Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Mardi Gras!

I don't know, these murals are just really cool

Sis kissing her favorite mural

Combined ward and branch potluck in New Orleans! Sister Oates brought us beads so we wouldn't feel left out as they all watched the night parade

Happy Mardi Gras, friends and fam! Tomorrow is Louisiana's favorite holiday and we are celebrating by going to the biggest parade of the season. We'll be right there in New Orleans catching beads and coconuts and watching a lot of crazy people run around. (No worries mom, we're going with the branch president's family) This month long holiday is finally at its peak and we could not be more excited to experience our first Mardi Gras! 

It was a typical week on the mission: a roller coast of ups and downs; hard moments and miracles. All of it was beautiful because through it all we relied on Jesus Christ as He moves His work forward. We are just so lucky to be allowed to join in and share His message. 

A unique perspective I've gained on my mission is I've met so many people with crazy lives and real life problems. These people are tough and they go through some hard things. Sometimes I wish I could just fix everything for them. But I'm not a doctor - I can't heal people physically. I'm not a therapist - I can't work them through family problems. BUT Jesus is the perfect healer, therapist, and friend. As we invite others to come unto Him they can find peace and solace. Sharing the gospel is truly the greatest gift we can give others. I am so happy to share what I know to be true. Jesus Christ is our Savior and He knows every pain and sadness we feel. He is there for us through it all and His gospel has been restored on the earth. 

I love y'all. Enjoy Mardi Gras! I'll eat some king cake for y'all ;) Have a great week!

Sister Thomas

Tackled the Pepper Palace challenge again (4th times the charm)

Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Happy Abbie

"I feel like a happy puffy marshmallow" - Abbie

The district fambam

 Mr. Charles from the New Orleans ward who kept jumping in all of Abbie's pictures. We've never met him but hey, the more the merrier!

This gospel is so happy, y'all. One of my favorite parts about being a missionary is seeing the change and the glow in people as they follow Jesus Christ. Sweet Miss Abbie got baptized this weekend and the joy of seeing this little girl happy is indescribable. Abbie has had a tough childhood but Jesus Christ has brought out her beautiful smile :) 

- "How do we know men belong in the kitchen? The bible says Hebrews, not she brews" - John Johnson (such a cool guy - former black panther, now on the stake high council)
- We've been bringing Yolanda, a member, to all of Abbie's lesson so she and Abbie have gotten close. Yolanda wanted to buy her something for her baptism so she gave her a cute little bible case....and a new world translation bible, kids edition. Haha we're going to have to explain some things to Abbie!

I learned a lot about conversion this week. I am so lucky to be a missionary right now because I can focus 100% on the work. But when we are truly converted we will always be looking for opportunities to share this happy message with others. We won't share the gospel or magnify our callings because it is "our job"; we'll love and serve and share because it has become who we are. 

Thank you for the love and prayers! Keep on smiling, loving, and sharing. I love y'all!

Sister Thomas

 Yolanda (in pink) bought us these matching necklaces to wear to the baptism because "they make me think of the celestial kingdom"

Not your traditional LDS baptism cake haha

Happy happy Abbie on the way to her baptism <3

Monday, February 13, 2017

Peace, Be Still - tornadoes and blessings

Reunited for 24 hours with my best friend Sister Amezcua. She is a light and exudes happiness and love <3

Our new investigator Dorrish on date to be baptized! She came to church and felt right at home in this lil' branch

NOLA sisters at ZTM

I feel like a months worth of miracles were packed into this short lil' week. So many happy tears and smiles and prayers of gratitude. Heavenly Father has been so so good to us.

On Tuesday the strongest tornado to ever hit New Orleans hit part of our area pretty hard. We were on lock-down but felt strongly that we needed to be with a certain sister in the branch. We got permission to leave our apartment and go a few blocks down to her home where she was alone with her five year old daughter. She has severe anxiety and was just trying to hold on when we showed up. I was blessed with the gift of peace and didn't have a doubt in my mind that we would be okay. As the storm came through the area we sang hymns and read scriptures to maintain the spirit and bring peace in a time of distress. It was a beautiful experience and I felt much like the apostles on the sea with Jesus when He told the storm "Peace, be still". Amidst the waves and strong winds of the world it is only Jesus Christ that can bring peace and joy to our souls. We felt that power quite literally in these moments <3

Three of our good friends who are learning about the gospel are going to be baptized in the coming weeks. I am amazed at how Heavenly Father has prepared His children to take these steps to follow Him. We are witnesses to miracles happening in this area. This little branch is growing and I have faith that we will see it continue to grow! 

I hope y'all are finding that same peace by inviting the spirit into y'alls lives. The gospel truly is the "good news" and as we draw nearer to God He will draw us nearer to peace and joy. Happy Valentines day! Lots of love and prayers coming y'alls way <3

Sister Thomas

"I'm feeling a lot of feelings about my baptism. Especially happy and excited" - Abbie's words and drawing of baptism

"I'm not old, I'm vintage" Happy 70th birthday Mama Caswell!!

This girl his 18 months on our exchange!! So of course we celebrated with Reese's hearts <3

Monday, February 6, 2017

"I'm going to keep learning and worshiping Jesus"

Happy moment teaching these rad kids how to pray

St. Louis Cathedral <3

Exploring downtown New Orleans is one of my favorite things

Sweet Miss Sophie retiring from the baptist food pantry

Y'all, what a week! Keeping it short and simple today :)

We relied on our Savior this week a ton as we learned patience, love, and diligence. The work was a bit slow but Sunday was our sunshine peeking through the clouds! Heavenly Father blessed us with some incredible new investigators and our good friend Leonard who is learning about and embracing the gospel bore his testimony in sacrament meeting. It was humble, simple, and powerful. Leonard is excited for baptism! We are trying to plan his baptism around Mardi Gras parades. (the baptism font is in downtown New Orleans so this month-long holiday is posing a bit of a problem lol). Leonard is a true follower of Jesus Christ. In his own words, "I don't have much of a testimony yet but I'm going to keep learning and worshiping Jesus". What more can we ask?

Heavenly Father is so mindful of us. One of my favorite parts about missionary work is seeing people truly change through the atonement as they invite the Savior more and more into their lives. Heavenly Father loves us enough to let us struggle and learn but He always has something greater waiting for us. 

I love y'all and I am always praying for you. Have a great week! Keep learning, sharing, and loving. I am so thankful for y'all <3

Sister Thomas

Feeling a little short here

Blessed transportation

My new friend who sings like Louis Armstrong

Cajun Ratatouille. Y'all need to try this stuff.