Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reflections & the Power of Faith

Hello once again, family and friends!

Wow...what a ride! It's hard to believe that I'm addressing you for the final time as a missionary. There have been thousands of emails sent back and forth during the last hundred or so weeks, but I guess this is the last one. Again, hard to believe! It's gone pretty quick, but it also hasn't. Every missionary who is currently serving knows that the days feel like weeks, and the weeks feel like days. And every returned missionary will understand what I mean when I say that the last 6 months of the mission go by in the blink of an eye. I never thought this day would come! As bitter as it's going to be to leave the people of Britain, I know that all things have an end and that God has wonderful things prepared for us all in the future. But I'm gonna cherish this last week!

Last week was nothing short of amazing. Just saying that we were blessed is an understatement!

As busy as President and Sister Gubler are right now with end-of-transfer stuff, they decided to pay us a visit out here on Jersey. It was such a privilege to be taught and instructed by our leaders! The weird thing about being far from the mission headquarters is not seeing the mission president very often--I was starting to have withdrawals! President Gubler ministered a lot to myself and the district, and we got to minister with him to our friend Allison, who is planning on coming to church for the first time this Sunday! We really hope she comes, it would be a miracle. It was also President's birthday on Sunday, so we threw him a party after church and it was da bomb. Knowing of President's love for chocolate chip cookies, I decided to be a bit cheeky and make him his own batch, and let me tell you they were good. If there's one thing I've learned on my mission, it's how to make a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies. My companions can testify, and so can the Gublers! He was one happy mission president...Mama Thomas's recipe always hits the sweetspot!

All joking aside, it was a huge blessing to have the Gublers over. We actually got to work with a lot of Christlike ministers this weekend, including the stake president, who also came over from Poole! The members here in Britain are something order to stay strong in a place like this where belief in God is falling and Atheism is rising, you have to have an unshakeable witness of Christ in order to remain rooted in the faith. That's just one of the reasons I admire the British saints so much--that are literally rooted in the gospel and the Savior is their shepherd. It's been such a privilege to be around and work with such valiant souls.

Time for a quick update on our investigators:

Goods: Abby and Ashley came to church again for the 2nd time in a row, this time all by themselves! They are feeling and recognizing the Spirit and are reading from the Book of Mormon and praying each day. We are so impressed with them! The rest of the family is a bit slower to progress, but they are planning on coming to church this Sunday as well. Gonna miss them!

Gary: Gary is struggling right now. Well, I guess what I mean is we are struggling with Gary right now! He bailed coming to church again on Sunday, so our plan is to have a heart to heart with him and help him to see the importance of the gospel. A bit concerned for Gary.

Paul: an emotional week with Paul! He was set to get baptized this coming weekend, but he let other things become a bigger priority than they should be which resulted in us not seeing him for most of the week. He has been resisting the Spirit lately, but we're beginning to teach him again and he's back on track for baptism, only this time for the 19 of August. We wont be here :/ but it's ok. Come on, Paul!

Lucia is still reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese and plans to come to church this Sunday as well. We've got super high hopes for Lucia!

The biggest blessing of my mission has been having the opportunity to watch people's hearts change as they live the gospel. I've seen it many times, but it never gets old. Like King Benjamin's people, they have experienced a mighty change of heart. I have come to relate to this scripture on a personal level as well, for I too have felt that change in my own heart as I've served for and among these people. These have been "days never to be forgotten."

I've learned many things during my time as a missionary. Here's just a few:

First of all, I've learned how to have fun. Missionary work is supposed to be fun...If you're not having fun, then you're doing something wrong!

I've learned that there is nothing more powerful than the power of God. I've also learned how to access that power through faith in Jesus cool is it that we can have access to that kind of power simply by having and exercising faith!

I've learned about the magnitude of the influence that parents and leaders have on those they lead. With righteous leaders comes righteous followers, but the opposite can also be said! We see that all the time in the Book of Mormon--as soon as a wicked man is made king, destruction is soon to follow! Many children in this country lack that righteous upbringing, and it's really hard for them to find the right course later on. It's made me grateful for the upbringing that I've had, and it makes me want to help those who haven't been as privileged.

Last but certainly not least, I've learned that I have a Savior who loves me infinitely and personally. I've come to know Him more during my time in His service. I've come to know that He is the most loyal Friend that anybody could ever ask for because no matter how many times I let Him down, He never ever lets me down. I simply have no reason not to trust Him, and so I'll trust in Him forever. I know it's Him whom I serve. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and that these are the latter days. I really do love Him!

