Monday, September 28, 2015

Two Weeks of Letter because We Were Away!

Monday, Sept 21

Hi guys! 

That is the best surprise ever! [referring to the fact that we took the kids to Disney World last week -- and we didn't tell them in advance, we just woke them up and took them!]  And Olivia's reaction was the best!  I'm so jealous! It's already getting colder and darker here, it's raining today, which is....    England, haha. It hasn't rained here for my new companion's first week that much though so that's nice! 

But anyways, let me tell you about the week:

Monday, transfer calls - I found out I was being called to train a new missionary. Found out all the info how and where the meetings were etc.

Tuesday was p day, but after p-day, well at about 4:30 me, Elder Diaz (from North Shields, you remember, he's in my zone now again serving in Dewsbury) who got called to be a new district leader, and Elder Amende, who also got called to train, took a train from Huddersfield to Leeds, and then from Leeds to my old chapel in Wharfe Valley where we had a training meeting for all those people getting called to train and to be a new district leader (I had that meeting last transfer).

Then that night, we didn't have time to get home - so all of us just slept over at missionary flats in Leeds - so Elder Diaz and I went and slept at none other than the Wharfe Valley flat, where Elder Dickson is still serving! So that was fun - staying in my old flat for a night, but I had to sleep on the floor....

On Wednesday Elder Diaz and I made our way on trains back to Leeds, where we attended Transfer Meeting! In transfer meeting all the new missionaries bear their testimonies and all the returning missionaries bear their testimonies and then the trainer and trainee pairings are announced and that was really fun! My new companions name is Elder Boswell! He is from Portland, Oregon! He is maaasive. Like he's 6'8'' and his feet are size 16. He is also only 18, he turned 18 in July I believe and he graduated from High School in 2015! So he's just like I was when I first came out. 

And he is so great, he's obedient and ready to work hard and he's fun and nice and I'm excited! 

The rest of the week was back to regular missionary work - but with me showing Elder Boswell the ropes, and it was great! We taught a lot of lessons and contacted a lot of new people as well! 

And then to wrap up the week! Last night President Pilkington put on a youth fireside about going on missions - and he got all of the Leeds and Huddersfield missionaries to come and sing and inspire the Youth. 

And Dad - you used to always tell me growing up, I remember this clearly, that attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. I remember saying something like ''Alex made me mad'' and you would always say ''no one can make YOU mad, you are just CHOOSING to be mad''. Outward emotions are a choice. 

I'm sure I told you about the mission President's fireside that I went to here in Huddersfield last year in November where I had to sing a solo - and we sang ''pack up your troubles''.

Well we sang it again last night and it was such a throwback! Same place, same song, close to a year ago it was weird, but it was amazing. But dad what you always taught me about choosing to be happy is what the song is about! It says:

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag 
And smile smile smile.
Don't let your joy and laughter hear the snag 
Smile boys that's the style
What's the use in worrying?
It never was worthwhile, SO! 
Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag! 
And Smile Smile Smile.

It was great! And the youth loved it! 

AND on top of that! After the fireside - all the Polynesian, and Australian and southern hemisphere missionaries did the HAKA, you know the tribal war dance thing! ANd it was really scary and fun to watch! Two of my previous companions were doing it - and Elder Ma'a led it! It was really cool and a good way to end off a good week! Especially for Elder Boswell's first week! It's been soo good.

Also, Jenny came to church and to the Fireside and is getting baptized on October 10th, the week after conference! 

Love you guys! 

Elder Thompson

Monday, Sept 28

Hi guys! 

Disney sounds so fun! I'm jealous! I miss going on those family vacations they were the best! It just reminds me of going to Hawaii last summer which was so much fun. 

Well actually I bet it's a lot different now with only the little kids and Sammy. How is Sammy doing btw with High School Senior Year and everything? 

Training a new missionary is fun - but it's also a bit different, like there are a lot of things that I find are just so normal now that Elder Boswell is like ''what the heck why do they do that?'' It's interesting and funny too. Like driving on the other side of the roads - I'm so used to it now but Elder Boswell keeps looking the wrong way! 

