We'll Harvest this Field from Sunrise to Sunset!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Running Out of Creative Titles

Dear Family and Friends,

A little bit about my area:

Roberts. Roberts is the small little town we live in. It has it's own
Highschool for some reason. Every little town thinks they need a
Highschool which makes for really small graduating classes. The people
in Roberts don't like us very much, probably because that's where the
missionaries live, so their doors have been knocked on so many times.

Red Lodge is where we like to go street contacting. We have a really
good friend named Lyn in one of the shops there. She is Lutheran but
she lets us come in and chat for a few minutes while she is working.
We got her to commit to watching Cokeville Miracle though! I hope she
let us teach her the lessons eventually.

We're having a hard time doing much in Columbus or Absarokee because
they are an hour away and we don't have a member to stay with in
either place right now. Normally the ward mission leader's home is
available for us but right now their grandson, who is on probation, is
staying with them. However, we did receive a referral for someone in
that area last week. Her name is Shyanne.

Joliet is our golden town. We have two investigator families there,
the Pratts, and the Hunts. This is also where we have been most
successful in contacting less-actives.

This week I got claustrophobic as I did my typical indoor morning
workout, I just wanted to go running no matter how cold it was
outside. Elder Ross refuses to work out with me in the mornings, so
when I told him I wanted to go running, he offered to drive the truck
behind me! Way better than sleeping.

We had some really cool experiences this last week. We contacted the
Referral that we received right at the beginning of the week. When we
got there, Shyanne's older sister, Eliza, answered the door. She is
super cool and she talked to us the whole time. When Shyanne came up
she didn't seem to excited to see us but slowly began to open up to
us. She has a few issues she needs to work through, but we're super

There was a worldwide missionary broadcast this week as well! It was
super cool. I think Elder Bednar's was my favorite talk. He talked
about the fact that we can carry the message unto there hearts, not
into their hearts. We can't make them accept the gospel, but we can
help by being worthy of the spirit and having a strong presence of the
spirit. I left that meeting feeling so excited to just go out and

We taught the Pratt's twice again. The first time they hadn't read
again but the second time, both Brother Pratt AND Kevin read! Sister
Pratt... Well she had a busy week. We read through with them once more
and were plan on moving on with the discussions next time if at least
two of them have read.

We met President Johnson in Joliet on Saturday to deliver a bed, food,
and some furniture to a family that just moved in. Sister Hunt is a
less-active single mom with two I baptized girls, an 11 and 9 year
old. They were very grateful. She doesn't have a job right now and
they are living off of food stamps and disability, but she is looking
for a job in the area. We carried the bed, mattress and furniture in
and then Elder Ross and I got to know the girls while President
Johnson and Sister Hunt talked for a minute. Soon we were all laughing
as the girls read us some US President's Trivia cards and we messed up
the answers every time. It was a ton of fun. Their mom asked if they'd
like to start meeting with the missionaries again and they both
excitedly said yes. We are excited to start meeting with them!

We've been trying to contact less-actives and former investigators. We
were able to contact a former investigator this week named Kathy. We
didn't get to talk to her for long but she said that we could come
back on Saturday.

Probably the coolest event this week was going to the Joliet vs.
Absarokee basketball game. We love going to these games because we are
able to be seen and to meet people. This last week as we walked into
the game, we went to talk to a young man in the ward named Brigham
Smith. He was sitting by all of his friends and we were a little
worried that he might be embarrassed by us. Right as we were about to
talk to him, a young 13 year old boy at a table next to him asked us
where we worked. A perfect opportunity! We told him we were
missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,
"Mormons," and that we go around telling people about Jesus Christ. He
immediately said, "tell me." So we sat down and began talking. I was
telling him and a few of his friends about how the authority to run
the church was removed when the wicked people on the earth killed
Jesus and his prophets and apostles when the boy interrupted and said,
"that's wrong." I smiled at him and said, "you told us you wanted to
hear what we believed, but we can't do that if you're going to fight
with us." He changed his type of questions after that. I began
teaching the restoration and Brigham came over and sat by us. As we
taught, the boy kept inviting his friends to come listen to us.
Probably because he thought we were crazy, but something happened that
I didn't expect. Many of the young kids that were listening to us
seemed genuinely interested. It got to the point where we had about
ten kids and they all had their own questions, so Elder Ross
brilliantly went and sat by the five in the back and began answering
their questions, leaving me with the other five. We taught a lot of
the same things; things from the Word of Wisdom ("NO COFFEE?") and the
Law of Chastity and such. It was so cool. We talked after, and we
decided if nothing comes from it, it sure felt like some effective
seed planting. One young man told us afterward that he would like his
own Book of Mormon. No way!! He told us to find him at the next
basketball game! So exciting.

