Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"See ya later's and crazy new adventures"

I love Yolanda

John Johnson is a boss.

Sis and I on the ferry

Y'all we just got some crazy news. I'm being transferred to Baton Rouge where I'll be opening up a new area for sisters at LSU. I've been called to serve as a sister training leader in Baton Rouge. Sister Pedro is staying in Chalmette where she is going see miracles and continue to be the amazing missionary she is. I'm gonna miss her like crazy. 

I'm way sad to be leaving. I had a bit of a heads up about the change so I've been saying a lot of "see ya later"s this week. Leaving doesn't get easier as the mission goes on but I'm realizing that it's beautiful when you love people enough that it hurts your heart to leave. I sure love my Louisiana fam! 

A couple highlights from this week:
·         We went on the ferry to do exchanges with Westbank hermanas! Sister Pedro and Hermana McCombs don't drive so we made it work. It was a blast.
·         Sheila came to the baptism and crawfish boil!! She got all dressed up and was glowing with joy. She is so special. I can't wait to hear about how she progresses.
"Only when it's dark enough are we able to see the stars" - John Johnson

I love y'all! Have a bless'd week and remember that this missionary is praying for ya :)

Sister Thomas

A view of these gorgeous Louisiana skies from the ferry

Beautiful Sheila <3

Crawfish boil round 2

Monday, May 22, 2017

"Suck it up and serve others" - President Farrell

New Orleans Zone conference

Exchanges with Kenner hermanas
Hey y'all!

On Tuesday we had our last zone conference with President and Sister Hansen. It's weird to think about all the changes that are going to be happening soon. But as a missionary, just like in life "the only thing that is constant is change". We don't always control our circumstances but we can always control our reaction. So it's up to us to embrace the change and bloom where we're planted! It's easier said than done of course, but it's something I'm working on. And with Heavenly Father it's possible :)

We had a great week. The work is moving forward one little miracle at a time. One cool experience happened while Hermana MacDonald was here in Chalmette with me on exchanges. We asked our cute recent convert Abbie (9 years old) to invite some friends to a lesson. We taught about the plan of salvation and it was beautiful to see the girls' eyes light up as they felt the spirit. Even though I go out and teach people every day it still amazes me that so many people don't have simple gospel truths in their lives. It's rewarding to share this sweet message with them.

We also had a great experience with Sheila, our new investigator from last week. We came by to do some service for her and she was in a ton of pain. She got injured in hurricane Katrina and has had over 20 knee surgeries. At one point she almost collapsed while we were with her but luckily I was right next to her and caught her. She cried again when she saw how much we cared about her and showed that love by serving her. We read some of the Book of Mormon with her and she got way excited! She committed to come to the baptism this Saturday and to church. Good things are coming her way!

Direct quote from our branch president yesterday: "For those of you who are going through a hard time? Suck it up and serve others." It's a bold way to put it but it is so true! I love being a missionary because I'm in a position all the time to just forget myself and focus on others. Putting others first truly is the best way to deal with any heartache, pain, or trial. Heavenly Father will use us to bless others if we let Him. We just have to stop focusing on what we lack and turn to Him so He can strengthen and magnify us. 

I hope y'all happy and tackling life's challenges with faith and love. I love y'all! Let me know if there's anything I can do for ya from Louisiana. Have a bless'd week!

Sister Thomas

Our adorable neighbor Chasity at her 6th birthday party

Hermana MacDonald <3

Monday, May 15, 2017

We are the Lord's hands

Sister Oates surprised us after church last week with a lil photoshoot

Murals in the lower 9th ward

Sweet Abbie melts my heart.

 A candy lei and happy mothers day to beautiful Sister Roberts

Happy Mothers day to all you wonderful women out there! It was a great week. Something I love about being a missionary is the chance to be the Savior's hands here in Louisiana. He loves these people so much and it's a privilege to reach out to His children here in New Orleans. 

We met this cool lady named Sheila outside with her dog. We started talking to her and she got this huge smile on her face and invited us into her home. As we listened to her talk about her tough life we felt so much love for this sweet woman. We offered some simple service and she started bawling. She told us that "no one has ever cared enough to help me". Something so simple to us meant to world to her. We gave her a Book of Mormon and testified of the Savior's love for her and not one of us had dry eyes! The gospel truly is the greatest gift we can share with others. We're excited to meet with Sheila again this week!

