Thursday, January 26, 2017


Hey guys!

Elder McEwen and I are still alive out here. Until you've lived in London, you think of London as a pretty posh place. While central London is nice, everything around it a bit different. There's a lot of ghettos and some places are pretty dodgy. Peckham has some really crazy areas where the crime rates soar. I'm just waiting for a movie to come out called "straight outta Peckham". We were nervous when we first got here, but we're adapting pretty well. We didn't choose the streets of London...the streets of London chose us.

Anyways, this week's been good!
-loads of finding trying to build a teaching pool
-World Wide Broadcast with the mission department
-wrestled with a Scotsman
-more Spanish
-got offered drugs for the first time (said no)

Our district is pretty funny. We've got the zone leaders, a pair of French sisters, and another pair of elders. We work hard but we have a good time! Went on an exchange with the elders yesterday. Their names are Elder Hess and Elder McKay. Elder Hess is from Washington and his massive size got him the nickname of "Goliath"...that is, until we thought of Prince Hess. We thought that was more fitting. Elder McKay is a Scottish fireball. The first thing he did when he came over was try to wrestle me for some reason. One thing led to another and it turned into a missionary brawl. Pleased to inform you that the winner is not Scottish :) I love our district!

We had a great privilege to be addressed by the missionary department last week. It was a world wide broadcast (WWB) and they gave us some really good training on how to work more effectively with members and our investigators. I'm always amazed at how much power and authority these brethren speak with. It reminded me of how I felt when Elder Oaks visited our mission last year. Power entered the room with him and when he speaks there is a strong spiritual witness that he is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. There's no denying that! The
brethren have made a lot of prayerful decisions regarding missionary work--a lot of which have affected us missionaries but they've all moved the work forward. When we listen to and abide by what God's ordained servants say to us, we can be certain that we will find more joy and purpose in our lives. We must "give place" for the word to be planted in our hearts and experiment upon them. The results of these "experiments" are also known as "fruits". And "by their fruits, ye shall know them." I know that we have prophets and apostles on earth today who have the power of God. These things are found in this church. I know this because I've felt the Spirit testify of others words and my own as the truth has been spoken concerning them. They are called of God.

Love you all so much! Peace out from London!

Love, Elder Thomas


Thursday, January 19, 2017

It's BEN a Good Juan

Hey guys!

Well, one week ago today I got on a train in England and hopped off in Africa. Not sure how that happened, but literally everybody here is African. And that's an understatement! It's not what I expected and I honestly don't know how that happened but I like it. African people are some of the nicest people on the planet and 99 percent of them are head over heels for Jesus Christ, which lightens our load a bit. These people are just so good. I shared my testimony in sacrament and everybody went ballistic when I mentioned that I like fufu. I think I'm African on the inside.

This week I've also realized that my Espanol isn't quite what I thought it was. I'm pretty confident during the first few minutes of a Spanish conversation, but that's about the extend of my vocabulary and I run out of things to say. At that point I just ask if they're interested and move on! It's a good tool to have and I use it everyday, but it definitely needs some brushing up on. The latinos are a very receptive people and they love Jesus Christ as well. Taught one guy called Juan on a bus one night and had to ask him to stop the bus before we crossed the mission boundary. Gave him a Spanish Book of Mormon and then spoke to another Spanish lady by the river, but had to end the conversation quickly before we completely crossed Westminster bridge. Pretty weird to contact people next to Big Ben and the London Eye, which are both huge tourist attractions and places I've been before as a tourist. We plan to go there for preparation day today. Be ready for pictures!

Elder McEwen and I have such a blast together. He has things he needs to change, as every new missionary does, but I'm certain that he will keep learning and obeying. He's honestly pretty easy to train and he's pretty funny! We both have our quirks. He's opposed to soapboxing in central London but he is able to speak loud and clear on a tube ride where hundreds of silent people listen. This kid has so much potential, I'm tellin you! One of my quirks (weaknesses) is that I get pretty annoyed with some people on the street. One guy refused to believe in God and kept denying him with the reason that he had been "clinically dead" therefore knowing that there was nothing after this life. So after many unsuccessful attempts to convince him otherwise, I just refused to believe that he was actually dead. I said " were just in a coma." He didn't like that.

Had a spectacular 5-zone conference yesterday in Crawley and it was just the boost we needed to figure out how to work hard in this area. I believe that if we just do everything we can to baptize here that the lord will make it happen. It's happened in my mission before, so I know it can happen again. It's a heavenly pattern--God has loads of them.

Anyways, the work is great. It's such a privilege to serve here in London where people are so prepared. Can't wait to see what this next week brings. Love you all!

Love, Elder Thomas


Thursday, January 12, 2017

I Have a Son?

Hola, mi amigos y familia!

