Elder Michael Thornton

Elder Michael Thornton
24 August 2011 to August 2013

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fifty-Third Letter Home 27 August 2012

We had a super cool week this week. Three of our investigators were baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. They are each super cool! They're each trying to change their lives. All three of them are really humble, and are willing to do their best to follow Jesus Christ. I love seeing people except the gospel, and I love seeing people use the atonement in their lives. It reminds me of the mercy and the love that the Savior has shown me on so many occasions.

One of the blessings that comes by sharing the gospel is that it reminds you of what the Savior has done for you personally. It's like taking the Sacrament. we take the Sacrament to remember Christ's atonement, and the covenant we made at baptism to follow him. Sharing your testimony about Christ, reminds you of what the Lord has done for you, and most importantly it reminds you about your relationship with the Savior. We need these constant reminders in our life, so we can avoid the distractions.

Potential - distraction = performance.

Alma 29:10 best describes the way I feel when I see people we have found and taught get baptized.

So I'm serving in a foursome of two companion sets, and we share the one vehicle. Well, one of the elders in the other companion set totalled our car in an intersection. So we've been on bike for a couple of weeks now, lol. It's okay though, I've lost some weight. My legs are getting stronger, and the weather is really nice right now. There are a lot of hills here to peddle up, and our area is pretty wide spread. Bike riding has been fun, and it hasn't slowed us down very much; but we are all ready to get some wheels. This area wasn't intended for bikes.

We went to the park today as a Zone, and we got to see the USS Stenis float down the Sound, on it's way out to sea. That was cool. I took some pictures. The USS Stenis is the aircraft carrier that Optimus Prime was standing on at the end of Transformers.

Speaking of aircraft carriers: The USS Kitty Hawk is here in Bremerton. It's retired, but it's sitting out in the water. Cool huh, I got to go on the Kitty Hawk when I was a little kid. It made me smile when I saw it.

That's about all the news I have. It's been a fun crazy week. The Lord has greatly blessed us, and I'm super stoked to be a missionary for another year! What a privilege, huh? I'm going to be the best I can be. I'm hoping that next transfer I get to train; I would really like to help a new elder get off to a great start on his mission. A bunch of new elders from the MTC are coming into the Mission this next transfer. So hopefully President Weaver will assign me to one, lol.

I love you guys, a lot of miracles are happening, and the people we found and taught last transfer are progressing towards baptism. I love my investigators, I would do anything for them. I love my Savior, and I want to give him everything I've got.

I love you guys; stay classy.


Elder Thornton

Fifty-Second Letter Home 20 August 2012

Hey, (I never know how to start these letters...)

Bremerton is sweet. I'm enjoying myself. The area is right across the Pugnet Sound from Manette, and I still go to the same church building, service is just at 1:00PM instead of 9:00AM. My new address is:

1604 Naval Ave. A 303
Bremerton, WA 98312

I really like all my companions; they're fun. Elder Grachev is the other Zone Leader, Elder Peck is a "greenie," and Elder Jones is a bit slow moving and slow talking, but he's a good Elder; I like him. They're all great. Elder Peck is excited about life, which is good. Elder Grachev is super tight. He cooks us food like buck wheat cereal in the morning, which is a popular breakfast in his "mother land," and he makes jokes. He's really touristy -- always taking pictures. I tease him because he's Russian, and we're serving in a naval town, lol. He's a good Elder, and we get along really well. He is not a spy!

The funny thing was that when I got my transfer call, President Weaver said to me, "Elder Thornton, I've got a special assignment for you..."

Anyway, the area is cool, we have some cool investigators, and I've transitioned all my old investigators over to the sisters in Manette. Being transferred and not being able to baptize the people I found and taught was disappointing, but I'm already seeing that the Lord had a purpose behind it.

Denise was one of our investigators. She really liked Elder Elder and I. She liked our lessons, she liked the way we answered her questions, and she felt really comfortable talking to us. But I think her boy friend felt a little threatened by us. Now that we're gone, he's actually come to church with her and has been asking questions about the gospel. The Lord knows what he's doing. I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was being a missionary, but I think he feels more comfortable now that Sister Missionaries are teaching his girl friend instead of a couple men. Ha-ha, being a missionary is awesome. I love it.

Today we went to Port Orchard. We road the foot ferry across the Sound. I had a blast. We floated pass the naval yard where we got to see submarines and carriers. We saw a bunch of seals (the animal kind, not the commando kind). It was really fun.

Our apartment actually has a nice view We look out over the Sound, and on the other side is a really nice park, called Lions Park. Nice to look at from a distance, but it's actually a sketchy area at night; safer during the day.

Not much else has happened this week. As is typical, transfers have been a little chaotic. I'm anxious to see miracles performed this transfer.

One attribute every hero in the Book of Mormon has is total trust in the Lord's promise and ability to fulfill his purposes. The brother of Jared, knew the Lord could do anything, according to his purposes. In his humble prayer, the brother of Jared affirms to the Lord, "thou can do this." Enos knew God could not lie. Captain Moroni had a perfect understanding of truth, and that conviction is key because in John 1:17 it says truth came from Christ. Captain Moroni had a perfect understanding of the atonement. He knew Christ, he had exercised the atonement in his life. Thus, when the lamanities came to war, he knew that God would support him and the Nephite people so long as there was a band of Christians in the land. He knew that God kept his promises. Moroni kept his promises to God, and God had kept his promises to him. Captain Moroni delighted in peace and righteousness. He in resisted iniquity. Whenever any of these men fell to their weaknesses in their lives, they all called upon the father in the name of Christ for forgiveness and for strength to overcome, and they received strength from God to overcome. They were perfectly acquainted with the grace of Christ. Those who never faced the storms of life, never learned where to place their feet so they wouldn't be blown over.

Obedience is the key to developing a true relationship with Jesus Christ. It's hard to be obedient sometimes. It's hard to fight against the natural man within us. Actually, it's impossible for us to do it alone. But victory is assured through the grace of Christ. In Mosiah 3:19 we learn that we will never come to know Christ if we never try and walk the path he gave us to follow.

My goal as a missionary is to get to know Jesus Christ. I love Jesus Christ. He is my friend. My mission has been the greatest experience of my life so far, because I've had the opportunity to serve side by side with Him. He's kept his promises to me, and everyday I try to keep my promises to him. I know we'll see miracles because he's promised me that. I have see miracles on my mission. What a gift. Guys, I would encourage you all to reflect on the miracles you've seen throughout your lives. They are gifts from Heavenly Father, to help strengthen our trust in him.

