Hey All!

I must say, I haven't been this happy and relieved for a P-day in a really long time. This has been a ROUGH week. But one also full of miracles. It's funny how those two things seem to run together quite frequently. I feel like I have so many refiner's fires to experience, maybe because I need a lot of refining. But, it's good for me. I am growing a lot and I am learning what it means to put my faith and confidence in my Father's acceptance, and no other person.

This week was crazy. Sister Peralta and I have never been so succesful in finding! We found 10 new investigators this week, 10! We were amazed. What a blessing.  People approached us and asked if we could teach them. It was so humbling and quite amazing to me and we set all of them for baptism. Only 5 of them came to church on Sunday but that's okay! We can work on that. I have been so happy all week. The lessons seemed to go well, we are teaching better together, and things have just felt better!  The spirit is strong as we testify and those we are teaching are learning to recognize the spirit. 
 
Plus, it is like my birthday never ends! Hhaha, the celebration continues.  I came home on Tuesday from working and the sisters in my house had planned ANOTHER surprise dinner for me. There was spaghetti, cake, and ice cream! Haha it was so sweet. then, on thursday, we had a zone meeting and the zone leaders had planned a surprise as well! I walked into the room and there was cupcakes in the shape of a 21. The whole zone sang to me and made me blow out all 21 candles! Hahaha...embarrasing but I felt loved. I was just happy to be a missionary this whole week.

 
Then sunday came and things seemed to spiral downward quick! You would think that the Sabbath day would be the best day for missionaries right? I thought so too. We were fasting, which is always hard here considering the heat, but whatever. No biggie. Church was good. We had 5 investigators in attendance and also LOTS of less active members. The testimonies shared were good and everything was great. Then we had our weekly coordination meeting with the bishop. Our ward mission leader was not invited for some reason, which was strange. Just the bishop, his counselors, and the four missionaries in our ward. We were all in the bishop's officer reporting on the work in his ward and for some reason the Bishop kept making rude comments to me and Sister Peralta. He kept claiming we were disobedient and that the Concepcion "A" area sisters were not disobedient (both of whom are Filipina). He bragged to us that Concepcion "A" had much more prepared investigators than Concepcion "B," which is our area. He chastized Sister Peralta andI, saying that our converts were just converts because we "flirt" with them to get our numbers. He said that our one baptism for May can't get baptized because he is only coming to church to gain our attention and he won't allow him to be baptized.  This is because we flirt with him instead of teach him and we don't do missionary work correctly. The bishop said this in front of his counselors and the other sisters! It was so frustrating.  I didn't understand why he would think these things.  Then he looked straight at me, right in the eyes, and said "you know what Sister Thomas, I wonder if all of this is happening because you don't have the Spirit with you."  Your eyes don't sparkle like the eyes of the other sisters."

I have never felt so small or so humiliated in my entire life. No one dared to utter a word the whole time this was happening. I have no idea where all of this came from. I know the bishop has never loved or accepted me because I am white (he has issues with white people in power) but he never has said anything like this to me before. I was crushed. I didn't even have a chance to present our work for this week because all he did was chastize and criticize us. Then after all of that, he had the nerve to ask me to give the closing prayer. ME, the missionary with no spirit?!!!! UGH. I did so anyways and did the best I could to choke back the emotions that so desperately wanted to pour out of my eyes and that were surfacing in my throat.

After the meeting we had to work.  We had lessons scheduled so we went straight to work. Our lessons were average at best.  We didn't seem to have the same peace in our teaching.   We only had two lessons that seemed successful the entire afternoon and nothing went well. Blech! It was just horrible. I hope that day never repeats itself.

So, then I spent the rest of the night stressed about it all and upset because i feel like I have given so much of myself to this area, and it has been so challenging, the entire time.  I cried myself to sleep.  I only have three weeks left here and that is all the bishop and his leaders could say. My heart is breaking and now I feel like I haven't done enough to help this area. Looking back, I don't have regrets, but now I wonder if I should.  Why is it that with some people, it is never enough? No matter the successes or the challenges that have been overcome, it is still not enough. 

Gratefully, I know there is a lesson for me to learn from all of this. The Lord is trying to teach me something, I am not sure what yet, but i know that it is something. I am searching and trying not to let my discouragement and heartache get the best of me. This is the Lord's work and there is no time for self pity.

I know He loves us and, I guess the only accountability that really matters in the end is our accountability to Him. While we may at times be subject to His correction, He would never cut us down or make us feel less than who we are and He appreciates our efforts, no matter how great or how small. I know my Savior lives and I know He comforts us "in the midst of our infirmities." I also know that He walks with us through our personal refining fires. 

Mothers day is next week!!!!!!! (: hooooorah! Skype time. Did mom's package come?? It better have. I paid extra for the express!

I love you all. You are my inspiration and my motivation. I am so blessed to have you all on my team. There is not a better team  than "team thomas!" Don't worry about me, I am growing up. I am learning how to be a big girl in a mean world. (; I am also learning how to work well with others.  Haha!

I hope mom stays safe in Florida, Courtney kicks back this summer, Hannah keeps enjoying all the talents God blessed her with, and Bowen keeps bringing his spirit and energy to the world, and dad survives being a single parent for a week. (; Haha!

Mahal Kita.

Sister Thomas