Elder Michael Thornton

Elder Michael Thornton
24 August 2011 to August 2013

Monday, February 27, 2012

Twenty-Seventh Letter Home 27 February 2012

What’s up? This has been a challenging week.

Yuki did not get baptized. I have never seen anyone get “antied” as much as she has, but she still comes to Church. She has really gotten a lot of opposition: As soon as her friends found out she wanted to be baptized they told her that Mormons are eloquent and skilled deceivers who work for the devil.

First of all, if we were in the business of deceit, would the Church send 19-year olds out? Most of us barely passed English class, lol; the thought is so ridiculous. Worse than the Anti-propaganda though, Yuki had a nightmare in which she said a scary man was trying to strangle her, and yelling at her not to get baptized. She got scared, and backed out. But I talked to her about it over the phone and explained that someone who was good and trying to warn her wouldn't try to kill her in the process. Kind of counter productive. Then I read to her the Lord's Prayer, and told her to pray that she would be protected from evil as she sleeps. She came to Church, and she said that she realized that the man in her dream trying to choke her was the devil and that she still wants to be baptized. As we talked, I felt inspired to read Joseph Smith's first vision with her and this time include the part where the devil bound his tongue that he could not speak and tried to [strangle] destroy him.

As she read Joseph Smith’s testimony she said, "This is exactly what happened to me." I told her that the devil was forced to leave once Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ came to him, and that when she gets baptized, she will have the Holy Ghost, and the adversary will be forced to leave. She knows now, that the devil is going to try to stop her from getting baptized, and that the sooner she is baptized and receives the Holy Ghost, the sooner the devil will be forced to leave. Yuki and I have really good conversations.

She told me, "Elda Donton, thank you so much for all your patients, and help. No one else answers my questions, because they can't understand my accent."

Ha-ha, it is funny, I can understand her accent because I grew up around Mom's accent. Yuki hopefully will be baptized next Sunday.

We got our transfer calls, but they could be changing soon. The Stake just shifted a bunch of boundaries, and created a new Ward.

Some things that go on in the Mission field really try my patience, but I promised Yuki the Holy Ghost would give her more patience; so I can't allow myself to get upset – I’ve been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost and I need to Follow His promptings. As for now, my transfer call is this: I'm serving as District Leader where I am here in Fort Lewis, and I'm training a brand new elder from the MTC!  I'm stoked, I'm going to have a brand new companion. I can't wait. It'll be an opportunity for me to go back to the fundamentals, and really learn them well. Plus, we get to start fresh, which means hopefully we won't have any obedience issues. Fingers crossed.

I love you guys, I'll talk to you later.


Elder Thornton

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Twenty-Sixth Letter Home 21 February 2012

Hey everybody, 

I couldn't write yesterday because it was Presidents' Day, and the library's were all closed. But, President Weaver is letting us email today, so here it is. 

This transfer is almost over. This is week six, and we'll be getting our transfer calls this coming Saturday. I've been working really hard, but we don't really have much to show for it. We've only baptized one person this transfer, which is frustrating because this is supposed to be one of the higher performing areas in the Mission. I was starting to get a little discouraged, feeling like the reason we weren't doing well was my fault. These feelings of inadequacy were compounded by the fact that I'm the youngest District Leader in the Mission, and I felt like a few of the older missionaries in the zone didn't really like me for that. I don't really think that is true anymore though. It was just the adversary trying to bring me down. So dumb. 

We had a really good Zone Conference where I was able to receive advice through the training given, and from one of the APs who served here. He said that Fort Lewis is an up and down place. Sometimes they baptize a ton, and other times you have to re-build your teaching pool. The truth is we are working hard, and I know that the Lord blesses us when we are diligent and obedient. 

I love personal scripture study so much; I always learn such cool stuff. My scriptures are my most prized possessions, they are filled with notes and markings, all of which are insights I've gained from the Holy Ghost. He is the best study buddy ever. I'm in 1 Nephi right now, and I only get through maybe two chapters in an hour of study because I cross reference a lot. So it takes more time. Elder Bailey isn't really used to working hard all the time, and he doesn't like to participate in companion study. He is a good Elder though, and I'm trying to help him develop good habits for the rest of his Mission. 

He's so funny: He writes his girl friend every day, lol. No joke, every day. I hope he doesn't get DJ'd, because it's gonna tear him up. Poor kid. 

