Monday, December 28, 2009
Belated Merry Christmas! It was great to hear from you all. You all seem to be doing well and sound healthy and happy. I guess it could be possible for me to still be here in Nong Khai by the next time we talk.
There are many, many dogs in Thailand and many of them have rabies. My companion's last companion was bitten and was required to get shots at the hospital. It's no fun. The dogs are a bit more aggressive than they are in Bangkok so I have been a bit more careful.
Our district is just the four of us Elders in our apartment. We are in the Udorn Zone. I will have to go to a Zone Conference to see exactly who is in our zone.
The branch is really great. It's pretty small. We have about 40-50 people who attend weekly. I don't know everyone yet but they have quite a few 19-35 year old people. Years ago, the branch was opened in Nong Khai and stayed open for a while but then was closed because of lack of attendance. The members who were still active started attending Church in Udorn which is about a one hour bus ride to the south. The mission basically said that they would bring missionaries back if they, the members, could find enough of the old members to come back to church. So they did it. But a lot of the records were lost due to a flood (?) fire (?) or some other event, so some people were rebaptized and reconfirmed. The branch has some really great members who are long time members and a lot of great new members. The baptism yesterday was the baptism of a member's brother. I have never met the member but apparently he's fantastic. His name is Brother Arm. He is in Bangkok doing an internship. On Christmas Brother Ice was baptized. He's great. Members in Thailand are really special. Those who are as active as they are are truly great examples for all of us!
Christmas day we ended up having a fireside that went pretty well. We watched Joy to the World, which was good but my companion had to translate since we didn't have a copy in Thai. After that, we had the baptism which was awesome! We sang a special musical number in Thai, I Like to Look for Rainbows. He was very excited to be baptized and gave a good testimony. One of the speakers was amazing too. Her name is Sister L. She was the first member in her family and she worked to help bring her whole family into the church. Her parents are named Sister Bone and Brother Thursack. They are a great family and he has good potential to be the next branch president. After that, we had the Christmas party which was fun. They had Thai fried rice and lots of Thai treats. One of them was sticky rice with sesame seeds and something that made it orange. It was good. The party was a big hit with the members.
The day after Christmas we had a bit of a scare at the Church. Basically what happened is this: We taught an awesome recent convert named Sister Priaw and then she was waiting for her aunt to come pick her up while we taught another recent convert, Somluck, with his wife, Jiab, and their little daughter Bella. We were in the sacrament room and Sister Priaw came running in saying two people had run into the Church and one of them possibly had a knife and a gun after a little fight outside of the Church. She was scared. They ran into the bathroom but then we saw them leave. We thought that both had left so Sister Priaw's aunt honked her horn on her motorcycle and we escorted her out and then got the door to the Church locked. We went back to continue the lesson. But, we heard a loud gun-like noise outside. There was someone still in the Church. We saw them as we sat in the sacrament room. Jiab made some calls and we sat locked in the sacrament room. Jiab was really terrified. The police came and we also got a hold of Brother Thursack who is in a leadership position in the police. The front door to the chapel opens like a garage door from the outside so we waited until members of the branch got there, namely the first counselor, Brother Egg, and then slid the key under the door to him and we got out of the Church. When we came out, the Church was surrounded by police and members who had seen the commotion. In the end, though, it turned out all right despite the stress. The person who was in the Church actually had no weapons so we weren't in any real danger on that front. It's all a bit of a blur but that's basically what happened. No need to worry at all. They searched the building and he was found and questioned. The Church is secure and it's fine. Don't worry. I repeat, don't worry.
Besides that, the last couple of days have been going pretty well. It's a great time of year, however, to celebrate the birth of the Savior. That's been on my mind a lot the past couple of days. I think that being in Thailand really made me think of the real reason for Christmas. Possibly because it was the first year away from home for Christmas, but I realized how important it is to keep our Christmas along with our lives centered on Jesus Christ and his atonement. Although we may get presents on Christmas and think about the receiving of gifts, shopping, keeping up with holiday traditions, in the end it comes down to the fact that Christmas isn't about any of that at all. Christmas is about Jesus Christ. It is about his life and his power to help us and provide us with comfort and hope. It's a time to reflect on the blessings in our life. This year I feel particularly grateful for family, friends, and the blessings of good health and a wonderful life. This year I also realize how as we rely on God all things are possible! And even though we may be miles apart, as we pray for one another, we can feel that closeness everyday! (Just like Brother Egg said to me before I left). It's a blessing to know that we have a Father in Heaven who loved us so much that He provided a Savior to overcome the world. Because He overcame the world, we can too. Even though we may face challenges and trials, we can overcome the world. Every day we can rest from the pains of the world as we rely on Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. What a blessing that is!
Thank you for all your support and prayers. I know that your prayers have been answered in my behalf.
I love you all and pray for you daily!
Elder Jacob Newman
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
December 23, 2009
Dang it, I had a ton written, and I just lost all of it. I knew I should have used word pad! But everything is going great here in Nong Khai.
My new companion is Elder Peterson. He’s great!! He has two moves left in Thailand. He's been here for three moves. He's from Spanish Fork. He's funny, way laid back but also very skillful!
Everything's great. Nong Khai is way close to Laos so that's an adventure! We have a four-Elder house that's really nice. The branch has about 40-50 members that attend regularly. They are making the transition to member branch president here after Elder Peterson moves.
Listening to Laotian is like listening to a language that you think you should understand but can't. I can pick up concepts and words but not as well as in Thai. It's fun though! And the members speak to us all in Thai. They speak to each other in Laotian or Isaan. It has a completely different flow tone-wise and sound-wise. Speaking Thai after speaking Laos or hearing it spoken is a shift in gears for sure. Everyone speaks Thai like native speakers even though it's technically their second or third language.
We will be having a baptism, fireside and activity on Christmas Day.
Sorry this was so short. I lost my email. What a great week! A whirlwind for sure. The trip on the train was awesome. Remind me to tell you all about that.
I really see how much the faith of the members here can help the branch to grow! The branch was closed in Nong Khai about 10 years ago but brought back about 5 years ago because of the work of the members. I wish I could tell you more but time is limited.
Last thought for the day! Christmas is great. What a great time to be here in Thailand sharing the good news of Christmas. I am so excited to be here in Nong Khai. It has great members and this is a wonderful adventure for me for sure!
I will tell more in the email next week! As for now, we will talk to you on Christmas!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
This week has been super great. The weather is nice and sunny all the time in the city of angels. You can only vaguely tell that it's Christmas in the areas that have more foreigners.
This week was a week of goodbyes. That was a sad thing for me, but I think that it taught me a lot of good lessons. We saw Brother Boon again this week and he's doing really well. He has such a desire to keep the commandments and to repent. I haven't really ever seen someone quite like him. I remember one of my first days in Thailand we went to visit him. Granted, at that point I couldn't understand what was going on at all, but I felt his desire to come back to Church. And now to see him attending Church weekly has been such a blessing.
We went to the Christmas party at the Asoke building. Asoke is downtown! The heart of Bangkok! We took a "Khlong Monster" (Khlong with the wrong tone means fluent, khlong in this case means like the river/canal) or a boat to the event from a place called The Mall Bangkapi. We went with Brother Egg and two investigators. It was really fun to see everyone! I got to see Stop for just a second. He looks great and is always so friendly. I also got to see one of Stop's friends who I met on a day that I switched off in Stop's area.
Sunday was sad for me to think that it was my last Sunday here in Bangkapi. I will miss everything about this place. From our Bishop who works SO hard for this ward to all the members here who really demonstrate their faith, it's a GREAT place. I will miss everything about here. We had a fireside with a Sister missionary who finished a while back but served here in Bangkapi. She's a Thai sister who will be attending BYU Provo this winter. Then they asked both me and Sister Amnuaychoke to share our testimonies since we would be leaving. It was pretty emotional for me. And for Brother Egg, too. Brother Egg is really sad that I am leaving Bangkapi but we will always be friends! He gave a talk on the plan of salvation in sacrament meeting that day that was incredible! He speaks Thai so clearly! Brother Egg really taught me that people are prepared. I don't know if I ever told the story about how he came to meet the missionaries but it's a good one so I will tell it again.
Over a year ago, the Elders were giving out English fliers at the Mall Bankgapi. Egg saw one of the Elders greet a beggar and smile at him and he stopped and wondered, "What is that person doing and how can he be so happy?" He took a flier from them but unfortunately when he tried to call the number, the Elders’ number had changed! But he found them again a few weeks later. He went to learn English. The Sister who came back to Bangkapi for the fireside was the Sister who taught the advanced class that he was in. And he expressed a desire to learn about the Church. After that, he gained a strong testimony. He read the Book of Mormon. He experienced difficulties with his family accepting his decision and didn't quite know what to do. But in the end, he decided to press forward. He learned with the Elders on and off for about a year until he approached us and said he was ready. Then he set a baptismal date. His story teaches us this: What we do when no body is watching can sometimes bring forth miracles.
Yesterday, we saw Brother Chaliaw for the last time! I have never seen a man who is so humble and so willing to follow God's commandments. He has such a love for God and is so excited in his quiet way about our Father in Heaven. He shared his testimony of prayer yesterday and it was amazing! He doesn't say much but when he does, he speaks straight from the heart. It was hard to say goodbye. Even though distance may separate us, we are never far away. It's like what Brother Egg told me roughly in English "When we are far away from one another, we can still feel close to one another as we pray for each other." God bridges the gap. God gives us a chance to feel the love of our loved ones. I really know that.
I really learned this lesson again this week: Perfect love casteth out all fear. I know that's really how we can do everything. Sometimes we may think that we cannot love enough, but I know that as we put forth our best efforts, love can change everything. And I know that as we have the pure love of Christ and try to let our light so shine, we will be able to see the light of others around us.
