Friday, February 26, 2016

Cereal, More Cereal, and Faith

Hi everyone!

Another week down in the MTC, and were down to only 18 more days until Canada! Not like I'm counting or anything... But, lets be real, I cannot wait to be in Quebec! Even if the weather report in Montreal says there's a high of 15 degrees today. NOT EVEN THE ICY COLD OF CANADA CAN FREEZE MY WARM HEART! 
My missionary tag in front of the temple, just to prove I actually am a missionary,
 not some random person who's been loitering around Provo the past few weeks.
 (Oh that's also the Chruch's name in French, so that's cool)

Okay, here's what happened this week:

* Elder Hansen's birthday was last Saturday and we, as district of 12 missionaries, banded together and embarked on one of the most difficult journey's we've had thus far at the MTC. It was called the Tower Challenge, and it revolved completely around Life cereal. Now, for all of you who are unfamiliar with the Provo MTC, they have quite the set up of cereal options in the cafeteria, and all of those cereals are stored in these things we affectionately call Towers. They're probably 2-3 feet tall and pretty wide and each one is filled with an individual type of cereal. And for Elder Hansen's birthday we decided that we would take on the Tower Challenge and try to consume the whole tower of Life cereal in about a 20 minute period. It was a valiant effort. I myself ate 4, rather large, bowls of cereal. The other sister's pulled their weight, each getting at least 3-4 bowls, but alas our expedition was unsuccessful. We decided to call it quits at about 7/8 in. There was one Elder who had eaten 7 bowls of cereal and he was starting to turn as white as the milk. That was when we threw in the towel. BUT, I am still so proud of my district and all that we were able to accomplish. We may have lost the challenge, but we were all winners in my heart. Also, I will never eat Life cereal again. 

* We got a new teacher this week! His name is Frere Taua and he is from Tahiti! He's been a member of the church for about 6 years now and he served his mission in Paris. His Tahitian accent is pretty funky, he rolls his R's like a Spaniard but somehow he is still speaking French. As of right now, we have two native French speakers teaching us the language, and to me that's pretty sick. Frere Taua also offered the prayer in Tahitian once and it was one of the coolest/weirdest things ever. All I gathered was that Tahitians use A LOT of vowels and it sounded like he was trying to play the bongo's on his vocal cords. I understood none of it, but I sure did feel the spirit and so was cool. 

 * This week as a district we got to Host new missionaries! Which means we got to help the new missionaries who arrived at the MTC this past Wednesday. It was super fun to show the new missionaries around, and try to help ease them into the transition of missionary life. It was also kinda sad because all the parents and the families that were crying as they had to say goodbye to their missionary, but I was able to comfort them a little and tell them just how much their missionary will LOVE the MTC and their missions! Such a cool experience, I hope I get to do it every week!

All the cutie sisters in my district with our Hosting tags! 
(expect Sis. Zobrist who was MIA, sorry S. Zeeee)

* This week, in personal study, I studied the topic of Faith and what a wonderful week it has been. Faith is the first principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the foundation that allows for all the other principles of the gospel to flourish and grow. When a person develops faith in Jesus Christ, a natural love for Him and his teachings will start to grow. In the Book of Mormon we learn that faith is "not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." (Alma 32: 21) And I know that in this life we are to walk by faith, believing in Christ and His glory (things which cannot be seen by our mortal eyes, but can be felt powerfully in our hearts) to best know how we can return to live with our Father in Heaven again one day. I have faith in Christ, and because of that faith I repent of my sins, I remember the covenants I made at baptism, and I listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Because I have learned that it is by faith that all things are possible, even eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God. And after a week of studying faith and seeing the joy it brought into my life, I challenge everyone to read or reread Alma chapter 32 and to ponder about what aspects of life where your faith might be lacking, and then commit to strengthen it. I know it is faith that sustains us, so lets sustain our faith. 