I love you guys.


Elder Thornton

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Forty-Eighth thru Fifty-First Letters Home July 23, 30, August 6, and 13, 2012

[I, Elder Thornton's dad, fell on the job of posting his missionary letters, so his last nine letters home are just now being posted. the following are the last four of the nine letters: July 23, 30, August 6, and 13.]

23 July 2012

Hey, we've had a very good week this week!

We've seen a lot of miracles, and the Lord has been blessing our finding efforts. We actually have a teaching pool now. We have an awesome Investigator who came to Church again on Sunday. He's such a nice guy, and he's very wise. He studies things out, and he does so with his conscience as his guide. We went and saw him the other day, and he was talking about what he'd learned from the Internet about Mormons... That is usually a problem, but he had no problem sorting through the anti and distinguishing the truth from the lies.

We do a movie night on Saturdays, where the missionaries in the district all meet at the Church with their investigators, and we all watch a Church movie together. It works really well, this time we watched Prophet of the Restoration, and Ward really liked it.

He said, "I've always thought prophets were only in the old testament, but the more I think about it, the more I see that it makes perfect sense that God could call one now if he wanted."

His wife is flying out to visit him in a couple of weeks, so we're trying to figure out what day to invite him to be baptized on. Normally I would invite people on the first lesson, but with Ward, I haven't felt prompted to do it yet. Maybe the Lord has something in mind in regards to Ward's wife coming up here soon. Either way, we're teaching the Plan of Salvation on Wednesday, so we'll put him on date then.

I'm really trying to Baptize weekly this transfer. So far we only have one, but the Lord is blessing us with fairly solid investigators, so hopefully we'll be albe to help them except the Gospel.

Everyone has their challenges, and I love how the Spirit can work through you when you're trying to help people. He is such a good teacher, I learn something new every time we teach together, lol. The hard part is staying in tune, and not allowing yourself to rely on your own knowledge too much. Building a reservoir of knowledge helps facilitate teaching with the Spirit, because then the Holy Ghost can "bring things to your remembrance," but it is easy to begin to rely on your own knowledge so much that you forget to listen to the still small voice.

I've had experiences where I've gotten really confident in my ability to apply the scriptures in lessons, and as a result I wasn't listening to the Spirit as much. I'd remember a scripture that applied to something, but as I tried to find it, I couldn't. I'd flip back and fourth through the pages, and then the impression would come, "remember whose investigators these are..." Then, I'd stop, say a little prayer in my heart, apologizing for getting a little cocky, and then I'd be able to find it and continue teaching. Missionary work is not done by the arm of flesh, it's done by the Spirit. If Heavenly Father wanted people to be convinced through intellect and reason, he wouldn't have called 19-year olds to be his messengers.

We met some really fun and interesting people this week. The first guy was a 91-year old WWII vet. He could barely open the door steadying himself on his walker so he could stand up, but he invited us in anyways. He sat us down on the couch, and immediately started telling us his story. Ha-ha, I love old people, they love to tell stories, especially WWII veterans. It was such a defining time in their lives I think. This guy had an awesome story.

He was in the Air Force, stationed in Nebraska. His wife was back in Pennsylvania, and she was about to have a baby, so the Air Force let him go home for a week to take care of his wife. When he got off the train, his wife was in labor. A week later, he got a telegram telling him to report for duty, and when he got there, they through him on a bus, and shipped him to New York. Once there, they put him on a boat, and shipped him to England, in preparation for what would become the D-day invasion of Normandy. Now, Normandy was divided up into three beaches. Utah and Omaha were attacked by the US Army, and the third one was invaded by the British. Omaha was the worst of the three. Well, this guy was put on a landing craft, headed right for Omaha beach with a bunch of Army infantry. Now being an Air Man, not infantry, all he was issued was an M1 carbine .30 caliber rifle. He was a mechanic, not a assault soldier, but somehow they misplaced him, and accidentally assigned him to the wrong unit: Big time! He had no clue what was going on, so he asked someone what they were supposed to do once they got to the beach, and they said run as fast as you can! So, that's what he did, as soon as the ramp hit the sand, he took off running, and I guess he was pretty fast, because he out ran all of the other soldiers. Bullets were whizzing around him, bombs were going off, but he kept running. He ran past a group of soldiers taking cover, and he kept going. Eventually he got to the top of a hill, and then upon looking down at the beach, realized that he was behind enemy lines... Heavy fighting was going on down on the beach, and everything was so chaotic that no German soldiers had noticed the little skinny soldier run right past them. He got so far back that he was actually standing behind a German general who was coordinating the artillery fire! He was walking on top of the German bunkers, trying to figure out what to do, he didn't have any grenades, so he couldn't drop them down into the bunkers, so he just kept moving. He didn't tell us if he took out the General or not, but the next day he linked up with the Rangers who scaled the cliffs at Utah beach, and finally got sent where he was supposed to be the whole time. The last thing he said was, "The news paper said no Air Men were on the beach... I was." And he shook his head.

I love people's stories, and I love veterans. Those guys are hero's.

We met a really funny old lady, who told us a crazy story about the sketchy park we go contacting in sometimes. She was jogging early one morning, because she's active, and a guy came up to her and tried to attack her. So, she pulled out her tazer and tazed him, lol. She showed us her tazer, it was like 50,000 volts or something... She was super funny. She invited us back, to share a message with her, so that will be cool. I love it here. Being a missionary is the greatest privilege there is.

I love you guys.


Elder Thornton

P.S. I'm out of time, so thank you everyone for the packages and letters. I got everything. Thank you so much.


30 July 2012

Hey, how is everyone doing? This week has been difficult, just because despite the teaching pool we've been blessed to find, many of our investigators are really sketchy when it comes to keeping commitments. But we keep working on it, and the key is to love people sincerely.

I was praying the other night, and I was really beating myself up, feeling very frustrated, discouraged, and worthless. Some of the members in the Ward here subliminally accuse us of being lazy through the comments that they make because the Sisters have an awesome teaching pool and have baptized weekly this month, and we have no investigators and have baptized just one person. I brought these feelings of inadequacy and self-pity to Heavenly Father, and He responded to me that feelings of discouragement, worthlessness, are stemmed from fear, which is the opposite of faith. He told me that if I wouldn't focus on my own weaknesses so much, and instead focus on how I can serve others, the devil wouldn't have as much opportunity to make such brutal emotional attacks. The Gospel isn't introverted, the Priesthood isn't introverted, the Atonement wasn't introverted. The devil tries to discourage us because discouragement is a selfish feeling, and keeps us from serving others. Basically, as he's told me before, it's not about me. If we fill our mind with thoughts of how to bless people, and seek their welfare, there won't be any space left for that little punk the lier of lies to make us feel bad about ourselves. To feel sorrow for other people is Christ like. To feel worthless is a lie from the devil. After all, we are God's children, how can we ever be worthless? It's not about us, it's about Christ. Losing ourselves in His work, is a sure way to find joy as a missionary, as a human being.

