Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 25 in Isla

Sorry I didn't write a group last week. The time got a little away from me.

Anyways, this week was really awesome. We had the opportunity to work SUPER hard. Harder than I've ever worked in my mission, and we helped lots of people out. 

We've been teaching some new investigators who are doing really well. One is 83, so old he can barely walk, and the last surviving member of his immediate family. He's also more than halfway through the Book of Mormon (a 500 page book) in 2 weeks. He knows it's true and does everything that he can to come to church. He's super excited for his baptism, which is scheduled for the 6th of February. Even though he's a little older, he's still as sharp as a younger person. I'm going to try to get a picture with him one of these days. 

One of the amazing things about this investigator is that ever since he started talking with us, he's been having lots of dreams about his deceased loved ones. 

I would like to talk somewhat on this. One of the things that the Bible is maybe a little unclear on, is exactly what happens between death and resurrection. Peter states that Jesus, after his death, but before his resurrection, taught the gospel to the spirits in prison. So we know that there is SOMETHING that happens after death, but before resurrection. Fortunately, the Book of Mormon sheds more light on this. In the book of Alma, the prophet explains that after this life, "the spirits of all men are taken home to that God which gave them life." Then he goes on to explain the resulting states of both the wicked and the righteous. 

I would like to substitute, for this conversation, the term "fallen" for "wicked" and the term "redeemed" for "righteous". You will soon see what I mean. The different terms are basically the same thing. The fallen go on to a state of misery, where there will be "lamenting and gnashing of teeth". The redeemed enter into a state of paradise, where they will rest from all of their afflictions. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we call the world after this one, where we wait upon the resurrection, the "Spirit World". In the Spirit World, as indicated, there are 2 different states: the first being a prison (where progress is limited for all), and for some, it is also a state of misery. The other state is a state of rest and paradise. 

What is the difference? Who goes to paradise, and who goes to prison? 

Jesus taught that we couldn't enter into the kingdom of heaven unless we are baptized (John 3:5). So what does baptism do for us? Baptism opens the door to redemption from the fall of Adam and Eve through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Through baptism, we also receive the promise that Jesus atones for our personal sins. Without it, there is no forgiveness, and therefore we are left to be tormented by the guilt of all of our wrong doings. Thus, the excuse "But I'm not a bad person, I haven't done that much bad stuff in my life," becomes invalid. We recognize that only those who have become completely pure can enter into the kingdom of God. That's not possible unless our sins are washed away in Jesus Christ. If we are not baptized, then we lose that possibility, because even the best of us have some sin. 

It is not my intention to more thoroughly explore the doctrine of baptism, nor of the Spirit World, but rather, to answer a separate question raised by the necessity of baptism. 

(Regarding our investigator's dreams about his deceased family members:) What happens to those who never got the chance to be baptized, but would have accepted, had they had the chance? Is it just too bad? Sorry. Because of luck, you didn't make it? That's not fair, and God is just. 

Thank goodness for temples, and for baptisms on behalf of those who died before they had a chance to be baptized!!!!  As Peter also explains, we must perform baptisms for our deceased, that they too may enter into the kingdom of God. It has been revealed to our prophets that one of the most important works in our time is the work of the redemption of the dead. Through proper priesthood authority, and in the holy temples, we may be baptized on behalf of our family members who are deceased. In this way God has revealed that they too may be redeemed. 

I would like to explain more about this but I don't really have time... 

I know some of you who get my emails aren't members of this church. I also know that there's lots of weird stuff that goes around about our church. Stuff like I dunno, one time someone in Carlos a Carrillo honestly thought we performed human sacrifices on Sundays and so they were scared to go to church. Other people think we worship Joseph Smith (not true). I would like to invite all of you who might have questions about stuff you may have heard about the church, from weird to awesome to just plain outrageous, to write me a short email and ask me about it! Send the email to cordell.thompson@myldsmail.net. (Don't respond to this gmail address.) If I get a question, I will respond! I'll keep you anonymous. (And if I don't have much time for emails, like last week, I'll answer the next week.) 

If my answer doesn't satisfy you, or if you want an answer now, then go to mormon.org and you can find answers to all sorts of frequently asked questions! (Or stop one of the elders or sisters in the name tag who are serving where you are. But if that's more than you want, no problem, email me.)

Don't worry about offending me with your questions. I don't really get offended by questions. I think they're all really interesting. 

Anyways, miss you all, I'll talk to you next week, and please send me questions if you have them!!

