Monday, October 24, 2016

Shaking Hands with an Apostle -- and going to a Mosque

Hey everyone.

This week has been amazing. There are so many things that happened,
and I'm going to try to talk about as many of as I can. There were a
lot of times this week where Elder Erickson and I were thinking of
what we should do - and we went ahead and did what we were prompted to
do, and amazing things happened! I really feel like we've been led by
the spirit in everything that we've done.

On Tuesday, it was bright and sunny when we left our apartment, so we
just wore light jackets, and travelled out to a part of our area
called Heckmondwike to knock on doors - and of course it started to
pour rain. So we got soaked, but we persevered and we met this really
nice Congolese guy named Kevin who was really interested in what we
have to say!

Also on Tuesday we met with Tegan, who is a girl who was baptised into
the ward about a year ago, and is moving to Utah because she's dating
Elder Diaz. So that was fun.

Then on Wednesday Kevin came and met with us at the church, and we
taught him the Restoration. It was a really amazing lesson and as I
was sitting there teaching I just started to feel how overwhelmingly
blessed I am to be a set apart missionary again - who else can just
knock on someone's door one day and have him meet with you at church
the next to teach him the gospel? And he came to church yesterday!

We also had tea Wednesday evening with a family called the Allen's.
They're not members of the church but their son is a convert who is
now serving a mission in the London South Mission. This family has had
a lot of spiritual experiences with the church but are still hesitant
to believe in it. We challenged the mother to read the Book of Mormon
- and she told us that her son has given her a similar challenge.
I was reminded of something that Dad told me when I drove him to the
airport a few weeks ago - and I shared this with Sis. Allen - that
"anybody who sincerely reads the Book of Mormon will know it is true".
If any of you are wondering about the truthfulness of the Book of
Mormon, just read it. It has the power to change lives.

Then on Thursday we had an exchange - but in the evening we also had
planned to teach Rich (the guy who just showed up at church on
Sunday). Our plan was to teach Rich at 6PM at the church, so at about
5 we started heading up to the church with some food to eat for tea
before Rich got there - but on our way to the church this Muslim
fellow (side note - there are loads of Muslim's in this area - the
Asian population is one of the highest percentages in the whole
mission in Dewsbury) stopped us on the road and told us that he'd met
missionaries before and they told him they would show him our church -
so I was like "well we're going there right now if you want to come
take a look" and he was like "ok yeah". So we proceeded to show him
around the church for the next hour or so and teach him about our
beliefs - which was all great except he really just wanted to tell us
about his religion and he invited us to come to the Mosque the next
day to watch the Friday prayers, and so not to be rude we said ok!
More on that to come.

So we didn't have time to eat anything before Rich showed up for his
lesson, he literally walked in right as Abubakr (our Muslim friend)
left. Our ward mission leader met us there for the lesson too - and
the lesson had potential to be great, but it ended up just kind of
being a big gong show because Rich really likes to talk and so does
the Ward Mission Leader - but we got a bit of doctrine in there as
well and Rich will be back at church in a few weeks.

Friday - mosque! We went to Abubakr's house at 1, and he brought us in
and showed us a bunch of his Quran interpretation books, and gave us
some of his perfumes (the ones Islamic people use because quote
"Mohammed liked good smells") and then he brought us to the Mosque.
They set us up some chairs in the back and we watched as they had a
sermon and then did the ceremonial reading of the Quran and prayer
chants - of course I didn't understand any of it because it was all in
Arabic but it was really cool!

And then after the prayers Abubakr introduced us to the Imam, which is
like the spiritual leader of the mosque and they brought us into this
room where we sat on the floor in a circle with Abubakr, the Imam, and
a few other people - where they proceeded to ask us loads of questions
about our religion and then how we liked the mosque and then started
to preach like a bunch of Muslim doctrine to us - and if was so funny,
I felt like I was in the investigator class at the Mosque! It was all
great until I asked what kind of things go on at the mosque other than
prayers (I was thinking like social events or weddings maybe) and this
one guy started going off about how Muslims aren't terrorists and how
he gets stopped in airports all the times. Overall it was a great
experience, and I actually learned a lot about Islam, and I'm glad I
went. Plus now whenever I talk to Muslim people I can be like, "oh
yeah I've been to Mosque". So that's sweet.

Saturday was the day we'd been waiting for - we had President Russell
M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as well as Patrick
Kearon and Garry Sabins, from the Europe Area Presidency, Donald
Halstrom, one of the Presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy and
Gerald Caussé, the Presiding Bishop.

For any of you who don't know who President Nelson is - let me
explain: just like how Jesus called twelve Apostles to help him run
the church in his day, today in the restored Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints we have a Prophet who leads and guides the church,
and we also have a quorum of Twelve Apostles, who lead the affairs of
the church around the whole world. Russell M. Nelson is the President
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles - so it was a big honour that he
came and spoke to the missionaries in our mission.

All of the talks were really good, but President Nelson also had
Bishop Caussé explain to us a bit about what the church has been doing
for humanitarian aid here in Europe and I was so amazed. He told me to
tell anyone I could that the money that members donate to the church's
fast offering and humanitarian aid funds are being well used, and are

President Nelson asked us if we had decided what kind of missionary we
want to be, and I made a resolve to be the kind of missionary that is
not easily forgotten, I hope to help people change in a way that has a
lasting impact on their lives - whether that's other missionaries,
members, investigators or anybody else that I meet.

The conference was amazing! And I got to see Elder Boswell and some of
the other missionaries that I know from before - although most of them
have gone home by now.

Then later on that day we went by this Muslim family who had told us
previously that they wanted to hear about our church - and they fed us
loads of awesome food, and took a Book of Mormon in hopes to read it -
I'm not sure where that one will go but they've said that if we ever
need a meal to come back around!

After that we went to go knock on doors in this one part of our area
where missionaries haven't gone a whole lot because it's pretty
heavily Muslim, but we both kept feeling like we should go there. We
were knocking on doors and a lot of people weren't interested, but as
Elder Erickson and I were talking I remember saying that I felt like
there was someone near by that was just waiting for us to knock on
their door, and literally the next 3 doors that opened were people who
were really interested in who we were and what we were doing! It was
actually really cool.

Then on Sunday Kevin came to church and it was really great, he loved
it! Also when I got to church somebody had a guitar for me! Apparently
Jenna asked her friends from the stake if any of them had a guitar
they didn't use and one of them did, and they gave it to me at church!
So that was also super awesome.

On Sunday night we went and stopped by this guy named James who we'd
met just the night before (one of the people who we found on Saturday
night) and taught him about the Restoration and gave him a Book of
Mormon. He's going away for work for a couple of weeks, but he was
really excited and said he'd read it!

Sorry for the long e-mail! But just so you know - we can receive and
read e-mails throughout the week every time we're connected to wi-fi
at a chapel, which is almost every day. So I can read anything you
send if you send it earlier in the week. That also means that I start
writing my weekly e-mail earlier in the week, so I'll be able to write
more now hopefully. But family, if you write me your weekly e-mail
closer to the beginning of the week, then I'll be able to read and
respond to it, I just can't actually send any e-mails until Monday!

Oh! And Sam! Happy Birthday Tomorrow Bro! Hope you feel old now that
you're an adult. Hope things are going well for you dude.

Love you guys.

Elder Thompson

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