Happy Thanksgiving!

Felíz dia de Ação de Graça! Happy Thanksgiving!

They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, but in my district, we are going to have our own little Thanksgiving party and have a pot luck lunch together for out district meeting tomorrow. I will be attempting to make choccolate chip cookies from memory (wish me luck!) I’ve discovered that I am much more of a baker than a cook. I like making soup and I like baking…especially cakes. The squash here is really good too. It is pretty much like pumpkin, orange inside and everything, but has green streaks on it like a watermelon. My companion things I am crazy because I just boil it and eat it as is, but I love squash. It reminds me of when I was a kid growing up, eating good old squash from the garden. Eating veggetables is kind of uncommon here. People eat fresh french bread from the bread store for breakfast and rice, beans and meat for lunch. It’s good stuff, but I’ve taken to buying apples to carry in my bag to snack on and keeping a carrot or two in the fridge.

Today we went to the Center to buy a few things my companion needed. My best description of the center is that it is like a year round Summer fest. They have lots of indian trinkets there, things made of piranha teeth and a hard nut here that people like to carve. Oh and lots of beads and such made from the fruit seeds here. There are people linning the streets selling odds and ends and so it’s pretty neat, like a carnival. I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry about souveneirs until the end of my mission and then probably just buy a lot of hammocks and fruit juice packets because the other stuff is similar to what can be bough in the U.S.

Lots of people come to Manaus because, being a big city, there is lots of work here, even if it is just selling popcycles on the street. You can make a living here selling just about anything (and people do) Manaus is known in Brazil for the Amazon Indians who live here. On the outskirts of Manaus, there are still Indians. The men here wear more jewelry than the women (usually chain necklaces with crosses or their favorite soccor teams) and shaving your legs here is a option. (don’t worry, I shave mine lol) About two thirds of the women here shave their legs and the other third just dye their leg hair blonde and go as is. It really is a melting pot here so people wear just about anything they want without feeling out of place.

Our Baptism for this past week fell through. Adilson is avoiding us and so we lost contact with him. It was sad. But I am still fasting every weekend for help and to accomplish our super high transfer goal of Baptisms, and guess what…?!?! A random young man named Jailson showed up to church and said he wants to be baptized. We were sad on Saturday because Sister Cabral’s knee was hurting and so we needed to cousel our apt with him because he lives really far away, but he wasn’t answereing any of his 4 cell phone numbers. Fortunatley, he showed up to church the next day and it turns out that his cell phones were off because he was in Institute! He is only 20 but looks like he is 30 because he dresses super fancy and walks with a brief case. He has been working with vendors since he was 17. (A lot of middle men who work with business make good money here.) He’s the type of person who’s already a member and just didn’t know it yet. He lives all the standards and loves the Book of Mormon. He was taught by missionaries a few years ago but was traveling a lot for work and so wasn’t able to stay in contact. Now that he is a little bit established here, he sought us out and the Bishop is super excited for his baptism this Friday.

There is also a young man named Fransciso who wants to be baptized before he leaves for the army this next week. It has been super hard to know if he really has a testimony because he talks a lot about the other churches he’s grown up in. He feels like he needs to stop listening to non church music completely and that our church isn’t good because we still listen to music of the world at church dances and such. He had Sister Cabral and I super confused yesterday, but finally she asked him why he wanted to be baptized, and he confessed that he needs to change everything and started to cry. His relationship with his family is a little strained. He stayes in the street a lot because he and his Dad always get in fights. He promised us to try harder to be good this week.

We hope to baptize Andre, the father of a less active family this sunday. He asked to be baptized this sunday as a present for his son who will be turning 12. He likes to joke and tease a lot and change the subject so he has been hard to teach. Sister Cabral jokes alot too and asks lots of questions while we are teaching so she’s been incredible with him. He needs a testimony of Joseph Smith. He’s read a lot of negetive stuff on the internet about our church and so it’s been a battle for him. He want’s a big sign. Sister Cabral and I are both praying that he can recognize his answer.

Some of our recent converts weren’t in church yesterday becaus they didn’t feel like it and it just about broke my heart. I think there is more than one reason why we are transfered every few months. We never stop worrying about those people we teach and notice when they don’t make it to church and such. The hardest thing in the world for me is constantly reminding myself to relax and that this is the Lord’s work and that he knows what he is doing, beyond all my imperfections. The perfect organization of the church is to call imperfect, inexperienced people to be perfected and learn through service. Missionaries, bishops, primary teachers, sundays school teachers, home teachers… it’s incredible really. Seeing the leaders in the ward put forth their best effors, fall short, learn and try again has been a real testimony strengthener for me that the pure doctrine and organization of this church is inspired and this is God’s true church.

The mission President challenged us to finish the Book of Mormon (in Portuguese) before Christmas. I don’t know how I will do it because I read really slow… and loose a lot of the meaning if I don’t look up words here and there. But it’s possible. I have faith in my President and in my calling and know that God shapes the back to bear the burden and that he always makes a way.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Alma this week. Do you remember how in his missionary effors he sayes “Oh that I were an angel” and wishes that he could declair the truth with a trumpet to all the earth. Think back… who converted Alma?… It was an angel! That same angel who converted Alma also appeared to him to comfort him and send him back to the wicked city to preach and meet Amulek. I bet that angel asked permission to be the one to appear to him again. I really have a testimony that we have friends on the other side, and that the missionary work that is going on their is just as grand and vibrant a thing as it is here. The strong members here are the ones that try to be a part of missionary work. This because it gives us a chance to forget ourselves and strengthen our testimony through sharing it. Share your testimony with those around you, especially your family. I promise it will make your burdens feel ligher.

Memorizing scripture is also powerful. It’s one of the few things I’ve found that can calm my soul when I get overanxious about little details. I am a very forgetful person by nature ( I am constantly leaving my book of mormon in the house or forgetting my wallet), so I go slow memorizing things, but I’ve found it to be rewarding. This transfer it was John 11:25-26 “I am the Resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth, shall never die.” Also Heb 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

My challenge for this week is take a favorite scripture you have and write it on a card. Stick it in your pocket and read it throughout the day when you feel tired or stressed. You will be surprised how it helps.

I love you all!

Sister Thompson

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