Elder & Sister Thomas aka Grampa & Annie

Elder & Sister Thomas aka Grampa & Annie
Smiles All Around!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The People We Meet!

I am sure that everyone serving in our mission, will tell you the same thing:  it is all about the people we meet.  Forever friendships are made as we serve others, teach and learn from those serving with us, and socialize with the many other missionaries that are far from home. Recently in the Training Zone we have had several international missionaries arrive.  We had the Watanabe's from Japan, two ladies from France, and another couple from Finland.  It is a treasure to get to know them a bit before they are assigned to other zones and to hear their stories and listen to them share their testimonies of Jesus Christ and his Plan of Happiness in another language.

This is Sister Wilson from Mesa, Arizona. She and her husband returned from a mission to England a few months ago and now are here in our mission.  It was my good fortune to be able to be her trainer.  We worked on her Peterson line as we went over the FamilySearch Tree program and learned about various sites available for research.  Elder and Sister Wilson have been assigned to serve in the British Zone in the Family History Library.  I became so attached to her and her ancestors that it was hard for me to close the computer on the last day and let her go on to her new place of service.

Elder Thomas was training a young Elder from somewhere in Utah.  He's a very nice young man and quite capable on the computer but he couldn't read cursive handwriting...That made searching through his Swedish ancestors' records a bit difficult.  Elder Thomas helped him get a good start on learning the cursive alphabet. 
This is Sister Fulton.  She and a friend came over to SLC as Church Service Missionaries. They are both from Oregon.  CSM's live in the area and serve part-time, like two or three days a week.  They get a week of training in our area before they are assigned to a zone. While Sister Fulton's group was in the Training Zone she had her birthday.  It was the same day as mine, March 31st.  I asked her where she was born and surprise! She was born in the old Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, just like I was. Different years but same day, same place.  Amazing!
Elder Thomas was assigned to train Sister Larson from Arizona during our March training. In Arizona the Larson's are neighbors and good friends of Dave and Gail Harmon and Steve and Viki Huston both from Palmer, Alaska!  Steve and Viki built a new house and sold their other house (two houses from the Larson's) to Ryan and Tisha Saunders, also from Palmer...Small world. That made the Larson's our instant friends.:)

Sister Pocock, from Meridian, Idaho and her husband at the desk behind us, have become dear friends, too.  I got to train Sister Pocock and we spent most of our time searching for her Swedish ancestors.  I'd never worked on Swedish records before but we learned together and found a treasure trove of names and dates and family records. It was a very moving experience for both of us.  

Here is one of my favorite people in our Training Zone.  She is Sister Sasine and she is serving a full-time Church Service Mission.
Sister Sasine is our time keeper.  We get short breaks every so often where we stand and move around a bit and have a drink of water.  We also break for 1/2 hour at 9:30am and for lunch at 11:30am.  There are meetings that the new missionaries have to attend in the afternoon that she keeps us up to date on, too.  She brings around a singing or squawking stuffed animal to get our attention.  She has been serving in the Training Zone, keeping everyone on task, for over 8 years.  And we are cousins! I'm sure you can tell....  Distant cousins but cousins nonetheless!  She is such a great person; I want to be like her when I grow up!

In our off time we do all sorts of things but our favorite activity, of course, is to spend time with our family when they come to SLC to visit.  Recently Jake and Carisa brought little Liadan to visit from Cheyenne, WY.  We were so excited to get to see and hold her again as we had only gotten to hold her for a few minutes after she was born before we had to head home and off to our mission.  She was born December 26th early in the morning on a wintery, windy,normal day for Cheyenne. Here she is with her Grandpa, telling him a story.

Eric, Michelle, Ethan and Lauren came that same weekend so we had a happy houseful. That is BJ's Taycee on the left, below, with Ethan and Lauren in an earlier photo.  They are all growing up way to fast!

