Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 14 in Isla

Well it was a really crazy week! We worked really hard and definitely saw some miracles! We got the opportunity to watch the dedication of the Tijuana Mexico Temple this Sunday! That was awesome. I feel particularly privileged to have been able to see 2 temple dedications in my time on the mission, Tijuana, and the rededication of the Mexico City Temple. 

Temples are super important, especially for those who say they believe in the bible. If you believe in the Bible, then listen up! Since ancient times God has had his children build temples. We understand that the ark of the covenant in the Exodus story was a traveling temple. King Solomon also built a temple, which is the one most frequently mentioned in the Bible, I believe. I think some people might misunderstand the purpose of a temple. A temple is not a church, nor a chapel, nor what the Bible and the Jewish people refer to as a synagogue. 

A temple is something different, something more. The word temple is greek for "house". In ancient Israel the temple was literally the house of God. A temple is a house of the Lord. He may dwell therein, if He so pleases. No wonder Jesus said "make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." If a temple is a house of  God, it is an extension of His holy kingdom. That means that no one should enter therein unless he or she has been washed clean by the blood of Christ, through repentance, faith, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and obedience to his commandments thereafter. 

Why is it important that we have houses of God here on the earth? How does this bless us? In holy temples, the houses of the Lord, we prepare to meet our Savior after this life. There, in those holy temples, we receive a fulness of the blessings our Heavenly Father has for us. In the book of Matthew, chapter 16, verse 19, Jesus says to Peter that he will give him the "keys to the kingdom of heaven", that whatever he "binds on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever (he) loose(s) on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 

Let's take a moment to study this. What things are "bound" here in this life, that can make no claim on being bound in the next life? I can think of one thing. Traditional marriage ceremonies acknowledge this limitation in the phrase "till death do you part".

The family is one of the most marvelous blessings that God has given us, and that's why he gave Peter the power to bind families "for time and all eternity". This is a sacred ordinance, a covenant that one makes with God, authorized by someone who has power and authority act in God's name in these things. In temples we prepare to meet our Savior after our mortal life.

Family bonds can only be made eternal in a sacred temple. Why? Because families are the biggest responsibility that God has given us, the source of the greatest joys, and sometimes, for some people, the greatest trial. His plan was not to bind people in a painful situation forever. So what's the answer? A covenant with Him, where he sets the terms and tells us how we should live together, in love, service, and fidelity. If both parties keep His commandments and do their best to honor each other, they find happiness, and he grants them this blessing, the largest of blessings, a continuation of their relationship forever. No one who lives worthy, through the grace of Christ, of this receiving this blessing of an eternal family will be denied it, though not all deserving people receive it here on earth.  
Being bound by His authority and living the way he asks us to is the ONLY way to have a family after this life. This is what we're here for, this is what YOU are here for. I'm just repeating what His prophets have said since the world began. (Read Malachi 4. It's only six verses.) 

That's why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds temples. Only there can marriages be given power to become eternal. The authority that Jesus Christ gave to Peter exists today. It was restored to the earth to Joseph Smith by Heavenly messenger, and passed down to us today through latter-day apostles. It was lost to the ancient church when the apostles were killed. Their authority is restored today. The temples are real. Eternal families are real. Joseph Smith really was a prophet, an instrument in the hands of God to restore to the earth something important as eternal marriage. I this is true by the power of the Holy Ghost, just as anyone who asks God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, may also know. 

Merry Christmas everyone! 
Elder Thompson

Friday, December 11, 2015

December 7 in Isla

Wow what a week!

Well this was one crazy week! We worked really hard, but, unfortunately, not a single investigator came to church with us this weekend! That's the first time I've had this happen in over 8 months! But it's all okay, because it was like a wake up call. We had grown complacent and weren't teaching as often with the members. All the elders in my district are excellent missionaries! So this week we have over 8 scheduled visits to investigators with members along! I also talked to the investigators about why they didn't come to church and it's okay. Felix is going to be baptized this Sunday, if all goes well. 

This week I was really struck by the talk that President Uchtdorf gave in the Christmas Devotional. He told the story of how a man who couldn't walk was gifted a wheelchair, and the difference it made in his life. It teaches the importance of service. A Book of Mormon prophet, named King Benjamin, said: "When ye are in the service of your fellow man ye are only in the service of your God." I'd like to talk about this. 

The point of this life is to give selfless service. Let me explain why. We are told in the book of Matthew by the Savior that we should be perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. So if I want to be a good writer, what do I do? I write. If I want to be a good basketball player, I play basketball. But what does God do, that we can emulate, to become more like Him? We learn from another Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, that God does all things because He loves the world. Then in John He tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. Everything God does is for us. In other words, God spends His eternal life in service to us. Loving us every day, blessing us so that the sun does rise, so that the rain does fall, so that we have something to eat and to drink, giving us our families, everything. We often take it all for granted, but really everything we have is from Him. Furthermore, the Savior also said, "he that wants to be the greatest among you shall be your servant." 

So how can we follow the divine comission of the Savior Jesus Christ, and love our fellow man, in perfection, like our Father? By giving heartfelt service, even as He did, every day of his life!!! In this Chirstmas season, I challenge each and every one of you to give heartfelt service to someone who really needs it, and watch how happy it makes you!

Miss you alll, have a great week, 
Elder Thompson

December 1 in Isla

Me and Elder Segovia!

Wow what a week!!!!! This week's been crazy! My first week training, and it's been really tough! I didn't realize how much I depended on my companion until I got a brand new one who doesn't know anything "mission" yet! I also realized the responsability that I hold, being a trainer. I literally influence, to a certain degree, the future of my companion as a missionary. He teaches the way I do. I'm his example, which means I've gotta be super good. I'm trying but I know that I'm far from perfect and I'm going to mess up. I just hope that God's grace is enough for Elder Segovia to learn what he needs to from me, but not follow my example in what I could do better. 

