Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Soap Fights and Mind-Blowing Miracles

Y'alright, mates?

Alright, well the beginning of this week marked the beginning of my very last transfer of the mission! People are so right when they say that time moves more and more quickly on a mission. But I'm excited to have these last few pages of this chapter of life. This week's been so sweet!

Right, I'm just going to cut to the chase with the Good family. We felt prompted to just do a Q and A with them in our lesson last Monday and it turned out to be just what they needed! A lot of their questions were about the message of the Restoration, and that allowed us to teach the bulk of it again which was good because the 2 older kids weren't there the first time we taught it. But something monumental happened in this lesson. I think a huge milestone in every investigator's journey is realising the potential value of the gospel and envisioning what it can do for them in their lives. We asked them what it would mean to them if everything we have shared thus far was true, and after a few moments of silent pondering the mother expressed that it would be good and that she really hopes it's true. Music to our ears! We invited them to act on those hopes to really find out if it's true. Guys, this family is going to get baptized. Might not be during my time here, but they will! They've also had their neighbor around for the last 2 lessons. Her name is Amanda and she too sees the importance in the gospel. She read 1 Nephi 1 on her own last week and is interested in coming to church. We are going over there next Monday for a lesson and also for dinner! Miracle.

Our sisters baptized their friend Ed last Wednesday. He asked Elder Ferreira to baptize him, so he got off the boat and into the font. It was great to witness and there's not many things better than the sound of the water after a baptism. I had the opportunity and privilege of acting as voice for his confirmation last Sunday. I'll tell you, confirmations are one of the most profound spiritual experiences ever. Seriously, the Spirit almost knocked us over. Miracle.

In the ELSM we have a mission wide goal to baptize 280 souls during the year of 2017, and to help us to get there we have a weekly goal to have 1 baptismal date, 1 investigator at church, and 2 new investigators. We call this the "mission vision" and it stands in front of every companionship, taunting them to do more. In the last few weeks we've been just out of reach because it's been a huge struggle for us to get somebody to church! We had a few people committed to come last week including Gary, but he bailed at the last minute and nobody else showed up. But while we were sitting there feeling sorry for ourselves, a member and her non-member husband who we've been visiting walked into church. Miracle! We were high on faith after that. After that, we just needed 1 more new investigator to lock up the mission vision for the week. We had 1 hour in the evening set apart for finding that one person, and we went out in faith determined to find them. As we were speaking to a lady called Anna, her friend joined in and offered to hear our message over fish 'n chips. We accepted her offer and taught them. Anna became that new investigator we were searching for! What's even more awesome is that I was fasting that day, and we didn't get home in time to have dinner so the Lord literally provided a meal for us. Absolute miracle. And that sealed the deal for the mission vision!

Elder Ferreira's been hungry this week too, but he hasn't always gotten what he wanted. One night I was washing the dishes. Elder Ferreira, being his sneaky Portuguese man he is, decided to sneak up on me and grab me from behind. My first instinct was to turn around and push whoever it was away from me, but I didn't have time to remember that I had a soapy sponge in my hands, which resulted in the sponge traveling with my hand to his face and partly into his mouth. Definitely not what either of us expected and not what Elder Ferreira deserved or desired. Of course he thought it was intentional, and so thus began the soap war! I escaped with only a few suds on me, but Elder Ferreira got a full cleanse!

So anyways, I have a testimony that the Lord does indeed provide for his servants down to the most minute detail. He knows our needs and is anxious to help and support us. As the scriptures say, "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith." He just asks that we have faith and choose to believe, because "all things are possible to them that believe." I know from experience upon experience and witness upon witness that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and love us. Their entire focus is to help us along our journey back to them. These things I know to be true!

Keep the faith, folks!

Love, Elder Thomas


Pics of Jersey from our boat tour last week

Ed's baptism

Post-baptism selfie

Throwing it back to Staines with Elder Christofferson and the mission

Celebrating Sister Gaston's birthday

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Transfers, and the Hands of the Lord & His Brethren

Bros and Sis's,

Don't know how it is where you are right now, but it is absolutely boiling here in Jersey! Just so you know, the heat here isn't the dry heat you get in Utah. Here the heat is humid and it literally beats you down and melts you like an ice cream cone. It's even hotter on the bikes! I think I like riding in the heat rather than the cold, but I guess it doesn't matter because either way we get soaked...but today we're escaping the heat because we're going on a public boat tour of the island! It's gonna be awesome!

