Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Best Kind of Service and On the Road Again

Hey there, folks!

Wow...what a ride! This week was insane. And, of course, stupidly fast at the same time. We are already at the end of another transfer and nearly a year has come and gone since I left the promised land. I love working alongside such devoted fellow warriors like my companion and others in the mission.

My short, blessed time in Bournemouth has come to a close. President called last week and asked me to serve as a zone leader in the Staines Zone. I accepted, though I must admit I was a bit nervous and excited at the same time. Zone Leader will be a very stretching position for me, but I have inquired of the Lord and He told me that this is where He wants me to be. So that news put a new spin on the rest of the week. We were rushing frantically trying to get things done and get packed and teach people at the same time. I loved my time in Bournemouth though! But I will now be expected to drive a car here in England. I just barely arrived in Whitton after a 3 hour train journey from the coast. My new companion is Elder Senkans from Latvia. He's a real Viking! Excited to work with him. I've learned a lot from Elder Gilbert in the last 6 weeks.

Top moments of the week:
-some solid service
-really sunny
-zone conference in Poole
-exchange with Elder Mccombs from West Jordan. He finishes this week.
-special musical number hymn #98 at the sisters' baptism
-had one last Spanish conversation
-got moved

Did some great service this week. Bishop Birch's family called on Monday with an emergency: their freezer door had been left open, causing their food to have defrosted, and they needed us to help them eat it all. No problem! So we cruised over and helped eat their food along with 2 other families. We don't mind that kind of service at all. One of the many things I've learned in Bournemouth is how to eat!

Other service we did involved laying outdoor tiles in 90 degree weather, moving furniture from a third floor, and helping some non-members move into their new house. Not only does service break up the hours of finding time, but it also seems to give substance to my soul. I'm sure you know what I mean, but service is the best!

I've had some extra fire in my bones this week because we had tri-zone conference in Poole. President delivered a very moving message there that stirred my heart. He told a story of a young man who had regrets on his mission but he couldn't go back and fix it. It made me want to work my heart out every single day so I can stand blameless before God at the last day. I don't want any dirt on me! With that in mind, I will give everybody the opportunity to hear this blessed restored gospel. I won't be restrained!

I love this mission and am touched that the Lord allowed me to come here. It's time for a shoutout to all the missionaries going home tomorrow. A lot of them have made a difference in my development and the course of my mission. They've been superstars. Special shoutout to Elder Wagaman, I love that Elder. Missions are golden years!

Love you all, have a good week!

Love, Elder Thomas


Saying bye to Josh Williams, member

Saying bye to the chapel

Bye Elder Louder and Elder Mccombs

Hello Elder Senkans!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Venezuela and the Driver's Test

Hi there!

Elder Thomas here. What a beautiful day it is here in Bournemouth today! Although street contacting in the rain is the quickest way to repent, it's nice to work in the sun for a change. People are more receptive when it's sunny, too! When it rains, people are more hardened and rude. Maybe it's a lack of vitamin C or something.

This week has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I get really anxious when I think about time because my year mark is coming up... and I'm not ready to be halfway done! Nevertheless, the Lord's hand has been visible this week:
-another great district meeting
-sunshine in my soul and all throughout the week
-another baptismal interview
-chapel tours
-taught lots of Arabs

On the other hand...
-failed my driving theory test
-lots of flogged appointments

We've had a breakthrough! In terms of investigators lately, we've been in a drought. Elder Gilbert and I decided to evaluate ourselves, and we concluded that our faith to find wasn't where it needed to be. So we prayed hard and had a firm belief in miracles the next day. I made sure to keep my plea in my heart all day. We talked to literally everybody in sight: on their doorsteps. In the stores. On their houses. Through windows. In their cars. Under their cars. Hiding from us behind their cars. Anywhere! As the day drew on, we found saw a man behind a car and talked to him. I sensed that he was Latin, and it turns out he's from Venezuela... a remnant of Lehi's seed! I immediately switched into Spanish mode and he was impressed. He told us that he had been praying for a sign that God was there, and we were his answer. We taught him everyday for the rest of the week and he loves El Libro de Mormon. Excited to work with him. Not only were we an answer to his prayer, but he was an answer to ours. Cloomber is his name.

