Elder Michael Thornton

Elder Michael Thornton
24 August 2011 to August 2013

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Forty-Second Letter Home 11 June 2012

Hey everybody! Whats up?

Teague looks like a handsome little man baby. I like his hair.

Things are going well for me here in the blessed land of Bremerton. This place is really pretty, and it has tons of sweet tracting places.

I love tracting; it is probably my favorite time of the day -- which is probably really obnoxious to other missionaries, lol. The reason why I love it so much is because it is loaded with spiritual experiences. We go out to find people following the promptings of the Holy Ghost who knows where the people who are searching for the gospel live. We found five new investigators this week through tracting, and the Holy Ghost led us to each of them. We'll be driving down the street and feel prompted to tract a specific apartment complex, or we'll be walking and feel prompted to knock on a specific door. It's so fun.

Our obedience and our diligence are the only things we have complete control over, and when we exercise these two principles, miracles happen. Plus, even when you don't find people to teach, you still find really interesting people.

Like this week we knocked on a guy's door who said he was the most trusted man in the USA; that he knew and funded every US President with all his cases of jewels; that he basically is the US treasury, and he's built pyramids with all the commas he has from his zillions of dollars... He also said he's been shot 17 times in the head with a .44 magnum. He lost track of all the times he's been shot in the body, and he personally knows the ancient Egyptians. He's also dating Maria Carrie by the way. We asked him if he believed in Jesus, and he said he definitely does -- then he thought about it, and said "Sometimes I even think I am Jesus." Drugs are terrible! Anyway, he was a very interesting conversationalist, and he was very hospitable. Being a missionary is such and interesting experience. So this area is very fun, and it's also very interesting.

We actually share our area with the Sister Missionaries. It's the only place in the world that does that, lol. That keeps things interesting, because we end up tracting the same streets a lot of the time. Actually, it's good because we found a couple people who weren't home when the Sisters came by, and some of them were interested. Heavenly Father knows what He's doing.

There is a little Philipino lady who lives in our apartment complex who makes us food. She cooks for us lumpia, fried rice, noodles, ribs; it's really delicious. She is a Catholic lady who likes us; so she feeds us. My companion Elder Lopez is a good Elder. He is Mexican so when some of our investigators speak Spanish and very little english he communicates well with them. It's fun, they are very nice people.

That's about it. I like our area. We have a really awesome member of the Church here named Patrick. He's a convert and is one of the most solid people I've ever met. He loves going out with the missionaries. He has a super strong testimony, and he knows this area like the back of his hand because he's been hanging out with missionaries for a number of years. He's awesome, I really like Patrick. He is 22, and he's submitting his papers to go on a mission of his own. Ha-ha. He's gonna train his trainer; this kid is a pro. Seriously, he's a super good tag-less missionary.

I've been reading the Book of Mormon, and I'm on Alma chapter 10 now. I love the Book of Mormon, it's so awesome. Somethings I've pondered a lot as a missionary are: real intent, obedience, charity, and faith. In Alma chapter 32, we learn the contingency in regard to faith, which is that our faith has to be exercised in things that are true. The only way to know if something is true is to experiment on it. And so aside from keeping us safe, another reason for God's commandments is to give us knowledge of things we can put to test. When we exercise faith by applying (testing) the commandment or principle God gives us, the promised blessings come and our Faith is rewarded. And thus we know our Faith was exercised in a real truth.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. Christ submitted his will to the will of the Father's in all things. Everything Christ did was done to please his Father. If we are to posses charity, we to need to submit our will to the Father's, or follow the example of Jesus Christ. See: Moroni 7:47-48 Real intent is the follow through of our faith, or the actual experimentation that will determine whether our Faith is true or not. Charity is the greatest of all. Charity is the combination of faith with real intent to be obedient to the Lord's commandments, or to align our will with His. As we do this, our faith grows, and our disposition changes. We overcome the natural man, and become purified through Christ. And when we look at our brothers and sisters, we will see them as Christ sees them.

