Monday, May 12, 2014

Cinco de Mayo in Africa!

Phone Call on Mothers Day!

Habari zenu,
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM!!!!! again haha
But this week was something else. Started off like the worst week of my mission yet, but ended up being really great in the end.
The beginning of the week was really rough. Almost all of our appointments on Tuesday and Wednesday got canceled. People were just bouncing us, not showing up to appointments, and also the rain was a big problem.  It gets to muddy for people to travel around, so that contributed to a lot of the problems as well.  It was super frustrating just because me and Elder Dick were really doing our best to set good plans and make the day as efficient as possible, but it was just one of those weeks where nothing was seeming to go right at all. 
So the first 4 days of this past week were just like not enjoyable at all.  But Friday was the turning point! We did our street contacting activity again, just trying to talk to everyone possible that passed our way.  It was cool because we set up close to the Kitale District Hospital, so people were piling out of that place! SO within 2 hours, we were able to contact and talk to 200 people, with the help of our Branch president and 2 other branch members.  That really got my spirits up and got me more motivated and refocused.
After that, we had a super great lesson with Walter (one of the guys we contacted thru street contacting a month ago.). So it has been a pretty long time since we have been able to see Walter, just because of how far away he lives and just because of some other different reasons.  But the lesson we had with him was super powerful! So last time, we taught the restoration to him and also about the Book of Mormon.  So we followed up to see if he had prayed and read.  He went on to tell us that he had read up to the Book of Alma, and really came to see how great the Book of Mormon is.  At first, he said that as he read it he was getting absolutely nothing out of it (English used in it is difficult sometimes for people to understand). But he said that he was super determined to know about it, so he prayed and asked God for help.  He said that after some few days of reading, he knew for sure that it was true! Ohhh it was soooo awesome! Spirit was super strong, and we knew for sure that the Holy Ghost was testifying to him that the Book of Mormon, and the church, are true! We went on to teach about the Plan of Salvation and it was great.  He had lots of questions and really came to learn a lot of things that he said he never knew about, like where we came from.  But showed him Jeremiah 1:5, and he was like "wow!". haah.  Really great lesson, and we really hope that he continues to progress well. 

So Sunday, we decided to fast for the area. Just because the past few weeks have just been discouraging with a lot of our investigators droppin us and just not keeping commitments.  So we fasted and asked for help to do our best to continue to work hard and be diligent, and also that the members might get more involved and be able to give us referrals to teach.  Even recently, we have been teaching all of the members the message of the Restoration, trying to just spark their testimonies about the church.  So at church, the Lord really gave us an immediate response to our fast! In a very unexpected way.  We were in the PEC meeting 20 minutes before church with the branch president talking about different matters.  Randomly, the branch president looks around at everyone, and then at me, and says "Elder Thomas, i don't think that we have ever heard you give a talk here before. Can you give a talk today?" at first i was like ohh snap, not again.  I have to give another talk right on the spot? But, then as i thought about it, i could see that it was a chance for me to speak on missionary work and get the members motivated! so that's what i did. Did my best to prepare a 15 minute talk in 20 minutes, and then just went for it and relied on the spirit. And it actually turned out really well.  I felt like i did a good job and that i got the message of doing member missionary work across.  Really hope that the members can get motivated from this, and that the work and really excel from this.  But just a super cool experience, just seeing that the Lord does really hear and answer our prayers, in ways that we don't expect. But its always the way it needs to be. 
But so happy i could talk to all of you yesterday!!! So great to hear from all of you!!!
I love you all and have a goood weeek!!!!
Elder Thomas