District meeting's theme this week was our personal commitment to the Lord. It went really well because we do a lot of scripture applications. Bible stories are so good for meetings! We had some Nutella cheesecake afterwards. :)

Another miracle was Harry. He's the sister's investigator and he's gonna get baptized on Friday! I got to interview him and he is a star. The harvest is here!

One night we were contacting in faith with 2 hours left of the day. The first person we spoke to was a Swiss man here for studies. His first words were "I don't believe". We ended up teaching him at the chapel. His last words were "that's an amazing message!" He accepted to read the Book of Mormon. Sadly, he returns to Switzerland in 2 weeks. But he was a miracle! They're everywhere.

My much anticipated theory test was this week. Apparently I was 1 point not ready enough... that's right, I failed by one single point! It tore me in half... gotta take it again now.

I'm almost done with the Book of Mormon again! We are reading it as a mission right now and are supposed to finish on August 1st. I read Ether 2 today and absolutely loved my study. I learned about the necessity of spiritual preparation. After the Lord chastens the Brother of Jared for not calling on his name in prayer, he begins to prepare him and his family for their extensive journey across the great deep. If there was no preparation, the Brother of Jared and his company wouldn't have made it: everything had to be perfect. Likewise, we must be prepared spiritually in our testimonies and conversion to be able to survive the "waves of the sea" because we inevitably will have to face them. Our testimonies must be solid. This can only happen when we call upon God, because only His hand--or His finger in this case--can give us the strength we need. I testify that we are nothing without Him, but can do everything with Him in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Have a great week!

Love, Elder Thomas


Our flat


Front room

Study area


Our church building

Me and my comp - Elder Gilbert

Monday, July 11, 2016

Trial and Error

Happy Monday everybody!

Mondays really are a good day, especially a sunny day like this one. Monday (preparation day) is no excuse to kick back and not work because it is still part of the time which I have devoted to serving the Lord--It's still His day, not mine. But it is a much needed time to unwind physically and mentally so I can give a 100% effort for the rest of the week. Apart from preparation days and Sundays, everyday is virtually the same! Preparation days and different colored ties are the only variation we Elders get...and preparation day is the only time to get different ties. Honestly, without preparation day I'd probably pull my hair out.

But it's crazy to think that another week has come and gone! Time seems to go faster and faster each week. It's a little scary because I love my mission and don't want it to end! His week has been a good one though. Here's some highlights:
-zone BBQ on July 4
-cut my own hair again (third time) no mess ups!
-exceedingly long leadership council on Tuesday
-really good district meeting on Wednesday
-found some new investigators!!!
-more Spanish

The first few days of the week was 100% finding. Whitewashing has taught me that the only way to teach is to find people to teach, and the only way to do that is just to dive in and get your hands dirty. You've just got to discipline yourself to working until you have people to teach. So that's what we did! It took a lot of effort, especially on the first days of the week. We literally tried everything... football and English class didn't work out too well this week, so we just keep being creative to see what works and what doesn't. Hence, trial and error. But by the end of the week we had success! The Lord didn't make it easy, but He sure did make it possible. We are now teaching Natasha and Joe. We hope we can continue teaching them so they can progress. I know that not only hard work pays off, but smart work pays off. Teaching is what we are called to do!

The middle of the week was meetings! In zone leaderships council we talked a lot about the Season of Miracles (or the second harvest in this land). President Gubler has assured us that the Season of Miracles has not just ended abruptly. It's still here and it will come more fully as we become more converted. I'll admit, I haven't given as much thought to the Season of Miracles as I used to. I used to have complete faith in the Season, and I have my trainer to thank for instilling that in my heart at the beginning of my mission because he was on fire about it too. As a mission, we came to the conclusion that we need to believe more actively in the Season for it to come! I'm excited to "own it" again.

District Meeting went really well too! I have been told that some of my district meetings are a bit dull and that they need more life to them, so I resolved to make this one great! Instead of me talking at everybody for most of the time, I planned to have more people participate and to do a fun hands on activity. And it totally worked! Since our district needs to work on finding and a lot of people are visual learners, I made an activity that taught us how to find. Good things are coming for the Bournemouth district...we're going to baptize the nation!

