Thailand Joy and Understanding Thai!
Sawat Dee Krab Family!
I hope that all is well with all of you and that you are all doing splendidly. I am so grateful for all of your support and all the great letters. It's always a treat to get to hear from you everyweek and to get a chance to hear how everyone is doing! It's so crazy to think that we are 8,000 miles away from each other! It's really crazy to also think of the time difference. When I was sitting in Church this fast and testimony meeting, it was still Saturday for you guys! But the differences are good things. Thailand is such a magical place; that's really the only way to describe it. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am actually here because it seems so surreal at times. From the language to the food to the people, it's like a dream almost. Here are some things that I noticed about Thailand that I thought you guys would like to hear about.
There are 7-11s LITERALLY EVERYWHERE in Bangkok. I was driving in a taxi one day sitting in the back and seeing how far it was between each 7. The most I counted, in seconds was 40, the least was 2. The average was probably 10. Seriously. Everywhere! And they all do well. I don't really understand how that works but it's really fascinating. Not to mention convenient!
Thai is coming along really well. This past week, it's like my comprehension shot up. It's still really hard but I keep telling my companion that everyone is speaking "much more chad (clearly)". But he says that they don't really speak any clearer I just understand a lot better. In fact I got into a discussion with a taxi driver about the Buddhist belief about God that was really interesting and I understood him. It was crazy!
Thailand also has food everyplace. Literally. And fruit everywhere too! Yesterday we had switch-offs with the zone leaders and it was glorious fun. We got fruit since we weren't that hungry and it was amazing! It was oranges that were honestly the sweetest oranges that I have ever had. They also have pomegranates here. I haven't tried them yet but I will be sure to do so. They also have pineapple. Pineapple in America does NOT taste the same. Pineapple in Thailand, as it turns out, is sweet? What in the world? How does that happen? And seriously the food is so delicious. I don't know if I can emphasize that quite enough. Seriously so amazing! And Isaan food it turns out is delicious beyond belief. Sticky rice, in the words of Elise, might be manna. Let me rephrase that, it is manna!
Fast and testimony meeting was very good. It feels like America but not really for some reason. It's hard to fast in Thailand because of the heat. But it was good. But it also melted my abilities of comprehension of the Thai language. Hopefully that will improve as I have a long time to get used to it! There's such an odd feeling about having an understanding of a language that's good but not quite to the point where you can understand. Sometimes I will understand perfectly, other times, less so. Most times I can understand better than I thought I could. It's shocking sometimes.
I get to play the piano sometimes. Not for meetings but we will be doing a special musical number this Sunday. Make that two actually. One of the sisters’ investigators wanted me to give a solo but we got her to let us all give a missionary special number. I forgot to mention that we have 3 sisters in our district- which is very unusual- and then me and Elder Shill.
Healthy indeed! The weather is not too bad really and the rain is awesome! Last night we were teaching a recent convert named Brother Chillio and it started to rain like cats and dogs! It was crazy! Luckily Brother let us borrow a huge umbrella. It reminds me of a time two weeks ago when we got caught in the rain after English. I have never been that wet from rain in my life. The Thai people do NOT go out in the rain. Ever. Ever. Ever.
Umm..... I should probably use sunscreen more but yesterday was the first day I actually got sunburnt. My nose is looking a little clownish and my forehead too but besides that I am looking good.
We ride bikes only ocassionaly. They are so hard to ride here in Bangkok because of the sheer number of cars. Some other areas ride them all the time but here we don't. It also depends on the missionary. Elder Shill thinks it's better to ride them in the country and here it's better to just walk and talk to people. I tend to think it's the best option. Also you get to talk to your companion more and get to know them better.
Elder Shill is awesome. He didn't attend college but I think he will be going to BYU starting Winter Semester. He's a way nice guy and we get along very well!
This week was a great week! Thailand of course is still the most awesome place on the face of the earth. We taught one of our progressing investigators this week who has been learning with the Elders for about a year. He really wants to get baptized but his parents don't fully approve. His name is Brother เอก. (Eg). He's about 20ish and has a great testimony. He's doing really well. Another investigator we taught was ป๊อป (Bawb.... sort of.....) He's a good investigator also. He actually has a baptisimal date. On switch-offs Elder McBride, one of the zone leaders, and I didn't have much luck finding anyone new to teach despite our best efforts. But Elder Shill and Elder Day found many people. The rejection from Thai people isn't really rejection, it's so gentle and kind. When Thai people aren't interested they mostly just smile and say thank you but no thank you. They are all so generous and kind and so wonderful! I really love them so much. Not to mention funny. Thai people are hillarious. There's this brother in our ward who is seriously the funniest man I have ever met. He speaks English really well and speaks Thai SO fast but so clearly that I can understand him pretty well. He loves to use Engilsh words in the middle of Thai sentences. So he will be go along in Thai and throw in an English word. It's so awesome. Huge fan.
Thailand is just so fun! Of course being a missionary is hard work and exhausting but it's so amazing to see the genuine changes that people undergo as they see how Jesus Christ can change their lives. I see it everyday in one form or another. Miracles happen everyday and they are all around us. We just have to be willing to look for them. And we definitely see them everyday in Thailand. This place is so special to me and will always be. Seriously besides the fact that it's the most fun I've ever had, it's also the most faith affirming experience ever too.
This last week I went to the tallest buildling in Thailand. It was really fun. They had a sweet buffet that had all kinds of yummy food! And to see the extent of Bangkok is INSANE. Bangkok is HUGE. I don't think we have any comphrehension even as people who live here how big it is. I got some pictures that I will hopefully get organized and be able to send home soon. Thailand is like one giant picture really though. There are temples everywhere. They are so pretty. Next week we will probably go to one of them that's really near our house.
Oh, finally, the street system in Thailand. Here's how it works. Major streets (we live on one called Nawamin) break off into things call soys (poor Romanization), evens on one side and odds on the other side. Soys breaks down further into something that I can't remember the name of. The soys are not trafficked at all hardly unless they are a REALLY major soy.
Anyway, I think that's about it for today. The Thai is coming, the teaching comes as I put my trust in God and everything is going great. Seriously if I could express my love for Thailand I would. People reading this probably think I am obsessed but it's seriously so awesome! Everyday is like a new adventure and a new opportunity to understand and to help people. And today we get a chance to teach English. It's actually way fun. Hard to keep it fun sometimes but still awesome.
Alright, I'm out. Love you all so much. Praying for you everyday. Thanks for your support, I miss you all!
With Khwaamrag! (Love)
Elder Jacob Newman