There was also another eye opener for me this week while I was studying to give the district class. I realized that we need to work on the commitment process! When people decide to read the scriptures or pray, or go to church, and strive to prepare themselves for baptism, they fulfill the promise set by the Savior in John 7:17. If we do the will of the Father we will know if it is His doctrine or if it's just something of men. How can we know if these things are true if we haven't done them? We cant! It runs in line with what it says in Ether 12:6. We recieve no witness until after the trial of our faith. Otherwise, we wouldn't need faith, and this life wouldn't be a test! And we couldn't grow at all!!! So what's the solution? 

Jesus explains the doctrine through the prophets, old and new, and we then have the choice to act, to serve one of two masters. We cannot choose to serve neither. We must be bound to someone, be it the father of lies or the Father of our spirits. So we live the doctrine, and if it's of God, then as we live it we'll know!!! And if we, as missionaries, do not invite others to come unto Christ through making sacred baptismal covenants or even through basic repepntance like coming to church and reading the scriptures, then how in the world can we help people? That's not fulfilling our purpose! Our purpose is to invite. 

I hope that as I and all of us strive to better invite others to come unto Christ, that we can be lights unto the world, even as Jesus said. That light that is shared is not literal physical light, rather, it is spiritual. Our happiness and peace as a result of living the teachings of the Savior of mankind radiate outwards to others and they notice it, even if we don't notice that they do! 

Miss you all, talk to you next week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 24 in Isla

Well it's been crazy this week! I'm writing today on Tuesday because yesterday we didn't get to Isla till 8 and so I got permission to do normal P-day stuff today before lunch. Why was I not in Isla, you say? Because I recieved a new assignment, the one I've always wanted :) I'M A TRAINER!!! Hahahaha I'm super excited. Trainers are the missionaries that "train" the brand new ones. Training is a period of 12 weeks right after the new missionary arrives in the field from the MTC. Trainers are kinda important because they, in a certain sense, define the mission of the missionaries that they train. So it's equally the most important, and hardest, calling that there is out here. I'm a little bit nervous but that's okay. Haha haven't slept much in days because Elder Ortiz, my last comp, left early on Saturday, so I was in a trio with the other elders, and then after that I had to go all the way to Tuxtapec on Sunday (President Cordova sent me by myself, which felt really weird.) Then I got up super early Monday to go to the port (Veracruz City) to pick up my new comp! His name is Elder Segovia. He's from Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico. I'll have to send pics next week. Anyways I'm super stoked, and super motivated to work hard and do a good job, because by the time he's done with his training, I'll have 20 months!!!! i just wish there was more time out here!!!! It would be great if the mission was like, 2 and a half years or something. 

I really really do know that this is the work of God. There's nothing better than making people happy. I love this work, I love these people, and I really don't want my time here to end. 

Miss you all, talk to you next week!

November 16 in Isla

Well, I don't have a lot of time so I'll  have to be brief. I think the highlight of my week was definitely going to San Andreas Tuxtlas this weekend for the distict conference. I got to see a lot of members from Baxcaxbaltepec, my first area! That was awesome. I found out that the family that I baptized there, my first converts here in the mission, are still active!!! That made me super happy, as I had not had the chance to see them for some time. 

Other than that, it rained again all week, and one of the elders in my district, Elder Dawson, got really sick and had to go to the port (Veracruz) to get some tests done. He's fine now, back and working and good as new. But we're alll getting sick a lot here. I'm kinda sick of getting sick. I'd rather just be healthy all the time. But whatever. Other than that, life is wonderful. 

My comp is really cool. But he finishes right now in November. Then he'll go back to Ecuador. Before the mission, he was on the Ecuadorian Taekwondo national team. You could say he likes to kick things. 

I'm a workahollic these days. It's actually fun when you work your guts out. That's all I have time for this week, Sorry! I'll write more next week.
This is the baptism of Claudia, Melina, and Patricia is the mom, Claudia the taller one, Melina the shorter. 

Elder Thompson

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 9

Wow what a week! We worked really hard this week, and finally broke through and made it to 40 lessons this week (we need to be having closer to 45), so that's progress! Also we had the awesome opportunity to find 12 new people to teach this week! C. got baptized, so that family is now united as church members (the ones that are willing to listen at least.) I also got a much needed haircut. 

What I really want to talk about is an experience I had with one of the families that we found this week, and the whole situation just testifies to me of the truth of the work that we are doing.

One night last week we were doing divisions (when 2 missionaries separate and go with 2 members in order to get more work done). I went with one of the young men. On our way to an appointment, I felt like we should contact a particular random house. As I started to shout "Buenas Noches" (in Mexico you kinda shout / knock to get the people to come out), the young man tells me "No, not this house, I know how the man is, we don't want to deal with him," but it was too late. A woman came outside. I presented us and told her that we were sharing a message about families and asked if we could come in. The woman let us in and called her kids and made them all sit down. I got to meet her several children. The mother, just so you know, appeared to be about 30ish. (In Mexico it's normal for girls to have a child at 15, 16 or earlier, so that wouldn't be unusual). 

We start talking and then I see an old man who appears to be about 60 or 65  walk out of one room and into the next. I ask "Who's he?" and the mother chokingly says, "That's my husband". "OK," I'm thinking, "this isn't so normal anymore." Normal here is that he's 10 years older than she is, not twice her age. Before this point I could tell that something was bothering her. I knew that was why she had let us in. A few minutes later I felt prompted to be very direct. I told her I knew she was searching for something. She looked startled and surprised. I bore my testimony to her, especially that she was a daughter of God and that He loved her. She just broke down and cried, and the Spirit was super strong. It was a moment of pure reverence. 

She told me that she wasn't baptized in any church, but she did believe in God. We invited her and her kids to come to church the next day and they accepted. I was still puzzled by the whole situation. When we got to church, I learned that one of the sisters there knew this woman. After she left, that sister told me that this woman's much older husband bought her when she was a little girl. Then when she got older, he came and took her and made her be his wife.

Well that put everything in perspective.
I don't know what's going to happen to this family, but I know that this mother is a precious daughter of God, to whom He has entrusted precious children, and that He has specific missions and purposes in this life for every one of them. I feel honored to help them know that. I really do know that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can help them find happiness, in the hope of blessings not always received in this life, but promised in the next. I appreciate all prayers to help them. 