This chastisement was not what I expected in response to my prayer, but it was what I needed. After all, I'm a soldier of the Lord. Christ is my Captain, and where he sends me I will go, and what he tells me to do, I will do, for in him, and through him, the victory will be won.

I have a lot of fun being a missionary, I love finding people, I enjoy talking to people and teaching them about the gospel.

Yesterday I had a blast talking to a bunch of recently retired gang bangers from Compton about Jesus. It seems like all the guys that try and escape the violence down there, come up to bremerton. Lakewood and Tacoma have pretty active gang activity, but "B-town" isn't too bad. Anyway, they were sitting outside their house cooking burgers, so we walked up and started talking to them. They liked us, they were saying that everyone says Mormons are so bad, but they know we're cool, and they like that we go around and try and help people find God. They were saying that they are trying to find God because before, they only tried to have a relationship with him when they were in jail. We've been meeting with one of them, and he was telling his buddies, "you should here what these guys have to say, it's so good. They know whats up."

So while we were talking with them, everything was going really well, but because there was alcohol present, they almost got in a fist fight with each other. Fortunately, because we had been talking about the gospel, and the Spirit was there, the drunken angry one just left. One of them was a Jehovah's witness, and he was probably the nicest JW I've met. He said some really good things, I don't think he's active in that religion, but he was encouraging our investigator to "grow a pair," give up his sins, and start following Jesus. Ha-ha, he was telling our guy he should get baptized. It was so fun, these guys need help so bad, all of them are trying to change, they're trying to break away from their lives' circumstances; and the truth is, God sent us to them to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them so they could actually change for the better. What a blessing it is to be a missionary. Those guys would have never talked to us if we were there for any other reason. They can see we have something they want. They want Jesus, but they are afraid to let him down, and they don't know how to overcome their weaknesses.

If they would keep the commitments we leave with them, they would have so much joy; but it's up to them. We each have our agency. All my companion and I can do is testify and invite. But if we didn't follow the prompting to go, and we didn't open our mouths to talk, they would never have the opportunity.

I try to be a good missionary, the longer I've been out the more I've realized I don't know what I'm doing, but the Lord does.

I hope you have an awesome week, I love you guys.


Elder Thornton


06 August 2012

Hey, it seems like yesterday that all of you were going to Disneyland. That's because it was last August or September that you went. I remember well because I had just left the Missionary Training Center for Tacoma, Washington, lol. I hope you guys have a fun trip.

The weather has been really hot lately. Probably just because I've become accustomed to the regularly cool and dreary weather here, and now the sun is out. I'm glad I get to be in a pretty part of Washington for the summer though, because it's gorgeous when the sun is out. Bremeton is near the Olympic mountain range, and the Pugnet Sound runs through it.

Today, I got to take a tour of an Ohio class Submarine, the USS Kentucky. It was fun, really fun. I could never be on a sub though, this one was a big one, and it was still crowded and claustrophobic in there.

This week has been really challenging. I've been really worn out emotionally, and physically. It's so hard to get our people to Church and to get them to keep commitments. One of the guys we had on date just went to jail, because he didn't show up for his court date. I just don't want to leave this area without seeing more success. Joshua got the priesthood yesterday though, so that was cool. We do have some really good investigators the Lord has blessed us to find. One of them is a super good man; he's praying about the Book of Mormon, and he's been talking to his wife over skype about the things we've been teaching him. He asked his wife what she thought about getting sealed in the temple. So cool. The only problem is, we haven't seen him the last two Sundays. He goes to Church, and last Sunday we thought he just visited another ward some place, to compare them, but yesterday he did the same thing, so we don't know where he's going. We'll have to ask him, lol.

The devil doesn't let our investigators go without a fight. And I've been fighting discouragement so much lately it's ridiculous, but through a lot of mighty prayer and insights gained through personal study, I think I'm back to operating at full capacity. All we can do is stay diligent and positive.

Today, I was reading Mosiah 10:12-19, and I thought it was interesting that King Zenif took the time to tell his people why the Lamanities were coming against them. It's so important that we understand our enemy. He's not only our enemy, but he's also our enemy's enemy. Understanding that, helps us to understand that it isn't really about you or about them, it's about the Lord's work. All the opposition, discouragement, even the feelings of in-adequacy come from the same source: the enemy to God. He's the same who discourages people from changing for the better, makes them feel ashamed to show up in Church, and whispers lies in their ears about what will bring them satisfaction and happiness in this life. It all comes from the devil. And his purpose is to stop the Lord's work so that everyone will remain with him in utter misery.

As I was reminded by the Spirit today that the devil wants to see us frustrated; especially those of us that are anxiously engaged in furthering the Lord's kingdom. As much as he thrashes and rants though, he can't stop the work from progressing, he really can't. The Lord will fulfill all His words. He promised Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. That has happened, it is happening, and it will continue to happen. The enemy can't stop it. What does that mean to us? I think Enos summed it up best, when he said,"And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie." The gospel is going forth. I just need to be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and be where Heavenly Father needs me to be. I'm all about that.

The Lord is so good to me: he answers my prayers; he has been there to lift me up in my darkest times. It is amazing to me that even as his servant, even when all I want to do is serve him well, he still shed drops of blood for me, so that he could succor me in my trials and afflictions. How could I give anything but my best to the Master such as He? The greatest gift I've received as a missionary is a knowledge of the power of Christ's atonement. He is my Savior. I'm praying that President Weaver will let me stay another transfer, just to see things through. I would love that.

I hope everyone has an awesome week, I love you.


Elder Thornton


13 August 2012

Hey, how are things? The time for transfers has arrived once more. The claw (President Weaver) chooses who will go and who will stay. This time the claw got two for one! We're both leaving. The Manette area is becoming a Sisters only area. We're a little bummed, considering we've worked really hard to establish a teaching pool, and we have people on date and people to put on date for next transfer. We were projected to hit weekly, but this time we won't be the ones doing the harvesting.

It's okay. I feel like I fulfilled my purpose. I found a lot of really sweet people who will have the opportunity to be baptized. I helped to solidify some of the Sister's investigators, and Joshua now holds the Aaronic priesthood. As difficult as last transfer was, it was a huge blessing, and I'm grateful for all the experiences I had. I got to spend time serving Jesus Christ.

