Elder Michael Thornton

Elder Michael Thornton
24 August 2011 to August 2013

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Eighteenth Letter Home 27 December 2011

Hey, I enjoyed talking to you guys on the phone. I had fun at the Peet's home, they made roast beef for dinner, and we watched "17 Miracles." President Weaver approved the movie. It was the second time I've seen it; we watched it as a zone on Halloween. It is really good. Have you guys seen it? If not, you should watch it. It is about the Willie and Martin handcart companies, and the miracles that followed them throughout their journey.

I finished the Book of Matthew today, and I also finished the story of Ammon and his brothers' mission to the Lamanites. I love that story, it is super good. It gets me so pumped about missionary work. Matthew was good also, but I can see how people could become confused by the Bible without reading the Book of Mormon. So many plain and precious truths have been removed from the Bible, and the ones that remain are kind of vague. The Book of Mormon is the single greatest piece of evidence that the Bible is even true. By itself, the Bible can be easily mis-interpreted, mis-construed, bent, shaped, and pointed in whatever direction those reading it want. But the Book of Mormon is a solid, pure testament of Jesus Christ, which confounds false doctrine, and acts as a stumbling block to all those who fight against the Church of Jesus Christ. Many have tried to pull it apart, dissect it, and prove it wrong, and have failed. Why? Because the origin of the Book of Mormon is simple, it is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, which was kept by the Lord's prophets, and delivered by a holy messenger to a boy named Joseph Smith. God has promised that if you pray about whether this record is true, He will answer your question, yes or no.

I love the Book of Mormon. It is my favorite book. I never get tired of reading it. It was interesting talking to you guys on the phone, particularly Dad. It used to be that I could talk with you whenever I wanted, I could receive council at the touch of a button. Now, I receive council, guidance, and encouragement every night when I get down on my knees and speak to my Heavenly Father. I talk with Him, I council with Him, and He talks back. When I pray at night, I ask questions, pause, and wait for the answer. The answers come very quickly often times, and other times, the story about the Brother of Jarrod pops into my mind, and I know that Heavenly Father wants me to come up with a solution on my own. When this happens, I come up with an idea, and then ask Him to bless my work.

The power of prayer is real. He truly does answer prayers. "Council with the Lord in all thy doings..." The key word is council. Talking to you guys on the phone reminded me of this.

This week is going to be a bit slow, everybody is still celebrating. I'm ready for the Holidays to be over so I can get back to work. We have to work anyways, and it is a lot nicer when you actually have something to do. I hope you guys have a wonderful week, and a happy New Year.


Elder Thornton

Thank you so much for the package, I really appreciate the gifts. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for sending me letters every week, I enjoy getting them.

Mom and Dad,
Thank you for the presents. I like the music you put on the IPOD, we listened to it today during personal study. Thanks for all the other things, and supporting me on my mission. I'm glad you have a lot picked out.

Where is it at?

Amber and Brad,
Thanks for the subway card, I've used it a couple of times so far.

Happy Anniversary! I hope you have fun in Vegas.

Brad, there is this guy in the ward that is a cop, and he's been on SWAT teams, he was a SWAT sniper, and an undercover NARC officer. He is about to retire now, and as a hobby he likes to build AK-47s. He gets the basic Kalashnikov platform, and then customizes them. His has a rail, a collapsible buttstock, and he is going to put an Aimpoint sight on it. Its a pretty cool gun. He wanted to take me shooting, but I told him it was against the rules. It would have been fun though.

Seventeenth Letter Home 19 December 2011

Hey guys, how are you? 

I'm doing great, I'm loving driving, I love this area, and I really, really don't want to get transferred. There is a good chance that I will be transferred in four weeks. 

This week has been slightly slow because we haven't been able to meet with as many people as we wanted, and out of our 10-people teaching pool, only 3 are progressing. 

One of our jail investigators was released from jail the other day. He wants to be baptized, but because he is on probation, we can't set a date without the approval from the Mission President. We had an investigator on date for Christmas Eve, but she wants her kind of father-in-law from Utah to baptize her; so it probably won't happen until after the first. I'm praying that it happens before I leave. 

Her name is Jackie, and I've been working with her since my first transfer. She is a really good and sincere lady. She has made big changes in her life, and it has been awesome watching the Holy Ghost work with her. She has a cognitive disorder that makes it difficult for her to read. 

When I first met her, she could barely read at all. Now, she is able to read the Book of Mormon, and comprehend what it is saying. I have witnessed the power of the Holy Ghost in not only teaching and testifying of Christ, but also in quickening her mind and helping her read. 

She tries super hard, and her countenance gets brighter everyday. It is super cool. We had two "sandbag" children confirmed on Sunday. (Sandbag is a term given to someone who gets baptized but not confirmed. It comes from a quote from Joseph Smith in which he said that if someone is baptized but doesn't receive the Holy Ghost, it does as much good as baptizing a bag of sand.) They had been sandbags for over four months. We've been trying to get their dad to bring them to church this whole time, lol. When I told the Bishop that they should be coming, he and everyone else in his office started making bets about whether or not he would show up. Everyone kind of lost faith. But we kept inviting him, and he finally showed up. We have one more sandbag, and hopefully he will show up next Sunday. 

Being a missionary is really funny, the other day we dumped a recent convert's alcohol down the drain, and right now we are holding onto a guys terms of release from jail. The things we do seem crazy sometimes. 

Sometimes Elder Fosburgh has anxiety problems: he doesn't like to knock on doors that have "no trespassing" signs. The problem is half our area has no trespassing signs and no soliciting signs; so I knock anyways. It makes him nervous. I look at it like -- the Lamanites had a huge no trespassing sign on the road into town, and they enforced it with their clubs. But that didn't stop Ammon; and he ended up baptizing half the kingdom. Grouchy people need the gospel too. Elder Fosburgh and I get along well, he is a good missionary. I can easily get along with Elders who like to work, and who obey the rules. 

Unfortunately some of the missionaries in our district don't obey the Mission Rules. President Weaver is trying to pin point who has problems so he can try and help them to improve, but these Elders dont realize he is seeking there own good, and when they find out he is coming they run and hide the things they're not suppose to have making it difficult for him to correct them. 

I feel bad for President Weaver, there is a lot of misunderstanding right now, and even the older, more obedient missionaries don't seem to respect him. 

I love President Weaver; I think he is awesome. He is a brand new Mission President, and he doesn't put up with anybody's rebellious attitude. He leads by the Spirit, and I know the things he asks us to do are inspired. 

I'm having a lot of fun out here. 

Thanks for the packages and cards, I haven't opened the packages because Sister Weaver asked us to wait until Christmas, lol. She is fun. 

Have a great week, and Merry Christmas.

Ti volio tanto benne. Mia Mamma none tornata a casa. Mia Mamma a andata a la aereo porto aprendere mio papa. Ti mando tanti bachoni. Grazie for the post cards, Felliz Navidad. Love,
Elder Thornton.


Thank you so much for your letters. I enjoy reading them. I got your package, but I haven't opened it yet. Thank you so much. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Hey Mom,

I do get to call home next Sunday, but only for 40 min. I think I did get a post card form Zia, I'll make sure to mention it. The Christmas Party was fun, and the ward parties were fun also. I have the package, but the Mission President's wife told us not to open them until Christmas, lol. I haven't opened it yet. Congrats on your new calling. I'll probably be calling around 2 or 3 o'clock your time.

Love you, bye.

Elder Thornton

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sixteenth Letter Home 12 December 2011

Week one of transfer-three came and went like the Navy SEALs: swift and efficient. It has been an awesome week. Elder Fosburgh is great, he is serious about missionary work, obedient, and fun to be around. We found five new investigators this week, and we have one on date for the 24th of December! I am having so much fun, I seriously love being out here. I'm going to miss Port Townsend when I get transferred, I really love the people here. 