What this week's consisted of:
-trip to England
-got to see the temple
-shook hands with Elder Christofferson
-good ministering done
-the Goods are progressing
-sisters baptized

If I had to use one word to describe this week, it would be the word ministering. That word could probably be used to describe each week of my mission, but ministering has been on my mind a lot this last week. And not just ministering, but Christlike ministering. Ministering in my definition is to meet someone where they're at and help them to another level. It's to help somebody from one level to the next. It's to lift where you stand. I've decided that ministering is my favorite thing to do. If you had asked me 2 years ago, I probably would have said eating ice cream or golfing or something like that. Although those things are still pretty high up on the list, ministering is at the top. My how things change! You guys, there is just no better feeling than helping somebody in need, and there are so many people around us who need help. It's taken me a while to realize that, but it's true! And fortunately, we've got the Savior to help us to know how to minister effectively.

So we ministered this week and as a result we saw mind blowing miracles! We taught our investigator Gary last week before we went to England, but he didn't respond to our reminder for church on Sunday morning. So no investigators at church again :*( but the Lord did not let us down! After church we were searching for an address on a street and the first door we knocked was Gary's house! He answered and we got to meet his girlfriend and go on a Sunday walk with them, teaching them as we went. If that's not a message from God to Gary then I don't know what is--what are the odds that the one door we knock happens to be the home of our investigator? On top of that, his girlfriend is a former investigator who has been taught back home in Madeira. We will be teaching them tomorrow. Gary is on date for July 22nd.

The Good family...more like the great family! I don't know what's been going on in that family, but they are changing a lot. In only 1 week's time we noticed a big difference in all of them. The oldest daughter Abby felt the Spirit as she read the Book of Mormon last week. The father Andy participated in the lesson, which he has never done before. The mother Sarah began to ask very thoughtful questions about church and baptism, so we were able to answer them. The best part of the lesson was when the son, 7 year old Archy, read from the Book of Mormon for the first time. It was by far the most powerful part of the lesson...I almost cried! It was just such a tender mercy to witness that, as simple as it was. I felt Heavenly Father's love for Archy, and the whole family for that matter. I believe that the Spirit has told me that they WILL get baptized. Maybe not in my time on this island, but their time will come. I firmly believe that...they are coming to the ward activity this Saturday and hopefully they'll come to church on Sunday! Please please please keep the Good family in your prayers. Thank you for already doing so!

Last Saturday I shook the hand of one of the Lord's anointed. I shook the hand of Elder D Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apotles. What an experience that was! Our whole mission assembled in the blessed land of Staines to sit at the feet of and receive instruction from Elder Christofferson. You can just feel the power of some individuals, and such was the case with that man. He just has to be an Apostle...anybody could have felt the Spirit! I was surprised when the entire meeting was a Q & A, but it was so good. That man is a good minister! He shared some experiences he had on his mission and shared a lot of wise words with us. My favorite thing he said was that "the hallmark of a saint is being willing to submit to the Holy Ghost." Thought that was really profound!  I can just share my testimony that Elder Christofferson, along with the other brethren who lead the church, are called of God. Their keys have been passed in an unbroken line from Jesus Christ himself, and Thomas S Monson is His prophet in the world today. I know this!

It's great to be a missionary, folks! I'm grateful to have been called to the work, I'm grateful to be serving in Jersey, and I'm grateful for Jersey ice cream, which I couldn't live without.

Love, Elder Thomas


Jersey from a Heavenly perspective

Bonjour, France!

With other missionaries in Staines

The London Temple

The Jersey war tunnels

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Racing to the Finish!

Hey fellow saints!

The weather today is absolutely perfecto, so Elder Ferreira and I are going with a less active member to a place called the Jersey War Tunnels. Don't know too much about it, but it seems pretty self explanatory. It sounds cool so it will probably be cool as well. On second thought, it seems kind of ironic that we're going to be spending this perfect day in some tunnels. Oh well! For that reason, this email's going to be super bold and to the point...that is what missionary's do best!

This week!
-taught the Good family
-had district meeting
-had a surprise district meeting
-absolutely pumped to see Elder Christopherson this week
-loads of biking
-loads of teaching
-also pretty sure we hold the record for most appointments flogged in one week.

