June 11, 2012

Thank you for the prayers, I can feel them.

We now have a Zion here in the heart of the Amazons! To have Zion, you must have three keys: The keys of Baptism that the missionarys have, the keys of the Stake President to be able to get Patriarchal blessings and special help and the keys of the Temple. We now have Zion here in Manaus.

Saturday morning we went to a great big stadium to be part of the cultural celibration. It was incredible. It was much like the Celibration of Light that I participated in as a youth to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith. Almost all of the young people were involved in some way. It started out with President Uchtdorf and Elder Cook being presented with Indian Headdresses covered in bright amazon feathers.

President Uchdorf stood up when we (the missionarys) entered the floor.  He was representing the Prophet. It was an incredible honor. We entered, marching, singing called to serve and displaying a hard cap Book of Mormon in hand (one of our mission rules is to always walk with a book of mormon in hand) When we had practiced our march before it started, the crowd went wild. You would think we were celebrities. But when we actually entered during the show, there was a calm and reverence that went out of the crowd. The church has only been here about 30 or 40 years so almost everyone is a convert.  It was neat to realize that each person there had special memories and experiences with the missionarys. There were about 3,000 people there.

As President Uchtdorf got up to speak, I was delighted to note that I understood everything he said in english as well as everything his translator said in Portugues. There was one moment when the microphones and echo of the building were creating a problem. The dear little translator looked very sad because he was trying his best. President Uchdorf put his arm around him and they both used the same microphone. With the Presidents reasurring arm and the Spirit, they finished without a flaw. I don’t think that translator will ever forget that experience, nor will I.

The show started with a bunch of little kids dressed up like amazon indians, they were followed by kids in costumes of all of the interesting plants and animals of the Amazons. It was super cute. Then a ton of youth came in under a sheet of fabric. One half of the fabric was black and the other brown to represent the yellow and black rivers combining (This is a natural phenomenon that happens here. Where the two rivers meet, the river is divided in half into two colors, yellow one one bank and black on the other…because of the vegitation content) They danced under the sheet to make it look like moving water and then when the music peaked, they all stuck their heads out of holes in the sheet. Each person had a great big fish hat on, so it looked like dancing water and dancing fish. It was super cool and creative.

After this, there were various dances, a beautiful indian dance that about 150  teenagers did with feather hats and bright t-shirts, then a formal walz by a bunch of more mature couples, and a cowboy dance that all the rest of the youth did, dressed up like farmers and settlers. Manaus has a rich history and legacy. There was even a dance with umbrellas that reminded me a ton of Mary Poppins. The girls had great big dresses and rainbow umbrellas and the men, black umbrellas. It was quite pretty watching from a distance.

The dedication on Sunday was held in three sessions. We watched all three!!! It was incredible. President Uchtdorf asked us to use this moment to rededicate ourselves to the Lord and have a new begining. He said that when we enter the Temple, we should always ask ourselves, “Do I love God?” “How is it manifest in my life?” And “Do I love my fellow man?” How is it manifest in my life?”

I want you all to know that I have a Testimony of the Atonement, and the power of prayer. Miracles and prayer are connected. Don’t ever think that your prayer doesn’t make a difference. It is more something we feel than anything else. I can feel when people are praying for me, and I can feel when I have help from the other side. It might sound strange, but sometimes when I feel the influence of something bad, I pray for Heavenly Father to let specific family members on the other side come and help me. The incredible thing is that when I do this, I can feel their prescence. It’s something very sacred to me and so I don’t share it lightly but want to share it with you all because I want you to know that each one of us are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Don’t be afraid to ask for specific help and be careful to recognize and acknowledge it when it comes.

I would now like to share a few other things from the Dedication.
Elder Godoy, Mazzagardi and Costa, the 70s of Brazil were all there. A ton of missionarys that served here years ago were there. It was like a great big, beautiful family reunion. It was something like I imagine Heaven must be like.

Quentin L. Cook said that “Only through sacrifice can we become worthy to live in the Presence of God.” He spoke of Christ’s sacrifice and how sacrifice for the kingdom (aka spend quality time with your family today and go to the Temple) echos Christ’s sacrifice and helps us rejoice in what He did for us. It made me realize that If I am not rejoicing in Christ’s Sacrifice, I need to sacrifice more to be able to understand it. Profound. He said that the result of sacrifice is love and unity.

President Uchtdorf spoke a little bit about the power of the Temple interview questions. He said that they reflect if we want to walk before the Lord with all our heart. He said that every foundation stone laid for a Temple and every Temple finished, lessons the power of Satan here on the earth. He said that Pres. Faust always hoped and prayed for a Temple here in Manaus and often asked President Hinckley about it. He said the he was sure Pres Faust had asked special permission of the Lord to be here yesterday during the dedication.