This week was really good though. especially for Elder Boswell's first full week! It was really good! 
You remember Jenny? The investigator who came to church when we invited her to listen to my talk? She is getting baptised on the 10th of October, the weekend after conference! Which is exciting. 

We were able to meet a lot of new people this week as well! We met a lady named Sam Thompson haha! She wants us to come and teach her in a few weeks. We also met a guy named George Washington! We also met a lot of crazy people this week - like a lot of crazies, it's really funny. There's this guy in one of the areas that we keep going to who's name is ''Mad Pete'' that everybody knows who is convinced that he is a chosen vessel/angel of the Lord - and it's the funniest thing ever because he loves missionaries and it's really fun to mess with him. I asked a few people as a stopping approach if they knew Mad Pete and we got some of the funniest stories too! 

On Tuesday we had a district meeting - like every week, which now that I am a district leader I have to run. But this one on Tuesday we had the zone leaders come to, and we had President and Sister Pilkington come to as well! So the meeting was the biggest district meeting I've ever been in and I was the one who had to do all the instruction! There was me and Elder Boswell, Elder Korte and Elder Ma'a, Sisters Cziesla and Lee, Elder Larsen and Elder Lapu'aho (the zone leaders) and President and Sister Pilkington!

So I instructed on one chapter out of the Book of Mormon - Alma 58. It's a war chapter where Helaman, Gid and Teomner take the city of Manti by a stratagem, and I related them setting and achieving their goal of capturing the city to us fighting Satan and achieving our baptismal goals for this coming transfer. And it went really well! It was a lot of fun and everybody loved it - so that was a lot of stress relieved after that! 

Speaking of Elder Lapu'aho - he is Polynesian from Tonga originally, but his family grew up in Utah and he came out on his mission the same day that I did! And now he is my zone leader and we got to go on exchange this week which was really fun! 

One of the biggest lessons I learned this week is that it's when we have the most opposition, that we have the most growth. Somehow we always perform our best when we're pressured to have a good performance. When the worst things are happening to us - and we have pressure to succeed, if we keep a good attitude and press forward and work our hardest, we will become much better and stronger than we were before, and we will appreciate the challenges that were placed in front of us! 

Another story:

WE knocked on a ladies door yesterday who is from Belgium and left to move here because of racism (she's black) but she only speaks French, so when she found out I speak French she was really excited to invite us back and we are going to go so I can teach her in French!

Love you guys! Hope you have a great week! 

Elder Thompson

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Transfer Time Again!

Hello everyone!

Yes my birthday here was great! It was kind of just another day of missionary work, you know - but this nice member family fed me and got some cake and then afterwards we had a co-ordination meeting with the Ward Mission Leader and he bought us pizza, so we were really really full that night! But it was really fun, not super eventful, but it was a good day!

And also yes guys - it is transfer week again. And surprise surprise: I'm getting a new companion again! In case you didn't realize, I was with Elder Jaeger for two transfers right at the beginning of my mission, and since then I've only had companions for one transfer! I had 6 in a row: Faingata'a, McBride, Dickson, Stahle, Duff and Ma'a.

But the news this transfer is that I'm training a new missionary! So my next companion I should have for 2 transfers at least! That's how it normally works when someone is trained usually, because during the first 12 weeks of your mission, your trainer runs through a special program with you. So I'll be doing that starting tomorrow!

At transfer meetings (I've been to a bunch now) all the brand new missionaries bear their testimonies, and then all the missionaries going home bear their testimonies, and then the trainee's are introduced to their trainers - and beforehand nobody knows who it's going to be, so when they announce - ''so and so is being trained by....    Elder Thompson!'' I'm going to jump up and run up to the stand and hug whoever it is I'm training, but I won't find out who it is until right then!

So that should be fun! And I'm excited but a bit nervous to show the new guy the ropes!

So anyways - I think somebody maybe Sammy was asking about do we do any service as missionaries? And to answer, yes we do - not that often, but whenever we can, especially if they're not members or less active or something like that - and in addition we always look for unplanned acts of service, we just ask people if we can help with anything, and sometimes people say yes.

