Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thailand Second Week

Sawat Dee Family! (If I knew how to write in Thai on this computer, I totally would do it but I am not sure how so I probably won't spend time trying to figure that out! )

So they moved our P-day a day earlier because tomorrow we will be having Zone Conference in Bangkhen- which is about an hour away from here by taxi. That's where Stop's ward is. It's the newest Church building in Thailand. It's a very nice building. They are built for functionality and beauty. There is something so Thai about them even though they are pretty much the typical design that we see in the states. The chapels are pretty small but very comfortable.

Thailand is of course, as wonderful as ever! This week has been busy and productive but it's been another good week as the adventure of understanding, communicating and effectively teaching continues.

First, your questions:

I guess we only get mail when we have transfers, “moves.” That is about every six weeks then. This time it will be six weeks from now because we came a week earlier. At moves meeting itself though, I don't know that everyone comes. That will also be taking place at the Bangkhen chapel. That seems to be a hopping place here in Thailand. I am not exactly sure why it's used so much. Considering my extensive (read zilch, zero) knowledge of Bangkok geography it could possibly be a geographical or transportation reason.

“Moves” day follows our P-Day (Wednesday) and are about six weeks apart.

IF you send packages DO NOT send them anyway but U.S. Postal Service either regular Air Mail or Priority Mail. Otherwise, there are HUGE HUGE HUGE HUGE HUGE fees that the office passes on to us. Use only the U.S. Postal Service. Do not use U.S. Postal Service Express Mail, DHL: UPS, or Fed Ex. Otherwise, we will suffer the wrath of really high fees. It’s several hundred baht for the fees, which doesn't sound like a lot, but trust me.... it adds up. I am still working to fully figure out prices. It's about 50 baht for a really nice meal and about 30 for a really good but nothing fancy kind of meal. Water is about 20 baht for a liter.

We have an ATM account that we withdraw money from once a month that is the money we get for food and for everything else we will need in the month. I can't remember exactly how much it is in baht but we get about $150 per month which is PLENTY to cover our needs.

We have a cell phone that we use to contact everyone. That was something that they started about one year ago.

Teaching English is fun! But, I am not sure how to do it really....Nicole- do you have any suggestions for teaching and keeping it fun? I know that sounds so broad but what suggestions would you give? It really is so basic things. Last week we learned about pronouns. It's at the Church and we hand out fliers a lot about it and also have signs that advertize for it.

There's quite a bit of pollution and there's quite a bit of smoke but you don't notice it too much when you are focused on the wonder of Thailand. Of course that sounds naive, but in the words of the Thais it's jing! The pollution and everything and cigarette smoke are there but really I notice the smell of Thai cooking and spices more than anything. Seriously the best smell ever!

We haven't eaten at members’ or investigators’ homes yet and we only eat rarely in our apartment. Today in fact was the first day that we did. But at Church every Sunday they have a potluck that's always delicious. They always have a curry, sticky rice (in the words of Elise, manna!), and other excellent dishes. This last week they had papaya salad. I only got a little bit but it was amazing. The spice level doesn't really bother me too much. You just have to be reasonable. Of course you can get things with like 10 pricks but you need to start out slowly.

My bicycle is a Trek. It's great. I got a good helmet too. And I got a steal of a deal for this bike. I got everything I needed for it for under 12,000 baht! That's like unheard of. It's perfect though!

We ride taxis all over the place to get to appointments and everything. They only cost at most 100 baht and at least 35. This money comes from house money that we use for costs for the house.

So let's talk about what we did this week. Let's see. Lots of teaching. Lots of searching for people. It's sometimes hard to find people who are interested but it's really nice to see when people actually do express interest. A common response that we get when we talk about being from sadsanaa khrid is "All religions teach us to be good". The Thais are so open and loving about all religion! They really love all people no matter what they believe. We try to talk to everyone and share a short message and see if they have interest. But most of our time is spent teaching.

This week we focused on a few of our investigators. Here's the lowdown on a few of them.

1. Prem (p pronounced like the p in spud) is one that we thought was progressing-ish. But we ended up having to stop teaching him because he missed Church again. He has never been to Church before. Sadly he's not quite ready to commit to Church. He was a great guy but has a lot going on in his life right now.