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


Elder Thornton

Monday, June 4, 2012

Forty-First Letter Home 04 June 2012


A baby! That's so cool. I didn't know he was coming this week... Teague Cayman is a cool name, I like it. He's cute, I really like his hat. Did he come with it?

So... it has been a crazy week for me. I'm not in Lakewood anymore... I am in Bremerton. President needed to do a mid-transfer transfer, and he needed me here in Bremerton. I'm actually really stoked, this is a really good area. I kind of wish I could have finished the transfer in Gravely Lake, but that's okay, I go where the Lord wants me. My new address is:

1121 Callahan Dr. Apt. 222
Bremerton, WA 98310

My new companion is Elder Artimio Lopez. He and I were the ones who trained Elder Bailey. This is going to be fun, I hope I get to work here for a while.

During my short time with Simmons I did learn some good tips on working with members, so I'm hoping to use them here. That's about all that is new for me. I have some cool souvenirs from Ft. Lewis; that place was so fun.

We helped a Green Beret move the other day. That was fun. This guy was like 220 pounds of solid muscle. His arms were huge. He was on a HALO ODA team, and those guys are intense. They're your direct action, search and destroy guys. He's done missions with teams of six, and ones with himself and only one other operative. He's the nicest guy ever, other than the fact that he's built like a tank, you'd never know he was an elite warrior. However, I've heard from guys he's done missions with that he's scary when he switches to mission mode. Anyways, I had a lot of fun talking to and working with the Army guys.

I got to go to the Temple on Thursday. It was really nice; I really enjoyed it. We had a whole session to ourselves, over a hundred full-time missionaries. The spirit was really strong. President Weaver told us to read the Pearl of Great Price before we went, so I did. I loved the Book of Moses, it was awesome. It made so much more sense as a missionary. The cool thing is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught to Adam, the same as it is taught today. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. Prophets have taught the same Gospel since the beginning of man. Why? Because it is the Plan of Salvation.

Christ's Atonement and Resurrection give us power over sin and death, an enabling power over everyday struggles and weaknesses. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we have to do to access the Atonement. That's the glad tidings spoken of in the scriptures. It is the message of the plan of salvation. Angels and Prophets have been testifying of this since the fall of Adam and Eve. Before baptism, people are just wondering around, separated from God by a wall. There is only one gate in that wall, and it was created by Jesus Christ. He is the gate keeper. That gate is baptism.

As missionaries, we go out and invite everyone to come to that gate, believe in Jesus Christ, enter the gate, and then commence on the path to eternal happiness. We teach people about Jesus Christ, and we teach his commandments. If people have a desire to follow Christ, and are willing to follow his commandments, we baptize them. Why? Because they can't enjoy the full blessings of the atonement without baptism. Why do we teach them the commandments? Because after they are baptized they are given the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost sanctifies them. When we keep the commandments, we invite the Holy Ghost is there to interact with us and teach us, which allows us to continually be sanctified. If people don't know the commandments, how are they going to keep the companionship of the Holy Ghost? The Gospel is simple. Everything we do is about Faith in Jesus Christ, Repenting by keeping the commandments, fulfilling callings, serving, etc., making covenants with the Lord, through baptism and then taking the Sacrament, and receiving the Holy Ghost who sanctifies, testifies, warns, and exhorts us back to faith and repentance. In this pattern, we endure to the end. These simple five points of doctrine somehow unlock the most incompressible gift of the Atonement in our favor.

It's great news. Who wouldn't want to hear this? This is liberty; this is agency. This leads us to happiness. We are saved by Jesus Christ. Let us not be afraid to first use this wonderful gift in our lives, and then share it with others so they can enjoy it as well. Christ wants all of us to come unto Him. he is standing by the Tree of Life holding that delicious fruit. Let's point him out to the people around us. There are so many people looking for the gospel truths, they just don't know it, and they don't know where to find it. I love being a missionary.

