Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Transfer Day!!!

Hello hello!


So...  I got transferred! I am leaving tomorrow morning and moving to a place called Wharfe Valley. It's in West Yorkshire near Leeds, I think... I don't really know yet, I've never been there. My new companion is named Elder McBride and he is from Arizona somebody told me, and this next transfer is his last one - and this transfer is a 5 week transfer - so he's going home in like 5 weeks. That's pretty much the entire extent of my knowledge of him so far.


Okay so there were some different things that happened this transfer day;

On Sunday night, the people who were being called to train new Missionaries got a call from President Pilkington, Elder Wright was the only one in our flat who got a call. But basically all those who got a call had to find their own way to LEEDS the next day (Monday) to go to a trainer meeting. So I went on exchange all day in NewCastle and Elder Wright went to Leeds with another Elder. But what happened is that something happened with Elder Wrights phone, so nobody could get a hold of them. So last night I went with an elder to Newcastle city center at like 1030 to get them at the bus station - but we couldn't find them... but eventually we did and we didn't get home until like 1130. So that was an eventful transfer call night. I also found out last night that I am moving, so I spent all morning packing.

Also this week was zone conference! One of the highlights was that we got to watch the Meet The Mormons movie! It's really good, have you guys seen it? If not you should it's very well done and it portrays us well.

The other thing I've been thinking about a lot this week is another point that President has been stressing a lot these last few transfers. And it's about changing your heart.
I read a talk called ''The Fourth Missionary''. It describes three types of missionaries - the first two are disobedient, the first one gets sent home, the second one stays, but neither have a successful mission. The Third one serves a worthy noble obedient mission and does lots of good works, and so does the fourth missionary. The difference between the third and fourth missionary is their commitment and effort level. The difference is the amount that their hearts were changed.  

It talks about giving it all up. Giving up all our desires to that being who created us. Submit our will to Him. We can serve nobly by doing what we're supposed to do, but if we don't desire for ourselves to do that good work - and we're just doing it because we know we have too, then we are not actually benefitting from the service at all and it would be the same as if we hadn't done it at all. 

My character needs to change as a missionary. And I've felt it do so. My wants and desires have been changing. Some days I go out and work because I have to, but most days now I do it because I want to and it makes me happy. The talk talked a lot about giving it all up - putting everything on the alter of sacrifice - all our wants, desires, ambitions, everything. Give it all up to Him. To that being, our Heavenly Father, who has created us and given us all we have. Submit to that being, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself for our sins. That being through whom we can develop and change. Change is an eternal law, we are always developing, but to experience the most change we need to allow Jesus Christ to do that to us - by giving it all to Him. Give it all to that being who can take us, imperfect human beings, and purify and perfect us. He will make out of us a masterpiece. We will create only a smudge, only a fraction of what we can potentially become. We will make a man - He will take us and make us into a God, if we let him.
And that is the key - IF we let him. We need to give it all to him. Sacrifice. Change our hearts. And I am trying. I am trying hard. But I'm not perfect.
Anyways. Also this week Elder Faingata'a broke a door in our flat because he got really mad because Elder Wright took some of his eggs...    so he punched a door...  and broke it. It was really funny, but now he has to pay for a new door..

We had a lot of fun this week though. And I'm kind of dissapointed that I have to leave Elder Faingata'a - and North Shields. I'm bringing my guitar to my next area, but today I'm gonna go visit the guitar store guy, Tony, just to say thanks.

I am leaving my first area with no regrets. I feel that the time i've spent here has helped me develop as a person and i really have loved the people here, I'll miss them for sure, but I'm also excited to move on and to experience more on my mission.

Just as an add on. We teach people all the time that a Testimony doesn't come all at once. It comes here a little and there a little. Bit by bit. You may not believe everything straight off - but if you pray and ask, ye shall recieve an answer. If you go to church, you will feel the spirit. If you read the scriptures, you will feel of their power. Adn it works. People do it. But more so, I have been doing it too.

Everytime I read the scriptures. Everytime I pray. Everytime I go to church. Everytime I teach a lesson. Everytime I bear testimony. Everytime I feel the Holy Spirit touch my heart - my knowledge of the reality of God and Jesus Christ is strengthened and solidified. I know they are real. I know Jesus Christ lives. I know that by Him and through Him I can be saved, I can have all my guilt washed away.

