Elder Michael Thornton

Elder Michael Thornton
24 August 2011 to August 2013

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thirty-Second Letter Home 02 April 2012

What's up?

It sounds like everyone really enjoyed General Conference. I love Conference. Yuki, our recent convert watched it in Japanese online. We watched one Saturday session with our investigator family; and Sister Hampton, who I've been trying to get to come to Church for 10 weeks, came to the Sunday afternoon session. Clara, our "German grandma" lady watched Sunday morning's session of Conference. Ha-ha, I love conference because the talks our investigators heard where exactly what they all needed. It worked out perfectly.

The Apostles and Prophet re-iterated principles we taught our investigators last week. It was cool for me personally, because things that I've studied and promptings that I've received from the Holy Ghost were re-iterated and confirmed by the Lord's chosen servants. Many of the talks were exactly what our Ward and Stake leaders needed to hear also. I took good notes, and this morning as part of my study, I reviewed them. Then, I read out of the Book of Mormon.

The Holy Ghost, through the Book of Mormon, once again confirmed the words of the Lord's servants to me. I have so much fun studying with the Holy Ghost. He is always teaching me cool things, and the best is when he teaches me things that I get to use that day to help explain the gospel to someone.

Many of the talks focused on the importance of being converted to the Gospel, and having an eternal perspective, or vision. As a missionary I've noticed that many members of the church don't know what the Gospel is, and as a result get caught up in "club Mormon," missing the point of why the Church was restored in the first place.

The Gospel, as defined in 2 Nephi 31, and 3 Nephi 11, is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. Everything else we do in the Church should support these five principles and ordinances. Christ's gospel is so simple that a child can understand it, yet so complex and perfect, that it takes a life time to master it. For investigators, it unlocks the full power of Christ's atonement in their favor. For members of Christ's Church, it renews the solid ground beneath our feet, keeping us on the rock of salvation. Baptism is the only ordinance we continue to renew for ourselves, through partaking of the Sacrament. Other ordinances are done by proxy, in the behalf of others.

In 3 Nephi 18:6-7,10-12 Christ says that by partaking of the Sacrament, we are securing our place on the rock. Helaman 5:12 tells why we want to hang out on that particular rock. Understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us an eternal perspective. It gives us hope, and that hope is re-inforced by Heavenly Father's blessings to us. These principles, are the center of the plan of salvation, the plan for happiness. Christ is our benefactor, He paid for us in blood. D&C 19 captures what that entailed. If we don't want to suffer as He did, we have to accept his Gospel. If we don't want other people to suffer that agony, we need to share his Gospel. "A religion that doesn't require a sacrifice from it's members, will never have the authority, or power to live with God." It is through applying the principles of the Gospel in our lives, that we make that sacrifice, and choose to follow our Savior. This Saturday is transfers... we'll see what happens. I'll let you know on Monday.

Elder Thornton

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thirty-First Letter Home 26 March 2012

Hey, hows it going?

This week has been rather mundane; not to much new happened. The progress we've been making with our investigators is slow. We can't get any of our contacts to come to Church. People promise they will come. We set up rides for them, and then they don't show. It's super frustrating.

Then yesterday a member brought his boss and his boss's wife to Church with him. It was their first time, so they attended the Gospel Essentials class. We don't have a teacher, so I've had to wing the last three lessons. My companion doesn't want to do it, so I've been teaching all the Gospel Essential classes lately. I don't mind teaching though, it puts me in the position where I can steer the discussion, and hope to meet the needs of the potential investigators. But without fail, someone will feel the need to bring up something irrelevant and shift the class away from the lesson. I was talking about the Atonement and about the Gospel of Jesus Christ when a member interrupted me and said they wanted to learn about the war in heaven. Then they wanted to learn about the 1/3 that were cast out of heaven. Then they wanted to talk about Celestial Glory, and Endowments, and... can we give some milk before we try feeding them steak please? It's ridiculous. Our investigators get so confused. Ha-ha, so that was Sunday School, but we are very grateful for the member bringing them to Church, and we got a solid referral from the ward we've been trying to get one for nine weeks now. This week the member is going to have us and his friends over for dinner. I think there is some definite potential here. We gave the couple a copy of the Book of Mormon.

We continue to work with our other investigators. Austin was upset at us because we couldn't go shooting with him the other day. He was even planning on having friends there who we could talk to, but the handbook says no guns. President Weaver says no guns. This means Elder Thornton had to say "no guns" also. Trust me, that was difficult. But I'm glad I was obedient.