I'll probably get transferred this coming transfer; but, this is going to be an awesome period. We have nine people in our teaching pool, I'm way super stoked. 

We've been teaching a kid in jail; he is 18 or 19. He has kids, and he really wants to turn his life around. I feel like he is sincere. He gets out of jail on the 20th, and he wants to start coming to Church. Its going to be kind of weird not having glass between us and him, lol. Elder Fosburgh had never taught in jail before, so he was pretty nervous, lol. Apparently it isn't a very common thing in the mission, except for here, lol. I've taught like six lessons in jail. Its not a very nice place to be — even on the side of the glass that I'm on.  Its funny, some sheriffs won't let us give the inmates Book of Mormons, while others will.  

Anyways, not much is new here. The work is great. The members are great. We have people to teach, and I'm having a blast. I finished the Book of Mormon, (I probably told you that already). I've started reading the New Testament, and I'm going to restart the Book of Mormon. 

I hope you have a wonderful week, I love all of you.
Elder Thornton

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fifteenth Letter Home 06 December 2011

Hey guys, 

Yesterday was transfer meeting, and it took up the whole day. We got a ride there from a sister and her fiancĂ© who I  baptized. She was my first baptism, so it was cool to get to ride with them. 

I did not get transferred. I am still here in lovely Port Townsend. I have a new companion though. His name is Elder Frosberg. He is a cool kid, serious about missionary work, likes paper work, and he has been out for about six months. I like him. We are gonna have a good time this transfer. I miss Elder Topp though, he was awesome. He went home yesterday, to New Mexico. 

It was a little weird being with a "dying" missionary, watching him pack his bags and stuff; especially during the holidays. But, I'm super excited for this transfer. We are going to see miracles. 

I saw Corey yesterday. He just got out of the MTC. He looked super slick in his suit with his name tag. I love seeing the Greenies on transfer day: They all have huge rain coats on -- even though it isn't raining; and they look like deer in the headlights. 

Transfer meeting is when you fully realize what you've just committed yourself to. You listen to all of the departing missionaries' final testimonies, and the fact that you're gonna be here for two years slaps you in the face like a bucket of cold water. 

It is difficult to explain, but you can see it in the Greenies eyes. I am way excited for Corey, he looked really good, the best I've seen him. I sensed that the MTC was a life changing experience for him. Missionary work is the best. There really isn't anything better. 

I don't really have any news or anything, I'm excited; I'm having fun. I'm warm, I'm trying not to gain weight... and I just finished the Book of Mormon. I love the Book of Mormon, what a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. It is true, I know it is. 

I want to read it again, but I've decided that I need to focus on Preach My Gospel and the New Testament for a little while. 

We were supposed to finish the Book next Tuesday, but I couldn't put it down. I prayed about it again, I told Heavenly Father that knew it was true, He's told me -- like every time I open the Book, but I asked Him to tell me again, mainly just because I love being able to pray to Him and receive an answer right away lol. It is an awesome experience because you know He is there, and that He is listening. 

This time my answer was different, He basically reminded me of all the incites I'd received while reading this time around, and then reminded me of what Moroni says. If it inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to believe in Christ, then it comes from God. Then He told me it was true in my mind and in my heart. I love Moroni's promise, because it works every time. 

I promise you, anybody who reads this email, that if you will read and pray about the Book of Mormon, you will know that Jesus Christ is your Savior, and you will establish a personal relationship with your Father in Heaven. "Behold this is life eternal, that they may know Thee, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent." (John) What better way to begin to know our Father in Heaven than asking Him a question that He has promised to answer? 

I know the Book of Mormon is true because I prayed about it. As a teenager, I came to the point where I realized that if I was going to do the things I was being asked to do, I better know that the reasons for doing them were legitimate. Why would I live the standards, if they didn't truly come from God? So, I knew that if Joseph Smith truly was a prophet, then the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, etc., came from God. The Bible says "By their fruits ye shall know them," and I understood that the Book of Mormon was the fruit we were given to know whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet. 

I read the Book of Mormon, and when I got to 3 Nephi 17 the spirit hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew it was true right then and there. I finished the book, and then I prayed about it. 

Once again, the same feeling came back, and I knew it was true. From that time on, I made the Book of Mormon the Key Stone of my testimony. Everything I was asked to do by a servant of the Lord was true because the Book of Mormon was true. I promise you that if you make the Book of Mormon the foundation of your testimony, you will not fall. The devil will try to fell you, but if you look back on the personal witness you received, and gather your strength from that, he won't be able to knock you off your rock. 

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


Elder Thornton

Dad and Mom, so I'm working on getting my drivers license info, its not as easy as they told you. I had to call Jefferson City. Oh well, I'll get it soon hopefully. I'm glad Sister Grosscost called you, she is one of my favorite members here. We didn't have Thanksgiving with her, but we had dinner with her a few days after thanksgiving. She is an awesome lady. We can't get hugs lol. It is against the rules no matter what age they are lol. Have a good week, I love you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fourteenth Letter Home 28 November 2011

Hey guys, 

This week has been really tough. None of our baptisms went through this weekend, and no one from last weekend showed up to get confirmed. Its been really stressful and frustrating. 

I really appreciated the packages though, thanks a lot. However, I have too much stuff, and I have to send a bunch of things home. I have three stocking caps, two sets of gloves, and a bunch of other things. My North Face jacket keeps me plenty warm, and dry. Anyway, I have to consolidate my things so I can carry everything in two suitcases. 

We went to a really nice family's home for Thanksgiving, and they cooked a really fancy Thanksgiving dinner. They were very welcoming, and we really appreciated it a lot, but being with even the nicest family besides my own just isn't the same. I missed all you guys. 

We weren't allowed to go tracting or anything, so we felt kind of useless. Sitting around makes you feel trunky, and when I feel trunky I feel like I'm being ungrateful for all the wonderful blessings I'm receiving.

Today is the last p-day before transfers next Monday. I'm almost positive I'll be here another transfer, but there is no guarantee since President Weaver emergency transferred an entire zone this last transfer due to some serious apostasy. When people get moved around like that, you never know what's going to happen. I hope I get to stay here. I don't want to leave this area. I'm going to work really hard this week so that everything will work out. 

Its crazy how happy and excited you can be one week, and how depressed and frustrated you can be the next. The adversary has hit every single one of our investigators with a ton of bricks this week. As a missionary, I think you kind of get a small sense of how Heavenly Father feels when we don't accept the wonderful gifts He offers us. It hurts. You know that the gospel will bless their lives. You know it can heal their spiritual wounds; and you know it will make them really happy. Sorry this letter sounds depressing; I'm kind of bummed its p-day because I want to go make some good things happen. We need some success. 

We do have an appointment tonight with a lady who was supposed to be baptized on Sunday, and I'm praying we will be able to help her get back on date. 

We did have some funny stuff happen this week: we knocked on a door and this lady peeked trough the mail slot instead of opening the door. She asked who we were, and upon realizing we were the missionaries, she said: "Uh, I'm not home right now." And she shut the mail slot. Haha! That made me laugh. 

A bunch of people have asked us never to come back again, and then they proceed to spend 10 minutes telling us why they don't want us around -- how we are breaking the law, how their names should be on our "do not contact" list, and so on. They won't let us leave until we promise not to come back lol. What they don't realize is that their is an unlimited supply of Elders who haven't promised not to come back, who will show up every six weeks, and we don't have a list of people to "not contact." If we did, more than half this place would be on there. Haha, Heavenly Father keeps giving them multiple chances. 

I'm excited for this week, its going to be a good one. Heavenly Father is in charge, and his work will go forth.
So, I really need to be able to drive, but I can't until I get a DMV report. Could you please send that as soon as possible? Thank you. 

