Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Letter Dated December 8, 2014 - He is the Gift

Hey Everyone!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Okay...I know it isn't quite Christmas yet..but it is the Christmas Season and I'M SO EXCITED!!! I LOVE CHRISTMAS! The song is totally is (by far) the most wonderful time of the year! :) People tend to get a little more excited this time of year, and seem to be a little big kinder and more tolerable. :) Which is always a bonus as a missionary!
I had an amazing week! One of the highlights being Zone Conference on Friday. It was a really long meeting, but it was amazing! it was full of testimonies, training, singing and other musical numbers, and the best of all, learning about the "He is the Gift" Initiative! It was amazing!! and a little bit sad for a minute....this was my VERY LAST Zone Conference! :( and when it's your last Zone Conference, you are asked to bear your departing testimony. And I was seriously dreading it all week! I remember my very first Zone Conference and hearing all these old, experienced missionaries get up and bear their testimonies on things they've learned, and things they knew to be true, and when I would hear them give their testimonies I had two main thoughts... Number One: I am NEVER going to be giving my departing testimony, because I'm NEVER going to be going home....I've been out a month and it's already felt like a lifetime (Luckily I don't feel that way anymore. haha! :)) and Number Two: I don't know that I will ever be as wise as those missionaries bearing their testimonies.
It was a really weird feeling to be the one that was up there bearing my testimony, and it really was a very sad thing for me. I have LOVED my mission, and I wouldn't trade my experiences here for anything in the world! I have never learned so much in my life! and in such a short period of time. My mission has flown past, and I really am sad that it's coming to an end. I sometimes wish that my whole mission has been a dream I've had at the MTC and I'll wake up and still have an entire mission ahead of me! It was an amazing opportunity to stand before so many of my friends, and testify of our Savior, and the enabling power of His Atonement along with many other things that I have learned on my mission! I still don't know if I'm as great as those other old missionaries, but I definitely feel like I'm coming close! :)
We had so many people participate in musical numbers and I felt the spirit so strongly! It's just something about Christmas music that gets me! :) I love it! We have a lot of talented missionaries in the mission!
We had an awesome time with our Mission President and his wife. They are ADORABLE!! I love them so much! They talked about having a "Christmas to Remember" and they talked about what Christmas has been like for them, and sang one of their families favorite Christmas Carols in French! and then they gave us a booklet, with a  letter from them, and tips to serve, as well as Christmas stories and Hymns for Caroling in the back.  This is something that President Johnsons mission president did for him, and he said it's been a part of his Christmas ever since! :) It's really cute and I'm excited to share it with others when we go caroling around the nursing homes and families in the ward ect. :)
I don't know if you've all seen the "He is the Gift" movie's like 2 and a half minutes long, and it is AMAZING! It's on or you can find it on youtube, or facebook I'm sure!! It is super awesome!! If you haven't seen it, watch it! and if  you have seen it, share it with a friend, post it on fb....share how you share the gift... :) It is becoming such a great tool for us in our missionary work! :) If you get the ensign you probably got a little booklet thing about "He is the Gift" with 9 pass along cards you can tear out.  Those are the same cards that we've been given as missionaries to share the gospel, and that that Christ is the reason for the Christmas Season. And that He is the only perfect gift for every single person in the world, that ever has, and ever will live. He is an eternal gift, from a loving Father that helps us more ways than we can imagine! Seriously, what better gift can we give to the world, than the gift of a knowledge, or reminder of our Savior! I'd invite all of you to share the gift this season! :)
It was super awesome! Right after this conference we had we went to go get some dinner, and I had the strongest, strangest impression to share a "He is the Gift" card with the lady standing in front of me, and I pushed it off the first time...and it came back again! So, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked if I could share it with her, and she was SOO excited about it! She asked if she could have another card with her daughter, and then gave me her contact information for the missionaries serving in her area! Before she left she gave me a big hug and thanked me for sharing that with her! That was not at all what I was expecting from sharing the pass along card with her....but it was such a cool experience! :)
We had a wonderful week full of miracles and happy experiences! We had an AWESOME ward Christmas Party and had a lot of people come out! :)
I am so blessed! I couldn't imagine life without the gospel and without the Savior! I love you all SOOO Much! :) I hope you're all having an awesome Christmas Season! I love and pray for you all!
Sister Thomas

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Letter Dated November 24, 2014

Hey Everyone!!
Can you believe it's already here? I swear it hasn't been long enough for Thanksgiving to be here again! I hope you all have fun plans for Thanksgiving, and experience the true spirit of the season! :) I LOVE this time of year, with Thanksgiving, and Christmas on the way.  Everyone seems to be so much happier and cheery.  They seem to have a lighter countenance about them, and experience some gratitude for the things in their lives...and a lot more people open to hearing about Christ because after all, he is the reason for the season of Christmas. :) I'd like to invite you all to seek out opportunities to share the happiness the gospel brings you, with a friend.  This time of year peoples hearts tend to be softer, and enjoy feeling the spirit of Christ in Christmas.
This week I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the things that I'm thankful for.  It would be impossible to list every single person who is and has been a blessing in my life, and every blessing that I have obtained that I am truly thankful for, but I can list a few. :)
First, I'm so thankful for my family! I could not have been blessed any more for the opportunity that I have had to come to this family! Both immediate and extended family! I have been so blessed to be raised by such wonderful parents who have taught me, and helped me to grow. I have been so blessed for parents that have encouraged me to dream big, and work toward those dreams...and to have them there supporting me along the way! I have been blessed to have my two cute little brothers, who are such a great love and support in my life as well. :) they've always been good at cheering me on, and helping me feel loved...even when we express our love by wrestling and pestering...not to mention the name calling. ;) haha! I'm a little nervous I'll come home and I'm not going to be able to hold my own anymore...I may finally have reached the point where they'll beat me..and I'll never see the day to win another wrestling match against them again. haha! Let's hope not. :) I have been so blessed with the most loving Grandparents who have taught me a lot in life...a lot about the gospel, about hard work, how to love more, how to serve others, and truly be grateful in each and every situation. I have been blessed immensely by their examples and great love! I have been blessed with the most amazing Aunts and Uncles...I feel bad for everyone else who isn't part of our family, they don't get to experience how truly great it is to have close families, and feel the support that is there! Not to mention all the fun we all get to have! :) I have wonderful cousins who I've got to share some of my favorite memories with, and to have such a great opportunity to grow up so close to each other! :) And a long list of friends that have taught me so much, and had so much fun with throughout the years! :) Some old friends that I've had for a very long time...and a lot of new friends, that I look forward to seeing in the years to come! :)
I have been so blessed, and I am so grateful for the many opportunities that I have had in my life to grow, and come to a knowledge of the truth of the restored gospel. I am SOOO thankful for the P.14 Ward who have always been a huge help to me in my life! I couldn't have gained and solidified my testimony without the people in our awesome ward and the experiences that they provided for me throughout my youth!! :) Worlds BEST Young Women's group, with some of the most amazing leaders!! :) So many of you in the ward have been an immense blessing in my life, and I'm so grateful for every single one of you!!
I couldn't be more blessed and more thankful for the amazing opportunities that I have had to learn and grow on my mission! There isn't any place I'd rather be...I can't imagine my life without having the opportunity to serve a mission! I am so thankful for the age change that made this option so readily available to me and the countless blessings that have come, and are to come in the future because of missionary work! I am so thankful for every person that has been a part of my mission, and for all their work that they do to make me (and all missionaries) feel loved and welcomed!! I have been blessed to serve in the BEST wards in the mission!! (shout out to E-town, Monongahela, and Butler!! :)) I think one of my favorite things I'm thankful for this year is the amazing opportunity that I've had to share the gospel, and to literally see it change lives! I could not be more blessed!!
And above all, I am thankful for my Loving Father in Heaven and for His Son Jesus Christ. Earlier this month I was studying the Atonement a little bit more, and I was overwhelmed by the great love that is demonstrated in the Atonement on all accounts. I was reading in John Chapter 15:9-10
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
I was so touched by the great love that the Father expressed to us, by sending his Only Begotten into the world for us, so that we could be redeemed and once again enter into his presence.  And how He loves us so much He WANTS us to be with him again in his presence.  I was touched by the Love that the Savior had for the Father, to be obedient to his commandments, and to love us enough to lay down  his life, for us, his friends. His Brothers and Sisters!! And the great desire the Savior has for each of us to partake of the joy that he brings into our lives!! and the great love we can show to both our Father and our Savior, by being obedient to the commandments, and showing great gratitude by using our Saviors Atonement!
What a wonderful and remarkable blessing it is to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!
I love you all!
Love, Sister Thomas

Monday, November 10, 2014

Letter Dated November 10, 2014 - What the what???