I love this gospel and the joy it brings into people's lives! I know
that there is power in prayer because I have seen the blessings that
have come from it. I love you all and I hope you are having a
wonderful winter! Stay warm!

Elder Thomas

This is Skipper. He is the cutest. He goes running with me in the mornings! 
I got to play a members guitar for a minute :) I have forgotten so much. 
Saw this in a thrift shop. Mister Frederickson must live in Montana!

So many miracles.

Dear family and Friends,

We met with the Pratt's twice this week. They're a super busy family
and they have had a hard time keeping their commitment to read and
pray. He last two times we have gone over there we have just read the
scriptures with them so they can learn the value of reading the
scriptures. We asked how we could help them remember and what we
decided on was that we would send them a reminder message in Facebook
every morning. We hope this helps. They have been opening up to us
quite a bit and I think they're very comfortable having us over.
Kevin, who is usually very shy and quiet, was having a racket last
time we were there. Laughing with us, teasing his parents and making
jokes. He also answered the questions hon stay and simply during the
lesson. It is so amazing to see people open up as they begin to trust
you and know you better.

We have seen so many miracles in our lives this week. It's hard to
find people to teach in this area, but as we work our hardest, the
Lord helps us out. Last week we got a referral from some missionaries
in a different area. They had been talking to a member who let them
know that her sister, Mandy Taylor, wasn't feeling very well and she
needed a blessing. They gave us a call with all the information and we
contacted her as soon as we could. When we went over there on Tuesday
we had the funnest time getting to know the Taylor family. Sister
Taylor and her oldest son are both less-active members. Her two other
two boys and her husband are non-members. They were all so kind to us
and really just welcomed us into their home. We learned a lot about
their lives and personalities. It was wonderful. Sister Taylor is
having really bad back problems and all the doctors she's seen have
pretty much said that it's hopeless. During the blessing, we both just
felt this overwhelming peace. It is so amazing to not know a thing
about her back problems, but somehow we knew that she would be
alright. I got something in my eye during the blessing which made it
look like I was crying, which was a little embarrassing. The last time
we checked up with her she told us that the pain was a little bit less
and she has been able to sleep the last few nights. We will be
checking up on her today as well.

If those last two miracles weren't enough, we just received a referral
from the church. This happened because some other missionaries found
someone, began teaching her and then she moved. Before she moved they
set here on date for baptism which I believe is in February. Her name
is Shyanne and we contacted her just about as fast as I could type her
number in the phone! We get to meet with her tomorrow and I can hardly
hold in my excitement. When we read through her information, it looks
like she is incredibly sensitive to the spirit and has great faith.
She has kept her commitments, and even has been coming to church. We
love having people to teach!

We went street contacting in Red Lodge again this week! One of the
first people we ran into was a mentally handicapped man named James.
He was so kind and gave us the biggest smile. We talked to him for a
minute and laughed together. Such a great way to begin street
contacting. The next people we ran into were two really kind men
standing outside a bar. We asked them about themselves and found out
that they were both on the same ski racing team. They then began to
ask us a few questions about missionary work but as I was answering, a
very drunk man stumbled out of the bar behind us, leaned on Elder
Ross, and said in his drunken drawl, "give me a reason to believe."
Without thinking, I raised my hands above my head and said very
firmly, "because eternal salvation is worth it!" This kind of
surprised him and I don't think he liked it because he looked at me
for a second and then said, "oh no, are you guys Mormon's?" Elder Ross
proudly stated that we were. After he discovered  that, he walked over
to me and asked if I wanted a drink. He must've heard of Mormon's
before. I laughed and said that I don't even drink caffeine. Right
then, as he tried to ask another weird question, one of the skiers
grabbed him and while shoving him away from us said with a smile,
"he's really a nice guy most the time." We walked with them for a few
more steps as the drunk guy kept trying to turn around and ask us to
go bowling and other stupid things, each time being rejected by the
protective hand of the skier as he got shoved back around. We went
different ways after about twenty feet and though the two kind men
weren't ready to hear our message right then, I had a feeling they
would be eventually. We continued walking down the street looking for
people to talk to. We saw James again, standing with a group of
friends. James saw us and immediately came over to talk. We got to
talk to him a little longer, all the while getting curious looks from
the group he'd been talking to. After talking to James we walked past
the group. I realized they were criticizing Mormonism so I smiled and
said hello. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of them make a
disgusted face and none of them responded... Awkward! The next thing
we saw was a bunch of deer just sitting in the middle of the town. We
stopped to take some pictures and a local man walked up to us and I
began talking to him. We talked to him for a very long time and
learned that wildlife just wandered around this town, even bears. He
also told us a lot about the history of this place. As we talked, I
noticed that one of the deer kept wandering closer and closer. We
asked the man if he wanted to meet with us again and he did everything
he could to stop talking to us. That's too bad. Right after the man
walked away, Elder Ross turned around and held out his hand to the
deer! It started sniffing his hand!! He then pulled up some grass and
put it in his palm and started hand feeding the deer! I also got to
hand feed one of them. It was wild. After a while the deer got bored
of us and realized there was grass on the ground as well. But not
before Elder Ross patted one on the head! It was just a crazy night.

