Hey Y’all!

So this week was a fun one, although the week following a baptism is never as fun to write about. Last Monday we just hung out at the church and ate ice cream/watched the elders play Risk for six hours/played chair soccer with the elders and a YSA named J. It was good, but Sister A & I could have done without the six-hour game of Risk, haha. That evening we had dinner with the M family. He’s in the bishopric and they have four kids. After that we had FHE with the S family & helped make decorations for New Beginnings.

Tuesday did some service at the Habitat for Humanity thrift store here in town, we go their twice a week and hang up/organize their clothes. It’s pretty fun because we get to wear pants and the only music they ever play is ABBA Gold, which I think is pretty funny. That day we also had a lesson with our investigator E, and committed him to being baptized on April 30th. He’s a good guy, and he wants to get baptized, but his family doesn’t really support him, so we’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday we did some finding and then that evening we had our weekly correlation meeting/dinner at the Ward Mission Leader’s house with both sets of elders and J (he’s trying to go on a mission and we are his only friends so he comes to everything the missionaries are at). We ended up doing a lot of talking and not a whole lot of correlating, but next week should be better. After that we had Book of Mormon class, taught by Brother I who used to be a Baptist preacher until he joined the church about a year ago. He is so cool and so excited about the gospel! His wife was an inactive member and the missionaries started visiting them and now they’re one of the strongest families in the ward! He taught on the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi and with his heavy history with the Bible, he makes his teaching of Isaiah so clear.

Late Wednesday night (by late I mean 8:00….#MissionLife) the Jacksonville sisters got into town and stayed with us through Friday. This was my first real taste of STL life and it was pretty nerve racking to have to worry about making sure I was prepared to help them with what they’re struggling with right now. I still feel like a really new missionary a lot of the time, so sometimes I worry I won’t have advice for people. Thankfully though, I don’t actually have to come up with any advice, I just have to follow the Spirit! It was really fun having them up with us though. It’s always exciting to have another set of sisters to hang out with.

Thursday we went on splits with the Jacksonville sisters and Sister H & I went to Beebe (a town in our area) to teach our deaf investigator named M. We had a good lesson and we talked about her coming to church. The church that she goes to right now in Beebe doesn’t have any interpreters, so she was pretty excited when I told her I would interpret for her if she came to our church. When I was asking her about her family, I asked if they could sign and she said: “Yes, but they’re not skilled like you.” That made me feel pretty good, haha.

After we were done with M, we went to visit a less active member that the Beebe elders had asked us to visit named L. She’s an older lady and she’s single. She moved here from Paris, Texas about 4 months ago and hasn’t been to church since she got here. We started talking to her more about church and found out that she had been baptized in 1972 into the Paris, Texas ward, and she had lived there ever since! That made it a little easier to understand her concerns. She’s just afraid of moving into a new ward. It’s the first time she’s ever done it! We also found out our ward doesn’t have her records yet, so the Relief Society president didn’t even know she was here. We got Sister C her information and she promised to get to work on the situation immediately.

I’m so thankful for the new perspective my mission has given me on less active members. Before my mission I had no understanding of why people went inactive. I usually thought they were just kinda dumb, or never had a testimony, or whatever, but now I see that there are a lot of different reasons people go inactive. Often times they are really complicated, and going inactive doesn’t mean that you don’t have a testimony. As essential as member missionary work is in bringing new people into the church, I think it is even more vital for reactivation work. It has made me so excited to go home and reactivate every single person in my family and home ward, haha!

After we were done in Beebe we met back up with Sister A & Sister E, and all four of us went to help this family, The T’s, pack to prepare for a move to a new trailer on Saturday. It was definitely a process because they have five kids, A LOT of stuff, and not a lot of room. Let’s just say this, I channeled every episode of Clean House I’ve ever seen, and had plenty of opportunities to brush up on my Niecy Nash impression.

Friday we had Specialized Training meeting from 9:00-3:30 and Sister A & I had to instruct. President Wakolo told us to study The District 1 & 2 DVDs and instruct on whatever stood out to us, so we decided to instruct on accountability. We talked about what accountability means, why it’s important, and how we can have a better attitude about being accountable to our mission leaders, our mission president, and the Lord. I think it went well. One thing that really stood out to me from my studies on the subject was a sentence from Preach My Gospel that says “The attitude you have toward your mission experience is a reflection of your love toward your Heavenly Father and His Son and your respect for the priesthood.” (PMG pg. 151). I love that sentence, but it hit me pretty hard when I read it. That’s heavy stuff!

I also love it though because I think it applies to us beyond our missions. Substitute the word mission for calling, family, etc. and it still works. Attitude is everything, and we should strive to have a cheerful one while we labor in the Lord’s vineyard. When speaking to the Saints who were laboring on the Salt Lake Temple, Brigham Young said: “You have got to do the work, or it will not be done. We do not want any whiners about this temple. If you cannot commence cheerfully, and go through the labor of the whole building cheerfully, start for California, and the quicker the better. Make you a golden calf, and worship it. If your care for the ordinances of salvation, for yourselves, your living, and dead, is not first and foremost in your hearts, in your actions, and in everything you possess, go! Pay your debts, if you have any, and go in peace, and prove to God and all his Saints that you are what you profess to be, by your acts”

That quote is why Brigham Young is my favorite prophet, haha. But seriously, he didn’t mess around and he’s right! We are building the kingdom of God, and we should thank our Heavenly Father every day for the opportunity we have to do so. I hope y’all all have a good week, and that y’all can all find joy in doing the Lord’s work!

Love, Sister Thomas

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