That's all I got for this week. I'm so grateful for all the things I've been able to learn at the MTC, I only hope that as I wear the name of the Savior on my chest, that I can do it justice and try to be the means for Him to do His work upon the earth. 

A travers Jesus-Christ nous pouvons retourner avec notre Pere Celeste apres cette vie. Je l'aime l'Evangile retabli et je sais que le Livre de Mormon est vrai, et ma temoigne au Jesus-Christ est ecrire dans ma coeur. 

With all the love in the world,
Soeur Thomas
  I was walking to the temple with my district this past Sunday and LOOK WHO I RAN INTO! 
None other than Cassidy Field, my roommate from BYUI! 
She transferred to Provo this past semester and she is just the cutest thing in the world! 
I never thought I'd run into her in Provo, but heck I'm sure happy I did! LOVE YOU CASS!

 Our cute door to our room!
 Sister Zobrist has a Polaroid camera so we took pictures of all the sisters 
and then taped them on the door next to our names. 
I.E. we won the cutest door in the MTC basically. LONG LIVE ROOM 435!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Time Warps, New Names, and Almost Celebrities..


 Me and my companion and the beautiful view!

Has it really only been a week since last P-day? I've gathered some evidence and have concluded that time at the MTC is completely different from time in the real world. I believe one week here correlates to about 4 years in real time. So as you can guess, after another week, I'm much older and wiser. By the time I leave the MTC I should be able to get a senior discounts at restaurants, so yay for that. Okay, I'm kidding, but seriously the best way to describe it is the days go by slow but the weeks go by sooo fast. And to best summarize this week I'm gonna do bullet points for this email. 

* Every Sunday for Sacrament meeting the President of the Branch (which consists of all the French speakers at the MTC, last week we had about 45-50 missionaries, but we also had 20ish missionaries leave this past week, to France and Tahiti and we just got 20 more missionaries this past Wednesday, so you do the math), he chooses 2 random missionaries to speak in church for a few minutes and he doesn't ask them until like 5 seconds before their supposed to talk so every Sunday is like Russian Roulette. You never know who it's gonna be and the anticipation killer. I haven't gotten called to talk yet because my district is still so new, but I'm betting sometime in the next few weeks my fate will be decided and I'll have to give a talk in French. Dun dun duuunnnnn. Just kidding it'd be fine. I'd only die a little inside. 

* There's an Elder in my district who is from Taiwan, his name is Elder Chih and he's awesome. His english is pretty good, but I feel bad because he's learning French from English and English from Mandarin, so you can only imagine the conversations that go around in his head. Pretty crazy. Anyways, I asked him if he could give me Chinese name and he said he would! So here it goes, in written Chinese it's pronounced like "Tho Mai Zhen" and it means Pure Rose and when he told me, my heart almost exploded. He's so great. He also eats like a Sea Monster, meaning that he eats like 3 entrees each meal, and he's not a big guy (right now at least), so I guess we'll see what he looks like after 4 more weeks!

*GUESS WHO WAS IN MY ZONE. Only a famous Mormon's grand-daughter. Nope not, Donny Osmond, or Ryan Gosling (he's not practicing I know), BUT THAT'S RIGHT YOU GUESSED IT... MITT ROMNEY. YUP. Mitt Romney's GRAND-DAUGHTER was in my Zone! She's super cool and very nice. She's going to Paris, like her father and GRAND-FATHER (well actually she just left this last week, so now she's in Paris) and before she left I totally became friends with her. I got a picture with her, so yup I won the MTC.