Elder Thompson

Catch up on past weeks at cordellthompsonmexicoveracruz.blogspot. As mentioned, if you want to email Cordell, don't respond to this email address. Send it to cordell.thompson@myldsmail.net. He loves emails. Letters are great too, but they can take six weeks to arrive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 11 in Isla, New Investigators:)

I don't have much time sooo... I'll be quick. 

After about 6 weeks of working endlessly and not finding ANYTHING we finally found some people who want to progress!!!! I was on divisions (when we work with members instead of our normal companions in order to get more work done) with a kid from the ward. He's 18, and has been a member since he was 8. He's also been less active since he was 8. This week we found him, and now he wants learn and prepare to go on a mission someday!! That's awesome. 

Anyways, we had just been rejected 3 times in a row in more ugly and rude ways than I ever had been on my mission (we won't get into the details). And then, we had nothing to do. So I just said, "Let's contact this house," and a middle-aged woman came out. I don't know what it was, but there was something in her eyes. I could just SEE that she absolutely needed our message. And I knew that she needed it for 2 reasons: to resolve family problems, and because somebody in her family had died. So I just started testifying about how I knew that by the gospel we can heal broken family bonds and see our deceased loved ones again. 

She let us in, and we talked to her and her husband. We found out that they have 27 years together, but they don't have any kids because of her health. Twice they have had babies who were able to be born, but they both died shortly after birth. On top of it all, after they found out they they were probably never going to be able to have kids, nor adopt, her husband was unfaithful several times. 

We had one of the most spiritually powerful lessons that I've ever had in my mission with them. He just wants forgiveness, and to reconcile himself with God, and with her, and she just wants to find the true church. They have both agreed to get baptized on the 13th of February (one day before Valentine's day, not a coincidence that we did that:)) 

We've found several other people this week too. And we're super excited to keep working hard and help these wayward souls get back to their maker! 

That's all i have time for. I'll write more next week. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January 4 in Isla, pistols and parrots, pizza without sauce

Happy New Year! New Year's here in Mexico is crazy because people come out with their (illegal) pistols and they like to fire them into the air. So there's always the slight posibility of random deaths.... So we had to be home early! We got home and Elder Segovia and I promptly ordered the cheesiest pizza I've ever eaten. I'm not kidding, it was about an inch thick, with all cheese and no sauce. Actually, almost no pizzas here in Mexico have sauce, so I now eat my pizza like a Mexican. With ketchup. It's the only way. And sometimes with spicy chipotle sauce. 

There are no monkeys here in Isla, but parrota are everywhere. I like to play with them, but they're really vicious and their bites hurt like crazy. They sometimes shout bad words (fault of people). But the parrot that our convert, Patricia, has, lets me feed it, and scratch its head sometimes. 

We finally started to find some really good people to teach! Only to find out that they're moving! But that's okay. They'll find the gospel wherever they are. The important thing is that they find it, be it through me, or someone else. 

Changes have hit, and, as obvious, I'm staying here in Isla to finish the training of Elder Segovia. Sadly, everyone's favorite Chileno (he's from Chile and I don't know how to say that in English), Elder Gallardo, is leaving. But, Elder Andrus is coming! I met Elder Andrus this time last year in La Laguna, when he was just starting. He's pretty cool. That's one of the things about being an oldy in the mission, you know pretty much everybody, and everyone knows you. 

That's all for this week! Sorry I don't have much more, but more next week!

Elder Thompson

Sunday, January 3, 2016

December 28 in Isla

¡Feliz Navidad! Espero que todos hayan pasado bien el día de navidad y que hayan tenido oportunidades de recordar a nuestro salvador y redentor Jesucristo y que es lo que Él hizo por nosotros. les quiero a todos y ¡que tengan un feliz fin del año!

Merry Christmas in Spanish. Please only use google translate as a last resort. haha

Well this week was really cool! We went caroling on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, and we got to help and serve a lot of people! 

In Mexico, Christmas Eve is a bigger deal than Christmas Day. Every one gets drunk and parties a ton on Christmas Eve, but on the day, they're all just hungover and sleep in. At least, that's Christmas in Isla. Fortunately we were able to REMEMBER (hahaha i hope you get the joke) things in a better manner: we preached the gospel. What better to do on Christmas Day? Or in this time of the year. 

