Monday, July 31, 2017

God is in the details


Last hugs at the airport. (we'll be back to pick her up next week)

The Elders left us these kind notes and their hammock for us to borrow!
We are lucky to be surrounded by so many good people
Heavenly Father takes any darkness and fills it with light. This has been so evident to us this week. 

Our week started off pretty normal. We went on exchanges with the Plaquemine sisters from Tuesday to Wednesday and did some great contacting with them at free speech alley. Late Wednesday night is when things got a little crazy. President Varner called us around 10 pm and asked us if we would come to the mission home. A sister in the mission who Sister Edwards is close to had a family emergency and wanted Sister Edwards to be there. So we grabbed a couple things and rushed over to be with her. 

It's amazing to me how Heavenly Father is in all the details of our lives. Just a week earlier Sister Edwards had the thought to ask missionaries who were close to this sister to write encouraging letters to her. She gathered them up and Sister Varner was going to give them to the sister at her zone conference, which would be the six month mark of her dad passing away. So when we met her at the mission home after she received news of a couple more deaths in her family she was able to read these sweet letters from people who love her. Heavenly Father knows exactly what he's doing when He prompts us to do good things.

Y'all, this sister is a warrior if I've ever seen one. She is so strong, so good, and has so much faith. We ended up staying with her the rest of the week and she was a literal light. I've never seen anything like it. The spirit was noticeably strong around her and it was almost as if we could literally see the Holy Ghost lifting her to comfort her and answer the prayers of all who were praying for her. She was actually glowing. 

We took her to her zone conference, the temple, back to her area to pack, and tried our best to love and serve her. There honestly wasn't a whole lot we could do for her except love her and be her friend. We definitely told her a lot of dumb jokes haha. But Heavenly Father took the best efforts of everyone around her and magnified it to fill her hard moments with light. I know there were angels, seen and unseen, surrounding this sister. I feel so blessed that Heavenly Father allowed us to be there with her.

"Sometimes God calms the storm....sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child"

I love y'all! Please keep this sweet sister and her family in your prayers. Have a great week!

Love,
Sister Thomas

We made a new friend at the red cross office

Our lil toothbrush party in the church bathroom! We left our toothbrushes
at the mission home so our ward fam came in clutch and helped us out

Monday, July 24, 2017

Love is who we are

MLC with the Varners

Nathan will be so proud of this p-day activity

Hey y'all!

We had a roller coaster of adventures this week. The great thing about being companions with Sister Edwards is that even on the downs we're still working hard and laughing and having a ton of fun! Some of our adventures this week include:
·         Sister Edwards picked the lock on a gate with a Plan of Salvation Pamphlet. We had an appointment and needed to get in so she made it happen! She says it may have been the proudest moment of her mission #theLordprovidesaway
·         Nerf gun war with the BR fam
·         Tried something new and played the ukulele at Free Speech Alley! Sister Gelwix gave us the idea. It was cool how the music brought the spirit and completely changed the atmosphere on campus. I'm excited to see how well this works when the semester starts up again
I don't think I've shared much about President Varner and his wife. They are amazing. I love how President Hansen was exactly what this mission needed during the time he was here and President Varner is exactly what this mission needs now. Heavenly Father sure knows what He is doing when He calls our leaders! We had an incredible MLC (mission leadership conference) this week where we were able to discuss the needs and future of the mission. I love President Varner's vision. He wants us to be one big family, one big team, and he is really trusting us to make decisions based on the spirit. I've loved the opportunity to work so closely with the Varners during this transition period.

This week I've been studying a lot about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It's more than following Him. "Genuine discipleship is a state of being" - Elder Hales. We serve, we love, and we lift not because it's "our job" or because it's what we're "supposed to do"; we serve and love and lift because it's who we are. Love is the highest level of obedience. I've found that when I obey out of my love for the Savior I am happiest, regardless of outside success or pressures. It just feels good!

Now that doesn't mean I don't get disappointed or down. I'll be real, some days can be pretty tough. But there is an overriding feeling of peace and joy through it all and I know this is lasting happiness. Heavenly Father's plan is so good y'all!

I hope you have an incredible week!

Love,
Sister Thomas

Tracting and sweating and sweating and tracting

Birthday shout out to Mom and Dad! (V's parents had birthdays this week too!)

Sister Edwards looking a bit mischievous after picking the lock

Monday, July 10, 2017

LSU and lovin it

Free speech alley with my sweet Sister Gelwix

Love purple, live gold #LSU

Hey y'all!

I love serving at LSU with Sister Edwards. It's great to be serving on a college campus and we have a good time with all the blessings and challenges that come with it. One night this week we were tracting at an apartment complex and a couple guys came out and started giving us a bit of a hard time. It was pretty funny actually, they were trying to convince us to leave with them and hit up some party. "How about you go change and come to a party with us and then we can talk about Jesus?" We just kind of laughed and gave them a pass along card which they were excited about because it has a phone number on the back....little do they know that number calls headquarters in SLC! We tried to explain but it was too late. Oh well, they're in for a surprise!