Last weekend we went home to Grace overnight. It was a lovely drive to and from SLC. Brian and Jess were speaking in Stake Conference on Sunday and we wanted to be there to support them....and to tend their girls, Taycee, and Myla while they spoke. :)

Back in Salt Lake City we got hit by a spring storm!  We got somewhere around 6 very needed inches of snow that melted even as it was piling on more.  We had to get our winter coats back out of the closet; it had been in the 70's the week before. The next couple of days were very cold but now it is back to the perfect weather:  70's with a bit of a breeze and freshly blooming lilacs in the air. Elder Thomas and I ate our breakfast on our deck this morning.
There are a couple extra chairs; come on down! To make reservations for our spare room text us at (208)851-1496 or email at llthomas2@gmail.com.  "We'll leave the light on."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Social Missionaries

With so many missionaries in one place we have many opportunities to socialize with each other. When we come into the mission we enter as a group.  Our group had 5 couples and 3 single sisters and a few young elders.  There are about 90 young elders in our mission and most, if not all, have difficulties of some kind (emotional, physical, mental, etc)  A great number have high functioning autism. This mission gives them an opportunity to serve.  We love our young elders!  They are smart, smart!  And funny, kind, interesting and usually very straight forward.  Also very talented.

Heart warming experience
FCHH Mission Young Elders
The Young Elders have their own activities while we Senior Missionaries (doesn't that make us sound old??) socialize in our groups, plus.  We nicknamed our group the Snow Birds because we came in at the beginning of the year; winter time.  We get together twice a month for Family Home Evening and once a month for a larger activity of some kind.  Last month the MacCabes arranged for our group to take a tour of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum.  If you come to SLC that is a MUST. This month we got together at the Brigham Apartments for a March Madness activity.  The Hutchings arranged for us to eat game day food, tour the Brigham Young Memorial Park next door along with some interesting facts about Brigham....did you know he left specific directions for his casket including that it should be a bit roomy so he could turn to the right or the left if he was so inclined?
We played a great game called Telestrations, and a couple of the guys played ping-pong, but mostly we just relaxed and enjoyed each others' company.  Here are some pics:

Elder Thomas dishing up.
Elder Thomas and I went to Deseret Industries (Good Will) to find our game day shirts.  Unfortunately no one else did and so we were slightly under dressed.  But, with Robyn's help, we had a great time choosing....lots of laughs.

Elder Thomas's Game Day Shirt!

Elder and Sister Sanderson

Elder MacCabe and Sister Hutchings
They call this the 20# Mission.  I am determined NOT to gain 20lbs while we are here!  But look at that food table....and Girl Scout Cookies were the dessert....how can I resist?

Suffice it to say, we are having a great time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Where In the World?

 Elder and Sister Thomas at the MTC in Provo pointing to our mission a time honored tradition when you are at the Training Center.  Of course we weren't going anywhere exotic but we were excited anyway!  This photo was taken back at the end of December.

 Every month there are new missionaries coming into our mission.  The ones that come in on odd months, like us, attend the Salt Lake 2nd Branch of the Salt Lake Stake.  The building is across the street from the north side of our apartment building.  Easy walk to church.  We have a "Hail and Farewell" dinner every other month to celebrate the new missionaries coming in and to recognize those that are leaving.  This photo and the following one are of the H&F dinner when we were newbies.  There is a wonderful meal and then some kind of entertainment.  That's what's going on up front.
 Here is Elder Thomas enjoying the entertainment at the Hail & Farewell in January when we were new missionaries.  If you could see S Thomas you would see that she was listening with only one ear and enjoying the piles of desserts that were brought to the dinner....:)

 Occasionally we get company and we love it!  Here are Brian, Jess and the girls, Taycee and Myla enjoying the sights on Temple Square.  I do believe Myla was trying to climb into the fountain...

                                           Brian, Jess, Taycee, and Myla Thomas at Temple Square

 This is one of our favorite missionaries, Sister Appell.  She lives in SLC now and has been serving on the International Floor for about 5 years.  She is so much fun.  When we were talking about post-war Germany after WWII she told us of being so very, very hungry and being so excited when President Ezra Taft Benson, president and prophet of our church at the time, brought loads of food over to the displaced and starving German people.  She said she remembers getting some peanut butter, taking it to her room and eating it all.  She is a treasure!

In our last post we talked about going through training in the first two weeks of our mission here. This is Sister Litchfield, Elder Thomas's trainer.  She is one of the best trainers in our zone!  I'm sure I don't know whose finger got in the way of the pic!  This is now E Thomas's work place.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New Beginnings!