I'm not going very far though. I'm actually just getting kicked across the Sound. I'm going to be serving in West Bremerton! I'm actually super stoked. Mostly, because I don't have to share tracting spots anymore. I'm going to be the new Bremerton Zone Leader/Manette District Leader... ha-ha it's weird, but It'll be really fun. I love being a District Leader. I like having to put together trainings, and meeting every one's baptismal candidates during the interviews, it's great. It's been a growing opportunity for me. This is the best part though, my new companion is Elder Grachev, from Moscow, Russia. He's super tight, he was my Zone Leader when I was a greenie serving in Port Townsend. I'll actually be serving in a foursome; we also have Elder Peck and Elder Jones, who are our "boys." I'm stoked. President is going to let me participate in lessons with the investigators I have to turn over to the Sister, which will be good, because our investigators really like us. We get attached to them, and surprisingly, they get attached to us, lol.

President Weaver always says, "when you're a missionary, people love you and respect you more than you deserve."

So last Monday we went to a member dinner with a Samoan family. They were really sweet. They had us and the Sisters over. For dinner, we ate an interesting slimy noodle dish, a really good but weird looking potato thing, and fried fish. This wasn't just any fish though, this fish had a face. In fact, it had a whole head! We were sitting at the table. The family was super nice and hospitable, and they invited us to dig in. So, to show our appreciation, we started putting everything on our plate. The fish were cut in half, so some of them were the tail portion, and some the head portion. I was trying to avoid the fish, but one of them was staring at me... I tried to point it out to Sister V, and guess what she did -- she grabbed it and threw it on my plate. So, I ate it. I ate the fish head. Yum. The funny thing is, Elder Elder ate the fish, scales and all. He ate two of them.

That's about all that has happened this week. It has been fun. Summer here is really pretty. Oh, the best part about summer here in Washington is that black berries grow like dandelions here. Seriously, anywhere you go, you can pick fresh black berries. We eat them while we tract, it's the coolest thing ever. It's the only time that tracting is successful regardless of whether or not you find someone, lol.

The Ward didn't say anything when they found out we were leaving, only two people said bye to me after sacrament meeting. When they found out they were getting Spanish Elders instead, one lady was like, "finally, I love the Spanish Elders. I'm so glad they're coming back.".... I tired my best.

I hope you have an awesome week, I love you guys.


Elder Thornton

Monday, August 20, 2012

Forty-Third thru Forty-Seventh Letters Home June 18, 25, July 02, 09, and 16, 2012

[I, Elder Thornton's dad, fell down on the job posting his letters onto the blog; the following are the first five of the nine letters now posted. Sorry for the delay.]

18 June 2012

How is everyone doing? This week has been kind of tough. A lot of the work we've been doing has been falling through. But, we keep working, and I know the Lord will bless us with opportunities to serve him. There is alot of work to be done here.

I think I told you about our buddy Patrick, the super awesome member who does missionary work with us? Well he's had a very difficult week. He's preparing to serve a mission, and he's just waiting to have his final interviews. Last week, I felt impressed to warn him that the adversary was going to fight him really hard to try and keep him from going on a mission. I told him that the adversary knew the good he would be able to accomplish as a missionary, and would try to stop him at all costs... That warning came true this week when his mother had a seizure that caused her to hit her head which caused cerebral hemorrhaging. She also suffered a minor stroke. Patrick has been taking the ferry to and from Seattle to visit his mom, and as if that wasn't adversity enough, Sunday night, as he was walking home from the ferry, he got jumped by two thugs. He was just walking, and he said they came out of no where and started punching him in the face and head. He didn't know what to do, it was dark, so he couldn't see anything, but he commanded them in the name of Jesus to leave, and they ran off. He then ran to our house, and beat on our door until we woke up. It was like 12:40am. Poor kid was bleeding out of his nose, and he had a really bad split lip that required stitches. I felt so bad for him.

The war we are fighting out here is a war for souls. The devil fights hard, and he fights dirty. He will do anything he can to stop us from shaking his kingdom. Patrick is discouraged, but I think he's doing better now, and he's regained some of his spunk. I read Alma 48:17,19 to him, my favorite scripture. From the Book of Mormon we learn that Captain Moroni shook hell. Satan had no power over him, and it's very obvious from the scriptures that the devil didn't like that, from all the wicked men he inspired to try and destroy him. In verse 19 we learn that Helaman and his brethren, the missionaries, were no less serviceable than Moroni was. They were also shaking hell. Missionaries continue this shaking of the devil's kingdom, and I know from personal experience he doesn't like that. He wages a very personalized war against each one of us, and if he can catch us before our mission, before we have the increased protection and power from the Holy Ghost, he wins a very sinister victory.

None the less, I really like serving here. But we've got to do something more here: We knock on people's doors all day and follow up with potentials, but we get so very few commitments. I love tracting, but there is a more effective way to do things, and I really want to explore other finding options. I'm still gonna knock though, because I've found a lot of sweet people that way. We should have a couple of baptisms this weekend. I'm stoked. Some of our investigators, including one of the ones getting baptized doesn't speak English, lol. I really wish I could teach him, but I can't. So instead I make the visuals and object lessons, lol. I made a really cool spanglish Plan of Salvation the other day, it was legit. People have said I have really good Spanish pronunciation though... for the hand full of words and phrases I know. It's fun, I really like being a missionary. I really really want to be a good one.

That's about all that's new for me, Summer is supposed to start in a couple weeks... Seriously, St. George is gonna knock me out when I go home: tons of Sun, no rain, heat, and no trees! Environmental shock!

I hope you guys have a good week; I love you.


Elder Thornton


25 June 2012

Hey, whats up? This week has been challenging for the whole district. The sister missionaries had both of their investigators get "antied" and fall off date for baptism, we've been struggling at finding new people and getting appointments to stick, and the Zone Leaders' baptism didn't go through. Personally, as a missionary I've been at my highest, and I've been at my lowest. I've never felt such joy, and I've also never felt so discouraged and depressed.

My last area and this one before I arrived were well performing areas in which many people were found, taught, and baptized. But since I arrived the work has tanked. I don't know what the problem is, I work hard, I'm obedient, I try to be enthusiastic and pumped about the work, but things don't seem to work out. These feelings of inadequacy have been weighing on me more and more. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was pretty beat. I try not to get down, because I know the source of these feelings comes from the devil, and he gets a kick out of my misery. I don't want to give him anything to smile about. But I've been fighting these feelings for a while, and they were really beginning to take their toll.