Hey Errybody! :) So, I have the most bizarre news ever! I'm back in Elizabethtown!! haha! I don't know if you all remember but this was my first area in the mission, and now it could very well be my last area of the mission. :) It has been such a neat experience to be back! I seriously love it here! It's been amazing to see faces of so many people I know and love, and to see some new ones, that I have just had the opportunity to meet. We've had some remarkable families move out of the ward, and we've had some new ones come in with some boundary changes that have been made.
It has been such an awesome experience to see Evan, one of my Recent Converts, excel in the gospel! He is such a boss! And I can probably hardly call him "My recent convert" because he was totally already practically a member before I even came on my mission. :) He's the one that got baptized in December of last year. And he's a ward missionary now, and he goes on team ups with the Elders practically every week! He's so solid it's crazy! He is seriously a rock star! I went and visited his family last week, and his mom was SOO excited to see me she just cried and cried! It has been such a neat feeling being back in E-town.  It almost feels like coming home, is how I imagine it really. I mean, lets be real...there's no place like home. But E-town comes pretty close. Especially seeing so many familiar faces. :)
It's been amazing to see that some of the Less Actives that I remember working so hard with that have been reactivated, and attended the temple to receive their own endowments! And talk about how excited they are to go back and do that same work for their ancestors! :) It's been amazing to hear their testimonies, and their strengths, and to truly see how much they've grown! Words can't begin to express the joy that fills my heart from seeing so many people grow so much in the gospel.
I was very sad to leave Butler, It was probably one of the hardest things of my mission actually. I truly love it there, But I can't think of anther place that I'd rather be than here. I seriously LOVE E-town!

Sorry, my email is so short today.
I love you all so much! :) Hope everything is going well for yinz! :)
Sister Thomas

Monday, November 3, 2014

Letter Dated October 27, 2014 - Fun, Service, and a Baptism!!

Hey Party People! 
Happy Halloween!!! I hope you're all going to do something fun! Think of me while you're out doing all that fun fall stuff! :) haha I'm dying to go to a haunted house, or a corn maze...or anything Halloween related at all. :) haha only one more year! lol
This week was a super awesome week! :) We had a week full of Service!!
We did Exchanges with Beaver on Monday to Tuesday...which actually turned into Wednesday morning. I was with Sister Wilde, and we had a lot of fun! We spent most of Tuesday doing service.  We had one appointment that morning, and then went to thins thing called Bundle up Butler, and it's a thing that the community comes together and donates a lot of different coats and things to bundle up in, and then people can come through and get one coat in their size, and for their children and things, all free of charge. And it was a really neat experience. :) I just LOVE doing service! I feel like when I do service, I truly forget about myself, and I'm able to feel a portion of what the Savior must have felt with helping others. And it was a good day for people to come get coats...because the weather was FREEZING that day! Oh man, I was so cold! But the past few days have been really that's a plus. :)
After serving a little bit at Bundle up Butler, we went to a members house and helped her clean her new house.  She and her husband just bought a new house and they're doing some remodeling and reconstruction stuff and she has had a really sensitive nose lately, and the dust and stuff from the reconstruction has been irritating her nose breathing and stuff, so we were able to go up and clean up all the saw dust stuff, and the dust from drywall, and clean widows and things like that, it took us a while, but it was a lot of fun!! :) Her husband is super nice! He's not a member of our church, and he was just floored that people would come in and do things like that for free. haha he kept insisting to his wife that they needed to pay us. So his way of paying us was he brought a bunch of stuff up for us to make sandwiches, and he brought us drinks.  It was super sweet, and it was really yummy! Then we had volleyball that night with some ward members, and we had them bring our investigator Shana and her siblings to come play! It was a blast! Our District Leader and his companion were blitzing the elders area so there were six of us missionaries there playing, with several people who weren't members of our church, and a few others who were members. It was a blast! :) I personally think that is the best way to do missionary work. :) haha! It's fun! and it's not threatening, but we stilll get to talk about the gospel.  And the family that started the volleyball group thing always start and end with a prayer.  It's awesome! :) But anyways, the exchange leaked into wednesday morning because Sister Jones and her companion in Beaver had an appointment that went over too long and they didn't have enough time to drive back to Butler before it was too late. haha so we just had another sleepover. :) 
Wednesday morning Sister Wilde and I drove out to Beaver to switch back, and then we left straight from there to a couple different missionary meetings, and when we were done with our meetings we went to help  make mints for Brother T's baptism at Joe and Robertas house. :) It was a lot of fun! I had never made mints before, and Sister Jones and I were having a good time and we were just busting up with Brother T's wife, Jeanette. :) 
Thursday we did more service at that members house...We were painting this time though. It was fun! I really enjoy painting! I think it's like super relaxing! :) Sister Jones and I were having a good ol' time! haha the member left and ran other errands, so we were singing, and laughing. :) I seriously love doing service! :)
Friday we had a really good lesson with one of our Investigators.Him and his wife had us over for dinner (his wife is a member and is a TOTAL BOSS! :)  I love her!! :)) But it was super good, because we read out of the Book of Mormon with him, from the reading assignment he hadn't completed, and he really enjoyed reading together.  We've been working really hard to know how to help him progress.  And he finally expressed that he doesn't like reading, but he enjoys reading with a lot of people because he's able to understand what is going on in the scriptures. So, we have a new method to try...this next time we're just going to read with him out of the Book of Mormon. :)
Saturday was Brother T's BAPTISM!! :) :) it was awesome! :)
We started that morning by doing more service! :) there was a stake activity of service in the park, so we all gathered together at Moraine State Park, and we did a lot of different service activity things. :) We went and did painting,and we painted this whole huge building! :) It was awesome! Sister Jones and I got to get on the roof and paint from the roof down, because there were only limited ladders, and we had run out of things to we got to climb up there with the park ranger. :) it was fun! and I got to wear one of those awesome Yellow Vests for the Mormon Helping Hands. :) it was sweet! I've never got to wear one of those before! :)
And then we had Brother T's baptism! :) it was super awesome! :) There were quite a few people that showed up, and it all seemed to go pretty smoothly! :) Sister Jones and I sang a musical number for part of it...that was nerve wrecking, but it turned out okay. Brother  T was crying when we sang to him. :) He loves it when we sing. It was amazing to see his wife's reaction to his baptism. :) She was just crying and crying, and you could tell she was overwhelmed with the spirit, and happiness! And Brother T was excited the day had finally come! :) It was definitely a highlight of my mission! :) No questions asked. 
And Sunday, he was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. :) It was such an awesome moment! :) Brother T was moved by the spirit a lot in his blessing. It was super great! Happy moment! :)
We also taught Shana, and picked up her mom as an investigator as well. :) I'll keep you posted on that as well! :)
well, Transfers are on the 7th of November, so I'll probably be getting transferred.
I love you all so much! :)
The church is so true! :)
The Gospel is great! :) 
hope all is well with all of  you! :) Love and miss you tons! 
Sister Thomas

