Monday, April 27, 2015

Some pictures this time!

Hi guys! 

Just so you know - I always LOVE reading the e-mails you guys send me, so keep sending them! But there's a lot of questions you guys ask and I always have the answers in my head, but then I often forget about them when I'm writing my e-mail back. So If I haven't answered a question that you really want to know - just ask again and hopefully I'll remember! 

Anyways, my week. My week. Well...    this week was pretty hard again. We taught two lessons this week - but yes mama, we see a lot of less actives in our ward. There's a guy who we saw this week who was baptized four years ago, but hasn't gone to church for a few years and has been imprisoned as well during that time. This guy still has a testimony and wants to do what is right, but for other reasons, he can't come to church right now and he is fairly depressed. Well last Saturday Elder Dickson and I were in his area and we felt impressed to knock on his door (we'd tried before but he'd never been in) and he was there and really happy to see us. We talked for a bit and then he asked ''What made you guys knock on my door today?'' and we were like ''I don't know'' and he told us that that day was the 4th anniversary of his baptism and he was planning on calling us, but he'd kept forgetting. We're seeing him on Thursday this week again. 

So I know that Elder Dickson and I are being led by the Spirit of the Lord in all that we do. But as much as we are being guided - we have still this week not managed to find anyone else to teach. I know the Lord is teaching me patience especially when there are scenarios like this one:

On Tuesday night after a full day of trying to find people - we were again knocking on doors at 7 at night. We knocked on the door of this middle aged woman who after a brief chat let us in! So we taught her and her 17 year old son all about the Restoration of the Gospel and they loved it and we committed them to be baptized and they said they would! So Elder Dickson and I left after that and were SO excited! We skipped all the way home. 

We'd planned to go see them again Sunday night (because they weren't able to make it to church) again. They were all excited for us to come again and everything - and we introduced a little bit of the plan of salvation, saying that this was what we were going to talk about next time, but when we went to their house, the mother answered the door and stated that they had changed their minds and did not want anything to do with us and asked if we please not return ever again. 

So understandably, Elder Dickson and I were pretty disappointed. Especially since they were one of only two lessons that we were able to teach the entire week.

That's just one example of the disappointment we've been facing in this area, and it's easy to say ''oh that's all right we're just going to keep trying'' when it happens once. But it hasn't happened just once - it has happened probably 9 or 10 times with different people in the 2 months or so since I moved to this area. 

Now. The struggle is real. But I know that Elder Dickson and I are just trying to be instruments of the Lord, and we are. I've seen miracles in this area as well, but the challenge is learning to be patient. In Chapter 6 of Preach my Gospel it talks all about Christlike Attributes - which I've been studying thoroughly and regularly throughout my mission, and there is one line in the 'Patience' section that has been going through my mind all week:

 ''Patience is the capacity to endure trials, challenges and opposition without becoming angry, frustrated or anxious. It's the ability to accept God's timing over your own'' (Or something like that) 

So is the only reason I'm in Wharfe Valley to learn how to be patient? Maybe. Well not really but it is certainly one of the reasons I'm here. 

Another story, there is a woman in the Ward here who was baptized some 13 or so years ago, who now is completely inactive and refuses to accept our invitation to come back, but Elder Dickson and I have made a really good relationship with her and her partner who is not a member. Their names are Margaret and Keith. So Keith has these really nice guitars and Ukulele's, and so every time we go I've played some songs for him on the guitar - namely: arrangements of hymns such as Joseph Smith's first prayer (to the tune of Come Thou Fount), I Stand all Amazed, How great thou art, I am A Child of God and others. And I've played some pop songs with him as well. So Keith loves us. 

Margaret is really into family history - and just something she told me as well. She lived in England during the second world War, and when she was really little, she and her family lived right by the air base where all the Canadian pilots were based. The pilots used to bring her mother food, and then her mother would cook these huge meals for them and they would gather round the piano afterwards and sing songs.
Anyways - Margaret also wrote this poem about one of her ancestors that died during the war, and she knew that I played guitar and asked me if I could write a tune to her poem. So I took it and I did and she loved it! She's going to buy a little recording box to record it next week. Also when we went this week we asked if we could practice teaching our missionary lessons with them and so we taught them the Restoration, and I could have sworn that Keith had a tear in his eye as we taught the first vision. They love having us so much that next week they are going to feed us lunch on Saturday. 

So good things are happening!  Elder McBride really liked to sing too so we used to go and sing hymns on the streets to people - it didn't really work all that well but we loved it! 

And hey do you remember when I played guitar for the stake Cantata last year? I really enjoyed that.
Also, there is a special mission meeting this friday, and there is a seventy coming. We have been informed that the meeting is going to be about how iPad's are being introduced in the England Leeds Mission. That is as much as I know. I will let you know the details when I know them- hopefully at this meeting we'll learn all about it. 
Love you guys!

Elder Thompson 
It's warming up -- look -- flowers!
And pink trees!  And notice the car parking on the sidewalk -- it's the only way that allows for other cars to drive on the narrow streets

Me and Elder Dickson -- he's always cold, even if it's warm outside

I got a postcard from Maris in New Zealand!

