It sounds like everyone is normal, busy, chaotic, and active. Good. Normal for the Thomas household! I'm glad to know some things don't change. Hannah looks beautiful in her pictures! Goodness. She looks all grown up. I have been praying for Courtney. I pray that she will be able to find the pathway that the Lord has in store for her future. I know she can do anything!! Bowen is a complete stud. Tell him to play a little more carefully. He is gonna kill himself on the gym floor. Haha! He plays like a Thomas!
Thank you mom for organizing all of that stuff for me. I am so lucky to have parents that love and support me in every way. I am always bragging to others that both of my parents served missions, they were married in the temple, and all that lovely stuff. The Filipino's think that is just incredible! They look up to you. I do too. I am blessed with a family like none other. I can't imagine belonging to anyone else! (:
The work here is..... going, it is slow. Much slower than in the more rural areas. I will admit, I really feel like the Lord is testing my strength this transfer. Before, in the other areas, even when I was sick I saw a lot of success, without working as hard as I am. Even when I couldn't work as long and was learning the language and how to teach, people progressed and miracles happened! But in this area it is not so. This area is proving to be a challenge for me. I find that I am working harder than ever before, studying more than ever before, and praying more than ever before, and for some reason, I am seeing more and more disappointment. It is so frustrating, even tear-jerking at times. Our only February baptism dropped us. Justine, the 11 year old. She claims now that she doesn't like me and my companion, because we are two foreigners. I couldn't help it, after the bishop told us, I cried! Big tears of frustration and sadness just spilled out. Sister Kaufusi and I have been fasting and praying for her, and doing all these different things to serve her!!! Ugghhhh. Sometimes, I really don't understand the Lord's plan. Sometimes I find myself getting upset at him. Which is obviously wrong. But, even when I feel like I am trusting Him to make up what I lack, I sometimes wonder if I lack more than He can fix, ya know?!
Also, my personal testimony is being tested to the extreme. My mind is starting to doubt if I am really capable of bringing the Spirit. I am on my knees constantly, pleading for answers and for help. At times it feels like the answers are not coming. I was really upset about that at first, and I started to wonder if I wasn't actually worthy to receive these answers. Then, I was reading one of the Liahonas. It said, "Sometimes, the Lord puts our faith to the test. Sometimes, He doesn't answer right away. Sometimes, you have to decide what is true and what you believe, at FIRST. But, then, the dawn clears, and the answers come, once our patience has been tested and tried, and we have endured well. The Lord doesn't take away trials just because we promise to be faithful, sometimes we are asked to prove ourselves and endure it well."
So, I guess, now, I don't know exactly what is needed from me. I don't know exactly why there are no answers. But, my faith is firm in the fact that they will come. Not on my timing, but when the Lord feels I am ready. I have learned that this life is "the time to prepare to meet God" and He is the one who knows how to help us, as individuals and to be ready for that day. So for now, I will just trust that He is building me in a way that I can not see. And hopefully someday soon, I will prove myself and the answers will come.
As hard as it is, there are always great moments here. My companion and I have had some of the craziest things happen to us here. Haha I can't share them now, it will have to wait till later. But trust me, they are good! We have a lot of good times together, and for that I am grateful. Sister Kaufasi is so great!
We have taught some really good lessons this past week. We do have investigators that are progressing spiritually, but we can't move forward until they come to church. Even when we schedule to pick them up, they always have some excuse as to why they can't come! :( It's rough. We need to find a new strategy.
Remember Brother OCampo? He is really progressing. We have not yet taught the Law of Chastity. But something great happened yesterday! We went over to teach him a lesson with a member that he knew. Before the lesson started, he gave us "merienda" or a little snack (everyone here does that!). We drank soft drinks while he drank coffee. We sort of laughed to ourselves, because our lesson was on the Word of Wisdom! Ha! It was a really great lesson, however. We taught the importance of having a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon first! Then, we moved into the Word of Wisdom. The member bore her testimony of revelation and how that may not have made much sense then, but now doctors are revealing the importance of avoiding coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco. It was good. The Spirit was strong! After it was all said and done, I asked him what he was thinking and feeling. He didn't say much and that worried me. We told him, "it's okay, you can start off by cutting down on coffee just a little at a time. Instead of 10 cups a day, go down to 8, then 5, then 3, until you don't need it anymore!" He was silent for a few minutes, then he told us, "no, I think I will just quit it completely." AAWWWHHH! The angels from heaven were literally singing. Hahahaha! I could not believe it! He is so prepared. We just need to help him rearrange his work schedule so he can come to church. I am REALLY excited to see him move forward in the direction of the Gospel. He reads the Book of Mormon continually, which is giving him strength.
So, I guess, despite my doubts, which I seem to have at times, I am learning that our faith needs to be stronger than our doubts. The only way for faith to become stronger, is by being tested. The Lord loves all of us enough to humble us and help us become who HE wants us to become, not neccasarily who WE want to become. There is power in following His way. There is strength in his plan. That I do know to be true. I am learning how to feel the Spirit. I am learning how to hear answers. I know that with time, it will come. After the test has been taken and hopefully passed. :)
Hurrah for Israel! (;
I love you all so much. I pray for you daily! Keep on moving forward Thomas family.