January 27, 2014

Life As A Real Missionary...Part #26

dear family,

okay first off, why did nobody tell me that same sex marriage is now (or was) legal in utah?!! i found out from the members yesterday in church. apparently it is a big deal for the members here. what happened??? i have to know because they all know that i am from utah and so they have so many questions for me and i'm like clueless.

second, i can't believe it is pday again. and that january is almost over. WHAT?! i feel like i was just making sugar cookies with the filipinas on new years eve. goodness. in a few more weeks another transfer will have passed. time is so fast out here in the mission field. tell me, does it slow down or does it continue to pass by quickly the whole time?

my week here was good! we have alot of work to do here. this is sister kaufusi's third transfer in this area, so she knows it well. there is a lot of work to do though. her last companion didn't really like finding new people and only ever visited 3 of their barangay's (village). our area has 10 barangays. SO we have been doing a lot of exploring and finding. we NEED baptisms. but, we need convert baptisms. one problem here is that the people just get attatched to the missionaries, not the Gospel. it makes it difficult because when those missionaries leave the area, they quit coming to church, go back to their old habits, and then another name can be added to the huge less-actives list. it makes missionary work really hard. so we are really focusing on preparing people for eternal commitments and keeping the focus off of us. this sounds easier than it is when you have two foreigners for missionaries. hahaha filipinos love foreigners.

i do have an awesome story though! last week we recieved a referral from some members in our ward. they are really awesome, and very well off. apparently one of their daughters married an elder that once served in this ward.....(that happens a lot here....) and so like half the family now lives in utah. and the half that is still here is really.... uhhh....well, blessed temporally and they do not live in humble circumstances. haha. they are really nice and very active members. they referred us to their housekeeper, his name is aaron ocampo, or ron-ron. the first time we taught him i was gone on exchanges, so sister kaufusi and sister marcucci (remember her from cab? she stepped up to an STL!!! she's amazing!) taught him. they talked with him and he seemed kind of interested, so they left him a pamphlet and made a second teaching appointment. i went to the second appointment this last week and we taught him about the Book Of Mormon. during the lesson we asked him if he had prayed about Josph Smith and the restoration. he said he was "70%" sure that it was true. i felt prompted to give him an assignment to read various scriptures and the testimony of Joseph Smith and the three witnesses in the Book Of Mormon, in order to help build his testimony. he agreed to read it and we set another appointment for sunday. we went back yesterday, and followed up with him. he said "sisters, i am 100% sure that this is all true now." i was jolted with a joy that i have never quite felt before. he had read the testimony of the three witnesses and the testimony of Joseph Smith, and said now he knew that it was true. it was amazing! then while teaching the plan of salvation, i felt prompted to invite him to be baptized..... and he accepted! oh man, it was amazing! that was all directed by the Spirit. i am so excited for him. but (there is always a "but") at the end of the lesson, he opened up to us and let us know that he is gay and currently has a boyfriend...... oh man. he doesn't understand the law of chastity and we didn't feel right about teaching it then. so, this coming week we will be teaching him the law of chastity, with the help of our Bishop, whom we invited to help teach this lesson.  please pray that we can teach it correctly and with the spirit and that his heart will be softened to gain an understanding of the law of chastity and why it is important in our lives. i know the Lord sees his potential, i just pray he will too.

we have alot of less active members in this ward, just like everywhere else. the less active members are the biggest challenge for me because most of them have just been "offended" or are just too overwhelmed to live the gospel. it is a true test of my patience because i just wanna say "wake up and arise from the dust and GET OVER IT!" you know, like lehi preaches to his wicked sons. but, i know i can't do that. i must be gentle, understanding and calm. not really my forte, but i am working on it. i really have been praying a lot to have the Lord help me love these people the way he does. if i can do that, i think my tendency to be impatient will go away. hopefully, i can gain a better understanding and greater compassion.  pray for me. hahaha.

i do love this new area though. the bishop is AWESOME! really. the greatest, most dedicated man i have ever met. i really want to help him in anyway that we can. i want to serve this ward with all of my heart and help this area to grow. i love my companion. we are like sisters already.  she told me that she feels like we have been friends forever.  we talked the other night about how we feel like we knew each other before this life, we had too because we share everything and talking to each other is so easy. we both laugh, and have a good time. we lovingly correct each other and build each other up. we are better missionaries because we are together.  it is so awesome. she is really an amazing person. she is the first missionary in her family. she really loves the Gospel. she loves to work hard. she is someone i hope to know forever. it really makes the work more enjoyable when you have a best friend by your side.

i am glad to know that dad survived the cold temperatures of minnesota. i can't even imagine life in cold weather anymore. i have acclimated to this warm weather now, i think. i don't sleep with an electric fan on anymore, because it makes me too cold at night and everytime i am in a room with AC, i am freezing. sooooooo, wow, i am now a hot weather and humidity type of gal. i am going to literally freeze back home. bowen is so grown up looking. i can't even believe how much he has already changed. courtney is still beautiful, as always and i know she will make an amazing Gospel Doctrine teacher!! haha!  hannah is also wonderful. i miss her.  tell her to keep being strong and to remember to just have fun. mom, i got the package you sent!! it was soooo great! i was really in need of new clothes. most of mine have begun to fall apart, since i hand wash them every week and i am not very gentle. everyone is super jealous of my family.... hahaha. i am always getting packages and letters and fun stuff! (: thank you for all the love and support, and prayers. i can feel your prayers strengthening me during the hard times. the Lord does know us, because he knew just what family to send me to.

i love you all. stay strong and be good.

all my love,

sister thomas

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