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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