Monday, January 5, 2015

Letter Dated January 5, 2015 - Happy New Year! :)

Hey Everyone!!
Happy New Year!! I hope you all had fun and celebrated the coming of a new  year! :) New Years really is such a good time to reflect, and decide what we'd like to accomplish in the next year. I've been thinking about goals a lot lately and I really don't think it's my biggest strength yet, but my mission has totally taught me how important it is to set goals and make plans to help us achieve them! :) It's so important to have a vision for ourselves and what we'd like to do and achieve, and who we'd like to become. And what better time to start than now. :) 
We had a good New Years, it wasn't anything big or crazy...that's for sure! :) I didn't even stay up to welcome the New Year. haha! I just woke up and to my surprise 2015 was already here! I can't believe it has come so fast! It's actually kind of sad to think about. My mission has flown by, and I wish I had just one more year ahead of me. :) but good things are to come at home too. :)
This week we've had some pretty cool things happen! :)
Monday we got to go to Hershey Chocolate World for P-day :)) Later that night we got to have Family Home Evening with a family in our ward....actually we had two family home evenings...but we only taught one of them. :) haha But it was so fun! We talked about the importance of the Holy Ghost and what he does for us, and then we played a game with them to demonstrate kind of how the Holy Ghost works. The kids loved it, and they were actually extremely reverent during the whole lesson! It was amazing! haha!
On Tuesday we had the sweetest old lady named Delores invite us over to have Pork and Sour Kraut to begin the New Year with good luck...because apparently eating a specific food will determine the kind of year you have. :) haha! looks like all you out west are in trouble...because I can imagine you didn't have Pork and Sour Kraut to celebrate the new year. :) I don't even know if that's how you spell it...but get the point. lol
But it was really awesome! We met her a while ago, we were talking to a man that was out on his porch and he wasn't interested in the gospel or want any service, but he pointed us in her direction. He told us her husband had recently died and that she might be in need of some help. So we went over and she welcomed us right in and was showing us her boxes of things that she was going through and donating, and invited us back another time to come get some hot chocolate mugs and plates and things...she's sooo funny! and so cute! :) Anyway, she has this sweet lady named Norma who works for her and helps her out around the house and stuff, and they invited us to come have this Pork and Sour Kraut with mashed potatoes for lunch, and it was amazing! We got to talk a lot about the gospel, and this was the first time she was really open to hearing what we had to say. Her husband was a pastor before he died, so she wasn't extremely open...but she and Norma listened to a message that we had to share. And they were asking tons of questions and bouncing all over, but the spirit was there...and it was exciting for them to see the things we have in common. :) They both agreed to listen to the missionary lessons, although they don't think they'll be changing religions. But it was so good. :)
and we had such an awesome lesson with one of our investigators Tammy! We hadn't been able to see her for a while, and the first thing she said to us after she invited us in the door was, "Before you start I want you to know I've fallen in love with another Church."  and normally that would make me feel a little sad. But for some reason, I just felt peace. And so we sat down and she described the things that she loved about this new church, and how we had given her the desire to start going to church again. And in my heart, as a missionary, it still feels amazing to know, that regardless of whether or not people decide to join the church, their faith in Christ is still growing. And we expressed to her how wonderful and important that is to be moving toward Christ. But then we also invited her to come and worship with us at least just once, to see what it was like.  We talked about the concept of Good, Better, Best with her, and sincerely shared with her that we want what is best for her. And it was an amazing lesson and the spirit was so strong! We talked about the spirit, and what it feels like, and how he testifies of truth. And we talked about the principle of baptism, and she loves being baptized...she's done it a few times in her life. haha! :) and she was expressing how she would like to do it again sometime soon so she could feel clean again..which lead to an awesome opportunity to talk about baptism in our church and the amazing gift of the Sacrament. We talked about how after we are don't have to be physically baptized again, but have the opportunity each week to take the bread and the water and renew the covenants that you have made at baptism. and how you can be confident each and every week that you are clean again. And she just loved that! You could see in her eyes that she was feeling the spirit and the enthusiasm that she had! It was a total turn around for her from when we walked in at first, to the countenance she had at the end. We're having a lesson at the church on Wednesday to give her a tour. Hopefully things will work out and we'll be able to have another wonderful lesson. :)
On Thursday we had such an awesome thing happen! :) So...remember how we went to Delores' house on Tuesday? Well..on our way over there was a girl sitting on the curb and we stopped to talk with her and see if everything was okay.  It turned out she was just waiting for a friend. But we got to talk about the gospel, and her and her family have been going through a hard time, and moved to Marietta fairly recently and haven't found a church to go to yet, and we asked if we could come by and she said yes. She gave us her contact information and everything. Well we went by on Thursday night to go see them, and unfortunately the girl we met wasn't home, but her mother was and answered the door, and was very polite. She eventually let us in and we had such a great time meeting her! It was amazing to hear her hopes and values that she has for her family and how they matched perfectly for what we believe and practice. And the experiences that she has had that prepare her for learning about the Plan of Salvation. and how she's been wanting a new beginning and has been looking for a church. The spirit was there and so strong, and though we didn't get to have a formal lesson, we had the opportunity to testify. and before we left we said a prayer together, and after the prayer she shared an experience she had earlier that day with us. She was telling us that her and her neighbors were getting together for new years dinner (take a guess of what they were going to eat:) haha!) and she needed to go to Rutters to grab some milk to make her mashed potatoes because her neighbors were going to bring the pork and sour kraut, and on her way home the song "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood came on, and she said that she took the long way home so she could listen to the whole song, and sat in her car and cried. And then she proceeded to tell us that only a few hours later we showed up at her house, and how strongly she felt that it wasn't a coincidence. I know that Heavenly Father is so mindful of his children! And I too know that it was no coincidence that it happened to work that way. Heavenly Father is so much in all the details of our lives. I know He hears and answers prayers!!
We also had a great lesson with our investigator Ken, who really let out some of his real concerns that were keeping him from progressing in the gospel. It was a powerful lesson, and he ended up coming to church on Sunday!! :) :) it was seriously the best day!
Church was FULL on Sunday! and it was amazing! We had so many people come that we got visit throughout the week! and some very unexpected people came! :)
I have such a strong testimony of Fasting and Prayer! I know that Heavenly Father works miracles in our lives, and teaches us so much! And that our Faith is a huge part of his heavenly equation.
We had a great week full of miracles, amazing lessons, and wonderful people..these were just a few highlights. :) I wish I could just share all the details of my week with you..but I've already got a crazy long email going! haha! Sorry!
I wanted to share one last thing before I close up...I was reading a story in the ensign this week that prompted my thoughts on the story of the Brother of Jared...and this is probably one of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon (it seems like it always changes based on what I'm reading...because they're all super awesome!! :)). And I love it because I've been able to apply it in so many different ways. :) So, the Brother of Jared and all who are with him are supposed to go to the promised land, and so they build barges to carry them there, and the way that the Lord steers the barges is by wind. It says in Ether 6:
 5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
 6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.

and I thought about how our trials feel that way at they feel like there is no way that we will be able to surface again...that we're constantly being buried by the storms of our trials, and that they're mighty and terrible tempests...but then in verse 8 it says something really cool.
 8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.
the wind never stopped blowing toward the promised land. so I thought about it...what is OUR promised land?? Eternal in the Celestial Kingdom with our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ, and our families forever!! We are promised if we keep the commandments, make covenants and endure to the end, we will receive our promised land. So even though we have trials, and mountainous waves in our lives, they are all for the purpose of blowing us to the promised land. This is a quick version of what I was learning..but I wanted to share it. I know that no matter what is going on in our lives, we are never alone. that our trials are for our benefit, and that there is so much peace and happiness that we can achieve in this life by living the gospel, and incomprehensible joy when we return to our Father. :)

I love you all so much! Happy New Year! :) Love, Sister Thomas!

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