I got to talk to Yuki before I left Lakewood. She thanked me for baptizing her. She said, "you were here at the right time, I wouldn't have gotten baptized if you hadn't helped me. I am so grateful that you baptized me." She was one of those people looking for the gospel, who didn't know where to find it. There are people like her in each of our lives. All we have to do is invite them, be patient, and to invite them again. I invited yuki every Sunday for seven weeks. On the Seventh week she got baptized. She is one of my favorite converts. She is such a sweet lady. I will always be grateful that the Lord sent me to Ft. Lewis, so I would have the privilege of being an instrument in his hands in helping her receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have to go, I love you very much.


Elder Thornton

Fortieth Letter Home 28 May 2012

Hey! hows it going?

I'm sorry Kahmi died.

We had an awesome miracle this week. First of all, Elder Simmons and I are working hard. On Wednesday, when the transfer started we didn't have any new investigators, and our teaching pool was filled with very slow-progressing investigators. Since then, we found five new people; we put three on date, and baptized two of them on Sunday! It was so cool.

The Cookseys were baptized. They are this awesome family referred to us by the Andreasons in the American Lake Ward. Brother Andreason new me so he called me up and sent me over to teach the Cookseys the gospel. Jesse Cooksey is in the same unit as Brother Andreason, and he would ask him questions about the gospel. What started out as teasing questions about garments, polygamy, and the mountain meadows massacre, turned into sincere interest in the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ. As his curiosity grew, Brother Andreasen invited him to ask his questions to the missionaries. He was reluctant at first, and said if the missionaries found him he would talk to them. He made Brother Andreasen promise he wouldn't give the missionaries his address.

That night, Andreasen prayed that the missionaries would find his friend. Guess what? The next day, Jesse saw the missionaries tracting his neighborhood, but before they made it to his door, they were invited into another house. Long story short, he recognized that God wanted him to talk to the missionaries, so he gave Andreasen permision to send them over. The next day, I showed up on his door with Elder Bowser. We took Him and his family on a Church tour, taught them the restoration, and tried to commit them on date. They said they wouldn't mind getting baptized if they knew it was true, but that they were gonna wait till they got to Kentucky, so they could get baptized by Brother Andreasen. (He had gone there for crew chief training.) We respected that, and invited them to Church that Sunday.

Guess what. They actually came. And not only did they show up, they went and bought Sunday clothes. They stayed the whole three hours, and their three little girls went to Primary. They loved it. We met with them that week, taught them, and answered their questions. The next Sunday, they came to Church again, and their kids even sang in the Primary program, lol. Needless to say, the Ward didn't know they were non-members. They came every Sunday, we taught them all the lessons, they fed us dinner; it was awesome.

Our plan was to have them ready to be baptized as soon as they got to Kentucky, but as the day of their move grew closer I grew worried that they would fall through the cracks. The adversary is ruthlessly skilled in sabotaging.

This weekend a miracle happened. Brother Andreasen came back to help his wife move to their new home. We felt very strongly that we needed to invite the Cookseys to be baptized before they left. We talked to Andreasen about it, and he was all about it. He had been feeling similar feelings, I think. We had a lesson in the Andreasen's home with the Cookseys, and taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our focus was on the blessings of baptism and the Holy Ghost. We bore solid testimonies about the Gospel and what it has meant in our lives, and Andreasen bore his testimony also. At the end, we asked them if they believed the things we'd taught them were true. They said they new it was true. Jesse said, "I'm afraid to be baptized because I don't want to spit in God's face by messing up after I'm baptized, but I know these things are true, so if I don't change, it's basically the same thing."

The Spirit was there; they felt it, and they committed to be baptized on Sunday. Brother Andreasen baptized them and confirmed them, and the Ward showed up to show their support. It was so cool, they are such a wonderful family. They are solid, and now they have the Holy Ghost. What a wonderful blessing it will be in their life. Jesse will be able to baptize his kids in a couple of years. He'll be able to bless his family when they're sick. The Gospel is awesome, and it all starts with baptism. I am so grateful to have been a part of their life. It is a privilege.