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Letter Dated October 6, 2014 - Butler Rocks

Well friends and family,
I love my mission! Words can't express the joy that I feel that comes through missionary work! Didn't you just love that story that Elder Bednar told yesterday about his sons? I loved how perfectly it described the way we want to share the gospel.  Just like the little boy who found relief and comfort through his older brother cleansing his owies, applying ointment, and protection with bandages, we too find relief and comfort in the gospel.    And once we feel that joy of the gospel, and the effects it has on us, we desire to share that with others, we desire for others to feel the redeeming effects of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Or to use Elder Bednar's example, we desire to share our bandages and ointment with all of our friends. :) The gospel is true my friends! and the joy that truly is felt as we become more converted is very real, and life changing! I know this church is true, and we are lead today by very inspired men, called of God. They truly are our Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.  How awesome was that to be so uplifted through General Conference this past weekend. :) we truly are so blessed!
So, some very exciting news going on here in the Butler ward....we're going to have a baptism! :) Remember a while ago the story that I shared with all of you about the man, T is what we called him, that just broke down during one of our lessons and we finally discovered his concern? Well, T is getting baptized! We had some very awesome lessons with him, and he shared with us that he's finally receiving answers to his questions that he's had for such a long time. 
We had a lesson with him last Saturday (so the Saturday before conference) and during the lesson he told us he was going to be baptized, so Sister Jones and I asked him when.  And he mentioned he wanted to do it soon, because he knew transfers would be here sooner, rather than later, and wanted to be baptized before Sister Jones and I left.  He made sure to let us know, that he always knew that the church was true, he was just waiting for the right two missionaries to come along. :)  but he also had many other awesome missionaries that helped him in the process of softening his heart to be prepared for this time...and for that I am sooooo grateful! But he told us that he would tell us when he was ready, so we mentioned if he wanted to be baptized before the transfer, all the things he would need to accomplish and the lessons we'd need to complete. We told him that we'd need to be meeting twice a week, and not just on Saturdays, his response to that was that he likes to learn on Saturday and then think about what he taught on that just wouldn't work.  We told him that he would need a little help with additional commandments, and he told us he'd live them when he was ready to live in short...T wanted to be baptized, but wasn't quite ready to make the commitment of doing the things it took to get there in the time he wanted to.  Which was okay, we didn't want to be shoving T into the baptismal font kicking and screaming :) haha We know how important it is, and that baptism is a covenant we make with Heavenly Father that we commit to live, and keep forever, so it is very important that they truly desire to be baptized and make the steps it takes to get there according to THEIR desire. So, we left it at that, though we still had an awesome lesson with him. 
The next day after church, we got a call from his wife asking us to please come down as soon as we can, that there is an emergency and T would really like us to be there. So as soon as we were able, we were at their house. We were told that T had a very sacred, special experience that night after we left, that had given him a total change of heart. And Sunday morning he had received a blessing from his father-in-law and close family friend, and was told to step it up, and be prepared to enter into the covenant of baptism. This time when we got there, he told us when he was going to be baptized, rather than us asking him.  It was probably one of the neatest experiences I've had on my mission, to see the change that was made in this man's life. He had told us he wants to meet twice a week now, and he wants to be living the commandments that he hadn't been.  He truly wanted to make that change, and has been going strong and working hard to get there! 
I know, whithout a shadow of a doubt that this gospel changes lives. And we truly are able to see modern day miracles.  There is truth of this written in the scriptures in Moroni chapter 7-
 33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
 34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.
 35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
 36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
 37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men...
Miracles truly have not cased, and how amazing it was to see that T had the faith necessary to receive a change of heart and witness a modern day miracle in his life. Since then we have had the opportunity to meet with T twice a week, and have very awesome spiritual lessons.  We even got to watch a session of General Conference with him and his wife. :) it has been wonderful! I wish I could send through email the joy in my heart, because I don't think that words do justice the feelings I have in my heart. But know, that I have a burning testimony that this gospel is true! and that we find guidance and testimony through the scriptures, prayer, attending church, and personal revelation.  Applying the principles of the gospel in our lives truly brings forth a mighty change.
Other than the good news of T, it has still been a wonderful week! We have a new investigator that we have begun teaching.  We'll call her Shay-Shay. We had a lesson with her on Saturday night, and her mother kept coming in and hearing portions of the lesson.  We taught the Plan of Salvation, and I was so overwhelmed by the spirit when we were talking about the Pre-Earth Life, and as we were talking about it with her, and as I was testifying to her, I could just feel so strongly that Shay-Shay was a diligent spirit before she came to earth, and that she embraced the plan our Heavenly Father had for us. at the end of the lesson her mom wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon, and we gave them a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation....we ran out of time and we didn't get to finish.  But it really was an awesome lesson! :)
We also had MLC on Friday, and as always it was AWESOME!! I love MLC! It is by far my favorite meeting! President Johnson is an AMAZING Mission President, and has already done so much for the mission! If I could grow up to be like him and his wife...then I've definitely succeeded and will totally get a ticket straight to the Celestial Kingdom! ;) haha no, but they really are so awesome! We got to go on a morning hike for our exercise with President and Sister Johnson, and the Missionary Leadership Council, so all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders, and it was wansn't much of a "hike" it was more of a nature walk...because there are NO "mountains" here by the definition of Utahans :) just hills.  But it was still very beautiful! There were awesome leaves that had changed, and the weather was beautiful! :) super awesome! 
Missions are great! we also got to see 30 minutes of "Meet the Mormons" and it was AWESOME! I totally could feel the spirit so strong! Even when they were playing football! :) We get to see the movie as a zone this wednesday, and I can't wait! You all should see it! :) I'll let you know what more I think about it next week!
I love you all! I hope all is well! 
And always remember, happiness is a choice! a quote I heard this week that I loved was this, "We can choose to laugh our way through life, or to cry.  I choose to laugh because crying gives me a headache."  I'm not even going to say that it was a word for word quote...because I couldn't find it...or who said it, if you find out exactly who it was and what was said, let me know. :) But, regardless, I still loved it! :) 
Sister Thomas

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Letter Dated September 1, 2014 - Spirit Filled Week :)

