Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 20

Bonjour/hi from Good ol' Kirkland! 

et Bonne Fetes du Peres! 
I hope everyone had a wonderful Father's Day! We sure did, it was a beautiful Sabbath day and we got to have a beautiful church meeting where we talked all about Heavenly Father's love for us, as His children. I even gave a talk about it in Sacrament meeting, and it was such a blessing for me as I prepared it, and really pondered on the all encompassing love God has for us. It's almost overwhelming to know that our perfect Omnipotent Creator of the whole universe loves each and everyone one of His children on earth. And knows them individually too! That's pretty amazing. That's something to be grateful for.

At the baptism of the cutest girl. 
Then her family invited us for dinner
 after the baptism and man we just had a party. 
The family was super Quebecois and we are just in love with them :)

So another week has passed, and with it, some crazy experiences as always. We gained two new investigators but also two of our previous investigators asked to stop meeting with us, something that was very sad for us as missionaries, but because we respect peoples agency and choice, we have to respect that. And now all we can do is pray for them. And remember that this isn't our work, but the work of our Heavenly Father. Maybe now just wasn't the right time for these people, but maybe in a few months or a year, when other missionaries are here, maybe they can touch them and help them accept the gospel in their hearts. 

Anyways, onto our two new investigators, we just are already crazy about. 

Robin: She is from Connecticut and has lived in Canada for over 40 years so she says that she feels Canadian more than anything else... She is something called a naturo-path and believes in energy and that it can heal you from any symptom. We had dinner with her and she told us some crazy stories but she already loves the Book of Mormon so that is pretty solid. She said "I collect people so I think I will keep you in my collection." It kinda freaked us out but then she explained that she collects people at her dinner table, so she's had all different kinds of people over at her house. I guess now she can check off "Mormon Missionaries."

Jenny: GOLDEN GOLDEN GOLDEN. We met her knocking doors in a city called Beaconsfield. We saw this adorable blue cottage and I said "Sister we have to knock this door, it says its a cottage and its beautiful!" So we knock on her door and she answers with her giant dog and we say "Hi how are you?" and she just says, "What's the next question?" so we awkwardly try to scramble something up and the whole time we are just thinking, "She's not interested, she doesn't want anything to do with us". But she tells us that she is moving, and as we keep talking with her, she bursts into tears. She tells us that her husband just passed away from cancer and that she is been having a really hard time. So I ran up the stairs and just held her as she cried. Then she looked me in the eyes (I was crying by that point too) and I promised her that she would see him again. And that he wouldn't be riddled with any sicknesses or infirmities, but that he would be at peace. I promised her that they could be together forever. That their marriage could continue on into eternity. We then asked if we could come back on Saturday and share more and she said yes. As we were leaving she said, "I just feel so much better thank you so much". So basically she's perfect and we love her. 

But other than that, not too much has happened. We've been doing a lot of contacting and finding those who are interested in our message. Barely anyone ever says yes, but we keep trying and we are constantly seeing the blessings from opening our mouths. 

Again I'm so grateful for my Father in Heaven. And His perfect ability to love me and all of us. It's such a blessing to know that our God is a God of love and mercy. That's the first thing we teach people, because it's that important. It's that essential for people to understand! And once people do understand, trust me, it changes everything. Sister Zobrist and I have seen that as we teach people who had either no preconception or a negative preconception of God. It changes their whole outlook on life. So everyone, remember that God loves us. And don't forget it. EVER.
 We were driving and we about crashed
  (just kidding we were safe) we saw it. 
OH MAN. It was BEAUTIFUL. I pulled the car 
over and got out just to look at it. Then it started pouring, 
so this was the resulted picture. Man my mission is perfect.