I love Sundays because I get to take the Sacrament. During the whole sacrament song, I was praying to Heavenly Father, apologizing for my failures and inadequacies, asking for power through the atonement of Christ to overcome my weaknesses, and asking for forgiveness for all my faults. As I took the sacrament, I felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. And I heard a voice in my mind say, "Michael, it's okay. You are my friend."

What a wonderful gift the gospel of Jesus Christ is in our lives. We have a knowledge of the love our Savior has for us, and we have the Holy Ghost to bring that love to our hearts. I feel better know, I know the gospel is true. Taking the sacrament is like getting baptized again, because the Holy Ghost renews and sanctifies us. What a gift. The gospel gift, or these glad tidings, is what I'm here to share. My message is that Christ is risen, he overcame the world. He has provided us with a guaranteed plan of happiness.

My desire is to please my Heavenly Father. I want to serve him well. The adversary uses this desire I have to try and make me feel guilty, inadequate, and worthless. We all feel like this at times. Don't. Those feelings don't come from God. Don't give the enemy of happiness the time of day. Christ is our Savior, he loves us. He wants us to know him. I know that there is nothing better than getting to know our Savior, Jesus Christ. It should be everyone's highest priority, because in the end nothing else matters.

Being a missionary is awesome. We meet all kinds of cool people. I read this one guy Helaman 5:12, and he liked it so much, he said he wanted to get it tattooed on his side, lol. People are great, and deep down inside, they are all looking for Christ. Many of them just don't know where to find him, or that they were even looking. This is week six, the last couple weeks have been ones of broken swords, and shattered shields! Days in which scattered, beaten, and famished, we've pulled ourselves off the field to partake of a meager meal, and think upon the morrow with faint hearts. We can't look upon the morrow with discouragement clouding our eyes! We are the Lord's soldiers, the battle is already won! The only battle that isn't is the one with in our hearts! We must be valiant, we must stand fast in the liberty where by God has made us free! We must cry unto the Lord, turn ourselves about, and plow into the enemy with one accord! Let's be strong and of good courage, for our Lord, Jesus the Christ, is with us.

I love you guys; I hope you have a good week.


Elder Thornton


02 July 2012

Hey, it's me again... It sounds like every on has had a good week. I got the package from Amber and Brad, and I got the card from Mom and Dad. I got them on like Tuesday and Wednesday, so I couldn't write until today. Thanks so much.

This week was interesting, it was week six, so I think Elder Lopez was a little transfer trunky, but we still made some pretty good progress. We got our transfer calls on Saturday. Elder Lopez is going back to speaking Spanish, and he's being transferred to Aberdeen, which will be a feat for him. I'm going to be staying here as the District Leader, and my new companion is going to be Elder Elder. Ha-ha! I'm way stoked about that. He too is a really good Elder: obedient and hard working. We are gonna have a sweet transfer.

A nine year old boy named Jarridan was baptized this week. He is such a nice kid, very polite, respectful, and he made the decision to be baptized all on his own. A good example for his parents who have been less active members.

Our investigator who lives in a halfway house is progressing, I really like him. We found him while tracting. It was cool. We were done tracting for the day, walking down the street when I felt prompted to knock on a random house. He answered the door, came to the church with us, and has been meeting with us ever since. He is going to be baptized next week. He lives in a halfway house because he's on probation, and because he's on probation he had to have a special interview from President Weaver. President Weaver said he was fine to be baptized. He is very humble; he's repentant. He wants to change his life.

What a blessing it is to go out and find these people. Heavenly Father loves them so much, and it is an honor to be able to find them, teach them, and baptize them. I'm really excited for this young man.

We found a less active family with two UBCs yesterday, so we're really excited about that, and I'm setting the goal to find, teach, and baptize six people next transfer. It's gonna happen. Culture night was really fun on Saturday, tons of people showed up, and the Sisters did an awesome job setting everything up. People brought all sorts of different food from their countries, and one person brought fried grass hoppers seasoned with chili powder. I ate like five of them, lol. Ha-ha. They weren't bad. They tasted like spicy burnt popcorn. I had to eat them, because up until now, the weirdest thing I have eaten was a boiled peanut. The boiled peanut was way worse, lol. Those are disgusting.

I've been enjoying my personal scripture studies lately. I'm at 3 Nephi now. Helaman is such a good book. I've really been studying the principle of faith lately. We know that Faith is something hoped for, which is not seen, but is true. True is the key word. If faith is in anything that isn't true, it isn't faith, but simply a vain hope. The only person that was always true was Jesus Christ. Therefore, faith has to be in Jesus Christ, and his atonement. The Atonement of Christ brings salvation to us, thus fulfilling God's purpose to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. So, if we are to exercise faith, it has to be in the power of Christ's atonement in fulfilling God's eternal purposes. No matter how strong our hope is, if it goes against God's purposes, it isn't faith. In the book of Helaman, Nephi was given great power from God because he wouldn't do anything contrary to God's will. Another example of this is found when Alma and Amulek were forced to watch the martyrdom of the righteous people in the city of Ammonihah. Amulek desired to save the people from the flames, but the spirit told them they couldn't. God's purposes would be fulfilled. If we are to learn to exercise great faith, and have the power to do mighty miracles, we must first learn to align our will with God's will. Then, with faith that God has all power to fulfill his words and his purposes, we will be able to be powerful servants in his hands. Miracles are the direct result from applying true principles. We develop faith in God's power to fulfill his purposes by living the Gospel, experiencing the power of the Atonement in our lives, and keeping the commandments. There is nothing better than developing a relationship with Christ, and their is nothing that brings more joy then feeling the atonement work in your life. It is after all, "the glad tidings of great joy," spoken of by angles, prophets, apostles, and young little missionaries.

I love all of you, and I hope you have an awesome week.


Elder Thornton


09 July 2012

Hey, how is everybody doing? Good, good, glad to hear it...

Let me tell you a story... (That's what President Weaver always says, lol. He loves to tell stories.)

Our young investigator who lives in a halfway house was baptized on Sunday! I am so excited for him, he is such a good kid. He is very solid, very humble, and very repentant. I believe I needed to come here when I did, so I could have a part in finding and teaching him. The Lord blessed me with this opportunity to serve him, and with the great privilege of teaching one of his children. Now we need to help him find a place to live. He'll have to leave his place on the 16th, and he has no other place to go other than the streets. Some of the members have empty studio apartments, so we're working on getting him into one of those. Please pray for him, the poor guy is trying so hard to change his life.