I'll send home pictures soon, most of them are landscape, and there are a few of me. The goofy stuff is all on P-day, just letting you know. I'm having a lot of fun out here, and I love this area. 

I'm halfway through 3rd Nephi in my reading, I absolutely love the Book of Mormon. I promise you guys that if you make the Book of Mormon the foundation of your testimony, and you study together as a family, you will have the power to overcome your challenges, and you won't fall away. 

It is amazing to me how hard the devil fights my investigators when it comes to reading the Book of Mormon. They will read the Gospel Principles Manuel, they will read the Ensign, but getting them to crack the Book of Mormon open is like pulling teeth. Why? There is nothing wrong with reading the Ensign or Gospel Principles, in fact those are wonderful resources; but the devil knows that if people gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, they will know that Jesus Christ is their Savior, that Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ's Church established on the Earth today.  If the devil can keep you from knowing that, he will eventually break you down. 

I love you guys, thanks for your support and prayers. May God continue to bless you.
Elder Thornton
Thanks for all the Vitamins and goodies, they make my day. I have to go, but I'll talk more next week. I should still be here. Bye.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thirteenth Letter to Home 21 November 2011

Hey, whats up? Do you want to know something funny? Thanksgiving is this week... Weird, huh. 

This week has been AWESOME! We had three baptisms on Sunday! Whoohoo! Scott, Charna, and Nathan all got baptized. I am so excited -- you have no idea. I got to baptize Charna and Nathan, and Scott was baptized by one of the priests from the Port Townsend ward. The Lord has truly blessed us. I love being able to invite people to have the joy and feel the love that comes from following our Lord Jesus Christ. 

There is no greater feeling, than the love of our Father in Heaven. I love being able to see peoples eyes light up when they feel that love. I have been having a blast being a missionary, it is the best. 

We have another guy on date for next week, and we've been teaching a lady that will probably go on date soon. 

Elder Topp goes home in two weeks. December 5th is transfers, and I have a very high chance of staying here for another transfer, to take over the area. 

Corey Sabin comes here on the 5th, I'm so stoked, this place is awesome. 

We had our first whoosie snow storm on Friday, it actually does get pretty cold here. It isn't cold temperature wise, but humidity wise it's cold. We've had some nice days too; like today, we have a blue sky, and its pretty comfortable outside. I wear my North Face jacket, and it keeps me warm enough. I gave the coat I came up with to a missionary who didn't have one. He was tracting with a short sleeve shirt and a sweater vest lol. He was freezing. His coat got stolen, so I gave him mine. I'm plenty warm enough, especially with the Beanie and gloves you sent me. Thanks a lot for those.  

President Weaver has asked us to continue knocking on doors between 5 and 7pm, so we can catch people at home, but it is super dark at five. I've scared a few people: We are all blacked out, with black beanies, black gloves, black coats, black pants, and black shoes. With our collars turned up, we look like ninjas, and people don't see us coming lol. I just hope someone doesn't shoot me -- that would definitely put a damper on the evening, but end up making a really good journal entry. 

I get mistaken for a cop a lot. The missionaries in my zone say I look like one, and a few people on doorsteps have mistaken my backpack straps for a shoulder holster, (Haha) its all good though. The Lord protects us; I have no doubt. I have truly felt the love of our Heavenly Father, and I know He is there, but I have also felt the hatred of the adversary. He is definitely around as well. 

I don't get intimidated easily, but there have been a few nights that I have been scared. I felt the devils desire to destroy me, he is definitely not happy with the work that my companion and I are doing. 

The other night I felt him so aggressively that I instinctively put my guard up, set my feet, and scanned the room looking for the threat. Upon realizing where the threat was coming from, and feeling powerless to defend myself, I called upon Heavenly Father and begged him to send his Angels to protect us. They came. The adversary was forced to leave. Scary.... but, I know that as long as I'm obedient, I can rely on the Lord's protection. 

Anyways, miracles are happening out here, and I am so grateful to be a part of this awesome work. This week we are going to a member's home for Thanksgiving. I think that will be fun. It sure beats canned chili. 

It sounds like you guys are going to have a fun Thanksgiving. I hope you have a wonderful week. I love you all.
Elder Thornton
Amber and Brad, I'm glad you guys are doing well. Good job on getting food storage. Have an awesome Thanksgiving. I just remembered we have a Subway out here. I like Subway (Haha).
Angela and Trevor, I love hearing stories about Bella and Xander, they are super funny. They make me laugh, and then the people sitting next to me in the library give me funny looks lol. I'm sorry you are feeling sick Angela, I hope your body adjusts soon. Have fun with Mom and Dad, and have a good Thanksgiving.
Mom and Dad, I bet you are excited to have the grand kids for Thanksgiving. That will be super fun. Thanks for sending me Vitamins, it would be nice if I could have some Cs as well. I don't think I have any. I can see how serotonin could be a real problem out here, 

President and Sister Weaver are awesome, I love them. They are super nice, personable people. President Weaver looks into your soul though when he looks into your eyes, it's pretty cool. He definitely has the gift of discernment. 

So the mission has a blog, its called the Beautiful WA-TAC or something. I bet if you googled it you would find it. There are pictures on there and stuff, maybe you could check it out. I'm sending home pictures and short video clips for Christmas. 

I love you, bye.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Twelfth Letter Home 14 November 2011

Hey, another week is gone. I don't know what happens to them. This one has been tough. One of the missionaries in my zone almost went home because he lost his testimony, and we almost lost two investigators because of hypocritical "fellowship." We were able to talk with our investigators and help them through it. We explained that Christ's Church isn't a place for perfect people to gather, but a place for imperfect people to get together, repent and progress through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Church is true, but the members aren't perfect. She was able to ventilate with us, and express her concerns. She felt better afterwards, and she decided that she still wants to be baptized on the 20th of this month. 

The problem is that she lives in Brinnon which is 60min away from where I live, and we have limited miles on our car.  Plus, everyone that lives in Brinnon is less active, so getting strong fellowship for her and her family is really difficult. We are working on it though, and the Lord is blessing us. I have really come to love 1 Nephi 3:7 on my mission. 

We found a new investigator this week. He is a referral from one of our recent converts, Anne Able. Cool guy. He is making some serious changes in his life. He wants to be baptized on the 27th. I'm having so much fun out here, its great. 

You can see the light in people's eyes when they feel the spirit, and they glow when they make changes in their lives that will bring them closer to their Father in Heaven. 

On the other hand, you can see the void in peoples eyes when they won't accept the Gospel. The spirit of discernment is real. It's like you can see into their heart. 

We've had some good times this week also, we both like knocking on doors, which makes having a good attitude alot easier. People are so funny. We walked up to this guy's gate and saw him standing in his yard. The conversation went as follows:
Me-"Hey, how are you doing today?"
Guy-"Do you need help?"
Me-"No, we are doing fine, we are.."
Guy-"Do you need help? Your entity keeps sending you guys around. I'm going to have to report you."
Me-"Okay, well, is their anything we can do for you?"
Guy-"You should write my address down."
Haha! What are you supposed to say to things like that? 

Another guy told us, "Seriously, I have no use for either of you two. Go! Go find another home!"

Tracting is really fun, because you never know who is going to answer the door, or what they are going to say. They could be completely baked with weed permeating from their clothing, or they could be really nice and offer you chili. It's great. 

We met with a guy who requested to meet with us off Mormon.org. We were really excited because he was a self referral. Usually those are really good, but we showed up at this guys house and two seconds after inviting us in he listed off a ton of "contradictions" that he had found with our faith and his, and he wanted us to resolve them for him. The first one was the Trinity. I explained that we don't believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are one being, but that they are separate. Now, you would expect him to grab his Bible and read John 1:1 to prove his point right? Right? Except his Bible was in Greek. He proceeded to read like an entire column to us in Greek, and then said this: "See, it is written in Greek. You can't dispute that. You can't, it's written in Greek." I almost died. I have never had anyone assume that saying something in another language would give it any more validity. 