Although my Thai is getting better I know that being a faraang, I won't ever speak Thai perfectly or chad like a Thai person. But the thing that is important is that the Spirit speaks Thai chad maag! That's a good lesson to remember, when we wonder if we can ever learn Thai.
I will miss here so much and I will miss Elder Olinger. He really is a great missionary! I know that he will continue to do great things here in Bangkapi and will see so many more miracles just like I have seen this moves. He has one moves left.
For some reason that I don’t fully understand, I came to Bangkapi. To see Brother Egg's baptism, to see the faith of Lucky, to see the members of the Church who truly love God has been an amazing experience. I have changed here. This week reminded me how much I really love Thailand! I say that every week but I mean it!
I love you all and miss you all! Thank you for your support and prayers.
Love,Elder Jacob Newman
p.s. - Take your guesses where I am going. There are three possible areas- the North, the Isaan or Bangkok. The North is Chiang Mai/ Chiang Rai. Isaan is the eastern part of Thailand and Bangkok is... well Bangkok.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Greetings from the land where in December it feels like a Utah June! Things are going pretty well here in the land of smiles. I have been a bit sick the past couple of days, but nothing to worry about at all. I am already starting to feel better. I think it was just a little bug of some sort.
Before I forget, next week we will be having P-day on Tuesday since moves will be on a Wednesday. Which, yes...is very strange. There are 14 missionaries leaving so areas will need to be switched around. They are closing many Elders’ areas and at least one Sisters’ area as they are now downsizing the mission. By the end of next moves, there will be less than 100 missionaries in the mission.
Unfortunately, this week was full of appointments that fell through and problems in contacting our investigators. We are still having a hard time finding new investigators. Despite all of that, as we press forward, we see that everything works for our good. And there were things that made it all worth it.
First of all, we had a really hard day earlier last week. We had been out inviting all day, tired and about ready to give up. But we decided to go visit Max, Brother Golf's friend, since we hadn't been able to contact him and he didn't show up to our last appointment. We dropped by Brother Golf's house, called Max and asked if we could talk to him. We talked to him, shared a short thought from the scriptures and then asked him about baptism. He told us that ever since we set the goal for him to be baptized, he has been working to live the word of wisdom. He's also been working to live other laws that we technically haven't taught him yet. He expressed how excited he was about baptism and how he is eager to be baptized. He said that having a goal for his baptism has changed everything.
Lucky continues to do great and is really eager to be baptized. He finished the Book of Mormon the other day and now he's asking great questions about the D and C. He's so great! He has a lot of faith and really loves to meet with us. I have no doubt that he has been prepared for a long time.
In other good news for this week, Brother Egg got to bless the sacrament for the first time this last week. He did it like a pro! Also, he has been asked by the Sisters’ investigator who will be baptized this Sunday to be the person who will baptize her! He's way excited. Yesterday he hit his one mark month since his baptism. It's been so amazing to see Egg's journey into the Church. He's such an example of someone who truly loves the Gospel and desires to serve. He has been asking us lots of questions about what it takes to be a missionary because he has plans to be one in the future. He seems like he really has a desire to do missionary work!
We have also been working with a former investigator named Bobby. He's a bit perplexing and I don't know what to do with him exactly but we will see where he ends up going. We will have to see what happens with him.
We had a rather sad experience this week. Sister Amnuaychoke has not been feeling well. We had a district meeting on Saturday to plan for the Christmas party and she fell very ill. We had to grab a taxi to take her to the hospital. She is out now, but is still not feeling very well. It's been a hard time for her. She is a Thai sister who has lived in Hong Kong most of her life but came back to Thailand to serve a mission.
A lesson that I learned this week was a quote that came from the Emma Smith movie that I really liked. She says something to the effect of "Strength isn't something you have, it's something you find." I think that's so often true in our own lives. So often I think we experience heartache, sorrow, disappointment or rejection, and we view it as something negative for us. But strength is not something we simply have; it's something we find in all of these experiences. Lately, I feel as if I have to rely more and more upon God and find new love that I didn't know I would need. Especially as Christmas approaches in a land where reminders of Christmas are few and far between, I feel particularly grateful for the new hope that Christmas really brings. It reminds me of the Cherie Call songs about Christmas quite a bit. When we need that strength that can only come from Jesus Christ, I reflect upon the song she sings about the little boy giving something that was from his heart. And then she compares it with us. She says something to the effect of "I told him it was broken, but it's all that I have.... And He said it was just what He wanted... It's was my heart..." I think that's the real spirit of Christmas- giving our heart, even when we can't imagine how we can give anymore. I know that as we give our heart, God sees our efforts and blesses us. God doesn't give us any challenge we can't bear. His kindness will really not depart from us. I have seen that more times than I can count.
Some 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ came to earth in the most humble of circumstances. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, was born amidst animals and hay. In the most humble circumstances, the condescension of God is made manifest. He lived a perfect life and yet was scorned and scoffed. But through it all, He lived so that we might live again. He came into the world to take upon us our sorrows and to help us find that strength that we all so earnestly seek. Christmas time is a reminder of all that God has done for us. And to be here in Thailand sharing the knowledge that we have a Redeemer, that we have the ability to overcome heartache and sorrow, that the grave is not the end of our existence, is one of the greatest blessings that I can think of this Christmas time.
And so everything goes well! Despite challenges and trials and lots of hard work, it's so fun to be here. Perfect love casteth out all fear. I know that's the truth, the love of Christ can cast out all fear, I know it can! I know it can.
Anyway, I love you all and pray for you daily. Remember, Thailand is a special place with the best people ever! =)
With love and prayers,
Elder Jacob Newman
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This week has been a good week really. It seems like we have had so many random happenings this week, as usual but it's all a great time! The weather here in Thailand is so nice right now! And Thailand, of course, continues to be the happiest place on earth (a title previously held by Disneyland). The Thai continues to come. This week I felt a lot more comfortable with the Thai even if I was a bit confused yesterday in a lesson about the Word of Wisdom. Granted, if I don't know the words in English for specific drinks that we might not even have in America it's probably a given that I don't know them in Thai. But everything is going really well, we've seen some great stuff this week that really reconfirms the fact that we are guided.
Thailand's fruit is incredible. I have been eating a lot more fruit lately. Seriously, it cannot be compared. It's so sweet and delicious. The other day I had coconut for the first time in Thailand. It was amazing. Pineapple is good here in Thailand, who would have ever guessed? But it's only good fresh here. It's not really good on pizza or anything like that still. Speaking of pizza- here's a funny fact about Thailand. They eat ketchup on their pizza here! Everything to eat here really is so great. Thailand has food everywhere that you really couldn't find in the USA. Some of my favorite things include muu ping (which is like toasted pork and you eat it with sticky rice), the fruit, and anything with spice. The spice is the best part of it all.
If Thai food isn't spicy it's not nearly as interesting. The spice brings out all kinds of flavor that you can't get otherwise. People who refuse to eat spicy, refuse to enjoy the best parts of the food! Little Thai children eat really spicy too! It's pretty crazy. If you go to the Isaan it can get up to 20 peppers pretty quickly and it's pretty normal. Most Thai people don't even count really, they just throw a bunch into the pestal and mortar and grind away.
We are having a Christmas party, which we will be invovled in the planning of. We are setting up something that talks about what Christmas is about. It should be interesting to help the ward out to get things set up. I didn't ever realize how much planning activities take.
Onward we go! Let's talk about some great stuff that happened this week. The lesson of the week is: God pours down miracles even on the days where all your appointments fall through. This Thursday we had our long planning session and we had plans to do a lot of great things this week. Of course, plans always fall through but sometimes we get a chance to learn instead.
On Thursday and Tuesday of this week we taught Lucky. Lucky is a lesson in and of himself. A sister that was in my district when I first came here told us that one of the most important lessons we can learn as missionaries in Thailand is not that we are called to prepare people to receive the Gospel but that there are people who are READY to receive it. Lucky is just such a case. Every time we visit with Lucky, I feel as if he has been prepared for years and years. His knowledge and testimony of the Gospel is tremendous and almost impossible to describe. He really has so much knowledge about how things work and so much desire to serve/attend Church. The best thing about Lucky is his sense of humor. He says so many things that make us laugh and that cause us to think. He knows the Book of Mormon SO well. He is working to sacrifice to make sure that he can get Sundays off to go to Church. He desires baptism so badly and desires to serve Jesus Christ. Lucky has been such a blessing in my life, to see his faith and see his courage to do that which he knows to be right. It's amazing to see how people change and to see how God really does work in the lives of people.
We also got to see Brother Boon. Brother Boon is another person who really has changed my life in such a profound way. He is coming back on his own and he desires to keep the commandments, to have the faith and testimony and to do that which he knows to be right. He has strong desires to serve. He has a love for the teachings of Christ. He is an amazing example to me. I cannot wait to see what happens with him! He will be such an asset to the ward and to the Church in the future. And to think that after 14 years of inactivity, he decided to come back. I often wonder how many members there are in Thailand just like him, who maybe want to come back but don't know how. It all started when the sisters went to seek out his 11 year old nephew who was on the 24 month list. It goes to show you that at times we may often think that people are lost, but God's eyes truly are on the sparrow.
