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.

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