it. He is always beckoning us in many ways to follow Him. I know these things to be true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
It was a Sunday to remember! Love you all :)
Love, Elder Thomas
|Sunset in Feltham|
|Look who I found!|
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Hope you've all had a good week. This is one of my favorite times of the year! The leaves change, the weather is usually nice, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means there's good food coming our way. So I'm a pretty happy missionary right now, and I'm still on an emotional high from passing the driving test last week. Shoutout to Elder Phelps for passing his as well!
Another shoutout is needed to my awesome companion Elder Baum! I've never worked with anybody as hard working as this kid, he just wants to do what God wants. He truly is the Baum. As crazy as this sounds, we saw his family this week! Don't worry, it wasn't his immediate family. Some of his distant relatives are scattered across our zone, so this week we set some time aside to go visit them as they are all non-members. The first one answered the door and was about to shut it when she saw our badges, but then Elder Baum blurted out that he was family. So she did what any family member would do and let us in! It was a pretty cool experience for me, not to mention for Elder Baum.
Exchanged with Elder Yang from Taiwan last week. That guy is a cooking legend! He literally can cook anything. So he taught me a couple tricks, and some Mandarin chinese at the same time. Ni Hao! We've got another Elder from China in the zone whose English isn't very good, so Elder Yang is able to translate for him a lot of the time. I guess you could call it Chinese whispers.
Our zone is starting to catch fire, and we've been able to do some baptismal interviews this week! Since President Gubler lives pretty close by, we coordinated with him to have the interview at his house, followed by dinner. Elder Yang cooked for us and he did not disappoint.
So many other good things happened this week. We had MLC in Epsom. President Gubler recently returned from a training in Budapest with some great new tools for us to use! We're getting ready for the Christmas Initiative and we're going to be using baptismal calendars to help investigators get moving.
The Juerta family...we've been unable to contact them for the last few days, so we hope that they are still reading the Book of Mormon. Last we heard, the dad was taking it to work with him and had read quite a bit of it. But there's a division in the family regarding our message. Half believes it and half isn't interested yet. We'll try to teach them this week.
Dan has been busy with school, but we should be able to teach him this week.
On a more random note, this week we got locked out of our flat and had to be creative in getting back inside. I've gotten pretty good at that!
I've learned that to each of us God has given unique talents and abilities, which we can and should use to help others. The Book of Mormon tells us that we are all given spiritual gifts so that we can be of benefit to our brothers and sisters. While others may have gifts that we do not have, we must be grateful for what we do have and strive to develop those gifts and talents. Sometimes it's hard to know how valuable something is until you lose it! For instance, this week we were knocking a road and we spoke to somebody who did not have a nose...it was interesting. So today I am grateful that I have a nose! Let's be grateful for what we do have...after all, it's almost Thanksgiving!
Thanks for all your help, everyone. A lot of you have told me that you pray for me and for other missionaries. We really do need that strength, so thank you. I pray that you will find some lost sheep as well! Sure do love you all.
Love, Elder Thomas
|Dinner at President Gubler's house|
|Most of our group|
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
I apologise in advance for the super short letter today, but I have a good excuse! Today we made the journey literally halfway across the country into the land of Burgess Hill to take driving test number 3. I'm here to tell you that I passed...indeed! I was super nervous, but my prayers and fasting combined with other missionaries and yours did the trick. Definitely a testimony builder. As a matter of fact, I had several experiences this week that strengthened my testimony...I hope they'll strengthen yours as well.
We had the big move this week, from the Staines house to our new flat in Sunbury. This occupied the majority of our time, so we hardly had any time to do any finding. Nevertheless, the Lord helped us to plan effectively as to allow us to keep our area alive. And we were blessed abundantly! That divine help alone was also a testimony builder.
We are still teaching Dan, the 18 year old legend. We hope to baptize him before his friend leaves on his mission to Rome, and then send him out on a mission as well. He's super solid, so keep him in your prayers!
We are teaching a family! They are solid and we love them for many reasons. 1. They are Mexican...you don't find many here in England. 2. They are extremely solid and they've been prepared by the Lord. 3. They live on the same road that the Staines house is on...where we just moved from. Crazy, right? We showed them the First Vision video and the Spirit it brought nearly knocked the house down. I can't recall another time where I've felt the Spirit as strongly as I felt it that night in that house. After the video I looked up and saw one of the sons with tears in his eyes. I assure you that the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is real and Joseph Smith is a prophet. He saw God and Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. And the church they have established on the earth is this very church we get to be a part of. That's just the truth. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Pray for the Juerta family! We're gonna baptize them!
Farewell from Elder Thomas and The Baum! Love you!
Love, Elder Thomas
|The Indian folks who came to the trunk or treat|
|Super cool spiritual thought with the Holt family|
|Watch out... there's a Baum in my car|
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Hey there! Or, as the proper English people say, "y'alright, mate?"