The nine months I've been here in the beautiful land of the WA-TAC have not been a sacrifice, because I've loved every minuet of it. I left my family so I could come and find the rest of it. Everything I am, everything I have, I owe to my Savior Jesus Christ. I will serve him till I drop. This is gonna be a good transfer. Simmons is twenty months old, he is a very experienced missionary, and he's baptized over 50 people. This is an opportunity for me to be humble and learn all that I can from his experience. I'm receiving more training. Heavenly Father put us together for a reason, and he kept me in Gravely Lake for a reason. We have a great work to do.

I get to go to the temple on Thursday! I'm so excited. It's our annual temple trip. President Weaver asked us all to read the Pearl of Great Price before we go. I love it, I haven't read it as a missionary. It has so many cool things in it. Plus, it is proof that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been the same since Adam. I'm also reading the Book of Mormon. I want to finish it before I hit my year mark. This will be the fourth time I've read it as a missionary. I just finished 2 Nephi. So good. I really like Nephi -- what a stud. I

love you guys, I pray for your welfare.


Elder Thornton

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thirty-Ninth Letter Home 21 May 2012

Hey! Guess what?...

I'll tell you anyways, I got my transfer call on Saturday... and I am not going anywhere! Ha-ha. I'm staying in Gravely Lake, and I'm going to be serving as the new Zone Leader. I'm a little nervous about that, but President said the Lord wants me to do it, which means the Lord wants to teach me somethings; and if I stay in tune with His Spirit, He will be able to guide me to help others. For that, I'm excited. My old District isn't getting changed too much either. The new District Leader is Elder Bishop from Kansas City, Missouri, and Elder Bowser will be his companion. Ha-ha, he isn't moving very far. I'm going to miss being a District Leader. It was a very one-on-one experience with everyone, and the District was pretty tight nit. My new companion is Elder Simmons. He is currently the Zone Leader with Elder Dayhuff who is going home on Wednesday. I will do my best to be a good companion. When it comes to missionary work, I like to be obedient, and do things the way the Lord set them up to be done. After all, it's His work He's allowed me to participate. I hear Elder Simmons has baptized a lot of people. I'm excited to have a motivated companion. We're gonna get good work done. President Weaver told me to keep an eye on him in regards to "insta-tisms." (Elder Simmons likes to baptize homeless people on his first contact with them...) I'm excited for this new assignment and transfer. Each one is a gift from Heavenly Father.

On Sunday Adam and Stacy came to Church! I was so excited. I've been working with them for about nine weeks. Seeing people make positive progress brings me a lot of joy. Service as a missionary is not a sacrifice, it's a gift. Yesterday, Elder Bowser was giving a spiritual thought to some members, and Holy Ghost taught me an important principle about missionary work.

In the Book of Ether, the Brother of Jared was commanded to make barges so that his family and friends could cross the ocean and come to the promised land. The Lord gave him specific instructions on how to build the ships, and in answer to the Brother of Jared's prayer, gave him specific instruction in regards to how to have air to breath during their voyage. Then, the Brother of Jared prayed and asked the Lord what they should do for light. This time, the Lord said this: "What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire. For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth our of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth. And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and winds which have gone forth, and floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?" The Holy Ghost brought these scriptures to my memory, and as I thought about them, I recognized an important principle: The Lord told the Brother of Jared the things he couldn't do. He gave him limitations, that would stretch his resourcefulness, and Faith. The Brother of Jared was given a task that he couldn't accomplish by himself, he needed the Master's hand. The Brother of Jared brought forth his best effort, rocks, and with the touch of the Lord a miracle was created. This is true in missionary work. We have limitations, we have rules, we have weaknesses, but the Lord has given us an assignment. Provide light for those around you. He has given us talents, and we have Faith that Christ will help us out. But, in the end, what we need is the touch of the Master's hand. We need to do things the way the Lord has outlined, and then we need to ask him to bless our efforts. I know that this principle is true. There is always a way to accomplish the things the Lord commands us to do. He will stretch us, and he will bless us.

I hope that makes sense. I love you guys, and I hope you have a good week. Oh yeah, I'm trying to read the Book of Mormon one more time before I hit my year mark in three months. I'm in 2 Nephi. To do it, I'm reading six pages a day. Not to bad. This will be my fourth time reading it as a missionary. Bye, love you guys.


