Monday, January 25, 2016

The Countdown is on...

Hey guys!

I want to thank you so much for all of your lovely emails. I'm always extra excited on Mondays because I love hearing from you! I've also received some packages from dear friends, and they've made me so happy and grateful. I really am so blessed to have so much love and support back home. Here's the latest on the adventures of Elder Raveneau and Elder Thomas in Witney...

I sure hope the good news about the Rathbone family rocked your world, it sure rocked mine. That family is golden! It's been the most soul-filling experience to watch them progress and get to the point that they are at now. I vividly remember September 30th, the day we knocked their door. Imm answered and told us we could come back! It was then that she realized that the door had locked behind her and she was stuck outside with us, which allowed us to teach her a bit more until her kids let her back in. We talk about that day a lot. Their baptism this Saturday will mark exactly 4 months since we met them.

On Tuesday we taught Monica and Georgia, a mother and a daughter. They understood everything well and felt the Spirit! As we were wrapping things up, Elder Raveneau felt like we should invite them to be baptized. He conveyed his idea to me by doing a baptism motion with his arms while the investigators weren't looking. I understood and invited them to be baptized on February 20, and they accepted! We are excited to work with them, but Elder Raveneau isn't as thrilled because Feb 20 is three days after he goes home! You know you're going home soon when the baptismal dates start overlapping your departure date.

Wednesday was awesome--we got to watch the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast live! It was so inspiring to listen to God-given knowledge and insight on how to more effectively conduct work in our area. I truly felt like the speakers were talking directly to me! Some key things that I took away are:

Neil L. Anderson told us that the most important thing we can do is to testify of Jesus Christ by always "keeping His name on our lips." If you are ever unsure of what to do, bear your own witness of the Savior.

David A. Bednar exhorted us to not tell investigators that they're feeling the Holy Ghost. Instead, let them realize and identify it themselves by asking what they think the good feeling is that is changing their lives.

Bonnie L. Oscarson explained how to "treasure up" the word of God by putting things into the "treasure chest" through diligent scripture study. The Holy Ghost will give you things out of that treasure chest when you need it.

L. Whitney Clayton told us to work with less active members, reactivate them, and baptize their non-member family and friends...easier said than done!

I was able to utilize one of these methods straightaway! We had dinner at the Rathbones' house one night and Imm was talking about how much she has changed for the better as we have taught her. "Well, what do you think is helping you to change?" I asked. She pondered about that for a moment before confidently identifying it as the Holy Ghost. "I can't believe you made me say that!" she said happily. She made a hashtag to help her make the right choices: #whatwouldtheMormonsdo?  The Gospel changes people. It takes them as aimless wanderers and transforms them into faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It reminds them of who they really are and what their purpose is. This extraordinary process has occurred in my life, especially during the last 5 months as I've strived to devote my entire being to Christ, "which strengtheneth me."

On Sunday we got to see President Gubler again! He came to see the Rathbone family--who came to church for the third consecutive week--and interview them for baptism. He decided to meet them at their house, so we raced out to Carterton after church so we could be there! When we got there the interview had already begun, and it was kind of weird to have Sister Gubler let us into our investigators house...I don't know it was just strange! Anyways, they passed their interview with flying colors. They also received a confirmation that the Church was true...during the interview! They were happy. I walked in to see a spiritually-exhausted President Gubler, who welcomed my hug. I love his hugs. He gave us an assignment to help the Rathbones find family names, get a temple recommend, and take them to do baptisms for the dead within 60 days! Pretty quick, but we can do it.

As the events of this week have unfolded, I've really seen the fruits and blessings of my service. This has come from faithful service, especially with members. Miracles are being worked, hearts are being changed, and souls are being saved. I don't credit this to myself, but to Christ! I encourage you to keep things simple, pray always, and choose to believe. Read the Book of Mormon, it is true and will bring a light into your life. Make the right choices, and watch for miracles! It is the Season of Miracles.

Have a great week everybody! I will talk to you soon!


Elder Thomas

#whatwouldtheMormonsdo? #tistheseason

Next time we will be in white!
(Elder Raveneau, Imm, Kiefer, Simon, Quinn, and moi)

President and Sister Gubler and Imm and Simon Rathbone

Monday, January 18, 2016

Awesome News and Happy Clappy Church


Hi guys! First off, out of all my emails, this is definitely the one you need to read. It's been such an awesome week! It was a long week because so much happened, but it might have been the best week of the mission. Good things happened, and good things are coming. As you read, keep in mind that it is the Season of Miracles in the London South Mission.

I guess I'll get started then. Last week got off to a slow start with not much going on. Loads of street contacting and tracting. However, things got rolling on Wednesday, so that's where I'll begin...

