Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 28 in Tierra Blanca

So... after 8 weeks of working non-stop in this area, the miracles are starting to come in. This week we found a ton of awesome people! Only one of them came to church this week, but that's okay sometimes it takes time. We'll get it done. 

First: R and T
R and T are a couple with 3 little kids that are absolutely awesome. They couldn't come to church this week because they were out of town on vacation, but they're super awesome! Missionaries have talked several times with them on the street, but they had never arrived to their house! We recieved them as a reference from their niece, who is a recent convert who really wants her whole family to be baptized into the church. We passed by and they accepted us super well. They love to read the Book of Mormon and want to know if the church is true. One of the really common beliefs in Mexico is that all churches are true, and so it doesn't really matter which one you go to, as long as you're a good person. That's sooo not true!!! Anyone who studies the Bible knows that Christ established a single church here, and it had prophets and apostles. It is important that we pertain to THAT church, because that's the only one with the authority to provide saving ordinances like baptism. R had that common belief about all churches, but we were able to teach him in an inspired way that that can't be true, and now he's really trying to find out if the church is true! 

Second: D, W, and C
D is 17, she's been a member for 3 years, and she's super active. C is her mom and W is her little sister. They aren't baptized, but they want to come closer to the church. They've seen lots of changes in D and they want to see if they can have those same changes. (They were also on vacation this weekend.)

Third: S
S is just 9 years old. But he's smarter than me. Well I guess it's not too hard to be smarter than me, but he's way smarter than your average 9 year old. His family were all baptized. Not even they know why he wasn't. But he reads his Book of Mormon every day, and also the Bible, and the coolest part is that he understands it. He's got desires to do what's right and get baptized. We're excited for him. Hde is preparing to get baptized on the 9th of April.

Fourth: S
S is the greatest Mexican grandma ever. She's 60, and only graduated from the Secundaria (what we know as middle school), but she wanted to learn, so she started reading loads of books and writing. She wants to follow God, but wasn't sure where to find Him. Her whole life she's been looking for Him in churches, but had never found Him, and so she lost the belief that He has a church. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she has read already halfway through first Nephi. She is preparing to get baptized on the 30th of April.

Many of you who are not members of the church who read this may wonder at why I always talk about the Book of Mormon and I get so excited when the people that I teach read the Book of Mormon. I love the Bible, especially the teachings directly from our Savior found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Some of the most spiritual experiences that I have had with the scriptures have come from the study of those books, and my faith in Christ has been greatly strengthened by what is found on those pages. 

Why, then, do I always use the Book of Mormon when I teach? The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ. The full title reads: The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In Ezekiel 37 it makes reference to the Book of Mormon by speaking of the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim. Those are two of the 12 tribes of Israel, the primary people of the Old Testament. In the times of the Old Testament, writings were kept upon scrolls, which were rolled up around sticks and stored. Thus, the "sticks" are the writings from Judah and the writings from Ephraim. The primary compilers and writers of the Bible are the Jews, the Tribe of judah. Christ was born among them, as prophesied. What, then, is the stick of Ephraim? It all becomes clearer when we learn that everyone who wrote in the Book of Mormon was a descendant of the tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). Right there in the Bible, it prophesies of the Book of Mormon. So why do we use it so much? Because through the Book of Mormon we learn that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ, that it has his power and authority, and that is very worth knowing! 

Until next week, 

Elder Thompson

The pictures:

This is the noni fruit. It's one of the healthiest fruits in the world. Full of antioxidants and all that good stuff. Nobody in Mexico eats it, because it tastes like garbage. If you mix it with grape juice and enough sugar to make your blood sugar levels over 1000 then it tastes pretty good. It tastes like grapes. And sugar. But then I think it basically doesn't do anything for you.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 21 in Tierra Blanca

So this was another really cool week! 

First off, a funny story. My comp is a convert of 4 years. He joined with his parents when he was 18. Maybe he was like a janitor or something at some point before the mission. He knows all about cleaning. So in our house we have lots of weird cleaning supplies that he buys (the good news is that the house is always super clean). Anyways, on Thursday I noticed that there was mold growing in the bathroom sink. Weird. We keep it clean. I decided to destroy the mold. Who knows, we're in Mexico, maybe it's dangerous. So I plugged the sink and started looking through the cleaning supplies until I found one that looked pretty tough, and started pouring it around the sink, trying to kill the mold. After noticing that it only half did the trick, I added cloro. I don't know what it is in English, but it is all-powerful. Destroyer of stains, blemishes, and persons. It did its job well, killing all the mold. But then all of a sudden the cloro and the other chemicals started fizzing and I was like "uhoh..." I stood there like a dummy for about 30 seconds until it started producing a gas that made my eyes burn and made me choke. I had to shut the bathroom up, and then my companion starts telling me janitor horror stories aboutt how specifically those TWO substances are poison when mixed, and create poison gas, and how his mom knew someone that died, etc. I'm pretty horrified now, and the bathroom door is shut, locking away the poison gas. The whole time me and my comp are making "we're gonna die jokes" in Spanish and then... the gas dissipates. The next morning the house smelled like a swimming pool, and I was forbidden from cleaning the bathroom. :):):)

In Mexico they charge you to use the public bathrooms. 

So this week has been great! We worked super hard and found some pretty cool families, and I had the oportunity to help a lot of people this week and give service. We also got air conditioning in the apartment:D

Some of our efforts in Isla may have felt futile while I was there. But they weren't: the results were these: 8 people baptized. Every time one of those we found or started teaching before he got there gets baptized, Elder Call calls or texts me and tells me "THEY'RE BAPTIZED!!!" Hahaha so it's all good. I am satisfied with our work there. And I am grateful for what I learned there! 