-Elder Thompson

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 2 in Isla

This week was really cool. There were 2 investigators that we had the opportunity of baptizing last week! They're P, and M. M is the daughter of P. C, P's other daughter, is going to get baptized this week! 

It was really cool to watch them progress towards baptism. At first they were just kinda listening for fun, but after a week we decided to leave them the challenge to read one chapter of the Book of Mormon a day, starting from the beginning. Needless to say, they weren't perfect, but they've done pretty good, and it's gotten to the point where they love to read it so much that they try to read as much as they can every day! M is already almost done with 1 Nephi, which is the first book in the Book of Mormon! Actually they're all almost done with it. 

Once they started reading, P herself said "I think I'm ready for baptism. I'd like to get baptized. Do you guys think I'm ready?" Well, whenever someone has the desire, that practically makes them ready by themselves! We didn't have to do anything more. It's really cool to see how God works through the Book of Mormon to change lives. It's a true book and when we read it the Holy Ghost testifies of its truth to us. We come to "delight in its words" and that is followed by a change of heart. 

I got to give the baptismal interview for an investigator from the other missionaries here in my district. That was really cool too because I got to learn her story. Her name is C (not same person as the first C in this report) and she can't read. (So she can't read the Book of Mormon by herself.) She is married and has one son who's 13. He and his dad got baptized a few months ago, but she never wanted anything to do with the missionaries. Then she started to see the change in her son. He stopped walking around in the street (a bad idea here in Mexico for personal safety and if you want to be a good person). He came to have a new light in his eyes. She received the answer to her prayers to know if this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and she was also super excited to be baptized!

I'm super glad and grateful to be serving the Lord here in this mission, and there's no place I'd rather be. I love these people so much, I really do, and my purpose is to help them be happier. What more could I ask? 

- Elder Thompson

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October 26 in Isla

Hi everyone!

First off, sorry for not answering a lot of the emails. Internet is really slow right now and I'm super busy. 

Second off, things are going great here in Isla. I love the area, the people, my companion, and my district, they're all great. This weekend we'll be having a baptism. She was someone that they were already teaching when I got here. We decided to leave her the commitment to read the Book of Mormon every day, one chapter a day, and this Sunday she informed us that she wants to be baptized this Friday. :) The Book of Mormon is true. 

Now, I'd like to share a more serious story with you all. One that has deeply impacted me and made me so grateful to be here and to be a missionary. Elder Stanfield shared this update about this family with me this week by email. I'll share with you guys from the beginning. Be it known that this is a testament of the truth of this work, and of The Book of Mormon. 

When I was with Elder Chamberlain about 3 months ago, one Sunday night all our plans fell through. So we just went out to the street corner near our house and started talking to all the people that passed by. As we were finishing, we saw a relatively older couple (in their early 60's) walking toward us. Elder Chamberlain felt impressed to contact them. They cordially invited us to come into their home that Tuesday and share with them our message on the family. We later found out that they were from Juarez, a city on the border of Mexico and the states. They had had a ton of contact with this church, but never had felt interested in talking to us. They started to progress from the first visit. They started reading the Book of Mormon every day. 

We learned that the husband had had a stroke a few years ago and now had health problems. He never liked talking about religion with people. But when we first contacted him, he said that he felt pure peace and knew that he was supposed to listen to us. About 3 weeks later, their car broke down. Because of some weird complications, they had to go to Juarez to fix it, which is super far away. Elder Chamberlain left, and Elder Stanfield came, right before they left. Elder Stanfield got to meet with them once, I think, before they left for Juarez. Because of complications, they had to stay in Juarez for about 4-5 weeks. I called them regularly to see how they were. They ascertained that they were reading the Book of Mormon every day and had plenty of questions and were super excited to come back. Before they left for Juarez we had put a goal with them to be baptized on the 26th of September. 

On the way back home, the husband got sick again and had to go to the hospital in Guadalajara. I called while he was there. They were planning on coming back the next week. (The week I came here to Isla). Then he died of a heart attack. He read the Book of Mormon faithfully until the end of his life. The last 2 chapters he read before he died were Alma 40 and 41. Anyone familiar with the Book of Mormon will know why this is significant. In these 2 chapters, the prophet Alma explains to his son what happens after this life, but before the resurrection, a time period that is known doctrinally in this church as the spirit world. Alma talks about what happens in the spirit world and how the resurrection will later be brought about by the power of Christ. Then he proceeds to talk about the restoration of all things after the resurrection, of how those who have done evil will have evil rewarded them, and those who have done good will have good rewarded them. He talks about why wickedness never was happiness (and how and why we repent and prepare to meet God). 

These chapters are the perfect preparation for someone about to die. God prepared this man to know what was about to happen, and then permited him to pass on. He died on the 28th. He had been anxiously awaiting the date of his baptism on the 26th, before he went to the hospital. He was never able to leave the hospital again before he died. His wife has since returned home, and is preparing to be baptized. Their whole family is interested in hearing the message of the restored gospel. Part of that message is that we can be baptized vicariously in the holy temple of God for our loved ones who have died without having a chance to be baptized. If they accept that baptism in the spirit world, it will be the same as if they had been baptized during mortality.

I know that this is the work of God, I really do. Experiences like this just strengthen  my faith in it. I'm so glad that I'm here on the mission. There's nothing better that I could be doing with my life right now. There's no better reward than the reward of being happy, like I am in this work. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that he knows us all personally, and that we all knew him personally before this life. He raised us, loved us, and sent us here so we could become like Him. Do what it takes to fulfill that purpose.

Con Cariño.
-Elder Thompson.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 19 in ISLA

Well, I'm going to have to be short again this week because I've got lots of things to do! My new companion is Elder Ortiz, and we're here in Isla working our butts off! It's rained literally alll week here, so I'm not hot for a change. But I am now accustomed to being soaked to the bones of my toes. They say the rainy season here is from October to December so I'll get used to it. Good thing my backpack is waterproof. 

This house has hot water. I took my first hot water shower in over a year, and my first shower with water coming out of a faucet head for 6 months. It was glorious. I feel like a king. 