We don't have a progressing teaching pool. Finding more investigators has been really tough. We tract for more than four hours a day, and we invite everyone. It's frustrating, because we share an area with sister missionaries, and they have tons of people to work with. All the referrals go to them, and we have to share our tracting spots. I really like them: they're good Sister missionaries, but I don't really like sharing the tracting area. Especially when we are struggling so much. It has been hard to get the support from the members also. The Sister missionaries have been here tracting for nearly six months and the members are more familiar with them. They know everyone. They get fed all the time, while we might get fed once a week. The sisters share with us though, so thats nice. Ha-ha it's kind of crazy. I have five sisters in my District. They can be a bit of a handful sometimes, lol. They're all really good Sisters though, I love my District this transfer. When we have District meeting, it looks more like a college ward FHE group than a District, lol. Things are starting to come together though, and Elder Elder is a great companion. He works really hard, he wants to be obedient, and he's easy to get along with. What more could you ask for, right?

Brother Patrick is doing better, he's got his mission papers in now, so he should be getting a call soon. I'm excited for him.

Our 4th of July was really fun, our neighbors all did fireworks, so we got to watch the show from our balcony. President and Sister Weaver put together a mission picnic for everyone during the day, and that was really fun. Afterwards, we had a really nice devotional, in which we sang patriotic songs, listened to a talk from an LDS soldier that I knew from Fort Lewis, and then President and Sister Weaver "coined us." In the military, if you like someone, or want to reward someone, you give them a coin. (Basically it means you'll buy them a beer next time you see them.) The Weaver's bought a bunch of Washington, 2012, commemorative quarters, and gave each of us one as a gift for a job well done the month of June. Our mission baptized 99 people in June. The Weavers are really nice, they are very sweet people, and I like them a lot.

Not much else has happened this week. I'm working hard, I'm fighting discouragement, and I'm trying to be the best I can be. I'm going to do everything I can to reach my goals this transfer. I hope you have a great week. I love you all.


Elder Thornton


16 July 2012

This week has been really great! We witnessed a couple really sweet miracles. However, as has been the pattern of my mission, miracles have almost always been preceded by difficulties.

Earlier in the week we were out contacting, and we got "antied" hard core for like 45 minutes by a guy who wouldn't quit. He acted like the devil himself. Pretending to be interested, he talked to us for about fifteen minites asking us questions about the Church and about our beliefs. And then he began to try to ensnare us with his questions while still pretending he was interested. We sensed the change in his motives, but we continued to answer his questions anyway. Then he admitted, "I haven't been completely honest with you, I'm actually a professor of theology...," and so on he went. He proceeded to tear into us, trying to destroy our faith in continued revelation and the restored gospel. The guy was like a combination of Sherem and Korihor from the Book of Mormon. It was very frustrating, and a little bit demoralizing; especially because he lied to us and pretended to be interested. We have been trying so hard to find people to share the gospel with. Here's the thing though, I wish people would take a step back and look at themselves. If he truly thinks his cause is just, and that he needs to convince the Mormons of the error of their ways, he's going about it totally the wrong way. He acted like the devil, deceiving, belittling, finagling, and seeking to destroy our faith. When did Christ ever act that way with people? Besides, his logic and interpretation of the scriptures were un-inspired, and his intentions were malicious. He was allowing himself to be used by the adversary as a stumbling block in the path of the Lord's servants. He's got himself convinced that he's right, and we're evil. I feel bad for him. Oh well, that was a discouraging way to start off the week, but we continued to press on, we continued to work, and the Lord blessed us.

On Thursday, we were tracting, and I felt inspired to tract in a specific area. We went there, but we weren't finding anyone. We finished the area but still hadn't found a single potential investigator. As we were leaving the area, and I was trying to figure out why I felt so strongly we needed to be there, a van pulled up to the last house on the corner, and a man got out. I called out to him, "Hey would you like to check out our Church?"

He was like, "Yeah! My buddy gave me a Book of Mormon right before I came out here, and I've been wanting to come check out your Church!"

Long story short, we set up a Church tour for the next day. He came. He felt the spirit. We taught him about the restoration, and then he came to church on Sunday. It was super cool. In one of the hallways in the church there hangs pictures of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. After teaching him in the Chapel about the Restoration, I felt inspired take him into the hallway and show him their pictures. He studied them for a second, and then with his hand he covered up each of their faces, all but their eyes.

Then he said, "These are good men, look at their eyes, these are the eyes of someone who knows Christ."

So cool. He's 47, and he's a contractor for the Department of Defense (DOD). He's a very smart, open minded, and spiritual man. The Lord led us to him. What a blessing.

Earlier that day, I was driving to a new tracting spot, and I felt inspired to swing by the house of one of our "ninja" investigators. (A ninja investigator is someone you find one day, and then they disappear for a while.) I drove by slowly, and saw him sitting on his front porch. I stopped the car, and hopped out, but before I could say anything, he called out to me, and asked if he could come over to church with us to check it out, (that doesn't happen). Of course we took him, and we had a very good Church tour. I sat in the chapel with him, and taught him about the Spirit, and the Sacrament. We talked for a while, and then we went and showed him the baptismal font. We taught him about authority, showed him a picture of John the Baptist, and then we showed him the font. I taught him that the reason the font is level with the ground is because it represents the death and resurrection of Christ. That as we go under the water, our past life, is being left behind, and when we come up out of the water we come up clean like a brand new person. A person who is committed to follow Christ.

He listened intently, and then he started to cry. He said, "That's what I want, that's what I need."

We invited him to be baptized on the 28th, and he accepted. These are just examples of the many miracles that occur everyday all over the world. Christ leads this church, the Gospel is his. He leads missionaries to the people he's preparing to hear the gospel, so that they can enjoy his blessings. This work is a huge privilege. I love being a missionary. Joshua got confirmed on Sunday, and now he's going to prospective elders quorum. It's so exciting. The gospel changes people's lives. It gives them a chance, it gives them hope, it is the only thing that can truly help people no matter their circumstance.

I would like to ask each of you for a favor. Treat the missionaries in your home ward the way you would treat me. We are tired of people thinking we are less valiant than the missionaries called to serve in Uganda or other exotic parts of the world because we're just serving in their home ward. The missionaries that serve in your wards, are there because people like Ward and Marvin, are waiting to be found so they can have the gospel. The missionaries need help finding those people. Plus, we get abuse from so many: people flip us off, people threaten us, people ignore us, people cuss at us, and some people try to kill us. When you see your missionaries, remember that they could have just had the worst day they've ever had. They need encouragement, they need support, and they need to fulfill their purpose. It's the only thing that will make it all worth it.

