It was GREAT to hear from all of you. I loved the notes from Katie and Josh. I miss you both and hope that all is still going well with you. It was also good to hear from David this week. This has been a great week, a bit different than expected but fun and of course joyous. Thailand continues to be the best place on earth. It's been raining more lately but the heat hasn't been too bad. Eventually the heat becomes almost pleasant, however weird that sounds.
Zone Conference was good. President Smith talked about the new way that we will be working with members in Thailand to help missionary work progress. He also talked about the infinite atonement. All in all it was a good time. We had it at our Church here in Bangkapi. It was fun to see all the people from the Bangkok zones and how they are doing. Everyone is getting way good at Thai in my group! I got to see Elder Holt who is doing great in Lopburi with the monkeys And I got to see Sister Young who is in a threesome with Sister O'Neil (our Phiithai from the MTC) and her trainer Sister Hulme, Sister Akagi who is in Pakkhret where the office is, Elder Brix who is doing well and Elder Fowles who is also doing well.
In answer to your questions about rice, Thailand grows a LOT of rice. There are more kinds of rice here than I thought possible. Sticky rice is, of course, the best. Thailand definitely grows a lot of the rice. Elder Shill was telling me about meeting Bro. Saakha's family and how where he is from in the sticks, it's a little place called Gumphawapi, has rice fields galore! With kwaay (water buffalo?) galore. Outside of Bangkok, Thailand has lot of agriculture. Bangkok is like a mixture of the old with the new.
We had a busy end of the week last week with General Conference and Zone Conference. We watched GC in Thai. We listened to some of it in English at the same time but it was HARD to tune out the Thai. I heard Brother Saakha and that brought much joy to my heart! He is so good too! He speaks way clearly and he puts good feeling into it.
On Sunday we had a really neat experience. After conference, we had invited a 19 year old member named Champ to go teaching with us. He came to the Church at the right time and then we were going to go to teach our investigators, two men from the south who own a southern restaurant. But we went and they weren't there. So, Elder Shill decided we should go see a less active 70 year old man named Grajangchoog with Brother Champ. So we went. Brother Champ was amazing! We have never taught with him before but he bore such powerful testimony and talked about how he has a goal to be a missionary despite the fact that, according to him, he's not khemkhaeng (super-active/strong/spiritually strong). He is an AMAZING teacher though. He taught with power from heaven! I really hope he does become a missionary because he would do SUCH a GREAT job.
We have one investigator who decided to go be a Phra in the temple but has been reading in the BOM. I have never met him but he wanted to talk to me on the phone. His name is Lucky. He will be back next month. He's all the way to 4th Nephi in the Book of Mormon! And he's excited to go to Church. That was very exciting.
Oh! I forgot to mention that we had two investigators at Conference! One was Egg, who will be getting baptized here pretty soon. He loves conference and has such a great testimony. He's awesome! And the other is Prayad. He's a great guy! And he came for the first time to the Church and loved it! He works so hard for his family (he has 8 children that he financially supports). He has a really strong testimony of prayer. It's so exciting to see people respond to a belief in God. It really changes their lives. There is something special about Thailand in that sense. The Church in Thailand is the result of many years of hard work and prayers. There are many challenges about being a member but there are those out there who are great people who work hard to be faithful members and to build up the Church here. I wish I could convey that adequately. I also wish I could adequately convey my love for Thailand and the Thai people. I think these past few days it's become even greater as I have tried to be more courageous about talking to people. But it turns out that people think you are cool if you can speak Thai! So no matter how many mistakes I make in Thai, as long as I try to speak I can speak. I am starting to feel more confident about that. It's way fun! Thai is awesome fun. And the language it uses for Church things is SO pretty! Prayer language is my favorite. Thai's complex pronoun system expresses a sense of closeness and reverence towards God. It's so neat.
Anyway, I am so grateful to be here and I love it. Of course, there are harder days but it is a wonderful place with many miracles just waiting to happen everyday! It's a place where a smile expresses the attitudes of a people. A place where joy permeates the air everyday and where the food only gets better and better.
The language continues to become easier as I put myself in situations that are hard! Stretching yourself really brings forth blessings!
May God bless you all! I miss you and think of you often. I send you with my prayers and blessings.
Elder Jacob Newman
p.s.- Send my love to all those within the sound of my voice! Well... not voice per se, but you get the point.