*Here's a few fun things that happened this week with learning French. I was teaching another lesson (to a fake investigator, AKA my teacher) I was talking about Jesus and how through him we can be cleansed from sin, but apparently the word for sin in French "peche" is pronounced very similar to the words that mean both peach and fisherman. So I ended up saying "Through Christ we can be cleansed from peaches (and/or fisherman)." My teacher then gave me this super confused look and I gave the same look right back to him, it was only later that I came to the knowledge of my language fumble. ALSO, I once said that "Jesus came INTO the earth" not "to the earth." So, to clarify, no I don't believe Christ came into the core/mantel of the earth.
*On a more spiritual note, for Tuesday night's devotional we had Elder Ronald Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles come and speak to us. TALK ABOUT COOL. It was a very cool experience. Before the devotional we were asked to read his talk called "The Divine Call of a Missionary" which talked all about how mission calls are given and the process that takes place before mission calls are assigned. Then for his devotional, which was interactive with the entire MTC, we further discussed the divine call each missionary receives. It just reaffirmed in my heart that I have been called by God, to be a representative of Christ and to invite and help others receive His restored gospel. And I've been called to Montreal for a reason, and there are people I'm supposed to meet there who have been prepared to hear the glad message of the gospel. WHAT A TIME TO BE A MISSIONARY!

* On a sad note, one of the two teachers who's been teaching us for the past few weeks, Frere (which means Brother in French) Davis, had his last day teaching at the MTC yesterday. It was really sad to say goodbye because our entire district has gotten really attached to him, he's the one who's been teaching us French and the other teacher, Frere Nollet, has been our investigator. So saying goodbye was very hard. But he left our district full of hope because all of Wednesday and Thursday he just talked about his mission (he served in Paris a few years ago), and shared what he learned from it. He told us that before his mission he was horrible at English, he hated reading in front of people and barely made it through high school, and once he got a mission call to France he was excited but he was also terrified. He said that while he was at the MTC his French was AWFUL, and that it took him months and months after he already gotten to France to even become almost comfortable in the language. But he worked hard. Every single day he studied the language and by the time he came home, he was more than fluent in French and his English improved ten fold. He said he knew it was because God filled in the cracks when his efforts weren't enough and he accredits all of his success to Heavenly Father's blessings. His story gave me a lot of hope. Because learning a language is hard. There's been times this week when I've just been really overwhelmed because we leave for Quebec in only 24 days, and considering how much I've learned and how much I need to learn before then, it sent some panic signals off in my brain. BUT. In Doctrine and Covenants Section 6 verses 33, 34 and 36 we are commanded THREE times by Christ to "fear not," and I'm in no position to not be keeping the commandments right now, so all I can do at this point is not fear for the future, but to have faith in Christ and His ability to bless me. Verse 36 it says "look unto me (Christ) in every thought; doubt not, fear not." How simple is that. So simple, so beautiful and so perfect. 

If there is one thing that this week has taught me, it's that blessings come from diligence. And that specific prayers to God will receive specific answers. So we need to be specific in our pleadings with our Father in Heaven, and ask him questions and have the faith that He will answer. Because He does hear our prayers, He is listening and He will answer them. Maybe not in the way you want, but in the way you need. I know my Father lives. I know Jesus Christ is my Savior. Everyday I'm more and more grateful for the gospel. What a blessing it has been to my life. And that's why I'm here. That's why I'm a missionary, so I can bring those blessings to the rest of Heavenly Father's children. 

I love you all,

Soeur Thomas

Sunday, February 14, 2016

No Place I would rather be!!!

   My mission, in blue, it's so big!

Hi everyone! oops... I mean Bonjour tout le monde!

