Hey everyone! It's been yet another crazy week in the mission field, full of miracles and great experiences. As a representative of Jesus Christ, I get a front-seat witness to many amazing things. I stand with thousands of others when I say I love serving this mission! There's nowhere I'd rather be.
It hit me that as of the 19th I'll have been out for 6 months. Only 18 months left--I'm a sister missionary now! It's gone by so fast I can't believe it. That scares me, because Elder Raveneau says it only goes by faster from here. Speaking of Elder Raveneau, he's "dying" today. His mission is over! He takes a train this morning from Oxford to Crawley where he will go through the temple and have dinner with President Gubler. He flies home tomorrow! I'm really going to miss him and he knows it. We've been together for so long that he's like a brother to me now, but I'm excited for him to begin the next chapter of his life. He's served a very honorable mission and I will definitely see him again sometime, but it's time to say "au revoir!"
As you can see, I get to stay in Witney a bit longer, thankfully! I love it here. Even though this is the only area I've served in, I'm convinced it's one of the best area's in the mission and I'm so glad to be staying! We received the news about transfers on Saturday and I was pretty nervous, but that's the way it goes! My new companion is (drumrolllllllll)...Elder Reynolds! At first I thought he was definitely from the states, but come to find out he's from Manchester! I haven't met him yet, but I got to talk to him on the phone for a bit yesterday. He seems really cool! It will be nice to work with him and I'm excited to keep working hard.
We were out and about all the time last week because literally everyone wanted to say bye to Elder Raveneau. We had loads of dinner appointments and got our fair share of pounds (not currency). Yesterday we did service at the Suttons and then had dinner there with the Rathbones and a few other members. It was a total party, but it was also Elder Raveneau's funeral. Sister Sutton made a cake with Elder Raveneau's headstone on it, it was hilarious!
On Tuesday we had Specialized Zone Training with President Gubler and the stake president. I learned so much and felt the Spirit strongly as sincere testimonies were born. President Gubler taught us a lot about Lehi's dream of the tree of life, and it really opened my eyes to what the tree really represents. We know that the iron rod is the word of God, and the fruit is the love of God. We interpreted a picture that I've attached. If any picture is worth a thousand words, this one is! If you examine the tree closely, you will find a figure inside the tree. It's Christ! He is the word, the rod, and the light. He is the sure foundation, unlike the large and spacious buildings which have no foundation at all. You will notice that some of those who are holding to the rod and even those who have tasted the fruit (members) have their heads turned to the mocking crowds of the spacious building. On the other hand, others are relentless in protecting their faith and have both eyes on the tree, pressing forward steadfastly. This is the idea. We need keep moving, holding to the rod and focusing on Christ. At times the journey on the rod may seem like an incline, maybe even a mountain, but we must remain faithful to have a perfect brightness of hope! This picture contains the entire structure of the world. In the background are millions who are wandering aimlessly without the fruit because "they know not where to find it." In reality, any person who is not a baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is lost. They may not realize it, but they are! This truth is what motivates me to serve, to find His lost sheep and lead them back to the rod, like the "men in white" did to Lehi when he was in darkness. My question to you is who are those men in white?
I was on a bus the other week when I received a strong feeling that I should talk to every single person on the entire bus. I really shrank at that feeling because even though the bus wasn't completely full, I was scared and didn't want to risk getting kicked off! The feeling kept coming back even after I ignored it. The rest of the day I was eaten alive by the fact that I postponed that prompting and that I had feared man more than God...I promised God and myself that I would do it the next day. Well, the time finally came and the feeling was there again, so I did it. Now this isn't a huge, impressive accomplishment, but it was definitely out of my comfort zone to cycle through the seats next to the people on the bus, sharing the message of the Restoration. Nobody was interested, but I showed God that I am willing to react to the promptings of the Spirit. I think this shows how God really stretches us to grow when we show him we are willing and ready to change. He is never complacent with complacency because complacency means no progression. It is the second greatest stumbling block, only second to pride. I know that through Christ not only our behavior can be changed, but our whole nature. I declare to you that God has a perfect plan for all His children. To accomplish this he has given us the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, through which we can be completely cleansed from sin. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!
It's been a great week! Sunday was great: Candace came to church again, and Simon received the Aaronic Priesthood! He gets to pass the sacrament now. Woo!
Have a great week everybody! Je t'aime au revoir!
Love, Elder Thomas
|The tree of life|
|Saying goodbye to Elder Raveneau|
|Selfie from Sister Nyman. Spaghetti with my new companion.|
|The Rathbone boys... future missionaries!|
|At the temple last week with the Rathbones|
|Bus rides with the Elders|