Monday, May 5, 2014

Raining at the shamba, we had to wait 2 hours for it to go away

It's May

Well another week down in the books of Mzee Thomas.
So this week was both good and bad.  Good because we really worked hard and had some great lessons.  Bad because we lost more than half of our investigators.  I'm not even sure what happened.  All the sudden people were just going AWOL on us! But no worries, its the name of the game!
But the real positive thing this week was that our investigators in Sikhendu are still doing great! We only have 4 of them that side, but all are progressing well to their bapt. date on 1 June.  Had 2 great lessons this week with Emmanuel (18).  He is doing awesome with keeping his commitments and reading the Book of Mormon.  He is super powerful! He walks 1 1/2 hours just to meet with us and to come to church! Super devoted and is really growing a strong testimony!! he is really sacrificing a lot to learn more and come closer to the Savior.  But sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven! And that's the truth.  Also with Flora and Mercy (15,16), they are still doing great.  Almost done teaching them all of the lessons, but we will probably go back and review the Restoration with them again.  Interesting lesson with our other investigator there, Maricle (30).  When we got to her place (which is also directly connected to the duka/shop they own), we got the DIRECT smell of smoke and alcohol... and her husband was there with his crew breakin that Word of Wisdom.  Really sad to see.  We weren't really even able to teach her at all because of it.  There was going to be no way that the spirit would have been there if we taught.  It was definition bad new bears! So word of wisdom will be taught next time.  But we hope that things work out with all of them.
Rough week in Kitale though.  Lots of bounced appointments and just lost a lot of our investigators.  We have really been trying hard to contact and call them, but its either they have their phones off or they just don't answer.  We are just really worried that many of them have heard bogus rumors about the church, so they got scared off.  Its a big challenge for a lot of people here.  Even one of our most solid investigators, Willis, just moved to Eldoret! eish.  But its ok, he is staying really close to the Elders who work their, so we hope that things will work out with him. 
But in Kitale, we do have one progressing investigator who we really working with, Gaubencia.  But oh my goodness, she is super stubborn!! haha i really love her but so stubborn!! really has some deep Catholic views.  But she comes to church every week, and is the sister to a really strong member and stays with them.  So they really help her a lot.  But we had a really great lesson this week with her about the Plan of Salvation, talking about life after death.  It was really cool to see her really come to understand what happens to us after we die, just because she really had no idea about it.  She is still yet to accept a bapt date, but i know that one day she will!!
Also did some more street contacting this week. One funny thing.  I started talking to this one lady about the church, and her little 7 yr old kid was just standing there, just minding his own business, acting all innocent.  But he wasn't! Let me tell you why. As i was talking to his mom (as we are in the middle of the street), all the sudden, he just drops his pants and starts peeing in the middle of the street.  No shame whatsoever.  Just went for it.  Lets just say i got hit by some debris and shrapnel.  Its pretty normal to see actually, but not in the middle of town.
Also, happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! Its not celebrated here, but its ok we will still make tacos tonight! haha.  Love you all!!! HAPPY EARLY MOTHERS DAY MOM!!!!!!! i love you!!!!! talk to yall soon!
Elder Thomas

April 28, 2014

This past week was super busy in Kitale and Sikhendu!!
So on Tuesday we had to do exchanges with the Misikhu elders, so i was with Elder Mwashi. He is a brand new missionary from Nairobi.  It was fun being with him, he had soo much energy and was always super enthusiastic and energetic! Almost like a Kenyan Spencer haha.  But we were able to meet some new investigators while i was with him.  It was crazy though because as we were going to one of our appointments, it started raining super super hard! So we had to wait under a kibanda thing for like 2 hours, it would have been impossible to bike around.  But it was cool because we were able to teach and visit with a few random people under the kibanda. 
Then on Thursday, we switched back in Sikhendu and worked there for the day.  But man we WALKED that day!!  We went with Bro Mukenya, one of the members. We asked him to take us to as many less active families as we could.  Little did we know that there was a funeral going on that day.... so that means that EVERYBODY goes. No joke.  Mostly because of free food.  But anyways, we got bounced a lot.  But it was cool, because we went to a part of Sikhendu that i had never seen before.  Really deep in the bush.  Like we went most of the day walking around not seeing anyone on the paths. We were really out there! But somehow we were able to have a few great lessons.  One was with Bro Wasike, a less active member who used to be the Branch Pres.  He has not been to church for over two years.  We felt prompted to share about the restoration, reading from Joseph Smith History.  Really nice lesson.  He asked a lot of good questions afterwards and really appreciated us coming.  Then on Sunday he came to church!! It was so awesome, really was like a small miracle. 
Also again this week we did street boarding again with our Branch President and mission leader.  We are really finding a lot of people to teach from this! Even we found an AWESOME new investigator named Willis.  He is a seventh day Adventist, but was really interested in learning more.  He is just one of those guys who is really out there to find the truth.  Met with him twice this week. The first time we just discussed shortly the Book of Mormon and answered all his questions about it.  But the best lesson we had was when we taught him the restoration. WOW! Had to have been one of the best lessons that i have been in on my mission.  All of his questions were just super great and really on point.  The coolest part was when we discussed the First Vision.  He was like glued on us! And when we talked about when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith,  he said "wow! So from what you are saying God and Jesus Christ came to Joseph smith and called him as a prophet." I was like yes... haha! I was just shocked about how well he really comprehended what we were teaching.  Most people are like confused when we get to this point and just think that angels came to Joseph Smith. But Willis was right on point and really understood well, for sure the Holy Ghost was there doing the real teaching! Also gave him a bapt date for June.  But he is sooo awesome! Going to meet with him again this week.
Story of the week. Crazy story.  So my comp and i found a less active family that no one wanted us to visit apparently... they are awesome but anyways back to the story.  The whole family is members, except for the sister to the Father of the family, she goes to ADC (African divine church, ya its bogus). anywho we start the lesson with a prayer, my comp starts praying.  As he is prayin i start to hear a really weird noise, but think nothing of it. Then it gets louder and louder, so i open my eyes to see whats goin on around here.  The lady who is not a member was making all sorts of funny sounds, and then she just went for it! She started screamin stuff like "oh Jehovah, Lord, Bwana!" like she was at the top of her voice screaming all these crazy things. Me and my comp just start looking at each other like what the freak is going on here?? I was no joke really scared haha.  And this lasted for a solid 10 seconds of screaming.  After she is done, the member we were with turns to us and says "continue." Elder Dick was just like "in the name of Jesus Christ amen."   Then i looked at the lady again and she was shaking and still muttering stuff to herself.  I was in shock, disbelief, and super scared! Nobody else seemed phased by it at all. It was like normal for everyone else! I guess what happened is that she was feeling "the spirit" and then had "the gift of tongues" and just went for it.  All it showed me is that apostasy is still rampant today. That is not something that should ever happen, like at all! Super crazy, churches in Kenya teach their members really apostate and dumb stuff.  But ya. Grateful that we have restored truths that govern our church and lead us in the strait and narrow way. Look out for apostasy its out there!
But a great week.  Really enjoying serving the Lord.  I am so grateful for all your support and love. Remember to put God first and everything else will fall into place. I love you ALL!
Elder Thomas

