Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In God's Time & Way

Hello from the Channel Islands!

Man it's good to be here! Wish you guys could see this place. The fact that you live on an island takes awhile to get through your head, but I think I'm past all that now. I know this is where the Lord wants me to be, but truly feel like I was born to be an islander. I'm even starting to get my tan back, believe it or not! I heard that this island is one of the top 10 most popular islands to visit as tourists, and I don't doubt it for one second. Every day I grow in appreciation for the opportunity to serve Him in such a place as this. At the point I'm at in my mission, I've been able to reflect a lot on what has actually happened in the previous months, and what the Lord has taught me. One thing I don't remember, however, is being so tired. I'm tired, you guys. Like, really tired. It's not the kind of tired you feel after running a marathon or something--although I do feel like that after taking on a hill with the bikes--I just feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. I really don't understand how I'm able to keep going. Well, I do--I know the Lord is giving me the strength to carry on--so I guess I'm just amazed at the blessings He give me!

Despite being tired, I'm happy. The joy that comes from serving the Lord is incomprehensible and unexplainable. To any returned or currently serving missionary, you know what I mean! It's just good.

Like I said before, the Lord has definitely been teaching me this week! The lesson I learned this week was important, but it was a tough one. You'll see why. All week we have been praying and praying that somebody would come to church, and then working as hard to do everything on our part to ensure at least one investigator's attendance. If it didn't happen, we were determined to make sure it wasn't our fault! Anyways, the days went by and by Saturday night we had 3 or 4 people committed to come to church. We did all we could to remind them to come, but by the time church rolled around the next morning no investigators could be seen. We waited and waited, but still nobody showed up. I was livid, and whether my anger was righteous or not it detracted from my sacrament meeting experience. Even then I kept looking over my shoulder to check if anybody had walked in late, but the only thing I noticed was that one of the less actives we were teaching happened to make an appearance. That may not seem like big news, but the the gears started to turn and things began to click. Keep in mind that we had prayed all week for "someone" to come to church on Sunday. Well, the less active man, though not an investigator, was indeed "someone". And he was a RM who hadn't been to church in over 2 years. What didn't seem like much suddenly became a huge miracle in our day! God had in fact answered our prayers because "someone" did come to church. Our prayer wasn't answered exactly in the way we wanted, but our prayers were answered. So I guess specific prayers are important to God! And I have learned my lesson--this week we will be spending a lot of time on our knees with a prayer that "an investigator" will come to church! God's got a wicked sense of humor. I love Him though!

That's the most significant thing I've got for this week. Even though most days don't contain a miracle that big, I've found that after everyday I can look back and see God's hand in someway throughout the day. I believe He reaches out to every single one of His children each day! The trick is just to recognize it. That's when our faith blossoms and our trust in God becomes unshakable. I am still yet to get to sleep at night without having seen God's hand in my life in some way or another. He definitely loves all of His children enough to minister to them daily. We are His "vineyard", and He is the best gardener of all time, never forgetting to water us! My hope and prayer is that all of you reading this email will keep recognizing and recording miracles that happen in your life, as small as they may be. And to those who are struggling or who may feel they have not seen His hand, be patient and pray for extra awareness to them! I know from experience this week that He will answer your prayers and your faith will grow. And that's a promise from one of His authorised servants!

It's been a good week, folks. I love all of you and I hope you're all healthy and happy. And best of luck to you kids with your end of year tests! Can't say I'm jealous! ;)

Until next week!

Love, Elder Thomas



On the coast

Looking for Elder Raveneau

Weekly planning at our pool

Biking it up

Jersey boys

"I like your cow!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter & Yoda

Ola, tudo bem?

Este semana fue muito fixe. Olay! My companion is teaching me some Portuguese to go along with my broken Spanish. He's pretty cool. In fact, he's so cool that he wears a Minion onesie around the flat. It is a sight to behold. This week was eggstra special ;) there's only a couple times during the year when you can really feel a different spirit in the atmosphere. One of them is Christmas, and the other is Easter. It is impossible to deny the Spirit that was present all throughout the week! And I know I'm not the only one who's noticed...people on the street had a different reaction to the Gospel. A lot of them accepted it and are willing to learn more. People's light of Christ is definitely amplified during Easter! My number 1 approach this week has been asking people what their favorite thing about Easter is. Responses varied between Christ and chocolate, which happen to be my two favorite things as well. Elder Ferrreira and I are still getting over our chocolate hangovers. Easter is a good time to be a missionary.

This week:
-zone conference
-interview with President
-singing in sacrament meeting
-singing in a care home
-Easter party
-got fed loads

I want tell you how cool this ward is. I'm pretty sure everybody in the mission has heard about the St. Helier ward. The members few in number but great in faith! Just about everybody in the ward has fed us this week. We even got fed by 2 less actives! People just love missionaries here. Elder Ferreira has done a great job gaining the trust of the ward since he's been here, which I'm really grateful for. We even got fed by a nonmember family this week. A lady stopped us in the road and recognized us as Mormon missionaries. Funnily enough, her brother was an RM in Ireland so she was pretty familiar with the church. She invited us over and we had dinner with her and her family one night last week. We got to share our conversion stories with them and now we're good friends! What's even cooler is their name: The Thomas family...coincidence?