Anyway, I don't know if that guy is going anywhere, but we gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it and pray about it. I hope he does. It is really difficult to teach intellectual people, because their hearts are closed, and they want to prove everything scientifically. But when they are converted, they usually become very staunch members. 

We had dinner at a members home yesterday. He is a recent convert to the Church; a really cool guy. He has been a SWAT team operator, a sniper, Narcs officer, a detective, and now he is a high school cop, lol. For a hobby he buys AK-47s and rebuilds and customizes them. Super cool. He showed us one that he just finished. It had a rail, collapsible stock; it was very well made. He offered to take us shooting, but I was really good. I told him that we couldn't do that as missionaries. Haha! He is the second guy who has offered. There is no way I'll break that rule. Bad things happen when you are disobedient. Losing your Divine protection when guns are around is not a very good idea. Anyways though, good things are happening. 

We have three investigators on date, one very close to being on date, and another who could be on date shortly. I'll probably be in Port Townsend for another transfer, unless they decided to white-wash the area. Elder Topp goes home in two weeks. Crazy. It has been kind of weird being with a "dying" missionary. He isn't too trunky though, and he works hard. The hardest part is that as soon as members hear he is going home, all they want to talk about is super trunky things. Like, girl friends, movies, music, family, cars, girl friends some more... Haha, poor Elder Topp. When people ask him how long he has been out, he tells them a little over a year. They won't take that for an answer though, and they keep prying until they get a definite amount of time. At which point, the trunky talk begins, lol. Well, have a great week. I love you.

Elder Thornton
Dad and Mom, hey, I don't have much time. I love you and I hope you have a good week. I'm glad the house got finished Dad. I'm writing David Tyler a letter, so keep an eye out for it. I'm fine. I'm warm, I weigh 185 pounds, and I get as much sleep as I can while still being obedient, lol. I exercise in the mornings: I do at least 200 push ups, 40 pull ups, and that's it. Its tough to hop up out of bed at 6:25 and exercise. Mom, I love you. I'm glad you are enjoying the Ward there. I like the raccoon picture. I'll send pictures home for Christmas probably.
Angela and Trevor. Hey, I'm sorry you are sick Angela. I hope you get better. I hope everything is going well for you and Trevor. Say hi to Bella and Xander for me. I love them. Have a great week.
Amber and Brad. Hey, we eat fast food every once in a while: McDonalds or Subway. That's all we have here. This town is super hippie. They won't let any franchises come into town, which is super annoying because everything costs loads of money. They only let McDonalds in because they promised they wouldn't put up their arches. The arches would have ruined the city scape. Haha! The funny thing is they have this huge, super stinky (like rotten animal stinky) paper mill in town, and it billows huge plumes of stench into the air. Apparently that doesn't ruin the city scape or the air quality. Anyways, I hope everything is going well for you. Have a great week. 

Oh, are you saving my letters home? I would like you to if you could because they would be a nice addition to my journal.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eleventh Letter Home 31 October 2011

Hey, how are things? 

This week has gone by quickly, and I can't believe it is already Halloween. Maybe thats becuase I've been "trick-or-treating" everyday for the past 7 weeks; (haha) though the other day I knocked on a door and this lady answered. 

I said, "Hello. We are the Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are in the neighborhood offering service. Is there anything we can do for you today?" 

Her response was, "I don't appreciate the way you approached my door." Slam! 

I was super confused, I hadn't heard that one before (haha). I've heard things like, "Well, we are too busy drinking right now." or "You need to leave before we call the cops," and "Come Halloween I'll be flying around on my broom!" (she was a witch). It's great. Knocking on doors is an adventure. 

At one house the people are telling you how much they appreciate what you do, and at the next house the guy is cussing you out. It's crazy how people allow something as simple as a couple of kids kocking on their door ruin their entire day. Anyways, things are going well here in PT/Chimicum. We have two on date for November 13 and some good progressing investigators. Elder Topp is good guy, and this is his last six weeks. After this he has to go home. 

He plays the piano really well, and he is pretty funny. We get along well. His approach is quite a bit different than Elder Andreasen's in that he is really laid back, he doesn't say much, and he likes to try and joke with people on their door steps. Elder Andreasen was very professional about things. I'm not sure which style I like better, but it is alot easier to be professional than funny. People around here don't always like jokes. 

I've been working really hard on being myself, and relaxing. It's difficult, because being a missionary really takes you out of your comfort zone. I'm getting the hang of things though, and I'm having a lot of fun.  

Our name tags are like magnets: people with serious problems like the drunkards and the homeless often want to talk to us -- which is good, but too often they come and interrupt when we are trying to talk to another person about the Gospel. We were teaching one of our investigators at McDonalds the other day, and this intoxicated, vulgar man came and sat down right next to me. I was teaching, and he wanted my attention so he could tell me that what I was saying was BS. All I could understand were his expletives. For some reason people can always pronounce those right, lol. He stuck around for like 15 minutes. Elder Topp tried to distract him so I could continue talking to our investigator. Ridiculous. 

Another guy on the bus kept asking me, "How do you get hit by a car?" 

Me, "I don't know, I guess you would have to be in the middle of the road." 

"There are no street lights, see..." 

"You're right, someone must have moved them."

Then he asked, "Where is Blynn?"  

"I don't know, I think you're on the wrong bus. This one is going to Port Townsend." 

"How do you get hit by a car?" 

This conversation repeated for 40 minutes! Haha.

So today is Halloween, and lots of people around here like to dress up like us, and get into trouble. For our protection from false accusation and muggings, President Weaver has instructed us to go to Sequim for a Zone meeting, all day long! It's weird not being allowed to do missionary work.

I'm doing well as far as food and warmth goes, I haven't had a pillow for seven weeks though, and I'm really starting to miss it. I don't have a blanket either, but the Relief Society said they would make me one during their quilting activity. The members feed us on weekends, and we are starting to score meals on other days of the week as well. The ward members are starting to like us better. :) 

We got invited to have Thanksgiving at a members house, so I'm pretty stoked about that. It definitely beats my previous plan of chilli burritos. Something that might be nice for Christmas would be a white Under Armor thermal shirt that I could wear under my white shirts -- just in case you were wondering, lol. 

Well, I don't have much else to say, I'm working hard, learning how to work smart, and doing my best to be obedient. I have a strong testimony that obedience and hard work produces miracles. I hope everyone is fine, and I love you. 

Remember to say your prayers and read your scriptures, these things invite the Spirit into your life and give you the strength to overcome temptations and trials. Every less active person has the same problem: They don't read their scriptures.
Amber and uBrad. Hey, I loved the package you sent. That book was fun Amber, I liked it. I hope things are going well for you guys.
Angela and Trevor. I hope things are going well for you, and I hope to hear from you soon.
David Tyler. Congrats on BBall man. That's awesome that you are playing and sinking those baskets. Keep it up. 

P.S. do you have an I touch and an I Pod Nano? Cause if you do, I'm allowed to have an I Pod if it is cleared of all the songs it has on it. Then I could load it with Approved stuff. If you still have an extra one, can you send it to me? Thanks.
Bye, I have to go.
Elder Thornton

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tenth Letter Home 25 October 2011

Hello... [a day late]. Haha, Transfers were yesterday, and they took Elder Andreasen. They came out in broad day light, and they took him... in broad day light. He got transferred to Centrailia to be a zone leader. Centrailia is down in the furthest South portion of the WA-TAC, and I'm in the Furthest North portion. 