It rained all weekend and we knocked all weekend.

Monday, April 20, 2015

This week's email

Hi hi hi!
Yeah Elder Dickson doesn't eat sweets or anything like that, but the members here have been feeding me dessert anyway (yes!) which by the way in England they don't call it desert - they call it pudding. Also Elder Dickson has some other quirky elements to him, which I wont talk about, but one thing that's pretty funny is that he is like freezing cold all the time, so I'm walking around in a suit and rain jacket, and he's got like a thick winter coat and a hat and scarf and mitts and everything, which is funny.
And okay - this week. Well let me start a bit earlier. When I first got to this area, Elder McBride and I had 2 investigators - Lindsay(who got baptized!) and Sarah who stopped answering her phone and door. So we were left in our second week of the transfer with 0 investigators. So all transfer, Elder McBride and I knocked on doors and doors and doors, numbering probably in the thousands of people talked to, and we now, with Elder Dickson, have a grand total of......              0 investigators. 
The Wharfedale valley is a hard area for missionary work. People here are rich and very well off. People just do not want to talk to religious missionaries. Nevertheless, we are teaching a few people occasionally, but none who are interested in keeping commitments. So work here is slow and hard. But it's going and we're working hard every day. I keep on thinking that if I can get home at night and when my head hits the pillow, if I can say that I have done my best - the most possible I could have done at all - if I've done that, then I can sleep peacefully. And for that reason I have had a perfectly sound sleep each and every night.
But even though it's hard, I know that there is a reason for me being here in this area. Everywhere that I go on my mission - I am there for a reason. So whether that reason is that there are people here I need to find and teach - or whether it's to teach me a personally applicable lesson (patience for example) it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I am doing my absolute best. And I am doing it. And I know it, and President Pilkington knows it, and God knows it - so that's all that need to know. 
But I'm at that point again - where the majority of people we come into contact with try to explain to me that there is no God, that religion is all lies, and all it is doing is strengthening my testimony that GOD is real. He is actually there. I know it because I pray to Him and He answers me. I feel His presence and impact in my life - and that's why I am knocking on doors trying to help them to learn how to recognize and feel His presence and influence in their lives too.
Oh, and another thing. Go onto YouTube and look up ''Eric Thomas - You're My Why''. This guy is a motivational speaker and this audio recording is basically about him talking about what is our motivation to do things. And he asks over and over again: ''What's Your Why? Why do you do what you do? And it's caused me to think every day. Why am I here? Why am I knocking on doors? And the answer to that question motivates me to keep doing it. To keep moving forward. To keep knocking on doors even when somebody opens there door and say ''f*** off''...      3 doors in a row. (That happened this week). 
My why is that the message that I am called to teach people, the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and can help people. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of his glorious atonement and resurrection, that he is able to bear our burdens and cleanse us from the weight of our sins. That knowledge when people understand it, can change their lives. It can and will uplift and edify you if you let it. 
So we're trying to share that message with people. We are trying our hardest.
Love you guys.
Elder Thompson

Monday, April 13, 2015

Another awesome week!

Hi guys!

So my new companion. His name is Elder Dickson and he is from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It's near Cape Town. There are actually two returned missionaries in our ward who served their mission's in the Cape town mission, and our ward mission leader, Brother Mayer actually served in his ward. Elder Dickson is a convert, and he is 27 years old. He was baptized when he was 20. He found the church just after his father died and what the missionaries taught him about the plan of salvation and how families can be together forever touched him deeply and drove him to come to church and read and study the scriptures and eventually be baptized. He spent four years before his mission studying computer Science at university and then decided to come out and serve a mission at the age of 26. His whole family apart from his twin brother are fully active Roman Catholic's. His twin brother was baptized just after he was.  

Also! Yesterday for Elders Quorum we also learned about the Prophet Joseph Smith. And one question was posed, the teacher said ''what do people not from our faith ask us about Joseph Smith?'' and in all honesty - the first/most commonly, only thing that people know about Joseph Smith is that he practiced polygamy, and that one of his wives wrote a book about how she felt badly treated. So the next step to discuss, and something that I've explained to countless people on the doorstep and on the street, was to discuss how we would respond. 

It's simple. We believe that God has always, and will always forevermore reveal his will for His children here on Earth through inspired men, who hold the Priesthood authority from God, called Prophets. Just like there were prophets in ancient times, there is a prophet on the earth today. And Joseph Smith was the prophet who restored the Priesthood authority back to the earth and re-established Christ's church. All questions about the divinity of the prophet Joseph Smith and the legitimacy of God's commandments and instructions to him come back to the question; ''Does God love his children enough to restore the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth in these the last days?''

And the answer is of course, yes. God loves his children. He wouldn't leave us in darkness! And the way to find out if it is true for yourself is contained in a prophetic promise in the book of mormon. It tells you - actually it almost dares you to go to the source of all truth and goodness, and ask him for yourself. 

If you ask God, the Eternal Father, with a sincere heart and real intent, if the book is true, and therefore if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then he will reveal the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. 

