Monday, May 23, 2016

Tri-Zone Conference and Less Actives

Hello there, friends and family!

Another week has come and gone in Witney. My love for this beautiful place grows with each day that passes, and I really couldn't be serving in a more beautiful place. Yeah, I've been here a while now, but it never ever gets old because the Lord is literally in every detail of life. Can't get enough of the Gospel! Here's what went on this week:

-Tri-Zone Conference in Staines (close to Heathrow airport) and listened to Elder Herbertson of the Seventy. Received some really valuable knowledge and got to see some old buddies!
-Went on an exchange in Reading with the zone leaders. I was with Elder McAravey from South Africa and we literally talked to everybody in fun! We also talked to a man on the street and gave him a tour of the chapel there.
-Found an abnormally massive spider in the flat and called him Harold.
-Irene came to church! She's the less active lady from Uganda who we found in Witney about a month ago. She loved church!
-Got rained on again. Good old England!

Zone Conference was the best part of the week, hands down. It was a huge privilege to hear some wise words from Elder Herbertson. He's from Scotland and he's hilarious! He taught using some really good analogies, which I thought was great. I learned that we need to be constantly looking forward to what the future has in store for us. Imagine you're in a car. You've got your big, front windshield and you've also got your rear view mirror. Good drivers will spend most of the time focusing on what's in front of them so they don't crash. Occasionally they'll check their rear-view mirror and see what's behind them. However, if the driver spends too much time looking behind them and not watching where they're going, they're going to crash! It's just like life: if we spend our time dwelling on past mistakes, we will not be able to progress and will crash, so to speak. While it is good to remember and learn from past experiences, we need to always be planning for what awaits us, because God has good things in store for us.

The other story hit me the hardest. It's all about shortcuts! I think everybody loves shortcuts because they get you where you want to go really fast. But there aren't many shortcuts in life. The story is about a rich guy who had loads of houses all over the world. He had a palace in almost every single country! Then one day this man came up to his son and asked him to build him yet another house. The son was confused: Why on earth would his dad want another house when he already had countless others? And why did he want him to build it? Anyways, he got to work. This house was going to be magnificent until the son started "cutting some corners" by using cheap materials and hiring mediocre workers. Instead of 3 swimming pools, he only had 1 installed. His intent was to spend as little money as possible, and he did everything he could to keep things cheap -- although his father was paying for it. Nobody else knew about the cheap materials -- not the workers or the father -- only the son. Finally the wonderful house was finished. The father looked at it for a few minutes, admired it, and praised his son for the work that went into it. The father then pulled the house keys from his pocket, handed them to his son, and gave him the house. At this point, the son realized that the house would never reach it's potential because he took shortcuts and cut corners.

As I thought about this story, I learned that we are all here on earth to build our own house. Every choice we make determines the quality of that house. I wondered if I have cut some corners in the work during my time on a mission. Let us not cut corners! Jesus said, "In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."

Remember Irene from Uganda? She came to church and loved it! We've been trying to help her come for the past month, but her job requires a lot of time every day. But this week was her holiday so she came to church and we were so glad she did!

Invited some more members to do the praying-for-a-street-initiative this week. We need to find some more people to teach! Our current investigators are progressing very slowly. Our focus is to do better at following up with people.

I know this is His work! I've been blessed more than I deserve here, which has brought me complete joy. I've found that my feelings are similar to those of the Sons of Mosiah... "And they traveled throughout all the land of Zarahemla," 

"publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them."
"And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer."
"And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth."
"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

Couldn't have said it better myself! I have indeed seen great miracles here, and I testify to you that they are not just coincidence -- there are none with God. God is still a God of miracles and I am so grateful to witness them each day.

The ward is throwing a birthday party for me this Sunday...I'm officially part of the ward family :D

Love you all so much, and have a good week!

Love, Elder Thomas


The two Scotsmen and me

District picture from the top of Carfax Tower

Zone Conference

Elder Herbertson

At the Reading train station

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