But this week the Ward organized a helping hands activity where we cleared all the plants and dirt from some really overgrown paths in the area, and it was really fun - tons of ward members showed up and it was really nice!

Dad was asking for some stories about some people were teaching so let me just tell you a bit about a lesson we had this week with a lady named Thethe Kanghi who is originally from the Congo but has moved around quite a bit - and her daughter Jenny who is scheduled to be baptized on the 3rd of October and their neighbour, another African Lady named Rita. Basically we wanted to go and teach Jenny a lesson to prep her for her baptism - but when we showed up their neighbour was in the house and so we taught the first lesson to all of them, and it was so funny because Thethe doesn't really speak English, but Jenny does and Rita thinks she does but she doesn't really - but they all speak French! But because Ma'a can't understand French they all did their best to talk English, but often I would have to translate in French and English and it was just really funny! 

But jenny is excited to be baptized and Rita wants to meet with us again on Thursday and come to church! So we'll see how it goes! Plus that'll be an interesting lesson for the first full day of whatever new missionary I'll have with me! Should be fun!

So the rest of transfer news - Elder Ma'a is not my companion anymore but he's staying in the area and is going to be with Elder Korte from Australia! And the other Elder in our flat - Elder Vickers is moving to Leeds. So this next transfer should be fun! Ma'a always keeps things exciting.

Thanks for the letters from the cabin and the talk from dad! I really liked the talk you gave in Ward Conference Dad. The poem right at the beginning really sunk in with me, I like it. There was a few other quotes as well - one from some book, about atheism? I really liked it too.

Sounds like you guys are having a fun week! Everybody here is going back to school too! The busses are always filled with College students - but University hasn't even started yet, this town is goin to be a madhouse when that starts!

Love you guys!

Elder Thompson

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hi guys!

It's cold season here in England as well, and on top of that - it's already getting colder and darker again. I showed up here last year right at the beginning of winter, but now I've been through the ''summer'' if you could call it that, and now it's going to be winter again soon, which is weird to think about.

So I'm not really sure if I told you about my living situation right now - but at the beginning of the transfer I moved here to Huddersfield 1 ward and Elder Ma'a and I area booked. For the first three weeks we were the only missionaries in our ward, but we lived with the zone leaders, Elder Larsen and Elder Rasmussen (Elder Larsen was my one of my favourite district leaders btw - he was my DL when I was in Wharfe Valley, and now he's my zone leader). But then halfway through the transfer two more missionaries area booked into our ward as well and moved into our flat, and the zone leaders moved into a new flat. so this last week has been a lot different than before.

It's funny because all three missionaries living here are younger age wise than me, but I've been on my mission for at least 6 months longer than each of them, and I'm their District Leader.

I have learned so many lessons on my mission already, but I guess the Lord wants me to learn a few more. This week Elder Vickers and Korte didn't have the best of weeks, and so I had to do a lot of uplifting and encouraging and instructing and inspiring for them. I also have had to do a lot of correction this week with the missionaries here.

You know how it's said that you build a testimony in the bearing of it? Well I think it's the same in everything. I didn't realize how much of a leadership capability I had until I now have to lead people. I didn't realize how much the lessons that I've learned on my mission can in turn help other missionaries. Well I did know that, but I've seen it a lot recently.

This week, I was on a split with Elder Vickers, and he said something that hit me pretty hard.

But let me rewind and say first of all that there have been a lot of missionaries so far on my mission who I have looked to as an example of how to do missionary work. Elder Larsen for example. Elder Jaeger as well. There have been missionaries who I've just thought to myself ''man I want to be as good of a missionary as them''.

But this week Elder Vickers told me that he really looks up to me as a missionary, and tries to follow my example.

I've had several younger (mission wise) companions who have looked to me for an example, but now there are other missionaries trying to follow me as well, and that made me want to be better.

My mission is training me for life I think. For anybody who is not sure if they want to serve a full time mission, just do it. I can't even begin to explain the growth that occurs in the mission field. The Christ like attributes and skills that you learn, the lives you are able to touch, the memories and friendships you make, that doesn't even skim the surface.

But this week I've been learning how to be a shepard. A leader who leads by example. One who says 'do what I do', not 'do what I say.'