Hey Hey Family and Friends,
It has been a fun AWESOME week!!! :) So last P-Day Brother Mathers (He's the one that gives me a hard time and makes me sit at the kid table at dinner. :) haha!!) He took us fishing! :) It was the greatest! I had so much fun! He and his wife took all of us missionaries, and another boy from the ward, and their granddaughter fishing.  It was so cute, it was at this little private pond thing, and he knows the guy that owns it, so he got permission to take us all fishin there. :) and it was a beautiful day!! Unfortunately I was literally the ONLY ONE that didn't catch a fish. HA!! Everyone else caught on just fine! haha! But I still had a really fun time! :) I'm not going to lie though...I really like fishing with my daddy a lot more than I liked fishing in PA.  Nothing compares to fishing with my favorite fishin pal...and I guess my little brothers can be included in that too. ;) haha! I love and miss them so much! I know Hagen would have just had a blast fishing there!! Ew...and we used some Meal-Worm critter things...I'm not even sure if that's how you'd spell it...but those FREAKED ME OUT! Ew...they were sooo gross!! haha! I only tried that little critter thing once and just stuck to worms for the rest of the time. haha! I couldn't handle it! Bugs still freak me out!
Sister Jones and I had a really awesome week that was guided by the spirit a lot! On Tuesday we had went to the Library to have our time so Sister Jones could get some things together for her talk that she gave on Sunday, and while we were there, we were walking out at the same time as this kid, who seemed like he wanted to say something an didn't...and we didn't take the initiative to say anything to him before we started walking different ways...our mistake.  So we were driving a little ways out of town on our way to Loretta's house, and we saw him walking down the street again...this time we weren't going to let the opportunity pass us by.  So we flipped around and tried to find somewhere to park so we could catch up with him...and the only parking we see is at this Doughnut Connections place...and there is a sign posted that says "costumer parking only" so we parked there and chased this guy down the street (okay...I know we sound like a bunch of crazies....but we weren't literally running down the street....we were walking really fast though haha!) so anyways, he finally turned around and we waved at him, and he stopped to talk with us.  He told us his name was Ty and then he asked us if he was in trouble!  haha we just laughed, and we told him no, and that we had seen him earlier and really wanted to talk with him.  So we talked for a bit, about religious backgrounds and such, and he was very kind. He lives in the Elders area though, and he gave us his number and we shared a card with him and left him with out testimonis...He was probably the one thinking we were the crazies! haha! But we really felt strongly to go talk with him, and we did....hopefully something comes from it! :) Anyways...we walked back to our car and decided to go in and buy some doughnuts so that we were obeying the posted signs...and I was so excited! They actually had a maple doughnut!! I swear NO ONE in PA has maple was quite the tender mercy. :) haha! Anyways...then we were back on our way.
And the second strong experience we had this week actually happened last night...we had just had dinner at a members house...and they made us Mexican food! Oh my gosh!! Probably the  one of the best meals I've had on my mission!! Brother Hendrix is from out west, and he's a chef, and he made THE BEST Mexican food.  For some reason there are hardly any Mexican restaurants here in PA, and I really miss Mexican food from out that really made me miss home a was a good treat!! After we left we tried to contact a referral and they weren't we were trying to decide what to do next..because the timing was a little bit weird on the plans that we had we just decided that we were going to go visit this Less-Active sister in the ward.  She really lives in the Elders area, but she's super close to our house, and she never really gets visited by her Visiting Teacher.  So we were driving to her house and about half way there, I just didn't feel right about the decision we have made. So I brought it to Sister Jones attention, and she said that she was kind of feeling the same way...she was driving and so I offered a prayer to ask Heavenly Father what He would have us do with the short time we had before we needed to be in for the night...and when I finished, I hadn't had anyone come to my mind....and I was feeling like maybe there was someone somewhere that we needed to find. so we talked about it, and Sister Jones said that the only person that came to her mind was a Sister that didn't live too far from where we this time she said the prayer to ask if that's the person we needed to see.  And we both sat in silence for a minute really focusing on what the Spirit was trying to say to us....and I was really feeling like it would be okay if we saw that Sister...but I still felt like that wasn't quite what we were supposed to be we drove for a bit in the direction that we felt we should be going....and while we were driving Sister Jones said, "I just really wish that I had a name or an address" and as soon as she said that Oak Street popped into my head....but we knew that Oak Street was in the Elders we typed Oak into the GPS and we scrolled through the names that came up...and the one that really stuck out to me was Oak Ridge Rd, so I clicked on it...and it wasn't too far from where we had just had our dinner appointment (Silly me....if I would have listened to the spirit the first time once again...we wouldn't have had to do so much back tracking.) but we decided to pray again to see if this is the street that we needed to go...and I prayed this time...and I was expressing to Heavenly Father that we wanted to be doing the things that He wanted us to be doing, because we knew that this is His work, and not ours....and I told Him that we wanted to find whoever it was that He wanted us to find, and to go wherever that was...and I felt the spirit so strongly that that was where we needed to be. So I ended the prayer...and I was nervous that Sister Jones maybe didn't feel the same way I did...but she looked at me and said, that's where we need to go.  I felt strongly about Oak Ridge Rd too.  So we drove out's about 8:30 and it's raining....and we finally get out to this street...and it's a really dark road...with hardly any lights we just continued to drive up the road with a prayer in our hearts that Heavenly Father would help us feel which door we needed to knock we drove, and we drove, and there was one  house in particular that felt like it was we pulled in front of the house and we prayed again..(we pray SO MUCH as missionaries. :)) and we grabbed an invitation to a musical celebration that we are putting on at our church, and we went to the door to knock.  And we knocked twice, with no answer. So we wrote a note on the back of the invitation thing...and left our number and left it and stuck it in the door...and it was really neat, because even though we didn't have an answer at the door Sister Jones and I had the most amazing peaceful feeling that we had done what Heavenly Father had asked us to do.  And we had felt that we had been in the right place at the right time. So we offered one last prayer of gratitude, and both felt the spirit so strongly, and then made the drive back home...without the music on, and not saying much...we were really enjoying the spirit that was present and and the peaceful happy feeling that we had felt.  It was an experience that I've had like no other! I have never felt so lead by the spirit in such direct terms! I am so thankful!! :) and hopefully something wonderful comes because of it! :) 
Those were the two most distinct experiences that we had this week.
But now...I'm going to tell you an experience that we had earlier this week that is more of a funny story than it was spiritual.  So we have to track how many miles we drive in our car each month...and we were pretty close to going over our allotted amount of we had to do a lot of walking...and we were walking down town, and were on main street, and had a little bit of time before we had to be at Katies Kitchen where we do service so we walked up main street a bit...and while we were walking this man stopped us...and he asked us if we were mormons, and so we told him yes, and the very next thing he asked was "Oh, so you think you're Gods then?" and you could hear the insincerity in his voice...and though my mission has changed me a lot...I still have some work to do when it comes to things like this. haha! So I kind of got a little stand-offish and we were talking with him, answering some of his questions...and with the answers we gave, he would twist our words and make it mean something that didn't have to do with anything at all that we said...and so I was just done talking to this guy.  And he said he had somewhere to get going...and so I jumped right on that, gave him a pass along card and kept going...this guys name was Jim.  And I was a little fired up, and recognized that I had not been as good as I could have been at loving this man anyways...I had not tried very diligently to help him feel the love of the Savior.  And I was expressing this to Sister Jones while we were crossing the street and then heading back down to Katies Kitchen since our time was up, and who do we run into again??? JIM! And he was sitting down next to a man that started talking with us. It was very kind at first...and I was striving extra hard to be loving, and emulate the love of the Savior, because I had been given a second chance...and he started by talking with us about the weather and asked if we were talking to a lot of know..just that small talk stuff...and then he said, "You know I just told Jim here that I stayed in a hotel in Utah near your temple.  So we talked about how beautiful the temples were and things..and all the sudden out of NOWHERE like a freaking assassin he wants to kind of bash with us...what?? Okay...I don't like I'm trying even harder to be loving the point that my knees were actually shaking! haha! And he was asking some questions...and one of them he asked was "What are you going to say to Jesus when He's standing at the gates of Heaven and asks you why He should let you in...what are you going to say to him." And Sister Jones and I were quiet for a moment, pondering the question and listening for the Spirit to guide our words...and aparently we were quiet for too long, and he's like, "If you don't know what you'd say to Jesus, you had better figure it out now" and he said some other things that I don't really remember...and I started to explain that we believe that this time on earth is a time for us to prepare to meet God. But he cut me off in the middle of my sentence and said, "I don't want to hear what you believe, I want to hear what you would say to Jesus." and I just straight up told him I don't think that the Savior would ever ask me that question...and that I was sorry but I didn't imagine it being that he jumped right on that before I had time to finish me statement...and he said, "So you think Jesus is going to just let you into heaven then?!" and my answer was absolutely not.  I just couldn't imagine myself having the Savior asking me why he should let me in, but instead it would be a glorious experience, filled with love and rejoicing that I got to see my Savior.  And Sister Jones also added that she felt the same way...and that the Savior wouldn't be asking why we should stay...but pleading our case, and being our advocate with the Father as to why we should be allowed into Their presence.  And then he brought up the Book of Mormon.  And we testified that it was the word of God and so was the Bible...and they testify of each other..and he did not like that. And questioned Sister Jones as to where the Bible testifies of the Book of Mormon.  So Sister Jones pointed him to Ezechiel where it talks about the Stick of Judah and the Stick of Ephraim..and all he said to that was "That's Mormonism for ya." and mentioned some unkind things about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon..and we didn't want to get into it I began to just compliment him in his faith in Christ and how that was something I really admire about PA is the fact that so many people have a faith in Christ. and he stands up and shakes my had and says, "That's my Job. I'm Pastor Berkley." Oh man..I was a little upset. haha! I shook his had, and we thanked him for talking with us and went on our way to do service.  I knew in my mind when he asked us about what we'd say to Christ, he was trying to trip us into saying something along the line of our works...and our works being the only thing that saves us. We know that Faith without works is dead...but other people believe that you just accept Christ into your heart and it's your ticket to heaven. I am just so thankful for the knowledge that I have of this church.  I wish I could have shared the full story with you...but it was too long! haha! and this is already a really long email! I had a lot of cool things to share this week I guess.
But I want  you to know, that I know with my whole heart, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, and that he was able to translate the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God.  I know that the Book of Mormon gives us the fullness of the gospel, and brings us closer to Christ through our study of it! I am so thankful and blessed to be here at this time! And I want to testify of the Love that we must show to others...we have to show people we love them, and help them to feel the love of the Savior! :)
The Spirit is real and guides and directs us so long as we allow him to. :) 
I love you all so much and hope you have an awesome week! :) 
Sister Thomas

