Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving week! Josh celebrated Thanksgiving today and got our package with stuffing and other goodies in it just in time. This email's subject title was "The best was to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear"--Elf

Hey family and friends,

How are you all? I hope everything is going well. This week was great leading up to Sunday. We found tons of new people, especially families, and it looks like they'll progress well, but hardly anyone came to church, which is probably the most frustrating thing in the whole world. Nothing has ever bugged me more in my life than when people say that they'll come to church then don't show up. So go to church! We had two baptisms this week, and only one got confirmed because they didn't show up...This coming week we should have one more baptism, cause he, bless his heart, came to church this week. All the other people still want to be baptized, but we had to push back their dates until December. Frustrating sometimes, but oh, well, that's how it goes. Darn that agency. 

I bought four HUGE mangoes this week. The good ones are starting to come, and I'm really excited. I just need to wait a bit for them to ripen. I bought a ton of bananas, too, and am still eating Special K. I'm getting really excited for all of the good fruit that is going to be coming soon, it's gonna be great. I got the package with stuffing today (stuffing was shared and is gone), and thanks for the Sun Chips, Nutter Butters, hot chocolate, and Fiber One bars (laughed very hard when I saw those). 

I think it was Bruce R. McKonkie, or some apostle, that one time read the Book of Mormon, and wrote each verse in his own words. I was thinking about that a lot this week, and decided that I want to do that. So I'm writing the Libro de Mormón in my own words right now during personal study. It'll take a very long time, but I love it. I find myself understanding it a lot better, like why Laman and Lemuel were so whiney. They shouldn't have been so, but I understand the story a lot better now, and in there case, it would be really hard to not murmur. I really like doing it, and hope I can finish it relatively quickly. I also really like reading the New Testament. I always forget how good the Bible is. I need to use it more when I teach. I think too often missionaries think, "Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon!" And they forget that the purpose of the Bible and the Book of Mormon is to support the other, and using both will only increase their influence in the lesson. So I'm gonna do better with that.

I'm still adjusting to being a senior companion, I still forget that it's my job to lead the sector, and that I'm responsible for all the work we do or don't do. It's good, but it's weird. One thing that I've really pushed for is lessons with members present. Usually we had maybe 4 a week with Elder Richimondg, this week we had 9, which is great. If we can get each investigator a friend in the church, they're gonna want to attend. So, we're really pushing for that. Elder Sanchez is doing great, progressing well. He's still got a lot to learn, since he's only had a year in the church, but he's progressing really, really quickly. I'm excited to see him grow into a better missionary and really gain good confidence in himself. He's doing his best every day, and I can't ask for more...

We had Elder Waddell come this week, and he is awesome. He has a Spain accent, which was a little weird to hear, but he speaks really good Spanish. He talked a lot about having converts, not just baptisms. In the last 12 months, this area of South America had 36,000 baptisms, which he said was great, but sacrament meeting attendance only went up 9,000. He really emphacized (spelling?) prayer, reading the Book of Mormon, and church attendance. He said the habit of doing these three things will help anyone become a convert. He also said it's important to teach the principle of repentence really well. He said that we can have baptisms with people who haven't repented, but it's impossible to have people who truly repent not become converts. I really loved his training, and I'm really excited to work hard and to do a better job teaching our investigators.

Eliza is just too cute. Sometimes I feel sad that I'm not there when Jack and Eliza are little, but at least I can see pictures. We'll be able to video chat for Christmas, if I'm still here at least, but I think that I can find a cyber with video chat anywhere in Ecuador.  I also miss the snow, but that's okay, too. Days here in this season feel kind of like fall days in Minnesota because it's almost always cloudy. It hasn't rained much this week, which is pretty weird. But I've finally gotten used to the climate and the culture, and I'm really feeling a lot more comfortable with every aspect of the missionary life. I hardly ever feel nervous, and have quite the arsenal of scriptures up my sleeve. Plus, I've noticed that I can listen to the Spirit a lot more easily now, which is so key to everything that we do. Some of the contacts we made that turned into investigators were moments where we pass a house, and very distinctly I feel like we need to go back and knock on the door. Really cool to see that change in myself, and to see how important the Spirit is in the work.

¿Qué más? This week was pretty relaxed, today we had Thanksgiving which is really fun. I wish I had more to write this week, but it was one of those weeks where the week was great, and it kind of crashed into so-so week. This week will be better. I love that quote from Sam from Lord of the Rings. I read it pretty much every day, cause it's pretty much the best quote ever. It's so true what he says, the best stories are the ones where for most of the time, it seems that nothing will go right, but eventually it does, and then it ends awesome. The more I think about it, yeah it stinks to be in a tough sector, but that makes the successes we have so much better. I'd much rather have a tough time that ends with something awesome than to have an easy path my whole mission and never face any trials. No hero is awesome because everything went right for him, he's awesome because he had to fight for everything to go right. Quote that, Elder Thomas, 2012. One of my dreams is to have myself be quoted in some book one day, so there's trial numero uno. But it's true! So when you guys pray for me, don't pray for things to be easy for me, pray for me to have the strenth I need to keep going when everything seems to be going wrong.

It's about that time, thanks for everything you all do for me. Keep praying, keeping being awesome. Oh! And my placas came today, so I have more than one now! I love you all, and think of you often when times seem tough. It's great to know that I have so many people cheering for me back home...Thanks so much for everything.

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

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