Through Jesus Christ we can be perfected. If we put our part in he will complete us, He will create a masterpiece.

C.S. Lewis (paraphrased) says that it is a strange thing to live in a society of potential God's and Godesses. To understand that everyone you see around you - even the most insignificant of people has the potential to one day be a being which you would be strongly tempted to bow down and worship.

I can see it. I know that God is real and that everybody has the potential to become like Him. I have tried really hard to stop judging people.

 I know it is true. God is there. I can feel Him. He guides me and directs me. I love the saviour. My saviour Jesus Christ. My older brother. I am eternally indebted to Him. I am trying to follow His example. I encourage everyone to do the same!

Love you all!


Monday, February 16, 2015

This Week - spelling mistakes and all

Hi! Of course you titled the blog about you haha. Always gotta be the center of attention. I've realized just how similar I am though. When we do things as groups of missionaries I always liek to talk to as many as I can and get to know everybody. It's kind of crazy because i feel like I barely know anybody in the mission yet because I only really see the missionaries in my zone (The Sunderland Zone). But it's zone conference again already this Wednesday! So I'm really excited for that. All the missionaries have to write 2, 3 minute talks (timed exactly - President times them exactly) and missionaries are chosen at random to give them. Anyways one is about how Faith in Jesus Christ has changed my life, and the other is how the Holy Ghost has helped me become an effective missionary. For the second one I talked about teaching that man last week who I argued with and drove the Spirit away and how vital the Spirit is to teaching. They're both good and I hope I get to give at least one!
Funny story - this week we were knocking in a neighbourhood where missionaries have pretty much never been to. And there was a guy who got really mad at the door (which happens all the time so we didnt think much of it). But this guy kept opening the door and looking at us funny and talking to his girlfriend. Anyways we finished knocking the street and the a Police car rolled up and called us over. We showed them the back of our white handbooks and talked to them for a bit. Apparently that guy had called the cops on us, but the Police were really nice and chill about it they said there was nothing wrong with waht we were doing. It was an interesting experience though. 
Also just btw: Elder Faingata'a's first name is William, and his birthday is July 11, 1994. Just thought that was pretty funny.
Also thank you for the pictures I show them to everyone. 
Vida is doing okay, we are finding more people all the time but no one who is progressing towards baptism yet. 
Transfer day is February 25th and I keep having this feeling that I'm going to be transfered but I don't know and it doesn't really matter anyways. 
Vida is really funny. She cant stop drinking but she comes to the Addiction Recovery Class with us every Thursday and Church every Sunday, she's also coming to FHE with us tonight, but she is always joking around it's funny. She always tells me how thankful she is that Elder Jaeger and I saved her life. She always says ''you just radiate happiness''. And she says taht she gets happier jsut being around us. I've had a lot of members say the same thing.
I had like 5 or 6 people tell me this week that they have seen me grow up in the 4 ish months that I've been here so far. A bunch of members tell me hwo quiet I was when I first got here (I dont really remember being that quiet though) and they say that I have increased in testimony and confidence while they've known me, whcih is really nice to hear.
ALSO i almost forgot which is really dumb! On Saturday (valentines day) a couple in our ward got married at the church (not at the temple yet one of them is a recent convert) and Peter, the groom asked me if I could sing! So Elder Wright played ''Your Song'' by Elton John but it was the arangement done by Ellie Goulding so it was really high, but I sang it and it sounded really good! A lot of people cried and told me I did a really good job afterwards. Some of Catriona's (the bride's) friends from work were there and I talked to them for a long time about church and missionaries and Jesus Christ it was good fun. But that was certainly something I wont forget - one to put in the missionary accomplishment books. Sang at a wedding. Done.
I find that I talk to so many more people now than I did at the beginning of my mission. Every person we pass in the street I try to stop and talk to them, all day. We go and visit a lot of people who we've just met walking around. Elder Faingata'a is helping me with that a lot more than Elder Jaeger did. It's funny because when I was with that guy I thought he was like the perfect missionary. It's only when I see how other people do it, I notice that there are a lot of things he and I could have done better. 
Tomorrow Elder Faingata'a and I are going to help a woman paint her house, and then she's taking us to lunch haha. Missionary work is fun. 
There's always so many things I forget to talk about in these e-mails. Some day you guys can read my journals that i'm making here because there's too many things to talk about and I forget what happens during the week. In fact if you were to ask me what we did last week I would probably be like...   ummm i have no idea.
Oh one guy in our ward named Bill Johnson was telling us stories about when he used to be a taxi driver before he joined the church, and how if people didnt pay him he would chase them and punch them until they payed. HE asl o told this story about another taxi driver who was like super posh and spoke liek the queen's English but he was an idiot and he would drive for like 20 hours straight and then crash the taxi. And he told us one time they got a call and the guy was like (you have to picture it in like a super posh accent) ''yes, I've had a small accident. Part of my car is on Durant road, part of my car is on the motorway, and the rest is on market street''. When he said it I couldnt stop laughing for a long time.
Also one lady was telling us about her manager who was posh and used to say is a posh accent: ''No No Madam, you dont say ''tada'' you say ''cheerio!'' . I thought that was so funny. And now I've started saying cheerio to people all the time its annoying.
so anyways. Cheerio!
Elder Thompson 