I think I told you guys about our Japanese "eternal," named Yuki. We witnessed a miracle on Sunday. It was so cool. We've been working with Yuki every Sunday since I've been here. We sit next to her in church, answer her questions, etc. She is such a good lady, and she really just needs to get baptized. Last Sunday, she asked me why Jesus told us to forgive one another. I explained to her that Jesus suffered for everyone, and that He suffered for us as if He was us. In other words, when you fall down and scrape your knee, Jesus Christ felt that for you. Jesus did that so that we wouldn't have to suffer. Interesting to note, when human beings experience too much pain, they pass out. Jesus atoned for us so we could overcome our hardships, and continue forward in our progression. When we aren't willing to forgive one another, we are telling Christ that he didn't suffer enough for us to forgive and forget. What a slap in the face for Jesus. She didn't really say anything, besides, "really?" (Look of surprise on her face) But, this Sunday she told me that she has been thinking about what I told her, and she is thinking about getting baptized. I Holy Ghost jumped on that, and I started encouraging her to do it. I can't even describe it, I opened my mouth, and everything just flowed. I was pulling out scriptures to answer her questions. It was awesome. It was really funny too, because everyone keeps trying to "anti" her. She is always showing up with anti-Mormon stuff. No joke. Last time she had sixteen pages of some of the funniest anti I have ever seen. 

This time she had a little Baptist pamphlet, that was preaching hell fire and brimstone, and she was asking me questions from their pamphlet. The Holy Ghost helped me take the truths quoted in the scriptures they used and expound upon them using the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was so cool. I had all the scriptures marked already from my personal study, but the Holy Ghost told me how to use them, and when to use them. So fun! I invited her to get baptized this Saturday, and she said that she would! I am so stoked, what a miracle. Heavenly Father set it all up so perfectly. I pray that she will have the courage to go through with it. It's like the story of Ammon. He knew how to use his sword. I'm sure he was well trained, and very competent with his blade. Because of this, when he went to defend the king's flocks, the Spirit was able to tell him, when to block, when to dodge, when to strike, and where to swing. 

Anyways, I am really having a blast everyday being a Missionary. It is so fun. I love all of you, and I hope you have an awesome week. I hope that story makes sense, but it is really hard to explain. Just know that the Lord blesses us, and He knows exactly how to touch the hearts of his children.


Elder Thornton

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Twenty-Fifth Letter Home 13 February 2012

Hey, whats up everyone? Guess what? 

Yesterday I hit my six-month mark! Crazy. I feel like I just stepped off the plane. I'm having so much fun, being a missionary is awesome. Being at my six month mark means I am no longer considered a "greeny," though I still very much feel that I am.  Sometimes my companion and I will look at each other hoping the other one knows what to do. Ha-ha. We don't know what we are doing, lol, but it is okay because through us the Lord gets to show forth His power.

Thinking about this makes me laugh. Here I am almost 20, and I'm giving people marriage advice, addiction recovery advice, family advice, telling them to get married, to quit drinking, to quit smoking — it's kind of crazy. But it works because it isn't me. I am just an instrument in the Lord's hand. I am like a pen. When I study, I am replenishing my ink levels. When I go to bed on time, wake up on time, get out and work, and do my 5-7s, I'm sitting in the Lords pencil cup on top of His desk. 

Obedience is about aligning our will with Heavenly Father's will. It's not about whether the Lord is on my side, it's about me being on His side. When we do this, He can pick us up and write with us when ever He wants. 

Have you ever wondered why so many of the Lord's mighty servants in the Book of Mormon were also soldiers? Is it a coincidence that the statue on top of our temples is the image of a man who was a soldier in life? Perhaps it is because soldiers have the ability to put their will behind them, and follow their captain at the peril of their own lives, to protect the lives of others. In Moroni's closing remarks, he said, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not Charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-- But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."  

Doctrine and Covenants section 19 describes how Christ showed us this love. He submitted His will, to His Father's will. When Christ came to the Americas, he said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." We are not the Lord's if we don't do the Lord's will. This is not Elder Thornton's work. It is not President Weaver's work. It is not even the work of the Church per say. This is Heavenly Father's work, and His glory. 

When we have charity, we submit our will to doing the Lord's will. When we do this, then we are like Moroni, Mormon, Alma, Nephi, King Benjamin, and Captain Moroni. "Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." I love this scripture. Everybody who knows me knows that Captain Moroni is my favorite super hero. But, at this time in my life, I really love the verse 19 in this same chapter. "Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for thy did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words." 

