Monday, May 19, 2014

"What do you do in the Lumberjack Club?" Ren Stevens "We talk about...lumber lore..and we sing lumber songs..." Louis Stevens

Hey all,

Nobody tried to rob me this week, bummer.

It's been a crazy week--the typical when all of the new missionaries come. We have a lot to teach them in little time, so it's a week that goes by quickly after we do all that we have to do.

I have a new companion, my replacement! His name is Elder Burleson, he's from Michigan. He finishes his mission in December, and he'll be great. For some accidental legal problems, he got transferred from his mission in Peru to Ecuador in January and is great leader. He seems great, I'm excited to get to know him better this change. He's a horse trainer and has tons of cool stories from various jobs he's had, I feel like he's at a Grandpa level with the amount of cool stories that he has. So, I'll be with him and Elder Miranda for this change training them in, then they'll be all on their own! This month is going to be a busy month.

We have interviews this month, as I think I talked about last week, and we're focusing the time we have to train on the Book of Mormon. When we have interviews, we have around 22 meetings to do them. We don't want missionaries just sitting around for a long time waiting for their interview, so we divide the zone into two groups, one before lunch and one after lunch. Usually I get super bored of doing the same training so many times, but not with the Book of Mormon. I could talk about that book all day long. I've done it every day for 2 years, and I'm still not sick of it. Gotta love it. But 22 meetings is a lot of meetings.

We're also going to have a visit from Elder Waddell from the 21-23 of May, and we're excited for that. We've gotta be super prepared for it with food and all that jazz. With a mission president, you can run a little late, but we're not so sure if a Seventy feels the same way. Here Papa John's doesn't give us the half our guarantee (shocker) so we'll see how we can work that out. We're not sure how much we personally will interact with Elder Waddell, it'd be cool to get an interview with him or something. But, he may just want to be with President and Sister Richardson and talk about old people stuff. Who knows! We'll at least be at each of the three meetings with him, which is a bonus. When he came in 2012, it was an awesome meeting and I'm sure it'll be the same this year.

With all of the stuff with the new missionaries, we didn't have one single day to study this week. Bummer. I have had a lot of study goals for my last change, but we never get study time so it's tough to me. The biggest thing that I haven't like about being in the offices is how little we get to study. But, maybe I'm supposed to learn how to find time to study even when it seems like there isn't time to prepare myself for the future. Gospel study needs to be a priority. Maybe I can get better at finding the little times to get studying more.

My goal at getting better with love and charity is helping me a lot. I'm praying every day for help with that, and I call at least one missionary each night to see how they're doing and to express my appreciation and love for what they are doing. It's so important to know that when we push them or ask them for more, it is because we know their potential, not just because we want to see more numbers. A phone call can make a big difference with that. That's one thing that I've learned from President Richardson, he can do a lot with just a phone call. So, maybe we're not studying, but I do feel like I am progressing in the Christlike attribute that I chose this month.

One of my goals is to finish Preach My Gospel one more time this change. I recently finished chapter 4, and loved it tons, maybe a little too much. While studying it, I realized how much of an influence the Spirit has had in my mission. I feel blessed as a missionary to be in a state where it feels weird when the Spirit is not with us than when it is with us. It plays such an important role in everything in the Church, especially missionary work. Looking back on every person I've taught, I can remember distinctly the point where they felt the Spirit, and that what we were saying became less important. Feelings more than teachings are what makes missionary work successful. I remember listening to a talk by Elder Bednar where he said that in a survey of recent converts, 40% had no idea what the missionaries were talking about on the first lesson, but they felt something and wanted to come back. That is so true. I doubt anyone understands what we teach in the first lesson. A lesson is a success if they can feel the Spirit, not if they understand every word.

There is a great example of that in our mission, Elder Smith. He is still working on his Spanish, he's a district leader and training now, and doing a great job. A lot of people can't understand him very well still, but he's baptizing like a maniac because whenever he talks, he invites the Spirit, every time. That's an amazing thing to see, and a testimony that we don't do too much as missionaries, but the Spirit guides us and helps us in everything. Good guy, the Spirit. Good book, Preach My Gospel. Do you all have a copy of it yet?

We went to a cool place today, Pululagua. It's the most populated volcanic crater in the whole world. We had our mission council there in December if you remember well. We hiked to the bottom with President and Sister Richardson and had a sweet view, then hiked back up. It was a pretty tough hike, but super worth it. The view was awesome, I'll attach pictures. Elder Hess and I went running in the morning, so we burned tons of calories today. I'm super hungry. One of the secretaries, Elder Beltrán, is pretty chubby, the classic chubby funny guy. We weren't sure if he was going to make it, but he did it! Yay! And when we finished, they totally interviewed us to be on the tourism section of the news, and we dropped a missionary moment there. Super sweet, plus I bought a sweet statue of a Blue Footed Boobie made out of a seed. Dope.

I hate weeks where we don't study because I run out of things to talk about. An Elder got his gall bladder taken out on his birthday, there's something.

If the topic has moved to gall bladders, it's probably time to end the letter.

We're talking tomorrow anyways, so that'll make up for what I didn't write today.

Anyways, love you guys. Congrats, Madsens, on the new baby. Here, common girls' names are: María (for the Virigin), María José (Mary Joseph), María Belén (María Bethlehem), and Betsabe (Bath-Sheba). Not sure if you want to go with any of those.

Love you guys! Talk to you tomorrow at 7!

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

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