Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Living the gospel is joy

Meeting my soul sista

First fast food in Louisiana has to be Canes, am I right?

Y'all, this week was a spiritual FEAST. Two days of stake conference, 8 hours of zone conference with Elder Golden of the quorum of the seventy, and, of course, days packed full of spiritual experiences and tender mercies. I am so blessed. 

Wednesday we drove to Baton Rouge and I met Sister Pedro <3 I honestly am not training her at all. She is training me. She is Samoan and Hawaiin (no, she doesn't speak spanish - everyone asks her lol) and she's from California (the bay area). She was born ready to be a missionary and not once has anyone guessed she's brand new. We are excited to be together and excited to see miracles in Chalmette. It's going to be a rad transfer. 

We walked away from this weekend feeling inspired and excited to make changes in ourselves and in our missionary work. Here are my favorite pieces of spiritual wisdom from the conferences: 
·         Faith = personal righteousness (try substituting "personal righteousness" for faith" in verses of scripture. It really works!)
·         "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power" (Ezra Taft Benson) We were invited to look for more rules and commandments to follow because of the literal power obedience brings. We should lay our favorite sins on the altar of sacrifice and give all that we have to the Lord.
·         There is only one road where littering is allowed and even encouraged: the straight and narrow path. As we walk the path we throw off our burdens, sins, the big and the little things. This helps us to truly follow Jesus Christ
I am so happy to be a missionary right now. The work can be tough and the days can be discouraging but when it comes down to it there is nothing greater than the joy of striving to follow Jesus Christ and watching others change through His atonement. Living the gospel is joy. 

I love y'all and am praying that y'all can experience this joy for yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ and strive to be a disciple of Him. Have a blessed week :)

Sister Thomas

Cute Sister Pedro opening her first package

9 y/o Abbie (investigator) invited us over for hot dogs and cookies to celebrate Yolanda's (member) "28th" (57) birthday. It was the stinkin cutest thing.

Stake conf with Yolanda (and my girl Sister Amezcua)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

transfers, training, and trusting

I sure love my Sister Smeltz <3

Motivational quotes on the streets of New Orleans

Climbing this tree in City Park made for the best pday of all time

Calvin and Leonard make us so happy

Transfers came too fast this time around. My sweet friend and companion Sister Smeltz is leaving Chalmette. We are so sad, but she is excited to start a new chapter and leave her baby area. She will be wonderful wherever she goes. As for me, I am staying in Chalmette and got some crazy news: I'm training again! I feel humbled and inadequate for this calling, but I also feel more confident this time around. Not because I am greater, but because I have greater faith in God and I know he will carry me through and help me fulfill this calling. 

This week in a nutshell:
·         We biked through some crazy wind one day and then found out that evening that there were tornado warnings in our area all day....so that's pretty sweet!
·         Leonard came to church and loves it! He wants to invite his son and all his friends to a ward activity this week and to stake conference. We love him and love watching his progression as he comes closer to Jesus Christ.
·         There was one day this week where I was just having an off day. I kept messing up and getting frustrated with myself. But I decided to stop that and let it all go and let Heavenly Father take the reigns. I learn over and over that having faith is not about doing more; it's about caring less - letting go and allowing God take control. Faith is powerful when we truly trust Heavenly Father <3
I love y'all and hope you have a blessed week!

Sister Thomas

Classic New Orleans. We were driving down the street and this cool cat walked by playing some rad music. I love this place

 Mardi Gras tree! Some people don't even take down their Christmas tree. They leave it up and decorate it for Mardi Gras! (Mardi Gras is February 28 but everyone starts partying a month and a half in advance)

Sister Smeltz says goodbye to the city

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

NOLA zone takes on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Our missionary choir

Our cute investigator Abbie is on date to be baptized in February!

Sistah's in the zone (ft. my fave sister amezcua <3)

It was an action packed week full of laughs, crazy adventures, and of course, miracles. I could probably write a novel about everything that happened but nobody wants to read that (and "ain't nobody got time fo dat!") so here were some of the highlights:

We got invited to sing at the St. James African Methodist Church on Sunday for the Martin Luther King celebration. I don't know if they were expecting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when they asked the church to sing, but we threw something together! I don't think I'll ever forget the service; it was quite the experience. There were enough of amen's, hallelujah's, and "praise God"'s to last a lifetime. The AME choir sang and it was just what you would imagine a classic southern black gospel choir to be like - it was awesome!

