Monday, February 8, 2016

Stake Conference and the Temple

Greetings from Witney!

Hey everybody! It's been another crazy miraculous week out here. I've realized that I've almost been out for 6 months and I don't really know where the time has gone. Looking back on my experience so far, this mission has been more than I ever dreamed and imagined it to be. Outside of myself, I can't think of one thing that I want to change right now. I'm really trying to do things God's way because this is His work...and my way just never seems to work out!

The Rathbone family are members of the only true church on the earth today...and they know it. They are SO SOLID! I'm amazed at their progress and their firm testimony. They're already doing the most missionary work in the ward! Remember how they were found with "the Street Praying Initiative"? Well, we as a ward mission team felt like we should invite the Rathbones to do just that: pray for a street with a baptism. They accepted the challenge and began immediately! They have the faith, so it was only a matter of time until they got their answer. It didn't take long until we received news that Simon had a revelation while doing the dishes one night. He gave us 2 streets to knock and we are anxious to get out there and find, teach, and baptize these people. Unfortunately, we haven't been to the roads yet because we haven't been in our area at all this week :/ The Rathbones will also help teach and friendship the new investigators.

More news on the Rathbones! Now that they've been baptized, they really want to learn more about the temple. Even though they had only been members for 6 days, they picked us up on Saturday and we went! It was a 3 hour journey round trip but it was sooo worth it. We encountered some heavy traffic, however, when we got near London. Simon wanted to pray for the traffic to move, but things started moving before he could! Miracle! It was also scheduled to rain all day, but it stopped during the time we were on the temple grounds...yesssss! Anyways, some nice Sisters greeted us and took us into the cinema where we got to watch Meet the Mormons. I forgot how good that show is! I love Ken (Hawaiian last name)'s story, he's the coach of the Navy Football team. Imm loved the story in Nepal because she's explored all around those parts. I could see her as a kick boxer like the other lady in the show. And of course, David Archuleta's song at the end was "glorious." The Rathbones are excited to actually go inside the temple to do baptisms next month!

Lots of traveling this week. I exchanged with Elder Feistl in Didcot for a day and we got stuff done! He's a very hard worker and naturally efficient (German). He was baptized a couple of years ago and now he's out serving the Lord. What a stud. Exchanges are done differently now, though. Now both of us go to the District Leader's area so his area can be more of a model for the rest of the district. But I don't mind! You all know I'm a fan of 4 man flats...good times!

After our temple excursion we spent the night in Reading so we could be on time for Stake Conference the next morning. I didn't know what to expect because every stake conference has been in the turtle building in Bountiful, and it's always been full! This one was in a chapel, and it was actually pretty full. It felt like home! I was just talking to some other missionaries when, all of the sudden, THEE President Gubler himself walked in--he was giving a talk! I swear that man just glows with spiritual awesomeness. His talk was a spiritual bomb and just blew everybody away.

But wait, there's more! After the meeting, I learned that we were going to another meeting for new members with President Gubler and his wife, the stake president, and the Rathbones. It was pretty much a big testimony meeting and it was a dream come true! I got to hear the Rathbones share their testimony...what a treat. I'm here to tell you that there is nothing more moving and more powerful than a recent convert's testimony. They didn't know it was a testimony, but that's exactly what it was. President Gubler was surprised to hear that the Rathbones had already been to the temple. I said "I thought you meant six days, not sixty!" That scared him a bit, but I told him that they didn't actually go in. Still funny though.

If there's one thing I learned this week, it's to always bear testimony of Jesus Christ. Testimony, testimony, testimony. Whether it's from a prophet, a mission president, or a new member, pure and sincere testimony still has the same effect: brings the Spirit and touches the hearts of everybody present. I encourage you to bear your testimony daily! You are promised to have a stronger testimony and a remission of sins if you do this. I stand with my grandma when I say that my testimony is my most prized possession. I love strengthening my testimony because if it's not being strengthened, it's getting weaker. If you feel that you don't have a testimony, or that your testimony isn't where you want it to be, don't lose hope. There is always hope! Exercise your faith by partaking of the Sacrament. Study the Book of Mormon and pray...Every. Single. Day. Conversion begins when we move doctrine from the "not sure" file into the "I know" file. Pray for the reassurance of doctrine every day. Either begin now or keep working!

I testify to you that I KNOW that there is a God in heaven, and he is Heavenly Father. His love is real and perfect because He sent His Son to die for you and for me. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He has overcome everything, so let us rejoice! I know that I am His servant, His missionary, His disciple. I declare to you that you are never alone because your Savior is there for you always. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

It's been an AWESOME week. I hope this next week brings more miracles and more happiness. Sadly, this will be Elder Raveneau's last full week in the mission field. He goes home next Wednesday! I don't know what I'll do without him, I can't think of anybody else as my companion. He's worked hard, and what a finish! If my next companion is fresh off the plane, then I get to go to the temple one last time with Elder Raveneau next week, but that's not likely. It's been a great 4 transfers with this Elder, I'll never forget it!

Have a goooooood week!

Love, Elder Thomas


The London Temple Visitors Center

The London Temple

McDonald's in Cobham

At Ron's (our investigator) house.  Parrot, dog, Elder.

Sister Sutton's "Kit Kat Kake" for the baptism

Forgot to send this gem last week

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