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Letter I sent to Coleman - if anyone is interested

I just want you to know some things that maybe I should have told you before.  All through my teen years I went to seminary and read the scriptures -- I really, really studied them because I felt so behind everyone else because I never learned about the church or the scriptures at home. But never once did I feel like I felt the spirit.  I also wondered if God existed.  I had no problems believing the Joseph Smith story or that the Book of Mormon was true -- as long as there really was a God.  Never did I feel Him reach out to me, even though I was trying to reach Him.  But I just kept going, acting as if I had a testimony in the hope that I would get one.  When I started university, and the university ward, for the first time I felt socially accepted at church.  That went a long way to convincing me that church was a good place.  So that year I decided again to fully commit myself to reading the book of Mormon to find out if God lives -- but maybe it was my second year -- I can't remember.  Anyway, I did it -- I really read and studied -- not just read to get through -- I committed myself to church -- fasting, fast offering, visiting teaching, callings, social activities, reading lessons -- I did it all -- and guess what, when I read the Book of Mormon that time -- it was probably my third time through -- I just knew it was right. It wasn't a huge thing, a "burning in my bosom" or anything like that, it was just a feeling that this was right and good.  A quieting of the questions, the doubts.

So I knew the BoM to be true, so then I accepted that everything else had to be true too...even though I had yet to feel that God loved me or that He existed.  But that feeling of rightness was enough to feel I had a testimony and to believe firmly and completely in the rest.

Going back in time, sometime during my YW years - I was a beehive I'm pretty sure, I had a teacher tell us to go home and pray to know that God loves us.  She told us to stay on our knees until we felt His love.  So I did -- and I felt nothing.  Just an empty room. Guess when I had that answer -- sometime in my 20s.  10 years later I knew that God loves me.  10 years of continual church commitment -- based on a desire to believe and a willingness to continually do what was asked and required.

Anyway -- after that reading of the Book of Mormon in university, it wasn't as if all doubt just departed, rather my own commitment increased.  I remember attending a lunch time lecture at the institute, and this older lady who I really respected said something along the lines of realizing that every time she had a doubt/crises/trial, she didn't need to go back to square 1 and wonder if there was a God -- she'd already figured that one out, and she could just accept that and build from there, no matter what she was feeling/struggling with at the time.  That hit me so hard, I realized in that moment that since I knew the Book of Mormon was true, then I had to know that God lived -- and I never, ever needed to doubt that again.  And so I didn't.  From that moment forward I CHOSE to believe in God -- to use that as my foundation.