I would appreciate your prayers for our work here in Isla. It's a small branch with not as many people attending church as there could be. You can be sure that we're going to work super hard. There's nothing more important than saving these souls, and nothing more rewarding, but I would really appreciate your prayers. 

I don't know if all of you are accostomed to praying often, but it's easy to say a prayer. You can go to a private place where you'll be alone, or you can just say one in your heart and mind in public, so nobody notices. Just start the prayer by addressing yourself to Heavenly Father (as if you were writing a letter, like " Dear Heavenly Father"). Then express your thoughts and feelings to Him, also as if you were writing a letter. Then, when youre ready to end, say "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." This is the way we are instructed to pray in the scriptures. So I'd apprieciate it if you could all say a prayer in your heads for Elder Thompson who's in Isla, so that we can have the Spirit of God with us and help His children. 

This is the picture from B's baptism back in Aeropeurto. He was baptized this Friday. President Cordova (far right) did the honors. I was already here in Isla at that time, but I'm super happy for him. We worked for six long months so that he would accept the gospel, along with his wife and son. I'm glad we never gave up. I may not have been there to see it, but words cannot express the happiness that I feel to see him deciding to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

On the far left is my friend Elder Smith. He replaced me in Aeroceurto. Then it's Elder Stanfield, who was my companion there. Then M, whom I got to baptize. Then C, a family friend of theirs, and a very dear friend of mine now. Then B. She's like my second mom and one of my favorite people ever. I feel so privileged to have taught her and been an instrument in the hands of the Lord to bring her to conversion. Then C. Then it's B., one of the most wonderful people ever, and last is President Cordova. 

I absolutely love this family. I love them like I love my own family, and I'm so glad that I came out here on the mission. Had I never come, I never would have met them. It is such a blessing to serve a mission, for "the Lord doth grant me considerable joy in the fruits of my labors."

Anyways, that's all for this week. 

Elder Thompson

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 12 in ISLA

Well, sorry that I'm writing so late! It's there were changes! And I'm no longer in Aeroceurto:( I'm very sad. I feel like that's my own home ward now, and when I left it really did feel like I was leaving home again. I miss everyone a ton. I grew to love those people so much. I will DEFINITELY be going back to visit there. Anyways, let's leave what's past in the past. I was moved to a place called Isla today. Isla is a large town in the middle of nowhere (from Aeroceurto in Veracruz city to wilderness). I believe it's the area farthest away from everything else in the mission. I think. (South and west.) They grow pineapple here. It's EVERYWHERE. Fresh pineapple. I would imagine it's one of the biggest places in Mexico for this. Anyways it's kinda close to Carlos A. Carrillo, one of my old areas, and when we were headed to Tuxtapec to get there by bus, the bus stopped at a station and said that there's a gang on the road to Tuxtapec that's stopping buses and robbing the luggage, so we didn't go through Tuxtapec. Instead we went to Cosamaloapan, which is super close to Carlos A. Carrillo! Made me nostagic. But that's okay. So we got here around 6. Which was fun. 

I really don't have more time right now but I'll tell you more next week! 

I posted final pictures from Veracruz (city) with Elder Stanfield.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 5 in Aeropeurto, Veracruz City

Well this week was really awesome! We had some great news with (B). We had to postpone his baptismal date for a little bit, but now we have it solidly set for the 16th. Also (K) will be getting baptized on the 18th, and (C) and (F) on the 25th. There are loads of other people that will be getting baptized soon too! I'm a little sad because I probably won't be here to see it. (Changes are next week and my time in Aeropuerto is probably over. I have 6 months here.) The important thing for me is that people are coming closer to Christ, just like I am. 

Elder Stanfield was lots better this week! We don't know what it was, but I think he's getting better on his own! We were able to work, but not as much as I would've liked because we had lots of meetings.

General Conference was this weekend! For those of you who don't know, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church (the church in the New Testament). Namely, apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and so forth. What this wants to say, is that we believe that the church should be very well organized for the perfecting of the body of the saints (us). It also means that we believe that a person must be called of God, by the laying on of hands by one having authority from God, in order to serve Him in His church. This is the way it was done in the primitive church. We believe that these things have been restored in our day by Christ, through Joseph Smith. So, to help us in "the perfecting of the saints," every six months there's a General Conference. This is when the apostles and the prophet and all the general authorites of the church congregate and address us. They give us the word of God, and counsel us in what God says we need to do right now to come closer to Him. 

My favorite talk this General Conference was from one of the twelve apostles, Jeffery R. Holland. He talked about the Atonement and how it was brought about by and because of charity, which is the pure love of Christ. He also pointed out that the common words used in the scriptures to describe that sacrifice (bourne, carried, delivered, suffered, etc.) are also commonly used to decribe childbirth. I wouldn't know, I'm not a mom, but it does sound pretty painful. He went on to testify of the divine role of mothers in the family. They are the closest thing that comes to comparing with Christ and His love and suffering for us, even though it is still not an apt comparison. I really like what he said because I was able to think about the impact of my mom in my own life. It also helped me comprehend better the divine role that mothers play in the great plan that our Heavenly Father has for us. 

Anyways, that's all for this week, talk to you next week!

-Elder Thompson

We went to the aquarium. This toucan is crazy.Inline image 1
Inline image 3Inline image 2

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 28 in Aeropeurto, Veracruz City

What's up guys? This was a really interesting week for me. We worked hard, but not too hard becuase my companion was sick. We don't know what he has. There are these 2 viruses that are carried by mosquitos here in Mexico that are called dengue and chikunguya. (I dunno if I spelled that last one right.) Don't worry, these two diseases usually aren't fatal. Anyways he had some symptoms of the latter, but they ran some tests for those, and they all came back normal. So we're going to talk with the doc again soon since he's still sick. 

So, we didn't get to do all that much work this week, but our investigators are still doing great! That's the good part. C. and F. are coming closer to the divorce that F. needs, and so they are getting closer to getting baptized! I'm super happy for them. It makes me so happy to see people that change so much thanks to living the gospel. I love this gospel. I know it is the good news of Jesus Christ and that it has changed my life, will continue changing my life until the day I am who God wants me to be, and that through me, and all other people who choose to embrace this gospel, God will changes the lives of others, too. There's really no better purpose in life than this: to go about doing good.