I love you guys, I love being here. I'm the happiest person alive when I'm able to fulfill my purpose, and bring people unto Christ. Have an awesome week.


Elder Thornton

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Forty-Second Letter Home 11 June 2012

Hey everybody! Whats up?

Teague looks like a handsome little man baby. I like his hair.

Things are going well for me here in the blessed land of Bremerton. This place is really pretty, and it has tons of sweet tracting places.

I love tracting; it is probably my favorite time of the day -- which is probably really obnoxious to other missionaries, lol. The reason why I love it so much is because it is loaded with spiritual experiences. We go out to find people following the promptings of the Holy Ghost who knows where the people who are searching for the gospel live. We found five new investigators this week through tracting, and the Holy Ghost led us to each of them. We'll be driving down the street and feel prompted to tract a specific apartment complex, or we'll be walking and feel prompted to knock on a specific door. It's so fun.

Our obedience and our diligence are the only things we have complete control over, and when we exercise these two principles, miracles happen. Plus, even when you don't find people to teach, you still find really interesting people.

Like this week we knocked on a guy's door who said he was the most trusted man in the USA; that he knew and funded every US President with all his cases of jewels; that he basically is the US treasury, and he's built pyramids with all the commas he has from his zillions of dollars... He also said he's been shot 17 times in the head with a .44 magnum. He lost track of all the times he's been shot in the body, and he personally knows the ancient Egyptians. He's also dating Maria Carrie by the way. We asked him if he believed in Jesus, and he said he definitely does -- then he thought about it, and said "Sometimes I even think I am Jesus." Drugs are terrible! Anyway, he was a very interesting conversationalist, and he was very hospitable. Being a missionary is such and interesting experience. So this area is very fun, and it's also very interesting.

We actually share our area with the Sister Missionaries. It's the only place in the world that does that, lol. That keeps things interesting, because we end up tracting the same streets a lot of the time. Actually, it's good because we found a couple people who weren't home when the Sisters came by, and some of them were interested. Heavenly Father knows what He's doing.

There is a little Philipino lady who lives in our apartment complex who makes us food. She cooks for us lumpia, fried rice, noodles, ribs; it's really delicious. She is a Catholic lady who likes us; so she feeds us. My companion Elder Lopez is a good Elder. He is Mexican so when some of our investigators speak Spanish and very little english he communicates well with them. It's fun, they are very nice people.

That's about it. I like our area. We have a really awesome member of the Church here named Patrick. He's a convert and is one of the most solid people I've ever met. He loves going out with the missionaries. He has a super strong testimony, and he knows this area like the back of his hand because he's been hanging out with missionaries for a number of years. He's awesome, I really like Patrick. He is 22, and he's submitting his papers to go on a mission of his own. Ha-ha. He's gonna train his trainer; this kid is a pro. Seriously, he's a super good tag-less missionary.

I've been reading the Book of Mormon, and I'm on Alma chapter 10 now. I love the Book of Mormon, it's so awesome. Somethings I've pondered a lot as a missionary are: real intent, obedience, charity, and faith. In Alma chapter 32, we learn the contingency in regard to faith, which is that our faith has to be exercised in things that are true. The only way to know if something is true is to experiment on it. And so aside from keeping us safe, another reason for God's commandments is to give us knowledge of things we can put to test. When we exercise faith by applying (testing) the commandment or principle God gives us, the promised blessings come and our Faith is rewarded. And thus we know our Faith was exercised in a real truth.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. Christ submitted his will to the will of the Father's in all things. Everything Christ did was done to please his Father. If we are to posses charity, we to need to submit our will to the Father's, or follow the example of Jesus Christ. See: Moroni 7:47-48 Real intent is the follow through of our faith, or the actual experimentation that will determine whether our Faith is true or not. Charity is the greatest of all. Charity is the combination of faith with real intent to be obedient to the Lord's commandments, or to align our will with His. As we do this, our faith grows, and our disposition changes. We overcome the natural man, and become purified through Christ. And when we look at our brothers and sisters, we will see them as Christ sees them.

I hope you have an awesome week, I love you guys.


Elder Thornton

Monday, June 4, 2012

Forty-First Letter Home 04 June 2012


A baby! That's so cool. I didn't know he was coming this week... Teague Cayman is a cool name, I like it. He's cute, I really like his hat. Did he come with it?

So... it has been a crazy week for me. I'm not in Lakewood anymore... I am in Bremerton. President needed to do a mid-transfer transfer, and he needed me here in Bremerton. I'm actually really stoked, this is a really good area. I kind of wish I could have finished the transfer in Gravely Lake, but that's okay, I go where the Lord wants me. My new address is:

1121 Callahan Dr. Apt. 222
Bremerton, WA 98310

My new companion is Elder Artimio Lopez. He and I were the ones who trained Elder Bailey. This is going to be fun, I hope I get to work here for a while.

During my short time with Simmons I did learn some good tips on working with members, so I'm hoping to use them here. That's about all that is new for me. I have some cool souvenirs from Ft. Lewis; that place was so fun.

We helped a Green Beret move the other day. That was fun. This guy was like 220 pounds of solid muscle. His arms were huge. He was on a HALO ODA team, and those guys are intense. They're your direct action, search and destroy guys. He's done missions with teams of six, and ones with himself and only one other operative. He's the nicest guy ever, other than the fact that he's built like a tank, you'd never know he was an elite warrior. However, I've heard from guys he's done missions with that he's scary when he switches to mission mode. Anyways, I had a lot of fun talking to and working with the Army guys.

I got to go to the Temple on Thursday. It was really nice; I really enjoyed it. We had a whole session to ourselves, over a hundred full-time missionaries. The spirit was really strong. President Weaver told us to read the Pearl of Great Price before we went, so I did. I loved the Book of Moses, it was awesome. It made so much more sense as a missionary. The cool thing is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught to Adam, the same as it is taught today. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. Prophets have taught the same Gospel since the beginning of man. Why? Because it is the Plan of Salvation.

Christ's Atonement and Resurrection give us power over sin and death, an enabling power over everyday struggles and weaknesses. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we have to do to access the Atonement. That's the glad tidings spoken of in the scriptures. It is the message of the plan of salvation. Angels and Prophets have been testifying of this since the fall of Adam and Eve. Before baptism, people are just wondering around, separated from God by a wall. There is only one gate in that wall, and it was created by Jesus Christ. He is the gate keeper. That gate is baptism.