I love you all,
Sister Thomas

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

hellllloooo it's [Adel]

Hiiiiiiii everyone,

So quick update, remember last week how I said I was going to be a trainer and receiving a new missionary? Well, there were some complications and my missionary didn't arrive this past week (but hopefully she will be arriving sometime within the next few weeks), so instead I received Sister Zobrist! Aka my MTC homie. When I was told she'd be my new companion I was SO PUMPED to get to work with her. So she arrived this last Wednesday and we've been running around Kirkland ever since. It's funny to see how much we have both changed just from the MTC, and it was only like 3 months ago. She's an excellent missionary. So good at following the Spirit and helping people understand the basic doctrine. I'm so lucky to be with her and I'm excited to see all that we will be able to do together for the (possibly) short time that we have. 
 Me and the fab Sister Zobrist, MTC buddies back at it.

This week we've been visiting an investigator named Adel. (Noooooo not the singer) He's actually a 60-something year old Egyptian man who we just love so much. He's met with us like 5 times in the past week, and each time has been jammed pack with him asking us questions and us trying to teach him about the Restoration. He's been a Coptic Orthodox (aka Egyptian Orthodox) Christian his whole life, but he's really interested in the church and said that he would be baptized if he received an answer that it was true. So he's had a lot of questions about how the church works, like how we are married, does every member have to be a missionary, is there a hierarchy in the church, do we believe in divorce, do we celebrate Christmas, etc. And we've been able to answer everyone of his questions and he's really liked what he's learned. Last night we re-taught him everything about the Restoration, going super slow, making sure he understood every principle. And at the end we powerfully testified of the Book of Mormon and its divinity and we explained to him that the Book of Mormon was the evidence of everything we had taught him. We told him that the sure way he could know if Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God, was by prayerfully reading and pondering the words in the Book of Mormon. By the time we were about to leave he was so excited to read it, and he promised that he'd spend an hour a day reading and studying it in Arabic (aka his first language) and English. AH he's so cool. We really do love him so much. And each time we've visited him we bring Helen (our recent convert who was baptized in May) with us and she adds her testimony to ours and really helps Adel see how the gospel can change is life for the better. She's the perfect member to bring to lessons.

Also, since Sister Zobrist has spent the past three months in a French area and has been able to really improve her French, she's able to help me improve mine. It's honestly really cool to be the same mission-age as your companion, because you're able to level with each other on things, talk about your experiences and help each other decide what really works. No one feels better than the other, no one feels like a less-capable companion, and there's just been a lot of love between us. It's a blessing to be able to be with her right now. 

The Down family. AKA my two favorite people in the world.
 They made us an AMAZING dinner this last week, and
 Brother Down is seriously the funniest person in the world. 
AH I just wish all of you could come here to Canada and meet all these amazing people.

And that's about it for this week. I hope everyone has a beautiful week and remembers how many blessings our Father in Heaven gives us. If you ever feel like your lacking blessings, just think about God's beautiful Plan of Salvation for us and I'm sure you'll find something to be grateful for. 

Till next week,

Sister Thomas
  Went to a members house last week and half way through a lesson 
we look out her window and find this HUGE PREGNANT RACCOON. 
The member felt so bad for the thing she chucked some cat food out the window. 
Guess ya gotta keep the indigenous population of raccoon stable here in Canada.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

je me souviens


SO MANY AMAZING things have happened this past week, and I just wish you could have been here with me to experience it all. Too much to bother with an introduction, so I'll just jump right in.

* Remember that crazy experience I shared about finding an investigator after I had mis-dialed a phone number? Yeah, well his name is Frank, and he's amazing and we got to see him this week! We tried to meet with him on Thursday, but he canceled super last minute and then told us he was leaving on a trip to California the next day (aka Friday). So we asked if we could run over and give him a book, AKA The Book of Mormon, duh, and he said yes so we went over super quick on Friday afternoon. He lived in an apartment complex so we just a had lesson in the lobby, and we talked with him about the Book of Mormon and we explained what is was about and why it was important. We read the introduction with him and made sure he understood, at least a little, why this book was one of God's greatest gifts to us. After we had kind of finished the lesson, he told us more about his friends he was meeting up with in California. He told us he met them in Utah, and that he was planning another trip back there this time. And we were like, "Frank, do you know the Church's headquarters are in Utah?" And he was like "No, but I'll be going to Salt Lake City, is it close to there?" And me and Sister Hoffmann ABOUT DIED. We told him he HAS to go to Temple Square and walk about the visitors centers, and see the history and also the missionaries there (hehe, sneaky missionary tactic). After we told him, he was so pumped about going to Utah. We've been texting him since then, and he's been reading the Book of Mormon on the bus ride down. He should arrive in San Fran today, so updates on Frank to follow next week. AH JUST A MIRACLE.