Such an eventful week. I love missionary work! I know that this is
God's church on the earth at this time! I know that those who listen
to and act on the word of God will be blessed. I know that Christ died
for our sins and saved us from spiritual death. I know that all
thing's are possible with God.

Luke 1:37

I love you all!

Elder Thomas

P.S. We found out this week that I am not senior companion. Someone
messed up when they sent the email! Takes a huge load off my back, and
I don't have to drive in the snow anymore. :)

Front yard view 
I love this place :)

Wow look how close we are to those deer.     
WHOA. That's a lot closer.
Ok, WHAT??
The doe can smell the spirit.
Just patting a deer on the head...Happens all the time...
Street contacting at its best. 
Wow, we live in a beautiful place.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Not Newcastle, not Missoula... Red Lodge!

Dear Family and Friends,

Transfers got a little crazy. As you all know, I was going to be sent
up to Missoula to be companions with my first trainer. I was pretty
excited! However, the morning of transfers, President Wadsworth gave
me a call and told me that I'd be serving in Red Lodge and Absarokee
with Elder Ross instead. I am the senior companion now, which means I
have to do all the driving. Darn. I was told that this area had been
dead for quite a while and that we have a lot of work to do. I stayed
in the mission home Tuesday night and met Elder Ross the next morning.
Elder Ross is a super cool young man from Arizona. He's only been out
one transfer more than me so we're both quite young. Wednesday morning
we went shopping. We had to go in Billings because we live so far away
from civilization. We also had to get the car appraised, because Elder
Ross' last companion crashed the truck. We finally made it back to our
tiny little basement apartment. It's downstairs in a members home and
it's got a small kitchen, a bedroom, a closet and a tiny little
bathroom. I'll send pictures when it is more clean.

Elder Ross is really cool. He's willing to work hard and try creative
missionary tactics. He loves cars and I'm learning a lot about them.
He is from Arizona, so this cold weather is new to him, and yet he
doesn't wear a coat... Haha. He just shivers and tries to deny the
cold. He says, " cold doesn't exist, it's just the absence the absence
of heat." Ok. :) But he hasn't gotten hypothermia yet. So far so good!
I'm excited to work with him this transfer.

We live with The Fowlers. Brother Fowler is our ward mission leader.
They are an elderly couple and they've served a few missions together
and it is so cool to be able to teach with them because there is so
much we can learn from them. They're very fun to talk to and we do
whatever we can to get them telling stories when they are driving us
to appointments or when we're eating with them. They have had the
coolest experiences.

On Friday we went to Billings to meet with the Stake President at his
home. They fed us some wonderful food and then talked to us about
missionary work and stake goals. They really stressed member
missionary work. Missionaries need to take the time to get to know the
ward and the members, otherwise they limit themselves in what they can
do and people they'll find. It was a cool experience. Afterward, the
Stake Presidents son brought out his boa constrictor and let us hold
it. It was pretty cool. :)

Our main investigator family right now is the Pratts. Brother Pratt is
an excommunicated member but he really wants to get back into the
church. He is such a good man and he is always seeking the best
things. His wife is already a faithful member. Their son, however, is
not a member and he's very shy. His name is Kevin and he sits in on
all the lessons. We committed him to read the Book of Mormon and pray
about it last lesson and we're really excited to see what has come of
that when we meet with them tonight.

