Thursday, October 4, 2012

Letter from September 24, 2012

Well, this is the end of my proselyting in Slidell, and it is such a bittersweet moment. I genuinely feel as if I am leaving my family behind all over again. The people here are so loving and caring, and they have truly been a great strength for me as I would go out to work each morning - they deserve my best. But, I'm excited to move out to Coushatta and begin a whole different adventure. It is crazy to believe that as of tomorrow I have been gone for 5 months. Time is moving way too fast.
As I have reflected on the plethora of experiences that these past five months have held for me, I have been searching for a measurable degree of growth within myself. The Lord provides us with trials and adversity through our experiences for our growth, and I have been pondering in what way that has been realized. What has become clear to me is this - faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a power so great that, when exercised to its fullest, can bring about miracles. This has been my crutch throughout the varying circumstances I have found myself in, and truly, I have come to understand what faith can do. Proverbial mountains have been moved, difficulties overcome, and strength found in times of weakness, and from those experiences unique lessons have been learned, lessons that could not be learned in any other situation or circumstance. This is why I believe very strongly in the fact that, as Elder Holland has taught, "God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face." Speaking on the ministry of angels, he continued, "Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private... But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times." ("The Ministry of Angels", Elder Jeffery R. Holland)
The Prophet Mormon echoed this in a statement to his son Moroni:
“Has the day of miracles ceased?
“Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for … it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men." (Moroni 9: 35-37)
Whenever one lives worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and honors the covenants they have made, angels will attend them in their time of need. Often times, those angels are the same people that we surround ourselves who, unbeknownst to them, act as emmisaries from our Father in comforting and guiding His children. Similarly, we find that when we act upon spiritual promptings, we too can become angels sent to our fellow men. The tender mercies of the Lord are everywhere in our lives - especially in the life of a missionary. Miracles abound in the work of the Lord, and those miracles come by faith. As we increase our own faith, we can find that "the very experience of enduring chastening can refine us and prepare us for greater spiritual privileges." ("As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten", Elder D. Todd Christofferson) So let us all reflect upon what we can do to grow stronger in our faith.
This has been evident in the past week for me. Following weeks where the work was slowed by the hurricane and other factors, we finally met success. Two young families are seriously investigating the gospel, and have committed to attend church and begin to take the steps needed to come closer to Christ. While true, I will not be present to see the progress of these families, it has been a wonderful opportunity to see success come following the "trial of [our] faith." (see Ether 12:6) In fact, one of those families is a referral that came from the relief effort corresponding with Hurricane Issac. As I have previously mentioned, service creates opportunites to share the gospel. Through our own service we have found opportunites to testify of the plan of salvation, and those opportunites have turned into people investigating the church. Like I said, miracles through faith has truly been evident this past week in Slidell. 
On a random tangent, we did service for a lady for 30 minutes and I got 18 mosquito bites on my legs. Boy mom, you were right all along, there's just something in our blood those stinkin bugs like. Lesson learned - always wear jeans when doing service haha.
But, time is running short. I love you all and hope you have an amazing week! The Chruch is true, I promise!
Elder Thomas

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