Elder Thornton

Thirty-Eighth Letter Home 14 May 2012

Hey! How is everybody? I enjoyed talking to you yesterday, It was fun.

I took a nap this morning after insanity and studying, because I didn't sleep well last night. The insanity felt good this morning though. It shook up a lot of the congestion and got my blood circulating.

I finished the Book of Mormon for the third time on my mission the other day, and I've restarted it. I want to read it once more through before I hit my one-year mark. I have to read about six pages a day. I really love the Book of Mormon; it is filled with so much insight and pure truth. Nephi said that the prophets of the Book of Mormon would speak as ones crying from the dust, and that is true. The more I read, the more I notice the differences in the personalities of the writers, and I feel their testimonies as if they were bearing them from the pulpit in Fast and Testimony meeting.

I love Nephi because he is such a humble disciple of Jesus Christ. Nephi had an eternal perspective. He gained it through experimenting on the word of God. Because he had real intent, the Lord blessed him with spiritual experiences that increased his knowledge, and expanded his understanding of God's nature and purposes. Nephi had a desire to know, and a desire to act. Knowledge is both empowering and condemning. Knowledge expands our ability to use our agency. However, if greater light is given, more is required, which is condemning to us if we refuse to act on the witness we've received. When Nephi explained Lehi's dream to his brothers Laman and Lemuel, he taught them that if they would ask God with diligence in keeping his commandments, God would make their father's dream known unto them. Diligence in keeping the commandments is important for two reasons: One, you demonstrate real intent as you prove your willingness to follow the council the Lord gives you; two, through keeping His commandments or "experimenting on the word," you develop a relationship with God and begin to receive the many blessings associated with having a close relationship with Him (D&C 130:20-21). Laman and Lemuel would not receive an answer to their prayers as long as they intended to be disobedient to the answer they received.

But if greater knowledge can be condemning, why would we want the added responsibility? It is because knowing the "truth will set you free." Essential to Heavenly Father's plan is Agency. We fought for Agency, we rejoiced for Agency, and every battle the adversary wages against us in this life is to take our agency away from us. God calls prophets to teach his children how to expand their agency, so they can experience more joy. Missionaries go out into the world to share the glorious message of the Atonement. Why, because the Atonement lifts, empowers, fulfills, strengthens, heals, and overcomes all the negative things. The plan of happiness is a plan of liberty. We should never look at the commandments as restrictive.

I hope everyone has a really good week. I'll get my transfer call this Saturday... We'll see what happens. There is a real possibility that I will stay, and there is a good chance that I'll leave. Love ya.


Elder Thornton

Thirty-Seventh Letter Home 07 May 2012

Hey! How are things?

Sorry I'm so late writing today, I had to mow the lawn...

So we live in a super ghetto little box behind some one's house, that is smaller than the neighbor's garage, but for some reason it has a pretty big lawn. Our neighbor Reggie wants us to clean up the neighborhood by keeping our yard nice. It makes sense, except the only way anyone can see our yard is by going down a sketchy alley, and we definitely aren't bringing down the neighborhood by any means, lol.

Reggie brought us his weed eater like five days ago as a hint hint that we need to mow our lawn. We don't have time to mow, so we told him we would mow it on Monday (our Preparation-day). He came over three days later, and knocked on our door while we were doing our personal study. He was furious, he was like why the heck haven't you mowed your lawn man? I thought we were trying to clean up the neighborhood. I explained that we could only do it on P-day, and upon hearing that he stomped off with his weed eater.

Today, Monday, a member let us borrow their lawn mower, and I mowed the lawn. It took a whole hour to do it, but that should please Reggie for a couple more weeks. After that, our District went on a hike out to an old sunken ship. When the tide is low you can walk all the way out to it. It was fun, there were huge starfish and other marine life. Our District is pretty tight. We do "Insanity" exercise workouts every morning together, and it has been good for our health and our unity. It's a real pump-up for everyone.

