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