Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mission Vision

Good morning, folks!

To illustrate how quickly this week has gone by, I will use the Book of Ether. This Book covers approximately 1700 years in just a few short pages and even fewer chapters. It must have been a struggle to fit all of the major events from that time period into the book, but Ether and Mormon were able to do it with God's help. Likewise, so many things have happened in the last week and it would be impossible to write all of them down. "And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of [Elder Thomas's mission], for they cannot be written upon these plates." (1 Nephi 6:3) "And there are also many other things which [Elder Thomas and Elder Senkans] did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen." (John 21:25)

So many great things happen on a mission, but with that being said, "I have chosen the good part." (2 Nephi 2: 30)
This week!
-exchange with Elder Brown from Show Low, Arizona
-loads of teaching, not as much finding
-ward primary program success!
-Tri-zone conference in Staines
-getting ready for my driving test on Friday
-getting ready for Conference!
-hit the mission vision

In the ELSM we have a mission goal called the "mission vision", which is to have 1 baptismal date, 1 investigator at church, 3 member present teaches, and 2 new investigators each week. This creates a really nice process so that people are always cycling through the different stages of progression on their way to baptism. The goal is to have at least 1 person at each stage of progression, from a new investigator to a baptism. And we got it this week! Our Pakistani family is still on for October 29, although we they still have a long ways to go. 2 of them came to church on Sunday, along with loads of other non-members and less actives whom the members brought to see the primary program. And you know as well as I do that nothing brings the spirit more than little kids singing their hearts out. Our bishop even brought a family from Denmark! We hope to be able to hit the mission vision every single week from now on so we can have that steady flow of progress instead of only finding or only teaching. So that's what we're going for. In the words of President Gubler, "that's when missionary work gets fun."

The family from Pakistan really likes us. I mean they reaaaaally like us...a lot. They have us over for dinner and a lesson 2 or 3 times a week and the mother calls me every single day, referring to me as her "second son" and asking me if I need anything. Pretty sure she wants to adopt me! So we aren't worried about food right now. The kids also look up to us a lot and they love the Book of Mormon! Hopefully we can help them to reschedule their work calendar so they can all come to church on Sunday as a family. Only 2 of them came last week. Every family needs the gospel!

We're also teaching a man called Romulus from Hungary. He's super cool and although he's tossed by some winds of doctrine, he's super close to God! He's a Seventh day Adventist but he's willing to do anything to come even closer to God. We will see him tomorrow. We're teaching a couple of Romanians as well at the moment. Keep them in your prayers!

I'm not even sure if we're teaching any English people at the moment...we're taking the gospel to all nations! 

Our zone has grown so much lately. We are seeing more and more success and our missionaries have fire in their bones! Great have come, but even greater things are coming. We've had some tough times as a zone and still do, but God is seeing us through. 

Wish me luck, I've got my driving test on Friday and I do not want to fail! 

Love you all...I really do. I love all your letters and emails and words of love and support. You do more than you know. Keep it up and share the gospel!

Love, Elder Thomas


Dinner with members

Tri-Zone Conference in Staines

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BDs and Palaces

Hello from the other side of the pond! (at least from most of you)

Elder Thomas here. It has been another stretching yet fulfilling week. Some of the experiences of the mission are experiences you cannot experience anyplace else. For instance, have you ever heard 50 different languages in one day? Only in England. This really is where I'm supposed to be though, and the faster time goes by, the more I realize how short my time is here...I'm like more than halfway done, which is crazy! I feel like I've been out forever, but I also feel like I'm coming home soon due to the fact that I spend most of my time with people who are going home this month. I guess I just need to serve as if I have one month left.

There are definitely some highlights worth mentioning this week!
-exchange with Elder Redd from Idaho Falls
-ZLT (Zone Leadership Training) at President's home
-drove past the hotel we stayed at 2 years ago before I knew I'd be serving here...whoa
-got a family on date for baptism!
-went to a spectacular palace today

Alright, if you ever come to England you need to do a few things. First of all, you need to get some proper fish and chips from a fish and chips shop. Then you need to get some proper curry from a proper indian "take-away" restaurant. And then you need to visit every palace and castle you can. Preparation days are definitely not wasted here! We just got back from Hampton Court Palace, which was the home of King Henry viii. I learned so much there and I love palaces. Sure hope they have palaces in heaven!