We didn't have anywhere we needed to go on Wednesday, so we decided to make it a total finding day. We figured out where all the former investigators lived and started knocking on their doors. On the way to each door we'd talk to everybody in sight, even if we had to chase them down! We talked to a lot of people, but only a few were the slightest bit interested. For some reason, the majority of the people we talked to were attractive young women who were roughly our age. Now I'm not complaining, but it can be difficult to stick to a gospel-centered conversation when they are more interested in talking about other things. Talking to older people and children is no problem, but young women can be a struggle. On one occasion, Elder Raveneau boldly approached a young Jehovah's Witness. Although he started out smooth, I could tell he was beginning to be seduced. We got out of there, but he still managed to secure a return appointment with her! He is French, after all.

Anyways, after 5 hours of straight contacting, we were about to call it a day. We were tired, cold, and hungry. As we walked down the road, the phone started going crazy in my pocket. I looked at it to see that we had received three new texts and a missed call--something was either terribly good or terribly wrong! The texts were from Imm Rathbone. The first few words were "We have news," so I assumed that she was either committing to get baptized or she was pregnant. I opened the text. Not to our surprise, but to our utter joy and amazement, the Rathbones have committed to get baptized. My fatigue instantly turned into excitement! I read the other texts to learn that they want to get baptized on the 30th of this month...only 12 days from today. I can't express the joy that I felt in words, but I know that they are ready because the Lord has prepared them. He has led us to them. If this isn't convincing evidence of the goodness of God and the Season of Miracles, then I don't know what is! President Gubler was told by Heavenly Father that the Season is here. I know for myself that this is true, and I'm beyond excited to watch this family follow the example of Jesus Christ.

That's not all, though! On Sunday, President and Sister Gubler came to speak in our ward. The Rathbones came to church for the second week in a row, so we wanted them to meet the Gublers. As the Rathbones took their seats for sacrament meeting, I watched as President Gubler entered the room. Immediately, he looked across the room to the Rathbones, whom he had never seen before. I swear he can smell investigators. He made his way over to them and introduced himself. Then he got serious, looked them in the eyes, and testified that they were doing the right thing. The Rathbones agreed as Elder Raveneau and I admired the scene. President Gubler then delivered a powerful talk on standing firm to the faith in dark times. I asked the Rathbones if they felt good and they all nodded. I told them it was the Spirit! It rocked! After church we had interviews with President. He told me how much he loves the Rathbones, and he also told me that I'll be staying in Witney next transfer. Cool. I walked out just in time to say bye to the Rathbones, who had obtained their baptismal clothing already.

It turned out to be a fantastic week! One of our investigators invited us to come to his church on Sunday, so we ended up doing that as well. I didn't know what to expect, and what I found surprised me. The congregation was 99 % African. We were the only white people there! They were preaching loudly while one guy played the electric piano and another played the drums. It was interesting. It was a very friendly place, however. Every single person there greeted us. It soon turned into a gospel concert with African women singing. Every sentence was followed by an "Amen!" It was a total Happy Clappy chuch. Every culture can be found here.

That's all for this week! The experiences I've had have strengthened unfathomably (without fathom). I love my companion, President Gubler, the ward, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ. I'm not alone in this work. People are being prepared by God in this area this very second, and the Lord has trusted me to find them. He's trusted me with a family. I'm grateful to be his servant and I know he loves me and is proud of me. Missionary work makes me happy! Cheers, and have a good week everyone!


Elder Thomas


A sweet, AMERICAN 1964 Mercury.  Took it for a spin.

New way of contacting

The new crew

The district

Found this toilet while tracting

T-27 days for Elder Raveneau

Monday, January 11, 2016

Preaching in the rain

Hey, folks! Here's what's up in good old Witney, Uk:

This week consisted of LOADS of tracting and contacting, and mostly in the rain. I don't understand the weather here! It's always sunny in the morning and then rainy the rest of the day. Somehow, we always find ourselves in a downpour.

On one of these stormy nights we were knocking a road, and not having much success. We got yelled at more than usual, and many doors were slammed in our faces. We were cold, tired, and absolutely soaked, but there was still one more door to knock. Now, you may be expecting the cliche last-door success story, but not in this case. The people were not interested. As we stepped off the front porch, however, we received a text from our ward mission leader, who had just visited our investigator family (Rathbones). He let us know that they had committed to live the law of tithing after baptism, which is a huge step of faith with their fixed budget. Suddenly, the rain stopped and the sunshine burst through the clouds (figuratively). We walked cheerfully home and slept well that night.