Hope you all have a great week. Talk to you next week!

-Elder Thompson  

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21 in Aeropeurto

Wow so we had a great week this week here in Aeropuerto!!! So much stuff happened, but God's grace was with us so we made it through! 

First off, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on the 15th and 16th of September here. So on Tuesday and Wednesday we had to go to our houses early because of all the partying and something called El Grito (the shout). What they do is, in the middle of the night they all congregate around the central government building of the city or of the town, and then a representative comes out on a balcony and starts shouting: "¡Viva!" (Followed by the name of one of the Mexican revolucionists.) For example, "¡Viva Juarez!", and then the people shout it back. They go down the list of names of basically all the Mexican founding fathers and then they shout "¡Viva México!" over and over again. As you can imagine it's loaded with drunks and partiers, and we missionaries are strictly forbidden to go. But I got to see what it looks like on the news the next day when we went to a sister's house to eat. :) 

Anyways, another super cool thing this week was that 11 investigators went to church. We were obviously super happy. About 8 of them have to get married before they get baptized, but I don't care, I'm helping to unite families, and it makes me happy to see them get happier and change to put their lives in accordance with God's will. These people are really trying, and I know that Heavenly loves them, and I do too. The missionary work is the best thing in the world. 

After church on Sunday, I got a call from President Cordoba, the president of my mission, and he's like, "Elder Thompson, we're going to do the interviews of you guys today, but seeing as how you have appointments all day,  I'll just come with you guys to a lesson and then afterwards we'll do the interview."

We cleaned the house fast as lightning. 

Then we went to go see (a family of three) and we had a super awesome lesson with President. The father knows that the church is true, but basically didn't want to get baptized because of his pride. So we talked with him and helped him out. The mother was a huge help. The father is now getting baptized in early October (happy birthday present for me) and I learned a lot from President. I learned how to listen, and how to ask questions, and how to teach clearly. It was an awesome and humbling experience for me. 

One thing I really saw this week is how pride is a stumbling block. Pride is like a dam. It seals up the flow of  water, and progress, and though that may be desirable sometimes with rivers, the only thing it does to a human soul is stop it from reaching its full potential. The Bible states mnay times that we may inherit the Kingdom of God. It also says that we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. 

Let's put 2 and 2 together. When a king tells his son, the prince, that he may inherit his kingdom, he clearly means that his son may also be made king one day, and that it is the desire of the king that it be that way. But, if the father is a good king, then he will not give the kingdom to his son unless he knows that his son will be a good, just and righteous king. If he sees that his son may be otherwise, then he will bestow the kingdom upon another. It is likewise with God, our Heavenly Father. He truly is a great King, and His kingdom is so great, and His dominion so important and so loved by Him, that He will only let perfect beings, such as He is, inherit his throne. 

We are naturally imperfect, and thus not fit to rule. Actually, we have transgressed, every one, the very laws that of the kingdom that we are meant to govern. We've sinned, breaking the commandments of God. Therefore we must be subject to justice, just as anyone else would be, because our Father and King is perfectly just. That means that there is a price that must be paid. Spiritually, our wrong choices leave us imprisoned, and separated from the presence of our King and God. 

But because our Father loves us, he sent us Mercy, in the form of his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Christ suffered and payed for our transgressions. Every. Single. One. He "bailed us out of jail", or ransomed us from the consequences of our choices, all of us. The work and the toil to be able to pay the price, the excruciating pain, was so much that even He, the greatest of all, trembled, and bled form every pore. He payed the price of the bailout. We are all free to choose now, in this mortal life. It is our probation. Our testing time, where our father will watch us to see if we will repent of our sins, to see if we will abide His law. He understands that we won't be perfect in this life, but if we pass the test, through sufficient reptentance and obedience to his commandments, then He raises us up, to be with Him after this life, to continue to progress until we become like Him, and are able to inherit all that He has. 

On the other hand, the children that still do not obey His law, the ones that mock the suffering and the love and condescension of Christ and of God by their abiding disobedience, they are not fit, and must pay the price of their own sins, because they were too proud to do what was neccessary, too proud to change, to become who their Eternal Father wanted them to be through the grace of Christ. They consider a life of crime against the Most High better than a life of obedience to His Law, when they might have inherited the kingdom of their father through repentance. They literally "dam" themselves, sealing themselves away in a spiritual prison, stopping all eternal progess, and limiting themselves to a fraction of the life they could have had, had they just humbled themselves and done what was necessary. 

I invite all of you to do a self-examination, to look for being proud and cast it out. If you have feelings of hate, envy, anger, or even fear of what other people might think of you, this is pride, and it is Satan trying to stop you from reaching your divine potencial. Please do what is necesary to cast it out. Christ already paid the price. Come out of the prison cell and come to Him and change. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

- Elder Thompson

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14 in Aeropeurto, Veracruz

Well, it was an awesome week down here in Veracruz. Seriously though, it was rather eventful. First, on Tuesday they cut our power. We left in the morning to go to a zone class, and then when we got back there was no power. Upstairs (yes, in this house we have 2 floors) it gets SUPER hot without the AC on (yes we also have AC in this house, in our bedroom) so we moved the beds downstairs and slept with the doors and windows open. And it was still super hot. There's literally nothing you can do to stop sweating. I remember when we found out we weren't going to be sleeping with AC. I just started laughing. That would happen to us. It was okay. Even though we were miserable, we didn't get attacked in the night by anyone, and we were blessed to be able to get enough sleep. Anyways on Thursday morning (3 nights in these conditions) some dudes from the government came and turned on the lights, after we called them and told we had already paid the bill. So we were saved. 

Other than that, K. got baptized this week! Her grandma and mom are excited to get sealed when they can. 