Well, I'm still in Port Townsend, and I have a new companion named Elder Topp. Elder Topp is super cool, and he is going home after this transfer. More than likely I'm going to be in Port Townsend for at least another two transfers. I love it here, its pretty, I'm learning the area, and the Ward actually likes us now.  

So the reason why the Ward members had such a negative opinion of missionaries was because they had some super apostate Elders here before Andreasen and Harmer arrived. They had a TV and DVD player, tons of movies; they were making fireworks. They had golf clubs and a putting green, and instead of maps and omni boards, they had a collage of pictures of girls they had cut out of the Ensign and New Era. Ridiculous.  

A couple of people can do alot of good in an area, and they can also do alot of damage. It just depends on whether they are obedient and enthusiastic or not.  I'm having a lot of fun out here, I love being a missionary. This next six weeks is going to be awesome, and we are going to witness a lot of miracles. My companion and I need to find more people to teach; so we are going to be doing a lot of finding, ward listing, and member inspiring. I know without a doubt that when you show Heavenly Father you want to work, he provides you with opportunities to do so. We had three baptisms last transfer, and we should be able to put three people on date this week. 

I came out on a mission because the Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought me nothing but happiness, peace, and joy, and I wanted to invite others to partake of the same joy that I have experienced. Seeing someone enter the waters of baptism is wonderful, because you can see them experience the joy that comes from establishing a relationship with Heavenly Father.  I love it. 

As a Mission we are reading the Book of Mormon before Christmas: starting today. I was already in Alma, but I decided to restart. I absolutely love the Book of Mormon. Every time I read it I learn a ton of new things. It's awesome. I want to invite you all to read the Book of Mormon as a family. It is true. It testifies of Christ, and will bring us closer to our Heavenly Father if we abide by its precepts. In Lehi's vision of the tree of life, the only way people could make it to the tree was by "clinging" to the iron rod. They didn't just hold to it, or meander along beside it, they clutched that thing with white knuckles. From Nephi's account of the vision, we learn that the iron rod is the word of God, or the scriptures. 

All of the less active people we teach have the same problem, they don't read their scriptures. The people in the vision that didn't cling to the rod got lost in the mists of darkness. 

I have seen the power of the Book of Mormon not only in conversion, but also in helping people overcome addictions. The power of the Book of Mormon is real, and when we read it we invite the Spirit into our lives. I know you are probably already reading your scriptures, but I felt like sharing this with you anyways.

So I don't really have any funny stories this week, time goes by really quickly and all my memories are blurring together in regards to when they occurred. 

I had fun at the transfer meeting, I got to see all my buddies from the MTC. They are all doing well, except for one Elder who got put in a threesome with two "apostates." He said his whole zone was really struggling. One Elder choked another one out; another carries knives around with him and slashes anything he sees. They had to do an emergency transfer for half of zone. It was really bad.  

I honestly don't understand what some of these guys' malfunction is... where do they get off thinking they can conduct themselves like idiots when they wear a name badge with Christ's name on it? I am really glad I've had companions that want to work, so far, and I feel really bad for the Elder who got put in such a crappy environment his first transfer. I hope he gets a good companion this time. 

The temptation to slack off is real, everyday the adversary whispers that you've done enough, you've helped all these people, you are keeping more commandments than regular members of the Church, you can relax a little, you don't need to wake up at six thirty.... It goes on and on.  But the more you are obedient, the easier it is to tell him to jump in the lake. My goal as a missionary is to live everyday so that when I get down on my knees each night I can honestly tell my Heavenly Father I did my best. I often think of my favorite hero, Captain Moroni, and how the very powers of hell trembled and shook because of his resolve, his obedience and his courage. The jaws of hell gaped over him, and he kicked its teeth out. The devil could have no power over him. My goal is to be like that.

I've been taking pictures, and when my memory card fills up I'll burn the pictures onto a CD and send it home. I love all of you very much, and I hope you have a wonderful week.
Elder Thornton
P.S. Same address as before, and you might be getting calls from some of our converts... for some reason they wanted to talk to you, Mom and Dad. Maybe some facebook requests also. So far we have baptised Anne Able, Danna Carpenter, and Evelyn Honstien.  Love ya.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ninth Letter Home 17 October 2011

Hey guys, I'm glad you are all doing so well. I'm having a blast. We had two baptisms yesterday, and they were both really nice. 

The two people who got baptised are named Anne Able and Dana Carpenter. Anne is in her 60s, and I got to baptise her which was really neat. Dana is 19, and she got baptised by her fiance Phil. They have both been super golden investigators, and they both had really neat spiritual experiences that led them to be baptized  Dana got baptised in the ocean, which was way cool. 

Next week we have another two baptisms, and we are way stoked about that. One of the guys being baptised is named Scott, and it was really cool how we found him. 

One day Elder Andreasen and I were out tracting. We weren't having any success, but we were having alot of fun regardless. I got a phone call, and the guy says: "You probably don't remember me, but a few weeks ago you gave me a Mormon.org card from your car window. Sorry it takes me so long to make decisions, but I went to Goodwill and bought a Book of Mormon, and read through 2 Nephi. I would like to learn more, can we meet somewhere?" Haha I was so stoked, I was like "Yes! When do you want to meet?" We ended up meeting at McDonalds the next day, and we taught the Restoration. He has studied Hinduism, Buddism, all the different denomination's of Christianity, and he even spent some time with the JWs. He says our faith matches his personal beliefs that he has gained through study and prayer, and that when we teach him it is like he is remembering instead of learning. It is way cool, we teach him at McDonalds because his mom is a JW and she probably wouldn't be very stoked about having us over lol. 

Being a missionary is so fun, It amazes me that Heavenly Father trusts such young, inexperienced guys to do such an important work. This work is Heavenly Father's work, "to bring to pass the immortality and Eternal life of man," (Moses 1:39) it is a great honor to be able to participate in such a glorious cause, and invite people to have the joy that comes from developing a relationship with our Father in Heaven. 

The music standards here in Tacoma allow us to listen to anything made by an LDS artist, as well as some contemporary christian music. We have a bunch of way good stuff, some of it is stuff that Elders have created, and it is super funny. I didn't realize how much I liked music before I left for a mission, its kind of nice to be able to have a little wider variety than MoTab. Not saying I don't like MoTab, but listening to the same CD everyday gets pretty old. 

So I had a pretty interesting experience this week, I got to teach a guy in jail. It was way crazy, this guy requested to speak with someone from the church, and our bishop sent us over to the county jail to meet with him. We talked to him through the glass with the telephones, just like in the movies. We taught him the whole restoration, and gave him a Book of Mormon to read. The guard had to search it first of course. 

It was very interesting, because here Elder Andreasen and I are standing on one side of the glass because of decisions we've made throughout our lives, and there he was standing on the other side because of decisions he had made. 

Every decision we make has consequences, and though we might be free to make choices, we aren't free to choose the consequences. 

I had a funny thing happen to me on Saturday. We were tracting in a ghetto trailer park, and we knocked on this door, and this really grungy drunk guy opened the door... He said, "You are men of God? There are alot of demons around here, do you know how to fight demons?
Andreasen: "Yes. How do you fight demons?"
Guy: "By the grace of God. Don't worry, I've done your work for you, you're saved."
Me: Speechless.
Then the guy took our hands and chanted a quick prayer and wished us luck on our missions... Haha it was great. I wonder if by demons he was referring to really ticked off neighbors. We got cussed-out like five times that night. 

People are really funny sometimes. We were out tracting, and we knocked on a door that was answered by a woman. She said she absolutely didn't want to talk to us, and asked us to leave her porch. We wished her a good evening and left, but before we could leave her driveway, another woman came out and threatened to call the cops on us. We apologized for bothering her, and left. It is amazing to me that people would consider pulling police officers away from their job of busting dangerous criminals to harrass a couple of teenagers wearing white shirts and ties who are sharing a message about Jesus Christ. I think they might have been lesbians: The gay community here is really ticked off at the Mormons. They spray-painted one of the walls on the Church during the whole proposition-8 thing. 