Letter Dated August 18, 2014

Hey Everyone! :)
So...this week was really long! I don't know about everyone else..but man, for Sister Jones and I it was a lot longer than normal for some reason! haha! I think I'll blame it on the fact that we didn't get to do exchanges this past week! 
But, despite this week being long, it was still super awesome!! :) I'll talk about a few awesome highlights. :) 
Monday we had our regular P-day...we didn't do anything fun.  There really isn't anything in when we stay around Butler...we just do our grocery shopping and look at stores that are around. haha! tons of fun right? But the super cool thing that happened Monday is while we were shopping at 5 Below, we got a media referral from someone that referred themselves for a Book of Mormon.  And the super cool part is that it was in the same area as our dinner appointment. So after our great dinner at the Bonetti's we went to contact our referral. Oh really quick...let me tell you the riddle that Brother Bonetti told us at dinner...."What happens once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in a thousand years?" the other one that he told was, "You're driving down the road it's pitch black and you don't have your lights on, yet you can see" I'll let you think on those and I'll tell you the answer at the end of the email. :) Anyways, so after dinner we drive to this guys house who asked for the Book of Mormon, and we pull up and there is this "No Trespassing" sign in the front of their we were a little hesitant..because sometimes people play jokes on the missionaries, and refer us to mean people, or they make up fake people with an let me just tell time I got one with the name Charlie Brown....he wasn't real. haha! But anyways...we said a prayer and we felt okay about it, so we knocked on the door, and the man that opened the door was young, probably in his early thirties, and he was so kind and invited us right in! So we sat down with him and his three daughters, and his wife wasn't sitting down, but was doing some things in the kitchen while listening to us.  And this guy, we'll call him "J" had a lot of questions! It sounded like he had been looking for churches for quite some time, and really didn't like some of the answers that other churches were giving we sat down and had some really nice conversation and discussions about our church.  Some of the questions he asked were about family, and what programs we have in the church for children and youth.  And if we believe in Christ, and what sets us apart from other churches? Things like that! And it was really awesome because he was very impressed by some of the answers that were given.  We invited him to begin the lessons, and he said he wanted to read more out of the Book of Mormon before beginning the lessons.  So we left him with our number and we have his, so I'm excited to see where this goes! He just has the cutest little family! His wife is so sweet! and his daughters are ADORABLE! :) They would just make the best family in the Church. :) I'm super excited to hear what happens! :) It's really cool though to see how many people really are looking for truth, but they "are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—" (D&C 123:12) And to hear again and again the questions of the soul of people wondering Where they came from, and Why they're here, and Where they are going. As children of God searching for truth...these are things that we ask ourselves, and all things that can be answered through the Book of Mormon and prayer. :) 
Then, we had one of the Less-Actives that we are working with call us up, and tell us that her brothers girl friend wants to learn more about the church, and wanted to set up a lesson! :) so we set up a time to go over on Thursday.  So we went over and we started with understanding what her religious background was, she was born and raised a Catholic, but when she got older switched to becoming a Lutheran.  She became interested in the church through conversations she's been having with Kristen and other members of her family. :) So we taught her the Restoration, and it was so awesome, because Val realized every time that she was feeling the spirit...and she testified back to us, that she was feeling the spirit when we talked about Gods love for us, and His desire for us to be with Him again. We introduced the Book of Mormon, and talked about the promise it contains with Reading and Pondering the book, and then asking God if it really is true, if the things we're teaching her are true. And she accepted that invitation to do so, and she even wanted to read from the Book of Mormon every day with Kristen for 20 minutes! Doesn't she just sound awesome! :) She really is the greatest! She is so kind, and sweet! and another awesome connection she has with the she just started a job where one of our members works! How awesome is that! I really like Val a lot! I feel like we totally related because she is a CNA too! But she's been doing that for 7 years....She's got a lot more time than I do.! :) haha!
We just had a really awesome week of finding and talking with new people! :) We have a lot of awesome service opportunities coming up this week! :) I can't wait to begin! :) There is so much love that is felt through doing service, and it really opens and prepares a lot of peoples hearts to receive the Message of Jesus Christ that we have to share. And I think I'm the super lucky one here! Because having the opportunity to do service for others has been some of the neatest experiences on my mission! There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment, and love that you receive from serving God's children. :) I love it!
And I love you guys! :) a lot! and I miss you a ton! keep being awesome! 
Sister Thomas the way..your answers to the riddles are:
The letter "M"
and the other is you can see everything because its the middle of the's to road that is pitch black. haha...this one made me feel like an idiot!