This has been a tough week. We've spent a lot of time tracting and following up, and we haven't found any solid new investigators. Plus, all our investigators fell off date because they didn't come to Church. It's so hard, Bowser and I were at their house 30 min before Church, which starts at 1:00pm, and they were getting ready. We had to meet a couple other investigators at Church, so we said we would meet them over there... They never showed up. I watched the door like a faithful puppy all through Sacrament meeting, and they never came. It's ridiculously frustrating. I feel worried for their behalf, I don't know what to do to help them. I think they are just really shy. They love having us around, we teach lessons, we read the Book of Mormon with them, they say they want to be baptized, and then they don't show up to Church. All I can do is work hard, pray for them, and be obedient.

Mother's Day is coming up, which means I get to call home again. Did you know that? President Weaver is letting us Skype this time -- only for 30 minutes though. If we call on the phone, we get 40 minutes to visit. He's trying it out, (I think Sister Weaver talked him into it, lol). So if you want to Skype let me know through email before next Sunday. I'll be calling or emailing between 4:30 and 5:00 my time. I'll check my email at the member's house before I do, so I can get the skype address. We don't have to Skype if you don't want to. I would be fine with calling.

I'm almost done with the Book of Mormon again, I'm in the book of Ether. The last part of the Book of Mormon is so tragic, It makes me feel really sad for Mormon and Moroni. They were super valiant men. As I read the first chapters of Ether this morning, I came to the chapter where Christ bears witness that the Book of Mormon is true. As I read, the Spirit re-iterated to me how important it is that we have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. As those thoughts came to my mind, I paused my reading and feeling impressed to ask God if the Book of Mormon was true, I offered a prayer. I thanked Heavenly Father for the wonderful testimonies and examples contained in the Book of Mormon, and then asked God if they were true. A feeling of peace rushed over me that was so wonderful, I could have sat there in my chair forever. I felt peace, joy, and light, and then this thought. "Michael, the Book of Mormon is true, go share it." I love the Book of Mormon, and my greatest desire is to help convert people to Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of Christ's gospel, and it is clear and straight forward. Plus, the Book of Mormon is evidence that God keeps his covenants, and he loves all of his people. The Book of Mormon is key to conversion. I am thankful to be here sharing the good news. The great apostasy is over, the period of darkness, when the heavens were sealed is over. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. "The standard of truth has been [raised], no un-hallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, and calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every climb, swept every country, and sounded in every ear. Till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done." -Joseph Smith-

I hope you have an awesome week. I'm looking forward to sharing the miracles that are going to happen this week with you guys when I get to talk to you.


Elder Thornton

Thirty-Sixth Letter Home 30 April 2012

Hey family,

I'm glad to hear everyone is having a good reunion. Sorry it isn't under better circumstances, but I'm glad Xander and Uncle Dave had good Birthday parties.

I've had a good week though it's been slow. We're trying to find new investigators, and we haven't had much success. We keep looking though. It's like a big game of hide and seek. We know Heavenly Father has prepared people in our area, we just have to be diligent and listen to the Spirit so we can find them.

This is such a glorious work; I love it. Being a missionary rocks! Sometimes it blows me away that I'm actually a missionary. I look in the mirror, and I'm like "how did I get here?" I've always thought missionaries were tight. They were always so wise, noble, and just all around cool. I need to step it up if I'm gonna exemplify that persona. Serving the Lord should never become mundane, after all this is the Lord's work, and His glory. It is a privilege to participate in this.

Vickie got baptized and confirmed this week. We are super excited for her -- she is such a nice lady. A Polynesian lady allowed us to teach a lesson in her house with Vickie, and it was funny because the Polynesian lady kept telling Vickie that she and her were both lamanites, lol. Vickie is Native American. Lamanite-tism! Many of the members in the Ward were excited about Vickie getting baptised. She likes going to Church, and she even went to a Relief Society function prior to her baptism. She is determined to become an active member of the Church, and her goal is to lead her family to be baptized as well so they can all be sealed in the Temple together as an eternal family. Why would we cause someone to procrastinate the day of their repentance, when they are converted, and want to follow Christ?