We made the local headlines the other day, it said, "Suspicious vehicle belongs to LDS Bible salesmen." Haha we thought that was pretty funny. Anyways, I'm having a blast out here, transfers are next Monday, but I'm pretty sure I'll be here for another transfer. The new program keeps you with your trainer for two transfers. 

I've been taking pictures, and when I get a chance, I'll put them on a CD and send them home. There are also some videos on there, so that might be fun. I love you all very much, and I'm grateful for your support.
Angela and Trevor, congratulations!! Haha I'm so stoked! I'm a little bumbed that I won't be able to see him or her for a year, but still I'm so happy for you. I hope I'm not ruining a surprise by saying this... Haha I love you both alot. Tell Bella and Xan I love them too please. Oh, what is your address?
Amber and Brad, I'm glad the primary program went well, and I'm glad things are going well for you guys. I love you alot, and my address is the same. I think you asked that... Anyways, I hope you have a great week.
Mom and Dad, I love you both very much. David Tyler, so today I realized that the next time I see you you will be 17...Haha thats crazy. Haha anyways, I love you. Stay sweet, Peace and Love.
Elder Thornton

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eighth Letter Home 11 October 2011

Hey, sorry I didn't write last night, I'm on an exchange in Forks, Washington, right now. Forks is like two hours away from Port Townsend, and it is near the Olympic National Rain Forrest. This place is super pretty. We passed by a large glacier lake to get here. I'll be here until Wednesday morning. 

This last week has been filled with miracles. We have two people on date for baptism next week, and another one for the week after. We also have three investigators that could be on date soon. The Lord has really been blessing us. He keeps placing these people in our path, and it is awesome. The last thing my Branch President told me before I left the MTC was that if I was completely obedient and worked hard, the Lord would place the people he had prepared in our path. 

Elder Andreasen and I have been trying our hardest to be the best missionaries we can be, and we have been blest with people to teach. I love being a missionary, I have never felt so fulfilled and happy in my entire life. I love all of you, and I pray for you every night. Stay strong, 

I'll write more next week. I wish I had more time to tell you about the miracles that have happened to me lately.
Elder Thornton

Monday, October 3, 2011

Seventh Letter Home 03 October 2011

Hey family, whats up? It sounds like everyone enjoyed conference. I loved conference, two of our investigators watched it, and loved it. One of them, Anne who is being baptised on the 16th, cried because she felt the Spirit. Everyone of those inspired talks either applied directly to me, or directly to the needs and concerns of the people I am teaching. The Spirit testified to me that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's Prophet on the earth today. I know without a doubt, that he has been called of God, and receives revelation from God to lead and guide Heavenly Father's children on the Earth. I know this to be true. My prayers were answered during that conference, and things that have been taught to me by the Holy Ghost were reiterated. (D&C 6:22-23) 

I have had so much fun this week; being a missionary is a blast. Elder Andreasen and I are working with our next door neighbor Alex, trying to help him to overcome his smoking addiction, his consumption of alchol, and his laziness. Alex is hilarious. He paces back and forth in front of our apartment window until we go out and talk to him. He is interested in the Church, and he has had tons of experiences with Mormons, but he is really non-committal. Every time we talk to him he gets distracted by something totally irrelevant. He tried to tell us that the story of Pinocchio is in the Bible the other day lol. I think he meant Jonah, but even Jonah had nothing to do with our invitation to pray and ask God if learning more about the church would help him reach his goals. He isn't really a progressing investigator, but if our appointments fall through, he is always there and wants to talk to us. I truely believe that if he exercises just a tiny bit of self-discipline (faith), and follows through with his commitments, he'll know that the Book of Mormon is true, he'll stop smoking and get baptized. From there he will feel more motivation and confidence to go back to school and do something worth while with his life. The Gospel is a huge blessing. It is easy to take it for granted, but I know that it has blest my life immeasurably, and I can see it blessing the lives of those taking the steps to embrace it and come unto their Father in Heaven. Heavenly Father wants to bless us, but we have to do our part. When we are obedient, the Lord blesses us. 

The other day, we had dinner at a members house! (After alot of prodding, the Relief Society President finally made a dinner calendar for the Missionaries, and soon we should have meals on Saturdays and Sundays. We are super stoked lol.) One of the teenagers in the family invited his non-member girl friend over for dinner so we could talk to her. Haha we were so stoked! This girl should already be a Mormon; all of her best friends are LDS because they live the same standards that she lives. She is awesome. We asked her if she wanted to learn more about the Church and she said she wasn't quite sure yet. We asked her if she believed God answers prayers, and she said she did. We invited her to pray and ask God if taking the lessons is what he wants her to do. She said she would do that. If she asks, I know God will answer her prayer. Hopefully we will be able to start teaching her next week. 

The best part is, we spent two hours walking door to door inviting people to learn about the Gospel. No one was interested. Then we go to this members house, and we meet this girl that has clearly been prepared by the Lord to hear his message. Haha, I love it. Because we were faithful, he blessed us with someone to teach. In the MTC I learned that God has been preparing people for years to come unto Him. Why would He trust a couple of disobedient missionaries with someone He has worked with for so long, when those missionaries could destroy all the work He did in preparing that person to hear His message. When we are obedient, we are telling the Lord that we love Him, and He can trust us. I know this principle is true, because these ridiculously wonderful people keep finding us. There is no greater joy than knowing that Heavenly Father is pleased with you. I have so much I need to learn, and often times I feel like I'm not qualified for this work. But, I take courage in the scripture Ether 12:27, and I get back to work. I have a firm testimony that I was called to this mission by Heavenly Father, so despite my weaknesses and my lack of knowledge, I know that if I work hard I will be successful. This Church is true, I wouldn't be out here if I didn't know that with every fiber of my being. I wish people would take a few seconds to think about our resolve as missionaries. I mean, do they think I enjoy going door to door just to be rejected and insulted? Come on, obviously our message is somewhat important or I would be else where right? Its okay though, because every person that listens to our message and I get to witness feel the Holy Ghost, makes everything else totally worth it.
Angela and Trevor, thanks for the Mickey Mouse, lol. It was great.

Mom thanks for the package, I loved it.
I sent David Tyler a letter in the mail, so keep an eye out for it.

I love all of you very much. Sorry, but I'm all out of time. I have gotten your letters and stuff, and I appreciate all of it. I'll talk to you next week.

Elder Thornton

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sixth Letter Home 26 September 2011

Hey family, I don't have very much time today, but I love all the Emails you sent me. I only get an hour on Mondays to Email, and the Library has been packed all day. P-day ends at 5:00. I'm glad Disneyland was fun, It sounds like everyone had a blast. This week has been awesome. Besides the regular comical run-ins with rednecks, hippies, and anti-mormons, we had a very productive week. 

We have another investigator on date for baptism in October, and we are super stoked. We committed her during the Doctrine of Christ lesson. The spirit was really strong, and she is going to take work off for the next three Sundays so she can be baptized.  I love it when the Spirit teaches the lesson. Teaching the Gospel, and inviting others to experience the same joy that I have felt from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes up for all the door slamming, snide comments,  and homesickness that accompanies missionary work. I love being a missionary. 

We ran into this crazy dude the other day, and all he does is sit outside on the main street in Port Townsend with white boards that are anti-everything lol. This guy has conspiracy theories: He is anti-religious, anti-government, you name it, he has an argument against it. He is ridiculous. 

