Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This is Josh's email from yesterday--the one from last week is on the post before this (sorry these are late!) Enjoy!

Title: "You made the team! The Daddy team!" (from a ridiculously cheesy movie that you probably haven't seen)

Hey all,

So first things first. Any of you who are reading this can now email you and, wait for it, I can email you back. Settle down, settle down, I know it's a big deal. I also have 2 hours every Monday to write, so I can very easily write anyone back who writes me. Some weeks, I feel like even an hour is too much, so there is plenty of time for you. Now none of you have an excuse to not write me. So next week, I expect 25 emails or more from the people back home. Woo-hoo!

Next week, we can start listening to music again, too, so we're getting pretty excited for that. Elder Paz really likes to sing, but he cannot. He wrote the book on tone-deafness. Bless his heart. But it's fun to sing with him, and we're usually laughing by the end of the song because he knows that he sounds horrible.

Easter this week! I almost forgot. Also, I hadn't thought once about March Madness until I read about it from you guys today. It's crazy how easily you forget about things like that when you're on your mission. Here, they make something called Fanesca to celebrate Easter. It's some kind of soup with fish and 12 different grains to represent the Apostles. Side note, when eating it, how do they not think, why aren't there Apostles today. Anyways, everyone says that it's delicious, but that just sounds like a whole lot of fiber to me, so let's hope they don't give me too much. They also eat some kind of dried fish that has been dried since last Easter, and everyone says that it's gross. So I'll probably have to eat a lot of it.

Every Thursday, I go to another sector for divisions. One reason is to avoid the lady that serves us lunch. I don't think anyone cooks worse than her. I love hearing the stories of what the Elders do to not eat her food. Last week, she had to leave after serving them. They said the soup was inedible, and so they went to the sink to pour it down the drain. As they did so, the drain clogged. Imagining their panic, I laughed pretty hard. For fifteen minutes, they did all that they could to get the soup to go down the drain, and a miracle was performed as it all went down. They day was saved. Every meal, we have soup, and a plate of something, usually chicken, rice, and beans. This lady usually gives them a plate of rice and bananas. If there is meat, no one wants to eat it. She has no dog to feed with the food, so there is no choice but to eat it. Elder Paz didn't like that, so he brings napkins and zip-lock bags to hide the food and not eat it. It's a crack up every week to hear about the adventure there.

I'm getting really excited for General Conference. We're gonna have a blast. Sister Ghent usually makes food, the gringos from Elder Nelson's sector bring stuff, and there is a burger place nearby that opened, and a guy from the states owns it. It's got root beer. We're super excited. To be honest, Conference is a lot better than Christmas. Christmas, you just sit inside and wallow in self pity, thinking about what the family is doing at home. But Conference, it's basically two days where we don't work, we eat lots of food, are listening to someone talk in English, and get spiritually uplifted. What more can you ask for?

We had a baptism this week of a young man named Santiago. There wasn't a suit big enough for him, so he squeezed into a little one. He was happy, didn't want tons of people there. His brother is about to leave on his mission, which helped him to learn more about the Church. We've had a great month of March, and now we have to start finding new people to teach again. This week, we didn't have too many lessons, which was a bummer, but we'll do better this week. It's not a bad thing to lack investigators if they are all progressing to baptism, but it stinks when they all get baptized and then you need to find a ton of new people to teach. Usually, in rich sectors like this, you can only find investigators through references, but we've had a lot of success contacting. We go up super, super high where all the poor people live, and they are way more receptive to listen. The people down low are all Catholic and super rude to us, which kind of stinks, but we always leave them with a smile. So, we'll just keep on working and we'll be guided to the right people who need to listen to us right now. We didn't have any investigators at church this week, which always stinks, but all of our converts were there, which doesn't stink.

I finished the Book of Mormon this week in Spanish for the second time. To my count, 1318 scriptures talk about obedience in some way. Mom told me that there are 6604 scriptures in the Book of Mormon, which works out to be almost exactly 20%, or 1 in 5. It would appear that being obedient is important to the Lord. There are lots of great examples of obedience in the Book of Mormon, and we should learn lots from them. I like Moroni's obedience, both the captain and the last Nephite. Being the last Nephite on earth would be a really good excuse to just give up and to stop trying. But, Moroni understood the importance of being obedience, and continued following the Lord until he died, which to me is a wonderful example. Moroni the captain is just a stud.
11 And Moroni was a astrong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect bunderstanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
 12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the awelfare and safety of his people.

 13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had asworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.

16 And also, that God would make it known unto them awhitherthey should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; bnot in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.

 17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto aMoroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the bdevilwould never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

 Really, who doesn't want those things being said about them? All of these great men are such great examples because they were obedient. They knew what was right and what was wrong, and their actions always reflected that. So, let's be obedient, as Nephi says--

12 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all athings according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise bfaith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.

Obedience brings blessings, that much I know. It is not always easy to be obedient to the Lord and His commandments, but it is always worth it.

Easter is such a great time of year. It really should be the happiest time of the year for us. Too often people associate the Atonement with some kind of eternal sadness, which is the opposite of how it should be. Yes, Christ suffered greatly in the Garden and on the cross, but people sometimes forget what happened after those things. I don't remember who, but some leader of the Church said that some of the happiest words in the scriptures that we find are in Matthew 28:5, "he is not here: for he is risen." It is important that we understand and appreciate the suffering and pain that Christ went through in the Atonement, but we should rejoice in the fact that He was resurrected. He overcame that pain, He overcame death, and He will now live forevermore as a glorified, immortal Being, and will never again have to sweat blood for us. His resurrection is the model for us, the great gift that we will all receive. We will all pass through sufferings and hardships, not as difficult as those of Christ, but difficult nonetheless. But, like Christ, we all are destined to overcome those trials; we are destined to follow the path that Christ followed. We will be blessed with an eternal, perfect body, and will never again suffer the pains we go through on earth. In Alma 40, we read, "
12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of ahappiness, which is calledbparadise, a state of rest, a state of cpeace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
 23 The asoul shall be brestored to the cbody, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a dhair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and eperfect frame.
 24 And now, my son, this is the restoration of which has beenaspoken by the mouths of the prophets—

 25 And then shall the arighteous shine forth in the kingdom of God."

I testify that that is the destiny that all of us have before us. From the beginning, God has planned for us to overcome our trials on earth to return to live with Him in a state of happiness, and without the life and love of Jesus Christ, that wouldn't be possible. I know that Christ suffered for the sins of the world, and that only through Him, we can return to live with God. I know that, despite His suffering, He rose again. We should all rejoice in knowing that, in knowing that no pain or sorrow will last forever, and that only happiness awaits us as we follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that you all have a wonderful, happy Easter with all of your loved ones.

Here is a great video for all to watch in this coming week.


I love all of you tons, and expect to hear from you all next week. My email is jthom27(at)myldsmail.net. Have a wonderful Easter week, and take some time to read in the Bible the story of the first Easter. Thank you for all of your love and support every day, and we'll be hearing from you in a week!

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

And pictures!

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