Monday, June 24, 2013

"Don't worry Michael, I'll take us to shore!" "It's a fake wheel dumby!"

Hey guys,

The Church is true. I am writing while watching last night's broadcast since our internet was bad yesterday. There were a lot of missionaries there. My heart is so full as I listen to the words of these inspired men, the great musics, and I feel so excited to continue working as a missionary. Isn't is the best to be part of these great cause? Watch it again, and write down what you feel like you can do to help out the missionaries. I feel like a lot of the new policies and such were directed at the missionaries in the States and other well developed parts of the world, but it can still help the work in the whole world. For example, using the Internet here in Lago Agrio would pretty much do nothing to help us, but there are principles taught that can be applied here in Ecuador, too. Right now, I'm listening to Elder Anderson's video segment, good stuff. I feel so happy right now. Church is true.

We had an unbelievable week this week. The "Burr factor" has helped us a lot. I know that numbers aren't important at all to determine a good missionary, but we had really good ones this week. It felt so great to finally have a week where not only we work hard, but we see the fruits of our labors. For pretty much my whole time here in Lago, I have worked harder than any other time on my mission, and have basically seen nothing for doing so. Few people at church, little progress in the branch, and it was just all around frustrating. I knew that I was doing my job as I was supposed to, but it's hard to keep going when nothing seems to be happening. On a good Sunday, we'd have 25 or 30 people at church. Yesterday, we had 52 people show up! 52! It was so wonderful, we felt so happy. It's like the Lord just finally decided to really open the hearts of the people here. It was a great day.

The way we work has changed quite a bit, it is hard to have enough time to do everything. As the branch presidency, we not only have investigators to worry about, but we have to help the members come back that have become inactive, we have to help the members that are active to progress, plan activities, budget, etc. It is great experience to learn about leading, but we are exhausted every day and have little time to even breathe. It's a weird transition, but a necessary one. We're starting to get the hang of it, changing little by little. It's weird to direct meetings, too, and to lead branch council. Overall, it is a great experience to prepare me for future callings, and I have a better knowledge on how things are taken care of in the Church. I've done interviews, extended callings, etc, and it has been great to learn and to grow. Elder Tuckett goes home next Monday, and then it'll just be Elder Burr and me. I may send stuff with Elder Tuckett since he'll be by those who are living in Utah right now. Elder Burr is an unbelievable missionary. I have learned so much from him. He is always looking for opportunities to help people and to teach them. I love it. I'm excited to continue to be with him and to learn and to grow with him. He goes home in seven weeks. He wants to take Nikki on a date. Nope.

So, next Monday is the division of the mission. President Richardson (zoomed up on in the broadcast last night), will be getting here Friday or Saturday, and officially will be my President on the following Monday. We hope he gets out here to Lago quick so we can fill him in on the situation. I'm sad to say goodbye to President and Sister Ghent, but the Richardsons seem like great people. I am just excited to keep working. I'll keep you update on the things I learn and when I finally meet him. It'll be great.

I am now watching Elder Nelson's video segment, cool stuff. I'm loving the video segments.

I discovered last week thanks to Elder Burr. So many good speeches, unlimited speeches, really. I read one that was given recently that is called "The Truth of All Things." Great, great speech. It talks about the technology that we use here on earth, and then he speaks about celestial technology. He says that while we can use earthly technology to our benefit, celestial technology is much more worth it. The best celestial technology that we have at our disposal is the Holy Ghost, who is able to teach us the truth of all things. He quoted President Monson as saying, " When we deal in generalities, we rarely have success; but when we deal in specifics, we rarely have a failure," And then proceeded to say that we need to ask the Holy Ghost specific things if we want His help. Math problems, scriptures, be it what it may, we need to ask specifically and we'll have the best celestial technology at our disposal. Loved it!

My talk by Elder Maxwell this week was his second one given in a General Conference setting, "Why not now?" He talks to the people who "will not come inside the chapel, but neither do they leave its porch. These are they who need and are needed by the Church, but who, in part, "live without God in the world."" It is a wonderful talk that he gives a little sarcastically. He tells the people that he sincerely wants them to come back to Church, although they may not want to. He then tells them that if they don't want to commit now, then heed his warnings, after which he gives a series of "do-nots." His do-nots are a series of things that are not complicated, but if done would fortify your testimony-read the Book of Mormon, serve others, seeing how the commandments protect us, prayer, stuff like that. He quotes Joshua saying, choose today, not tomorrow, who you will serve. He exhorts the people to come back and says that if they do, "Once one leaves the porch and comes inside the Church, then one not only hears the music more clearly--he become part of it!" Our past cannot be changed, but we live in the holy present, he says, that helps us to focus on the now. Now is the only time we have to act. He tells us to avoid the "not-yet" game, seeing as there is now time to wait! Jesus did not say, "Go thither," but "Come, follow me." He is willing to help us, to guide us, and He will always do so. I love what he says at the end. "If you sense that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jeus Christ is the Lord, why not do so now? For in the coming of that collective confession, it will mean much less to kneel down when it is no longer possible to stand up!" Let's choose today to be better converted. Thanks, Neal.

I hope you all feel more inspired to work. I hope you all find people in this week to visit with the missionaries. They are there waiting, you just haven't thought about them yet. One thing that we've started to do is to ask people if they not only have friends we could visit, but enemies, too. Maybe that is why you are struggling to find people to present to the missionaries. We often think about the people who we get along with that would be easy to share an hour or two with over dinner and a lesson, but your enemies need the Gospel just as much as your friends. So, as you pray for missionary opportunities, pray to know what enemies you have that need to hear the message. If they listen, I doubt that they'll be your enemy for too much longer! Watch the broadcast again, and get to work with your missionaries...

 You guys really are the best, I love you tons. Pray for, work with, and love all the poeple that are in your life.

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

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