Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Letter #3

Hola Familia!
Holy cow, this week has been absolutely amazing!! On Sunday, we had our first Fast Sunday... which we were expecting
to be torturous, because, like I said, we live for mealtimes.  But, it was
one of the best fasting experiences of my life.  We had a mission
conference with everyone and were so spiritually edified, we hardly had time to
think about hunger.  I was asked to translate during our branch's
testimony meeting into a little microphone that connects to headsets that
Brother and Sister Driggs use because neither of them speak Spanish at
all.  I let Sister Shaw have half of the time because I could tell she
really wanted to do it.  It was such an amazing experience.  I loved
it!  And what an honor!  That night, the President of the Provo
temple came to speak to us at our devotional.  The things I learned there
are beyond anything I could have imagined - most of which I cannot share. 
Just know how much I love the temple. As you know, or at least mom and dad
do, I really struggled with the temple at first.  It's different. 
It's new.  It's ancient.  But, oh how true it is.  I can’t get
enough of it.   We went early this morning because we've been so excited
since Sunday to go. We couldn't even wait until our time slot.  It was
such an eye opening session.  Most of my studies have been  temple/covenant focused lately.  I am
just so excited to teach people so that they can be together with their
families for eternity.  Think of it.  ETERNITY.   I am so grateful that our family is blessed
with such covenants.  I can't wait to come home and we can all do a
session together and share what we've learned!  Bren, Jess, and Justin
will all be there soon, too!

On Monday, we taught a lesson to one of our investigators -
Mavel.  We had thoroughly prepared a lesson that had seemed very
appropriate for her needs.  Suddenly, we found ourselves standing outside
of her "home" about to knock on the door and we realized how very
WRONG that lesson plan was.  In about 30 seconds we came up with a brief
outline of what we ought to teach instead - about how the Book of Mormon
blesses families and can be a very literal guide to help families become more
united and to provide them with strength.  We walked in that room in
terror praying very hard, because we really didn't know what was going on...
but we just decided we would let the Spirit guide and try to follow as best as
we could... something that has been recently difficult for us.  For the
first time in my whole life, I felt the Spirit literally speak for me, put
words directly into my mouth, and just used my voice to teach to the needs of
Mavel.  I was so humbled.  It happened with all three of us and we
were blown away by the power that we felt.  This is real!    We
just give it all we have got and the Lord will fill in the rest.  In fact,
He already has filled in the rest.

 Questions keep coming about WHY that first day/week was so
unbelievably difficult.  The first day, as I was being driven to the MTC,
a wave of panic came upon me as I realized that this was real life.  I was
literally set apart and called as a missionary - a literal representative of
Jesus Christ.  I was terrified.  Through the course of the coming
week, I felt panicked, unworthy, unfaithful, and simply wanted to come
home.  My faith was so badly shaken that at times, I would be teaching and
just thinking... I don't really care if you don't accept this... because I'm
not really sure if it's true.  I prayed more fervently than I ever had in
my life, and NO answers came.   But, after the trial of your faith
the security and blessings and even greater faith come.  One day, one of
the sisters in my district had a bit of a meltdown and shared all of those
feelings that I listed above.  I listened as every single person in my
district said that they had felt the same way.  Then, we went to a Sunday
night devotional where the speaker asked us all to stand if we had felt any of
the trials he was about to list while at the MTC. As he listed each
trial, the ENTIRE auditorium stood for every. single. one. 
ESPECIALLY when he said the wanting to go home one.  We had all felt
the same way.  And that was when the testimony began to come.  The
Lord was testing us.  As dad has mentioned several times, the Lord puts us
through the infamous Refiner's Fire.  As the experiences kept coming and
the Spirit we felt kept getting stronger, we began coming to understand that
testimonies cannot possibly be reached unless you  work for them or unless you pass through
something painful or difficult or whatever it is that the Lord knows you need
to pass through. Take for example, Joseph Smith's first prayer.  Did God
the Father and His Son just randomly appear to him?  Of course not. 
He was overtaken by some evil power from the unseen world - a literal being who
bound him and did everything in his power to get him to give up.  Did
Joseph Smith give up? No.   Did we, as missionaries, give up? 
No!!  Here we are and we are here to stay.  We love it here.  It
is a place of the most incredible miracles.  They happen every single
day.  I've never seen such a power as I have here.  The MTC is by no
means Satan-proof, but the power of the Holy Spirit that resides here is plenty
sufficient for us to hold on to.

 Exciting news:  Bry Creer, one of my very best friends from BYU
is in my zone!!!  We were so excited when the new district came in last
week we couldn't even contain ourselves.  The sisters are in the room next
to us which is awesome because up until this week, all of the sisters were on
different floors.  Their district has 6 sisters and 4 elders.  I'm
not sure if it's the first time ever, but it's the first time our branch president
has ever seen more sisters than elders in a district.  Pretty neat, huh?

 My district:Hermana Shaw: from Reno, Nevada going to Santiago North,
Chile.  Family lives in Imperial Valley California.  Goes to Southern
Utah University. Did a exchange student program in Argentina last year and
is quite fluent.
Hermana Heeb: from Arvada, Colorado going to Concepcion South,
Chile.  Goes to BYU. Those two are my companions - we are the three blondies in the
pictures I send you.  We love each other so much and have such a blast
together, but we also work really really hard.  It's been awesome.

The other sisters who also live in our room are Hermana Scaife: from Milwaukee, Wisconsin going to San Fernando,
California (Shout out to Lauren Simpson!).  She's about 5 feet tall. She's
such a rock star. We love her to death!! Hermana Williams: from Colorado Springs, Colorado going to Riverside
California.  She's 6'1. They are everyone's favorite companionship.  People stop them
in the halls  and tell them that they
seem them everywhere and just adore them. And so do we.  They are so
cute together and make the perfect companionship.

 Elder Pyne: from Saint Louis, Missouri going to Mendoza,
Argentina.  20 years old.  He's our new district leader and so. darn.
funny.Elder Erickson: from Cuna, Idaho going to Santiago North,
Chile.  Seriously, the funniest person you'll ever meet.  Also, so
outgoing and polite.Elder Nufer: from Columbus, Ohio going to Salt lake City.  His
girlfriend is from Salt Lake and going to Columbus.  So cool.  We love
her. She always sends us treats. They are "Los Elderes Tres" and so much fun.

The "Elderes dos" son: Elder Primm: from Dallas Texas going to Portland Oregon.  Went
through cancer and heart disease and owes his life to the Lord so he is here to
serve.  He was our old district leader. Elder Herron: from Highland Utah going to Concepcion South, Chile. 
Polite and shy, but very spiritually profound. 
Ok, I'm over time, but I hope I answered questions as well as I
could!  I love you all so much!

 Love you!!!!!

Hermana Thomas

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