In other news, we've had loads of cool stuff happen this week. We've worked super hard for everyone. There's this one couple, they're named C. and F. Their kids have been members for like, 3 years. But they can't get baptized because she isn't divorced from her first husband, and divorce here in Mexico is freaking infuriating. It's incredibly hard to get a divorce because of the process; 99% of the time one of the two in the marriage says "pay me "X" amount of money and I'll sign the papers for divorce." It's illegal, but because of the way things work, it's almost impossible to stop it. So divorce is super hard. But with some help from some local members, we've got a really good lawyer who's going to make her divorce happen super fast so that they can get married and get baptized. When I shared this news with C. and F., it was amazing to see the gratitude in their eyes. 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to help  these families. I know that one day they can be an eternal family and there's nothing more important than that! I'm so glad that my Father in Heaven has permitted me to help people and to unite families, it's the best thing that I could be doing! I know that even though it may seem impossible, especially here in Mexico, for the family to survive, it's possible. And that's the work of God. 

Love you guys and talk to you next week!
Elder Thompson

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 7 in Aeropeurto, Veracruz City

So this was a cool week! First week with a new companion is always strange but this one went unusually well! Elder Stanfield is from Washington, and he's got 20 months in the mission. Aeropuerto will be his last area. So I'm working super hard every day so that these can be the best last few months in his mission! He's a super cool guy and we're working super hard together. 

We had a really cool story this week! 

We have one investigator named Maria that is a relativley old lady. She has a small restaurant. A few weeks back she came up to me and said "Who are you guys?" We told her we were missionaries and she said, "Why don't you come by tomorrow to share your message with me?" We went and we taught, and came back a few days later. She had read a chapter in the Book of Mormon, and prayed. She then began to tell us about how she felt after she prayed. She had felt a reassuring feeling of saftey and peace so strong that she began to cry. Then, as she was telling us of this moment, she felt it again, and began to cry once again. She started coming to church and wanted to get baptized. She was progressing like crazy. The spirit had manifested to her heart that it was true, just as promised in the introduction of the Book of Mormon and in Moroni 10:3-5. But then the problems came. 

In order for her to get baptized, she would need to get married to her boyfriend first. They had been living together for over 30 years, and had had kids and raised a family together, but they weren't married. Recently they had started to have problems and even though she wanted to get married, he didn't. 

Eventually she became harder and harder to find, and because she was never home, we thought she didn't want to talk with us anymore, so we stopped going. Well, this week, some plans fell through, and we were in the area, and I felt like we should go by and visit her. We started talking again, and my companion left her some inspired counsel: say "I love you" to your husband every day. At least once. Watch how it changes things. Three days later, we came back, and she said that their relationship was changing rapidly. That he was less angry and she was less critical. He had begun telling her that he loved her too. He got to the point where he actually wants to get married! 

The lesson is that we need to use our words. Sure, actions speak louder, but actions without words is like cake without icing.

Well, that's all I have to say. Talk to you guys next week!

Elder Thompson

Monday, August 31, 2015

This is T. (The name on one of the pictures was wrong last week.)

Well I don't have much time so I'll just talk about the week really fast. This week we had probably the best week of my mission. Sunday we had 3 families in church because they want to learn more. 

That's all beside the point though. This was my last week with my good friend Elder Chamberlain. That's okay. Changes came again and he went to go be with my other friend Elder Bennet. That's right they're companions now! Anyways, that's okay. My new companion is Elder Stanfield, who is also a gringo. It's a good thing I speak Spanish... hahaha. Anyways I'm really excited to work with Elder Stanfield and I know that we'll have lots of success! Talk to you guys next week!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

G, N, and family.

It's nice to live in Mexico because we have our pet ant clean up crew for all the nasty cockroaches. Dead raoches are gone by the end of the day. hahahahaha

Well it's been an awesome week! Sorry for not having much to say last week but... I just didnt' have that much to say. I have more this week. :) 

We had another miracle this Friday, in the baptism of G, N and T! All of them are actually from the states and their first language is English.

I'll talk about G and N first. They live with their mom and older sister. Those two are members. Their mom went over to the states (I dont know why) in her late teens/early 20s. She and her kids moved around from place to place in the southern United States while the three of them were little. Then, (once again I don't know why) they moved to Salt Lake City. They lived in the basement of a family of Latter-day Saints, and after a time accepted invitaions to go to church. With time, the mom and older child decided to get baptized. G and N were still too young to get baptized. Then, they ended up moving away, buying their own house, and fell away from the church. Because their grandma got really sick, they moved back here to Mexico, and started caring for her. The mom works as an English teacher and a hotel worker, and provides for her three kids. G and N have had desires to come to a church, and have gone to various, but wanted to go to the right one. They found us, and we started teaching them. With dedicated reading and study of the Book of Mormon, they both came to believe that the book is true. And so they got baptized! We're super grateful to have met them and been this help in the lives of this family. 

T was born in LA. She moved here about 6 months ago. Once again I don't know why. She's living with her dad's girlfriend, K, who is also investigating the church and wants to get baptized, but she has to wait until T's dad comes down from the states so they can get married. Anyways, they were already talking to the missionaries in another ward, but moved here and so we got to teach them! T read the Book of Mormon and knows that it's true and therefore decided to get baptized! She feels like the ward is her family and is super grateful to be here. (Will send picture next week.)

Another cool thing that happend this week was that we got to speak with Elder Christofferson, who is an apostle. For those of you who don't know, an apostle is a special witness of Jesus Christ, a prophet, seer, and revelator. When Jesus established His church in the ancient days, He did it over the base of profets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20) indicating that after that manner the true church was to be governed. This is in accordance with the ancient use of prophets in the time before Christ, as shown in the Old Testament (Amos 3:7). That is because when God acts, He acts through them; the prophets and apostles. He established His church over this governing body because they hold the authority (called the priesthood) to govern His church. He gave this authority to them before he was crucified. Unfortunately, after the death of Christ, the people eventually rejected his prophets and apostles, and killed them, thus removing the essential chain of command that kept them linked together under Christ's will and true doctrine. Though the Bible existed, it was impossible for men alone, without divine communication to apostles and prophets, to always correctly interpret it. Thus there were sects broken off from original Christianity, until we come to the world we live in today, where we see that there are many different sects and doctrines, and we know that all cannot be right, because there should be "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism."