Letter Dated August 4, 2014

Hey Hey everyone!! 
It has been quite the abnormal week! haha! I'm excited to tell you about it!
So Last P-day after we were done emailing and shopping for groceries and stuff..we went to Jans house to paint! :) She's teaching us how to paint...we're working on a Monet...Yeah...mine looks NOTHING like his...haha! I'm not done yet, but I'll tell you what I"m not really an artist! haha! But I really do like painting a lot! It's actually pretty relaxing. :) even when I suck at it!
Anyways, then her and he husband Nick fed us dinner, and we had a lesson with them after dinner.  Jan is a member, and her husband is not, so we've been teaching him the lessons! :) But the last lesson we had wasn't the most amazing lesson I've ever had as a missionary. haha! It was one of those lessons where every possible distraction happens...the phone rings...the air conditioner breaks...stuff like that.. so, it was a good lesson...just not the greatest... haha okay enough of that low-light stuff.
So later that night we drove up to Erie for exchanges. Its like a 2 hour drive, so we didn't get in until about bed time! haha it took forever! But we had such a good time up there all day Tuesday! I got to spend the day with Sister Holmstead.  She's probably the most boss missionary I know.  She goes home in like...two weeks.  But she works SOO hard! We got to go visit some people they're teaching, one of them was Vern.  (Did you catch that Kels :)) Anyways, this guy has been an investigator on and off for the past year and half or so.  And it was just a quick visit with him. He's so awesome though....he's totally going to be baptized one day! :) 
We also got to go to the vineyards up there and work in them for some members. :) Did you know that Welches gets some of their grapes from Erie PA? :) and I worked in some of the vineyards that they buy from :) Now that's pretty cool right? was raining while I was out I didn't get any pictures to share of that one...but I sure had soaking wet, lake smelling pants to prove it. haha! YUCK! I was so wet and cold for the rest of the evening! haha! But it was so awesome! I love LOVE getting to do service! I have never done so much service in my whole life I swear! and it is just the greatest feeling to get to help people who are in need! anyways, we traveled home later that evening...and we were about 40 miles away and we had to stop for gas and saw that Sister Holmstead had forgotten her scriptures in our back seat. Bad we called our Zone Leaders to see what they wanted us to do...if they wanted us to use the miles to go back up or what....and of course they didn't answer their phone! haha! and our phone was dying! So we called the AP's and they reminded us we had a meeting later that week that we could give her scriptures to her Zone Leaders that would be there. haha! So we got that all figured out. Thank heavens for the AP's! They're saints! 
Wednesday was probably one of the weirdest days I've had as a missionary...we were asked to come help do service at the Farm Show in we went, and it was sooo much fun! Really all we did was sit at this booth thing and help people when they needed it...which wasn't very we got to see this cute little act from this guy...his stage name is the "moo-gician" It was cute. :) We saw a lot of really neat stuff. :) and met some cool people! 
But the weirdest part of my day...was when we went over to some members house and helped them BUTCHER CHICKENS!!!! Like literally...cut their heads them....all that nasty stuff. haha! okay...and we didn't really do all that much "helping" because we were in our skirts and stuff...and they said it was going to be a bloody we were more of the learning/support aspect! Gross right? I don't want to freak any of you I won't share pictures unless you want me to send them to you....and I'll spare you the details..other than...the phrase "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off" isn't just some silly phrase we's legit! haha!!
Then Later this week we had our Missionary Leadership Meeting in Pittsburgh. :) It was SOO legit! :) I seriously LOVE those meetings! I'm going to be so sad when I don't get to attend them anymore. But I was extremely lifted spiritually leaving that meeting :) All the Sister Training Leaders got to stay the night at the mission home in preparation for MLC and it was so fun! I just want you all to know That I have the greatest Mission President in the whole world....of all the other questions asked. ;) haha! I'm sure that everyone thinks that about their mission presidents...but I really love President and Sister Johnson! :) They are super awesome! :)
Sorry I didn't share lots of awesome spiritual stuff with you this week! We spent a lot of time out of our area in Erie and Pittsburgh...but I shared a few fun highlights. :) 
I am SOOO thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary! It freaks me out to think that this is only for such a short period of time...because I love it! I love the people! I love my areas that I've served in! I love my companions! and I love the person I'm becoming. But most of all I love the gospel.  And I know that it is true! I'm so thankful for it in my life! I love you all so much! I'll talk to yinz soon! :)
Sister Thomas

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

PA Rocks - letter dated July 14, 2014

Hey There! :) 
How is everyone!? I miss you all so much!!
I'm so excited to tell you about how awesome Pennsylvania is! :) haha! 
things have been going really good here on my mission! I can't even begin to express to all of you the happiness I feel as I'm out here serving in the Lords vineyard! It is just the most rewarding thing that I've ever done in my whole life.  There is no feeling that compares to how I feel when I get to share my testimony with people that I've grown to love so deeply, and to see it click within them.  To hear the testimonies that they have gained through the experiences that we have shared, and to hear them bear testimony to us as missionaries, that the things that we are teaching them are true.  Yes, we haven't been having people flock to the baptismal font to be baptized here....there are always a lot of roadblocks,and it seems that the commitment of joining the church is too much for a lot of people.  Some people gain the witness that the church is true, and still choose not to overcome their roadblocks to do things about it...but it doesn't eliminate the great feeling that I get when I see peoples testimonies they be active members, less-active members, or not members at all, my life will be forever changed by the people of PA and the effect they've had on my own growth and testimony!  There is a scripture I read this morning in my personal study that really touched me that kind of explains this feeling that I have.  It's in Alma 29:13 and it's where Alma is expressing the joy that he feels in the Lords work, it says:  Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my joy is full.  and I thought about that for a minute.  We have a wonderful Father in Heaven, that loves us so much that He has provided a way for us to have the church that Christ himself formed while he was on the earth, to be restored to us in THIS day.  and I have the most amazing, sacred opportunity to be called by that very same God that Alma was called, to be here serving in Pennsylvania.  To preach the gospel to every person that I come in contact with, weather they accept it or not, and it is remarkable the joy and happiness that it brings to me! And I have seen great success in my mission! and it hasn't been in the number of Baptisms, but in each and every day I see some sort of success...and I think the greatest for of success is the person that my mission is changing me to become. Man...I just keep ranting...just know that mission life is great! :) and I love it sooo much! and it really  makes me happier than anything!
Sister Jones is a total BOSS! :) I love her so much! I've been having such a blast being her companion! We are seriously having so much fun! :) we laugh a lot, every day! And she's a big movie buff, so we're constantly quoting movies. Sure makes slow points of the day go by much faster:) We've been working our tails off and it's really been showing great effects! Our teaching pool has really increased the past couple weeks, and we're having the great opportunity to teach a lot of people. :)
This last week was so great! We got to pick up an investigator who I love so much! His wife is a member, and she is SOOO great! :) She calls us her kids, and I just love it.  She really takes care of us like we're her kids, and her husband is just as great! We invited him to learn more after a dinner appointment one day, and he actually accepted the invitation. :) He is worried about being able to balance work, and school, and learning about the church and keeping commitments, but he is really sincere to learn more about the church and understand it a little bit better.  So I'm excited to see where this goes. :) We got to teach him this week before we left to MLC and we talked about Prayer, and the importance of prayer and how we can receive answers to prayer, and it seemed to go pretty well! :) We're excited to go back and follow up on his experiences.
Then we had MLC on Wednesday.  MLC is Missionary Leadership Council, and it's where all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders meet together once a month with the Mission President and his Assistants to receive training and council, as well as discussing things in the mission.  And it was AWESOME! :) We got a new mission President, his name is President Johnson.  He's just a rock star! :) He's soo funny and so much fun! and he is so sincere and diligent in everything.  I really just love him and his wife so much. And you can just tell how much he really wants to do his best as a Mission President to strengthen us as missionaries as well as the mission.  There have been changes that have been made to the mission, but they're good things. :) And I'm so excited to see the mission continue to grow! :) I do miss President Topham, but I'm grateful that for all of the mission Presidents that could have come to PA, it was President Johnson.  I get to have interviews with him this week, and I'm excited to get to know him more. :) 
MLC literally took all day though...we stayed at a sisters apartment nearer to Pittsburgh, and the meeting started at 10 wednesday morning....we didn't pull into Butler until 8.  So not too much work was done that day...but the spirit I felt during our training was totally worth it. :)
OH MY HEAVENS!!! I have to tell you! There is a family here that just LOVES the missionaries, and they give us all nick names, Mine is Lightning, and Sister Jones doesn't have a set one yet...he's called her beach bum, ski, and we're not sure which one it is. haha! anyways...they take the missionaries out to this place called Ponderosa...and it's pretty much like a golder corral...and they told Sister Jones and I that we had to eat FOUR plates of food to beat one of the other missionaries that was here before us....I was SOO full I wanted to DIE! haha! It was so funny!! I love them! They crack me up! 
Later that day we had a great lesson with our new investigator Angie! :) She's awesome and really wants to learn....the problem is she has two grand kids that she takes care of, and they DEMAND attention every time we're over there, so it makes it kinda hard to teach.  But we're making progress, and we're having members come to help in lessons, it seems to help the kids stay more calm. haha keep them in your prayers. :)
Oh, and one more quick story....we were on exchanges on Friday into Saturday, and we were teaching a lesson to a new guy we have never taught before, and we're outside teaching him (he lives in the projects) and while we were out there teaching him, people just started to come sit down and talk with us to see what was going on...none of them ended up being interested, but it was pretty cool was my celebrity moment of the week! :) haha!
Anyways, I love you all so much! Thanks so much for all of your love and support! I sure couldn't do it without you! :) The Church is True! :)
Sister Thomas