If I had one word to describe this week, it would be this:  ministering! Man, mi amigo and me have ministered like mad and it's been magnificent. Don't know what was different about this week, but we just taught a lot. A couple of days our schedule wasn't filled with very many teaches, but at the end of the day we looked back to realize that we never really had a break from teaching. One thing that was different was one of the counsellor in the bishopric. He's taken it upon himself to visit every single less active member on the ward list within the next 6 months. So we've scheduled 2 hours each week to go out and minister with him, starting this week. It amazes me how many people are really in need. We just have to open our eyes and be aware of the people around us and then we notice that there are so many opportunities to serve that normally we would just miss! So that was the case this week, not only with less actives but with our investigators as well.

The Goods! Goodness gracious the Goods are doing fantastic, especially the kids! We taught them about faith in Christ last Monday and they loved it. To illustrate that faith without works is dead, we did the old mento-in-the-Pepsi experiment to show them that when we put the mento in the bottle (plant the seed) and shake it up (exercise faith), then awesome things happen and our faith literally blossoms and spurts to great heights. We put our white shirts on the line for that experiment, but we were protected. As you can imagine, we also read Alma 32 with them. They all committed to plant the seed by reading the Book of Mormon and to exercise their faith by asking God if it's true. It's such a good feeling to look them in the eyes and to testify from the heart that they'll get an answer! We will see them again next Monday and they want to come to the ward activity next Saturday. We are blessed!

Elder Ferreira and I are having a blast out here. A lot of our fun comes from racing our bikes. Even when our house is miles away from where we are and even when we're absolutely shattered, we always have enough gas in the tank to race home! The race begins at the top of the last hill before our house, which is still a good mile away. It serves as the perfect start to our race. The light turns green, we start pedaling, and the Mario Kart theme song begins to play in my head, giving me enough motivation to take the strong start! But my legs turn into jelly by the time we get to the final ascent towards our flat. At this point, I look over and Ferreira is usually right next to me, sweating his big Portuguese face off. But the awesome thing about our races is we don't have rules. So whenever he starts to pass me I grab his bag and use it to pull him back behind me and to give myself an extra boost. I'm proud to say I win 11 of every 10 races. I love finishing the day with that, even if it means I get into bed sweating like a hog. But hey, that's how I intend to finish my mission as well!

Keep riding, guys. Even when the trail is bumpy and the adversary keeps trying to pull you back, just know what awaits you at the finish line! Your Savior is always there pulling for you and with you as well  :)

Keep being awesome and have a great week!

Love, Elder Thomas


District meeting

Action shot

Preparing to teach


Throwing in back to zone conference in Poole

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Christmas in July

Bom dia, meus amigos!

Where in the world did May go? That was by far the quickest month of my mission and probably my life. I think I deserve a refund of an extra month! Hopefully the next couple months can be slower. Not even kidding, sometimes I really do pray for time to just slow down but I'm still waiting on an answer to that one...not sure if I will!

This week!
-ridiculous weather
-proper good teaching moments
-got some really good news
-another terrorist attack in the mission
-got an email notifying me of 8 weeks until departure :/

From the title of this email, you're probably assuming that I'm referring to the weather. Well, you're assumption would be correct! The weather here has been insane lately. Normally the June weather in Jersey is warm and pleasant, but it feels like winter here right now. The wind has made it nearly impossible to ride our bikes. And yes, we even busted out our winter coats. But there's another reason for the title of the email! In our mission we strive to give the Lord a "white Christmas" each year by really sprinting to the finish at the year's end to give the Lord as many baptisms as we can as our gift to him. Because of this, December is always a magical month for missionaries. Our mission has decided to really go the extra mile next month in order to give the Lord a "Christmas in July". Very fitting, especially seeing it is the last month of my mission. Elder Ferreira and I are going to do everything we can think of to help save some souls during this final stretch!

To help us get fired up for the final stretch, we're getting a huge kick start. Next week we're going all the way back to London for a mission conference where Elder D. Todd Christopherson of the quorum of the twelve will address the ELSM! Boy, I nearly dropped my krumpet when I heard that news! So the Jersey Squad is taking England once again even though we were just there last week. Pretty sweet though, huh? Not everyday you get to sit at the feet and be taught by of one of the Lord's anointed! It will be cool as well because the conference will be held in Staines, one of my old areas. This mission is just the best!