Sister Pedro and I wanted to do something for the branch for mothers day so we made candy leis for all the women. It was a blast! On mothers day we took leis to those who weren't able to make it to church. It's funny how when we serve others it blesses us more than those we are serving.

"We are the Lord's hands upon the earth with the mandate to lift and serve His children" <3

I love y'all! Let if know if there's anything I can do for any of you. Have a great week!

Sister Thomas

What is Louisiana doing to us?

Monday, May 8, 2017

The great task of life

MLC in Baton Rouge (ft. NOLA spanish zone leaders)

Exchanges in Houma with cute Sister Stratton
Hey y'all!! I hope everyone is happy and healthy and finding those rays of sunshine through the clouds :) It was a good week. It was one of those weeks where appointment after appointment fell through and the work was a bit slower. But we had enough tender mercies along the way to keep us hopeful and excited for what's to come. 

A couple of those tender mercies:

·         We got in contact with our friend Dorrish! She was on date for baptism about a month ago and was embracing the gospel with open arms but then she had to move quickly out of her apartment and we lost track of her for a long time. She wouldn't answer our phone calls or respond to our texts. We assumed she was avoiding us because hey, that happens. We kept praying for her of course. Well one day this week I felt like I should call her....and she answered! I can't tell you how many times we called her before but for some reason this time she answered. We talked to her and she was crying and was so happy to connect with us again. She's living in Kenner temporarily so we're going to send the Kenner sisters over to teach her. We're so excited for her to have the gospel in her life again! She needs it and we know she is ready for it.

·         Mama Caswell is a solid member and one of my favorite people. She has a special place in my heart! Her husband Mike is catholic and has never wanted to hear anything about "the mormons". He's such a great guy but it has always been hard for Sister Caswell to be the only member. She always tells us, "Never marry outside the church. Mormonism is a lonely religion." Well Mike has been having a lot of strokes and health trials. He received a powerful priesthood blessing at the hospital a few weeks ago and he believes God is giving him a second chance. We were at their house this week when he came in beaming and announced, "I'm going to join the Mormon religion!" That moment was shocking, incredible, and so so happy. Heavenly Father truly has a plan for all of His children.

When we do things the Lord's way we can trust that the Lord will be right there with us. He will put His hand on our shoulders and we will know He is there. And I'm not the greatest at that! I really seek to do things His way yet I continue to fall short. But I am sure thankful for the atonement which gives me the strength to continue on the path and strive to know and do God's will. Ezra Taft Benson said it best: "the great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it." So we can just keep trying, keep trusting, and keep seeking to know and do His will. Life is much happier when we are striving to follow Jesus Christ :)

I love y'all! 

Sister Thomas

"I have free dessert for anyone wearing a Jesus Christ name tag" - our cool friend at Costco

Haha that's my girl!! Sis hit her 4 month mark and celebrated with some cold medicine (don't worry, she only took the recommended amount)

Monday, May 1, 2017

"Of this be sure, you do not find the happy life, you make it" - Thomas S. Monson

Finding serenity at the zoo today

The Chalmette district

One advantage of not having a church building is having district meeting in a park
(it makes it a real adventure when it rains)

Hey y'all, happy May!! I think I blinked and now April is over. Time is flying so fast! I don't want to miss a moment so one of my goals right now is to take 10 seconds every now and then and just appreciate the moment I am in. I'm excited about everything that is ahead of us but I know we'll never get these experiences back. So I'm choosing to love these moments :)

It was a pretty normal week, packed full of little blessings here and there. We kept finding ourselves in the right place at the right time. It was cool because we didn't feel any dramatic spiritual promptings telling us where to go or who to talk to. We just made plans that made sense to us and Heavenly Father did all the heavy lifting. 

Our phone completely broke this week which was a lil crazy. It ended up being a huge blessing though! I was in Luling with my girl Sister Smeltz and by some miracle we met up with the Sisters. We had an appointment with Shannon and usually we'd give her a heads up before we go over but our phone was non functional so that wasn't really an option. We got there and Shannon was in bad shape. She was having a really bad week and had even left work early because she was crying so much. She didn't really want us over but she invited us in and the spirit took care of the rest. We were able to share some scriptures with her that gave her peace and she was thirsting for more! It was a real breakthrough with her. And if our phone had been working she would have told us not to come and we never would have had this experience. God sure works in mysterious ways! 

I love y'all! Have a rad week and choose joy <3

Sister Thomas

Found this cool guy in the middle of the road (so of course we got pics with him)
Sidewalk inspiration