When the Lord wanted to wash Peter’s feet, Peter refused. The Lord explained that it was necessary to enter into Heaven. Then Peter asked the Lord to wash his head and hands also. The Lord explained that this ordenance of washing his feet was enough and he was clean. The Lord was teaching Him about ordenances. We may not understand them completely. But they are powerful and they give us all we need to be clean and live with God someday. We cannot be perfect, but we can be enough…through the Atonement and the ordenences and covenants we make with God. If we are worthy to enter the Temple, we will be worthy to stand in front of Heavenly Father. It’s worth it!

If I could, I would live in the Temple. Make a plan, decide when you will go, then make it a habit. Believe in the promise. The secret to being able to feel the Atonement in your life is simple. Just decide to believe that it exists. Decide to believe that it will help. (using free agency to choose faith) Tell Heavenly Father that you need it and His help. Then you wait…and keep praying, and then you feel it. It’s incredible.

I will pray this week that my family can feel the blessings of my mission. Each one of you are very important to me.
take care,

Sister Thompson

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June 4, 2012

Well , the open house wrapped itself up this last Saturday. That last day, we had 4,000 people visit. It was a great two weeks!
I would like to answer a few questions. Brazil is spelled Brasil here just because of the pronounciation I think, but I’m not sure, there are different names for all of the countrys in Portugues… for example; Germany is Alemanha, Switzerland is Suiça and England is Inglaterra… and the list goes on. Interesting huh!

We are here lock, stock and barrel with all our stuff so I think it is very probable that we won’t go back to Boa Vista or at least not the same area of it, after the Temple dedication. Trasnsfer will be one week after the dedication, about the 16th of June. The dedication is this Sunday! President Klein gave us permission to watch all three sessions.

My companion hasn’t had troubles with her knee since that last week in Boa Vista when we did a week of letting the physical therepist put 20 minutes of ice, 20 minutes of electrical relaxing pulses and 20 minutes of a heat lamp on it. I guess it relaxed the nerves and muscles because now she is back to normal. She bought two streatchy knee socks and is using them just as a second precaution. We would like to get back into the swing of teaching.

President Klein said that we did a good job at the reception booth and that the Lord was accepting our work. This made me happy. One Elder said that they are teaching a golden family right now and that the mother loved how “that blondie” recieved them after the tour. She said I was full of love and she was very touched. That meant a lot to me because it’s been a super rough few months for me out here. Your mission will be the best two years, but it’s wise to remember that there is opposition in all things. It will also be the hardest two years. It’s hard for a million reasons, but the same reasons why life is hard: relationships, learning to be honest, to be open, to be humble, self esteem issues, learning to feel good about yourself even when your plans fall through….just that normal day to day stuff.

I think we grow more on the mission than in any other situation because there is no running away. We do quite a few things in daily life to run away or postpone thinking about our problems (movies, gym, gardening, working, ice cream, buying something new, going out to do something fun with a friend) , but on the mission, the only way out is straight through the problem. But it’s all worth it and you are never alone, so you just have to dedicate yourself to the cause and  stay put. A lot of knots work them selves out naturally just with time.

I have a lot more respect for my mission President and his wife after this year of working together than I could have imagined at the begining. All the rules are just to help us stay happy out here. He does his best to keep us focusing on our purpose and busy teaching because he know that it is the only way we will stay happy… and it’s true. Even though it’s hot and I’m tired sometimes, I feel much better about life when I get out there and teach, when I stay busy.

I want to pose a question for everyone, you can write me back with one or two lines: Summed up in one phrase, for you today, what is the secret to happiness? I have a new definiton every day. Today for me, the secret to happiness is “Stay busy!” I am anxious to hear yours, and hope to hear from everyone.

Everyone is singing this catchy hymn about the Temple called “Templo Santo” these days. As the last tour guides and helpers with the open house all gathered to our little reception tent at the end of the day Saturday. They spontaniously started singing it. Most of them are in the Temple choir and have been practicing it for about 3 months now so of course everyone had it memorized. It was a beautiful moment. A good half of the helpers had tears in their eyes.

It was interesting to recieve the people and help them fill out reference cards as they left the Temple. There were a ton of less active people who passed through and you could see how just that short 40 minutes of tour had changed something for them. Many made new goals to change and to go back to church to  be worthy to enter. It was super easy to tell the members from non members. The main hint was the clothes. The sleevelss shirts or casual clothes, helped us pick out the non members and give them more attention. The Spirit also helped becaue you could just feel it as they were passing by, if they were members or not.

I’ve decided that it’s a bad idea to argue when you’re tired. My companion and I got in a pretty bad arguement yesterday, and it was more about nothing than anything else. We both ended up crying a bit and leaving the house to teach was just not an option. My zone leader told me to cheer up and that all the good missionarys go through rough periods of time, and that it’s just part of the mission. He said that you are going to feel the Spirit and the angels working on your side, but you are also going to feel Satan and his, working against you. Yep. It’s pretty much how he put it. I had never thought of this before. My companion and I made up before we went to bed. I think we are better friends now than before. Our Bishop asked us to be careful this week because he said that Satan is going to do absolutley everything he can to take away our joy of this Temple dedication. Yikes! I’m going to pray a little bit more this week, and if it’s all right, I’d like to ask for your prayers too. Go to the Temple for me. It will help.