Well, today marks 20 months since I've left home. It has been real fast and real good. There's not much time left, but at least it's some time. I just know there's big things to come in the next few months...I feel it. I've felt even better this week too because we received some great training at zone conference on how to teach people according to their real needs. Whether on the street or in a home, the training involves asking sincere questions to find the persons need, and then teaching briefly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which can meet anybody's needs. By teaching people right off the bat to have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized, and received the Holy Ghost, we help them to become converted to the Gospel (not to us or the church) and accomplish our purpose--2 birds with one stone! As I've applied this new teaching method, I've found that every single problem, concern, and question that people have can be met and answered by the gospel...every time! Witnessing that has really built my testimony. Even though the church and people in it may not be perfect, the Gospel is.

You guys, President Gubler is awesome. We had interviews with him via skype last week and it was one for the books! President gave me a charge to baptize on this island, and in response I told him I would try my best. Apparently he wasn't satisfied with my answer, because he looked at me intently and said, and I quote, "do or do not. There is no try. You know who says that?" Yup...straight up quoted Yoda. President Gubler is such a legend. Love that man. I will baptize on
this island!

Runnin short on time today, but I just know this work is God's. I know that the resurrection of Christ was an actual event. The Savior's Atonement was and is the greatest thing that ever happened on the face of the earth, and I know it really happened. I also know that by living His Gospel, we can resolve or find strength to endure any challenge that comes our way. He is our Redeemer and He is the reason for Easter.

Thank you all so so much for your prayers. Keep the faith! Te amo.

Love, Elder Thomas


The egg

Our district

Dinner with the Thomas family

Saturday morning football

Best Easter egg ever

Eatin potatoes in the mountains

Outdoor dinner appointment

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Life on the Island

Well, week 1 on the island is done and dusted and I'm still breathin. For some reason it's been tough for me to adjust to this place, but I think I'm finally starting to get used to things around here. However, occasionally we'll be walking down the street and I'll have one of those weird zoom-out moments where I realize that I'm on an island in the middle of the ocean. Weird, I know, but maybe someday you'll know what I mean.

But hey, this week's been proper legit! Here's the scoop:
-nothing but pure sunshine since I arrived last week...pretty sure I brought summer here with me
-learning español from mi compañero
-racking up the biking miles
-saw France yesterday (don't worry, didn't actually go)
-Sergio Garcia won the Masters
-loads of miracles
-good times at the beach
-getting fed loads here

In last week's email I told you about our "pristine" living conditions... no washing machine or dryer, and no shower or hot water. I know other people have worse problems, but a couple days ago I got sick of living like an animal and managed to find Carlos, the groundskeeper here. Carlos came to the rescue! He immediately sent a guy over to fix our shower and a few other household items, and now they're good as new. They say you don't fully appreciate something until it's gone, and let me tell you, that warm shower was the highlight of my week. Tender mercies...thank you, Carlos.

Gotta tell you guys about my new comp, Elder Ferreira (pronounced "fuh-hay-duh"). He's a bit of an oddball, but he's got an awesome story. 3 years ago he was living a very worldly life in Portugal, but then he met missionaries in a coffee shop and was baptized 1 week later. Then he introduced the gospel to his parents, who got baptized soon after him. One thing led to another, and now he's a missionary! Not only that, but he's one of the the top-baptizing missionaries in the mission. This guy knows what to do! I literally have no idea what I'd do without him either. Without his Portuguese skills, I'd have no way of talking to 99% of the people on this island. Almost everybody we speak to is from another island called Madeira...somebody please check if anybody lives there because I'm pretty sure all of them are here!

Some cool facts about Jersey:
It also has different currency than England. We use the Jersey Pound.
People get angry if you refer to Jersey as England...Jersey is Jersey.
You can see France from the eastern part of Jersey.
It's about 9 miles long and 5 miles wide
It used to be under German rule.
All of the street names are French.

My favorite thing about this island is probably what most missionaries would despise. Unlike serving London, we hardly have any interaction with other missionaries around here since we're so isolated. Not going to lie, I've felt a bit lonely at times during the last week, but I believe it's helped me to increase my work ethic. I've worked harder this week than I have in a long time! Jersey is virtually free of distractions, which is my favorite thing about it. So it's just me, Elder Ferreira, and Christ here. I look forward to the coming weeks and hope to draw nearer to my Savior, because it's a guarantee that sometimes I'll have nowhere else to turn. Pretty sure I'll finish my mission here, but I can't think of any better way to spend it. If there was anybody I'd rather be stuck on an island with, it would be Christ. Like Nephi, I know in whom I have trusted and I know my Savior can offer me the peace, comfort, and strength I need. I'm a weak person--I just am. But with God, anything is possible. My experiences and the Spirit have taught me that this is true. I'm so grateful for the Lord and His promises!

Right now we're just trying to keep the investigators that we do have solid while adding to our teaching pool. The finding game continues!

I love the work! Elder Ferreira and I WILL baptize here! Please keep us in your prayers. Love you guys!

Love, Elder Thomas


The district minus two

Studies and McDonald's on the beach

Football with the ward

Nap time

First time at church