I came on a mission to shake hell. Every person we baptize is another person freed from its grasp. I love being a missionary. Right now, we are struggling. We have people who want to get baptized but can't until they get married; we have people who want to get baptized but don't know it yet; and we have people whot should have gotten baptized months ago, lol. This is kind of a tough job. We have this super hilarious Japanese lady who has been coming to church for a year; she even pays her tithing, and she still isn't baptized. She is just stubborn. She says the water is dirty here, lol. She calls me Elda Donton, and my companion Elda Balley. I wish you could meet the people I get to work with. They are great. I truly love these people. I would do anything for them. All I want is to help them access the Atonement of their Savior Jesus Christ. He laid out the path we need to take if we want His sacrifice for us, and that path is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. We can't access the Atonement without Baptism. This is why this work is so important. I pray that I will be able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in bringing many people unto him. 

I love you guys. Have a good week.
Elder Thornton

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Twenty-Fourth Letter Home 06 February 2012

Hey everybody, I thought for sure I gave you my address last week, (what a communication lapse, lol), but I guess not. Anyways, here it is:

Elder Thornton
14604 A Washington Ave SW
Lakewood, WA 98498

This week has been awesome. We have such cool investigators. I love them all so much. We had a baptism on Saturday, a girl named Jamie that has been coming to church for like a year, and finally decided to get baptized. It was cool. She was one of those "dry Mormons." We had seven people on date, but one of them wants to wait until April to get baptized because that will be when her husband will have his R&R. Another one of our people, a teenager, can't get baptized because his mom is anti-Mormon; but we have a super sweet family that is on date.

They are awesome. It is a man and his girlfriend, and their three kids. Two of the children are of baptism age. We taught the family the commandments the other day, and when I say “we,” I really mean the Holy Ghost taught them because I have never taught like that before. It was an awesome spiritual experience. Before they can be baptized, they need to get married, and he needs to take the steps necessary to quit smoking. I believe he will succeed. I have never seen anyone with so much faith. After teaching the commandments, I asked them if they would keep them. His response was this: "If God wants me to do these things, why wouldn't I?" He taught me a lesson in Faith. I hope and pray that the faith they have will carry them through this time of sacrifice, so they can receive the blessings that Heavenly Father wants to give them.

I heard a really good story, and I shared it with him the other day.

A little girl was in the dollar store with her Mom. She saw a little pearl necklace, and instantly fell in love with it. She wanted it really bad, so she asked her Mom if she could have it. The Mom picked it up and looked at the price tag. She told her daughter that it was two dollars, and that she could buy it if she helped out around the house.  The little girl was super excited.

When she got home, she immediately started helping out around the house: cleaning her room, helping with the dishes, doing whatever she could to earn nickels, dimes, and quarters. At the end of the week, she had a dollar in change.

It was the little girl's birthday that weekend, and her grandma gave her a brand new one-dollar bill. Now she had enough money to buy the necklace. Her mom took her to the store, and she bought the necklace. She was so happy. She wore it everywhere – even to bed at night.  A couple of weeks went by, and the girl continued to cherish her little pearl necklace.

One day, her Daddy came home from over seas. He tucked her into bed that night, and after reading her a story, he asked his daughter how much she loved him.

She replied, "I love you this much, daddy," stretching her arms out as far as she could.

"Well, do you love me enough to give me your little pearl necklace?"

"Oh daddy, not my necklace, I'll give you my dolly though, she is my favorite one."

"That's okay sweetie, good night."

The next night, he did the same thing, and the next night, and the next, each time the little girl refused to give him the necklace, offering him something else instead. Until one night, the daddy came into the little girl's room to find her sitting up in her bed crying, clutching something tightly in her fist. "Here you go daddy, here is my necklace."

The father took the necklace with one hand, and with the other reached into his pocket and pulled out a little box. "Here you go sweetie, this is for you."

The little girl opened the box, and inside was a REAL little pearl neck lace. 

Sometimes we have to give up something before our Heavenly Father can give us the gifts he is waiting to give us. All of us are holding onto a little pearl necklace of some kind. We all have that thing we don't want to give up. But, if we will, Heavenly Father is waiting to give us something so much better. 

The question should be: If Heavenly Father wants it, why wouldn't I do it?

I love being a missionary. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. I pray every night that I will be able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.

I love you guys,

Elder Thornton

P.S. I am plenty warm, lol.