The biggest miracle of the week was teaching the Good family (their last name is "Good"). We had prepared well for our lesson with them and had been looking forward to teaching them all week, but when the time finally rolled around for us to teach them, the only thing that stood inbetween us and them was a few miles of what the people of Jersey would call a hurricane. The weather was bad enough that we began to consider calling them to reschedule our visit, but a wave of strength and courage came over us and we couldn't be stopped! It seemed like Satan had placed that storm in our path to stop us from doing the Lord's work, and we almost crashed a few times as we pedaled our way through that storm. But nothing could make us dismount those bad boys! We just kept going and arrived at the Goods' house soaking wet and freezing cold. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and the Spirit there was un-de niable! It feels so good to teach a family about God's plan for them and watch their faces fill with hope as we testify that they can live together after death. Those are absolutely priceless moments! The gospel just has to be true, folks. It makes sense and it feels good.

That's all the time I've got for today, but I hope these experiences have built your faith like they've built mine. You guys have a blessed week, and you crazy kids enjoy summer! Do something awesome this week!

Love, Elder Thomas


Me and Elder Ferreira

How we resolve our companionship issues

Comp study atop Fort Regent

This flag?

Or this one?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Adventure to England

Hey how are you guys doing?

Hope you've all had a fantastic week full of miracles and good weather! Here in GB, both of those things usually fall on the same day. It's always a miracle when we have good weather! But the Lord has blessed us this week with sunshine in abundance, so we've been able to replace the raincoats we usually have in our bags with extra Book of Mormons. Books of Mormon? Copies of the Book of Mormon. There we go.

This week has been held in much anticipation by the Jersey district because it's the week that we got to fly back to the mainland for zone conference! It's proper weird flying places as a missionary...not many missionaries do it. This week our district traveled in pretty much every form of transportation I can think of: planes, trains, cars,
bikes, shopping cart, you name it. But it was a week full of lasts for me. Had my last exchange, my last interview with President Gubler in person, my last zone conference in person, and my last birthday on my mission. Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes, you guys! I thought that by being on a small island in the middle of the ocean
that some of you might forget about me, but I stand corrected. I'm truly blessed to have such awesome people in my life. To be honest, I'm a spoiled missionary. The elders we were staying with were cheeky and brought home a cake to celebrate. 20 feels weird, but it feels good! By far the best gift I received was being able to participate in God's work of salvation. Good stuff.

Our special guest at the mission conference was President Kearon, the Europe Area President! What a spiritual giant that guy is. He taught us about power and how to obtain it. He taught us how to find and teach more effectively. He taught us to be a better version of our own selves through living the Savior's gospel. The phrase he repeated the most was "stop worrying". He felt that we worry too much about the work and about ourselves, so he made sure that we understood that we shouldn't worry and it was loud and clear. It's true though! I myself worry about loads of things. Sometimes I have better causes to worry than other times, but as I look back I've realized that worrying hasn't gotten me anywhere, and I don't know of any case where worrying has gotten anybody else anywhere. So I think it's safe to say that we shouldn't worry. Instead, we should be doers! If the escalator stopped working while we were on it, we wouldn't sit there and call out for help--obviously we'd just keep walking. And that's what we've got to do! Just keep walking. Elder Holland has taught us to just keep trying and believe in. Heaven is cheering us on every single day! We were taught to not listen to negative voices because they're from the adversary. Again, I don't know of anybody who ever got anywhere good by listening to the destructive criticism of the devil. When we do that, we begin to hold his words in higher esteem than the words of Christ. In this case, we need to stop worrying and rewrite our inner conversations by filling them with the words of Christ. That is when real change begins! It was such a privilege to be with one of the Lord's anointed. I'll never forget shaking his hand.

So yep, last night we flew home and we're back in our little island! There are people prepared here, I know it. Please keep Elder Ferreira and me in your prayers and we will continue to continue. Thanks again for your help! Take luck and have a good week :)


Love, Elder Thomas


Birthday omelette... too poor to afford a cake.

True blue

Hittin 'em with the word

Jersey sunset

The Warrior. That's what his burger was called.

Reunited with Elder Baum

Flying over the coast of France

When you don't have room in the kitchen, you do a wall sit

Birthday breakfast... Pastel de nata

Old Jersey district minus 1