I did have a really special experience this week. I finished the Book of Mormon again in Spanish. I've now read it several times in Spanish and every time I read it, it reinforces the truth of everything it says. One of the questions that many people ask here is, "Why do we need the Book of Mormon if we already have the Bible?" Another one is "Why doesn't the Bible mention the Book of Mormon?" Well, first of all, it does, several times. But I will explain all of this. The full title of the book is: The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Who does the book talk about? You got that right, Jesus! Why's this important? What does the Bible say? One Lord, one Faith, one baptism. At various other moments it explains to us the narrowness of the way, the importance of correct doctrine, of authority, etc. Knowing this, how many different religions have the Bible? All of the ones that believe in Christ. So how do we know which is true? So we rely on the words of the various religious leaders and guides in a world of so much confusion? CAN we rely on them? Peter said that there would be many false teachers among us. How can we know which are false and which are true? Thankfully, Jesus gave us the answer. "By their fruits ye shall know them." The proclaimed fruit of the prophet Joseph Smith is the Book of Mormon. It is the test to see if he's a truthsayer or a liar, because he's either one or the other.

The Book of Mormon was written by many ancient prophets from the AMERICAN continent. It was written in a language impossible for us to understand. Joseph Smith received it from an angel and translated it by the power ands gift of God. If the book is true then Joseph Smith was a prophet of Jesus Christ and this is His restored church. The Book of Mormon is thus the key to the beliefs of all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But this is not all. The Book of Mormon also proves that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. How? Well, in a law case, one witness is evidence, but not proof. But two witnesses? That's a lot stronger. The Book of Mormon is that second witness that Jesus is the Christ, because it was written on a completely different continent, by a completely different people. If the book is true, then that means that two different nations, halfway across the world from each other, and with no means of communication, believed in and worshipped the EXACT SAME being in the EXACT SAME way. This isn't just "evidence" anymore. It's proof. 

Now the only thing left to do is ask God, as invited both in the Book of Mormon and the Bible (James 1:5, Mormon 10:3-5), and wait faithfully on the answer from God about the truthfulness of the book. 

Thats why members of this church believe in the Book of Mormon, and that's why it's the cornerstone of our faith, both in Jesus Christ and in His restored church. 

I know that the book is true. 

Talk to you all next week! Stay safe this week and don't go do anything stupid! 

Elder Thompson

December 21 in Isla

Wow sooo..... it's Christmas!!!!! Chirstmas in the mission is the best because, well, what else would Jesus want me to do for his birthday than to do what I'm doing? That makes it all awesome. 

The one sad part about Christmas is that here in Mexico nobody wants to listen to us. You would think it's the reverse, right? But it's not. Worship of the Virgen Guadalupe (she's not the Virgen Mary) intensifies here then.  Well, things are tough. They like hearing more of her and less of Jesus. But last night, we found the solution! Over time here in the mission I've learned to sing and I actually sing pretty good, if I do say so myself. And fortunately my district also sings! So what did we do last night? We went caroling! We just went to members' houses and stuff like that, but Thursday and Friday night we're going to do that instead of proselyte. We've got some really cool harmonies, and it all actually sounds REALLY good. The cool thing is that people DO open their doors in order to hear a few pretty songs about the Savior, and we're hoping that God has blessed us with this talent in singing right now so that we can maybe use that as a tool to bring more people to Him. We're going to walk around knocking on all the doors, and sing to other families, hoping to find people to teach! 

This week I basically had the worst week of my entire mission. Every single plan that we had fell through. We had to leave almost all the people that we are visiting. The people that we had that were close to baptism all fell through this week. I was actually quite certain that some of them were going to get baptized, but now, who knows. I was really disappointed because I wanted Elder Segovia to be able to have the experience of helping someone to baptism, because he's just starting and all, but that did not happen this week.

We had not a single investigator in the church again, and I thought all was lost. But then, a miracle happened. This Sunday, a young coupe came to church. They've gotta be between 20 and 25 years old. They moved here recently from Tamaulipas, a northern state. The wife is a member from birth, but had stopped going a few years ago. Her husband knows very little about the church, really only what she's said to him. She wants to come back to church now, and so he said, " Okay, well if you're gonna go, I wanna go with you and find out what all this is about." So he came and they're awesome! We're going to go teach them on Tuesday, and I'm super excited and hope to help them become an eternal family through baptism and temple covenants with the Lord. 

This I realized once again that there are lots of things I and this district can do better. It was another Ether 12: 27  experience: "and if men come unto me I will show unto them their weaknesses. I give unto men weaknesses that they may be humble, and my grace is sufficient for all those who humble themselves before me, that their weak things may be made strong." Sorry if that translation is a little off. I only have it memorized in Spanish, had to translate. But yeah so this week was like God showing me more of my weaknesses, and now I have the privilege of humbling myself before him, so that he can make my weak things strong through the grace of Jesus Christ! I'm super excited for this week and I know that this church is true!!! Love you guys talk to you next week!