Elder Michael Thornton

Elder Michael Thornton
24 August 2011 to August 2013

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Twenty-Ninth Letter Home 12 March 2012

Whats up? 

Yuki got baptized on Sunday! It was so cool. She was so happy. Sunday was Stake Conference, and she was going around inviting everyone to her "special day." It was cute. I was so happy for her. I love fulfilling my purpose. 

President Weaver our mission president attended our Stake Conference. I had previously explained the organization of the Church to Yuki. I told her that President Weaver was called by the Apostles, and that he pretty much answers directly to the Quorum of the Twelve. Missionary work was the commission given to the Apostles by Jesus Christ (Mark 16). Full-time missionaries are a direct extension of the apostleship. Our commission comes from Christ through them. That is why we have the title "Elder." Yuki was so excited to see President Weaver. She invited him to her "special day" also. He showed up, and she was really happy. I think she might of thought he was an apostle... but that's okay. 

I'm still working with Austin. It's tough though, because he isn't progressing very well. I don't want to leave him; I really don't, but I can't make him live the commitments; I can't make him gain a testimony, and I know the only way he will develop greater faith in Jesus Christ is through keeping the commitments. He needs to read the Book of Mormon. He needs to pray about it. He has to apply the teachings in his life. These are the tools Heavenly Father has given us so we can establish a relationship with Him. 

It is a direct cause and effect. The right patterns of behavior will improve our faith, knowledge and ability to live happy and fulfilling lives. Commandment keeping brings blessings, which in turn helps us to realize those blessings come from God. In this pattern of obedience, our faith increases until we get to the point where we are like the Brother of Jared, who's faith and trust in God was so great, that he couldn't be kept from seeing the Lord and beholding all things. Faith isn't blind. It is a hope and power which leads to action, which in turn brings blessings, and establishes the truth of a principle. "Faith is a hope of things which are not seen, but are true." I will work with Austin as much as I can. Heavenly Father loves him. I love him. I would do anything for all of my investigators. But, I can't give them faith. That is something they must seek for themselves. 

We are working really hard. It has been tough though; I kind of got doubled into a new part of town because of the Ward boundary changes, and a lot of our potential and progressing investigators went to the Elders serving in the other Ward. It is becoming more and more apparent to me how little I actually know. I am so inexperienced. I'm a very young missionary, and my companion is only three months out. He has a bit of attitude: He doesn't try to learn the area, and though he is slightly more obedient then Bailey, he complains constantly. In times like these we define who we really are. Am I going to be valiant, and turn to the Lord with all my heart for guidance, or am I gonna just coast through, and wait until transfers. I am trying to be valiant! The fact that I don't know what I'm doing causes me to humble myself and seek to do things the Lord's way. His way is the only right way. 

I like my District, and I think the other Elders are beginning to accept me better as their District Leader. Elder Bowser is a good Elder; I like him. I think we are getting along well -- which is good, because he doesn't seem to like anyone else in the Zone, lol. 

Well, that's all the news I've got. We're trying to schedule more people on date so they can access the full power of the Atonement in their lives. What an awesome job I have! I love you, have a great week.
Elder Thornton

Thank you so much for the package, and weekly letters. I really enjoy hearing from you. I'm not very good at writing hand letters, but I wanted to let you know I appreciate your support. I love you.

Elder Thornton

Monday, March 5, 2012

Twenty-Eighth Letter Home 05 March 2012

Ha-ha, what’s up?

So...Yuki didn't get baptized... She was in Seattle. But, she should get baptized this weekend? That's what we are shooting for anyway. We have people with potential, their faith in Jesus Christ is increasing, but the application of that faith requires constant nurturing and encouragement. We have to get a couple married, we need to get Yuki in the water, we need to help Austin give up his boos and cigs, its crazy.

The other day someone said to me, "If your church is true, where are the miracles?" As I thought about that, later that night, I realized that perhaps the greatest miracle is that 19-year-old kids can go out into the world, into the ghettos, and actually get people to quit smoking, stop drinking, give up their drugs, get married, stop beating people up, and become true followers of Christ. How do we do it? We don't. Christ does it; and in our weakness, inexperience, and lack of skill, He shows forth His power. He shows that He is the true and living God, and that he never ceases to do miracles in the behalf of His children. It's cool; it's fun, and I love being a part of it. 