A lot of things have happened since you last heard from me. Last Wednesday Elder Baum and I boarded the roller coaster of Staines...n ot a real roller coaster--that would probably be against the rules, but that's literally what it feels like! Last week we spent the entire preparation day packing up this house so we could move out a couple days later. But there was some issues with the payment, so that didn't happen and we are still in the Staines house, unfortunately! Someday we will move out of this place. As of now, every room in the house is pretty much barren except for our study room, which has a couple chairs for studying and some custard creams for indulging. The other exception is "the creepy closet" upstairs. It's a small room that looks like a hobbit hole, but nobody ever goes in there and nobody ever comes out.
We also had the task of preparing lunch for Specialized Zone Training this week! For some reason, every zone training lunch I've ever been to has been pizza. I'm not sure why, but it's always pizza! So we decided to shake things up a little bit and surprise everybody with Indian curry. We have some Indian sisters in the zone so they were a big help. Elder Baum and I were in charge of making enough rice for 25 people, so one night we had all our stoves firing on all cylinders. It was so much rice! I earned the title of "Rice King" and Elder Baum is now "Atomic Baum".
The best part of the week was hearing from President Gubler. I'm telling you, you'll be lucky if you meet that man someday because he's so spiritually powerful. His testimony is rock solid and he pretty much slaps you with the Spirit. He taught us some of the things he taught us last year, like who we are and who Jesus Christ is. It was really good to have my true identity reconfirmed to me. There is so much to learn about the gospel. I really do know that we are children of loving parents in heaven. We've been reserved and prepared to be on this earth at this time and we have a purpose! That's what all of us need to realize. We need to remember who we really are! That's something crucial and it's also something we covenant to do each sacrament meeting. So when mom says "remember who you are" as you leave the house, you should probably do it!
That same night we had a very cool experience. Dan, one of our investigators whom we haven't seen for a while, met us at a member's house for a lesson. Dan is a friend of a kid in the ward who just got his mission call to Rome, so he's pretty young and really intelligent. We talked with him about The Plan of Salvation and it was super powerful. When we asked him to teach us everything we had just taught him, he was able to do it perfectly! We were really impressed! But the best part was the look on his face when we taught him about what happens after this life... he was fascinated. Man, I love teaching people about the gospel! You better believe that it's true. I'll also note that we didn't even find Dan. The member invited him to come to the mission call opening and we started teaching him there! Our members are on point in this ward, and that's how it should be. We had stake conference this week and we've got some great member missionaries :)
That's all this week from me. Please pray that Elder Baum and I will be able to make a breakthrough in this area and start baptizing this month! Thanks for your love and support! Love you all.
Love, Elder Thomas
|Sunset in Staines|
|We have earned the title of rice kings!|
|Lunch was a success!|
|One of the 5 times we went shopping this week|
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
It's that time of the month again...transfers! We knew we had to do something special for Elder Senkans's last day, so we sat there staring at each other until we came up with an idea. Almost at the same, we both whispered "Mcdonalds".... I'm just kidding, but that would have been really cool! But we did end up going to Mcdonalds because that's the only thing we could think of, sadly. Perks of having a car, though. The steps per day go down and the body weight goes up. Fun fact for you: there are no longer any Latvian missionaries on planet earth. Elder Senkans is the only one! It was totally an honor to serve with him. He finished strong, free of trunkiness!
Yesterday I said hello to my new companion, Elder Baum (pronounced "bomb")! The big news is my non-american companion streak is now broken because Elder Baum is from Vernal, UT! I haven't had an American companion during the 14 months of my mission, but there's nobody I'd rather have break it than Elder Baum. He's in my MTC group and I know him pretty well already. I feel like he's just a bigger version of me! He loves sports, loves boating, loves adventures, and loves missionary work. I'm excited to work with him because he's a baptizing machine! Prepare for some pictures in white, because Elder Baum is here and so is the harvest. We have our Columbian friend Stefan on date for November 12!
We made quite the journey down to the southern part of the mission for my driving test on Monday, singing songs on the way. I totally thought I was ready but again I failed...this time for not going fast enough! Gotta go round 3 now.
Crazy thing that happened this week. We have an old lady in the ward who has previously been banned from feeding the missionaries, for whatever reason. So we were super nervous when she invited us over for dinner yesterday! We felt fine for the first two courses, but then she brought out the rhubarb crumble and it about did us in. Elder Baum didn't even bother with it but I made a good effort to consume it...I didn't think I'd make it, but I'm alive writing to you today. God definitely protects His missionaries!
I'm currently reading the Old Testament, and there's some crazy stuff in there. I don't understand some of it, but I do know that it is a testament of Jesus Christ the same way the Book of Mormon is. Everything God does in the scriptures is out of love for His children. Concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asks God if he would destroy the city even if there were righteous people inside. God responds that even if there was one righteous soul inside, that he would not destroy it. God indeed loves His children, especially when they keep His commandments and honor Him. That's what we need to do and we will find favor with Him! I testify that you can find an answer to every question in the scriptures. Read them everyday--they will help you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Love you all so much! Love your letters!
Love, Elder Thomas
|Bowling last week. Of course I got it!|
|See you at BYU Elder Senkans|
|Our duet in parting|
|Elder (The) Baum!|