As missionaries, we go out and invite everyone to come to that gate, believe in Jesus Christ, enter the gate, and then commence on the path to eternal happiness. We teach people about Jesus Christ, and we teach his commandments. If people have a desire to follow Christ, and are willing to follow his commandments, we baptize them. Why? Because they can't enjoy the full blessings of the atonement without baptism. Why do we teach them the commandments? Because after they are baptized they are given the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost sanctifies them. When we keep the commandments, we invite the Holy Ghost is there to interact with us and teach us, which allows us to continually be sanctified. If people don't know the commandments, how are they going to keep the companionship of the Holy Ghost? The Gospel is simple. Everything we do is about Faith in Jesus Christ, Repenting by keeping the commandments, fulfilling callings, serving, etc., making covenants with the Lord, through baptism and then taking the Sacrament, and receiving the Holy Ghost who sanctifies, testifies, warns, and exhorts us back to faith and repentance. In this pattern, we endure to the end. These simple five points of doctrine somehow unlock the most incompressible gift of the Atonement in our favor.

It's great news. Who wouldn't want to hear this? This is liberty; this is agency. This leads us to happiness. We are saved by Jesus Christ. Let us not be afraid to first use this wonderful gift in our lives, and then share it with others so they can enjoy it as well. Christ wants all of us to come unto Him. he is standing by the Tree of Life holding that delicious fruit. Let's point him out to the people around us. There are so many people looking for the gospel truths, they just don't know it, and they don't know where to find it. I love being a missionary.

I got to talk to Yuki before I left Lakewood. She thanked me for baptizing her. She said, "you were here at the right time, I wouldn't have gotten baptized if you hadn't helped me. I am so grateful that you baptized me." She was one of those people looking for the gospel, who didn't know where to find it. There are people like her in each of our lives. All we have to do is invite them, be patient, and to invite them again. I invited yuki every Sunday for seven weeks. On the Seventh week she got baptized. She is one of my favorite converts. She is such a sweet lady. I will always be grateful that the Lord sent me to Ft. Lewis, so I would have the privilege of being an instrument in his hands in helping her receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have to go, I love you very much.


Elder Thornton

Fortieth Letter Home 28 May 2012

Hey! hows it going?

I'm sorry Kahmi died.

We had an awesome miracle this week. First of all, Elder Simmons and I are working hard. On Wednesday, when the transfer started we didn't have any new investigators, and our teaching pool was filled with very slow-progressing investigators. Since then, we found five new people; we put three on date, and baptized two of them on Sunday! It was so cool.

The Cookseys were baptized. They are this awesome family referred to us by the Andreasons in the American Lake Ward. Brother Andreason new me so he called me up and sent me over to teach the Cookseys the gospel. Jesse Cooksey is in the same unit as Brother Andreason, and he would ask him questions about the gospel. What started out as teasing questions about garments, polygamy, and the mountain meadows massacre, turned into sincere interest in the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ. As his curiosity grew, Brother Andreasen invited him to ask his questions to the missionaries. He was reluctant at first, and said if the missionaries found him he would talk to them. He made Brother Andreasen promise he wouldn't give the missionaries his address.

That night, Andreasen prayed that the missionaries would find his friend. Guess what? The next day, Jesse saw the missionaries tracting his neighborhood, but before they made it to his door, they were invited into another house. Long story short, he recognized that God wanted him to talk to the missionaries, so he gave Andreasen permision to send them over. The next day, I showed up on his door with Elder Bowser. We took Him and his family on a Church tour, taught them the restoration, and tried to commit them on date. They said they wouldn't mind getting baptized if they knew it was true, but that they were gonna wait till they got to Kentucky, so they could get baptized by Brother Andreasen. (He had gone there for crew chief training.) We respected that, and invited them to Church that Sunday.

Guess what. They actually came. And not only did they show up, they went and bought Sunday clothes. They stayed the whole three hours, and their three little girls went to Primary. They loved it. We met with them that week, taught them, and answered their questions. The next Sunday, they came to Church again, and their kids even sang in the Primary program, lol. Needless to say, the Ward didn't know they were non-members. They came every Sunday, we taught them all the lessons, they fed us dinner; it was awesome.

Our plan was to have them ready to be baptized as soon as they got to Kentucky, but as the day of their move grew closer I grew worried that they would fall through the cracks. The adversary is ruthlessly skilled in sabotaging.

This weekend a miracle happened. Brother Andreasen came back to help his wife move to their new home. We felt very strongly that we needed to invite the Cookseys to be baptized before they left. We talked to Andreasen about it, and he was all about it. He had been feeling similar feelings, I think. We had a lesson in the Andreasen's home with the Cookseys, and taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our focus was on the blessings of baptism and the Holy Ghost. We bore solid testimonies about the Gospel and what it has meant in our lives, and Andreasen bore his testimony also. At the end, we asked them if they believed the things we'd taught them were true. They said they new it was true. Jesse said, "I'm afraid to be baptized because I don't want to spit in God's face by messing up after I'm baptized, but I know these things are true, so if I don't change, it's basically the same thing."

The Spirit was there; they felt it, and they committed to be baptized on Sunday. Brother Andreasen baptized them and confirmed them, and the Ward showed up to show their support. It was so cool, they are such a wonderful family. They are solid, and now they have the Holy Ghost. What a wonderful blessing it will be in their life. Jesse will be able to baptize his kids in a couple of years. He'll be able to bless his family when they're sick. The Gospel is awesome, and it all starts with baptism. I am so grateful to have been a part of their life. It is a privilege.

The nine months I've been here in the beautiful land of the WA-TAC have not been a sacrifice, because I've loved every minuet of it. I left my family so I could come and find the rest of it. Everything I am, everything I have, I owe to my Savior Jesus Christ. I will serve him till I drop. This is gonna be a good transfer. Simmons is twenty months old, he is a very experienced missionary, and he's baptized over 50 people. This is an opportunity for me to be humble and learn all that I can from his experience. I'm receiving more training. Heavenly Father put us together for a reason, and he kept me in Gravely Lake for a reason. We have a great work to do.

I get to go to the temple on Thursday! I'm so excited. It's our annual temple trip. President Weaver asked us all to read the Pearl of Great Price before we go. I love it, I haven't read it as a missionary. It has so many cool things in it. Plus, it is proof that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been the same since Adam. I'm also reading the Book of Mormon. I want to finish it before I hit my year mark. This will be the fourth time I've read it as a missionary. I just finished 2 Nephi. So good. I really like Nephi -- what a stud. I

love you guys, I pray for your welfare.


Elder Thornton