Something really cool about the whole experience was seeing the difference that the spirit brings. Their service was exciting, dramatic, and it pumped everyone up, but as soon as we started singing hymns the spirit came in with power. The spirit was so strong it was almost tangible. For the first time in the program everyone was still enough to feel the Holy Ghost. What a testimony builder.

We also got invited to march in the MLK parade yesterday! We walked with big smiles and handed out pass along cards and told everyone we loved them. It was such a cool way to meet people and share the gospel. 

Funniest quotes of the week:
·         "You don't have to be locked up for heroin, you can get locked up for God's love. Heroin addicts do heroin for a rush knowing it's bad and of the devil but God's love is a beautiful rush - pure and good and natural. Nothing wrong with that." 
·         "The bible was written a long time ago - translated from pig latin."
My favorite piece of advice I got this week was that if there is a trait that you don't have, act as if you have it. Then you will gain that. And I know that is true! We don't need to get down and out because of what we don't have. Our greatest creation is ourselves. With God's help and through the power of the atonement we can become something more. I am so thankful for this :)

I love y'all and will keep praying for y'all :)

Sister Thomas

Sisters prepping for the parade

We finally took a district pic

We went exploring while we waited for a member to show up for a meal appointment

Post-rocking out at the AME church service

Happy Martin Luther King's birthday!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Finding the sunshine through the clouds

Yesterday we taught primary, a Sunday school class, and bore our testimonies in testimony meeting. Just another average Sunday in our little Chalmette branch! It's cool to be able to do a lot of these last minute sub-ins. Before my mission I would have been stressed and nervous to walk into a class without any prep and teach, but we are sure thankful for the spirit that carries God's message through! 

What a happy week it has been. It was one of those weeks where we had a lot of appointments fall through, we were tired and cold, and the work was slow. But it is cool how even though all of the plans we make may fall through, we get to see God's plan always moving forward. We were able to count our blessings and find the tender mercies in each day. I know there will be miracles in this area. We are just continuing to work like it all depends on us, and pray like it all depends on God (which it does).  

One tender mercy is our investigator Leonard. This guy is a trooper! During one of our lessons with him this week we got antied hard by a lady that lives in his same building. Sister Smeltz and I prayed a lot and somehow the experience didn't even phase him. He is still excited to keep learning about the gospel and he even committed to get baptized on February 4th! We'll be working with him for that date. 

As we turn to God, he truly does make our weaknesses stronger. I have a long ways to go, but I can testify that Heavenly Father knows us perfectly and calls us even though we are imperfect. Our weaknesses keep us humble which is a spiritual strength. Even if we don't overcome all our weaknesses now, turning to the Lord makes us stronger than we ever thought possible because we are relying on Him.

Keep on finding that sunshine through the clouds! It is always there :) I love y'all and am so thankful for the love and support. Y'all are in my prayers :) 


Sister Thomas

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Downtown New Orleans near the St. Louis Cathedral

Cute Sister Smeltz eats canned smoked oysters every Sunday. She's adorable, even if I think they taste nasty


It was beautiful to be able to spend Christmas sharing His message. We were able to find people who were alone on Christmas and we stopped by to sing hymns and share scriptures. I think it will always be one of my favorite Christmases <3

Chalmette is poppin, Sister Smeltz is the kindest soul, and I am blessed to be sharing the greatest message of all time. Life is good :) The funny thing about serving a mission is that it is full of challenges, heartbreaks, and trials, but there is an overall feeling of joy. That joy can be hard to feel sometimes but it is always there as long as we stay anchored in Jesus Christ. (This is a lot like life). I've been blessed to feel a lot of that joy these last couple weeks as we celebrated Jesus' birth and the excitement of another year to serve Him. 

Here are some of our adventures the last couple weeks:
·          I did the Pepper Palace Challenge! (Flash bang hot sauce, supposedly the hottest in the world! Anyone who knows me knows how big of an accomplishment this is for me lol)
·         We ate bugs at the insectarium in New Orleans
·         We went Christmas caroling with our friends at the First Baptist Church
I hope y'all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying the new year. When I think about all of the good people I have in my life I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I am so thankful for each one of you and for the love, support, and prayers given. I think about y'all and am always praying for you. Keep smiling and when you don't know what to do, just move forward :)

"Courage isn't always grandiose. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, 'I'll try again tomorrow'." - Thomas s Monson

I love y'all!
Sister Thomas

 The famous French Market - PEPPER PALACE

We had to sign a waiver to try the hot sauce hahaha

Our room in the back of the Lutheran church where we have sacrament meeting each week