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 resumé 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