Friday, October 4, 2013

Letter Dated September 30, 2013

Alright! Update for this week! :) Let me just start off by saying that fall here is the most amazing thing!! :) There are soo many trees in Pennsylvania and they are all changing at different times and the more days that pass, the more colorful Elizabethtown gets! :) Sister Walborn and I have been loving it, and really getting into the fall season! :) we bought a yummy fall smelling candle and a candle warmer (since we can't have open flame) and we got some baby pumpkins that sit on our study desks! We have been LOVING it! I wish you all could see it! I feel like this time of  year is making everyone happier! We've definitely noticed when we are talking with everyone, they bring up the upcoming holidays and the beautiful weather! Its cooling off, but its not too cold yet. :)  We're very grateful for the awesome whether, because our teaching pool has decreased.  :( Dalitza is moving to Lancaster, and Dale had dropped us a couple weeks ago, and Mikey told us that he wasn't interested at this point in his life...he feels he's just too busy and doesn't think  his life will slow down for at least four  years.  He was really sweet about it though! And then, Ken and Deb, seriously I love them sooooo much! but Ken is feeling very involved in his Methodist religion, and deb is really interested in our church, but the conflict is causing problems in their we're no longer having them as "investigators" investigating the church, but we're just going to be the best support we can for them and try our best to just help build their faith! We love them so much, seriously the other day Deb told Sister Walborn and I that she thought of us as her daughters! (I'm sorry if I already told you this....I forget what I've told  you and what I haven't) We really enjoy visiting them, last week we got to help Deb plant some succulents and a butterfly bush! It was so nice to be working outside in the beautiful weather! :) Even though our teaching pool has decreased, and its been hard for us to find people to have lessons with, its been so nice tracting in the cooler weather! The other day we were driving to go visit a Less-Active in our ward, and Sister Walborn and I have been trying really hard to find unplanned service opportunities, and there was the cutest old women outside across the street from us pulling some weeds along her white picket fence, and so we decided to stop and go ask her if she needed any help.  We started talking with her and she had said that she didn't need our help, that she had two of her daughters living with her that gave her all the help she needed (however they were both just sitting on the side porch...haha) so we sat and started chatting with her.  We had talked to her about a lot of different things, and got to know her a little bit better.  She said that she didn't believe that God hears her prayers, that she had been praying for a long time for her husband but he ended up dying of cancer and she truly believed that God had just abandoned her, and did not hear her prayers.  It was so heartbreaking to hear about her broken faith, she talked about how she doesn't believe that there is anything after this life, and just a lot of really sad things.  But Sister Walborn and I were able to talk to her about the church, and the happiness that it brings to our lives.  Anna had expressed to us that she really enjoyed reading Amish literature books, because they were easy for her to understand and they made her feel good, and peaceful.  She talked about how she really enjoyed reading, so Sister Walborn invited her to have a Book of Mormon, and to read it.  Anna said that she definitely wouldn't promise anything, but she started right then to open it, and skim through some of the verses in First Nephi, and the power from the scriptures was just tangible for me...and she accepted it, and said she'd put it with the other books that she was reading, and if she felt like it sometime, she'd pick it up to read it.  It was just a cool experience for me.  My strength definitely is not just randomly talking to people we see on the streets, but the thought that just came to me to stop and offer to help her, and then the feelings that I had while we were talking with her...It was just so amazing, I felt so sad, and so sorry that she had felt so bitter and negative towards our Heavenly Father, and I wanted so badly to share the light and knowledge that we had with her.  Sister Walborn and I definitely walked away from that experience feeling very hopeful for her...she was searching for hope, even if she didn't know it, there were just some things she was holding on to that that hope and faith can build on.  We  can't wait to get to see her again sometime soon.  :) There was also another super cool thing that happened! The Zone Leaders in our area have this really awesome investigator, her name is Valerie, and she is sooooo golden! Oh my heavens, they just met her on the street one day while she was walking home from the grocery store, and they just invited her to come to church, she accepted! and so the Elders arranged a ride for her, and there she was....sitting in church! :) (this was a few weeks ago.) Her first Sunday there she was so content and sat listening so closely to the lessons in all three meetings, and after church, she participated in the choir practice! That day in Relief Society they talked about the priesthood, and it wasn't very basic stuff, so I just leaned over and tried my best to describe what the priesthood was and kind of tried to keep her up to speed throughout the lesson, and afterwards, she said that she knew it was true, even though she isn't married and she doesn't have children, she knew that the power there was so important and that she could also benefit from the priesthood.  At the end of choir practice she volunteered to say the closing prayer, and she expressed in the prayer that she was thankful for the priesthood. What? She is AWESOME!!! the only problem the Elders had was that she is a single women and it made it hard for them to teach her, and she is right on the border between our mission boundaries, so guess what? they got permission form President Topham to hand her over to us! :) YAAY!!! :) We were so excited! she told us that she is so excited that we get to teach her, and we can't wait to have our first lesson with her! She is just a rock star! :) Sister Walborn and I had an amazing week, we worked hard, and had fun, and we can't wait to see what this next week has in store for us! I love you all so much and I can't wait to get to talk to you all again next Monday! :) Have fun watching General Conference! I can't tell you how excited I am about that! We get to watch the Saturday sessions at the Jacobs home! and I can't wait! Love you all!!
Sister Thomas