I hope everyone had a fantastic week, because I sure did! I don't even know where to begin because this week has just been so crazy busy! To start off, thank you SO MUCH for the birthday wishes! It was seriously one of the best birthdays of my life, it was full of fun and laughs, but most importantly it was full of the spirit. I didn't really know what to expect when I realized my birthday would be in the MTC, and then when I realized it would be on my first Sunday I had no idea how it would go, but alas,it really was the BIGGEST blessing to have it on a Sunday! Sundays here are pretty busy days, we had a Mission Conference in the morning with all the missionaries in the MTC that was wonderful, the speakers were from the MTC Presidency and they talked about diligence and the importance of studying the scriptures. Then we had church for 3 hours, luckily 2 of those were in English so I understood what was happening, but then we had sacrament meeting and it was all in French and I was concentrating so hard to just understand people bearing their testimonies. But no need to fear! I know the language will come, I feel like as a district we have already improved so much, we only pray in French now, sign Hymns in French, and we try to speak as much of it with each other as we can. But yeah, anyways, my birthday was really the best ever. After church we went to a devotional that night where Jenny Oaks Baker (a super talented and kind of famous Violinist, who is also the daughter of DALLIN H. OAKS OKAY YEAH I KNOW TRY TO CONTAIN YOURSELF), played some amazing songs on her violin, and she even played a few of my favorite Hymns, and I'm convinced it was because it was my birthday. Also, the Sisters in my district gave me some chocolate and a super cute card signed by all the missionaries in our district. And then when we were just hanging out in class they wrote "Happy Birthday Sister Thomas!" (obviously in French) on the board and then people just started drawing pictures of me! Soon the board was covered with everyone artistic interpretation of me and it was seriously hilarious because none of us had any lick of artistic talent. I'll send some pictures to make sure the moment will live on forever!
 Look at the pretty board. I feel so loved!!

 Here's Elder Dalmasi's interpretation of my face.
 I can't decide what my favorite thing about it was, 
either the fact that he only drew half of my face,
 or the fact that he started drawing my face by drawing an eyebrow.

Oh guess what else! As of yesterday, me and my amazing companion have taught 5 lessons in French! We were teaching one of our actual class teachers who was pretending to be an investigator named Charles and it was quite the experience. We had to teach our first lesson on our 3rd full day here and man was it rough, but as the week and the lessons went on, it gradually got better and me and my companion started feeling more and more comfortable in the language. We even committed our fake investigator to be baptized! It was so cool, we taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon and about the Atonement of Christ, and although it wasn't easy because we hardly speak French and scarcely understood what he was saying to us, it was an amazing learning experience. I learned that the real teacher in an lesson is the Holy Ghost. And that if you teach with the spirit, it doesn't matter if you're less competent in the language than a 5 year old child, because the Spirit talks to our hearts. And what a beautiful and comforting reminder that has been to me this past week. 

Another thing I've learned is that pronunciation in French is literally one of the hardest things in the world for me. THE RULES JUST DON'T MAKE SENSE. You only pronounce like half the letters in the actual word and trying to remember all the different pronunciation combos IS SO HARD. I feel so bad for my companion because I'm constantly asking her how to say something (because she's seriously a French genius), and then when I try it's just a crash and burn-sad-sap-attempt. But, after realizing I have a huge weakness in it, I've been practicing it a lot so hopefully by the time I'm done with the MTC it'll be a STRENGTH! (aka Ether 12:27!)
Which is the coolest concept to think about, because with God's help, our weakness can become our strengths, and that all we need to do is humble ourselves before God and have faith in Him. 

God is always looking for ways to reach out and help His children (aka US!), and the only thing getting in the way of that is, guess what... US. If we just put our trust and faith in Him, ANYTHING is possible. Even learning French in 6 weeks!

God lives and loves us to no end. I KNOW THAT TO BE TRUE!

Soeur Thomas

P.S Soeur is Sister in French, and it's pronounced like "Sir," not like "sour" or "sewer" or "sower" like some of the Sisters once thought it was..

So yes, my name for the next 18 months will be "Sir Thomas," which does make me think I'm British Lord from 19th century England.
 My whole district. Man we're cute!

In front of the Provo Temple.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Our first email from Soeur Thomas!

Bonjour from the Provo MTC!

I can't believe it's only been two days since I arrived at the MTC. That doesn't just seem logical! So much has happened in such a little time and I couldn't be happier. To start off, yes my P-day is Friday, so don't forget to check your emails before you party all weekend!

