Monday, September 26, 2016

The Day Where I Served in China

September 26th

My grandma sent me some homemade brownies 


OHHHH what a beautiful week. FALL IS HERE AND I LOVE IT. The trees are starting to change, the weather is getting a little chillier and man we are so happy. 

Highlights of this amazing week:

* After everyone and everything cancelled on us for multiple days in a row, we were finally able to see Sabina our amazing and wonderful investigator. Her car broke down and the charges to fix it were three times what she was expecting, and with three kids to take care of, she was left not knowing what to do. But as she continued talking about this trial she was having, her tone of voice moved from the depressed and sadden tone to a happier and lighter tone as she talked about how we have to face trials and difficulties with a humble heart. She said that she knew that God would help her through this, and that each obstacle we face is a learning experience. She was testifying to US of the reality of opposition in all things. It was amazing to see her perspective on such a crummy thing to be so positive. One of her common phrases is "you have to become better, not bitter." She is truly amazing.

*Then yesterday we had a MIRACLE OF MIRACLES. Half way through Sacrament meeting, a Chinese women and her two children walked in, and I turned to Sister Morgan immediately because I knew I had recognized them. Rewind to a month ago as we were visiting a less active member in the ward, we were leaving their apartment building as we ran into this family. We started talking to them and we found out they had moved here from China just a week beforehand. They didn't have a phone so I couldn't get their number, but I gave them a pamphlet in Mandarin (because I always carry them because we meet so many Chinese people) and we parted our ways. So you can imagine how shocked I was when I saw them in church! We went up to them afterwards along with another member of the ward who just got back from his mission to France. His family is from Taiwan and Mandarin is his second language so he was able to translate for us and talk to them and help them feel welcomed. Then we went into a classroom and started teaching the family a little more about the church, and what we do as missionaries. It turns out, the grandmother of the children (their father's mother) is a member of the church in China! And so the mother of the kids wanted them to be taught and baptized. We, of course, told them we would like nothing more than to help in that process. But we also explained, with the help of the Mandarin speaking member, that we would need to teach them a few things. She readily agreed and then we started teaching them about prayer. The kids had never prayed before, but after we taught them what it was, and what it meant, they all prayed at the end of our little lesson, and we committed them to pray together as a family. YAY! And now we have an appointment with them for tomorrow, and our member friend, Justin, is going to come and help us translate. YAY!

* But the Chinese fun doesn't end there! Later that evening, after church and all that excitement calmed down, we were walking around and found 3 more Chinese people and contacted them. Two of them were a couple that again JUST moved here like 3 weeks ago, and the husband, who spoke more English, said that he wanted his wife to go to a church. And when we asked where they lived, it turns out they live in the SAME apartment as the Chinese family that came to church! We got there information and they told us they wanted to come to church! Then as we continued walking we ran into two young Chinese men who were just sitting on a park bench. We starting talk to one, who's name is Richard and he was an exchange student studying here in Canada. He said he grew up reading the Bible in Mandarin but that he was getting "kind of bored with it," and that he "wanted something new" and we were just like HEY WE GOT IT. It was awesome. The people of China are ready to hear the gospel, everyone! 

Thank you for your prayers and your support, it means the world.
I hope everyone has a beautiful, amazing, fantastic week,

With all the love in the world,
Sister Thomas
 Temple trip with all of my favorite Sisters!

 Me and Sister Barnes got a picture together.
 Love my MTC companion! (and b&w makes it even more fun)

 Rosie, the cat I've fallen in love with. SHE'S SO SOFT OH MY GOSH.

 And when Costco has great prices on goose-down winter jackets, you buy them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Hospitality at its Worst" - Sister Morgan

September 19th

Hello world!!

We had a lesson with our investigator, her name is Sabina, and she's so amazing. We've taught her a few times and each time she has opened up more to us. And she's been reading the Book of Mormon consistently and praying about it. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation, and when we explained about how we lived with Heavenly Father before this life, she started crying because everything we were teaching her was things she had thought about and believed to be true, but she just didn't know if they were right or if anyone else believed in them either. It was such a miracle. Through her tears she told us, "yes, this is true. This is what I've thought my whole life, and I now I know it's right." Ohhhhh the Spirit there was so strong as we testified and told her this was everything she had been looking for. 