On a sad note, our friend Alcides from Columbia is no longer with us. He's totally fine, but he went back to Spain this week to be with his family again. He had come to England to find work, but he decided it was better for him in Spain. So we had our last Spanish conversation and said our goodbyes. Fortunately, there are thousands of other Spanish speakers here so I'll be able to keep it up!

I feel to share a personal spiritual thought this week. I received a letter from my grandparents this week and it made my day! Emails are great, but I love getting letters for some reason. I read the letters over and over again, and Grandpa Ralph said something that really spoke to my heart. First of all, I love Grandpa Ralph. He's an old man (93), but he's one of my heroes. I'm probably his biggest fan. But he told me that his main goal is to be here when I get home from my mission.  As those words touched me, the Spirit came to me. He told me that my Heavenly Father feels exactly the same way--His main goal is for me to come home into His loving embrace. Then I happened to read Elder Christofferson's talk about Fathers that morning. It's not Father's Day, but I have a real appreciation for my parents, both earthly and Heavenly. I know they want to see us all come home and I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love you all and have a good week!

Love, Elder Thomas


Vitality Stadium

Team Bournemouth

Fourth of July party with the Poole crew

Monday, July 4, 2016

Exchanges and the 4th!

First of all, happy 4th of July everyone! What a blessed day this is, in memory of a blessed land. Many of you may wonder if I will be celebrating since I'm in the UK. Although I haven't celebrated the 4th on American soil for 4 years and counting due to surgery, work, and vacation, the answer is... why, of course! We've got a few American missionaries over here, so we are getting together to celebrate. Burgers, hot dogs, and everything except fireworks. That one will have to wait. But I hope you enjoy your day! America is great, but it is missing out on one thing: Indian food, especially curry. We eat a lot of that over here and it's delicious!

Good things happened this week. Here's some highlights:
-Went to Vitality Stadium last Monday, home of AFC Bournemouth.
They're in the Premier League!
-Taught a Brazilian family in Spanish :)
-Exchange with Elder Wilfley from Sacramento, California
-Got stalked by a crazy guy
-Exchange with Elder Louder from Kamas, Utah.
-More football
-Teaching the youth
-More Spanish
-More dinner appointments

Somehow, most of the exchanges this transfer fell into this week. Exchanges are a good opportunity to serve with and learn from other missionaries around you. It's also good to see more parts of the country. The first exchange was with Elder Wilfley and we had the car! It made me want to finish all this driving license stuff so I can get rolling... literally. It's kind of a nightmare, though. Exchange #2 was with Elder Louder. He's a Kamas boy! After talking for a while, I figured out that he knows the Woolleys because he fixes their snowmobiles. Small world!

After getting back from the football stadium, we hit the streets. We came across a Brazilian family who invited us into their yard and we taught them the Restoration. The cool thing is, they understand Spanish so I got to teach a lesson in Spanish! I'm pretty rubbish still, but I'm getting there. Sadly they didn't invite us back, but it was a good learning experience. The gift of tongues is real!

More contacting and knocking followed, as that is our absolute focus right now since we've got nobody to teach. We're trying everything to find people right now. One thing that seems to work is Saturday afternoon football at the chapel. The English love their football (soccer), so we figured that we would keep doing it! We had a pretty good turnout of members and non-members on Saturday. We plan to keep doing that as well as the English class.

Elder Gilbert and I have had the privilege to teach all the youth in the ward over the last couple Sundays. I'm so impressed with them! It's cool for me to be able to teach and interact with so many future missionaries. One of them was here on holiday from France, and funnily enough she knows Elder Raveneau! But teaching is definitely my favorite thing to do right now :) I love serving with Elder Gilbert because he's a master teacher! He promised to teach me 3 things: how to teach better, how to eat more, and how to do the Hakka. Looking forward to it.

That's all for this week though! Thank you all so much for all the help you've given me and all that you do for the Lord. I promise that whenever you feel alone, He will always be there to comfort you. He is aware of your situations and always willing to help you fix things. I leave that testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love you all!

God bless America!

Love, Elder Thomas


My football team of dogs

Me and Elder Louder from Kamas