Jacob has, perhaps foolishly, given me the task of updating this blog for him. Naturally, what this means is that I'll get to redact his letters for all you. So, potentially, you'll be getting kind of a skewed view of his life as a missionary. I feel like I should quote Moroni here. But, really, I think it won't be errors so much as deletion of salutations, closings, and housekeeping. Also, since I'm, clearly, not the only one Jacob is writing to, if you want to send along anything he's written to you for posting, please do.
Nearly one week into the MTC, here's what he has to say for himself:
Anyway, my first few days here have been pretty good. The curb drop off went pretty well I think. It was sad, yes, but it felt nice and natural. It was good that we got as many pictures as we did. My time here has gone by slowly and quickly at the same time. It's a pretty nice place and it's nice to be here. Our district is already really close. We are probably the biggest Thai district that they have ever had here. There are about 12 Elders and 3 sisters in our district alone. Our zone has the other Thai people who have been here for over 6 weeks (we call them P-Thais. Pee (or some similar spelling) is Thai for old/older) and people going to other English speaking missions. It's really a great group of Elders and Sisters. We come from a variety of backgrounds but we share a common love for Phrayeesuu Khrid and his khidtikhun. As you can see, the Thai is coming along well enough. It's pretty hard but it's nice to know that there are a lot of us to get through it together. We are all working really hard to get the language down. From tones to vowels (several of which are hard like XX which sounds like a "U" but only vaguely), we are pressing forward to be able to teach the Thai people. The language is beautiful and so flowing. It's really cool that I can now pray in three languages. We learned how to pray in Thai the first day. Thai addresses God very formally with the royal forms of particular pronouns and verbs. It's quite a mouthful but it's really quite beautiful and sincere.
We have two teachers here at the MTC. One is named Bro. Duvall and the other is actually a native convert of 12 years named Bro. Sakhaa. Bro. Duvall is like me- blonde hair, blue eyes, Thai speaking westerner. They are both good teachers. They both try to speak Thai as much as possible. Bro. Duvall and Bro. Sakhaa give lots of wonderful lessons. Bro. Sakhaa taught us probably the most important thing that we could learn: "It's not about you, it's about them." He told us we have to remember that the people we serve are the people who we are doing this for, we are not doing this for our own personal glory. It was a good lesson to remember. We are in class about 8 hours a day, probably even more. It's a lot of stuff to learn but we are doing pretty well.
The food is pretty good and it's really easy to avoid milk. That was something that surprised me. I haven't had to use hardly any Lactaid so far. Basically you don't really have to try not to get the milk in foods, they just don't make them that way. The food is good and I hope that I can continue to eat well. I haven't had a single dessert since I have been here. But with all the fried foods, it's hard to stay healthy. I did loose weight at first. With the exercise time we get now that should also help to keep it off.
The meetings have been good. We are learning a lot about how to be effective missionaries, etc. Everyone here either looks super young or super old so it's sometimes surprising to realize that they are around my age. I guess you just grow up quickly on your own!
Remind everyone that the Dear Elder service is fantastic and fast. And it brings joy to missionaries who get letters from it. =)
I hope that all is well with the family and that you are all doing well. I love you all very much and you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Phraphuupencaw bless you all,
Elder Jacob Newman