Note from Kelsey: I apologize this is out of order I just found it while going through emails and realized it never got posted! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hey Yinz - July 28, 2014

Had another good week in PA :) I swear, life as a missionary...there is never a dull moment! :)
So...This last week on Tuesday we went and did service for this thing that is called Produce to the People.  And it's where they provide free food to people in the community...and they hold it at this community shed/barn thing, and people line up in a huge long line out front and wait for the doors to open.  And we go early to separate food into portions per like this week we bagged 7 onions to a bag, and like 10 apples to a bag...ect. and then when we're done with that they open the doors, and everyone that has a pink ticket gets to go through the line and get food. So we stand at the tables, and we pass out certain items as they pass....and they have what they call runners that have cart things to help the elderly and disabled...or really whoever....that would need help carrying all their food because it gets heavy really quick (this week they were giving out like 5-10 zucchinis per ticket...and they were HUGE! So you can imagine it gets heavy.  Well anyways...there was one runner in particular who kept coming by to talk to us every time he had a free moment, and he was asking us about the church, and what we believe. So we'd get in little snippets of information here and there before he'd have to go help someone else....well finally I just asked him if he'd be interested in us stopping by to teach him.  and he said yes! So this guys name is Thomas (I know...super easy to remember right? :)) Well I was STOKED! I was sooo excited! Here I am thinking that someone is really truly interested in learning!  So Sister Jones and I asked him if he was from around town, and he told us he was, so we asked whereabouts....and he said, "Right up the street" and flashed us his wrist...where there was a wristband that stated he was an inmate at the Butler County Prison.....
....oh....nice. Haha! Missionaries luck right? :) haha! He said he only has 40 days left and he's really looking to turn his life around and wants to learn more.  So we gave him a Book of Mormon with contact information in it and highlighted Alma 36 where Alma the younger is explaining his conversion story. :) So hopefully he starts reading it! :) Don't worry...we can't teach him while he's in prison so it's all good! :)
But on Wednesday we did some service for some members that were moving out of the ward, and Brother A is actually a convert, and he has a crazy awesome conversion story.  He had done some time in prison before he found the church, and so he asked if he could write his testimony at the front of a Book of Mormon so that we could give it to him...Hopefully that will be beneficial for Thomas to see that you really can turn your life around, and begin to live a life worth living. :)
We did some Blitz' this week in Cranberry and then in Beaver.  
So As a Sister Training Leader we go on exchanges with the Sisters in areas near ours, and a Blitz is where all four missionaries work in the same area, but we still switch companions.  So on Thursday morning to Friday morning I spent the day with Sister Hodson in Cranberry.  And it was fun! :) We had a lot of fun we randomly talked to some lady on the street that day..a.nd then later that night we happened to knock on her door...coincidence? I think not!! :) haha she wasn't interested, but I know that we were lead to her for a reason. And we got to go to a lesson that was on the further part of their area with a member....and the member has a SUUPER SWEET CAR!! :) It was a convertible! and on the way home we drove with the top down. :) Yeah buddy! That's the closest thing to a thrill that I get as a missionary! and I loved every second of it! :) haha! We had a blast on the exchange! 
And then the next day we Blitzed in Beaver. So Fridays are weekly planning days...and it's where you plan for like three hours for the people you'll teach in the upcoming weeks, and other things your going to be doing in the coming week. And it's quite a drive from Cranberry to our house...and it would eat up our miles (because we have an allotted amount of miles we can use each month) so we decided we'd go plan at a park instead. :) Turns out the park that the GPS took us to was a Softball field. :) Woot Woot! Made me really want to play some ball! But it was awesome because both Sister Jones and I play it was fun to plan there. :) 
Then we spent Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon in Beaver....and I just have to tell you about the coolest experience I had!!! We had a dinner appointment at a members house in Beaver, and Sister Wilde and I got to have the dinner appointment.  Well, they have a daughter that is deaf and blind, and we were all sitting there eating together, and you could see her mom talking to her through signing into her hand.  And I just thought it was the neatest thing.  and Dinner was great! But before we left I had asked her parents If I could say hello to their daughter and to tell her it was nice to meet her.  And they seemed so thrilled! So they pulled her away from the table and helped her get cleaned up, and I got to sign to her.  I knelt down on the floor by her wheel chair, and I got to have a full blown conversation with their daughter. I guess she has a degenerative disease that caused her to loose her sight and hearing as she was growing up as well as control of he limbs and she can't really sign back...but she can talk back from the knowledge that she had before she went deaf.  So I would sign into her hands, or her hands would follow me as I signed, and she would speak back to me in return.  Turns out she's been to Payson, they have some family that lives near there, and she's been to the Red Barn in Santaquin. :) and she was telling me about that.  And then she told me some jokes! She was so cute and sweet! :) Her favorite things to do are swimming, crochet, reading, and being on the computer.  She asked me what my favorite things to do were...and my signing is a little bit I told her I like to swim too, and that I like to read from the Book of Mormon.  And then she told me a full blown story about Sariah in the Book of Mormon, and an essay that she read on her.  It was amazing! This might not sound as cool to you as it was for me to actually experience it! But this was really one of the biggest highlights of my mission! To see her just light up...and talk...and talk...and to find connections.  It was amazing! I could just feel so strongly the love that Heavenly Father has for her.  And she just made my day! It was amazing! I am soo thankful that I got to use some of the things that I learned from Mrs. Campbells ASL classes in High School, and I'm so thankful that the spirit was able to bring certain signs to my remembrance so I could communicate with her.  :) 
I am just one extremely blessed Sister Missionary! :)
I have so many other stories I want to share with you but I'm out of time! I'll write them down for next week. :) I love all of you so much! You have no idea! :) 
Sister Thomas
p.s....I hope this makes sense and it's not super jumbled..haha! I have been all over the place in this email! haha! 
Also...the definition of YINZ in Pittsburgheese- You Guys, all of you, ect. :) haha! sooo many people say it out here!