It is a promise, and it will happen, I promise and testify. If there is anything that you need guidance about. If there is anything in your mind that you are unsure about, and if you are an honest seeker of truth; I implore you to read the book of mormon and ponder about it's teaching and then ask your Eternal Father about it's divinity. It will bring a purpose and a joy to your life that you have never experienced before. 

And okay mama - yeah I got the hoodies and the cookies and they were delicious! Thank you! They reminded me of home.
Also last p-day Elder McBride and I went with Elder Larsen and Elder Wilkins to Five Guys in Leeds, and it was so weird because it's exactly the same as it is at home and it was like I was in the summer again with me and 3 friends just chilling out at Five Guys it was so fun. 
We met some new people to teach this week. One is this woman who's door we knocked on a few weeks ago who is going to school again (she's like 53) to study religious studies, but it's making her lose faith in God, and her daughter who were both really interested in learning about our religion, so we should be seeing them again soon and they said they want to come to church this next Sunday.
Also one day we were walking down a street (Thursday maybe) and there were 3 ladies sitting around a patio table smoking, and I was like ''Hi! Enjoying the sunshine?'' and they were like ''Yeah! Hey are you Mormons?'' and it went from there are we sat around with them and they gave us juice and one of them really wants to know more about our church and is meeting us this week at the church to learn more about it. Her name is Abi. 

Love you guys!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

6th Month Email (18 more to go)

Hi guys! I've had a lot better week this week! 

We got to teach more lessons this week which was great, and it was conference this weekend which was fantastic! For conference we went to the Leeds Stake Center which is in a part of Leeds called Cross Gates. On Saturday night we watched the American Saturday morning session, and then on Sunday morning we watched Priesthood session from 10-12, then the American Saturday Evening session from 1-3, and then the American Sunday morning session from 5-7. In between sessions we ate and then went around door to door (with 4 Elder's) and sang 'He is Risen' to people. Easter was sure different this year but it was great. 

On Friday we got to teach a really good lesson. There is a guy in our ward who's name is Misiona, and he is from Samoa. He is a returned missionary, he served a mission in America, and then afterwards went to school in Beijing, China where he met his girlfriend, who is not a member, who is English. Now this guy is living with her and her parents in our ward boundaries, and has been coming out to church occasionally since he moved here. Anyways we wanted to meet with him but he wasn't comfortable having us come to his girlfriends parent's house - so we met him at the chapel and had Chinese food - and he brought his girlfriend, who wants to know all about the church! So we had a great lesson with them.

Then on Saturday we went to another inactive members house named Margaret, and met with her and her husband Keith who also is not a member. They just got back from a 6 week vacation in Portugal, and Keith loves musical instruments. He has this super nice guitar which I got to play, and we made a really good relationship with them so we are going to go back and teach them again. (Keith really likes Amos Lee and so I sang that song 'Colors' for him with his guitar and he was amazed. He clapped and everything). So that was really good.

Then Sunday was conference, and Saturday night. And there were a lot of talks that inspired me a lot. I was amazed at how quickly the sessions went by - I remember them being so long! But I couldn't get enough. We didn't get to watch the Sunday evening session because it happened too late for us here - so hopefully we'll get to watch it sometime - or just read the talks later. My favourite talks were both of Elder Uchtdorf's and especially Elder Holland's talk about the savior reaching his hands down to save us from our fall. Also there were a lot of talks about getting married and starting families which I loved but is especially funny because Elder McBride is going home this week and his girlfriend has been waiting for him his whole mission.

And yesterday - a bunch of missionaries from around the mission came to our chapel (The Wharfe Valley chapel in Menston) for some meetings - and we had to be there to go on splits and open and close the chapel - so we got to talk to a ton of missionaries yesterday and that was really fun. 

So this week was a lot better! And Elder McBride is leaving on Wednesday back to Arizona :( but my new companion on Wednesday is going to be Elder Dickson, who is from South Africa, who I know a little bit because he used to be in my district in North Shields. So I'm excited for that!

And Sammy, there are a few youth in our ward. A couple of 18 year old boys and one 17 and a few deacons. The 18 year old boys neither of them are getting ready for missions - but we have taken one out teaching with us once, and we are building good relationships with them all. We've taught young mens a few times and we sometimes go to their activities, depending on what they're doing.  And we found out that you can actually balance eggs any day of the year - you just have to be patient. You should try it! And what color is your new suit?

And Alex that choir stuff is awesome. I watched the BYU men's chorus sing in conference and I was like 'when I go home I'm going to sing in that choir'. I miss choirs. North Shields had a choir but they were pretty bad. This ward doesn't even have one :( And also about the Vatican. I met an atheist once in North Shields a while ago who when we knocked on his door let us right in and tried to explain how wrong we were. This guy though, was Italian and had actually worked as a caretaker inside the vaults of the Vatican, but when he worked and when he left, he was sworn to secrecy to never tell anyone about what was down there. All he would say about it was ''I know the Catholic church is not correct, because of what I have seen inside of those vaults''. 

Anyways I'll send some pics in a sec. Love you guys!

Elder Thompson
The cross on the Chevin


Swans on the river Wharfe

Elder McBride, Wilkins, Larsen and I

Elder McBride and I

Elder Larsen (my district leader right now)