And I wish I could tell you of a defining moment -- a huge revelation that tells me that He lives and knows me -- but I don't have that moment.  What I have instead is years of service, of commitment, of belief and desire that add up to a knowing He lives and loves me.  It's going to the temple for the first time and feeling that it was so, so right and made so much sense.  It's meeting your dad and just knowing that we would have a future together.  It's a peace that comes on me when I read my scriptures -- a quieting of the voices in my head.  It's a softening of my own harsh side, my anger, when I go to church.  It's about learning of the life of Jesus and feeling his love towards his disciples and just somehow knowing that I'm one of them --- that that love extends to me.  The combined total of 20 + years of discipleship is a firm knowledge that Heavenly Father and Jesus live and love me.  It's a choice to exclude doubt, to turn away the negative thoughts, and focus on the light.

Even now, this morning, my mind was on a recent trial/struggle, and  I went into my room and prayed for comfort, for peace, for an assurance of the eternal plan of happiness -- I got nothing. Absolutely nothing -- talking to the ceiling again.  But I got up, took the kids to the bus, all the time thinking about these things. When I came home, I had the thought -- just sit down and write these things in a letter to the kids -- and you know what, maybe they aren't helping you -- but they helped me. Because as I typed my testimony, that strong feeling of love, peace, safety, assurance has come on me.  Now I can shrug it off as emotion --sadness because of the trial and the pain of others-- because the spirit and emotion feel so similar to me (mostly because I don't feel a lot of emotions naturally, they mostly come as a gift from God) -- and I could say that the idea to write this was my own -- because it came in my own voice in my head -- but I know better.  I know from experience that this was a tender mercy from the Lord -- a gift to help me.

My mom lived her whole life waiting for a great revelation to know that the church was true, and the God was real  -- she was waiting for that assurance and then she was going to start reading her scriptures, attending church, and keeping the commandments -- I've seen first hand that life doesn't work that way, and it led to a life of disappointment for her.  So that's why I chose my way -- to act first, and then wait.  And it took more than a decade --- but the wait was worth it.

I want to tell you a story from the life of Pres. Lorenzo Snow. When he heard of the death of Pres. Woodruff, he knew that he would be ordained the president of the church.  He went into the celestial room of the temple to pray for guidance -- and do you know what answer he got -- nothing.  Not  a thing.  So, he did what he knew he should -- he stood up and walked out the door ready  to be the prophet anyway.  He was able to stand and move on because of experiences in his past that had led him to trust, belief, and act whether or not he had an immediate answer.  That's what faith is -- kneeling and asking for help, but then getting up and doing the work anyway -- knowing that the answer will come at some time.  And for him, what followed was the most significant spiritual experience of his life -- when he left the room, he saw the Saviour in the hallway.  That great blessing, that ultimate knowledge and assurance, came only after a lifetime of study and acting, and a moment of complete and total faith.