Happy Easter!

Hope that everyone had a great Easter Sunday and remembered the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To be honest i almost forgot it was Easter.  Didn't see the Easter bunny unfortunately.  No fun festivities, but i felt like people were more hyped up for Palm Friday and Good Friday than Easter Sunday.  Especially Palm Friday.  Saw a ton of people out in the street mobbin around with palm leaves doing some goofy things with them and chanting and i don't know what else. Pretty interesting tho.
This week we got transfer news, and elder Maduna has been transferred to Nairobi.  So my new companion is Elder Dick.  He is from a small town in N. Carolina, and has been on mission for a few months.  He is a great guy.  One thing that's kind of different with him is that he really likes kids and likes to play with them. Elder Maduna really hated kids and like would tell them to go away, so its just something different haah but its cool. 
But this week was really nice! First off we got to watch all of General Conference finally! It was great.  My favorite was Elder Uctdorfs talk, Sunday morning, about choosing to be grateful. Made me think of Me, Ben, and Dad at Del Taco a few years back...... hahaha! But I just really liked how he talked about how we should be  grateful in all our situations, both good and bad. I liked how he talked about how sometimes we are looking for the end, making the example of a rainbow, but we forget to be grateful for the rain.  I really thought that was awesome and it really applied to me.  But all the talks were great. I'm glad that we have living apostles and Prophets who help guide us today!
On Friday we did the street boarding/contacting activity again.  It turned out really good! We found 2 new investigators from it, both of which came to church! One interesting contact tho.  I went up and greeted a group of like 5 people who were talking.  I started talking to the guy who kind of seemed like the leader of the group i guess.  So i started talking to him, and then he said randomly, "Do you have a bible?" i was like um ya i do. Then he asked me if he could see it.  So i gave it to him, and he pulls out a scripture. Then out of nowhere he starts blasting this other guy sitting next to him. they both started arguing with each other about some stuff, I think the other guy was a 7th day Adventist, so they were blasting each other on which day is the correct sabbath day.  After like 5 minutes of this i was just like ok just give me my scriptures back so i can go.  interesting.
Things in Sikhendu are gettin better as well.  We have 4 solid investigators there with baptismal dates, and they all came to church and enjoyed general conference.  In Sikhendu, some lady came up to us and started bible bashin with us.  Ha i hate bible bashing so much.  Especially with stubborn people haha.  He was just trying to say that our church does not worship Jesus Christ, but that we worship the devil and Mormon... some goofy stuff like that. We tried to kindly explain what we believed to her but she wouldn't have it. Finally i was just like look lady, look at what our tag says "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints". I was like well there you go.  She kept quiet for a little bit, but still didn't want to believe it.  Its sad that people have such beliefs about the church. Just goes to show you that Satan is hard at work these days, and is fighting in anyway he can.  But no unhallowed hand can stop the work, it will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent! Just glad that we have the truth.  Its just up to us to share it with others, and let them choose. 
Other than that things are going ok.  The work seems to be picking up and we hope to have some baptisms at the end of this transfer, but we will see.  I love you ALL!!
Elder Thomas