God solved the problem of spirtitual darkness by calling Joseph Smith as a prophet and restoring unto him the priesthood, or the right and power to act in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to bring about the salvation of His children. He directed Joseph to call 12 new apostles, and provided the Book of Mormon as reassuring proof of the work that he had done among us. I don't care how much criticsm or how much "evidence" that there is that these things are false. The simple fact is that it's true. I've read the Book of Mormon, and as it directs, I have prayed and asked God if it is true. I've done it many times, and He has manifested to me its truth by the power of the Holy Ghost, just as promised in the Book of Mormon. No man could have translated that book without inspiration from God. Joseph Smith was a prophet. The church has been restored, and will never again be taken from off the earth. That book stands as proof that God exists, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He has restored His kingdom in these latter days, just as promised. 

Jesus has done this in order to further his work, which is "the immortality and eternal life of man." It is His work and His glory, and I know that He does indeed glory in it. It is the source of all happiness. These things are restored so that the words "until death do you part" can be invalidated, eradicated, and "for time and all eternity" can replace them. He has power to bind on earth and in heaven, and He has given it to his servants (Matthew 16) and He has restored that power today, so that families are no longer lost after this life, so that we may exist forever with Him. I know these things are true and what I do every day is declare them to every living soul who will listen, so that they too may come to this knowledge, of a God above and of true and lasting peace and happiness. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love you guys! I hope you all have a wonderful week! 
-Elder Thompson  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August 17 in Aeropeurto, Veracruz City

So this week was really awesome. We went on divisions, and I read an elder's Book of Mormon in Portuguese. I can't speak it, I can't understand it when it's spoken, but I can understand about 90% of Portuguese when it's written. I could definitely read a book in Portuguese. I'm about to order a Book of Mormon in Portuguese to practice. (When I'm not too lazy). 

Other stuff that happened, we ate pizza like, 4 times this week. I'm almost getting sick of it. Almost. Not quite. I could eat another. They only have pizza in the port (where I am) in Cordova, Orizaba, and Tuxtepec. Sooo.... about half of the mission doesn't have pizza. Changes are coming soon and I will almost certainly be leaving, and if I do that means I'll be going to a new area, prolly way outside the port. The food here is excellent. I'm very lucky right now. Everyone here is surprised when they hear that in the U.S. we don't eat with tortillas at every meal. There are also people that think all Americans are cowboys.

There's something weird that happens to me when I get on here to write, I like, can't really remember what happened during the week except for the really big stuff so.... nothing really important happened this week. But somthing cool happening this Saturday is that Elder Christofferson, from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostoles is coming to talk to us this Saturday morning. I'm super excited! 

We get to see the broadcast of the Mexico City Temple rededication in September, which I am super excited for.

I miss you all and have a great week!

Elder Thompson

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10 in Veracruz

Inline image 1Inline image 2
These are from about a month ago, celebrating the one year mark. Pizza, you can get in Veracruz, but not in Tuxtlas.

Ok sorry guys that I didn't send a group last week, I was a little busy and out of time. But this was a really great week! 

Something really cool that's happening right now is that literally 50% of the people we are teaching speak English just as good as or better than Spanish. So me and Elder Chamberlain teach a bit in English now. It's actually really hard. But it's also fun. Two of the people that we are teaching right now are named G. and N. They're siblings, and lived in Salt Lake City for 11 years. They were born in the states, but their mom and their older sister are from Veracruz. Their mom and sister are both actually members, they got baptized in Utah, but G. and N. were too young when they were there. They came here to Mexico a little over 2 years ago, and they all speak fluent English. G. and N. speak it better than Spanish. They talked to us because we're two white people in Mexico, and they recognized us as missionaries. Turns out they didn't know where the church was here. They want to be members of some church, but they are confused because there are so many and they want to know which is the one that God wants for them. We taught them about the restoration of the Gospel and of the church of Christ and then obtained Books of Mormon in English, which we gave to them. We invited them to read and pray to ask if the book is true, and they have! They recieved answers through the Holy Ghost, and now want to get baptized. We will probably be baptizing them this weekend! 

It's awesome to see the way that God prepares his children to recieve his word. Also how he puts them in our path. Like it says in the scriptures, God can do his own work, He doesn't need us to help Him, but rather, He allows it because He knows that it can make us happy. But that doesn't mean that He entrusts whoever to whatever person to teach. He trusts His faithful followers to work hard, to be prepared, to teach with love and with the power of conversion, so that His children can recognize the truthfulness of what He teaches. I know this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. He guides and directs us today. We have His power and His authority, of which the Book of Mormon and our modern-day prophets stand as solemn witnesses. I hope all of you one day have the opportunity to learn these things as well. 

-Elder Thompson  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August 3 in Aeropuerto, Veracruz City

FROM ELDER CHAMBERLAIN, Cordell's Companion (Cordell wrote individual emails this week but not a group email): 

Elder Chamberlain:
This week has been great! We have worked a ton and feel good about it. Elder Thompson mentioned that we might have worked too hard. I don´t think so, but anyways, haha. 

This Tuesday we found out that we needed to help in an activity that the youth were doing and that we needed to be at the stake center at 8:20 in the morning on Friday. We figured it wouldn´t be very long, so we put appointments for that morning during the week. 

On Wednesday we had to go have a district class and then we had to work in an area that is kind of far from where we are. We also had the interview of the Hermano that got baptized on Saturday. Sergio. He is awesome. In a year we hope that his wife and him will be able to get sealed!

Thursday we had our planeamiento semenal and that was in the morning. We left late to work because the people that were supposed to bring us food brought it late, so we ate late but we were able to work. It was good.

So Friday was the amazing day!! We had the activity with the youth in the morning and we found out Thursday night that the activity would last until about 12:30 so we had to cancel our appointments for the morning, and then we went to the activity. It turns out we took part in the youth conference that they had. A group of them went out with us, to an area near the stake center and we contacted. We shared short messages and we tried to give service. When we were heading back, we got a call that said that we would be staying there until 1...... so we kept working and we heard that the youth were pretty amazed at how hard the work is. It was super easy work too. We did get back to our area and we were go go go go go go go go. We ended up having seven lessons with our investigators and they were good lessons. We know that God helped us see the people we needed to see and to help those people. 