I thank you all for supporting me so much, I really appreciate it! I'm excited to see you all again and look forward to sharing many of my experiences with you in the very near future. I thank my parents for being there for me 24/7 and I also thank my Heavenly Parents for doing the same.

Love you all! See you soon, friends and family and see you soon America!

Love, Elder Thomas


President and Sister Gubler


When wind and rain combine

After our lesson with the Goods and Amanda

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

GOODness Gracious and Prophets

Heya, you lot!

It's your favorite Jersey missionary! At least I better be. Back with more news and adventures from the best island in the channel! This place is on fire right now, both in terms of temperature and missionary work. I love writing these emails after an awesome week, but sometimes I get so excited as I type that I end up going too fast, which probably results in a lot of typos. Apologies if that's the case!

As most of you know, Elder Ferreira and I both finish 2 weeks from today. Those of you who have served missions will understand that the final stretch of the mission is a very interesting time! There's a lot of mixed feelings and a lot of emotions. We're both pretty sad that our missions are coming to an end, but if anything that is making us work harder and more effectively! We've really just tried to step up to the next level and figure out exactly what the Lord wants us to do in this area. As we've done that we've seen great changes in ourselves and in our area. I know the 4th of July has come and gone, but in the spirit of Independence Day God is giving us a grand finale! Our faith and the faith of our investigators is skyrocketing and things are just good.

Ripped another pair of trousers on the bike this week.

As of right now, we have 3 people on date for baptism. We taught Gary again last week and he is back on date, this time for September 9th. It brought peace to my mind to see him commit to a later date because I think it shows that he really is becoming converted to the gospel and not to us, as we won't be there.

Lucia is a beast. When our lesson began, she started asking questions about a vineyard. I grabbed her Book of Mormon and saw that she had read all the way up to Jacob 5 in 1 week's time...1 WEEK! Couldn't believe me ears! She felt the Spirit and accepted September 2nd as a date for baptism. She plans to come to church this Sunday.

Paul is also solid! He came to church for the first time last week and loved it. He's being interviewed for baptism this Saturday, coming to church on Sunday, and then getting baptized next Saturday. I really like Paul! We have serious lessons with him but we also joke around a lot. He was going to leave after sacrament, but agreed to stay another hour after I told him that the next meeting was held in the filled baptismal font. That didn't actually happen, but he did stay! Then in our lesson on Monday we taught him about tithing. After we stopped talking, he sat there for a moment to process what we had taught. We asked him how he felt, and he said, "hmm...that makes complete sense to me. It's cool to know that the church is a non-profit organization." Thinking he meant "non-prophet organization", I stopped him in his tracks and began to reteach about prophets and how the biggest difference between our church and others is that we actually do have living prophets. Elder Ferreira realized that we were on different pages and he then stopped me in my tracks. Eventually we both realized what had just happened. It lead to some hysterical laughing and an awesome memory with Paul! What a champion. Sure hope he takes the plunge.

Allison is a legend! She's reading the Book of Mormon everyday, praying, and recognizing the Spirit. We invited her to be baptized, and she said she'd pray about it. We will follow up this Saturday.

The Goods are so good you guys, I cannot emphasize that enough! We saw their car in the car park as we pulled into church on Sunday, and our hopes were confirmed when we walked in and took our seats next to them in the chapel. Man, it was a sight to behold! There's not many sights better for a missionary than seeing a family of investigators sat in church, ready to hear the word of the Lord. They really enjoyed church and want to come back next week. I actually can't believe they came, and I'm so happy about it! They will miss us when we go, and I'm really going to miss them. Hopefully the next elders will continue to teach them because they are good! Thank you so much for your prayers in their behalf. I'm here to tell you that the Lord is hearing and answering them. He is blessing us so much right now and I'm very grateful for that and for all of you. I love the people of Jersey so much!

You guys have an awesome week and we'll do our best to keep the fire burning here in Jersey! Love you loads!

Love, Elder Thomas


Dinner with the Faria family from Madeira!