We had an awesome experience on Friday. It was 8:00PM, too dark to go tracting, and we didn't have any appointments. We remembered our Mission President, President Weaver, instructed us to createMormon.org profiles, so we decided we would go to a members home and work on our profiles. Long story short, we got a refferal from them about a non-member family that needed help moving the next day. We showed up at the home of the woman that needed help moving and were surprised to see that we were the only young guys there. The woman who owned the house was 90 years old, and it was just her and her daughters who were all in their 40s. We helped them move everything they couldn't lift, which was pretty much everything lol. This woman had like 8 desks, 5 couches, a marble table. Heavy stuff like that. The family of the old woman was super grateful, and they invited us to come to their family restaurant for free that night. It was a really good little Italian place, and the menu was really expensive. The best part was, after we ate, the family thanked us, and asked for our phone number.(This never happens) They told us that we were sent from heaven, and we were changing lives. Then they told us that we had changed their opinion about missionaries and about our church. I hope that we will be invited back to teach the lessons, but regardless, it was an awesome experience. It was a testimony to me that when you are obedient, and you show the Lord that you are willing to do what he has asked of you, he blesses you. I had been praying all week that we would find someone to teach the gospel to, and we were given the opportunity to teach through our actions. I love this Gospel, and I love being a servant of my Heavenly Father.
Amber and Brad, thanks so much for that package! I love Beef Jerky and Cliff Bars.  Haha that totally made my day. I hope everything is going well for you. I love you alot, and I hope you have a great week. Sorry I can't write more, I'm out of time.
Angela and Trevor, I'm so glad you had such a good time in Disney Land. I get your letters, but I don't have much time to write, sorry about that. I love hearing from you though. Bella and Xander are super awesome. I was trying not to laugh out loud about Xander's car noises lol. I'm in Library, so that probably wouldn't be good. Haha. Trevor that Uzi sounds way fun. I'm glad you guys are moving to Colorado to run the business. I think that will be really good. I love you alot, and I hope you have a great week.
I got to go, sorry this letter is so short. I wish I could write more.

Elder Thornton

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fifth Letter Home 19 September 2011

Hey! How are things? 

This week has been really long. My companion says the first week of transfers always are. I have gone to bed exhausted every night this week. We eat twice a day, I'll usually have a bowl of cheerios for breakfast or a peanut butter sandwich, and then I'll have the same for dinner at 9:30PM (haha). The eight pounds I gained in the MTC should make up for the lack of sustenance this week lol. The Lord provides though; people have given us fruit off of their trees, they have wild black berrie bushes here, and we have also been given chili and cookies. The ward doesn't have a dinner calender here. So far, it's the non-members who have been sharing their food with us lol.  That is okay though. I was finally able to buy groceries, so now I'll have food. 

We finally got into a member's home on Sunday, and they were really nice to us. The husband is a member, but he is struggling with his testimony. Elder Andreasen and I bore our testimonies about the Book of Mormon, and related spiritual experiences that we've had while reading it. He was happy, and I think we helped encourage him to keep reading and praying about the truthfulness of the book. Every opportunity that I have to teach or testify makes up for all the hard things about being a missionary. We've been antied twice so far: anti-Mormon sentiment; the second time the guy opened his door and said, "I want you to know that you'll never have Celestial babies, and you'll never have your own planet..." Then he slammed his door. Haha, it was ridiculous. These people are pretty funny. 

We get a lot of complements about our dedication and character, but we also have people tell us to get lost and get a life lol. I actually really like tracking, and when ever someone does talk to us it makes up for all the others. No one wants to talk about the Gospel though, which is kind of frustrating. The Unitarian faith is really big here, and because the people are very "liberal" they don't want any form of defined religion or deity. We get mistaken for the Jehovah's witnesses a lot also, but I think people are starting to like us better because we aren't pushy. The JWs are really dramatic, and they try to scare people into joining their church.  You wouldn't believe how many people we've run into that have Book of Mormons, and won't read them. When we ask them why not, they say they have learned everything they need to know about the church from wikipedia, and then they change the subject. The Book of Mormon is powerful, and if the devil can keep people from reading it, he can stifle their entire progression. I love being a missionary, and even though it is really hard, I'm having a lot of fun. 

I confirmed a guy and gave him the Holy Ghost on Sunday, and we taught primary. It was super fun. Our assignment was to show the kids this movie called feed my lambs, and then teach them about missionary work... that didn't work out very well, the only thing the kids got out of the movie was that coyotes eat lambs lol. So, we played Book of Mormon pictionary. Haha, like five kids in a row drew Noah's Ark, it was hilarious. I don't think Elder Andreason has spent much time with little kids, because he was asking the kids what they thought the lambs represented, and reading them scriptures from the Bible. The kids were climbing over their chairs and playing on the piano. So I changed tactics, and we played the game instead. 

We were able to set up a bunch of "member inspires" for this week, so hopefully those follow through and the members gain a better opinion for missionary work. 

We did some service the other day: we painted a members home. I think they are beginning to warm up to us more. One problem is the members are really fed up with the liberal mind-set, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them pray for a tidal wave every night lol. It seems they have given up on teaching and converting them. But I haven't. Elder Andreasen and I are working our best looking for people who want the to know the Gospel. I know the Lord watches out for his missionaries, and I know he will bless us for our faithfulness.
How was Disney Land? Was it awesome? I hope you all had a great time, and I bet Isabella and Xander loved it.
Amber, thanks so much for your Email. I'm really glad you wrote me haha. I bet the zoo was fun, I'm glad you got to go. I haven't been to a zoo since I was in kindergarten I think. I saw Mt. Rainer on my way in, and It is beautiful. If I ever serve in the city of Tacoma, I'll be able to see it all the time. This place is really pretty, but rainy season is about to start, and then it will rain until next summer. I hope you have a great week.
Bye family, I hope you have a great week, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you next Monday.
Elder Thornton
P.S. Thanks for the jump rope and music. I've been doing push ups and pull ups every morning. The Elders here call that a re-entry program. That's when Elders workout the last 12 weeks before they go home, so they don't show up all soft and stuff lol. So I guess I'll be doing a 24 month re-entry program.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fourth Letter Home 13 September 2011

Hey, I love it here. It is gorgeous! I am in the furthest north point of the mission, right next to all the bays and harbors. Mom, you would love this place. My trainer is super tight, his name is Elder Andreason. My town is Port Townsend, and it is basically made up of crazy forrests and the sea.

Yesterday, we met the mission president, President Weaver, and he is super nice. I like him. The missionaries here seem super excited about the work, and the departing Elders and Sister absolutely loved their missions here. I love it too.

I went tracting for two hours yesterday, with pretty much no success. It was great. Most people were nice to us, only a few shut their doors in our faces. Haha this one guy smiled and laughed at us as he shut his door... he thought he was funny.

My companion and I taught the Restoration last night to an investigator who is really interested in the church. Her name is Dana Carpenter.  Wow, she is so ready for the Gospel. God really does prepare people to come unto him through Baptism. She committed to be baptised in four weeks. She wants to read the Book of Mormon and know if it is true or not. I know that she will know its true alot sooner than that. Elder Andreason and I both taught together, and it was awesome. Our lesson went well. I'm trying my best, and I'm not allowing myself to be shy or nervous.

The members here don't really like the missionaries a whole lot, because they have had some bad ones in the past. We are gonna try to improve our relationship with them. When we are obedient everything works out: God blesses us by providing us with people to teach, and the members learn to trust us enough to introduce us to their friends.

Heavenly Father has been so good to me. He allowed me to serve this mission, and he sent me to this beautiful place. I am so excited about this work. I know the church is true, I know that we have a living Prophet on the Earth today, and I know that there is no other way that we can be saved then through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ all things are possible. Ether 12:27- its not just our sins, but even our weaknesses can be turned into strengths through him. Put your trust in Heavenly Father, he always follows through, and he loves us immeasurably. I know that as we follow his will, we are blessed. I can promise you, that you will be blessed if you follow him.