But our week began with the beautiful journey to President Gubler's house for some training, which took all day long but was totally worth it. I can just tell you that our President is in tune with the Lord and knows what this mission needs to do. I also know that Sister Gubler's cooking is imcomparable! We were trained on how to work with members, how to build a solid foundation with a new investigator, and how to help people make and keep commitments. I took some really good notes, but then realized that it was nothing that isn't in preach my gospel. The Spirit just gave me a better understanding of how to work smart! 

Two of the elders in the zone should have finished their missions last week, but they chose to extend their mission as long as they could: 2 weeks.  Elders Price and Redd are total warriors and they get to finish their missions in Guildford, where Elder Holland served a portion of his mission many years ago. One of my favorite parts of the work is spending time with a missionary hours before he leaves for doesn't happen very often, but I exchanged with Elder Redd and learned LOADS! He's developed so much power and authority in his words over the last 2 years, it's amazing to watch. It's so cool to see what the Lord can do with somebody in only 2 years! And Elder Redd wasn't even that trunky either. It was pretty inspiring.

Now for the big news: remember that Pakistani family we've been teaching? With the 2 kids who always ask when we're coming? We had a really solid lesson with them last night and things just fell into place! The member we brought was from Spain and happened to click really well with them. They are set up for baptism on the 29th of October! They've still got a long way to go, but we believe they can be ready by then so we'll get to work. The Man family is prepared and on top of that, they never fail to feed us when we come over. So keep them in your prayers, folks! I'm so grateful for your emails and I love all of you! Please remember the Lord and His hand in your life!


Elder Thomas


District Leadership Conference

Lunch with the APs

Hampton Court Palace

Hedge Man

Elder Senkans and I

Hanging out with the statues

At Hampton Court Palace

Tennis with the Kensington District
These two boys fly home on Friday

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Driving Lessons and High on the Mountain Top

Good day, ma'ams and sirs!

It's the beginning of another transfer for the Staines Zone Leaders, and you know what that means? Stress and craziness. The first week involves loads of planning and counseling and coordinating and discussing and it's so much to do! I wasn't aware of how much zone leaders did until I'm just trying to be more organised. Fortunately, my comp is always on top of things and is always there to keep me afloat! So it was quite the week.

The good stuff:
-taught a Pakistani family
-taught a Muslim family
-almost taught a Portuguese family
-awesome sacrament meeting
-special MLC
-had my first ever driving lesson
-got new sisters in the district
-lived more dreams

This week I mingled with people from more different countries than I can count! I think I've officially taught somebody from every single country...almost at least. We taught Sharooz and his family (from Pakistan) and they fed us a huge dinner! I was so full I could barely speak afterwards. We taught them the Restoration again and they just ate it up--especially the kids, surprisingly! They have a 14 year old who is dying to come to church with us. So cool! Then I had my first driving lesson with a man from India. He kept asking me questions about the church so I got to teach him the Restoration as we drove. We are finding more success with the foreign citizens rather than the English for some reason.

We had the most interesting sacrament meeting of all time. I wish you could've been there. You would have been blown away! It was presided by a Canadian, conducted by a Brazilian, with talks by people from Scotland, Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Fiji, with music provided by a South African (the chorister) and an American (myself) at the piano. It was surely the most diverse sacrament meeting ever! I'm fascinated by this because I just think it shows us how widespread the church really is. The gospel has literally spread like wildfire. And all this stemming from a young man who wanted to know the truth! Seeing strong members from all over the world really broadens your perspective. The church is strong and is growing at a tremendous rate.