More dinner with more members

District mini-golf

The Johns family, who left to England today for the British pageant

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Last Zone Conference and Change

Ola Amigos,

You guys, it's been a mind-blowing week. Ever since I first set foot on this island 4 months ago, I've honestly never ceased to be amazed and I can't wait to tell you what's happened this week :D it's been a week full of meetings, sunburns, and miracles. Here's the scoop:

-had our last zone conference
-last ward council
-did weekly planning outside and got absolutely fried. Sweet tan line though!
-had the greatest first lesson of my mission
-did loads of service
-spoke in sacrament meeting about service
-got my heart broken at sacrament meeting
-huge changes in our investigators

Summer has arrived in full swing here in Jersey, and so has our teaching pool! I've never actually had a teaching pool like this on my mission before, so I've been super grateful because it's really nice. Having people to teach is such a relief because it means we don't have to find all day, and it's the reason we're here...we were set apart to teach! After all, in the words of Preach my Gospel, "nothing happens in missionary work until you find people to teach." Amen to that! Here's a quick status update on our investigators:

Gary: We knew that in order for Gary to be ready for his baptismal date of July 22, he needed to make some serious changes, mostly concerning the law of chastity. So we taught him that lesson last week and he actually took it a lot better than we thought he would! He said he knew better than to let that obstacle weaken his faith which was really good to hear. At the same time, we could tell he was a bit discouraged at the thought of breaking the news to his girlfriend that he would need to move out. Got a text from him Saturday night where he said that he wasn't going to be able to make such a change in such a short amount of time and that he wouldn't be coming to church the following Sunday. Dang it! But he is still willing to be taught.

Allison: taught her the Plan of Salvation this week and taught her about her true identity. We showed her a powerful Mormon message called "our true identity" which is one of my personal favourites and it brought her to tears. She's changing a ton and she knows it! She says she's not quite ready to come to church, but she's cooking!

Paul: Paul is the man! He's really stepped up and decided that he needs to sort his life out, but he knows that means sorting things out with God first. He's confident that this is the oath he needs to take and is now on date for July 29, which would be our last week in the mission field. Talk about miracles! He too is identifying the Spirit as we teach him. Go Paul!

The Goods: the Goods did not make it to church last week, but we taught them on Monday with a member who knew Sarah from school so there was an instant connection there. We resolved some of their concerns with the help of the Book of Mormon and the member dropped a bomb of an church invitation on them, to which they said yes! We will be sitting with them at church this week :) the Goods are still good! I was also told that one of the daughters has a big crush on me, although it's pretty obvious...but hey if it gets her to listen to what we're saying then I guess it works, right?

Also had one bomb of a first lesson this week with our new friend, Lucy. We found her through a less active member who lives with her in a shared house. Whilst in a lesson, she cracked the door open to grab something. Even though I could only see her arm, I instantly recognized her Portuguese complexion and blurted "tudo bem?" That led to a conversation, which led to a return appointment and an awesome lesson. She explained that she was concerned as to why there are so many churches and which one is true. We said we know of a guy who had the same question and proceeded to teach her the Restoration. The member was there, the Spirit was there, and the invitation to get baptized was there. She said yes! All glory to God on that one.

So yeah, we've been blessed immensely! I'm so so grateful for this opportunity and privilege it is to serve the Savior and to literally take his name upon me each day. It just keeps getting better and better and these are days never to be forgotten. I'm gutted that it's coming to an end so quickly! Hopefully we can squeeze another baptism or two in before that day comes.

The boost that Elder Ferreira and I got this week came from zone conference. President Gubler taught us about our divine origin, that we were chosen, called, and prepared to be on earth at this time in this great work of saving souls. We learned that we are all "noble and great ones" and "choice spirits" who have been reserved for this last dispensation. That doesn't make us better than anybody else, but it does put a great responsibility on our shoulders to work diligently everyday to follow the Savior and bring others with us. It was good to hear these things again because that is largely what President focused on when I first arrived in the mission. So it was kind of a full-circle ending and definitely a good zone conference to end on!

Once again, thank you all for your love and support each week. I really do appreciate it and I'm grateful for each and every one of you. I know that the Savior is mindful of all of our needs and is eager to support us in every challenge we go through. I've got a testimony that He'll always be there for us because He's the best friend anyone could ask for.

Life is good!

Love, Elder Thomas


Action shot walking the streets of Jersey

Us and our zone leaders

Found this goat thing outside a shop.  They say riding it brings good luck.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Promises from Heaven

Hey my dear brothers and sisters, here's to another week!