I hope everyone had a great week. We don't have much time today so here are some highlights:
  • We had a sweet lesson with a new investigator who hadn't prayed in 6 years. We taught him how to pray and as he said the closing prayer the spirit was so strong it was tangible. I love these moments as a missionary.
  • I was reunited with sweet Sister Gelwix for a day! I am still learning so much from this incredible girl. She is working miracles in this mission and in the lives of those around her. It was a blast to reminisce on Opelousas memories and catch up on our missions.
Y'all this gospel is so true. Jesus Christ is our Savior and He lives. It is so great to be able to share this happy message with others. I love y'all! Have a bless'd week!

Love,
Sister Thomas

p.s. Sister Edwards and I are staying together for another 6 weeks! I couldn't be happier about it. I love her - she is my best friend and inspires me to be better every day. Life is so good!

Sis Edwards and I take every opportunity to celebrate.
Even if it means just taking a picture!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Choosing joy

The temple <3

Did I mention I love Sister Edwards? Well I adore her.

the 4th of July in a castle on the bank of the Mississippi

This week was beautiful in a tougher kind of way. There were so many happy moments and I made some of my favorite memories of my mission. I also had some harder moments. The great thing about these tough moments though is I am able to turn to the Savior and rely completely on Him for joy and strength. I am a firm believer that we can choose joy, that we can choose faith, and we can choose to move forward in a positive direction. Thank goodness for the gospel.

It's impossible to explain all the good things that happened this week so I'll start with a few:
·         We got to meet President and Sister Varner on their first day in the mission! They took us out to dinner at Canes (classic Louisiana) and then we got to take Sister Varner out teaching with us. It was so fun to see her excitement for the work. She and President Varner are on fire! We took her tracting and were able to teach a couple lessons. It's fun that she is so new because she thought everything we did was amazing! We'll see how that changes when she has more experience haha.
·         I got to go to the temple for the first time in a year. It was beautiful and brought some much needed peace into my life.
·         We got permission to watch fireworks last night in downtown Baton Rouge. We were on the roof of the old state capitol building (it looks like a castle). It was a blast and one of my new favorite memories!
We saw Alex almost every day last week and it has been amazing to see the transformation in her life. The gospel is literally lighting her world and she is so converted. Sadly there have been a few bumps in the road and the adversary is throwing everything in her path to keep her from receiving that light. She won't be getting baptized this Saturday. We love Alex so much - she has become our best friend here and we are doing everything we can to help her find her way. Sometimes Heavenly Father has a plan that is greater than what we can see. We are choosing to trust in that and move forward in faith. Everything will be okay! 

"Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience." - Elder Holland

I love y'all! Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I hope you have an incredible week and choose joy <3

Love,
Sister Thomas

Tracting with Sister Varner

The Varners are so perfect for this mission. We had a mini zone conference
with them and I don't know if I've ever felt so proud to wear my name tag.
I can't wait to see the miracles they bring to this mission.

Heart attacking the Varners

Celebrating Sister McKinney's funeral with the district

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sunshine and "merry half Christmas"

 Exchanges with Sister Kezos <3 New Iberia is cajun country
and borders Opelousas so it felt like coming home <3
Hey y'all!! 

Good news: we didn't get hit by the tropical storm Cindy! We heard a lot about it and were getting ready for lock down but we ended up just getting a bunch of rain instead. Sister Edwards and I both love the rain so we had some good times tracting and dancing in the rain. Life is good! So much rain and yet so much sunshine in my life.

Speaking of sunshine...y'all. Sister Edwards is incredible. We have been so happy together and have been able to work hard and give everything to this area. Something I love about her is her ability to make the best of any situation. We have so much fun because we laugh everything off and find the joy in every day. Yesterday we celebrated HALF CHRISTMAS. It's a running joke from when we celebrated our first "half Christmas" (June 25th) as a joke in the MTC. So of course we set up a Christmas tree and listened to Christmas music all day!

Monday was a bit of a mess. We were so excited for Alex to come to FHE and meet the ward for the first time. It was going alright until we were playing reverse charades and our Bishop elbowed Alex really hard in the face. Like she was bleeding. She was a total champ and was a good sport about it. The great thing about it is she is solid and so ready for the gospel that even a solid elbow to the face didn't phase her. 

Alex is a literal light and glows a bit brighter every time we see her. We've only been teaching her for a week and a half and I can't believe the growth we've seen in her. She has already read through 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, she's come to church and three activities this week, and she just craves the spirit. She is going to be baptized July 8th! Alex is a miracle and she is exactly what this ward needs.

