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 else...in 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 Christ...how 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

ELSM


President and Sister Gubler

Cookies!

When wind and rain combine

After our lesson with the Goods and Amanda

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