Sweet butter krumpet it's been an awesome week! We've had great cause to rejoice because of the blessings of God, one of which being the 4th of July. Understandably, Independence Day isn't exactly the number 1 holiday in Britain but that didn't stop us from celebrating. I haven't properly celebrated the 4th of July for 6 years due to work, surgery, holiday, and the mission--I know, so unpatriotic--but I was determined to celebrate this year even if I was on my own. We couldn't find much American-ness here on the island, so we decided to play it safe by going to McDonald's... because you can't go wrong. Doesn't get much more American than a Big Mac and a crispy apple pie :) I'm also proud to say that I converted Elder Ferreira as well. Despite being called a "Yank" for the last 2 years, I'm still proud to be an American! Soon enough I'll be headed back to the promised land.

This week:
-hit mission vision again
-DA/lesson with the Goods
-golfing with less actives
-football match Portugal vs. World
-loads of service

We were able to hit the mission vision (which I described last week) and we are super chuffed about it. None of our investigators came to church, but the same guy that came last week came again this week to save the day...literally a buzzer beater! He's called Chris Cole and he always comes in clutch. And so does the Lord in answer to our prayers!

I'm beginning to see that all of our hard work is starting to pay off. We are seeing God's promises being fulfilled as we give all our heart and mind to the work, and He's blessed us with some solid people to teach! Here's a quick run-down of our teaching pool as of right now:

Gary was supposed to come to church, but once again didn't answer his phone on Sunday morning. After church we went into police dog mode and rode all over town trying to track him down, but he was too good for us that day. He got back to us today and we will continue teaching him, so hopefully I can bring you a good report next week! He's still on date for the 22nd, but big things need to happen between now and then if he's going to make it.

Not sure if I've mentioned this already, but over the last couple weeks we've been teaching a lady called Allison. She has a very troubled past that she desperately wants relief from and she's trying to find out her true identity. Her biggest question is the same question that most of us have probably asked during tough times in our lives. That question is "why me?" She is also determined not to come to church. Nevertheless, we are beginning to see small but significant changes in her as she keeps her commitments and reads from the Book of Mormon. We love her to bits and are praying that her heart will be softened enough to come to church!

The Lord has chucked us a bone this week by helping us to meet our friend Paul! Paul is also going through a tricky time of life. He's in between jobs and is just looking for purpose and truth to help him through his problems, and he's basically super prepared for the gospel. Well, we're your guys, Paul! We brought him to dinner with us to a members' house last night and he's committed to come to church this Sunday. Our intention is to meet with him every single day so we can baptize him before we head out.

Last but certainly not least is the Good family. We brought them some homemade cookies during the weekend and they snaffled those bad boys right up. Then they had us for dinner and a lesson on Monday. We taught them about repentance and baptism and they understood and accepted the concepts. Everybody, that is, except Andy. He's going to need some more time! But the rest of the family committed to continue reading the Book of Mormon, to pray, and also to come to church this Sunday! That's a huge change in them, because last month they wouldn't come. Not sure if it was the Spirit that changed their minds or Mama Thomas's winner chocolate chip cookie recipe, but hey if it gets them to church then it's fine by me :D great things happening in that family!

So that's the gist of our investigators right now. This week I've realized that although not all of our investigators are keeping every commitment we give them immediately, all of them are keeping the commitment to read from the Book of Mormon. And things are happening! Here's some responses from them regarding their reading of the Book of Mormon:
Gary: "I just feel happier when I read this book for some reason."
Allison: "I know exactly where this guy (Nephi) is coming from...I can relate to him!" She also described the Restoration as "familiar" and the First Vision as "powerful".
Abby Good: "As I was reading the Book of Mormon, I was really relaxed."
You guys can all probably relate to these comments. Yes, these comments are short and sound very simple, but each one of them is the birth of a testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hearing those words are absolutely priceless to witness and it's music to my ears! Indeed, it is the song of redeeming love. This week has further built my testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon. Anybody who sincerely reads and prays about that book will receive a witness that is from God.

I was in charge of separating people into teams at our weekly ward football match last Saturday, so naturally I put all the Portuguese players on one team and everybody else on the other. It was an intense game and I'm sorry to say that Portugal came out on top. Elder Ferreira pulled a Cristiano Ronaldo to win by one :/

Went golfing with a less active man this week. I had a pretty good round, and now he's coming to church this Sunday :)

You guys, this work is awesome! God is good! The Book of Mormon is true! Christ lives! It's a privilege to be able to serve on this island during the final stretch of my mission. God bless Jersey, and God bless the USA!

Love, Elder Thomas



4th of July celebration