All is well here in the land of smiles and joy! It has been a good week with lots of great experiences and all kinds of joy. We had some really miraculous things and some really funny things too. Of course, Thailand is always a joy and it brings such adventure. The best way to describe Thailand is probably as the land of contrast. There is the contrast of the old and the new everywhere.
Conference is coming up this week so that's pretty exciting. I'm happy to hear about Brother Saakha. Elder Shill has actually met his family from his home town, a tiny town called Gumphawaphi in the Isaan. They couldn't communicate with his mom very well since she spoke Isaan. Isaan is closer to Laotian, which is close to Thai but still very different.
I have heard great things about all of the missionaries in my MTC district. Some are in Bangkok but there are a lot out in the Isaan with one in Chiang Rai. I hear everyone is doing really well. Elder Holt is in an adjacent zone to mine and he's doing great! He has such a great attitude. He is doing amazing things and I have no doubt that will continue.
Anyway, on to some things that happened this week. First big news: we will be having a baptism right before the end of moves if all goes well! One of our investigators, who might as well be a member named Egg has decided, after a year of learning, to get baptized this November. He set his own date! And we are really excited. We are going to be working to prepare him for baptism. He has a great, great testimony.. He will make a great member for the ward. It's been really fun to get to know him and to work with him. He's such an example of how people can change. He started out as an English student who didn't feel ready to pray and is now studying and praying daily and attending Church every week.
Another great experience has been our work with Bro. Boon. He's a member whose mom is a very strong member in the Isaan but he hasn't been active for years. He approached us wanting help to come back. The way he was found was pretty crazy. His nephew, Mii (bear) lives with him here in Bangkok to go to school.. He was baptized and the Sisters sought to get him back to Church. His uncle, Brother Boon, was ready to come back. He really wants to come back and back strong. We have been reviewing doctrine with him and he has been reading in the scriptures daily on his own. (We didn't even know he was doing that till last week!) He's really trying so hard and it's so great how much strength he has. He's so nice and really such a great guy! Elder Shill and I are SO happy with our work with helping him.
When we contact people on the street, we don't call it contacting, we call it inviting. I am a little scared of inviting still. But, I started talking to this security guard and he was WAY nice and actually interested. Then we came back the next day and he had remembered that we were going to come back and waited for us. We had a GREAT 20 minute lesson with him and he was just so awesome. After we finished, he asked us how he could get to Church. What?!? When does that happen in Thailand? Not very often. We will have to see how it goes with him. We gave him the BOM and he seems really interested. Then the next guy I invited on the same street was way interested too. We didn't get an appointment or a number from him but it really increased my courage to open my mouth, even if it's scary with the language.Then we invited another man last night at a southern Thai food restaurant. After Elder Shill talked about the BOM and how it explains what life is like after death, he asked us in seriousness: “What will life be like after death?” And he invited us to sit down! It was crazy. He seemed to be really interested also. This has been a real blessing for us as we have had a harder time finding people lately.
I have a testimony that while people often reject our message here in Thailand, there are people out there who God is touching. Often the greatest miracles aren't the ones that seem big, but the ones that seem small. From seeing someone slowly gain the courage to pray to watching as someone gains a testimony of the Savior, inch by inch, people change. Sometimes it's hard to face rejection but the rejection is not a rejection of us personally. In fact, Thai people love to talk to us because we actually speak Thai which is a bit odd for faraangs. Some days it's hard to see the big picture. So often we get bogged down in the here and now. But I have come to see when we focus on the bigger things, not the small things, that's where true happiness will be. I have seen the things that really matter here in Thailand. In the end, money may seem to bring joy but in reality the things that bring joy are the simple things: family, faith, love, kindness. I think that's another thing I love about the Thais. So many of them see the important things in life. Some have so little but are so happy. They are happy because they see the big picture.
They are reducing the size of the mission. They are eliminating 10 Elder's areas very soon. It's going to be a small mission. But it should be great still. The members will be able to do it. They have the faith to do it!
We will be seeing conference this Saturday and Sunday in Thai but our ward mission leader, Brother Mon, who speaks PERFECT English due to being a missionary in America, got it for us in English so we can listen to it in English and watch it with our Thai brothers and sisters.
Alright family, well I love you all dearly and deeply. I love Thailand and I know that there is a reason that I am here. While it's so humbling most of the days to think how hard this is, it's totally worth it everyday. We see miracles everyday that press us forward. We see the lives of people changing. We see the faith of members and we see the power of Jesus Christ here in Thailand. We see new converts who have testimonies and desires to help the work in Thailand. We see the power that our Father in Heaven has to help his children. And to help us. Everyday I feel so grateful to be a witness for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He helps us each day as we experience hardships to keep a smile on our face, delicious food in hand, and a desire to help our Thai brothers and sisters!
With Love and Joy! Sending Blessings to you,
Elder Jacob Newman
p.s.- Let my friends know I will try to be less of a bad correspondent. But it's hard. So send love.