The adversary doesn't want people to get baptized. Why? Because baptism unlocks the atonement of Christ in their lives, which puts people at liberty, and gives them greater power to exercise they're agency. The evil one is an enemy to agency, and to all righteousness. Why give him more time to discourage people by putting off the day of their repentance? We have an investigator who now doesn't want to be baptized anymore because she put her baptismal date too far out. A postponed baptism date gives way too much time for the devil and his minions to discourage people.

We're working hard, we are going to find the people Heavenly Father wants us to find. Everytime things have been slow, it has been a test for us to endure. Heavenly Father wants to see what we'll do. He's waiting to bless us if we demonstrate our real intent.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.


Elder Thornton

Thirty-Fifth Letter Home 23 April 2012

Hey, how is everybody?

I'm doing really well. I got to exercise this morning so I'm stoked. I did Insanity with the District in the gym at the Church. I tell you what, eight months in a car hasn't been very good for me... Ha-ha; it was fun though. I'm going to get into shape. I feel so much more energized. I really dislike feeling sluggish and lethargic; plus being in shape boosts my confidence level which affects the work in a positive way. A win/win scenario.

I'm sorry that Grandpa passed away, but I'm also happy for him.

In the mission, we use our two years of service as an analogy for life. Before we came into the mission, we lived with our families. We learned; we grew; we experienced life. Then, upon choosing to serve a mission we were born into the the mission field where we have the opportunity to test what we knew from before: help other people, and gain greater experience and knowledge. Our time in the mission field is difficult at times, but when we focus on the Savior, and seek to align our will with His, we experience great joy. Everyone that enters the mission field knows that their time in field will come to an end. Some choose to use the time they've been given wisely, and give themselves over to the work. Others, try to live in two worlds at once, and in so doing waste the time they've been given. Eventually every one's time in the field comes to an end, and they "die." At that point, they sit down with the "President" and account for their mission. Did they choose to live happily by doing the work? Or did they make themselves miserable wanting what they couldn't have? Many will be filled with joy. They will miss those people they have come to love so dearly, and people will miss them, but they will have joy when they look into their parents eyes and can honestly say they gave it their all. Life continues after the mission, just as it continues after this life. Those things we learned here will go with us, and our knowledge will be added upon as we continue to experience life.

I'm excited for Grandpa. He fought a good fight, and now he has gone home. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. What a gift. When all hell brakes loose in movies, what is it that everyone wants to hear? "Don't worry, I've got a plan." It doesn't even have to be a good one, just the thought of having a plan calms everybody's nerves. The Plan of Salvation is a perfect plan, and Heavenly Father has set things up for us to succeed gloriously.

I love you guys. Viki is getting baptized this Saturday. The gospel is true, and I love seeing it change people's lives, and give them hope. Have an awesome week. Here's a scripture to ponder in Mormon 9:24.


Elder Thornton

Thirty-Fourth Letter Home 16 April 2012

What's up?

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, and the goodies, and such things. I enjoyed them. I didn't have cake, but as you can see from my pictures I don't really need it, lol. But seriously. I've had a good week. Week one of transfer three in Fort Lewis is over.

We found a lady named Viki while tracting, took her on a Church tour, and put her on date for Cinco de Mayo! Fiestatism! Ha-ha, she came to church yesterday -- which was super awesome. That doesn't happen very much around here. Getting people to Church is like trying to storm Fort Bragg with a nerf gun. And then when you get them to Church, no one says hi or introduces themselves, which makes it really hard to get them there a second time. We are really trying to build up Ward relations. It's so hard though.

The problem that we have in the Church, as stated in General Conference, is that people aren't converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We as members are not reading the Book of Mormon like we should. Today I was reading in Alma chapter 60, where Captain Moroni is ripping the government for not sending reinforcements and supplies to him and his guys on the front line. He says, "And now, my beloved brethren -- for ye ought to be beloved; yea, and ye ought to have stirred yourselves more diligently for the welfare and the freedom of this people; but behold, ye have neglected them insomuch that the blood of thousands shall come upon your heads for vengeance; yea, for known unto God were all their cries, and all their sufferings -- Behold, could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you? Behold, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain."