                             ( L-R) Elder & Sister Thomas, Sister & President Workman

    Here we are, brand new missionaries entering our mission, the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission.  This is our mission President and his wife, President and Sister Workman. He is a great speaker and scriptorian; I love to hear him speak.  She is a gem.  We are very blessed to have them leading our mission.
     In our mission you spend the first two weeks getting oriented and learning all about computers (if you don't already know) and about FamilySearch, the Tree program and all other things genealogy. We would meet every morning at 7:30 for a devotional and then work with our individual trainers on our own family history between other informative presentations about the mission.  At the end of the two weeks we have what they call our "Go Forth Day" where we are given our assigned zone to serve in for the duration of our mission and then go to the temple.
    When we decided to serve another mission we both knew that we wanted to go back to Salt Lake to our previous mission field...and we knew we were needed there because the numbers of missionaries was so low.  So it wasn't a surprise when we got our call in the mail:  FCHH Mission in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We also wanted to serve with friends that we had served with before, specifically, Shon Watkins, a Church employee, and Sister Nancy Escobedo, a full time Church Service Missionary (she lives at home and serves).  They are in the Data Quality Zone which is one of about 23 zones in our mission.  There is a lot of research, working with patrons on the phone, sorting out FamilySearch problems, etc that goes on in that zone.  We were excited.  So when our names were read on our Go Forth Day and we stood expecting President Workman to say, "Elder and Sister Thomas, you will be serving in the Data Quality Zone," we were quite surprised to hear him say instead, "Elder and Sister Thomas, you will be serving in the Training Zone."  My mouth dropped to the floor.  Not only was it not what we'd asked for, it was where we had been for two weeks and it was a frightening place to serve for us.  
     Learning to recognize the Lord's will for each of us and then doing it is one of the most important things we do in this life.  Learning to trust the Lord is another.  We knew then that what we wanted was not what the Lord had in mind for us and we immediately decided to go forth determined to do our best (with shaking knees) and just trust that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and He will help us every step of the way.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Living in Salt Lake City

                                                         West Temple Apartments

This is where we live.  There aren't any leaves on the trees right now but in the summer it will look like this.  Our address is:  185 N West Temple #503, Salt Lake City, UT  84103.  We are on the left side of the entrance, five floors up, behind that tree.....We have a wonderful view of Temple Sqare from our deck...

                                                          Conference Center
                                            The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

You can see our apartment building on the far left center of this picture.  This is where our General Conferences are held but also many other programs that are both Church sponsored and community based.  Last night we attended a performance of the BYU singers in the small theater that is on the side of our apartments.  It was wonderful.  In the summer months when there are a lot more visitors to SLC the Tabernacle Choir performs in the Center every Sunday....everyone is welcome and there is no charge.  There is a garden on the top of the Center and tours of the building every day between 9am and 9pm or something like that.  You can google Conference Center, SLC to see more pics of the building.
                                                      Joseph Smith Memorial Building
This is where we work each day.  Can you see me waving to you from our break room?  It is in the left wing 1st window above the middle part....I think.  I can see our apartment building from that window...it is a bit over a quarter of a mile from the JSMB.  The walk to and from takes us past this reflection pool, gardens, the SL Temple, etc.  It is lovely; no weeding, mowing, shoveling....we just get to enjoy it all w/out the work.  This is actually the back of the building that was once called the Hotel Utah.  Right after we arrived they started putting scaffolding up in front of the building and word is it will be there for two years as they work on cleaning, refurbishing, and whatever else.                                                
                                                                 Salt Lake Temple
                                           The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

We walk past the SL Temple every day.  It is so beautiful and so peaceful...There are a lot of weddings that take place in this temple so we see brides and their families on Temple Square many, many times.  Both before the wedding day getting "bridal photos" taken and after the wedding with family and friends.  It is so fun to see. You can see pictures of other LDS temples by going to www.ldschurchtemples.com.  The SL Temple has been closed for cleaning and remodeling so we have gone to other temples in the meantime:  the Bountiful Temple, the Jordan River Temple, and the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.  All just as beautiful.