Such a crazy week, folks! Transfers week is always a little bumpier than others, especially when you are getting transferred yourself. We had a really good leadership training from President Gubler down in Crawley last week, and one night I got a call from President. The other 10 elders that were there went silent while President told me that I was getting released as a zone leader to train a new missionary as a district leader in Peckham (central London). So that's where I'm writing to you from! London is an entirely different experience for me and it's completely different to any of my other areas. Lots of Africans and Latinos. Some places are quite rough around here, but people are generally friendly and willing to talk.

This place is also a baptizing factory! One sister who served here baptized 10 people in a matter of months. Although we are working from scratch, this place has potential. Hopefully it will join the city of Enoch by the time our work is done.

So I left Staines and got to go through the temple before I picked up my son from the VC. I was in a room with all the departing missionaries, and to be honest their conversations about home were making me a bit trunky! But fortunately I've snapped back into business now. Being around departing missionaries is fun, but it's pretty emotional. Anyways, there were only 3 new elders, so I had the chance between 2 Germans and an Englishman. My new comp is Elder McEwen from Sheffield, UK! He's pretty laid back and chilled but I think he's ready to get out there and work hard. Training is pretty interesting because you get to the flat for the first planning session and they just sit there and look at you like a lost puppy. He's going to learn so much and we are pals already. I'm so grateful to have a son! He knows who his daddy is.

Reflecting on the time in Staines, I've learned a lot. I didn't baptize anybody there so I was kind of torn to leave John Paul, but I guess the Lord has good things in store for me here. My last week there was outstanding. Two of our investigators, both Tero and John Paul told us during different lessons that they feel like they've known us before this life and that they feel like we were sent to them by God for a reason. John Paul gave me the best goodbye present ever by telling me that he has decided to put both feet in to joining the church on the 28th. An American family came back from Utah with a big pack of Mountain Dew for us, which we consumed with haste. I made
friendships that will last a lifetime. My faith in Christ has grown exponentially and I know that He will make it possible for us to see great success in London if we just do all that we can. What I do know is that we're going to baptize here even if it kills us.

Thanks so much for all the prayers lately, I've definitely needed them with all the changes going on. Wish me luck with my new area and new companion! Love you all!

Love, Elder Thomas


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Not Even Buses Can Stop Us

Hey friends & family!

And another week gone! And another year as well. This year has gone by so quickly that my mind seems to think that next Christmas is right around the corner. Pretty confusing stuff. With perhaps the only full year of my life as a missionary, I've done a lot of reflecting. I've decided that last year was hands down the best year of my life thus far. No competition! I've learned a lot and taught a lot, seen a lot and walked a lot. If my fitbit's calculations are correct, I've walked over 2000 miles in the last year. Hopefully I can get 3000 more in a few more months, but that's a long shot! Plus, my shoes are starting to fall apart. But that's mission life for you!

With that reflection has come evaluation and new goals! I've been able to reach a few of my goals from last year and it's the best feeling in the world. Goals are important, but I've learned an interesting lesson from them. As missionaries, we set goals everyday. Daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, transfer goals, yearly goals, and mission goals. There's loads of them, and it can be really overwhelming to have so many. I've learned that the more goals you set, the less you'll be able to accomplish. If you set 10 goals you may think you'll be able to achieve 8 or 9 of them, when you'll really only get 1 or 2. If you have 8 goals, you'll be able to get 2 or 3. This is called the law of diminishing returns, and I've seen it a lot during my time as a missionary! The solution to the problem is to set interlinking goals that build off each other. That way you're not going every different direction trying to get everything done. Instead you're organized and you know what you need to do to reach your next step! For example, I could set a goal to become the best basketball player in the world. If I'm not smart, then I start practicing everything at the same time and try to conquer the whole game at once. If I am smart, then I'd start by mastering my ball-handling skills, then I'd move on to lay ups, then to shooting, then to defense, and pretty soon everything pieces itself together. This way each step leads to the next and it's one continuous line of improvement. "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Best of luck to you as you set New Year Resolutions!

We've done loads of finding this week and we've faced a lot of rejection. Not only were the people and the weather trying to stop us, but the public transport was as well! The doors closed on me as we were hopping off the bus one day. Elder Baum was already off the bus and since I couldn't leave him there alone I had to figure out a way to pry the door open with my body. Fortunately the bus didn't start moving until after I escaped. It was really embarrassing and now I'm the butt of every joke in our companionship!

Not much else happened this week to be honest! John Paul is still an absolute gift from heaven and he's still set for baptism on the 28th of January. I'm really hoping I don't get transferred this week!

Thanks for your letters and emails! Love you all and wish your 2017 is off to a good start. Talk to you next week!

Love, Elder Thomas


The only picture of the week, but it's a good one.  Taken 5 minutes
before a feast on Kara Burnett's famous pumpkin muffins!