Dear Friends and Family,

The past week here has been really intense. As a missionary I feel I have grown exponentially, but I have also felt that growth as a person, church member, and over all follower of Christ. This week has been such a blessing. The first day was emotional to be sure, leaving my family behind was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I have already received so many blessings for making that sacrifice.

 As a missionary I have learned countless lessons since coming here, but some of the lessons that have truly stuck out to me are the importance of baptism and extending that invitation as soon as possible, what a sacred responsibility it is to be one in purpose with The Godhead, and teaching and recognizing repentance as a wonderful blessing instead of a difficult experience. I have felt blessed to come to understand the meaning and purpose of my mission and I will do everything in my power to be the best missionary I can be by helping others come unto Christ.
I have also been blessed to come to know the Spirit better as He tries to communicate with me. Our role play lessons with our teachers have been intensely spiritual experiences and even though they haven’t been real investigators I have received divine inspiration several times while teaching. I am so thankful for the gift of the Spirit because I could not teach these truths on my own. The fact is I don’t teach them at all, the Spirit does, and I just act as a lightning rod to allow the Spirit to bless others.
 On a more temporal note, I really love everyone here. There is one Elder in my district, and he’s pretty difficult to love, but I’m working on it. Overall though my district is amazing and we all became friends really quickly. My companion’s name is Sister Cawley and I LOVE HER. I was so blessed to get a companion I love and get along with. She’s from LA and we’re total bros. There is one other set of sisters in our district, Sister Phelps and Sister Tolson. They’re really quiet, but super nice, and we’ve gotten along well. There are two sets of Elders; Elder Hartley & Elder Julander, and Elder Arbon & Elder Croft. Arbon graduated from Corner Canyon so we have a lot of Alta friends in common! Arbon & Croft are coming to Arkansas on the 19th with Sister Crawley & I, and the other half of our district leaves for Michigan the next day. Sister Cawley and I were also called as the Sister Training Leaders (it’s kinda like the female equivalent of a Zone Leader) and we are so excited for the opportunity to serve our fellow missionaries.
Adjusting to the schedule was a little hard, but I’ve gotten on track now and am no longer feeling tired. I can’t believe I’ve been here since Wednesday. It feels like I’ve been here for a few hours! I taught zone Relief Society yesterday and it was a cool experience. The lesson was on Enduring to the End, and it’s a really powerful subject for me now that I am serving. I thought a lot about the importance of looking at Enduring to the End in a positive light, so now every time Sister Cawley and I say our missionary purpose, which is: To invite others to come unto Christ through helping them accept the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, we add on the word CHEERFULLY. Because honestly, we are so blessed to have the opportunity to invite others to come unto Christ, and we should be over the moon that we are here doing this work. One of my teachers, Sister Karratti, and I were talking about how we are only called to invite people to baptism for these short 18 months and that’s it. This is the only time in our lives we will have that blessing, and we should never squander it by pining after a boy or being home sick or sleepy or grumpy or disobedient or whatever, this is our only chance to do this work, so we better not waste it. What a responsibility and what a blessing.
 The Lord has blessed me so much, and it is the least I can do to give him this year and a half of my life in order to help him bless others, the kick is he continues to bless me constantly throughout the process. Ours is truly a loving God.
Sister Thomas

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