6 things :) Letter Dated September 16, 2013

Okay, so this week....kinda crazy! Thankfully no one in our district was transferred!! YAY!! :) I love them all so much!! But, we did get new sisters in the Lititz area, so we did get an addition to the area.  They seem super sweet! And one of them is a newbie! :) guess what that means, I'm not the youngest one anymore, (according to how long we've been out on our missions!) can you believe it, tomorrow will be my two month mark! I can't believe that I've already been out that long, sometimes it feels like I've been away from home for a long time....and then other times, I feel like I've only been out for two weeks! haha! I can't believe it! I have already learned so much and I am enjoying my time here sooo much!! I really love it here! We had a really good week! We decided to focus on less active work this week, and we had some really amazing things happen! There is a less active, part member Family that we just love here! They live up the street a ways from us, and we visit her every week.  She is the member, and she has a husband and three children, none of them are members. day she just asked if she could have us over for dinner, and set up a day where her husband could be home and there as well, so we set up for Friday, and ended up visiting her on Tuesday last week as well. Well, she has had a hard time with some people that meet at our building in a different ward, and every time she's tried to come to church they always give her a hard time, which is really sad! but her husband had expressed to her that he thinks that they need to start going to church....what the what?? He's not even a member! :) He has been expressing interest in the church for a little while now, but they want to move closer to her parents and all that good stuff, and she said that when they move that they were planning on going to church up there because they'll have a new start and everything.  Well, her husband just got his license back, and they're looking for a car, and he wants to take everyone to church because he feels that it will be beneficial for the family.  :) So on Friday when we went over for dinner, we were able to have a lesson with them about the importance of families, and he was really involved in the lesson we shared.  It was really awesome! We're very hopeful for that! :) but we also visited Grace, she's one of our regular less actives that we meet with each week, and I can't tell you how many times we have invited her to come to church, we always have a ride for her and someone to come pick her up, and she always says no...ALWAYS!! and she tells us all the time that Heavenly Father wants her to go to church....but she just wont come.  But we've been working really hard on trying to have her come to the conclusion that she needs to come to church, instead of us inviting her, and instead we're extending other commitments, like this week we asked her to read a story out of the ensign and she said of course she would....I think my jaw may have dropped! We've never had her agree to do anything! haha! and then we asked Vicky, (another less active) to call her and ask her if she wanted to come to church...well low and behold, while we're singing the opening hymn, I look over and in walks Vicky and GRACE!!!! ahhh!!! I was soooo excited!!!!! :) Sister Walborn started to tear up, and I was just so overcome with gratitude that Heavenly Father allowed the spirit to work in Grace, and for her to have that desire to come to church and ride with a women she had never met before! it was sooo amazing! :) I was so thankful! and Then, we also had Brother Brown at church....with his daughter! :) he also comes from a less active part member family.  He has been inactive since he had graduated High School, and Sister Walborn and I were able to go visit them for the first time ever! We were able to get into their home, and the wife was soooo sweet! I loved talking with her! She was a little bit stand offish at first and you could tell that she didn't want us to sit and talk with them, but her home was soooo cute! She had a lot of damask pattern everywhere, and I complimented her on it, because lets get real! I love damask!! and she invited us into the living room to see more of her home! It was sooo pretty! and we were able to talk with them for quite a while, and when we left she sent us off with some cake and tomatoes! it was so awesome! and then Brother Brown came with his daughter!!! We were sooo happy and so surprised!!! :) it was an amazing week for less actives at church! :) We also had two investigators at church.  