BUT WAIT, THERES MORE. The other day we were teaching a lesson outside her apartment complex to someone else and as were heading to our car to leave, we saw her. We literally ran over to her and gave her hugs. Lo and Behold she was holding the Book of Mormon in her hand! She said that she had been reading it and that it was a "testament" to her of God's love. OH SHE'S SO PERFECT. Then we saw her again yesterday just quickly and she had finished reading chapter 8 of the Book of Mormon where it talks about the vision of the Tree of Life, and she started relating it to herself and the experiences she's had in life and Sister Morgan and I were just sitting there SO happy about how much she loves reading the Book of Mormon. 

Okay okay, and now I have to attach some of what Sister Morgan included in her email home, because it's just too perfect and her narrative is so much funnier than mine, so here's your mid-Monday treat via Sister Morgan:

"Saturday was one of the craziest days ever. We went to the funeral of Katie's dad (Katie is the girl that the Elders baptized). It was non religious. very simple. Nice. I enjoyed some Perrier in memory of Mom. 
After the funeral, we had been invited by a potential to come have dinner with her family and some friends. Her name is Tina, she's Egyptian and really nice, but quite dramatic.
We got to her house and met her son and his girlfriend. They were drinking wine, and asked us if it was okay because they knew we didn't drink. Looking back, I wonder if the alcohol consumption had anything to do with what happened next.
Tina had made So. Much. Food. In short, a feast. 
Her son piled our plates with everything and kept saying, "these women are American, they're courageous, they'll try everything!" At one point when my plate was sufficiently filled, I turned my head only to look back and see that the son had heaped a spoonful of beats onto my plate to add to the mix. It was very overwhelming. My companion and I figured we were going to die. By this point a friend had shown up with her two daughters. There was Christmas music playing in the background, of course (just thought I'd mention that for your own imagery).
The son loved us and told us to share all we knew with his girlfriend. He kept saying how we had such high IQ's and we were so wise. Then a member of our ward showed up and sat with us. As we tried to share bits about the Gospel with Gabbi (the girlfriend), Bernie (the member) interjected and started talking about Joseph Smith's life. It was super distracting from the conversation of the gospel but we tried to bring it back the best we could. 
It was getting later and we told Tina we needed to leave. At which point she brought out a pie, fruit salad and a cheesecake followed by a Costco cake accompanied with a happy birthday song. It was no ones birthday. But because we decided attribute the birthday song to Bernie (whose birthday is in December he informed us) the son lifted him up in his arms in all the excitement. Crazy. 
We finally managed to escape and Sister Thomas and I resolved that we never wanted to eat again. Needless to say, it was a good experience.

Last night we had a cool experience. We were walking around our neighborhood (which is what we usually when we don't have anything scheduled at the end of the day) and we met this guy named Michael. There is a hospital right next to our apartment and we found him at the bus stop nearby. Apparently his brother had stabbed him in the hand by accident and he had ridden the bus to the hospital to get treatment the day before. They had kept him for a while I guess and he was just then waiting for his bus ride home. He was big, black and Jamaican. We talked to him and got an appointment to go visit him on Wednesday. It was awesome! After we left him, Sister Thomas said something like, "he had his hand stabbed, rode the bus to the hospital, was kept there for a day, and was released right then so that we would have the opportunity to talk to him." I'm not quite sure how the Lord works, but the mission has taught me that there is no such things as coincidences when it comes to missionary work."

My friends, Sister Morgan's account is true. Missionary life is crazy. BUT IT IS SOOO MUCH FUN!

Alright everyone, I believe this email is long enough, and will suffice until we meet again next week. 

Sister Thomas
P.S. This week we did a service project where we went around and collected a bunch of food for the local Food Drive they were having. So a bunch of missionaries were running around knocking on doors, but instead of offering salvation they were just asking for non-perishable foods. It was super fun.


Week 32

September 12th

Okay I have noooooo time today but I will try and share some awesome things that happened this week!