Monday, February 9, 2015

This week's email - of which I'm the star

Hi hi hi hi hi!
Okay so first things first. Mama. All last week I was thinking primarily about what I said in that e-mail last week. I have been praying and praying and thinking and pondering and studying the scriptures trying to have that assurance that God is real and that he lives and loves me and knows me - and that relationship has developed. I feel like I know him and can feel him telling me what I need to do, what I need to improve on, how I can be better, it's crazy. But on Wednesday, we had district meeting, and I went and got flogged (stood up basically) for a couple appointments and then came home, kind of disappointed, for lunch. I walked in and there was a letter waiting for me. So I unwrapped my Subway Sandwich and started to read. What I read was one of the most inspiring things I've ever read mama!
I don't know if you knew when you sent it that what you talked about is basically what I've been thinking about for weeks. Differently from you I feel like I have felt the Spirit and the power of god manifested in many instances in my life. But now here on a mission I am actually trying to find him, and know him. But Mama I was searching and searching for an answer. I was praying to receive a witness. I felt him and I knew he was there and I could feel the voice of the spirit whisper things to me. But I came home on Wednesday and sat down and read your letter and I cried, I wept actually for a good 45 minutes and read and re read it and let the other Elders read it. I don't know if you kept a copy of it for yourself but you should. It was very poetic actually.
There was one paragraph in particular that hit me the hardest. You started by saying that you could not tell me of a specific moment where you knew that God was real and that he lives and loves you, but over the years of dedicated service and striving to do what's right, your testimony has developed into a knowledge that he lives and he loves you and that hit me so hard.
You also talked about faith. And how moving forward with energy and earnest desire in the absence of proof IS Faith. You must be very inspired mama because on Wednesday I was going on splits with Elder Wright to teach Sarah, who is on the verge of being baptized, but is holding back because she is not sure if she knows for sure it's true, but she feels the Spirit and the happiness that comes with church members. So I read her your letter. (I hope that's okay) and it hit her quite strong. She said that it was quite the coincidence that I received that letter the same day that I was going to visit her. I told her it wasn't coincidence, but that my mother is an inspired woman.
Anyways Mama that letter was beautiful thank you. It touched me deeply and helped me to know that Heavenly Father knows me and loves me too.
Yes I got the movies and the pictures thanks!
Okay story. This week I have had several experiences that have made me more angry than I have ever been in my entire life. It's something I have felt the whisperings of the spirit tell me I need to work on: being less angry. Even though I have good reason to be....
Anyways one evening we stopped by the house of a woman who we had met on her doorstep once before, and she invited us in for a cuppa and to warm up (we asked for hot chocolate instead). We came into her living room and there was a man there, who I soon learned was Margaret's (the woman who's house we were in) ex - husband. I asked his name, he said Peter, but he refused to shake our hands. He then proceeded in the most vulgar way I've ever heard, to completely bash our purpose for being missionaries and our entire religion as a whole. I cant remember a lot of the details of the conversation, what I remember really well is that I argued with him intensely. It rose to the point where we were full on yelling at each other and very aggressive. Luckily as missionaries we are not alone. Elder Faingata'a reigned the situation in and started testifying like a boss like he always does. Only then did I realize that my arguing had completely driven the spirit from the room - because I felt Elder Faingata'a bring it back.
So I sat down and apologized, but then also bore fervent testimony. Peter, who told us his name was actually John (so I'm pretty sure it wasn't either of those) would have none of it.
We wrapped it up, and explained our purpose, which Margaret was very interested in and told us to come back when her ex - husband wasn't there. He was furious and angry and on the brink of violence with us. Anyways we left. While walking away I felt the most anger I have ever felt in my life towards any one person. I was very tempted whilst in that house to stand up and punch that man in the mouth, that's how disrespectful he was being.
Nonetheless I have learned from my mistakes not to become angry, for it drives the Spirit away. So words of wisdom:
 ''Don't get mad because it be bad''
Also I know that God is real and he wants the best for us, but I also know that Satan is real. He seeks for people to be miserable like he is. He tries really really really really hard to get people to do the wrong things. People like Peter/John are listening. Things keep happening to our investigators that make it hard for them to come to things or have lessons. Everytime something important that will help them is coming up, like a billion obstacles get in their way. It's frustrating. This Thursday was the first addiction recovery class. Vida didn't make it. Next week though! She came to church again so that was good!
All in all, it was a hard week, but a good week. We knocked on a lot of doors....
Like a lot. Probably 3-4 hundred.
And dad send me that talk s'il vous plait. I would love to read it. I know too how important it is for me to recognize that it is the Spirit that teaches, not my persuasion. i have learned that lesson well.
Also Happy Birthday Dad!!! (In two days)
Love you guys!
Elder Thompson
It snowed here for like an hour but then melted right away...


