Monday, July 17, 2017

another weekly update

29th June 2017

Me and Sister Bolander in front of a river we found!

Hi everyone!

Wow this week has been so fun and so busy! (Literally the way I start every email, you'd think I'd be a liiiiittle more creative by now)

but here's a funny moment to start us off,
Sooo, I know at least once in the past I might have mentioned Quebec drivers, but I think I failed to sufficiently mention Quebec (specifically Montreal) TRAFFIC. OH gosh it's awful! And all the drivers must have taken the aggressive driving courses here because sometimes it's terrifying. They do things you'd only think of people actually do in movies. Quebec must be where they get all their crazy action scene ideas. BUT anyways, this last week we were trying to make it back on the South Shore after a meeting we had in Montreal, and we literally stood at a light for 7 consecutive green lights before there was enough room for us to actually fit and not being hanging in the middle of the intersection. Pictures to follow.

THE TRAFFIC WE WERE THERE AT THIS LIGHT FOREVER!!!!! And everyone else just kept going then they hung out in the middle of the intersection. it was crazy!

Anyways, I digress. Quebec traffic is AWFUL. Only comparable, in the words of Sister Bolander, to the traffic in California. If that gives you any reference point. 

Also this week we had lots of amazing experiences, we've started teaching Nicole with her husband, Jimmy, there with us. We taught them the plan of salvation and it was so special! Jimmy truly is the key because he is able to translate what we say into Kinyarwanda (their dialect) and then able to translate more simply to us the questions and concerns that she has. The teaching will be able to go much smoother now with him there. (Before he was gone in Alberta working, but he had to come home early because he was sick, but don't worry he's better now, and they are doing so great!) And the whole family came to church yesterday and the members love having them there. 
Sydney and Ryan are both doing well, sorry to have not given an update for awhile, they are both coming along, but they are finding it hard to come to church, so their progression has slowed down a bit. But we are working with them!

And Marie, I just have to tell you more about Marie. We've been teaching her for a few weeks, and she's come to church the past month. And today when we saw her to follow up on her scripture reading, she just told us about how much she loves church and how much it is helping her put herself on the right path. She is like a sponge. We teach her something and she just soaks it up. She reads something, she understands, and she has already started to live some of the principles and commandments of the gospel before we have even taught them to her. She is truly a miracle. We love her soooooo much. We always say that if we ever need a pick-me-up we should just got see her.

We also helped this last week at Assisted Living place for the elderly that we usually do service for. June 24th is St. Jean Baptist Day and all the French speakers in Quebec go nuts for it (it's like their 4th of July). They had a big BBQ for all the residents and their parents, but because the weather was kind of rainy we moved all of it inside. And the even had a petting zoo, INSIDE. IN AN OLD FOLKS HOME! They loved it! And we got to play with the animals a little and it was so fun. 

Sister Bolander and I really love goats, we got a little emotional
Ohh, this week has been good, has flown by way too fast, and things are going good here. We are happy!

artsy sunset pic

Have a great week!
Sister Thomas

 pretty river we found in a pretty little city

 P.S. We drove really far out yesterday (close to the US border) 
and I found out Idaho actually has a twin. It's SO CUTE. 
Getting me prepped for Rexburg.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gratefully Faithful, or Faithfully Grateful

19th June 2017

 Thomas, the best last name ever.

Hi everyone!

Happy Late Father's Day to all the amazing dad's in the world. We are so blessed to have you and you are inspiring and changing people everyday through your hard work!

It has been a special week. So many special experiences that I feel so grateful that I get to have. And now, today, starts the first day of my last six weeks as a missionary. In the mission, we go by six week periods of time that we call transfers. And for each of those six week periods we have a little planner where we plan out everything we do during our days. And today I start my last planner. How crazy is that?

There were some things that happened this last week that I want to share, it was with one of our investigators Godlyn and her six year old daughter Murna. They came to church the week before and really loved, but they were going on vacation this last weekend so they couldn't come, but Godlyn wanted to have us over to have a lesson. To give more background, Murna is a sort of rambunctious child, (kind of like me as a child, mom, I'm sure you can picture it) very easily distracted and hard to settle down. We've had several lessons with them, but Murna hadn't been too involved, so when we arrived last Wednesday, Godlyn started by telling us that she wanted Murna to be more involved that lesson. So we started sharing more about Faith in Jesus Christ with them, and we opened with them in the Book of Mormon to where a prophet compared having faith to planting a little seed and nurturing it and letting it grow. We talked about this idea with Murna, and she really loved it. She started telling us ways we could help our faith grow, she told about how she now understood what faith meant, and also, she repeatedly told us what faith did, she kept saying "faith makes you happier! If you want to be happy you have to have faith!" We were so happy, Godlyn included. We almost didn't recognize this little girl who was telling us all these amazing things. But that phrase "faith makes you happier" kept ringing in my ears even after we had left the appointment.
Later that night we had another special experience with one our members named Sandra, a recent convert of only one year, and we talked to her about Sundays, and why it's important and about how we can come each Sunday to re-sign our agreement with God to try harder the next week. She loved it, and we laugh and ponder the scriptures together and it was a tender time. And then as we were driving home, after the day was almost done, I was looking around me, on roads that I had driven for the past 5 months, and I just started crying!! I kind of took me by surprise, but I was smacked with the idea that this wouldn't be my life for very much longer. That I wouldn't be able to have experiences like that (in the same context, with the same people, in the same way we do as a missionary) everyday. And it hit me, that I would be leaving this place that I come to love with my whole heart, way sooner than let myself expect. 
And that's a sad thing. I've seen so much growth and so much happiness, in myself, but more importantly in others in this past hear and (almost) a half that I'm left marveling. Being a missionary is such an incredible blessing, is such an incredible privilege, that I'm left just feeling eternally grateful to God that I have even been given the experiences I've had to grow. 

A few months ago a very wise man told me, "this is not your mission; this is the Lord's mission for you." And how true I have discovered that to be. Everything that has happened, all the smiles given and tears shed have been a gift from my Father in Heaven, as He has given me experiences to change the hearts of others as well as mine. And I'm just left feeling.. happy.

Nicole, Malcom, and Sister Bolander, my favorite people!!

I hope you all have a happy week. We deserve one.
Sister Thomas
 Tandoori chicken from a local indian restaurant (!!!) 
it was only a 5 minute walk from our house, it was just discovered this week. SCORE

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Machetes and Charity (?)

12th June 2017

Hi everyone!

 Sister Bolander had her first Canadian POUTINE YAY

Wow the sun is shining brightly on Montreal today. It's hoooot outside. 30 degrees celsius with 90% humidity. And our apartment doesn't have air conditioning, but it's okay because it just give us more motivation to get outside and work. 

This week has been so fun! We've been really busy, visiting a lot of people and trying to better ourselves as missionaries.
developing charity for others by walking around and trying to talk to them
We were able to spend lots of time outside talking to people as well. While walking around on Saturday we ran into this old woman who was outside gardening. We went up to ask if we could help and she said, "how much will it cost?" And after we reassured her it would be free, she let us come and help her start weeding. After a few minutes of talking we learned a lot. Her name was Hazel, she was from Jamaica, and that the missionaries were actually supposed to visit her, but never showed up, almost 11 years ago(!!). She had one heck of a sense of humour and was cracking jokes the whole time we were there. But I think my favourite part about the whole encounter was that she was using this foot long machete to dig up the weeds. And ya know, when in Rome, do as the Romans right? so we started using it too. And it actually worked pretty well. She also gave us a quick course in weeding 101, and helped us learn which things were flowers and which ones were weeds. Sister Bolander and I grateful for resumĂ© building experiences like those we get to have as missionaries. 

it's easy to have charity for cats when you have such natural connections with them

We also had a few of our friends at church with us yesterday. It was really wonderful, one of our friends, Marie, is so smart and picks up everything so quickly. We had a talk in Sacrament meeting about Charity, something Sister Bolander and I have been studying recently and it was so good. The speaker, Brother Feth, used both scriptural discourses on charity in the Bible, (1 Corinthians 13) and in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 7), it was so perfect and both Marie and Nicole really enjoyed it. It was a special moment we had as we explained about how Charity, and the way we define it in the church, isn't giving a large sum of money to some organization, but how it is a deeper way to express the word love. It's a perfect love, a love only parallel to the love Jesus Christ has for us. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and is something that we have to work very hard to have for others around us. To love others the way that God and Jesus Christ love them, and to see them for the potential they have to become something more. It's not easy to obtain such a gift, but a prophet in the Book of Mormon tells us how we can start,
''Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." Moroni 7:48 (

Sister Bolander and I have been working on this, to pray and ask the Lord for help to have charity for those around us. It's yielded wonderful results, and we know that it will continue to do so as we try and acquire more divine gifts. 

But I hope you all have a wonderful week, and that you can remember to be more charitable to those around you, because "Charity never Faileth."

you can never have enough cat encounters

Until next week,
Sister Thomas

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

When your favorite day ever is SUNDAY

5th June 2017

Hello everyone!

Can't believe another week has already pasted and June is already here. Time really is a fleeting thing. Saturday was my 16th month being a missionary. And I think these next few months will be the best yet. So much is happening in this area and we can hardly keep up!

When you hit your 16 month mark and you're really tired...

Everyone and their child (not the expression, but for this circumstance it fits) came to church yesterday and me and Sister Bolander were running around the whole three hours. It was the first time at church for three of them, and we tried to have members help us welcome them and show them where to go, but man it was crazy. But so fun. We talked to most of them afterwards and they said they loved it and wanted to come back. For the most part it was mothers and their children who came, so that was more fun to see how the kids liked it. 

So to follow up from last week, we went with Ryan to our dinner appointment at a local members home and it was the best thing in the world. He loved it so much and the members did so good at making him feel at home. He kept saying "this is the second best meal I've ever had... and I haven't had the first one yet!" He was just so happy to be there. It reminded me about how we all have those feelings of wanting to belong and wanting to be loved, and living in the hectic world it's hard to find either of those things coupled with a good and wholesome environment. But I know there is a way to have those feelings fulfilled, and it's through the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church. That's what Nicole has kept telling us, she feels so happy at church or whenever she is around church members because she feels that she belongs, and she feels that she is loved and valued. Church is where we have those feelings, we know we belong because we realize we are all children of God, and we know we are loved because His spirit is there in such abundance that it just gives you a bunch of warm fuzzies. It has become a very happy place for many of the people we care so much about here.

I get to feel warm fuzzies whenever I get to help someone along their way back to God. I get warm fuzzies when people feel happier and lighter after learning more about the gospel. I get warm fuzzies when I get to share my testimony about Jesus Christ. I love Him and I know that He loves all of us perfectly. 
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear...
We love him, because he first loved us." 1 John 4: 18-19

Our favorite French family in the ward, we love sharing the Restoration with members!!

I love you all!
Sister Thomas

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Another Week Another Letter!!

May 29th 2017

 One last picture by our old neighborhood, the beautiful Montreal Temple.

Hi everyone!

This week has been crazy, busy, and fun. This week we moved from one city to another and it has been such a blessing. Before, we lived in a predominately French area about 15-20 minutes away from where we usually work, which also used up a lot of our kilometers. But now, we moved into a cute apartment that's like 3 minutes away from the church, and around where we usually work. We are soooo happy. 

A cute park, by our old house. It will be missed!

Something fun happened this week as we met with someone for the first time. Her name is Maria, she's from here, and actually lives very close to our new apartment. She was met by the Spanish speaking missionaries, while they were walking on the street, and they gave her a Book of Mormon. And when we called her to see if we could explain more about it, she told us that she was already on chapter three and was really enjoying it. We were surprised but super happy. So then we met with her and explained more about what it was, why it's important, and how it was relevant for her life today, and it was a great meeting. But the funnier thing is after a few days we texted her to see how she was doing, then she told us, "the book is already helping me in my life, last night it helped me resist temptation when I went on a date!" We were like whaaat! It was so cool. It's incredible what that book can do in our lives. 

With one of my favorite philippino families! Love them so much!

Ryan is doing great, he really loved church yesterday. We talked about how we can look at people through Jesus' eyes, something he wants to start doing. We also committed him to start reading the gospel of Mark, so he could get a better idea of Jesus' life, and he has been loving that. He is really starting to come to know his Father in Heaven and his Savior. We are going to dinner with him at a member's home who lives by the church this week! He's excited and nervous. He said one of his life dreams was to be invited to a dinner at someones home. 
Sydney came to church yesterday after the first time in awhile! He had to work later in the afternoon so he could only stay for the first part, but he really liked it. We actually had a lesson with him and a recent convert from the French ward this last week. They know each other! They went to high school together, and Sydney was shocked to see how much his friend had changed by accepting the gospel. We just let them talk the whole time. Sydney asked questions, and Lamin, the recent convert, just bore such sincere testimony of all that he has come to know. The spirit was so strong. 
Nicole came to church this last week too! She's so wonderful. She really has the desire to understand. We got her a Book of Mormon in Swahili this week. And it's good and wonderful, but man the language barrier frustrates us sometimes, we just wish we could communicate with her openly, and teach her in the language of her heart. But we do the best we can with the materials we have, and we also know the Spirit is the real teacher. She will grow in her knowledge and testimony with time.

Me, Marcus, Nicole loooove them!

So that's the update with everything. Today is actually Sister Bolander's two month mark. And the 3rd of June is my 16 month mark. We joked the other day about how, together, we make a whole missionary. We laugh a lot and that's one of my favorite things. I love that we laugh together. 

Sister Bolander with a cat. She's dangerously allergic, but this members cat CHOSE her.
 It was incredible to see

Anyways, I hope you all have a great week! Be safe this memorial day (which doesn't exist in Canada đŸ˜„)
Sister Thomas

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Miracle in My Hands

23rd May 2017

Hi everyone!

Sister Bolander wanted to be artsy while we were by the water. 
We call this one, future lookin' bright

Hope you are all doing well, this week has been so wonderful, filled with happy moments! 
I want to explain everything, but it may be a little difficult for me because I got stuck with keyboard that is barely functional, so we'll see how this goes. 

And we are emailing today because yesterday we celebrated the birthday of Queen Victoria with the rest of Canada, it's basically like memorial day for the states, a day off, but no one knows why. We spent it by doing a service project in downtown Montreal, we picked up trash and cleaned up some gardens. It was wonderful! And the rain even stopped for the whole three hours we were there. It was a miracle! (because it started raining really hard right when we left, tender mercy!)

This last week we were able to start teaching a women named Nicole, who was a referral from a member of the Spanish speaking congregation! She is wonderful and we love her and her family to pieces already. Nicole is from the Congo, but speaks Swahili and a little bit of English. We met with her last Saturday and talked with her about her relationship with God, and prayer, and then we invited her and her three kids to come to church with us. She was so excited because she has been in Canada for 5 months but hasn't been able to go to church, and she was searching for a place to go. So the next morning we met up with them and walked with them, Nicole, Maxy (7), Marcus (6), and Malcom (3 months) to church. We only got lost twice, had to turn around once, and had to make up some games to keep the kids entertained, but we got there! (don't worry they only live like 12 minutes away from the church, we just weren't familiar with the best route)
While at church, Nicole was so happy. She kept turning to us and saying, "I love this church! This church is perfect!" She was so happy that her family was there together. Her husband is actually in Alberta now for work, but he should be coming back in a few months. 

But the real miracle was last night. We had a lesson with Nicole and we brought the member who told us about her, Jessica, who has only been in Canada for a month (and she's already doing missionary work, she's the best)!! And it was so wonderful. Nicole made us a delicious African dinner and then we talked with her about the Book of Mormon. She had great questions, but the thing that struck me was listening to Jessica, who spoke very limited English, testify about the Book of Mormon and what it has done for her. She said, "the book is a miracle in my hands." And that hit me. And since last night I've been reflecting about my testimony of the Book of Mormon, and I have come to realize that my words match hers. That book is a miracle in my hands, in my life, and it has changed me forever. We've taught many people this week more about the Book of Mormon, and in preparation for that, I've been reading it and studying it very intently, making sure that when I bear witness of its truthfulness, I am doing so from my heart. And that study and that preparation, things that I have been doing since the beginning of my mission, have paid off. And now I can say truly, that the Book of Mormon is a miracle in itself, and the things it has taught me about my Savior have changed my heart. I understand Jesus Christ more now, I've been studying what He said to people long ago by marking the times where His words are quoted by ancient prophets. It has taught me so much. And studying it with the Bible has enriched my perspective of how much the Lord loves us, His people, in all areas of the world. I'm just so happy to know what I know.