I can’t think of much more to say at the moment, just, I love you all. Take care and remember to take life just one day at a time. Oh, and I’ve decided that repenting is like water skiing. For the Lord, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve given it a try and haven’t gotten up, all that matters is that you are in the water, one more time and telling the driver to “hit it”.

love,
Sister Thompson

May 28, 2012

Here we have some pictures of soap football, the Temple, my one year mark party (with a croccodile shaped loaf of bread) and some other neat stuff. 🙂 Feel free to ask about them if you are curious.

May 21, 2012

I don’t have time to chat because we are late for a meeting at the Temple. We made it back to Manaus in one piece! It was an all nighter onibus ride. 🙂 We got here 8:00 this morning. We are with the other Sisters now. Sister Cortez made a miraculous recovery this week. It was a miracle. Thankyou for the prayers.
love you all,

Sister Thompson

May 14, 2012

I am learning to like cold showers. Now that it is the rainy season here, the water is a lot colder, but it’s refreshing. A month or so ago, I took a hot shower while we were staying at the other sister’s house and I actually didn’t like it. Yeah… it was a surprise. Some people have a little heater they hook up to the faucet to heat the water as it comes out, but it’s just for showers and most don’t.

I learned how to flag down a lotacão car the correct way today. My companion pointed out that I have been waving down the taxi cars in such a way that all the other cars think I am trying to stop traffic. It was kind of a funny realization.

It was incredible talking to you all yesterday!!!! It’s weird to think that the next time we see face to face, it will be for real. The mission is teaching me a lot about patience. It’s worthwhile to develop this attribute because it helps us be more centered, happy, focused and at peace with ourselves and the world around us.

We were able to Baptize a darling little girl named Thamyris yesterday. She is 8 years old and has been begging her less active mom and sister for months now. She is such a beacon for her family. The baptism was held right after sacrament meeting and we were super sad because everyone was leaving and no one was staying to see her Baptsim (probably because it was mother’s day) We flagged down some members and asked them to stay. I sang “I am a child of God” and she played the recorder while I sang. I saw a few wet eyes in the crowd even though we were out of sink for a few lines (I slowed down and we finished together) It was a wonderful day and we felt the Spirit really strongly. I love being a missionary. Thankyou for praying for me and Sister Cortez.

We are going to start physical therepy for my companion tomorrow. When I write again, it will be from Manaus!

love you lots,

Sister Thompson

May 7, 2012

Next week I get to talk to you all! I want to try and do Skype again but if not, I will see if I can find out the out of country area codes to call… Which phone would you prefer I use? I think I will try to call or do skype after lunch. Write me back to let me know when church is for you so I can know when to get on line…

As for transfers, nothing changed. I and Sister Cortez will continue on together here in Boa Vista! We found out that we will, after all, help with the Manaus open house. It will be May 20. We will return to help in Manaus for a few weeks. Maybe then Sister Cortez can find out what is wrong with her knee. Until then we will do the best we can and try to lay low. This is quite a humbling experience for me. I am learning to rely on and appriciate the members more. I just keep remembering myself that this is the Lords work and as long as I have a will, He will keep it going. I love the members here.
I think I will make a new mission statement for myself to fight prejudice and stigmatism. People talk a lot about the mission areas, like “this is a area where the baptisms are slow” or “this is a bad area where no one goes to the activities” It’s all predjudice.

People are people wherever you go and they are ALL good. They all help, when sincerely asked and given the opportunity. For every three times you ask, 2 times probably won’t work out. The secret to life is remembering that every one in three actually does work out and that you have to give people a little space to be imperfect and just keep asking. It’s faith, and it works. I am learning to recieve help like I have never known how to organize before in my life. I love the members here. 🙂 We have had a few little miracles in the way of finding people to go on splits with us this last week. We ended the week with 14 lessons taught with members present.

I think the Lord calls the weak things of the world to thrash the earth because He has faith in His children. He believes that people are basically good. And they are. When people see that we struggle with the language, that we need help or that we sacrificed a lot to get to their door, they help us, no questions asked. It opens their hearts, and the the seed of the gospel is given a little space to be planted. The Lord is incredibly wise.

I am grateful to be here. I know this church is the true chuch of Christ. I want to bear my Testimony about going to church. It’s like putting on armor. It’s what keeps the armor on and helps us keep the commandments. Being worthy to and making an effort to take the sacrament every week changes our thoughts, it protects our hearts and it calls forth the Holy Spirit to guide our week. I know this. I love you all,

Sister Thompson