Although this week has been difficult, it was topped off with a massive surprise. We had a "special" MLC yesterday. Everybody was speculating as to why it was special, but we soon found out why! After announcements, it was announced that we were all going to the mountaintop (hilltop here in England...they don't really have mountains here) for a spiritual activity. So we all excitedly drove to a place called Boxhill, which is in a gorgeous part of the English countryside with a great view overlooking the humble town of Dorkey. We gathered to hear President and his assistants teach us about the miracles that occurred during the first harvest in this land. Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde and a few others were called to Britain to teach the gospel. When they arrived in England, they saw a random sign that said "truth will prevail" and thought that was pretty fitting for the beginning of their ministry. Although they faced loads of rejection from actual demons, they were victorious in accomplishing God's will because they had great faith and would not give up. Thousands joined the church when they heard about the restored gospel, and many of them moved to American to settle with the saints. At one point, 80% of the church was English--they upheld the church during a time of trial for the church's leaders. Knowing that God doesn't change lets me know that God still wants things like this to happen. My ancestors are from this land, and I am repaying them for the trek that they made to allow me to have access to the gospel. This ground was dedicated long ago by Jesus's original apostles for the preaching of the gospel, and I'm so blessed to be able to work here. Now is the time for the second  harvest, and we are going to get a baptism before Elder Senkāns goes home...don't know how, but it's going to happen! Truth will prevail. I know it will! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love you all!


Love, Elder Thomas


The country

High on the hilltop

Truth will prevail!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Batman, the Queen, and Moves Doctrine

Good morning, loved ones! Hope you've all had a brilliant week. I've had mixed responses about school starting...some of you (mostly parents) are relieved, and others (mostly kids) are devastated that summer has abruptly come to an end. Summer definitely is a good season, but we only have one season over here in the ELSM: The Season of Miracles! And the floodgates sure are opening and the miracles are flowing. It's been a spectacular week over here in London!

The good stuff:
-transfers this week
-exchange with Elder Mee from Manchester
-found a few families!
-more driving, no crashing
-went to Windsor Castle
-rode on one of those hover board segways for the first cool!
-more tennis
-ward BBQ

Transfers, or moves doctrine as we call it, happened this week. You'll be interested to know that I am staying here with Elder Senkāns and will see him off because this is his last transfer! I know, the anticipation isn't as great as it was in Witney because I haven't been here for 10 months, but it's getting there! We were pretty much the only ones not affected by moves though. The elders who were living with us both got moved and their area got closed, so now it's just the two of us in this massive house. Sure is quiet around here. I really do feel like Batman.

Last week on preparation we got to go to Windsor Castle, where Her Majesty the Queen lives. If you ever come over here, you need to go to Windsor! It was really old and historically cool. Fortunately, it wasn't too crowded and we almost had the place to ourselves. I couldn't imagine living there on my own...I would really feel like batman! And in answer to your question regarding the title of this letter: no, unfortunately the queen was not privileged to meet us. I'm sure she would've if she knew who we were though!

Saw some amazing things this week. I had one of the best exchanges of all time with Elder Mee, one of the new missionaries here. Our plans got changed a little bit, so we followed the Spirit to a street and began knocking. It's a golden street! The first person we talked to was the father of a Portuguese family and he invited us to come back the next day and teach them, which we did. We knocked on the last door and a mother opened the door, revealing a lot of ongoing house renovations inside. We immediately asked if we could help them out. They let us in to chat for a few minutes before hesitantly accepting our help.

As a result, we got to do loads of service this week! We helped that family a couple more times throughout the week and our service has softened their hearts. Their kids were the first to start asking us questions, like "who are you?" "Where are you from?" "What does your badge say?" "Why is there a potato on your shirt?" "What do you believe?" And boom, green light! So the kids are ready, now we just need the parents to come around. We are also teaching a family that we inherited from the other elders. We are definitely going to see some baptisms this transfer! My goal is to do everything I can to make sure that we get some baptisms before Elder Senkāns goes back to Viking land. I really believe this, you'll see! If it's the Lord's will, then it will happen. I'm pretty fired up right now...I just love God and thank Him for His unmistakeable hand in my life. Everybody needs to serve a mission because they change lives--not just other people's, but yours as well. I testify to you that this is God's kingdom and His work in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love all of you, make good choices!

Love, Elder Thomas


Windsor Castle

The Royal Lawnmowers... my dream job

Couldn't get him to smile :/

Windsor Castle

The Staines House crew!