Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013

To: Owners of RMs
From: Canada Edmonton Mission

Dear Brother and Sister,

Congratulations!!! You will shortly become the proud owners of one of the most fascinating creatures ever to have walked the Earth-- a returned missionary. She will be a source of entertainment and joy for hours on end as long as you follow a few simple guidelines and are aware of some of the oddities that come with the return of your daughter. Follow the directions outlined here and we guarantee a lifetime of enjoyment.

Your returned missionary will most likely introduce herself as "Sister Thompson" to everyone she comes in contact with for at least 4-6 weeks. You should also not be alarmed if she addresses you as "Elder" or "Sister" during this time also. It is also likely that she will speak in the plural form whenever she relates a story about what she has done (ie "we did" or "we are") and will probably look to her side as if searching for agreement from an invisible friend. This is a result of her having been with a companion constantly during her last 18 months in RM training.

Be patient if she repeatedly arises at 6:30am, showers, exercises, dresses in a skirt and tights, and starts studying. Also don't be surprised if she asks ward members who visit your home for referrals. After concluding family prayer she may insist that everyone recite D&C 4 before anyone can leave the house. Or may pray before driving the car or getting out of the car to visit someone. When she answers the phone don't be surprised if she does this by announcing the name of the Church and her name in Canadian, this is very common.

Also, important, don't take it personally if she shies away from any male members of the family of male visitors who may come by. She will probably prefer to stand at least arms length away for the first little while. ***WARNING*** Be aware that all men are cute to an RM and if she finds out that it is okay to be with them it would not be safe to leave her unattended until she has had enough time to adjust.

Never ask how many people she baptized while in RM training (since she doesn't hold the priesthood her answer will always be none). Avoid serving her roast, potatoes, and carrots. She has had enough to last her a lifetime. Don't let her drive the family car without first reminding her that the numbers written on the signs are in mph not kph. Don't let her carry a missionary daily planner after her arrival, no matter how much she tries to convince you that her week will fall apart without it. Do not discourage her from trying to hand out copies of the Book of Mormon but remind her that she must turn the referrals over to the missionaries in your area.

She has become accustomed to being with a companion all the time, so don't mind her following you around the house, stores, church or anywhere else for that first few weeks. Let her know, though, that it is okay for her to use the washroom in public places without having you or anyone else in the family come with her. Tell your RM that it is okay for her to relax on Sunday afternoon and that she doesn't need to go tracting. It may be necessary to explain to her that Monday is not her day off and that she has to go to school/work. Be patient with her if she gets confused when $200 doesn't magically appear on her allotment card each month and make sure and explain that gas and all car repairs are not free.

Be willing to look at pictures of her mission 2 to 3 times a week and listen with patience to all her mission stores, no matter how many times she has already told them. Don't make fun of her if she uses the words "Oh For Sure", "Eh" or "Hey" frequently. Also, be advised that there will a lot of words that she'll pronounce a lot differently now.

Be aware that this is not a complete list. Each RM is different and will react differently depending on the conditions she encounters upon arrival. One thing is sure, though, she is returning with a deep love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She has seen it change people's lives and has felt it change her own. She has been through the greatest trials of her life and has also experienced her greatest joys. In many ways she will resemble the daughter whom you sent off to RM training 18 months ago, but in others she will be quite different. She is returning with an increased appreciation for you, the owners, and is excited to prove it by supporting you as much as she can as she goes on to complete her formal education and start her own family.

If you have further questions regarding your RM, please contact other RM owners in your are. They will gladly share their own experiences with you and serve as a support group when you don't quite know what to do with her once she is there. Thank you for sending her into RM training and good luck breaking her into life in Babylon!

The Canada Edmonton Mission

March 25, 2013

To the greatest people in the world,

It's official. My last email I will ever send as a full time missionary. To be honest, I'm quite sad about it. I wish I could go home for a month and then come back. However, I am really excited about the future and all that it brings. I have very mixed feelings. This has definitely been the best decision I have ever made and I wouldn't change this experience for the world.

This last week was a great one. I'm going home wet! :) (Meaning I had a baptism right before I leave). I'm so grateful I got to be here for Bill's baptism. He has become a dear friend of mine and I would have been super sad had I missed it. His baptism was on Friday and it was fantastic. One of the best (although all baptisms are great!) I cried with joy. It was great to see him make that covenant. His baptism seemed to be in slow motion. He said, "I felt like I walked into the church with a pocket full of change and I just cashed it all in. I feel so much lighter." As he walked in after changing he was wearing a suit and tie. He looked so sharp and he was quite happy. I'm so excited that I've had the chance to help him in his journey back to Heavenly Father. He was confirmed a member of the Church on Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. Since it was my last week, our Branch President, President Henriksen, asked me to bear my testimony. Yep, I totally cried. I love this place! I love these people and I am truly going to miss them all! Sunday was also Cody Cressman's mission farewell. It was neat to see "the circle of life" as one missionary goes home another begins.

Another exciting thing from this week was exchanges! My last exchanges and they were in Red Deer with Sister Roberts!!!! IT WAS SO GREAT! The weather was pretty bad, but we made it there safely. It was great to work with Sister Roberts again. It was fun to see how much we've grown since we last served together, but also how close of friends we really are. I loved serving with her for the three transfers we had and I'm glad I got to serve with her one more time. We had a good time tracting together. We decided to do harvesting one last time together and we had some great visits with people. We had a 30 minute conversation with a young couple whom were interested. John and Ploy were their names. They were so sincere and so nice to visit with. It's moments like that, that make doing this so worth it. I was sad to know that I wouldn't see them again, and not just because I wouldn't be in Red Deer, but that I wouldn't be in Canada. :( So bittersweet. This exchange, however, helped me realize how many wonderful people there are and how I've gained so many new friends. Sister Roberts will definitely be a friend forever.

In companionship inventory at the end of weekly planning I asked Sister Bunker, "How can I help you?" Her reply, "By not going home." ha ha ha I'm really going to miss her. She's amazing! Oh, transfer calls came. I decided to just let Sister Bunker answer the phone since I already knew my fate. President Campbell told Sister Bunker, "I know we already talked about what would be happening this transfer (her training), but I figured we'd throw a curve ball. We're sending a couple of Sisters to Yellowknife!" (Those of you who don't know, Yellowknife is super far north. Salt Lake City is closer to Edmonton then Yellowknife is.) President Campbell was just teasing though. Then he said, "Tell Sister Thompson I don't know who her new companion will be, but I'm sure he'll be great!" :) We got a pretty good laugh. :)

One last funny story. Saturday night we were driving back to our apartment and there was a car in front of us at the light. I was confused because it looked like the person in the front and passenger seats were waving at us, "Why are they waving at us?" I asked Sister Bunker. Her reply, "Sister Thompson. It's two dogs." Ha ha ha I hadn't noticed that there were dogs in the car and I was super confused why people would be waving at us. We got a great laugh out of that. :)

I just want to end with a short piece of my testimony. I know that this church is the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth once more. I know that this Gospel changes lives. I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet and that President Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet today. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that we will see our loved ones again. I know that the Atonement is real! It's True! I know it, I live it, I love it!

Well, to all the Canadians reading this- I love you! Farewell! Remember, it is not goodbye, just see you later. To my family and friends back home- I love you and will see you very soon! God Speed!

Love Always,
The one, the only, Sister Thompson :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

Dearest Family and Friends,

First off, I received a call Thursday from Sister Campbell informing me of Grandma's passing. I was sad to know that I would miss seeing her in just a couple short weeks when I get home, but happy to know she is at rest. I've taken it quite well and I know that has a lot to do with the many prayers, the blessing I received and my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. When we lose a loved one it isn't the end. We will see those we love again.

This last week has been a good one. Quite successful. Bill is ready for Baptism this Friday :) There was a slight set back when we found out that he needed his wife's permission to get baptized since their divorce isn't final. Boy did that require us to exercise a lot of faith. Sister Bunker and I fasted and prayed fervently that she'd give her consent. Sunday afternoon brought good news. His wife emailed our Branch President giving her blessing to the church and approval for Bill to be baptized. I know that Prayer is Real and no matter the things that get in our way we must have faith and keep enduring. Never give up!!! Bill is excited to be baptized, but really sad that I'm leaving. It was sad to see him cry. As a missionary you meet some amazing people and get quite attached. I think that's why it's going to be so hard to say goodbye. This has been so much a part of my life now, I don't know what I would do if I didn't get to testify everyday. I guess I get to be a living testimony and good example. Plus, this doesn't mean that I have to stop being a missionary.