We met with them last Monday night, (that wasn't our first time meeting with them) it was Ken and Deb, they were the ones that we met from helping Jen and Athena move. And they live just across the way from us. :) It was so sweet when we met with them because Deb because we got to talk to them to tell them kind of what to expect when they're attending our church, and before we left Deb made a comment about how much she loved us, and she said it was like they just got two new daughters! It was the sweetest thing ever! She is just sooo sweet! and I love her sooo much!  Her heart is so open and willing to learn, Ken's on the other had is not. He's sooo sweet and kind to us, but he is Methodist to the bone...And last sunday we went with Ken to his Methodist Sunday School! haha! it was definitely different, we didn't get to stay for the service though because it was the same time as ours, and so they came with us this Sunday to church, and it was awesome! :) we got to help them understand some of the differences, and they stayed with us for Sunday school, and actually participated in the discussions.  It was pretty neat! they didn't stay for the third hour, which was really sad because I think Deb would have loved relief society. :) But she seemed to like it a lot, we get to meet with her again tonight! Ken has a meeting of some sort, so he wont be able to be there, but we're excited to talk to deb. :) It was a good week! Not everything was hunky dory though, we got dropped by Dale, you know the one that was going to come to church, but then the ward member forgot to pick him up? yeah that one....That ward member came to a lesson with us and it was awesome! we talked about the Word of Wisdom, and the member that came with us was a convert so he testified to Dale that the Word of Wisdom is such an important thing and he told him how it had blessed his life....well Dale likes to drink occasionally and he likes to smoke....he didn't like that too much...he said he was trying to quit smoking, so sister Walborn and I told Dale to call us when he was having a hard time with wanting to smoke and we'd talk with him and come visit him, all that good stuff...well the next morning, Dale called  us.  He said that he had been thinking about it again, and he didn't remember anywhere in the bible it talking about coffee and tea, and that Mormon just wasn't for him.. :( it was sad.  But the good news is, we have planned on different ways that we can find more people to teach this week! So we're going to try our best.  I love every one of you! and I miss you all so much! :) thanks so much for the letters and emails! You have no idea how much they mean to me! I'm sorry I'm just terrible at getting back to all of you but, I promise I'm working hard on it.  and in case any of you forgot....which I know you haven't, but Heavenly Father is amazing! He loves us so much! and He gives us so much! And I know how much he loves us!!! He is always mindful of us and had provided so many tools for us to be able to return to him! The scriptures and prayer are definitely ways that He talks to me, and helps me realize the ways that I can be better, and how he lets me know how much He loves me, and blesses me.  I pray for you all! and I hope everything is going okay.  :)
a few quick things I wanted to share about Pennsylvania,
1. I swear....NO men EVER wear shirts here! Even the nasty old ones with big gross beards and their butt cracks hanging out.
2. Where I'm serving, it smells like brownies a lot of the time because of the chocolate factories that are around! it's amazing!! :) and really bad, because it makes me crave chocolate ALL the this rate I'm going to be 1000 pounds by the time I get home
3.  Everyone LOVES pork chops and saucer kraut smells disgusting. :) but When I eat it, I just smile away! haha!!
4. I saw the fattest cat I've ever seen in my whole life!!! hahah!!! it was awesome!! :) his name was boots and I don't know how his itty bitty legs supported his big fat body! haha!
and 5. They have yellow watermelon here! and it is sooo yummy! it's really sweet! maybe I've just been living under a rock my whole life and its really common everywhere...but the first time I had it was here...and its good! :)
oh, and 6. Pretty sure I have the best companion in the case you were all wondering! :)
The church is true!
love you all tons!
-Sister Thomas

Moldy biscuit they found in the fridge when they were cleaning it out  

In the Vineyard


Sister Thomas, Sister Walborn and Belen the ward missionary.