Monday, June 6, 2016

Bus Miracles and Bloodshed

Good afternoon, everyone! Hope you're all enjoying the summer. School is out!

It is a most beautiful day in Witney. You'll be amazed to hear that it's warm and sunny in the UK right now-- although we tend to get all 4 seasons each day over here. The events of this week have brought a lot of spiritual growth. One's faith is tested every single day out here, which is where the growth comes from. This test of faith is also known as an exercise of faith... very similar to a physical exercise! And like any physical exercise, a test of faith can either tear you down or build you up. Ultimately, you decide what happens. It's essential to test our faith every day by doing things not just to check them off the list, but also remembering why we do them.

Highlights of the week!:
-exchange in Oxford with Elder Barrett from Scotland
-amazing miracle while bus contacting
-Blenheim Palace today
-more egged!
-more miracles!

Our faith has definitely been tested this week! For some reason, the people of Witney have become a bit vicious. The opposition began a few weeks ago and hasn't let up yet. At first it was excessive swearing, which is bound to happen occasionally, then last week it moved to actual threatenings, and this week we got some minor physical abuse! Yesterday we were walking back from a member's home when these guys drove by in a car and chucked a UFF (Unidentified Flying Food) at us! It was a real fastball, hitting Elder Reynolds squarely in the arm. It turned out to be an egg. Fortunately, it didn't hit me--a big thank you to my companion (bodyguard) for keeping me out of harm's way. But that's what companions are for, right? Surprisingly, the egg was moving quick enough to draw blood from Elder Reynolds. We got him all bandaged up back at the flat though. All this opposition isn't necessarily fun-- yeah we were hungry, but we didn't get that egg in the ideal situation or speed... and it was fast Sunday. But now we can compare ourselves to Alma in the city of Ammonihah on a whole new level! Can't wait to see what next week brings. We're doing our best to "fear no man"--or food for that matter.

We've made a really diligent effort to speak to people on buses lately. Bus contacting used to be a big weakness for us, but it has become a real strength. When I came into the field I was terrified at the very thought of talking to somebody on a bus! Now it's almost second nature. Elder Reynolds and I take every chance to open our mouths to proclaim the Gospel, especially on public transport! The Lord gave us a huge blessing from it on Saturday. One day, a young man sat down near us on the bus. We got talking to him and invited him to hear our message. We asked him when we could come and share more with him, and his reply was: now! So we got off the bus, went to his house and taught him the Restoration. The Spirit was intense, especially during the First Vision. The Holy Ghost testified of the message to all 3 of us and it was unmistakeable. Sadly, the young man chose to discontinue learning, but it's experiences like those that I'll always remember. I love miracles! God is good.

Our focus is still on finding people to teach. We spend a lot of time contacting, knocking, and working with members because our area desperately needs investigators right now!

The exchange with Elder Barrett was so good! He is he most genuine missionary I've ever met and he's got a powerful testimony. Some cool things happened on our exchange! We committed one of their investigators to church (and he came!) and we met a 103 year old woman while knocking. Met a lot of foreign people as well. I'm pretty sure I've spoken to somebody from nearly every country on earth now! Oxford is such a diverse place.

I've been tracking my daily walking distance each day since Christmastime. According to my Fitbit, we walk an average of 6-7 miles a day. Some days we only walk 3 miles while other days we get up to 12! I always make sure to write down the distance at the end of the days so I can add them up at the end of my mission to see how far I traveled on foot throughout these 2 short years. Believe it or not, I'm coming up on 1000 miles since Christmas. My goal is to get to 5000 because that is the equivalent of walking all the way back to Utah.

The Rathones are doing great. We're currently knocking "Bluebell Way", which is Teasel Way's twin road. We hope to find a family consisting of an English mother, a Thai father, and two girls :D

Thomas Baker is still strong in the faith. He goes to FHE on Monday nights, is receiving the New Member Lessons, and is preparing to receive the Priesthood.

Next week is going to be the bomb: We have Elder Oaks in London, then a conference next to Heathrow airport, and then moves calls for transfers on Saturday. Could be my last week in Witney! :) :( We'll have to wait and see.

Love you all so much, have a great week!

Love, Elder Thomas



Lake at Blenheim Palace

Goofing around at Blenheim Palace

Pondering at Blenheim

Blenheim Palace

The grounds at Blenheim

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