AHHHH my heart loves this Frenchie French family so much. 
Alida is from Madagascar and Charles is from France. 
They have the CUTEST KIDS. I mean LOOK

* GUESS WHO CAME TO QUEBEC THIS LAST SATURDAY. AN APOSTLE OF THE LORD, AKA ELDER RENLUND. Elder Gong of the Seventy also joined him, and both of their wonderful wives. They spoke to us on Saturday morning in a beautiful devotional for the Stake of Mont Royal here in Montreal. It was so special. I just wanted to share a little bit of what Elder Renlund talked about. First off, on all the license plates here in Quebec there's a saying on the bottom that reads, "Je me Souviens" which translates to "I remember." And It's supposed to be for remembering their French heritage, but Elder Renlund spotlighted it in a way of us remembering the Savior and His atonement. He said that no matter what is going on in our life, if we remember the Savior, and everything that He has done for us, everything will work out exactly the way it needs to. He said by remembering Him, we can have a great eternal perspective and not get too caught up in just the day to day thinking. He said that if we remember Him, we will be able to make correct life decisions and that we will be immensely happier. I add my testimony to his, as I've come to know my fully in my life who Jesus Christ is, I have been happier and I do feel His love more abundantly. I know that Christ really is my Savior. I know that He has redeemed me from all the mistakes I've made and continue to make. I know that by remembering Him we can make better choices, and our lives will be changed as we continuously use His infinite, perfect atonement. 

AND, if you were wondering, I totally got to shake Elder Renlund's hand, and have a small conversation with him. Making him the FIRST APOSTLE I've EVER met in real life. You'd think that living in Utah for 3 years would have given me some opportunity (and it totally did, I just wasn't smart enough to take a lot of them), but nope. I met my first apostle right here, in Montreal, Quebec. AKA my favorite place in the world. 

* Also, last little bit of news. We had transfer calls last Saturday night, and of this next Wednesday, I will be training a new missionary! A fresh new "greenie" will becoming and joining me here in Kirkland, and I'M SO EXCITED! As her "trainer" I'll be showing her what missionary work is like outside of the MTC. I'm so excited to meet her, and as of right now I have no idea who she is, but I love her already. Sooooo updates to follow on who my mystery companion is next week. Stay tuned. 

Me and Sister Hoffmann saying goodbye to Sister Dukovac
 (aka the best Relief Society counselor ever). 
The ward really was so upset when they heard 
Sister Hoffmann would be leaving. 
They love us so much as a companionship, 
our bishop even tried to bribe our mission president to let us stay together.

* Oh, I also cut my hair like 3 weeks ago, I just haven't sent a picture because I still haven't accepted my new length. But a haircut was necessary because the ends of my hair were just dead and gross, so what better time to grow it out now, where my appearance matters very little.

Life is so wonderful. We are all so blessed. 
Remember to remember Him this week.

With all the love a missionary can muster,

Sister Thomas
 Cutest kids with the most interesting names. 
Here we've got Awesome and Praise right next to me, 
and then Light and Rejoice in front of us. 
Nigerians, whatcha gonna do? (the answer is love them)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Faith the Size of a Bread Crumb

Bonjour Mes Amis! 

Hope everyone is doing well. Canada has FINALLY warmed up and Sister Hoffmann and I couldn't be happier. This week has been jam packed but I'll just share a few of the highlights. 

