Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Letter #2

Oh, how i've missed you! Ok there is no way to write everything but i'll go as fast as I possibly can. 
The threesome is going well. It is really difficult sometimes because it can easily become a two one one situation, but it's also really great because we have so many more ideas to bounce off of each other. We had TRC for the first time the other day - where you teach members, as members, not as investigators, and it went so well!! I love it, seriously so much fun. I'm at a point where I can understand pretty much any spanish spoken to me and speak anything I want in some form or another. It's often not exactly how I want to say it, but it works. There are so many miracles here. Every. Single. Day. I can't even describe to you how real this work is. This is so clearly and truly the Lord's work.
If last week was one of the worst of my entire life, this was possibly the best. That first week was so insanely difficult. I saw Jessica, as you said (pardon the tears streaming down my face in the one picture you got to see of me - pictures don't really work here but I'm working on it), who asked what to do to prepare. There is nothing that can possibly prepare anyone for that first week except having a single point in time, an instant, a moment, anything where you ABSOLUTELY knew the church was true and could not deny it. Your faith gets so shaken and you want to go home every second of the day and you want to give up, but you remember that moment - and the miserable life that you will be forced to lead if you come home - and you push on. And oh, how worth it it becomes. I am so very very happy. The Lord blesses those that endure, just like anything in life.

Quick housekeeping:
I would love that camel - colored JJill skirt and I also forgot that new music book. Also, should I have you send me a converter or send my appliances home right before I leave the MTC? It's looking like the plugs are not the same, as we thought.
I see all of my friends all the time. It is wonderful not to feel alone and to know that there is so much support here.
Shout out to all the byu acceptees!!!! So proud of you all! It is such an exciting time!

Anyway: things I've learned this week:
When you study in a different language, a whole new world is opened up to you. The things I have learned from studying the scriptures in spanish would never ever have been learned in english. Example: in english, fruit is fruit. In spanish, fruit is fruta, como apples, bananas, etc. or fruto like fruits of our labors, generations to come, works of Christ, etc. In both the Garden of Eden and Lehi's dream, frutO is used. They didn't literally partake of the fruit (or maybe they did, but it was wholly symbolic - as everything else is). Adam and Eve were providing generations to the world and beginning the plan of salvation and preparing the way for Christ to appear. Lehi's family was to come and partake of the words and deeds and above all the Atonement of Christ (remember that the tree of life represents the love of God, which is, in reality, Christ Himself). 

Everything is so insanely accelerated here. I can't describe how powerful the Spirit is working on us to prepare us for the field and for the rest of our lives. We learn at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented.
On Sunday, Sister Mary N. Cook from Gen. YW pres spoke during relief society and Brother Stephen Allen - managing director of missionary department at the night devotional. Last night we heard from Elder Ballard. It was absolutely phenomenal - like nothing I've ever experienced. As his name appeared on the screen that he would be speaking, I remembered several years ago when he visited our stake and we were asked to fast and pray for specific guidance from the words he would speak. I remembered that and said a quick, sincere prayer to have my ears and eyes open and be totally focused as the Nephites finally do the third time in 3 Nephi 11 (I had been studying 3 Nefi 10, 11, and 12). What does he speak on? 3 Nefi 11. In fact, he literally stood, at the pulpit, and read almost the whole chapter. A special witness of Jesus Christ, repeating His very simple, sincere, and perfect message. He began with those very verses on which I had based my prayer. Also, when he walked in, we had all stood out of respect - finishing out the song Choose the Right and then continuing to sing I Know That My Redeemer Lives. The Spirit that was felt there... Holy cow. As we stood, I could not help but imagine what it would be like if the Savior were to walk in. How we would all fall to our knees in adoration. And what did he go on to talk about? How if the Savior were to walk in to that auditorium, how he would call us up, one by one, as He did to Nephi, and we would fall to our knees in praise and adoration and kiss His feet. And then He would command us to teach. To teach His very simple and sincere and perfect message to the world and invite others to be bapitzed.
I know that the Lord is not only preparing the investiators that I will teach, but preparing me to teach them. I also know that He is preparing each of you for whatever is coming up in your life. He will NEVER give you a trial that you cannot handle. He will always be there with you to guide and protect you and teach you - especially when Satan is working on you the most, when all you want to do is just go home. 

Funny story:
Each week (it sounds like this same plan has been instituted in our ward!), we have to have a talk ready because after Sacrament , the Bishop stands up and announces the two "random" (it's clearly revelatory. There is certainly no such thing as random) speakers for the day - a sister and an elder. An hour before sacrament, I had thought something along the lines of how I was certain that the branch president didn't even know my name. Half an hour before, I said that I really hoped they wouldn't call on me because my talk really had nothing to do with the assigned topic. A few days before, I had volunteered to give the closing prayer... you know, so i wouldn't have to talk. After the sacrament, President Wilkins got up and announced that our first talk would be by Sister Thomas. ok. what's new. hahahaha. I thought it was so funny.

Anyway, my talk sort of stood out because, well, I can speak spanish... and nobody else really can except for our new companion Sister Shaw. After church, Brother Monson came up to me (did I mention He is the prophet's nephew and could literally be his identical twin?) and told me that my spanish is absolutely beautiful. He asked how I had learned. I said that I had spoken a little bit with my dad at home and that I had studied it in school... but then I told him the real truth - which most of you familia ya saben (already know), that I can't get it out of my head. When people talk to me, all i hear is spanish. When I watch a movie or listen to a lecture or go to class or whathaveyou, it's all instantly translated into spanish in my head - to the best of my ability of course. He also served in Chile and has beyond marvelous spanish. He asked me how many days I thought he has studied spanish in his life. I guessed... a lot. Wrong. Never. He has been given the gift of tongues. He told me that I, too, have that gift, and that I must never, ever, ever forget where it comes from and give any glory that comes with it straight to God. It was an answer to prayers because I had felt kind of unwrothy and it had seemed wrong to pray for the gift of tongues like everyone else was doing. Now I know, that I have to pray for further development of that gift. Please note that that gift is nowhere to be found in my Patriarchal blessing, so I automatically assumed that I could never have it. WRONG! All of God's gifts are available to all of us if we are willing to work hard at them and give all of the glory from whom they come. I know that the Lord lives and that He loves us and wants to help us in any way He can. 
I also love all of you so so much. Peace, love, and blessings!
Hasta Luego!
Hermana Thomas

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