Elder Thomas here :) It's been a crazy week, mostly because of transfers. At the same time, more doors were knocked, hearts were softened, and the Gospel was shared. I've begun to notice the many tender mercies that the Lord gives to me every single day. I've realized the work is kind of like golf: While there are many hard days with no signs of improvement or progression and you even want to quit, something good always happens and tells me that there is hope. Similarly, the Lord gives me something each day to remind me that He is there and that this is His work. My point is, there are miracles, revelations, and spiritual experiences that tell me why I'm here--even when the going gets tough. It has been a pretty overwhelming week here for many reasons. After recovering from a cold, I learned that a family friend was injured in the bombing in Brussels and that shocked me a bit. Please pray for the Empey family!
Anyways, back to transfers! Let's just say, I thought that March Madness was pretty unpredictable this year--until I got the transfers information...you'll be surprised to know that I am writing you from Witney! Yes, that means I will be here for at least 9 months, which is nuts! I don't know anybody who's served in one area for that long before, but I'm excited about it. I love this place, the people, everything! Elder Reynolds is also staying here with me so we'll continue to work these streets together for a while longer. I guess my work is not yet done here.
But wait, there's more!!!
Last Friday we did an Easter-themed district finding activity in Oxford, which went pretty well. Upon arriving, I got off the bus and saw that we had missed a call from President Gubler. Knowing that moves/leadership calls were that day, we went to a park and called him back. There I was shocked again when President told me that the area of Didcot was closing, the 2 Didcot elders were leaving, and that the Lord needed me to be the district leader here. That implies that the 2 of us will have to cover both areas now, without a car! But that's how it's going to be. The plan is to spend week days at the Witney flat and then travel to Didcot to spend weekends at the apartment there, which is still up and running. It's going to be crazy and I hope the Lord provides a way for us to strengthen both areas now. So not only will I be serving as district leader in the area where I began my mission, but I'll also be partially serving in the city that I began my mission. Crazy! Now our district consists of one American, three Brits, and a senior couple. President also told me to start learning and preparing to take the driving test here because my US license is only valid here for 1 year. At some point I might have to switch to the left side...
With Elder Phelps leaving Didcot, I had to say goodbye to him yesterday. He's been my best friend out here and we've been brothers since ever since the MTC and it was hard for us to part ways for now. All four of us had an Easter dinner with the Rathbones on Sunday and we thought a fitting name for the event was "the last supper". We had such a good time! My heart wrenched as I watched Elder Phelps say bye to everybody because eventually I'll have to do that as well! The Didcot elders even spent the night at our flat, where we had one last nerf war. It was epic! I'll really miss Elder Phelps though. He's a great friend and an even better missionary! There's a lot of good things in store for that elder.
We are doing a lot of knocking out here! Another member gave us a road to knock where we found a Polish couple who are really "cooking," or being prepared by the Lord. They're called Kamille and Monica and we plan to begin teaching them this week! There really is so much to work out here and we are excited to bring more people into the fold, and hopefully they're Polish! Polish people are cool.
Despite all that's gone on this week, my testimony of the Savior's resurrection has deepened. I've always loved Easter, but this one was very special to me because I understood and contemplated what it means. Although Easter chocolate is nice, especially cream eggs, Easter is a time of reflection upon Christ's triumph over physical and spiritual death. Spiritual death was overcome because of Christ's Atonement, and physical death was overcome because He rose again on the third day. I know that Christ really did rise again and still lives today. He also loves you and me and wants us to follow His example every day. I know the Church is true because I've asked God and He's told me. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
We have a very special opportunity this weekend to hear Christ speak to us through His servants during general conference. I hope we can all prepare ourselves and come to conference with questions, an open heart, and a willingness to follow Christ even more. This will be the greatest conference yet!
Thanks so much for your letters, packages, and mail! I'm so lucky to have so much love and support from all of you. Hope you've had a good Easter and have a great week! Talk to you later.
Je t'aime au revoir!
Love, Elder Thomas
|A sunny day in Oxford|
|One more from Blenheim Palace|
|Throwback to one day with Elder Phelps|
|Goodbye Didcot Elders|
|Games with the Rathbones|
|After the last supper|
|Bye Elder Phelps|