* Yesterday we went and visited a 86 year old women, who can't get to church anymore, so we have a priesthood holder come and bring her the sacrament. Her name is Shirley, and she is the most "with-it" 86 year old I've ever met. Her mind is still so sharp, and she was, and still is, a professional piano player. And watching her play the piano is one of my most favorite things. Anyways, before we gave her the sacrament we had a super deep discussion about the Plan of Salvation, as she needed some reassurances as she gets (in her own words) "closer to the other side." And it was a great experience for us, as missionaries, to confidently answer all the questions she had about what happens after death. By explaining the plan, we gave her comfort and peace by helping her understand what happens to us and to our spirits after we leave this mortal life. After we taught her, she was very calm, and more than ready to receive the sacrament. And we watched as a humble priesthood holder, who was maybe 20 years younger than her, kneel and bless the bread and the water for her to partake. It reminded me of the story Elder Renlund shared in conference about how individual our relationship is with the Savior, 
       "A friend of ours in South Africa shared how she came to this realization. When Diane was a new convert, she attended a branch outside of Johannesburg. One Sunday, as she sat in the congregation, the layout of the chapel made it so that the deacon did not see her as the sacrament was passed. Diane was disappointed but said nothing. Another member noted the omission and mentioned it to the branch president after the meeting. As Sunday School began, Diane was invited to an empty classroom.
     A priesthood holder came in. He knelt down, blessed some bread, and handed her a piece. She ate it. He knelt down again and blessed some water and handed her a small cup. She drank it. Thereafter, Diane had two thoughts in rapid succession: First, “Oh, he [the priesthood holder] did this just for me.” And then, “Oh, He [the Savior] did this just for me.” Diane felt Heavenly Father’s love.
     Her realization that the Savior’s sacrifice was just for her helped her feel close to Him and fueled an overwhelming desire to keep that feeling in her heart, not just on Sunday but every day. She realized that although she sat in a congregation to partake of the sacrament, the covenants she made anew each Sunday were individually hers. The sacrament helped—and continues to help—Diane feel the power of godly love, recognize the Lord’s hand in her life, and draw closer to the Savior."

The spirit in that room with Shirley was so strong and I felt how much our Savior truly loved this woman. 

* Here's miracle. We have this investigator who travels a ton. So he was out of town and didn't come to church, so we dropped in to see him after church. Then his girlfriend comes in and we explain what we do and she mentions that her kids haven't been baptized so we tell her that's why we're here: to prepare people to be baptized and to help them learn more about Jesus Christ and God. So she says it's a good idea, she gives us her phone number and I programmed it into the phone while Sister Hoffmann wrote it down (last night we realized we had different numbers). But then we get back to our apartment at 9pm and Sister Hoffmann texted and said, "Hey Caroline, it's the missionaries- it was really nice meeting you, hope you have a great day!" Then we get a call from the number and it sounded like a younger guy. And he says Caroline is his girlfriend and we were like what the what?!?!? (because our investigator is older so I'm like oh my gosh what is happening and I'm trying to contain myself laughing) and anyway too many details, and not enough time to write but, turns out this guy's girlfriend is obviously a different Caroline, who lives near us and he lives near our investigator. And he's 18, and just recently got involved in religion. And as we're on the phone putting all of this together, we both come to a conclusion, that this misdial wasn't a coincidence at all. I told him it was a sign and he was like "yes! This totally is a sign!" So he agreed to meet with us this next week to talk more about our message. Sooo people, in conclusion, coincidence is NOT a thing. God is REAL. And He works in a lot of funny ways. 

Here's a family photo of us and Mike <3 <3

* ALSO, really quick, a BIRD ran into our window this last Thursday, and we thought it broke it's wing. So of course, we took the poor thing and started taking care of it, made him a little home in a shoe box, gave him some crumbs and water, ya know the works. And we planned to take him to a vet after a meeting with the other missionaries in our district. But, after I said a prayer, to begin our companionship study, and to bless that the bird would be able to heal, the bird started FLYING AROUND OUR HOUSE. And after I managed to catch him, and bring him outside, he just flew away. Sister Hoffmann and I are convinced it was the faith that we had in my prayer that healed our little bird friend, AKA Mike. SO, everyone, FAITH WORKS. 

Okay, I have to go now. But I hope everyone has a wonderful week! 
Remember that God loves you, and so do I! 

Sister Thomas
Close up of our handsome faith-healed bird before he flew away