*We went on exchanges with the Sisters in Montreal and guess who I was with... SISTER BARNES MY MTC COMPANION! She became the new Sister Training Leader last month and so we got to be companions once again and it was sooooo fun. She was brand new to the city, and I had only been there a few times so we just walked around and tried not to get too lost using the bus and metro system. But it was so fun to teach and to testify with her again. We have both grown so much since the MTC and it was awesome to share experiences and tips. We met this young man at the bus stop and he was from Rwanda, and had moved to Canada alone just 3 weeks prier and spoke very very limited English. But we told him about the gospel and about how the church could be his family here. We told him that we were his friends and that we had a message to share. He was so grateful and thankful he almost started crying (and so did we). We talked him to the church (it was like a 10 minute walk) and showed him how to get there via the metro system. It was a super cool contact. 

*We taught a lesson in half Spanish and French last night to one of our new investigators. Sister Morgan did AMAZING in Spanish and it was so perfect. We have 2 more Spanish lessons coming up this week, so I better start practicing. 

*We read scriptures with one of our less active members who we haven't gotten to see in FOREVER, and it was so beautiful. We read in Mosiah 27 ( about Alma's conversion story and we laughed and cried as we read the scriptures and applied them to our own lives. I love the Book of Mormon. It is so true and so pure. And I'm so happy I get to be here sharing it with people. The scriptures are a gift God has given us, and we get to read them and ponder them whenever we like. AH they are such a blessing. 

Being a missionary is wonderful. It is hard, but as I've tried to have a better attitude and a renewed desire to help people this week, miracles have definitely come. I'm so happy to be here. 

Have a great week everyone!

Sister Thomas

(I forgot my camera this week so no pictures, I know I'm sorry I'm the worst)

Labor day? More like Labor HOOORRAAAAY

September 6th

Hi everyone!

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day! (which yes, is the reason I didn't get to email yesterday, because Holidays are noooooot Holidays for missionaries!) It actually was the perfect day to contact people, especially families. Our ward had a Pancake Picnic in the park in the morning for breakfast, and it was a great turn out! We had a few people we invited come and they got to meet the other members and chat with them, so we were super happy. Sister Morgan and I did face-painting for the kids, and it attracted a lot of attention from other people who were just visiting the park, so we were extra happy. And by the time the picnic was over we were exhausted. I've never face-painted so much in my life. But now I can say with confidence that I can indeed make a child's face look like a wolf and/or kitty. 
 Caught in face painting action.

Me and Amina, who's mom came up to us and asked how much the face painting was. 
Never before have I been so excited to say FREEEEEEEE. 
She was from Yugoslavia and was really nice, 
but not interested in our message, BUT that's okay.

Me as Tony the Tiger. 
Courtesy of Sister Morgan and her face painting skills that were practiced on me.

I had to add this one because it was taken by a 4 year old (the little girls sister) 
who's family came to the picnic and had a great time meeting the other members! SUCCESS.

And right after we emailed last week, we went to a park to walk around and we ran into this family from Guatemala (and every time we meet a Spanish speaker I just throw Sister Morgan at them because she speaks Spanish) and we talked to them about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, they were practicing Evangelicals but they were really interested. We parted ways after exchanging information (turns out they live super far away from us, and the people we thought were the parents were actually just family-friends, oops awkward) and kept walking around. Fast-forward like an hour later we stumbled across them again, and they said they were just talking about us. They were fascinated about why/how we were serving missions instead of going off and partying like other kids our age. We started explaining and it was great experience. And before we left all the kids gathered around us and they wanted to take a picture. And how can you say no to a bunch of little kids who were holding and trying to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish we gave them? Answer: You can't. 

The cute kids we contacted. 
Yes, they're holding the Book of Mormon open to the picture of Jesus, cutest ever.

And to continue with the Spanish theme, we meet this SUPER cute girl from Colombia last night, and it turns out her cousin actually served a mission and got married in the temple! And Jessica has only been in Canada for a few years, but she said that she'd gone to church before and that she'd be interested in learning more! Of course the whole conversation was in Spanish but I actually was able to understand a lot of it. Yay, so maybe I'll pick up some Spanish with Sister Morgan too. Anyways, Jessica has the cutest 7 month old baby ever, and right as we were leaving we got to meet her husband. Sooooo you bet your life we are going to be teaching this cute family. Wish us luck.

 Our Saturday Morning Breakfast Buddy, Sister Malo <3 (my favorite)
In honor of my 7 month mark, a member let me where her super cool wolf jacket 
and take a picture with all the squash from her garden. Oh she's my favorite!
That's it for this week, I hope you all have a wonderful week and remember how much God loves His children,

Sister Thomas