My testimony of prayer has grown so much this transfer. I know without a doubt Heavenly Father loves us, hears us, and answers our prayers. When we take the time to talk to Him - to really open our heart to Him and listen for what He has to say, we see miracles. I don't know why I'm so lucky to have the gospel in my life and to know that I can turn to Heavenly Father and rely on Him for everything. But it sure makes me excited to share that knowledge with others! I love being a missionary.

I love y'all! I hope you find sunshine in your lives this week. Have a blessed one! 

Sister Thomas

Half Christmas festivities

Cute Sis Edwards at the Red Cross

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Can we be best friends? I don't have any white girl friends!"

Stake Conference yesterday with Elder Parker (Y'all this guy speaks like a baptist preacher and it was just the best thing)

Riding the ferry for exchanges part 2
Hey y'all!!

It was a week packed full of miracles. I am so in awe of Heavenly Father and His tapestry of love and individual plans for each of us. It's incredible as a missionary to get a glimpse of that love and thought He puts into the lives of those I'm serving. I truly get a front row seat at watching the atonement of Jesus Christ change people's lives.

My favorite miracle right now is Alex. To make a long story short we got a phone call from Sister Ory, a member in Covington about our fourth day in the area. She explained that Alex reached out to her son who is on a mission in California. Alex was going through a really tough time and she remembered how happy the Ory's were and recognized the light they had. She recognized that the light they carried came from being members of the church! Because of some hard things that just happened, Alex didn't feel comfortable meeting with Elders. Sister Ory was called us and we explained to her that we had JUST been put into the area! There weren't sisters at LSU before. Again, I am just so amazed at Heavenly Father's plan. There have been so many moments in Alex's life that have prepared her for this moment. We met with Alex this week and she is so ready for the gospel! 

When we pray in specifics, God answers in specifics. Something Sister Edwards and I have started focusing on recently is praying for specific experiences. We'll talk about the people we meet and ask ourselves "What kind of experience should we pray for this person to have?" Then we pray together for them and work as hard as we can to allow it to happen. Heavenly Father is so good and I know He is answering our prayers. The work continues to move forward, one little miracle at a time.

I love y'all! Have an amazing week. 

Sister Thomas


We took a tracting break to take a picture with Mike the Tiger...

 ....and ended up teaching this cute girl about the Book of Mormon! She's excited
to meet with the missionaries in Lafayette and learn more. God is so good!

Monday, June 12, 2017

ONE YEAR

Sis Edwards is the cutest and made this adorable sign

Huge tender mercy: We got to see Sister Johnson at MLC on our one year! All of us back together again was a
dream come true (these Elders were in the MTC at the same time as us, we just didn't know them then)

Tracting adventures :)

This week at LSU has been full of firsts!

·         Our first time teaching Isis (not the terrorist group, just our cool new friend who is very prepared for the gospel)

·         Our first time at Free Speech Alley! Free Speech Alley is a sidewalk on LSU campus where different groups can set up tables and talk to students. It's the only place on campus we are technically allowed to proselyte so we set up there a couple days a week and contact people. I thought it might be intimidating but it was actually really fun! We talked to a lot of people and were able to find some great potential investigators. This is going to be an amazing finding tool.

·         Our first time volunteering with the Red Cross. Our mission is doing something new where we're pairing up with Red Cross and all the missionaries spend a couple hours each week volunteering. So this week we got to put on some fancy vests and teach people about fire safety and install fire alarms. Kind of random, but it was an adventure.

This week made ONE YEAR that I've been serving Jesus Christ here in Louisiana. The time has flown by like crazy. I remember when I first came out Sister Amezcua told me she was jealous of the amount of time I had left. I thought she was crazy. I had 18 months left! As excited as I was to serve it felt like a pretty long time. Now I look at the new missionaries coming out and I am honestly jealous of the time they have left. Don't get me wrong, the mission is really tough. But it is also so beautiful. The mission is a roller coaster of moments that build up to life changing and eternity shaping experiences. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I forgot to mention it last week but Sister Edwards and I came out together so it was fun to celebrate our year mark together and reminisce on all our MTC adventures. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I'm not even the same person I was last week, or yesterday. Being a missionary is an incredible opportunity to rely on the Savior and make changes every day that lead me closer to Him. 

It's not that I am any greater; but I do have greater faith in Jesus Christ. I am quite human. I have more weaknesses than I can count and I fall down a lot. But something I love about the mission is it strips you away from everything. When I have a tough day I can't call my mom, or a friend, or rely on outside sources. When life gets too hard to handle I turn to Jesus Christ and He is my strength. This is how it should always be! I am incredibly grateful for this and everything else I continue to learn on this crazy journey. 

I love y'all! Have an incredible week and remember this crazy missionary loves and is praying for you. 

Love,
Sister Thomas

One of the many, many things I love about Sis Edwards is she loves the Louisiana rain just as much as I do

Our first day at Free Speech Alley 

 We helped set up for the YSA multi stake dance