On a funnier note. Wednesday at a dinner appointment with the Willets we got talking about the new pope. Sister Bunker mentioned that when she was at the Vatican she saw dead bodies of past Popes in a glass case. Being a blond I asked, "How would they perserve their bodies? Do they taxidermy them?" Oh boy did that get a laugh or what. Obviously I don't really know what it means to taxidermy. Ha ha ha So funny. Also, I guess I've been talking in my sleep a lot this week. Around midnight I sat up in bed and asked Sister Bunker, "Could you close the closet?" "Why?..." "There might be people in there." The next morning I asked her why the closet was closed and she told me what I said. Pretty funny. ha ha ha

Well, I love you all! Hope this next week is a great one for you! It will be for me :)

Love always,
Sister Thompson

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013

Dearest Family and Friends,

Oh what a week. I don't have much time so I'm going to try and hit all the highlights from the past week. First off, I received a phone call from President Campbell early Wednesday morning informing me about Grandma's condition. He gave me permission to call her. That was wonderful! I'm so glad I got to talk with her. I know I will see her again. Whether that is when I get home or not until the next life I don't know. I do know that Families are Forever and that we will see our loved ones again. Although it is hard to say goodbye here, it is only see you later. I love you Grandma! I know you will have a great welcoming party. President Campbell expressed to me that he honestly believes that we will have the same socialites that we have here in the next life. I know that is true as well. Isn't it great that we have an Eternal Perspective through hard times? Brother Nickle and Curry from the Branch gave me a Priesthood Blessing Wednesday morning. They both work at the High School and after talking to Sister Nickle to use her phone to call Grandma, she called her husband and arranged for us to meet them at the school to give me a blessing. We met in an empty classroom where Brother Nickle gave me the Blessing. It was amazing. In it he talked about God's timing and the blessings of Forever Families. He also mentioned how proud Heavenly Father is for me serving and that there are still people her that I need to teach. What a blessing that was :)

Also, last Monday Sister Bunker and I were enjoying a relaxing P-day. I looked out our window of our apartment and noticed a lady in a wheelchair who seemed to be struggling due to the snow and ice on the sidewalk. I continued working on whatever it was I was doing and looked up a minute or so later. She hadn't gotten more than a couple feet and I could tell she was exhausted. I pointed her out to Sister Bunker and we threw on our boots and coat to go to the rescue. We crossed the street and approached her, "Can we help you?" She was surprised to see anyone there. "Oh yes! This sidewalk is so bad. Were you just walking by?" "No. We were in our apartment and saw you outside here so we figured we'd come help." "Really? You came all the way from your apartment? Wow." I walked her backward (because the bigger wheels did better in the snow) for 7 blocks to her house. We had a wonderful conversation with her. Her name is Lianne. Pretty close to mine hey? Once we got to her place she was so grateful. She couldn't believe that we had walked her all the way home. We gave her our card and told her to call us if she needs anything. I also explained that we'd love to come visit her again and do any service for her and asked for her phone number. She gave it to us and we were on our way. I had such a good feeling after this. About an hour later we got a phone call from a number we didn't recognize. "Hi, this is Lianne. You helped me earlier. I realized that I gave you the wrong number. I said 5 instead of 4. I wanted to make sure you had the correct one and didn't think I was lying." How cool is that?!?! That never happens! It wouldn't be the first time someone has given me the wrong number so for her to call and correct that was a miracle in and of itself. :) Super neat experience. Hopefully we can contact her this week.

Another Miracle from the week happened Sunday. While Sister Bunker and i were teaching Gospel Principles and random Asian lady and her baby joined us. Brother Stark brought her in. Since we were teaching we didn't get the chance to talk to her. She got up and left only about 10 minutes later. After I asked Brother Stark about her and he said she just walked in off the street. She lives close by and said, " I felt like I should be here." That is super neat. He mentioned that she wanted to come next week. Hopefully we can get in contact with her again.

Well, the mission still brings miracles everyday! Bill is scheduled for baptism on March 22nd :) He found out I was going home on the 28th and asked if he could be baptized before I leave. OF COURSE! :) He is amazing and making great progress. He's been praying for me and for Grandma when he found out that she wasn't doing well. It's amazing to see so many people prepared to accept the Gospel. I love it!!!