And Dad, I feel like you're learning similarly to what I'm learning right now, being a new bishop. Obviously you have a few more things and people to deal with than I do, but that is the testimony that I've learned this week: That no matter how much you have learned or how much you think you know, the Lord knows that you always need to learn more. He will push you to the edge, and it will not be easy, but you will appreciate the trials in the future.

Elder Ma'a and I are happy, and doing good work. We've spent a lot of time knocking on doors again this week, which is great.

I'm so grateful to have the knowledge that I have been blessed with. To be able to know that God is real, and he loves us. He is our father. Every now and again I stop and I look around and I think to myself how wonderful a creator we have, that has put all of the beauty of this world here for us to enjoy.

I know that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, because I've seen in my own life and in the lives of others how much his atonement can cleanse people. He is the one that I look to to be my shepard, the one whose example I am trying to follow. I hope and pray that all who may be reading this will ponder the concept of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and consider the implications that it has in your life. you can be clean, you can be pure, you can be whole. everything that is unfair about life can be made right through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

I love you guys! I miss home, but I know that what I'm doing here right now is among the most important things I will ever do in my life. 'I know that what will be of the most worth unto me in my life is to declare repentance to God's children, because the worth of souls is great in the eyes of God, and if I will labour all my days crying repentance and only ONE person listens, then it will all be worth it.

Also really quick story:

There is a part member family here that we are working with that have a bunch of animals and a maaaasive parrot that knows my name. I said ''Elder Thompson'' to her so many times that now when I walk in she says ''Elder Thompson'' which is awesome.

That reminds me of another story from back in North Shields - I don't know If I told you this one - maybe I did, But there was a born again Christian lady who listened to so much born again stuff that her parrot would say ''Praise the Lord, Thank you Jesus!'' devoutly whenever she would see us, which was really funny.

Elder Thompson

Elder Ma'a and I

Waiting for the bus

A ward member has an iguana!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First September Email

Hi guys!

I can't believe Brent is already home from his mission! I feel like it was just yesterday that we went to his setting apart...
And Jordan is taller than him?? Oh man that's funny! I hope Sam's not taller than me when I get home.
But yes, to answer somebody's question - I e-mailed Brent every week for my whole mission pretty much so far. Sometimes it would just be a sentence or two, but it was an e-mail nonetheless!

I miss playing games with you guys! And with uncle David!

Also - my birthday is this week....      I can't believe it's been this long.

And just looking at those pictures! Holy cow Luke is soooo big! There's a missionary here from the Marshall Islands in our zone called Elder Hanchor and his English is really bad and his favourite words are ''maaasive'' and ''it's a miiiiracle'' and all I thought when I saw that picture was ''wow Luke is maaaasive''

And J is so grown up too! When does he leave on his mission? It's weird to think that Sam might have a mission call by the time I get home too!

This week has been full of miiiiiracles here for Elder Ma'a and I too. A few days back we went to go visit this Recent Convert in the ward, who is a French and Italian speaker, her name is Thethe (pronounced Tay tay). She was originally baptized by two Italian missionaries about a year ago - but since that time not many missionaries have seen her because she cant really speak English. So when I heard about her, we started going to visit her so I could speak French with her, and we found out that she has a 17 year old daughter who knows next to nothing about the Church and speaks English perfectly. Her daughter though hasn't ever met with missionaries though because they stopped coming after her mom was baptized and the Italian missionaries left. So anyways we knocked on the door and the daughter, Jenny, opened because her mom wasn't home. We had a really long chat with her on the doorstep and invited her to church to hear me speak in Sacrament meeting, and she agreed! And on Sunday her mom was out of town, but Jenny came by herself! And she loved it!

After church, the Brother in the ward who taught her Sunday school class invited her and us to come to his house, and we taught Jenny the Plan of Salvation and she cried when we showed her the Mormon message 'Because of Him' and we scheduled her to be baptized on the 2nd of October! She is really excited about it, and that was great.

Anyways there has been lots of stories like that on my mission but I just don't always get around to remembering to write to you guys about them, but that's one that happened this week!

Love you guys!

Elder Thompson