Letter Dated June 30, 2014

Heyy Everyone! :) 
So....I'm really sorry that I really am not very good at keeping up on these things! No excuses...besides the fact that I'm just a big slacker!! 
So I'll kinda fill you in on a few things that happened this week. :)  A while back we went and did service at this "dentistry from the heart" thing, and it was a thing that some dentists and an oral surgeon did dental work for free in the community, and we volunteered, so we helped people get all signed up and everything, and while we were there, the elders won some tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo, so we got permission from our Mission President to have a member take us to the Zoo.:) So we finally used one of our P-days to do it before Sister Larsen got transferred, and it was sooo fun! :) That was the first time that I had been to the zoo in a really REALLY long time!  It was a pretty cool place, and by far the elephants were my favorite part! :) It was a lot of fun, I was talking with Sister Larsen and I talked about how going to the zoo was probably the most vacation-ish thing I've done on my mission! haha!  It was a blast, and definitely a stress reliever, because I always hate transfers.  Not that I've really had any problems with my new companions before, I just really hate saying goodbye.  It was really sad that Sister Larsen was leaving, she was the one that trained me on how to be a Sister Training Leader, and so now I get to teach my new companion how to be a Sister Training Leader! So that's exciting! Hopefully I do as good of a job as Sister Larsen did! Then after we got home from the Zoo, we had lunch with some members in the ward, it was with Kevin and his mom.  Kevin is a recent convert that the elders baptized last transfer, and he is so solid! Elder Bashein and Elder Larsen were the ones that taught him, and Elder Bashein was leaving, so they had us all over for lunch to say bye. It was really cool though because they're from Micronesia, and Kevins mom made us some tapioca, That was the first time that I've ever eaten that outside of like...tapioca pudding! So that was really interesting! :) Then we got to go say goodbye to a few other people in the ward for Sister Larsen.
Tuesday was transfer day! So we spent a lot of time making sure Sister Larsen got all of her stuff and doing the last minute to-do things before we drove to Greentree for the transfer meeting. I think that this transfer meeting was really neat to go to, it was President Tophams last transfer meeting of his mission, and he was cracking a lot of jokes and was just so sweet! :) I'm really glad that I got to be a part of it! :) My new Companion is Sister Jones,  She's from Southern Californa, and she's very sweet! :) She's been out for 6 months, and Butler is her second area...and it's a little bit different than her last area...she served in part of Pittsburgh before she came to Butler, and her last area was a walk this is all foreign to her being in a drive area with no big cities around! haha she feels like we have no one to talk to...I'd probably feel that way too coming from Pittsburgh! That place is HUGE! We've had a really great week, we've been working hard and we've been trying to find people to teach! It's kinda creepy cause we're already saying the same things at the same time...haha! We laugh about it! 
We've also been having some crazy adventures this week in our apartment.  This week has been SOOO hot and SOOO humid....and we have this little window unit in our our room is like the only place we camp out when we get to be's the only place cool enough to function. :) haha I really am actually kind of enjoying this Humidity hot's something I've never had to deal with before. :) The one part we haven't been liking about our adventures is the massive spiders we keep finding! They are the freakiest things ever!! They look like daddy long legs on steroids! Freaky! 
We got to teach some really awesome lessons this week to some less-active members in our area. :) it's wonderful because both Sister Jones and I are social, so conversation is suuper awesome with everyone that we're visiting. :) I know that Sister Jones is so meant to be here, and I feel like we'll find a lot of success! :) One lesson in particular, a sister was telling us about her past experiences in the church with her ex-husband, and she has just walked a really long,and hard road, and she is just amazing! She has such a conviction of the Savior, and of the Book of Mormon, and she really wants to start coming back to church to keep ALL of her covenants.  She is just a rock star! She has such a strong testimony, and I can't wait for her to come back to church, we definitely need her! :) 
We also got to go to lunch with the cutest grandma named Stella! :) He son is a convert to the church and has served a mission and is now married and has children that have served missions, and we went to visit her a while ago, and she insisted on feeding us even though she wasn't interested in learning more about the gospel.  So she took us and the Elders to lunch this week at a place on main street called Natilies. And she is just so sweet! :) she really is a very neat lady! and she just kept mentioning how wonderful she thought it was that we were serving missions and we talked about her family and such.   She told us that she strongly considering joining the church when her first grandson got baptized a member because he told her, "Grandma, I just know that you'll be baptized too when I get baptized into the church." and she said she thought really long and hard, but she decided to stay strong in her faith.  She told us that her son is always talking to her about the church and how he wants her to join....those dang Mormons...we're a persistent bunch aren't we? ;) haha! it really was a really neat experience, and we got to pray with her, and read from the scriptures with her right there in the restaurant.  :) it was wonderful! :)
Oh man...and I forgot to mention.  I had to give a talk on Sunday.  It was about preparing for it wasn't too hard. :) I just shared all the things I WISHED I would have done to be more prepared! :) haha!
The Butler ward and area are awesome! :) I love it so much here! I can't even tell you! They are working so hard to be missionary minded, and I think it's just great! :) I want you all to know, that I know without a shadow of a doubt that this church is the true church. I know that it was restored by our prophet Joseph Smith, as he went to the Father in humble prayer to find for  himself the truth.  I know that our Heavenly Father is so mindful of us, and hears our prayers.  I know that He loves us, and helps us to have the experiences we need to help us become the people that he needs us to be.  I love you all so much! :) I hope that you're all killin it in your missionary work! Because it is literally the best work to be involved in! I love you tons! :) Keep up the hard work.  A super awesome scripture I shared this week was found in 3 Nephi 5:13
It says, "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." Isn't this a boss scripture?! :) we are all called to this work of salvation as we are disciples of Jesus Christ. :) We don't just have to be set apart missionaries to help others have the joy of eternal life. :) I love Yinz! :) 
Sister Thomas

Monday, March 17, 2014

Letter Dated March 17, 2014

Hello!! :) 
How is everything going? 
Okay, so this week, wasn't the most intense week.  Things were kind of slow moving. But we still had good experiences!! 
Monday we had a really fun P-day and topped it off with dinner at a members house! :) Sister B's husband is a member of the Bishopric and after dinner we were talking about the people we were teaching and they just about gave Sister Rock and I a heart attack because they had us convinced that we had been teaching someone that was out of our area....we were so sad! Turns out they  really are in our area...just on the very edge border! haha so that was a relief! The B's are suuper nice and they are so kind to always be sure they feed us something we want for dinner and spoil us with yummy dessert after! man, the monongahela ward has some really good cooks!! And we always get dessert! It's awesome! :) I love it!

Then on Tuesday, it was the most beautiful day ever!!! It was seriously like 70 outside! and Sister Rock and I were eating it up! So after we did service at the hospital our appointments fell through, so we went tracting, and seriously every door we knocked on someone was home! :) We got to place three books of mormons and talk to a BUNCH of people! It was so awesome! :) I loved it! investigators came of it, but maybe one day! :) 

Wednesday we got to teach a few different Less-Active and Recent Convert  lessons, and they all went very well! :) Marissa, one of our Recent Convert is soo sweet! She got us some friendship bracelets, so now we all three have matching bracelets! She's awesome! haha! We got to talk to her about the Enduring to the end and address some of her concerns about the Holy Ghost! Oh man! I wish you guys could have seen it, it was sooo funny because while she was talking to us she was talking about how wiggley her chair was, and she went to show us how much it wiggled...and the chair totally broke and she fell off the chair, she laughed so hard, and we laughed so hard! It was hard for us to gain our composure agian! haha it was so funny she shared it with the gospel principles class on Sunday. :) Oh man, it was great! and we got to have a very spiritual lesson about prayer with one of our other Less Actives, and it was really neat because I was able to relate with her on some hard thing that have happened in her life, and she totally opened up like she hadn't before. It was really awesome!  We also got to eat dinner at a Chinese restaurant and they were totally playing country music! That never happens here! I miss country SOOOO MUCH!!! But hey...I'm super lucky and I get to listen to church music all the time! :) that was just a fun little blessing! :) 

Thursday we spend almost all day in Pittsburgh for our Zone Conference! Those are always super awesome and very spiritually uplifting.  We got to train on finding people to teach, which was really good because that is something we're really struggling with right now.  We only have one investigator right now.  But I'm confident as we continue to be diligent we will be able to find people to teach.  Right now it's Lent which is  a Catholic tradition thing? where they give something up for 40 days before Easter...kinda like a 40 day fast, and there are A TON of Catholics in this area! Even though a lot of them aren't active, they still are very strong in their traditions, so it's hard to find people to teach. But there are sooo many fun people we meet here! 

On Friday we got to teach our favorite Sister M. :) She's such a rock star! We love her soo much! We got to read out of the Relief Society Manual  and got to talk about a ton of wonderful things relating to faith and repentance.  She is just so awesome, and every time we go to her house we feel the spirit so strong! :) I love it! Then we got to do some service for our Investigator, we helped her clean her house! :) We love being able to help her with everything! It's so fun! :) 
I've gotta get going! but I love you tons!
Sister Thomas