Friday and Saturday were days where our appointments fell through! So we spent a lot of time inviting. We didn't really see anything from that but we kept trying. The same thing happened on Monday for the first bit of the day. We had been inviting since about 1:00 in the afternoon with no one who was interested when we decided to go to a park that we had been to many times before. At first, there was no one interested at all. Then a miracle happened. Elder Olinger went up to talk to someone who was exercising while I stayed close by reading a sign in Thai, practicing my reading skills. While I was reading, I was approached by someone who was shocked and delighted that I could read Thai. He spoke very good English and was very nice. I told him what I was doing in Thailand and then all of the sudden he expressed a great desire to come to learn English with us and to also learn about Christianity. His name was Nu. And while we have not yet had a chance to meet with him or to see him at English, since this just happened on Monday, it was a miracle. And also, it turned out the guy that Elder Olinger had talked to was interested too. I think those days were definitely learning days. I realized that no matter how much rejection we get, there's always hope waiting around the corner.
We got to meet Bawb at his house. He's not really progressing that much but we are going to keep working with him and see if we can get his wife involved in the teaching. We are praying that he will open his heart and that his wife will too. We met his two year old son who is adorable! We feel that as we put our trust in God, we can and will see miracles with him.
Prayad is still doing great! He told us yesterday that he has been talking to all of his children to let them know that he is going to join the Church. We were very surprised by this, to say the least. But he really does get it. He really loves the scriptures and has a testimony. He loves meeting with us and he has changed so much since the first day that we met him. He should be getting baptized next moves. And sadly, I don't know that I will be here for his or Lucky's baptism but I am so grateful to think that I have played a small role in their teaching.
So what do I learn? I learn that often we have to have the harder days. That sometimes we will feel frustrated and inadequate, but in the end, that's not what's really important. What's really important is the one soul that can be touched. It reminds me of the story that Christ tells about seeking after the one lamb. There are many lambs in Thailand. There are many days where we will not have any appointments that go through, that we won't have anything happened as planned, and yet, something always happens to remind us that it is worth it. And that's the best part of it all! Of course it's hard, but it's the most worthwhile thing possible. To see the joy that can be brought into the lives of the Thai people through the atonement of Jesus Christ is incredible. To see that God lives everyday, that's the best lesson we could ever learn. And to see how much God really does love His children, that's a fact that I cannot deny.
I love this place more and more everyday. It's just so fun to be here. It's so fun to talk to people, to learn about their lives and to see how life is different for everyone but to also see how God can help everyone. We all really have the same needs when it comes right down to it. We all desire that love and that compassion that comes from Jesus Christ and God. I know that love changes us everyday. And what a great opportunity to be in Thailand to experience that changing power.
Thailand is a special place with a special people. Of course, I say that every week but every week is a greater confirmation of that. I think one great thing that I learn from them is the true meaning of charity and love. They really do have that gift from God. They will do anything to help you, no matter what the circumstances.
Anyway, I hope that all is well with you my beloved family. I pray for you all and hope that all is well. Please send my love and thanks to all for their support. I feel so blessed by everyone.
Elder Jacob Newman
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
How are you all? Everything is going splendidly here in Thailand! It is getting a little chilly. (It may have hit the high 70s or 80s the other day.) The humidity doesn't seem as bad and in the words of most members, it is really cold. But it feels pleasant to me! The food continues to be great! Spicy is delicious. I am getting about 7 peppers now which is pretty hot. I am working my way up to 10.
Wednesday night we had the best English class ever! It was way fun. Elder Olinger is way เกง except add a little line over the middle letter (I couldn't find the tone marker on the keybord) (That word means skillful) at teaching English. The students all had a lot of fun. I had fun!
On Friday we taught Prayad, who is doing so well. He is great! I feel like he has faith in God and is willing to do whatever God asks him to do. In fact, teaching him has become so easy! Then we had a great lesson with a new investigator named Ex who is way awesome! He is a Christian but not terribly active in his Church. He is pretty dedicated to learning. He wants to know where the truth can be found.
Saturday was quite the day. We did inviting in the morning and went by to visit Max to see how he was doing. After that, we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a member's home. It was WAY good. They live right by the office in Pakkret.. They had turkey, ham, stuffing, and all the trimmings, with three kinds of pies. Needless to say, my body is not really used to "faraang" food so it was a bit much for the stomach. I felt way too full afterwards. But it was good! The mother is a member married to a Thai man who is not a member. They have children who have served missions though. One is going to Cambodia right now. The father owns manufacturing plants in Thailand that make canned fruit and canned vegetables. They have a huge part in the baby corn business. Which everyone knows, might be the most delicious vegetable on the planet.
Sunday morning Elder Olinger had his first interview with an investigator for baptism. She passed and will be baptized this coming Sunday! She's married to an RM who is in the states right now working but she will be here for about a year before she goes back to the states. Then we had a good round of Church here in Thailand. Afterwards we went home teaching with Brother Chaliaow to see Brother Gaeb (Brother Golf's older brother). We were assigned to be Brother C’s home teaching companions so he can see how it is done and then he will be able to do it in the future. It was good to see him. He hasn't been to Church in a while but he was super friendly and I really enjoyed the time visiting with him.
After that we taught Max, who is doing really well. He understands everything like a superstar he just needs support to go to Church and to keep the commandments. I feel like he is a real blessing from heaven.
Zone conference was at our Church on Monday. A bit of stress to set up for but the food was GREAT. It was provided by a member in Din Daeng. She is SO nice and provided us with a great spread. We had Elder Pratt and his wife come to talk.
After that, we had an appointment with Bawb. He is so surprising/shocking to me. He wants us to come and teach his family now? He invited us to visit him to get to know his family. It's all thanks to Elder Olinger who asked him straight out what he wants to get from our visits with him. Then he said he wants Church to be a family affair. We are going to pray that his family will open their hearts. He loves his family so much. He has one child who is almost two years old. So great!
Yesterday we got to see Prayad, Max and Lucky all on the same day. They are all doing great. Lucky was as funny as ever. He might move his baptismal date a little closer but we will have to see. It's so amazing to see how much he loves the gospel. In fact, he gave us a referral the other day because he went up to talk to someone about Jesus Christ and they were interested. Wow! Talk about a member missionary eh?
It's almost Thanksgiving. I want to express my gratitude for all of you who may read this. I am so grateful for my family, who I love with all my heart. I have 6 wonderful siblings, with nieces and nephews who are adorable and awesome in-laws. You are all such a blessing in my life. I am so grateful for your support and your wonderful letters of encouragement. I miss you all. You are such special people and wonderful examples to me. Please remember that I pray for you all often and think of you!
I am grateful for my friends who still support me even though I am a very, very lame correspondent. Thank you so much for all your letters of support and encouragement. They really do help so much!
And I am so grateful to be here in Thailand. I love this wonderful adventure! The food, the scenery are all great but what makes Thailand the best is the opportunity to serve and love the Thai people and to share about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World with them. I know he is the Savior of the World and this Thanksgiving I give thanks that he took upon him our sorrows along with our transgressions. I know that He feels our pains everyday. He knows us intimately and personally. He is well acquainted with the grief of the world and knows us. Everyday I consider it a privilege to wear His name upon my heart and to show my love for the most wonderful people. I am so grateful that God has allowed me to come here to Bangkapi at this time to help those here come unto Jesus Christ. I know that I was called to Thailand for a purpose. And even when times get trying, I know that God is there beside me. He is my strength and my beacon at this time.
I am grateful for the plan of salvation and that through it families can be together forever. Recently a new convert’s wife passed away unexpectedly. As I reflect upon the frailty of life, I feel so grateful to know that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be with those who we love forever and ever. What joy this sentence brings! Through Jesus Christ and His Gospel, families won't be separated. All things that are wrong can be made up through His atonement. And when I say all things, I mean all things. There is nothing that cannot be changed through the atonement. While often God will answer our prayers in ways that we do not expect, the atonement of Christ provides us with power. And strength to press on!
Thailand is a special place with a special people. Thank you again so much for your support. I know that Christ lives and that He is our redeemer. Everyday, every single day, I see how He has changed people's lives. And most obviously, I see how He has changed me. He changes me everyday, making me a better person.
Thank you all again! I love you and send you my blessings. Remember to pray and rely upon our Savior!
Elder Jacob Newman
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
How are you all doing today? I am doing fairly well today. All continues to be glorious here in Thailand despite a few sad changes. Elder Shill leaving was a really hard day for me. But I am so happy to know that he gets to see his family and gets to go to BYU! He was such a great example to me and I will never forget my Dad (that's what we call trainers here in Thailand Moms and Dads.... except in Thai of course).
I was surprised to hear that my new companion would be Elder Olinger, who only has two moves left here in Thailand. Elder Olinger is a great guy from Kansas. He just came from the Isaan and this is going to be the place where he finishes up his mission. This moves is really short because of a Church policy that makes it so that missionaries cannot be away from home for three Christmases. So we have moves meeting a week earlier than usual and then we get the new missionaries the next week. So that will be interesting. It's quite a change to get a new companion but it's been fun so far. I have tried a lot of new foods and have gotten to try more fruit and the likes. It's been really fun!
Anyway, onto some good lesson/great things this week.
First of all, let's talk about some great happenings. I love the fact that I was reminded this week of how small and simple things can make great differences. Earlier this week, we were walking down the street because some of our appointments fell through. I heard a small Thai woman say to me, "Elder?" It turned out that she was a member from the Isaan who had moved to Bangkok and wasn't sure where to go to Church. She was very excited to know that there was a Church nearby that she could attend. The chance of us running into her was very slim. It was truly a miracle. The next day, we had about 15 minutes left and we were right by our house. I decided that we should go and try to invite just a little bit more. It just so happened that we ran into a member’s friend who we have been working with. He was sitting at the bus stop. We took some time to talk to him and we ask him to pray. He said he would give it a shot. These things don't just happen by coincidence. I have no doubt that on those days where perhaps things were a bit more discouraging, God sent little miracles, little seeds of hope to keep me going. Often we will have appointments fall through, face rejection and heartache, but through the midst of it all, there is always something just around the corner waiting to give us that hope.
Another great happening: One of our investigators Max set a baptisimal date! We watched the restoration with him and he told us he has a testmiony of Joseph Smith. He believes that he was prophet of God. The Spirit was so strong. I really felt the power of God as we extended an invitation for him to think about baptism and then he proceeded to set a date.
I think we so often go through life and look at the hardships that we face. I know that those times when I have faced a difficult time here in Thailand, I have come to realize how much Jesus Christ really loves us. Despite the fact that we face hardships as we strive to help our Thai siblings come unto Christ, I have come to realize that Christ really lives. That this really is His work. One missionary who finished his mission with Elder Shill is named Elder Miles. Elder Miles made a really touching point as he gave what's called a jobber (finisher of mission) training. He said "The times when missionary work got hard were when I forgot my Father in Heaven." I think I have decided that to be a focusing point for the rest of my mission. Though hardships may come, as long as we remember our Father in Heaven, everything will work out. I love this thought with all my heart. I love the fact that I have a loving Father in Heaven who will help me.
Now of course that sounded a little dreary maybe, but all is really going so well! I love Thailand with all my heart. I love the people, I love the culture, the food, the music. Everything is SO great.
I love you all, miracles happen everyday.
Elder Jacob Newman
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This last Sunday was the best day ever. First of all, we had lots of people at sacrament meeting, including many who don't typically come to church! We also had a great lesson with our ward mission leader in the Gospel Essentials class. It was WAY funny because we played this name game that everyone loved. My favorite one was a recent convert named Mae Khem (mae=mother). She said for her name which starts with a ก that she enjoys การทำงานของพระเจา! That means the work of the Lord. It made me smile. She is such a funny lady! After that we had a really great lesson from the Joseph Smith manual that was prepared by a member. The Spirit was powerful and the member taught very well. Then there was delicious food as always and finally...
Egg was baptized. As I said earlier, he chose me to baptize him. The day was way good but there were two things that concerned me: the first that I have never baptized anyone and the second that it was in Thai. Both of these facts made me nervous. But in the end it was great! I said the prayer correctly and the Spirit was very strong. Egg bore a wonderful testimony afterwards. (And the Bishop sang a song for him. Our Bishop is a musician.) Then we had a fireside. We had some members do a play. It was awesome. Brother Pxrg and Sister Yog along with Brother Champ and Sister Rose all did a way great job. It went off without a hitch and everyone enjoyed it. So all in all, Church was fantastic this last week.
In Egg's testimony, he talked about how his family didn't really support his decision but that he knew that the things that he was taught were true. He talked about the fact that often in our lives we will stand alone in this decision, but we always know that God and Christ are watching out for us. I am amazed by his faith and trust in God. He now has a goal to be a missionary. He is an amazing man who is sensitive to the things of God.
He is 20 or 21 years old and a student at a school called Ramkhemhaeng University.
In other news, I have some great stories from some of our investigators.
Prayad continues to be a surprise as we work with him and he is gaining faith. We just taught the word of wisdom and he is more than willing to live it. He didn't really have any problem with it. When he prays, it feels like a real two way communication. It's really amazing. If he keeps up at this rate, he will be baptized by the date that we set with him. He really keeps pressing forward.
Lucky is so awesome! He knows EVERYTHING that we teach him and he eats it up. He is so FRIENDLY, too. He loves the members and they love him. He has a great testimony already. He loves Church and he is just good to go. He set a goal to be baptized on January 3rd. We are excited to keep teaching him. Yesterday we taught him and he understands everything.
We have not had a chance to meet with Max this week. He missed his appointment earlier this week but we don't know why exactly. He still is reading and praying and desires baptism. We will keep working with him with Brother Golf.
This week we also went out to dinner with Brother Prxg. He took us to this AWESOME Isaan place that was amazing. We had this whole huge fish with somtum and laab. It was so good. But the best part was that he thanked us for being in Thailand. He shared with us the fact that he appreciated what we were doing. He was a missionary 10 years ago and met President Hinckley when he came to Thailand.
On Tuesday morning our Bishop gave us some delicious Isaan food. He also thanked us for our service. He's so GREAT. He does so much for the ward. He loves all the members of the ward and has a great family. (He has three children: Stamp, Topper, and the youngest, who has the BEST name ever, Princess.) He really is so concerned about the ward and works hard for it.
Basically the members this week were amazing with Elder Shill and Sister Christensen (she will be moving this moves). They all were so grateful and loving to them and showed their appreciation for them.
I am so grateful for the members here in Thailand. The members in Thailand sacrifice so much for their faith. They know that they have a Father in Heaven and a Savior who loves them and they act on this knowledge. Though they are few in number, they know that there are blessings in store for them as they exercise faith in God. And while temptations and trials come, they desire to follow Christ. From Brother Egg's baptism to the example of our Bishop, we see how dedicated people are to the gospel. I have been amazed at the members ever since I got to Thailand. I see people everyday who may not have as much as we have, who may have challenges beyond that which we can imagine but they still act on their faith everyday. My experience with the baptism was another wonderful moment. I will never forget the feeling I had and the feelings Brother Egg expressed. It was an experience to be cherished for a lifetime. I cannot believe the things that I have seen so far and how people change. I cannot believe that a little seed of faith can sprout so quickly. It's an amazing experience.
And the food of Thailand continues to be delicious. Everyday I feel great! I am thin and I feel fantastic.
Alright family, know that I love you all and pray for you daily. I know your prayers help me everyday. Until we "speak" again!
Elder Jacob Newman
p.s. - David- I just remembered that the King's Birthday, a national holiday, is on the Fifth of Next Month. Please advise accordingly.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The joy continues here in the Land of Smiles. This week was SO fun, I loved it! Loy gratong is a festival that happened to fall on my birthday this year! It's a festival where people put these things called กระทงs on the water that have candles on them. They are made from banana leaves and flowers. In the North they float things that are kind of like hot air balloons. It's a day off of work, too. So that day we got up and had District Meeting where the Sisters bought doughnuts to celebrate my birthday from Dunkin Doughnuts. Then we went out to dinner with Brother Pete and Brother J. They took us to a Korean BBQ place which are WAY popular here in Thailand. We stuffed ourselves full and then Brother Pete surprised me with a cake. I was then sung to by the performer at the restaurant. They made me stand up so everyone would see me. Then we went to see ลอยกระทง in the river. It was WAY fun! It was a great day all in all. I really enjoyed it a lot. It's weird to not be a teenager anymore for sure. It's also weird to think about the fact that on my 20th birthday I was 8,000 miles away!
Anyway, let's start with some CRAZY news first. There is this investigator named Lucky who went to Ubon to be a priest for 3 months. It was an agreement with his parents that he would do it. But he learned with the Elders before and loved it. The entire time he was there, he studied the Book of Mormon and prayed. He came back this past week and is he ready or what! He set a goal to be baptized on the 27th of December, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets baptized before that. We reviewed Lesson 1 with him and he basically taught it to us. Then last night we went with Brother Mon to teach the 2nd lesson, the plan of salvation, and again, he taught us the lesson pretty much. He remembered LITERALLY EVERYTHING. And he loves it to pieces. He reads and prays everyday, asks really deep questions and LOVES the members. He called the members while he was in Ubon. He's living with a member right now. It's crazy! He's way funny and sweet! It really was a testament to the fact that as we strive to work hard, God will bless us. Lucky is just one such case. I was so touched by him as he told us about meeting the Elders. He told us that the day he met Elder Jarrett it was the "purpose of God". And now he's getting ready to be baptized. It's so exciting to see how much he loves it and how WELL he knows it. I have no doubt he will make a great member.
Then Egg! Egg sent me a cake for my birthday. What a great guy. He had his baptisimal interview this last week and did way great. He's good to go and ready to be baptized. And here's the other crazy thing... He asked me to baptize him! So my first baptism that I ever perform will be in a language that is not even my own. Luckily I know the words for the baptism in Thai! I was way shocked when he asked me but way excited. A little scary? Yes!! But exciting, very much so. We are getting ready for his baptism this week and for a fireside we are having on Sunday for newer members (0-24 months in the Church). Egg's dad is very sick in the Isaan, so we will be praying that he will be able to stay here to make this date.
And Prayad. He's doing great. He's really gaining faith, starting to repent and starting to keep the commandments. He loves it. He's so smiley and I can see a change in his actions and in his face. He's more full of light and happier. It's an amazing thing.
Max is still doing well. He's not quite ready to set a goal to be baptized but he does desire baptism and he loves learning. He's gaining faith each time we meet with him. He's changing too. We are hoping that Brother Golf will be a good example to him and help him along the way.
Tell everyone that Thai comes along very well. Of course I feel silly sometimes but it really has improved a TON this moves. People say I am speaking well but I don't know how much of that is actually true. Thai is an adventure. From using correct pronouns to vowel lengths and gramatical patterns, everyday is a new adventure. My comprehension-05t is getting way better. It's really a miracle.
Let me end with some things that I have learned this week. I have learned that God really does prepare people to listen about Jesus Christ. The message that He is risen changes the lives of people everyday. When we watched Finding Faith in Christ this week, I realized how much that means to the Thai people. How that hope can help them. The hope that we can be together as one eternal family forever is a miracle that changes people's lives. God gives us courage in spite of trials. Even if there are days where we get frustrated because we can't speak as well as we wish, God helps us to press forward with faith in Him and His promises. I have no doubt that God prepares a way for us to do the things that are hard. He prepares us to help those around us. Even if it's only a smile that we can offer, I know these simple things can change our lives. Charity has a power that is beyond that which we can comprehend. The power of God isn't found just in the majestic things, it's found in His love that He offers to us and calls us to offer to our fellow men.
This opportunity to be in Thailand reminds me of the frailty of life. One moment we go about and then the next our lives can change. Drug abuse, addictions, hardships, these all change everything. But the one thing that won't change is the love of God. In a world that is ever-changing, we can rely on that love. So when any of us fail to feel the worth within ourselves or fail to understand the reason behind our hardships, the love of God will be there for us. As Cherie Call says, when you need a shoulder bow your head and pray. I know that He lives and that Jesus Christ loved the world so much that he atoned not only for our sins but our heartaches, our sorrows. My testimony grows of that everyday. The message that He is risen gives us hope! I know He lives! Thailand is a land ready for this message.
God loves the Thais. I know I was sent here for a reason. And I can't wait to keep finding out that reason!
Thailand is still swell and I love every moment. Don't worry about me, this is the best thing I have ever or will ever do! I send you with my prayers and blessings.
I love you all so much,
Elder Jacob Newman
p.s.- Send my love to all my friends. Tell them their support is SO wonderful!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thank you for all the warm birthday wishes! They brought joy and happiness to my heart. I was very happy to hear that everyone is doing so well and that all is going well back in America. Sometimes I forget that I am 8,000+ miles away because Thailand became home really, really quickly. I am so used to the smell of the khlongs that run through Bangkapi, the hustle and bustle of people, the sound of buses, taxis, and fruit trucks. Everyplace you go, you see people selling food or peddling wares. And also on every soi (streets that run off of major roads), there are businesses galore. We live right next to a beauty salon that's owned by our landlords. There are places to make copies, little grocery stores and all kinds of things. I will be sure to get more pictures while we are out and about today so you can see what life is like. To find where I am, see if you can find Nawamin on Google Earth. It's a fairly major road. I would spell it in Thai but I don't know that you can read it.
Thanks again for all the birthday wishes, we will be sure to do something fun I have no doubt of it. But it will be good!
There are a lot of insects in Thailand. One day a couple of weeks ago we found a HUGE centipede that was bout 6-10 inches long. I saw it while Elder Shill and our Thai companion were in the kitchen. It was really gross and way big. Sometimes we have spiders and ants are everywhere in Thailand but besides that, that's about it. Nothing too crazy really.
This week we managed to teach Egg, who will be getting baptized on the 8th. He has a great testimony and really has changed so much because of the gospel. He understands so well and has a great desire to be baptized, he will be a great member, I have no doubt of it. We taught a lesson on the priesthood yesterday with a member named Brother Prxg and another member who I have talked about before, Brother Champ. Brother Champ actually came with his friend Sister Yoke who was helping to teach the sisters and he just joined us in the lesson. Champ and Prxg are both so skillful with teaching that Elder Shill and I ended up not really teaching the lesson at all. We shared verses from scriptures and bore our testimonies. It was great! Egg is ready to interview for baptism and he will do great.
We also taught Brother Golf's friend, Max, who is SWEET! He understands so well. When we taught him the plan of salvation, he literally taught himself some parts. He understood the need for a Savior perfectly. Absolutely perfectly. And it was a great time. He doesn't feel ready to be baptized, however. At least not yet. There are some things in his life that make him feel like he is not ready yet. But he is great! He is willing to meet 2-3 times a week which is REALLY good. We have very few people who are willing to do that as early on as he is. We only have one other investigator who is willing to do that, meet 2-3 times a week.
Prayad is the above mentioned investigator. He loves the scriptures, prays with sincerity, and is gaining faith. He reads everyday in the Book of Mormon and prays for help. It's so amazing to the see the change within him. He has changed immensely since the first day I met him. A new light has entered his life and he feels different. In fact, we went to visit with his grandkids there and he asked them to listen and fold their arms when we prayed. It was so adorable! He's doing great. He's come to Church three weeks in a row now. He even went to Stake Conference in Bangkhen which is pretty far away.
Our other investigator Bawb is doing well but still a little too neutral on most topics. He likes praying and reading scriptures if he has time but isn't super engaged into it. Although, at our last lesson with him, he was very chatty. We will be working on getting him to Church in the near future.
We have just been having a good time here in Thailand. We see the mercies of God everyday as we try our hardest to put ourselves out there. The Thai people smile and may not always be interested but there are people out there who are changed by the gospel. I see it everyday. I see how the knowledge of eternal families can change the perspective of the world. The knowledge that Jesus Christ came to this earth to feel of the suffering of all mankind can change and help everyone. I have grown to have such a strong testimony of that on the days where it seems harder. Every time the journey becomes difficult, I think we can reflect back upon our Savior and see how he truly did descend below all things. We are not greater than He. He helps us everyday as we reach out to the Thai people. And everyday we have an opportunity to help the Children of God grow closer to Him. I love this opportunity to give of myself and to show my love for the Thai people. Jesus Christ truly is the Savior of all mankind. I cannot deny that as I see how He changes Thai people. And how He changes me everyday. I have come to see the divine nature of missionary work. We truly have been given the errand of angels. And while we are not perfect and we make mistakes, often, we can rest assured that our Savior and our Father in Heaven always have their arms opened to receive us and help us along.
The language is still coming along. I feel like I improve a little bit everyday. And I feel that it has really caused me to rely on God more and more. While I don't speak the language perfectly, I know that that will improve as I work hard and put my trust in God. I have no doubt of that. It's such a blessing to speak one of the most beautiful languages in the world. It's a language that expresses relationships better than any other that I know of! In fact, that reminds me of how we went to a new converts house for lunch with our ward mission leader Brother Mon and the Sisters in our district. She calls all of us her luugs and we call her our mother. Thai expresses relationships like that all the time. The pronoun system is way complex. So technically when speaking to her we could respond with using luug as a pronoun referring to I or she could use it to refer to us. It's so awesome.
The food continues to be amazing as always. And I continue to have way good health! I have no doubt that is a result of many prayers from a good family at home! Thanks for all the birthday wishes again. I am so grateful for all that you do for me and all the ways that you support me. Thailand is amazing of course still. And I love every second of it!
I love you all. Thank you all again.
Elder Jacob Newman
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Today we went bowling for p-day after we ate at Sizzler. It was way fun. We went with Elder Firouzi and his new Thai companion who Elder Shill and I had before moves, Elder Phanuphong.
How is everything going at home? I hope that all is going well. Thailand continues to be the best, as usual. It's been more rainy than usual. Typically the rainy season ends around September but here we are the 21st of October and it still rains. Last night we didn't sleep as well because at three in the morning we heard the loudest crash of lightening I have ever heard in my life. I am pretty sure it was in the field behind our house. But besides that, the weather has been good. Everything has been going well lately! We have had some great things that happened and had fun along the way!
I will buy a new suit in the next two weeks. I have figured that I have lost about 40 pounds since I entered the MTC. I haven't weighed this much in years! It's pretty crazy! I would love to be able to keep it off too! I am eating well and everything and I haven't been sick at all but I guess the diet is better and I am doing a lot of walking!
This is our typical schedule. We wake up at 6:30, study from 8-10:30 ish and then go out and tract or teach for a bit. Then we get lunch. After that we typically have appointments for the rest of the day. We have some regular appointments. Each P-day we teach English from 6:30 to 8. After that we almost always meet with Egg, who is preparing for baptism. We have some other regulars who we meet with, Bawb on Mondays at 8, Prayad on Fridays at 10:00. We also go see Brother Chaliaw on Tuesdays at 6. He's a recent convert. Brother Boon, a member who is working to come back, we usually see sometime in the late afternoon during mid-week. We are back in our apartment by 9:00 or a little later depending on what happens.
I saw Stop and met both his mom and dad! They are all solid and so great. We did switch offs with the zone leaders and I went to Bangkhen to switch off. It was way fun! One of their investigators over there (it's about 20-30 minutes away from Bangkapi if the traffic is good) had their baptismal interview and we shared some scriptures with a recent convert named Brother Bawn บอล, pronounced like bawn sort of. He's Stop's friend and is really awesome. He helped us teach a lesson to a new investigator that the Zone Leaders have and it went well. Then we went to Stop's house to have a service project and family home evening. Stop's mom is SUCH a good cook! It was amazing! And they had jack fruit which, as it turns out, is the best fruit ever. It was fun to meet Stop's dad too who is the new Bishop. The family is so awesome. They are such a blessing to all of Thailand!
There's this 20ish year-old Brother in our ward, Brother Golf, who helped us teach the other day. He brought his friend who, has been introduced to over 20 sets of missionaries but they have never taught him! We agreed to teach him and yesterday we had an amazing lesson with him. He understands SO well and when he prayed at the end it really came from his heart. Golf has introduced him to the Church in the past but this was his first formal meeting with us. He accepted to be baptized! When he prayed, he thanked God that he had had the opportunity to meet with us. And then he got quiet during his prayer. Elder Shill and I both looked up at different times and he was crying along with Brother Golf. He is very ready to learn. Let's pray that he will continue to be so excited! His name is Max. He's a great guy who understands well. The Spirit really touched him.
Prayad came to Stake Conference, which was rebroadcast from Salt Lake. It was great! He and Egg both came. Prayad is really ready and he prays really well! We had a lesson where the Spirit was so strong with him too. He's definitely changing, slowly but surely. He's a great guy and I know he will do great things as we continue to teach him.
I think every day I come to a stronger realization of the following: As children of God, God really does know us one by one. God doesn't know us as a group, He knows us as his child. He knows us so intimately that He knows how to help us, how to help those around us. I have no doubt that miracles happen everyday here in Thailand. God knows His children everywhere. Everyday is a continued testimony of that to me. As I consider this, I don’t understand it, but it is something that I have come to see so clearly here. I have also become very much convinced of the specialness of the Thai people. They are amazing people. They really are. They are so patient with us and the language and really do love others despite their differences. There are people prepared to accept the gospel and to serve our Father in Heaven. Conversion isn't something that takes place in an instant and the changes are slow but the changes are extraordinary nonetheless. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be here in Thailand with a language that is so communicative, a people that love one another, and a culture that is so beautiful. I come to love Thailand even more everyday. And while often we face rejection and disappointments when things don't work out as we plan, I have no doubt that everything will work together for our good. Of course I sound naive but I really believe that.
Elder Shill is still fantastic. I will miss him so much when he goes home! He's a great guy and has helped me out so much with everything. He leaves on the next moves day which is 23 days from today. He is going to BYU for sure however so it sounds like we will probably meet again soon.
Please let my friends know that I haven't forgotten them. If I don't write, it's not because I don't care. =). I love you all deeply. Your prayers help. May God bless you all! Thailand is the best!
Elder Jacob Newman
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
It was GREAT to hear from all of you. I loved the notes from Katie and Josh. I miss you both and hope that all is still going well with you. It was also good to hear from David this week. This has been a great week, a bit different than expected but fun and of course joyous. Thailand continues to be the best place on earth. It's been raining more lately but the heat hasn't been too bad. Eventually the heat becomes almost pleasant, however weird that sounds.
Zone Conference was good. President Smith talked about the new way that we will be working with members in Thailand to help missionary work progress. He also talked about the infinite atonement. All in all it was a good time. We had it at our Church here in Bangkapi. It was fun to see all the people from the Bangkok zones and how they are doing. Everyone is getting way good at Thai in my group! I got to see Elder Holt who is doing great in Lopburi with the monkeys And I got to see Sister Young who is in a threesome with Sister O'Neil (our Phiithai from the MTC) and her trainer Sister Hulme, Sister Akagi who is in Pakkhret where the office is, Elder Brix who is doing well and Elder Fowles who is also doing well.
In answer to your questions about rice, Thailand grows a LOT of rice. There are more kinds of rice here than I thought possible. Sticky rice is, of course, the best. Thailand definitely grows a lot of the rice. Elder Shill was telling me about meeting Bro. Saakha's family and how where he is from in the sticks, it's a little place called Gumphawapi, has rice fields galore! With kwaay (water buffalo?) galore. Outside of Bangkok, Thailand has lot of agriculture. Bangkok is like a mixture of the old with the new.
We had a busy end of the week last week with General Conference and Zone Conference. We watched GC in Thai. We listened to some of it in English at the same time but it was HARD to tune out the Thai. I heard Brother Saakha and that brought much joy to my heart! He is so good too! He speaks way clearly and he puts good feeling into it.
On Sunday we had a really neat experience. After conference, we had invited a 19 year old member named Champ to go teaching with us. He came to the Church at the right time and then we were going to go to teach our investigators, two men from the south who own a southern restaurant. But we went and they weren't there. So, Elder Shill decided we should go see a less active 70 year old man named Grajangchoog with Brother Champ. So we went. Brother Champ was amazing! We have never taught with him before but he bore such powerful testimony and talked about how he has a goal to be a missionary despite the fact that, according to him, he's not khemkhaeng (super-active/strong/spiritually strong). He is an AMAZING teacher though. He taught with power from heaven! I really hope he does become a missionary because he would do SUCH a GREAT job.
We have one investigator who decided to go be a Phra in the temple but has been reading in the BOM. I have never met him but he wanted to talk to me on the phone. His name is Lucky. He will be back next month. He's all the way to 4th Nephi in the Book of Mormon! And he's excited to go to Church. That was very exciting.
Oh! I forgot to mention that we had two investigators at Conference! One was Egg, who will be getting baptized here pretty soon. He loves conference and has such a great testimony. He's awesome! And the other is Prayad. He's a great guy! And he came for the first time to the Church and loved it! He works so hard for his family (he has 8 children that he financially supports). He has a really strong testimony of prayer. It's so exciting to see people respond to a belief in God. It really changes their lives. There is something special about Thailand in that sense. The Church in Thailand is the result of many years of hard work and prayers. There are many challenges about being a member but there are those out there who are great people who work hard to be faithful members and to build up the Church here. I wish I could convey that adequately. I also wish I could adequately convey my love for Thailand and the Thai people. I think these past few days it's become even greater as I have tried to be more courageous about talking to people. But it turns out that people think you are cool if you can speak Thai! So no matter how many mistakes I make in Thai, as long as I try to speak I can speak. I am starting to feel more confident about that. It's way fun! Thai is awesome fun. And the language it uses for Church things is SO pretty! Prayer language is my favorite. Thai's complex pronoun system expresses a sense of closeness and reverence towards God. It's so neat.
Anyway, I am so grateful to be here and I love it. Of course, there are harder days but it is a wonderful place with many miracles just waiting to happen everyday! It's a place where a smile expresses the attitudes of a people. A place where joy permeates the air everyday and where the food only gets better and better.
The language continues to become easier as I put myself in situations that are hard! Stretching yourself really brings forth blessings!
May God bless you all! I miss you and think of you often. I send you with my prayers and blessings.
Elder Jacob Newman
p.s.- Send my love to all those within the sound of my voice! Well... not voice per se, but you get the point.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
All is well here in the land of smiles and joy! It has been a good week with lots of great experiences and all kinds of joy. We had some really miraculous things and some really funny things too. Of course, Thailand is always a joy and it brings such adventure. The best way to describe Thailand is probably as the land of contrast. There is the contrast of the old and the new everywhere.
Conference is coming up this week so that's pretty exciting. I'm happy to hear about Brother Saakha. Elder Shill has actually met his family from his home town, a tiny town called Gumphawaphi in the Isaan. They couldn't communicate with his mom very well since she spoke Isaan. Isaan is closer to Laotian, which is close to Thai but still very different.
I have heard great things about all of the missionaries in my MTC district. Some are in Bangkok but there are a lot out in the Isaan with one in Chiang Rai. I hear everyone is doing really well. Elder Holt is in an adjacent zone to mine and he's doing great! He has such a great attitude. He is doing amazing things and I have no doubt that will continue.
Anyway, on to some things that happened this week. First big news: we will be having a baptism right before the end of moves if all goes well! One of our investigators, who might as well be a member named Egg has decided, after a year of learning, to get baptized this November. He set his own date! And we are really excited. We are going to be working to prepare him for baptism. He has a great, great testimony.. He will make a great member for the ward. It's been really fun to get to know him and to work with him. He's such an example of how people can change. He started out as an English student who didn't feel ready to pray and is now studying and praying daily and attending Church every week.
Another great experience has been our work with Bro. Boon. He's a member whose mom is a very strong member in the Isaan but he hasn't been active for years. He approached us wanting help to come back. The way he was found was pretty crazy. His nephew, Mii (bear) lives with him here in Bangkok to go to school.. He was baptized and the Sisters sought to get him back to Church. His uncle, Brother Boon, was ready to come back. He really wants to come back and back strong. We have been reviewing doctrine with him and he has been reading in the scriptures daily on his own. (We didn't even know he was doing that till last week!) He's really trying so hard and it's so great how much strength he has. He's so nice and really such a great guy! Elder Shill and I are SO happy with our work with helping him.
When we contact people on the street, we don't call it contacting, we call it inviting. I am a little scared of inviting still. But, I started talking to this security guard and he was WAY nice and actually interested. Then we came back the next day and he had remembered that we were going to come back and waited for us. We had a GREAT 20 minute lesson with him and he was just so awesome. After we finished, he asked us how he could get to Church. What?!? When does that happen in Thailand? Not very often. We will have to see how it goes with him. We gave him the BOM and he seems really interested. Then the next guy I invited on the same street was way interested too. We didn't get an appointment or a number from him but it really increased my courage to open my mouth, even if it's scary with the language.Then we invited another man last night at a southern Thai food restaurant. After Elder Shill talked about the BOM and how it explains what life is like after death, he asked us in seriousness: “What will life be like after death?” And he invited us to sit down! It was crazy. He seemed to be really interested also. This has been a real blessing for us as we have had a harder time finding people lately.
I have a testimony that while people often reject our message here in Thailand, there are people out there who God is touching. Often the greatest miracles aren't the ones that seem big, but the ones that seem small. From seeing someone slowly gain the courage to pray to watching as someone gains a testimony of the Savior, inch by inch, people change. Sometimes it's hard to face rejection but the rejection is not a rejection of us personally. In fact, Thai people love to talk to us because we actually speak Thai which is a bit odd for faraangs. Some days it's hard to see the big picture. So often we get bogged down in the here and now. But I have come to see when we focus on the bigger things, not the small things, that's where true happiness will be. I have seen the things that really matter here in Thailand. In the end, money may seem to bring joy but in reality the things that bring joy are the simple things: family, faith, love, kindness. I think that's another thing I love about the Thais. So many of them see the important things in life. Some have so little but are so happy. They are happy because they see the big picture.
They are reducing the size of the mission. They are eliminating 10 Elder's areas very soon. It's going to be a small mission. But it should be great still. The members will be able to do it. They have the faith to do it!
We will be seeing conference this Saturday and Sunday in Thai but our ward mission leader, Brother Mon, who speaks PERFECT English due to being a missionary in America, got it for us in English so we can listen to it in English and watch it with our Thai brothers and sisters.
Alright family, well I love you all dearly and deeply. I love Thailand and I know that there is a reason that I am here. While it's so humbling most of the days to think how hard this is, it's totally worth it everyday. We see miracles everyday that press us forward. We see the lives of people changing. We see the faith of members and we see the power of Jesus Christ here in Thailand. We see new converts who have testimonies and desires to help the work in Thailand. We see the power that our Father in Heaven has to help his children. And to help us. Everyday I feel so grateful to be a witness for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He helps us each day as we experience hardships to keep a smile on our face, delicious food in hand, and a desire to help our Thai brothers and sisters!
With Love and Joy! Sending Blessings to you,
Elder Jacob Newman
p.s.- Let my friends know I will try to be less of a bad correspondent. But it's hard. So send love.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
All is Swell!
I hope and pray that all is going well. It's crazy to think that I have already been out of the USA seven weeks and that this week is going to be "moves meeting." It seems like yesterday we got here. How the time has flown already! I guess time flies when you are having fun. And in the best place on earth! Seriously. Thailand is the best! Everyday is like a new adventure for me. We meet so many great people, the culture is so fascinating and beautiful and everything is just so great.
Also tell my friends who have sent me mail that, A) I am a terrible correspondent and B) I am trying to get back to them as soon as I can. I haven't forgotten them there just isn't enough time. But I will get to them!
It's been a crazy past week. We have had the Thai missionary and we also have had a missionary who came here to renew his visa. It's been a pretty fun time. Speaking Thai all the time is a bit exhausting but good practice. My comprehension has really improved this week. There are some people that I can understand perfectly now but there are others that are still particularly hard to understand. I think since we only really teach men, women are somewhat harder to understand. But that is getting better by the day. I think most Thai people are confused as to why we even speak Thai at all. People tend to think we are exchange students because of how we dress. It’s the way most university students dress. The Thai people are so kind and friendly in their interaction with us. And we are having a great time.
Yesterday we did switch-offs since we had four elders here. We visited a LOT of less actives/recent converts. Elder Anderson, who is a branch president north of Bangkok, used to be here in Bangkapi so he knows the area really well. He was here about one year ago. We saw some people that he knew here and he knew all the people we taught except for Brother Chaliaw who was baptized when Elder Shill was here and Boon and his nephew Mii who just started going to Church. So, yesterday was pretty fun. A little stressful for me to lead lessons since I don't feel super confident doing that yet with the language. But a nice stretch of one's capacities always proves to be a good thing. It was fun even if I was a bit worried about it!
On Thursday of last week, we went and got our new companion at the Mission Office. (There are eight Thai missionaries who just got here from the Phillipines). And today we will be dropping him off again.
Saturday we had another good day. It was Elder Shill's birthday, but we didn't get to do anything for it because we didn't have time that day. We went and taught a guy named An. He said he's not quite ready to pray and would give us a call when he was ready.
Sunday we had a Fireside about missionary work that we had spent most of our week preparing. It went pretty well. We gave everyone a picture of the Bangkok sky scene with a temple superimposed over it. They loved it. The fireside was about having vision to help the Church grow in Thailand and using that vision to make action happen.
Monday we taught a less active member named Brother Tommy. He hasn't come to Church in a long time and needs some refreshing on doctrine but he's a good guy with a good heart. We also went to dinner with an RM in our ward. He took us to Sizzler. It's way better here than it is in America. The salad buffet was Thai-ish. Then we taught one of our investigators who is preparing for baptism named Bawb. He's doing pretty well. I think slowly but surely, he is gaining faith in Jesus Christ. It's quite a transformation to see. Even though it's slow and steady, it's amazing. People’s lives really do change. As they come to see the power of Jesus Christ, they feel of His love that transcends the physical realm. Earlier that day we also met a guy from the Philippines who I noticed was speaking English with his daughter at the bus stop. We got an appointment with him. Elder Shill and our Thai companion went to see him yesterday and are now going to hand him over to the international elders to teach.
Yesterday we went to renew Elder Shill's visa and pick up Elder Anderson. I got to see some of the people from my group at the MTC which was way fun. I got to see Elder Holt who is in Lopburi. He's such a great guy! And he's doing really well.
It's really amazing to see how people change when they are baptized. I can't really fully express it but it is something that I have definitely seen here in Thailand. People who come unto Christ are not the same. They change and they act to change. They have testimonies despite pressures around them. They come to Church. They serve in callings. They work to do the best they can. And someday Thailand will be even stronger!
I hope everyone is doing well. I love Thailand a lot. Everyday reminds of how important it is to be humble to speak this language and to be able to understand people and their needs. And while I can't speak Thai anywhere near perfect I have been so grateful for the divine help with it. I feel it everyday as I pray for help. And I know that God has helped me throughout my time here in Thailand. My love for Thai culture and people grows everyday as I see them on the street, as I talk and laugh with them. Everyday I count my blessings that I have been called to this magical land where some of the best people in the world live. I am grateful for the growth that I have experienced while I have been here. I have come to see the things that really matter, not the things that seem to matter. The things that seem to matter will fade but the things that really matter are eternal. I have seen how God has power to mend all wounds and to heal all people. I think of the Cherie Call song that says, “God will mend the broken branches of the family tree, keep his watchful eye on every tiny leaf.” God really does watch out for us and we see miracles when we look for them. We see miracles when we strive to draw closer to our Savior. We see miracles when we do things we thought we couldn't do. I am grateful for all of these things that are happening with us here in Thailand. It's such a blessing for me to be here and I am so grateful for the sacrifice of people who help me to be here.
Alright family, I love you all.
Elder Jacob Newman
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Thailand joy continues as we continue to press forward and enjoy ourselves as much as possible! The food continues to be wonderful; the people are still as warm and as loving as ever. And Thai. What a joy Thai really is! Everyday it's so much fun to speak Thai and to hear people speaking Thai. Sometimes it's still way confusing as to what people are saying/doing, but that's the best part of it all. I feel much more confident in speaking and understanding than I thought I would at this point so that is definitely a blessing from above. And while far from the point where I would like to be, I am working hard everyday to get to the point where I want to be. Some days it comes easier than others, that's for sure. But the language is beautiful and so fun.
And Thai is just so fascinating.
My new fascination for this week is the use of Thai prounouns. The Thais have a very complex prounoun system that is very respectful and beautiful. So for example when talking to people we will mostly call them Phii (which means like brother/sister sort of... except in the Church sense then we just call them Brother and Sister but with a Thai accent). But for people who are much older than us we call them like Father or Mother (I love the pronoun for Mother and say it all the time.) and sometimes grandmother and grandfather. And for younger children we call them nawng which is also like younger brother/sister. Also people will refer to themselves (mostly women) by their first name as a pronoun rather than the typical gendered pronouns. I really love that because it shows the intricate workings of Thai culture and society. Also the pronoun system used in prayers shows the intricate system of Thai belief. When addressing God or the King different prounouns for I and we are used to express the idea that one is talking to God or a king. It's such a beautiful language! Seriously. Everyday. Love it.
In other news, I will be having a luug (child) soon! As in tomorrow. Let me explain. In Thailand they call greenies children and trainers fathers or mothers. But we are going to have a Thai missionary here in Bangkapi for next week only before moves because he needs a place to stay before moves. So technically he will be my luug also in a strange sense. The Thai native missionaries go to the MTC in the Phillipines and then come here so that's why they are coming at an odd time because they already know Thai. And all missionaries in Bangkok go to moves meeting. Oh and I forgot to tell you that we get mail every week on P-day. Just in case that wasn't clear. Anyway some answers and then some experiences!
On Saturday, we went to the wedding reception at our building. It was much longer than anticipated but it was really fun. It was a wedding for a very strong Sister named Sister Daaw and her husband who is a branch president in someplace about an hour away from Bankgapi. They got married in the Hong Kong temple and then had a reception at the Church. Seriously. So much food! And it was wonderful! That's where I saw Stop and he told me that his Dad has been called to be a bishop in Asoke. Dang! I was so excited about that. It was so good to see Stop too. He's way funny. And he's so skilled at English. Seriously, he's a great guy. And he has a great testimony. He will make a great missionary someday soon!
I have done many musical numbers. But it's all good fun. The music is a great way to communicate love for Christ. Last week we sang where can I turn for peace in church. In Thai it's way pretty. Thai translations are always way fun and give more meaning to the songs.
Elder Shill lets me talk! He's great that way. Even though it's still a struggle to say exactly what I want I love it. Teaching is fun even if it is stressful sometimes. It's great like that. Today I will be teaching English by myself since we split up the rooms. I will be teaching basic rather than advanced. It should be really fun though. Stressful but fun!
Anyway, updates on what's been going on. We are still teaching Brother Egg. It's just a matter of time with him and it's his timetable when, rather than if, he gets baptized. He has been learning for about a year. He has a great testimony and speaks so clearly, I love it. It's crazy how well I understand him, I don't really get how I can understand him as well as I can. It's a miracle for sure.
We have another investigator who is getting ready for baptism called Bawb. He's doing well and he's opened up a lot. At first, he was so nervous with us but now he's really opening up. Our last lesson with him went pretty well. We taught the plan of salvation. It went pretty well. That day was a bit frazzling but we managed to do it. It was great but for some reason we were having the hardest time speaking clear Thai that night, both me and Elder Shill. It was crazy. But it went well.
We have another new investigator named Decha who is very interested. He attended Sister Daaw's wedding and will be meeting with us today. He's so nice and really genuine. I hope that goes really well.
We also taught Ton (That's a really poor romanization of his name) and he was great. We met him at English awhile back and have only met with him twice but every time we meet with him it goes so well! I was the one who actually originally talked to him at English so it's crazy to see him and his desire and to see his progression. He's a great guy but hard to meet with since he plays soccer everyday almost. But he is genuinely interested. It's such a sweet experience to see people change. Even though we may not be able to understand the language all the time, when you look in people's eyes you can really see into their souls. It's an amazing experience.