There's been so much going on and I guess to explain it I'll just start off with what happened on Wednesday. As soon as I got here I was given a haul of books to help me learn the language, my French scriptures and got to stow away my luggage in my room so I could then be swept off to do something else important. Which then happened to be running to my first class. And as you were probably guessing, the whole class was in French. Our district (the group of missionaries I'll be leaving with) is HUGE. We have 12 missionaries, 6 sisters and 6 elders,  and we are ALL going to Montreal! Which I guess is something pretty rare to have so many people going to one place all at the same time, so that's cool. We have two awesome teachers, Brother Davis and Brother Nollet. I don't know too much about Brother Davis but Brother Nollet actually grew up in Belgium and French is his first language, he is also a convert so learning from him is amazing. 

I forgot to mention that when I first got to the MTC they told me my companion was sick and that she wouldn't be arriving till hopefully the next day (Thursday) or this weekend. I was so bummed that she was sick but I was just praying that she would get here soon. So I, admittedly begrudgingly, joined another companionship and after a few awkward hiccups, we made a happy-pappy trio. The other two cute missionaries were Sister Garcia and Sister Zobrist, I had actually met Sister Garcia on Instagram a few weeks before getting to the MTC so it was fun to meet with her in person. Sister Zobrist is from California and she's freaking funny. 

What else... Okay, so the first day was packed full of stuff for us to do, people for us to meet, and devotionals to be listened to. After French class we then went to this workshop called Purpose & People that taught us a lot about our objectives as missionaries and how we need to cater that to the people we are teaching. It was pretty intense but extremely uplifting. After that we met our Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders and had some introductions with them. They're wonderful. And finally after a full day, we didn't get back to the "Residency" (i.e the place we live, which is basically just like a college dorm room) until about 9 o'clock and we still had to unpack our stuff. 

6 AM came way too quickly the next morning, that's for freaking sure. This whole 6:30 wake up time thing is going to need some getting used to, but hey, WE CAN DO HARD THINGS!  We had class again at 7, and may I mention that the Sisters were the only ones on time (go us!), where we got a little crash course about what our personal, companionship and language study would be like usually. And then I was told my companion had arrived and I was SO excited to meet her. 

Her name is Sister Barnes and she is absolutely wonderful. Apparently, she got the stomach flu on Tuesday and was throwing up all day and she didn't know if she was going to be alright on Wednesday, but after a successful day of not throwing up, she arrived on Thursday! She's from Oregon, loves to run, and has one of the strongest testimonies I've seen. She fun and I know that we will be great together. I already love her to pieces and feel like I've known her for WAY longer than 24 hours. 

Innnnn closing, the MTC is such a spiritual place. I've never been so bombarded with the spirit before and I'm looking forward to the next 6 weeks here. OH, also, the language is going SWIMMINGLY. The first day was stinking overwhelming, but just yesterday I already felt like I was understanding things and felt more confident. We already learned to pray in French and memorized our missionary objective statement. Man, I can't wait to see where I'll be in 6 weeks.

Heavenly Father is real. He loves us SO much. And I know that no matter how hard things may seem, that He will never give us more than we can handle. He has also given us His son, even Jesus Christ, our Savior, who can help us through anything. I have felt the love of the Savior SO much these past two days, and I can't wait to share that love with the people of Montreal!

Dieu est notre Pere celeste (sorry I don't know how to put these accents in there, but just pretend they're there). Nous sommes ses enfants. Dieu nous a envoyes sur terre pour apprendre et progesser! Dieu est amour!

See ya next Friday,
Soeur Thomas
P.S. I ran into Sister Reed, i.e. my college homie at the airport.
I about DIED! She is so cute!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Welcome to Sister Thomas' Blog!

Welcome to Sister Thomas' blog page! We will post pictures and her weekly emails here every week! She officially leaves February 3rd, to the Provo MTC. Her address and email can be found in the CONTACT tab!