Made a map out of Alma 32 for Ryan, he loved it! He is doing so good :)

And I know that everyone can come to that knowledge for themselves, it's not specific or limited to me or to other missionaries, or members, but it's a knowledge that the whole world can come to. And did you know that we actually give away free Book of Mormons' like all the time? Or did you know that you can order a free one online? just go on, and bam its right there! Just sayin'.

Anyways, I love you all. Really truly.
I hope you have a wonderful week!
Sister Thomas 

Got some sauce packets from Taco Bell and we fell in love

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bonne FĂȘte des MĂšres!

15th May 2017

Sister Barnes (MY MTC COMPANION! wow is training at the same time with me!!!!), 
Sister Simpson (the MTC companion of Sister Bolander, 
also I know her her older sister so that's funny), 
Sister Bolander (love her lots and lots), me

Hi everyone!

Wowowowowow, what a week. Last week feels like a century ago. So much change this last week and so many exciting things happened. First off, I got my new companion this last Wednesday! Her name is Sister Bolander, she's from Arizona, she went to three years of college at BYU before her mission, and she is basically the coolest and I love her. She flew into Montreal on Tuesday, so this is all very new to her. But she is so wonderful, and we've had lots of speical moments together already, so I think it's fair to say that we are both happy.

And before I go any further, HAPPY (late) MOTHER'S DAY to all the amazing mom's in the world. We are so lucky to have you, thank you for all that you do, you make this world a better place. 
Here's a super beautiful video about mom's that the church made, Happy Mother`s Day :) (it only made me cry a little okay)
 MY MOTHER SHE IS SO PRETTY! I was so happy!!!
But it really is my favorite day, and I got to see some of my favorite people! Just seeing the faces of my beautiful mom, my amazing step mom, my dad, and all my sweet family made me SO happy. It really was a blessing to talk with them. And it feels weird to know that will be the last time I see their virtual faces before I get to see them in real life and squeeze their guts out. My goodness, time flies so quickly, and I just hope it'll slow down a little bit before August. But, even if it doesn't, I know Sister Bolander and I will enjoy our time together and rejoice in all the miraculous things the Lord will do for us. 


I just want to share one special tender mercy that happened this week. 
There was an older sister, Sister Poppe, in the congregation that passed away at the beginning of May and this last Saturday was her funeral. And sadly, because she was so sick, we had never had the chance to meet her, but we wanted to go to the service in hopes of supporting her family and friends. So, the day before the funeral, we were running around going to different appointments and talking to different people, and as we were driving, we were both super hungry, so we decided to pull over and get some lunch. The restaurant we chose was the very glamorous Burger King, but we were happy because they had a nice special going on (don't worry mom, we're not regulars there). Anyways, after we finished eating were about to walk out and and this man stopped us for a second, and said "Sisters! I'm so happy to see a familiar face!" We were a little surprised, because that's definitely usually not the response we get, but we started talking with this man and it turns out he was the son of Sister Poppe! He had drive down from Toronto for the funeral, he was tired and of course a little sad, but he said it was so nice to see us. Then we got to talk to him the next at the funeral, and all the rest of his family, and they talked about how their brother had told them about the experience and how much a tender mercy it was from the Lord for Him to send us to a Burger King at just the right time. And it showed me again that there are never any coincidences. 

Remember that this week, there is a reason for everything!
Until next Monday,

Sister Thomas

Coke in Quebec. Toi + Moi = <3 CUTE.

 SINCE WHEN ARE LAYS CHIPS LIKE THAT? We were talking to Ryan as he was working at a convenience store and we had fun looking around when people came in