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