There are people all around us who are suffering. I'm in their homes everyday, I see the desperate father with his crying wife and newborn baby, looking for work. I see the crack heads desperate for another fix. I see the gang bangers stuck in a life of violence and crime. I see the soldiers, suffering from PTSD, and fear in their eyes knowing they're about to be deployed to another battle field, where the enemy is even less distinguishable than the one in Iraq. The Gospel is the only thing that can take away these people's suffering. Christ suffered for all of us, and his arms are opened to all. Knowing this, how could we ever turn our backs on those who show even the slightest desire to hear the Gospel? We will be held responsible if we don't make an effort to impart the glorious blessings we've been given from Heavenly Father to our brothers and sisters. We need to be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then, we need to share it with others.

I love being a missionary. I love my investigators. They drive me crazy sometimes, but I love them, and I would do anything that's right for them. Heavenly Father blesses us so much. The Holy Ghost whispers into my ear and tells me what I need to do, what I need to say, and where I need to go. I do my best to follow these promptings. On many occasions, I've turned the car around, and went out of my way to see a specific person the Spirit has prompted me to go see. The Delgado family was baptized because of a simple prompting. We found a new investigator yesterday, because of a prompting. I love being a missionary.

Guys, I love all of you. I am so grateful for you, and the support you give me. I pray every night for your welfare, and thank Heavenly Father for the wonderful family and friends he has blessed me with. My greatest desire is to be the Lord's servant. I want to be an instrument in His hands in blessing the lives of His children. I have many flaws and weaknesses, and the adversary tries to exploit them and discourage me. It is incomprehensible that my Savior Jesus Christ even suffered for me while I'm serving him. He felt my discouragement. He suffered for my inadequacies. How could I not give Him my all? I love you, have a good week. Sorry these letters have been rather solemn, but these are the things I've been thinking about.


Elder Thornton

Thirty-Third Letter Home 09 April 2012

Happy Easter!

It sounds like everyone had fun. I had fun also. We were invited to a cook out with an investigator who is in the army. He is the one who just won the Soldier of the Year award. He is Hispanic so he made carne asada. So good, really really good; for real. It's like steak in a taco... you don't even have to use a fork.

Anyways, that dinner engagement happened at three o'clock, and then we went to the Hendricks for dinner at five. Basically, we ate all day long. Now you know why my face looked so round in the pictures I sent you; lol. It's so bad; I want to go running really bad, but my companion won't participate, not even on a track. So my exercise routine has been limited. That brings me to the next order of business: transfers. I am staying here, and so is Elder Bowser. He will be the first companion I stay with for more than one transfer... It builds our character. Anyways, I'm excited to stay so I can continue to help our investigators. I love them all very much, and I pray that we'll be able to help them to learn and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The adversary fights against me all the time. He wants to bring me down. From the second my alarm goes off, to 10:30 at night, he tries to discourage me, distract me, and ultimately he would destroy me if he got the chance. I'm going to be honest: I feel like I'm fighting a two front war when it comes to working with my companion. I'm tired. This morning I took a nap. I really needed one. I studied for an hour, and then I went back to sleep. It's been tough; that's the truth. But, it's okay. I'm ready for another month of work until the next transfer. I know why I'm here, and nothing is going to stop me from fulfilling my purpose. "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ the son of God, I have been called of him, to declare His word, among His people that they may have everlasting life." I'm on the Lord's errand, and he can't be beat. I will not fall.

This email was my gripe email. I needed to get it off my chest. So that is the end of it. I will love Elder Bowser, and I will do everything I can to help him make this next period of his mission the best. We will have joy and fulfillment in serving our Savior Jesus Christ.

Have an awesome week. Thank you for all the letters, birthday wishes, packages, goodies, and such. You're awesome. I love you.


Elder Thornton