The Rathbones have been showing immense steps of faith lately! They've been reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day, and they've also been coming to church. They stayed for the full 3 hours this time and they loved it! I finally took a selfie with them so you can see who they are. After church, we all went over to the ward mission leader's house for a "cottage evening," or FHE. The Rathbones were there, and we felt like we should extend a baptismal date for January 30. Although the spirit was there, they feel like they need more time. This was frustrating for me because they believe everything we've taught them, but are afraid to make the next step. Granted, it's a big step, but I know they're ready. All they need now is the confirmation of the Spirit. Amazing things are coming for that family!

Since we as companions spend so much time together, there are a lot of funny things that happen. Most of them are inside jokes, but we have to find ways to work hard and have fun at the same time. From dance competitions up to doorsteps to free throw competitions in the bathroom, we get pretty creative as we make missionary work fun. However, there is a line to be drawn dividing time to be serious and time to have fun. It's been hard for me to learn where to draw this line, but I never realized that a mission would be! Although the last 5 months have been the most spiritual months of my life, they've also been the funnest of my life. They've been the best of my life!

Doing the Lord's will is what makes me happy, and that includes serving a mission. I've found the happiness that comes from aligning my will with God's and I plan on doing this my whole life. If His will is for me to declare His Gospel in the middle of the road in the pouring rain, I'll do it. I don't really care what it is, if I know it's God's will, I want to do it because I know that he loves me with a perfect love. President Eyring promises us 2 things if we will choose to serve God this day. 1: whatever dark times we are going through today will be better in the next day, and 2: we are promised to feel God's love. I add my witness as a representative of Jesus Christ to President Eyring's witness that that promise is true. May we choose to serve God this day and forever do His will.

Have a great week everybody! Long live the Potato.


Elder Thomas
Selfie with the Rathbone family

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Moves Week!

Hey guys!

This week has been filled with lots of fun and lots of miracles. The Rathbone family is progressing, prayers are being answered, I had one of the best hamburgers of my life, and...  It's moves week!

It's a tradition in every last district meeting of the transfer to predict where everybody will go. I predicted that everybody would stay, and I was so close! To my disappointment, the Fantastic Four is finally broken up. Three of the four will be staying here in the Oxford District. My companion is Elder Raveneau! That's right, he's staying here! Elder Phelps will be staying as well, so Elder Wagaman is going to Royal Tunbridge Wells, in Kent. We said goodbye to him this morning and it was tough. He's been a big part of my training and I'm going to miss him, but he'll do great things in Tunbridge Wells. Our new district leader is Elder Feistl from Germany. Now we have a German, a Scot, a French and a few Americans in the's like WW3 over here.

Elder Raveneau wasn't as thrilled about the news as I was because he wanted to go to a new area for his last 6 weeks. Personally, I'm glad he's staying because we have a family to baptize--this transfer is going to be awesome. He goes home in February, so we're going to keep working hard. I heard that in an attempt to save money, the Church will have him swim home to France :) The good part is that since everybody thought he would be leaving, we had a ton of dinner appointments with members over the week. I'm glad to be here in Witney, I'm convinced this is the best area in the mission.

As for your weekly update on the Rathbones, they are doing so well! We had a lesson with them on Saturday and Brother Sutton came along. We taught and testified about obedience and baptism and it went sooooooo well! They are psyched that we are both staying and here comes the thunder: they set a goal to be baptized before Elder Raveneau goes home! At the same time, they aren't doing this for us, but for God. Simon, who didn't believe in God 2 months ago, prayed to Him to close our lesson.

Last week we went to this restaurant in Oxford called Pepper's Burgers. I didn't know what to expect, but I had been told they made American burgers...I had to try it! I wasn't let down, it was one of the best burgers I've had in my life (see picture)! I'll definitely be going back soon. I thought this miracle was email-worthy.

With the beginning of the new year, I've been looking back at the things I've accomplished in 2015. It was a pretty big year: Getting a mission call, graduating high school, and going on a mission... as good as last year was, January 1st means new years resolutions! Lately, I've been pondering a lot about the goals that I should set not only for 2016, but for my whole mission. I wrote down the things I felt and set goals that I thought would stretch me. At the same time, I know that I can reach them with the Savior's help. Most of you have probably set goals already, but I encourage you to not only write them down, but STICK to them! Put them in a place you can see them and do all you can to achieve them. Every successful person sets goals...even Heavenly Father! He has long term goals (The Plan of Salvation) and short term, everyday goals (The Gospel of Jesus Christ). I know that goals are an essential part of the Gospel and God's plan.

Cheers from the UK!

Love, Elder Thomas

New suit!

The Fantastic Four

Action pic:  Elder Thomas in mid-translation

Pepper's Burgers

Bye Elder Wagaman

Elder Wagaman and the Didcot flat

Same ties!



What does the fox say?

The new district

A french cake from Sister Raveneau

The Oxford district