Elder Michael Thornton

Elder Michael Thornton
24 August 2011 to August 2013

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