We do a ton of driving. We cover a bunch of tiny towns. It takes two
hours to drive our entire area. I'll send a picture. This is a little
hard because we are expected to be efficient with our miles and it
takes a lot of time to get anywhere. This means that we have to plan
out each day according to where we're going to be.

One of my favorite experiences of the week was street contacting on
Main Street in Red Lodge. We often have the problem of not being able
to catch people at home, so on Saturday we took the missionary work to
them. It was so much fun just walking down the street and talking to
everyone we saw, even the owners of the shop. It was a really cool

At this point we feel two things are very important to our missionary
work in all these tiny towns, creativity and member missionary work.
Each of these ten little towns is so small and they've all been
tracted so many times that they shut the door before we say hello.
While tracting will remain a part of our efforts, our main focus will
be creative and new ways of contacting as well as working with the
members in unity to find and teach investigators.

I've taken a ton of pictures in the time I've been here. This place is
incredibly beautiful.

Love you all so much. Keep up the member missionary work, it's
important. I know that this gospel is true. It is definitely worth two
years of my life, and my entire life. I know the more you give yourself
to the Lord, the more he can bless you and give you peace and
joy. I am so grateful for all the blessings I've received and I know
as I try harder, I can help others receive those same blessings.

Philippians 4:13

Elder Thomas

Map of my area 


It says I can write home about it... It was alright!

Shoveling at the church

A tree! Whoa.

This place is beautiful.

Monday, January 4, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

Last Monday was so cool! We finally got to go to the only attraction
in the Wyoming part of the mission, (and quite possibly the tallest
thing;) Devil's Tower! It was so much fun. I quite enjoyed finally
getting into crisp, clean, non-refinery-polluted air in a crisp,
clean, non-refinery-polluted forest. Devil's tower is huge. In some of
the pictures it's hard to tell how large the size is because of the
angled rock, but it is quite large. Tyler Wilkes, the recently
returned missionary, took us. We love Tyler. We're always trying to
get him married haha. Unfortunately, we didn't see any women in the
wilderness. Maybe next time.

The rest of the week was pretty slow. The week between Christmas and
New Years is hard, not because anyone is mean or anything, but because
they're all gone. Ashton has been out of town for most of the Holidays
and so have many other of our usual appointments. Ashton, unlike most,
actually seems sad about it:)

New Years was a blast. The Wing's invited us to dinner that night at
the nicest place in Newcastle, Isabella's. It was so much fun. They
typically do this every year with a group of their friends, and this
year they invited us too! It was so much fun to sit with people of all
different faiths, or no faith, and laugh and enjoy each others
company. Sister Wing commented on it at one point, stating that, " we
have all kinds of diversity here. What a strange group we are." There
were Mennonites, Catholics, philosophers, atheists, Methodists, and
yes, even us Mormons. And somehow, everyone there was kind and
respectful. Just a little glimpse into the peace this war torn world
could achieve. It was a lovely way to spend New Years Eve and it gave
me such hope for the future.

Wow, so transfers are happening. I am not staying in Newcastle. Wow, I
almost wanted to stay here forever. I am leaving this wonderful little
tiny random town and headed to............ MISSOULA!!! Crazy. A
college town. Yes, that is a little crazy, but wait till you hear the
next part. My companion will be.......DRUMROLL................ Elder
HATTON!! What?? I know, weird. Elder Hatton and I will be companions
once again in the mystical land of Missoula. I'm so excited! This is
going to be a huge change, and I'm a little nervous, but also very
excited. So many crazy new adventures ahead and so many crazy new
people to teach! Missoula is A LOT more north, so wish me luck and

My heart is heavy as I consider leaving Newcastle. I have really grown
to love it here. I looked around at the people on Sunday and there was
so much I had to say to them. I wanted to thank them for loving me and
tell them that I loved them. I contemplate not getting to see Pete,
Dallas or Ashton again, or until I visit again. I feel sorrowful about
missing Ashton's baptism. I hope Brother Palmer comes to church every
week. I'll miss the apartment, our dog, having a laundry machine
downstairs... I think I'll even miss the ugly oil refinery and the
incessant train. Had you asked me a year ago, if I could see myself
loving this little town as much as I do, I would have undoubtedly said
no. Missionary work does something to you, it increases your capacity
to love. Well I love this place, I love these people, I love
missionary work and I love the Lord. Can't wait to see what comes

I love you all! Keep striving to be better. NEVER GIVE UP!!
Mosiah 4:30

Elder Thomas

Our district trying to look cool. It totally worked... as you can tell. :) 

Devil's Tower!