Monday, May 2, 2016

Zone Trainings and Baptisms

Hello friends and family! I hope that you're all happy and well. From what I hear, everyone is excited for warmer weather and for school to get out. I can't believe it's May!

What a ride! This week has been awesome. With all the good things happening here in Witney, I'm afraid I'm wanting to stay for more. It will be interesting to see how transfers turn out this week. Everybody here reckons that I'll be leaving good old Oxfordshire...Even President Gubler refers to me as an "old timer." Will I stay or go???

An update on Thomas Baker: he got baptized! The baptism was on Saturday evening. It was kind of weird to fill up the font at our own chapel for somebody we haven't even met in person yet. Our ward was able to make the program and prepare for everything so quickly, and it was a great turnout! Half our ward was there to welcome Thomas into the ward when he arrived at the chapel with the Aylesbury Elders. So we finally met Thomas! Elder Pederson from Norway baptized him. I got to be the pianist for the whole thing and I loved it! I even got to play a musical number: Come Thou Fount. It's Thomas's favorite song.

Thomas is really cool! He's a 23 year old Englishman and he's been searching for truth his whole life. His search has lead him to many churches. He even served a 3 month mission in Romania a few years back.

But his thirst only grew stronger...

Eventually he found a book called "Mormons for Dummies," which fascinated him. He loved the doctrine and referred himself to be taught by the missionaries. 3 sets of missionaries were notified about him, including the Aylesbury Elders (from the London mission), who began teaching him. He described his experience hearing the gospel as "drinking a glass of water after a marathon." His thirst was quenched and he decided to get baptized. The Lord prepares the way!

The other big event this week was Specialized Zone Training (SZT) in Reading. SZT is different from normal ZT because the mission president comes! I always love SZT, but this one was special. Everything we did was to help us know who we are. President Gubler and the Spirit were able to help us not just have the knowledge that we are sons and daughters of God, but really know, believe, and embrace it in our hearts. When we know who we really are, we can be at peace even in the hardest times because we know that brighter times are ahead. We should also know who He (Jesus Christ) is. When we know this, it confirms who we are because He will never abandon us. We are all children of Heavenly Father, and He cannot leave us alone. He'll always be there to help us, teach us, and guide us. We've been sent to live here at this time in the last days for a reason. He's called all of us to be a part of His work! All this because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which connects us back to our Father in Heaven. The Gospel is great!!! Learned SO much this week!

Now our main focus is to find new investigators and get the less actives back to church. We're working with Irene from Uganda. We taught her last week and when we asked her to offer a prayer, she said it in Ugandan! Coolest sounding language ever. She is also coming to church on May 15. This is a big step for her since she hasn't been to church in a while, and she works all day every day as a caregiver.
She's doing great!

I went on my first exchange as a district leader on Wednesday. We met the Oxford Elders--who are both Scottish--in Oxford, where we had a quick lunch at Pizza Hut, of course! Then Elder Barrett and I set off for Witney and had a great exchange. We got stuff done! We had some crazy experiences too. As we were walking down a road, a couple teenagers approached us. Now, Witney isn't a big town for thugs and stuff, so I wasn't too worried about them. I also recognized one of them from a previous encounter so I knew we weren't in danger of being jumped or mugged or anything, but then they beckoned 10 more of their friends over...Elder Barrett and I were a bit nervous when they all surrounded us. The first one looked at me curiously and asked, "aren't you gonna share your message, mate?" He didn't have to ask twice--we dove in and taught them all about God and Book of Mormon and prayer. Yeah, we were a bit intimidated at first, but a couple of those kids felt the Spirit as we testified. 2 of them accepted a Book of Mormon and one of them has been calling us to know more about prayer. We loved the whole experience, even though one of the kids snapchatted our prayer.

Loads of good things happening! The Portuguese family we are teaching has an 8 year old daughter called Luana. She speaks perfect English and Portuguese, so she translates for us sometimes. We asked her what she thinks about the Book of Mormon, and she said it's true. Children are always in tune with the Spirit!

Well, that's about it for this week. I'm as anxious as you are about moves this week, but I know that I'll go where the Lord needs me to be. I love serving as a missionary and wouldn't trade it for anything. I hope you all have a fantastic week and I'll talk to you later! Thanks so much for your love and support. Cheers!

Love, Elder Thomas


Mariachi band in Oxford

Thomas's baptism!  The Witney Elders, Thomas, Elder Peterson from Norway, and Elder Masuku from South Africa.

Weird to see London missionaries in my chapel

Found another cat

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