Love always and forever,
Sister Thompson

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013

Dearest Wonderful People,

We had Zone Conference this week. My last one ;( It is very sad to be coming to end of my mission. You start to realize that soon you'll be missing out on a lot of upcoming events, baptisms, changes, etc. I wish I could do this forever, but I have also come to the realization that "All good things must come to an end." (President Campbell said that to Sister Roberts and I when he called us for transfers.) What a great thing this experience has been in my life.

Zone Conference was great! We went into Edmonton Tuesday night and slept at the Ellerslie Sisters' Apartment (what was Beaumont aka my first apartment in the mission and next door to Millwoods). We had Zone Conference on Wednesday and received some great trainings. After Zone Conference Sister Bunker and I got permission to go to the temple. Because of time restraints we decided to do Initiatories instead of a session. That was AMAZING! It was just what I needed. I haven't done them for 18 months and Sister Bunker hadn't done them since her first time. I love the temple!!!! After that we had dinner with the Orr's from our Branch (who live in Edmonton and are assigned to our Branch). They are fantastic. Super down to earth. I love them so much! Then we met up with the other sisters to do splits. Sister Bunker went back to Ellerslie (which was her last area) and I went with the Millwoods sisters (Williams and West). They set it up so I could see Chris and Jenn first and then Ben. It was so good to be back in Millwoods. I felt like I was home. It was so good to see the three of them. Chris is still doing so good in the Gospel. He got his Patriarchal Blessing since I left AND he is getting the Melchizedek Priesthood (either yesterday or next Sunday)!!!!! I'm so happy for him. Ben is also doing so well. :) The next morning I went with Millwoods again to visit Naomi from the ward (Love her!!!!) and then Sister Bunker and I had Interviews with President Campbell. Sister Bunker went first and then it was my turn. The first thing President Campbell said was, "What did you do to Sister Bunker?!?" A little taken back I asked him to expound. "She is so happy, excited about the missionary work, loves Drayton Valley and serving with you. She is a completely different person from our last interview only 2 months ago. What did you do?" I guess Sister Bunker has been struggling, especially with her last area/ companion. Serving with me has been night and day for her. I've seen the change in her and I'm excited that I'm able to help her reach her potential. With three of us sisters going home next transfer, five coming out, and only five sisters available to train, I've been helping Sister Bunker to be ready to rock the training scene. You could say, "I'm training a trainer." :) Talking with President Campbell was so good. He told me, "Sister Thompson, I've really appreciated having you in this mission. I've always been able to trust you and have never had to worry about you. I don't know if you've realized or not, but you've grown so much. You're family isn't going to recognize you when you get home." What a great compliment! I love the person I am today. I'm excited for y'all to see how much I've changed for the better. (I haven't grown taller or wider- thank heavens, but I have grown).

Saturday we got to meet with our Investigator Robert (he's progressing SO well!!!! ) and we got a new investigator Bill. He has been attending for at least a month now and he asked that we meet with him. He is so sincere and really wants the joy that the Gospel brings. We decided to teach him about the Plan of Salvation first (since it was after a lesson about Eternal Families in Sunday School that he asked to meet with us.) The lesson went well. I cried a lot as I testified about seeing our loved ones again. Bill cried too. The Spirit was there and I know he could feel it. Testifying has to be my favorite part of being a missionary. That and the opportunity I have to meet so many amazing different people. It really is the best 18 months of and for my life!!! After our lessons in Evansburg/ Entwistle with Robert and Bill we slowing made our way back to Drayton Valley. Very slowly because there was a huge snow storm. A foot of snow, 4 cars in the ditch, driving no more than 60km per hour (roughly 45mph), and an hour long drive we finally made it home. Gotta love Canada! More like, Gotta love Alberta!

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting marked a moumentous occasion for the Drayton Valley Branch. The Stake Presidency was there to organize the first ever Drayton Valley High Priest Group! Wahoo!!! That is so exciting hey? The Branch, this time last year averaged 62 people in Sacrament Meeting. Now, it's been averaging in the 90s with last week at 109! That is so exciting. This area really is on fire. I'm loving it so much!!!

Well, my time has far spent. I love you all! Thanks to all those who wrote me recently. I appreciate it! My prayers are with you all! Especially Grandma Haymore at this time. I love you Grandma!!! I hope you get better so that I can come see you when I get home.

Love Always,
Sister Thompson
P.S. While Sister West and I were together we totally saw a plane and had to take a picture with it. "How far away is that plane? 24 Days!!" Attached is that picture. Ha ha ha Don't worry, I'm not trunky promise- it's just funny!