This last week we also saw an awesome less active member named Brother Dang. He's so funny! He speaks really quickly and I can understand only bits and pieces of what he says but when I do, it's way funny. His wife and daughter are both pretty active but he has been struggling a little bit. But he has such a sweet, good heart. He also loves to smile. There is nothing in the world that can compare to the real Thai smile. I love it. It's so warm and friendly and emulates the love of God, really.
This Sunday we will be having a fireside that will be talking about getting the temple to Thailand (sort of) but it's mostly about involving members with missionary work. It's going to be great. Our Bishop here in Bangkapi is such a great bishop! He really supports us and gets so excited about everything, he's a great guy. He really keeps the ward going strong! This fireside will be a great pump-up for the members who already do a lot to help us.
Speaking of which, the patriarch here in Thailand is still the blind man! He's in the ward where Elder McConkie is serving. I found out because a member of our ward went to get his blessing from him. How amazing he must be!
Oh, more news! The name of the Church is changing and the Church is getting a new translation of the Book of Mormon and D and C in, get this, a triple(!) early next year! The new name of the Church is SO slightly different that I am not even sure how it really even changes the meaning. The new name reflects purity of heart, however, from what I understand. So they will be changing that name soon. They also retranslated a bunch of Church vocabulary to reflect new meanings and to be more precise translations. Some notable changes include the sacrament prayers and the articles of faith along with the names of the kingdoms of glory and other key terms. It will be interesting to see the changes and if they will be reflected in the next general conference, which is coming up way faster than I ever thought it would. The time in Thailand flies by here.
More great food everyday. Yesterday we went to a Korean barbeque kind of place that was Thai-izized. It was way good. I got to try all the Thai desserts and have mango and this other way good fruit with sticky rice. It was amazing. Everyday the food is still just amazing. Love it.
Elder Shill is so great. We have a TON of fun together and we really have done some great things for the area. We have turned the area around according to him. We are finding some great people and doing some really good work. Even when we get ditched out on appointments, we still have such a great time. It's so much fun! He keeps things positive and has a great love and charity for the Thai people. We work hard and it's seriously is the most fun ever. Even when we are exhausted, it's awesome. I will miss him a LOT when he goes back to America next moves!
Anyway, I have had away good week full of help from above with the language and all kinds of faith affirming experiences. I love the fact that Thailand is Thailand. Everyday I look around and see some of the best people I have ever met. I see my brothers and sisters and I see a people who are so loving and care and genuine. I see a culture that values family and love. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help the Thai people everyday and to strengthen them. I am grateful for their language which, hard as it is, is the most beautiful language on the earth! And I am grateful for the members of the Church here who have sacrificed so much to be members.
I have a testimony that God lives because I see how He changes the Thai people everyday. I see how their testimonies of the gospel, despite the opposition they face, move them forward. I see how Jesus Christ has also changed the lives of Thai people. I have a very strong testimony of the power of His atonement. That it provides a chance for the whole human family to change. It provides a chance for us to grow and learn and change our lives. Whenever we talk about the atonement, I think of how it has changed my life and I love seeing how it changes Thai people. There is something so amazing about sharing the power of the atonement, the power of prayer, the power of the restoration. It changes people. It awakens something within them that cannot be expressed. Light enters their lives and they begin to recognize God's presence. And since I have been in Thailand, I have come to see that while I cannot speak the language perfectly or understand the culture perfectly, as I try my hardest, there are people who will listen. There is a reason I am here in Thailand. Everyday when we teach, I reflect upon this and see how since I have been here how everyday is a witness that I am supposed to be here in Thailand right now. I am so grateful for this opportunity to teach the Thai people. I feel so blessed to know them. Their language, culture, food, and of course the people are things that I never knew I could love as much as I do. And I see how one day, the Gospel in Thailand will flourish beyond what I can imagine at this point.
I love you all and pray for you daily. I ask for your prayers also. God bless you all. I love you all so much!
Elder Jacob Newman
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Dear Beloved Family,
Another glorious week in Thailand of hard work, joy and all the things that I love about Thailand. The land of smiles lives up to its name everyday. People smile everywhere. And they smile when you smile at them. They are so kind and gentle and loving. And the food continues to be the best. Seriously. You guys just got a taste of it with Brother Saakha! I haven't had anything that I haven't liked so far. Today I had some great papaya salad with sticky rice at Tesco Lotus (does that sound familiar? it apparently started in England. They are ALL OVER Thailand! They are like the Wall Mart of Thailand). The other day I had some pad thai on the street that was delicious also
Was everyone aware that there are Sizzlers in Thailand? We went to this place called the Mall Bangapi shortly after I got here and I saw it and I was VERY confused. But it turns out there are Sizzlers in Thailand. They are what the Thais call "High So (society)" because they are kind of expensive by Thai standards. Several hundred baht if I remember correctly. We haven't been yet but we might get a chance to go one of these days. We will have to see how things go.
Anyway, sorry I haven't managed to get home any pictures yet. I will try to get lots this next week with Elder Shil and I. I want you guys to be able to see the chapel and the apartment and of course Elder Shill. We can't take photos while we are proselytizing so it's harder to get pictures taken. But I will be sure to get some ready for you guys next week. That's so awesome that Elder Holt sent home some pictures along with some of the others. Elder Holt is in Lopburi with all the monkeys! I saw him at zone conference and he showed me the picture of him giving a pass along card to the monkeys. St. Francis of Assisi anyone?
I was so excited to hear about Bro. Saakha. Isn't he awesome? He is seriously so funny. The food I bet was amazing too. And I am so glad that the kids liked it. Bro Saakha chose some good dishes. You should ask him for some recipes for some Isaan food. That's what I have really taken a liking to here. In fact my first night with Elder Shill we had the most delicious meat that's a traditional Isaan dish. It's pork's throat with sticky rice. It was SO good. ลาบ is also way good. I think that's how it's spelled. Sticky rice+Isaan food=manna I think. It's seriously so great. I knew the kids would love him. He's going into special education and it's just perfect for him.
The Church does own land that could possible be used for a temple in the heart of Bangkok. I can't spell it in romanized or Thai though. It's the heart of Bangkok like I said.
We have taken to riding buses more to save money mission wide. That's always an adventure. Thai buses are a little terrifying sometimes but they do get us from place to place. We ride ocassionally but it's more effective to not ride bikes in Bangkok.
So anyway. Onto the week. We saw a lot of good things this week. Despite rumors, we do teach in Thailand. We actually teach quite a bit.
On Thursday we taught a less active uncle and his nephew who haven't been to Church in Bangkapi since they moved from Ubon. We taught them and they came to Church this Sunday. They are both great. A little nervous about the new ward, which is to be expected, but they are great!
On Friday we got a chance to teach a recent convert named Brother Champ (everyone goes by Brother/ Sister and their first name). He's a great guy. He's about our age and joined the Church not too long ago but before Elder Shill or Elder Shill's old companion was here. We also taught a lawyer named Sha(r)p. He's a pretty nice guy and liked what we had to say. We will hopefully be able to meet with him again.
Saturday we got to teach a guy named Prayad. It was a way good lesson and he's doing well. Sunday we were surprised when Brother เอก didn't show up at Church. He had told his parents about his decision to most likely be baptized. It was a hard thing to tell his parents. But he's still doing well. He loved that Elder Holland that we gave him two weeks ago about None Were With Him. Good talk. Very powerful and worked perfectly for him. We also taught our other investigator who's getting closer to baptism named ปอป. He's doing pretty well. He meets with us often and on time. He is gaining faith by the day.
We have also been working on getting more people to English so we can divide the classrooms into basic and advanced. We found a place two weeks ago that would make us these really nice and big signs for 400 baht for two. It was a great deal and they did a great job. We are getting a lot of calls on them! So that should hopefully start to pick up!
Yesterday we taught a Christian who we randomly met getting into a taxi. He's a great guy. He's name is Lxxd (xx= a Thai vowel that has no English equivalent). He will maybe be coming to Church this week. We went for interviews at the mission office. It took a long time but it was pretty good. President Smith is a great guy. I also saw that the mission will be getting a lot of native missionaries in the next couple of moves. Boy how time flies already.
The language is still coming along and it gets a little better everyday. With lots of prayers and faith it gets easier to listen and to talk. I haven't apparently made any tonal mistakes that are too disatrous yet. Vowel mistakes still happen sometimes. You have to be really careful with Thai vowels. But it's still coming. People say I am doing well. I really hope so. I really hope so! =)
How's everyone else doing? Please let all my friends know that I do get all their letters but I haven't had time to write back yet. Tell them that I haven't forgotten about them but that they are still all so great and that I send my love to all of them! The Dear Elders get here pretty fast too. Tell them that their letters bring joy.
Anyway, Thailand is such a spiritually uplifting experiencing everyday. I find myself able to do things that I never thought possible. I find that strength comes when I need it. That words come when I need them. And the people are wonderful. The ward is great. The Thai saints touch my heart everyday. I love everything about Thailand and it brings me such happiness to be here. Everyday I wake up and consider myself lucky that I have been called to be here in Thailand. I love the people, I love testifying of the power of the atonement everyday. I love seeing the change that people have undergone as they have accepted his power in their life!
Furthermore, people can speak that crazy language that Bro. Saakha prayed in! Sometimes I am amazed that we can speak let alone read it! My reading is improving also by the way. That's a BIG blessing.
I love you all and pray for you daily. May God be with you this week! God bless and with love,
Elder Jacob Newman