2. Bawg (poor Rominazation of his name)- He's a great guy who's really funny. He attends Church every week and loves the visits from the missionaries. We are working to further his faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World. He's doing well and is pressing forward gradually.

3. Eg- This investigator is one that we thought we weren't going to focus on but ended up shifting some of our energy to him. Elder Shill said that he wasn't ready to get baptized because he did not have parental support (he's in his 20s and still relies on his parents iun some day) and he's been learning with the missionaries for a long time. But this last week he called us up and said that he is ready to get ready to be baptized. So we have been working with him and will continue to do so. It's funny, when I hear him speak, I can understand him almost perfectly but then when other Thais speak... My understanding is a little less clear.

4. Mongkhawn and his wife Gey- This family we have only met once but they have been praying daily as a family and will be coming to Church probably this next Sunday! They seem very interested and seem to be doing well. We will be teaching them sometime this week.

We also have been working with less actives and recent converts. One of the recent converts might be seriously the most naarag (adorable) people ever! He blessed the sacrament for the first time this last week and he was nervous but he said the prayer so nice and slow. It was so touching because he probably didn't know it but it helped me because I could understand him so much better when he said it that slowly! He's nervous about talking in Church but I know that he will do a great job when they call on him- his name is Bro. Chillio. We will be teaching him again tonight.

The strength of the members here is so impressive to me. They have to go through a lot but they remain so faithful and true. This last week we spent some time helping the former bishop clean up his yard. It was nice to get to know some of the members who came to help. And there was also very delicious food. When the Thais eat, they eat a LOT of courses. I was so stuffed, I couldn't even believe it. Thai food is just so joy inducing. And rice. Seriously. It's like heaven.

Being in Thailand has made me really appreciate several things. Like home teaching. It was so nice to know that Ray (give him my regards by the way) was so close and so willing to help out. Here in Thailand the program struggles somewhat because of the length and distance that members live away from each other.

But Church has been a great experience. I had an experience that I would like to share that happened on Sunday. Church is so great in Thailand, really. First of all, we had had a bit of a stressful morning because some of our investigators didn't show up and we wanted to make sure they were there. But then as I sat next to Eg and Champ (a recent convert) the meeting was so nice. Most everyone is a convert with an amazing story. When we took the sacrament, I took time to think about how everyone in there were my brothers and sisters. It was a very unique and singular experience. Just because we look so different, doesn't mean we are different deep inside of us. We all have the same spiritual hunger and wants and needs along with a desire to be loved. As I listened to the excellent talks, which I could understand much better than last week, I loved the personal testimonies of those who are converted. The Thais have such strong faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

And Elder Shill is still fantastic. We really do work SO well together. He's a blessing to have right now! He will be leaving Thailand in November so we will probably be comps until then and I am so glad. He works so hard and really is so skillful at all he does. This week he got a little sick on Sunday and he still translated for the member of the Stake Presidency who can't speak Thai. He did a wonderful job! I wish I could have helped more however translation in Thai is not my strong spot as of now. I can understand a lot but to put it into English is hard. That's one thing that I have noticed about Thai that has been a blessing from the beginning. I don't really have to think in English about it. I can just produce/understand without translation. Serious blessing from above. But anyway... Elder Shill is great! Oh phew! For a minute it started typing in Thai, now that was a STRESS!

But seriously, Thailand is so great. I love teaching about the simple truths of the Gospel. That God lives, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that we can be with our families forever. The Thai members are so willing to help their friends come unto Christ. I love serving them and everyday I wake up and thank my Father in Heaven that I can be here in Thailand to help them. Everyday is a new adventure where we seek out those who are prepared to listen to our message. I know I sound so cheesy and corny but seriously, I never thought I could love a people like I do the Thais. They love to smile, they are so kind and they are so PATIENT with us as we struggle to learn their language. They have such kindness about them and such desire to be good people.

Even when the days get hot and the weather's humid, it's still just such a thrill to be here! And now my time is about up. But remember พระคริสต lives and that he loves us! I am so grateful to be in Thailand to be able to help God's children.

And all is well! (With rice everyday how could everything NOT be well!)


Elder Jacob Newman

p.s.- Give my love to all those within the "sound" of this email. I love them all and thank them for their prayers and support. Tell them that the work is going well and that I love Thailand to pieces (in case it wasn't obvious already)

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