Tuesday, July 14, 2009

News and Other Happenings

Dearest Family,

Phom wang waa thusing dee nay baan! (I hope that everything is going well at home). Things are going pretty well here. We got some exciting/terrifying/awesome news this week that I thought I should start the letter out with. This week we noticed that our mail started to say that we would be leaving the 10th of August. We didn't really think much of it until it was repeated several times. Then we talked with one of the Thai natives who came to our teaching appointment and we asked them about it. They have a son who is in Thailand right now. Apparently we are leaving a week earlier because the mission president has a conference in Hong Kong the week we were supposed to go so they are conducting transfers a week earlier than we thought. So... We will be in Thailand a little less than a month from now! Of course that's exciting, but it's very scary too since we had all thought we would be going on the 17th. But we should do fine. Our teachers don't think we will miss too much by missing a week of class. So I thought I would let you guys know about that.

In other news, our non-native teacher's wife had her baby yesterday so it's unclear if we will be seeing that teacher much this week. He just recently passed his optometry test with flying colors and now his wife has had their little baby girl. Naa rab jang l(upside down e's)y=really really cute.

We had our first lesson in Thai last week in the teaching appointment. We did pretty well. Our investigator was a fairly recent returned missionary from Thailand. He was very nice and patient with our Thai. But we managed to make it through the lesson and to teach somewhat simply. It's hard to get really complicated in a language that you don't really know anyway. We had a lot of investigators that day. Their Thai all sounds really fantastic to be honest. Also, their reading is amazing. They can read it almost like we can read English. I am getting pretty fast at reading but Thai has some interesting rules sometimes. Also, it has a lot of implied vowels and consonants. The hardest parts are knowing where the word ends for sure, the dipthongs and vowels, and all the tone rules. But besides that we can read it pretty well. For our task (the language based interaction task we do before we teach the lesson), I had our investigator read a scripture about prayer in Third Nephi. The scriptures are kind of harder to understand because of the way that Thai uses pronouns. Thai has a complex system of pronouns that indicate royalty or deity or formality. For example, in General Conference they use the word khaaphajaw rather than phom for I. Also the women use di chan rather than chan. Very formal. But I have been reading 1st Nephi and I am surprised how much I can actually understand and read. Reading another language is tricky but I am so grateful Thai has an alphabet. And seriously, I don't know how people ever learn to do a language like this without Divine Assistance because Thai is pretty dang hard. The alphabet is crazy large and all the rules for tones and such are pretty intense. For example, if a word ends in a G, D or B sound, the tone is determined by that and the class of the first letter of the syllable. Intense.

This week we have had all of our lessons in Thai. I have understood about 98-100% of what has been said, but then again they are keeping it nice and slow for us. It's been really neat though to think that we can speak Thai. Of course, when we get to Thailand on the 13th ish we will be totally lost but that's okay. Phraphuupencaw song hay phawn raw (God will royally bless us). I think learning Thai has been pretty much what I expected it to be like. It's pretty intense and we focus a lot on Gospel vocabulary but it's pretty much like I thought it would be. sometimes i wish that the teachers would speak more in thai but that's okay. all of the sudden i just lost my ability to capatalize on this computer for some odd reason. forgive me. anyway...a few more thought about your questions while i still have 10 minutes left.

i loved the fourth of july package. it was fantastic (this non punctuation business will drive me crazy. i can't even do an exclamation point). it was great.

my companion is pretty studious yes. he gets up at 5:15 to study thai every morning. i, on the other hand, think it's better to be well rested so i can focus better throughout the day. it was nice to have some alone time with the fireworks. your mtc schedule is so laid out that it's nice to have some time where you aren't supposed to be doing something.

my camera doesn't have too many pictures on it but i might take some more and send it home yes. some are not worth keeping some are, i haven't really had time to look through them to see what is and what isn't worth keeping.

my hair is really short, i will get a picture of it and show you soon. i wanted it as short as possible and they did it as short as possible.

this punctuation thing is really frustrating. shower shoes are doing well. the dear elder letters are kind of weird because they print multiple letters on the same page so sometimes i get like portions of three letters on a page.

we are progressing as we learn thai and put our trust in phraphuupencaaw. i play the piano quite often here. i play for sacrament meeting and once a week as a district we have a 30 minute singing in thai session so we can practice the hymns. it's very worthwhile. our reading has improved drastically.

the food is starting to get a bit old. after being here for 6 almost 7 weeks, you know all the food that they have to offer. i have seen some of my friends who work here serving food though so that's fun.

anyway, punctuation frustration and stress aside, i hope that all is well for you guys. i pray for you all everyday and love hearing from you. please continue to pray for me and all my district as we prepare to go to thailand. we know that your prayers help us immensely as we strive to learn this language.

i love you all deeply and miss you,

elder jacob andrew newman

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