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

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