The Ward here is difficult to work with. We announced in Ward Council we had a family on date to be baptized for Easter Sunday, and they flipped out. (Forgive me for trying to baptized someone on the day Christ rose from the dead. It's not like baptism is symbolic or anything.) Apparently the problem stems from missionaries in the past who just went behind the Ward's back, so-to-speak. They would show up with baptism records after the fact. You would think now that the Ward has missionaries trying to communicate and work with them and do things the right way, they would be excited; but all they gave us was flack. They ate us alive in Ward Council. Totally uncalled for. First time missionaries have even bothered to show up to Ward Council in months, and they kicked us out after ten minuets. It is frustrating!

I'm trying. At the same time, I'm not going to allow their pride to deny people entrance into the Lord's Kingdom. I've got a job to do. It' will take time, and I will work at it. I promised Heavenly Father that I was going to leave this area better than I found it. And that's what I'm going to do.

That's about it, that was my rant. I'm sorry. I try not to complain. My companion does enough of that for the two of us, lol. Ha-ha, I like Elder Bowser, and though he hesitates to admit it: He is starting to like being a missionary. His testimony is growing. We've had quite a few little miracles this transfer. I told him, if you want to enjoy your mission, you've got to have the Holy Ghost with you. Galatians 5:22 "The fruits of the spirit are, joy... faith... peace... long suffering...." The influence of the Holy Ghost is what makes this work awesome. But, if you want him to hang out with you, you have to be obedient, and you've got to work. I think he is starting to see that. Yesterday, he told me to wake him up at 6:30 — "except on P-day!" Haha, the Spirit is getting to him.

Anyways, I hope you have a great week. I'm going to have a great week because I'm going to do everything I can to have the Holy Spirit with me. He makes everything good.

Bye guys.

Oh, another highlight of the week: I got to go take a tour of the 160th SOARs Spec Ops helicopters. Ask me about it in a couple years.


Elder Thornton

Thirtieth Letter Home 19 March 2012

Hey, whats up?

So... this week has been crazy. Crazy awesome! I'll start from the beginning.

Tuesday, we were trying to decide where to go tracting for our 5-7. We'd already tracted all of Tillicum twice (I live in Tillicum), so we decided to go tract the new area we inherited when the Wards split. We got in the car, got on the freeway, and headed to the area. As I was driving, the impression came to me that we needed to tract Union street in Tillicum. I listened to the prompting, but thought to myself, "we've already tracted that street twice." Again, the prompting came, "go tract Union Street." So, I did. I exited the freeway, flipped around, and headed back to Tillicum.

During that 5-7, we gave out 5 Book of Mormons, and found a very sweet Mexican family. The mom and the daughter took Book of Mormons, and said they would read them. I was happy we found them, but didn't think too much of it because we regularly give out at least two Book of Mormons every day, and we usually never hear from anyone.

Two days later, we were following up with people we had given Book of Mormons too, and Elder Bowser said he felt like we should go back to the Mexican family. We went to their house, and they invited us in. The mom said she had been reading the book, and that she was at the part where Nephi just got the plates back from Laban, and Lehi was reading them to his family. I was shocked. Elder Bowser was like, "can we read another chapter with you?" The family said yes, and we taught them the Restoration using 1 Nephi chapters 1 and 2.

The mom told us how she has been stressed out because her ex-husband, who just got out of jail, has been banging on their door in the middle of the night harassing them. She said she couldn't sleep; she has been so afraid. But, when she started reading the Book of Mormon, it brought her peace. She said she didn't want to put it down. She read it until she fell asleep.

I taught her about the fruits of the Spirit — that the Spirit brings us peace when we are doing the things that are acceptable to the Lord. She said she knew the Book of Mormon was true, and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, because of the feeling of peace the Book of Mormon gave her.

So cool. She told her kids the stories she was reading, and her kids loved them. They all wanted Book of Mormons also. We asked the family if they wanted to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding God's priesthood authority. They all said YES. The youngest, Paul, said he wanted to get baptized again, this time by the priesthood. He is nine. We had one problem though, the family was moving to California the next day, to escape the crazy ex-husband, and to help their ill grandma. The family wanted to be baptized before they left. We prayed about this, and asked Heavenly Father what he wanted us to do. He said, "Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe." -Alma 32:16- He brought this scripture to the forefront of my mind, and along with it, the feeling of peace you get when you know something is right. I called President Weaver, and he said, "Baptize them, and font-side, confirm them." So, that's what we did. Yesterday, we baptized the Delgado family. Probably the sweetest family I have ever met. Then, we gave them the Holy Ghost. It was a missionary baptism, Sister Miranda, a dear friend to the missionaries was the only member from the Ward who attended. Our whole zone was there, and though it was a small gathering, the Spirit was really strong, and the family was beaming. They were so happy.

That was my miracle this week, a true testimony to me, that Heavenly Father directs this work, and that when we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and when we boldly share His gospel, He will lead us to those of His children who have been prepared to hear the gospel and are willing to accept it. It was awesome.

I love you guys,

Elder Thornton