We are working hard, and the Lord is helping us. Every night I pray about how I can help specific people. When I sit down to study, I study with specific people in mind. Last night, I was praying about how I could help a soldier we are teaching who has served in combat. He is having a lot of difficulty coping with the many horrifying acts of war. It is because of these  experiences he turned to alcohol to drink away his pain everyday.

For most of his life, He didn't believe in God, but now he does believe. 

I met him five weeks ago. Bailey's previous companion didn't want to meet with him, but Bailey felt like this person had potential. So he introduced the soldier to me. The lesson we had with him that first day was probably one of the most spiritual lessons I have ever had. The soldier was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he prayed that he would be able to hold onto that feeling. He understood the feelings he felt came from God. He wants to believe in Jesus, but he says his pride is getting in the way. I want desperately to help him. He wants to stop smoking and drinking. He knows they are bad for him: they are expensive, and they limit his liberty. But, he doesn't know how to quit. I know how to help him quit. I know that the only way one can truly replace addictions is through Christ, but I have to be able to help him realize that.

Heavenly Father answered my prayer and told me how. As I prayed, 1 Nephi 19 popped into my head. I pushed it aside not really wanting to look it up. Again, 1 Nephi 19 followed with, "go look it up." I got up, grabbed my military scriptures, and looked it up. I've read that scripture a hundred times. I've used it in lessons, but this time it took on a different meaning. The scripture is about likening the scriptures to yourself; and I realized that if the soldier is going to be able to progress, he needs to be able to keep commitments. Those commitments need to come from the Book of Mormon.

In Lehi's dream, the only way to get to the tree of life is by holding onto the Iron rod, and moving forward. The iron rod is the word of God, and keeping commitments is called repentance which must occur before one can be baptized, or partake of the "Love of God." What commitment does he need most? He needs to read the Book of Mormon, and pray about it. He knows what the Spirit feels like, and by having him ask a specific question, he will be able to connect his answer straight to the source. 

The placebo effect from the awful war experiences will eventually be of no concern to him anymore. It will be replaced with the peaceful, comforting assurance that Heavenly Father loves him and has great blessings in store for him and for all who truly seek the Savior. With that clear answer, and the connection established, he will know that Christ is real. And with that testimony, he will be able to focus his faith, use the Lord's atonement to overcome his addictions, be baptized, and further unlock the blessings of Jesus Christ in his life. He won't have to suffer the effects of war anymore. I know what I need to do, and it came from Heavenly Father, so I know it will work.

I love fulfilling my purpose. An interesting thought came to me today during companion study. Bowser likes deep doctrine, and he asked me about Cain. I told him that Cain was cursed to stay on the Earth until the end when Christ comes back. There are four other men who will also remain on the Earth until the second coming of Christ: John the Beloved, and the three Nephites. In their case however, remaining on the Earth until the Lord’s coming is a great blessing. Today the thought came to me that the difference is that Cain has no purpose, and thus he is miserable. The other four are here to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to bring souls unto Him. They have a purpose, the greatest purpose of all. Unlike Cain, they are happy, and they will be happy for the rest of their eternal lives, because they are fulfilling their purpose. I know from experience, that I am the happiest as a missionary when I am fulfilling my purpose.

Anyways, these are things that I've been thinking about, and experiences that I've been having. I love you all, and I hope you have a great week.


Elder Thornton

P.S. I like Elder Bowser. He is a good Missionary. He got chewed out hardcore by the investigator the other day for not being "sincere or straight forward." Poor Elder... The investigator told me I need to teach him how to "argue better," lol. I don't argue; I listen. I take in the words he tells me, and expound upon them with the scriptures and analogies the Spirit gives me to share. I think he understands that though, because last time we saw him, he thanked Heavenly Father for giving me the ability to speak to him, understand him, and teach him. Elder Bowser was a champ though. He is humble and teachable, and he handles criticism very well.