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!

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!

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!

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

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