We did have the opportunity with one person this week that some elders gave us the reference and Elder Thompson and I decided to pray about it. We felt that we shouldn´t baptize her this week and that it was a test to see if our pride would get in the way of the conversion of the people. We were not concerned about missing our streak baptizing five weeks in a row, and we felt good about holding off a week. We are going to work a lot now because we found a family that lived in Utah for 11 years and the two teenage kids aren´t baptized. The mom and the sister are, but the younger ones aren´t. We wanted to work with them for a couple weeks later, but Sunday in ward council they told us that in their classes they know everything and they should just get baptized. We are going to work a lot with them to be able to see if they can, but we will do what the Lord wants puting our pride aside. 

Saturday we were super tired. We were so exhausted from working so hard on Friday, so we are trying to rest today so we can get better to work. We both mentioned that we had never been so emotionally, or spiritually tired in a long time here. ahah 

Sunday I learned a lot from priesthood meeting to be able to help me understand more about the priesthood and the deberes del sacerdocio. Estoy muy feliz para estar aquí y la hermana con quien comimos nos cocinó lazania with salad and icecream for desert. She made corn on the cob and mashed potatos too. It felt like an American meal! 

That is my week and I was able to learn a lot in my studies this week. I sure love you all and hope you all are well. I will send pictures next week and will let you know how this week goes. 


Elder Chamberlain

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 27 in Aeropuerto, Veracruz City

Well, I'm back again! This week has flown by. Changes were last week and me and Elder Chamberlain will be together another transfer! That means I will have been with him for longer than any other companion. I'm super excited because we get along super well, he's definitely one of my favorite companions ever, and at this point, one of my best friends. We're also having loads of success, with what looks to be 4 weeks baptizing in a row! Looks like the chain will break after that for 1 or 2 weeks but then it'll start right up again! We've laerned a ton together and we keep trying to make each other better and better. 

This week I have learned a lot about grace. Grace is divine assitence or power endowed to us from God. It comes as a result of our efforts to do what's right. When we really truly do what we can to diligently keep his commandments, when we earnestly seek to become true disciples of Christ (when we seek to truly love one another with the love of Christ, which is charity) we unlock the grace of god, the windows of heaven, so that His grace may fill our lives and His blessings may abound. For missionaries, sometimes that means that we work as hard as we can, and if we're obediant, we find people to teach who want to learn. But for a normal person, this may mean that when we feel lost, confused, like we don't know what to do or maybe what MORE can we do, things just start to go right. 

The blessings of grace are avaible to all of us through obedience to the divine principles and commandments that God has given us (and to help us be obedient to them). I invite all of you to think about how grace could help you in your lives, and to do what is required to recieve it. 

I know this church is true, I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I wouldn't give up two years of my life for a lie. Maybe it's hard for you to understand how I can know these things, but if you chose to have faith, to believe that they could be true, then you will begin to understand.

Love you guys, until next week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20 in Aeropeurto, Veracruz City

Well, this was another awesome week. We had another baptism this week, of the son of B.! His name is M. and he is super awesome. He's already read, like half of the Book of Mormon and he's only 13. He's super chill.

This week we will be having another baptism, of a woman named M. M and her husband, S, have been taught by us for quite some time, but we never felt like they were ready for baptism. Recently, the only problem is that S. has trouble obeying the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy. He doesn't work always on Sundays. It's usually every other week. But...for Christ, that's not good enough. Not working on the Sabbath is a serious problem in Mexico. The culture in Mexico is work and work and work. Tons of hours, with very little pay. It's horrible. They're slaves to it. God would love to liberate them, and effectively He has; He has extended his hand to all of us that are slaves of work to keep His commandment of the Sabbath Day, and He will bless us with everything we need. But being saved is a two person process. There must be one who is above, and he must extend his hand. But also the one who is beneath must reach. When Peter started to sink after walking on water, I don't think he just called out and said, "Lord, Save Me!" and then left his hands down by his sides. He reached out, he strained, and that allowed the Savior to grasp him and pull him out of the water. We are all like Peter at some point or another, and we can only be saved if we reach out and take His hand, through keeping the commandments.

S.realized this last night in a lesson we had with them. 

I'm super grateful to be out here and to be able to help these people. I know that the only way to walk through the storm that is this life and not sink is to keep our gaze firmly on the Savior, keeping His commandments, and when we fail, because we will, we must implore His saving grace and reach out our hands through repentance, so that He may reach down and save us with the power of His infinite atonement.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Jully 13 in Aeropuerto

Sorry I don't have a ton of time!

Well this week was great! Elder Chamberlain and I wanted to work a little harder, and so we put the goal to contact 100 people this week! In this mission that goal is INSANE high. and guess what!? we made it. At 8:45 Saturday night we made our 100th contact. We have seen the blessing of grace in the work through our diligence so much this week, more than ever before! Beatrice (not her real name) got baptized (pictures coming asap). Her son is getting baptized this week. The husband of Beatrice FINALLY came to church and felt the spirit really strong in her baptism! S. and M., another young couple that we're working with, got married! And a man named (A.), who we had stoped teaching about 2 weeks ago because he said he wouldn't stop working on Sundays, came up to us and said he quit his job so that he could keep the day of rest and be with his family and in his new one he won't work on Sundays! He's super excited as well!!! 

These are the blessings of grace that come from true diligence in the work, and it applies to everything in life. When God has seen that we have done all that we can do, he blesses us. With forgivness, success, or whatever he sees fit. The only condition is doing what we can. We know when we've done it all, and when there's still more left. I urge all of you that want to change something in your life, be it school or work or forgivness or personal change, to put God's things first, and do all that you can. If you're feeling lazy then get up and do that last bit. If you're afraid to do it, don't worry, God protects those who do what's right, he fights their battles, and whatever problem you face, you face because he wants you to grow. 

I love you guys I hope you all have a great week and talk to you next week!!!