That's all for this week. Talk to you all next week!
Elder Thompson

Mexican sandwich on P-Day:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 14 in Tierra Blanca

Funny Mexican kid story: 

So on Saturday after helping a family move, the dad decided to buy ice cream for us. Me and his 4-year-old kid got cones. When I finished my ice cream I started eating the cone and the little kid looks at me and gasps, his jaw dropping almost to the ground. After scooping it back up, he shouts at me: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?!? You eat that!?!?!? No!!!! You don't eat that! That's poisonous!" 

After almost falling off my stool from laughing I explained to him that you DO in fact eat the cone (even in Mexico). We finished our conversation with him contentedly munching on his ice cream cone. Hahaha gotta love Veracruz. 

So this week has been a crazy trial of faith. We worked and worked and worked (see socks) and it just seemed like nothing was happening. But, the most amazing thing was at the end of the week. 3 of the investigators that we had worked like crazy to help progress came to church. It was the biggest feeling of relief ever. Sometimes we don't realize the impact we're having til it's had! 

That's all for now, i'll send more next week!

This is Tierra Blanca, from my roof. There was one morning where the sunrise was wayyyyyyy better than this one, like the coolest sunrise I have ever seen, but I didn't take a picture. :/ Notice the gigantic mountain in the background between the two hills in the picture that doesn't have the church. I didn't even see it until I was looking at the picture, cause I thought it was a cloud. It looks way bigger in real life.

​P-Day last week: Can you tell what this is?

​This is from Christmas:

​Sometimes when you walk for too long, your socks stop working. The picture was about 3 weeks ago. The sock has now basically disintegrated around my toes. But that's okay. It still covers my heel. I've only got a little over 3 months left anyways. (Note from family: new socks were sent at Christmas but maybe didn't arrive, or maybe worn out already? We have again sent more:)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 7 in Tierra Blanca

So this week was fun. We had some really spiritual lessons. We taught this one guy who's young, about 24. He was an investigator who was being taught when I got here, but we couldn't find him for a time, and so we stopped teaching him. When we saw him it was an opportunity for me to see how faith affects us in our lives.

He wants to learn about the gospel, but he works and studies on Sundays so he can't come to church. He wants to work during the week. (He's currently unemployed, and not for lack of searching.) He can't work less on Sundays because it's 500 pesos more money, and he can't afford that. He loves to read the Bible and learn about God.
When we saw him I felt that we should explain what faith is, and we did. We helped him understand how true faith has its works, and without works, faith is dead, like it says in James. Then we helped him understand how those works are keeping the commandments. Then we invited him to keep the day of rest. The spirit was so strong. It was one of the strongest lessons we've had. But he didn't have the faith to accept to live the commandment. He refused. He said that he knows that what he's doing is wrong, but he simply can't get to believe that God will take care of him if he stops working on Sundays. It was really sad. It helped me realize that true faith is obedience. True faith is sacrifice. 

I love what Nephi says in the Book of Mormon (my translation from Spanish): I will go and do the things which the Lord has commanded; because I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare the way for them to accomplish that which he hath commanded them."
1 Nephi 3:7

Probably the most famous scripture from the book of mormon. Whenever we look at this, we usually see how Nephi wanted to be obedient. But I suggest that there was a motive to his desire. Nephi KNEW that the Lord would prepare the way. He had faith, and he was completely willing to excercise it through obedience.

The youth should save for their missions. Most of the elders that pay for their own missions here have super good ones. They approach it with a different attitude. 

That's pretty much it for the week. It's starting to get hot here, but it's still not too hot in Tierra Blanca. It IS hot, but not like, devil-hot level heat yet or anything.

Elder Thompson

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February 29 in Tierra Blanca

It was another crazy week!!! A sister we've been working with is ready for baptism, and everything's going great! There've been some problems with her husband. He's a member of the church since he was a teenager, but had since fallen off the right path. He has a serious drinking problem. He doesn't drink like, every day all day, he only drinks every once in a while, but when he does, he just gets hammered and he's a really angry drunk. The problem is that he just doesn't want to stop, even though it's destroying his family. They have a little kid who's 3 years old and who is the coolest 3 year old in the world. We're working really really hard with them so that they can do what's right, repent of everything and become better people. 

As I've gone through my mission, I've become really grateful for all the commandments. A commandment is a rule that God gives us. They're like the rules that parents give to their kids. I like how He says it in Doctrine and Covenants: (I don't remember exactly how it goes in English, so I'll paraphrase) "I give you a new commandment, or, in other words, I give unto you new instrucciones so that you may know how to conduct yourselves before me so that you may have salvation." (Mom if you know where that exact scripture is in D&C then just insert it: D&C 82: 8-9: And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you; Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation. ) 

The commandments are guidelines that protect us from all the bad things in this world. In the case of the man with the drinking problem, imagine to yourselves, how much better would the lives of his family be if he kept the commandment of the word of wisdom (a commandment that forbids strong drink), and didn't drink alcohol? 

The result of keeping the commandments is happy living. I will always strive to keep God's commandments and do what's right cause I want to be happy. 

I was super pleased this week because my companion and I were able to achieve once again the goals for excellence here in the mission, which are incredibly high. We just did it 2 weeks in a row, a thing that is pretty tough to do, major work involved, and we're seeing results. The attendance in church went up by 30 people and there were 11 less-actives who came because of our efforts!!! 

Every 6 months in the church we have something that's called General Conference. General Conference is when the prophet, apostles, and women leaders of the church come together to give a worldwide broadcast on the will of God concerning us in our lives. Last General Conference, in October, a talk was given where we were invited to do something thats called "ponderize": to ponder and to memorize a passage of scripture each week. I decided that I wanted to do just that, so I started with 1 Nephi 19:9: 
    And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. 
Talk to you all next week, 
Elder Thompson