Amber, thanks so much for your Email. Your primary class sounds so fun lol. I hope the lessons those children learn in Primary always stick with them. If you set a goal, like serving a mission, Heavenly Father will help you accomplish it. I love you so much, and I'm glad your cruise was really fun. Someday all of you should come see this place, It is super pretty.

Angela, I loved those cupcakes you sent me. I gave most of them to my district, and they were all really happy. Tell Bella that I am so grateful that she prays for me. I love her and miss her so much.  Us missionaries are prayed for by the Prophet and the Apostles every Thursday at 11:00am in the Salt Lake Temple. God always hears the prayers of His prophets, and of little children, so I know I'm set lol. I wondered if you ever drove past the MTC... I kind of hoped we would accidentally bump into each other sometime lol. Elder Heiner was hilarious, it was his first time on a plane, and he really like it.

I love you a ton. Tell Bella I love her so much.

I love everyone so much, and I really appreciate your support. My new address is:

800 Hancock Street Apt #B7
Port Townsend, WA 98368


Elder Thornton

P. S.  Here are a few photos from around Port Townsend, Washington.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Third Letter Home 10 September 2011

Hey, I leave the MTC Monday the 12th at 5:00am. Since I don't get a P-day, I'm emailing you today (Saturday). How are things going? Are you getting my Emails? You should have gotten two by now. The whole family should be able to see these, right? I got short Emails from Mom and Dad, so thank you for those. Feel free to Email me back, I would like to hear from you. I don't have a ton of time, but I would like to hear from everyone.
The MTC is awesome, but I am so stoked to leave, and go to Tacoma! I'm a little nervous, but I know that if I do all that I'm supposed to and put my trust in the Lord, I will be successful. Our lessons have gone well, we ended on a positive note with all our investigators, and we have a "baptism" scheduled for this Monday. I'm not sure if I've already told you, but Elder Heiner and I have been teaching a pretend investigator named Chicho. He is from Naploli. We taught him about the Book of Mormon, invited him to read it, and pray if it was true. We taught him all the lessons, and invited him to be baptised. He accepted, and he threw his bottle of wine in the trash (ha-ha). Its been fun, and even though it was all pretend teaching, I have felt the Spirit.
Our group is getting ready to leave. Time has flown by for me, and I feel like my time in the MTC has been really beneficial. I'll talk to you later, and please let me know if you are getting my email okay.
Elder Thornton
P.S. Can you send my jump rope to me in Tacoma? Can you post my new address on face book? It is:
Washington Tacoma Mission
4007 Bridgeport way W STE D
University Place WA 98466-4330
... Thanks.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Second Letter Home 5 September 2011

I tried to write last week, but I didn't have the new email address. I can only write once a week, and that is on Mondays. I got my travel itinerary, and I leave next Monday the 12th. I am so stoked. All the days here are kind of blending together. I'm a zone leader now, and so Elder Heiner and I got to teach the new Elders, and show them around and stuff. They are all really nice, and they seem committed to being good missionaries. It was kind of embarassing though, becuase we got lost during the tour we took them on... thats what happens when you put brand new Elders in leadership positions. We are becoming better teachers, and Elder Heiner and I are getting better at transitions. I still do most of the talking, but we are working on it. Its funny, because we will be teaching one of our investigators, and I'll get done teaching a point in the lesson, and I'll look over at Elder Heiner, and he'll be like, "What? Wait... the restoration?" And then I'll just keep talking. He's great though, and when he testifies, he is powerful.Teaching these investigators is tough, because they don't see why the gospel will help them. We work really hard, bearing our testimonies, and inviting them to come closer to their Father in Heaven through prayer, but until they feel like they need to change, we don't make any progress. Our toughest investigators are our teachers, because they really get into their roles. Richard, Brother Tominaga, is a farmer, and his wife is a member. He says he wants to know if the Gospel is true so he can either support his wife in taking the kids to church, or not... Haha he is kind of a pain. We love him though, and I think we are starting to help him see how the Gospel will benefit him. He prays and reads the Book of Mormon, but he isn't quite feeling it yet. We also have taught Stephan, Brother Prawett, and he likes to play Halo and party. He is hard to teach because he gets really bored, and he is easlily distracted. He's funny though, he remindes me of alot of the kids from high school. We only taught him once. I think our favorite investigator is Chicho. He is from Napoli, and he likes Elder Heiner and I.  He is Catholic, and his baby son died a few hours after he was born. Chicho feels responsible for his baby going to "Limbo," because he didn't have him baptized. We showed him Moroni 8: 8, and he loved it. His interest in the Book of Mormon sky rocketted after that, and the next time we showed up, he not only read the Introduction and Moroni 10, but he read eight chapeters out of 1 Nephi. Haha the first thing he asked me that day was why God told Nephi to kill Laban... The Holy Ghost helped me on that one, I can't even remember what I said. But what I said made sense to him, and we were able to continue on with our lesson. Next time we teach, we are going to invite him to be baptized, and set a date.  I know he has felt the spirit during our disscussions. I love this place. Elder Holland came and spoke to us last Tuesday. It was awesome, I know that he is an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for the cupcakes Angela and Trevor. I can't get mail until Tuesday. The last mail I got was some post cards from Amber and Brad, they look like they are having fun.  I have to go...
I love you all very much,
Elder Thornton
P.S. can you send me the lyrics to Come Thy Fount in the mail? We all love that song, but it isn't in the Hym book.

First Letter Home 29 August 2011

Monday, the 29th
Hey Everyone! So much has happened since you dropped me off at the MTC. It feels like I've been here for much longer than I actually have, but that is because we get up at 6:00am, study, eat, study, eat, study, learn, study, eat, and go to sleep at 10:30.  I love it here. My companion is Elder Heiner. He is awesome, he is from Utah, and we get along well. I have learned a lot in the short time that I have been here. I have two progressing investigators (teachers that pretend to be investigators) named Richard and Stephan. I've only taught Stephan so far, and he only likes to party and play Halo. Elder Heiner and I taught him about the Restoration, and invited him to pray, read the Book of Mormon, and be baptised when he discovers the truth of our message for himself, through prayer. I'm becoming a better teacher, and I'm beginning to learn how to incorporate the Doctrine of Christ (Faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end.) into our lesson plans. I have felt the spirit everyday here. It is amazing. I know that this Church is true. I know that God lives, and that he loves us. He loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to come to the Earth and take upon himself all of our weaknesses, sorrows, pain, and sins, so that we would have the opportunity to make it back to our Heavenly Father. I know that God loves us, he restored his Gospel on the Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and gave us the Book of Mormon, to testify of Christ, and to show us that through him, and only him, we can be saved. I have felt Gods love for me. I know that you are fine, because he told me that he would bless you as long as I'm being obedient and working hard. I'm being obedient, and I'm working hard. I love you, and I miss you, but I know that this is where I need to be. I don't want to be anywhere else right now. I know that God answers prayers, and I know that if you pray to him with a sincere heart, having faith in Christ, he will answer your prayers, and bless you beyond belief.


Elder Thornton

P.S. In an effort to stop saying Dude, Guys, and Man, the Elders in my district, who are totally awesome by the way, do push ups and pull ups every time we use one of those instead of Elder. Oh yeah, and Elder Heiner and I just became Zone Leaders. I don't know why they picked us, but we are thankful for the responsibility, and the experience.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Entering the MTC

Dad dropped me off at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo Utah on Wednesday August 24, 2011. It was like clockwork: They motioned us to a numbered parking sign along the curb. Dad put it in park, opened the trunk; two elders grabbed my three bags and backpack and set them on the sidewalk. I had time to shake his hand, give him a hug and back in the car he drove off. It was a quick farewell.