We go to church on Sunday in the chapel right across the street north of our apartment building.  That is where I am headed now.  Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

New Friends at the Missionary Training Center

Part of the December 29, 2014 Missionary Group @ the Missionary Training Center

Perhaps you will recognize the missionary with the red tie and the lady in front of him with the purple sweater...That's us; officially Elder and Sister Thomas at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  There were about 80 of us senior missionaries entering the mission field that week.  The couple to the left of us, E & S Evans, the two ladies in the middle, Sister Baird and Sister Dean, and the couple third in from the right, E & S Conlin, were going to our mission.  The others were going out to other "serving grounds."  The couple to the right of Sister Dean were going to serve as humanitarian missionaries in Beijing, China!  The couple third in from the left were going to serve as mission office missionaries in New Mexico, I think.  The first couple on the left are serving here in Salt Lake City at the Bishop's Storehouse with their 35 year old daughter who has Down's Syndrome.  

Here is the rest of our group:  The first couple on the left in the upper photo went to Sweden.  He had served there as a young missionary many years ago and was excited to be going back.  She was trying to learn the language from him as he remembered various words and phrases and was giving it a very valiant effort.The fourth couple in from the left are serving with us in our mission.  They are the Sandersons.  They are "live at home" full time missionaries who live south of SLC and ride the TRAX to serve each day.

In the lower photo, the fifth couple from the right are the MacCabes and they are also serving in our mission.  They are from Colorado.  In the Center of the photo, Sister Zohrabyan, is from Armenia. She is the greatest!  And what a story she has.  I will try to tell you about her later on.  Suffice to say, we, here in the United States, are very blessed to have the freedoms, working conditions and ease of life that we do.

The couple to the left of her...I can't remember their names but they were called to be "live at home" missionaries in their stake here by SLC somewhere.  It is a new program the Church is trying; calling senior couples to serve full time missions in their own stakes.  While we were in the MTC we learned about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ more effectively; in a way that those who are seeking will recognize the truths of the gospel.  We often had to practice what we were learning and so were paired with other senior missionaries where one couple acted as missionaries while the other were either investigators or members who were no longer active.  This couple played the part of a couple they knew that were the latter.  We did our best to get to know them, assess their concerns or the reason they left activity in the Church, and share a message with them.  It was perhaps one of the most spiritual experiences of my life....even though it was "play-acting."  I will always wonder about the people they were portraying and pray that they will come to realize what they have left behind and return.

Elder Thomas was assigned to be a District Leader while we were in the MTC which meant he was to watch over a group of four other couples during our time there.  We all worked each day in a group so it was easy to keep track of them and how they were doing but now, interestingly enough, we are still concerned with how they are doing in their new mission experiences.

We stayed in an apartment that was about a mile from the MTC campus, the YView Apts (BYU fans can appreciate the name...that campus was close by also).  We got up early, met as a large group, divided into our smaller district groups, were taught and roll played, broke for lunch and then finally for supper and to go back to our apartment.  I should have practiced getting up early before we entered the mission field!!  I was exhausted.  I had to stay home on Wednesday because I had come down with E Thomas's flu bug and couldn't get out of bed.  We were only at the MTC for five days and we hated to leave when it was time.

Note;  the food in the cafeteria, which was huge as there are hundreds of young missionaries there, too, was fine.  Our dentist told us it was horrible so I was worried.  It was definitely cafeteria food but it was good and we had plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to go along with the main dishes and desserts.

We left the MTC on Friday, January 2nd, at about noon, bound for our 2nd mission in the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Our second mission has begun!  I nearly cried when they handed us our tags and we could put them on again.  There is something very special about representing the Lord while serving a mission, regardless of where you serve or what you are assigned to do.  The hardest part about going home was taking off the tags and losing that aura, that special spirit that goes with it.  Hooray!  We are missionaries again.

The second most important thing they gave us was our meal tickets to get into the cafeteria at the MTC or Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah.  I am, after all, all about food.  I want to tell you all about the MTC and the friends we met there and the things we learned.  Now that I have a start on this blog and how to upload the photos and make new entries again I will be able to come back to it often.  No sharing a computer like last time....I should do better this go round.  Stay tuned.