Monday, February 2, 2015

First Email of February

Hi guys.
My Testimony has grown so much stronger while I've been here in England for the last 3 and a half months. This week was fast Sunday and right after the bishop bore his testimony I stood up to bear mine. I have knocked on so many doors and talked to so many people this past while, and of course all of the conversations inevitably turn towards one question, that being; ''Do you believe in God''. I have had countless people tell me ''no'' and try to explain to me why and how God is a creation of the human mind and is only in place to control people's actions. They say that religion is in place to control people. They say ''if God existed, there wouldn't be all these bad things going on the world, like hunger and plague and war and terrorism and turmoil''. They say that bad if God existed he would stop it all, if he really loved us he would end it all. This, they say, is their proof to me that God doesn't exist.
I understand why all these people feel this way, I really do. But, nonetheless I know that God is real. I know that he is more than a God, he is my loving heavenly father and he has a plan for me. People often tell me that they have a hope that God exists, but they don't believe he does. I also have a hope that God exists, but my hope led to more than just a hope. I acted upon the hope. I read the book of Mormon. I went to church. I prayed and asked God if he is real. This week a few days ago, I finished again reading through the Book of Mormon, and I read of course, the promise that the final prophet in the book of Mormon, Moroni, makes in Moroni chapter 10 verse 3-5.
It says that if you pray and you ask God with a sincere heart and with real intent (which basically means that you will be willing to act upon the answer you get) he WILL manifest the truth of himself, and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon unto YOU by the power of the Holy Ghost, who's main role is to testify of eternal Truth.
I did this. Like Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration in this dispensation did, I knelt down and prayed to God and asked if these things are true, and I received a very strong witness of it's truthfulness. I know even more so now that God is real. I know this because I took that hope and I acted upon it, and it grew into a faith, which is similar to a belief. That faith however, because I took action and prayed to know if my faith was a reality, has transformed into a knowledge. I know that God is real. I know that his Son Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer. I know that through him I can return to live with my heavenly father and receive all that he has.
So like you mom, I have been thinking a lot about faith. About MY faith. Why I have it, how I have it, what I need to do now that I have it.
During missionary service many things are continually shaken within me. My work ethic is sometimes shaken. My attitude is sometimes shaken. My resolve is sometimes shaken. My obedience is sometimes shaken. My teaching and speaking skills are sometimes shaken. But my TESTIMONY is and hopefully never ever will be shaken. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's kingdom here on earth, and it was established by Jesus Christ and prophets of old, and restored here again in these the latter days by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that this church contains the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and contains the proper Priesthood authority (God's authority) to administer in all the saving ordinances required for us to return to God and, just like Jesus Christ has spoken of, to become Perfect, even as He and Our Father in Heaven is Perfect.
It's going really well here with Elder Faingata'a. He talks a lot less than Elder Jaeger. And in lessons I talk most of the time, but then he comes in and Testifies like a boss. We're doing awesome.
Story: last night Elder Wright and Shreve went to the bishop's for tea w/ Sarah, and then they took Sarah home. This morning there was a knock on our door and it was Sarah, who had lost her keys and stayed up all night sitting in the streets because she didn't want to bother anyone. So we made here breakfast and hot chocolate and now she is here with us in the library while we e-mail because she still cant get into her house. So I'll let you know how that goes next week.
Also yes we went to Sis. Thompson's with Vida and she LOVED it. She is doing really well, she came to church again yesterday. She has a big problem with alcohol, I'm not sure if I've explained it before, but she has a really hard time because alcohol was a coping mechanism for her to relieve pain and heartache after she was kicked out of her house and was homeless, and later when she was severely beaten and abused. So she is going to start coming with us to the Addiction Recovery Program at the church with us this week to try to get over it. She is hesitantly scheduled for baptism on the 21st of February but I don't know if she'll be able to stop drinking. She really really wants to be baptized though.
Just a bit about some other people we're teaching. There's a guy named Leroy who has been in and out of prison pretty much his whole life. he has a really big family lots of siblings and one is a member in Leeds. He feels however alienated from his family because he was absent from their lives for so long. He also was a heroin user and is over that now but has to take other drugs to keep himself from using heroin again. (methadone I think it's called). Anyway we teach him once a week but he is really struggling. He's been investigating for 3 years, pretty much since he got out of prison and moved up here.
Also there's another dude named Craig who has a similar story but is super chill. Elder Jaeger and I talked to him on the street once and he basically invited us to his moms house for Sunday dinner. He is on parole and has a curfew of 7pm so we see him any night we want. he's in his 40's but addicted to various substances but knows its bad and wants to stop and loves the book of Mormon. Multiple times though we've been teaching him while he rolls a joint in front of us. He's cool though. He's really Geordie he always says ''aye'' ''spot on, spot on'' ''yaright lads?'' '' stay lucky'' ''aye thats champion'' ''tada lads(goodbye)'' its really funny. ''spot on dudes''. ''i divina like''  Geordie man.....
I have had a very spiritual week. I'm reading through the Gospels in the New Testament and I love it. Jesus Christ is perfect and I am trying to be more like him every day. It's champion mate.
Elder Thompson

With Vida and Elder Faingata'a

 Something Coleman made: