The joy continues here in the Land of Smiles. This week was SO fun, I loved it! Loy gratong is a festival that happened to fall on my birthday this year! It's a festival where people put these things called กระทงs on the water that have candles on them. They are made from banana leaves and flowers. In the North they float things that are kind of like hot air balloons. It's a day off of work, too. So that day we got up and had District Meeting where the Sisters bought doughnuts to celebrate my birthday from Dunkin Doughnuts. Then we went out to dinner with Brother Pete and Brother J. They took us to a Korean BBQ place which are WAY popular here in Thailand. We stuffed ourselves full and then Brother Pete surprised me with a cake. I was then sung to by the performer at the restaurant. They made me stand up so everyone would see me. Then we went to see ลอยกระทง in the river. It was WAY fun! It was a great day all in all. I really enjoyed it a lot. It's weird to not be a teenager anymore for sure. It's also weird to think about the fact that on my 20th birthday I was 8,000 miles away!
Anyway, let's start with some CRAZY news first. There is this investigator named Lucky who went to Ubon to be a priest for 3 months. It was an agreement with his parents that he would do it. But he learned with the Elders before and loved it. The entire time he was there, he studied the Book of Mormon and prayed. He came back this past week and is he ready or what! He set a goal to be baptized on the 27th of December, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets baptized before that. We reviewed Lesson 1 with him and he basically taught it to us. Then last night we went with Brother Mon to teach the 2nd lesson, the plan of salvation, and again, he taught us the lesson pretty much. He remembered LITERALLY EVERYTHING. And he loves it to pieces. He reads and prays everyday, asks really deep questions and LOVES the members. He called the members while he was in Ubon. He's living with a member right now. It's crazy! He's way funny and sweet! It really was a testament to the fact that as we strive to work hard, God will bless us. Lucky is just one such case. I was so touched by him as he told us about meeting the Elders. He told us that the day he met Elder Jarrett it was the "purpose of God". And now he's getting ready to be baptized. It's so exciting to see how much he loves it and how WELL he knows it. I have no doubt he will make a great member.
Then Egg! Egg sent me a cake for my birthday. What a great guy. He had his baptisimal interview this last week and did way great. He's good to go and ready to be baptized. And here's the other crazy thing... He asked me to baptize him! So my first baptism that I ever perform will be in a language that is not even my own. Luckily I know the words for the baptism in Thai! I was way shocked when he asked me but way excited. A little scary? Yes!! But exciting, very much so. We are getting ready for his baptism this week and for a fireside we are having on Sunday for newer members (0-24 months in the Church). Egg's dad is very sick in the Isaan, so we will be praying that he will be able to stay here to make this date.
And Prayad. He's doing great. He's really gaining faith, starting to repent and starting to keep the commandments. He loves it. He's so smiley and I can see a change in his actions and in his face. He's more full of light and happier. It's an amazing thing.
Max is still doing well. He's not quite ready to set a goal to be baptized but he does desire baptism and he loves learning. He's gaining faith each time we meet with him. He's changing too. We are hoping that Brother Golf will be a good example to him and help him along the way.
Tell everyone that Thai comes along very well. Of course I feel silly sometimes but it really has improved a TON this moves. People say I am speaking well but I don't know how much of that is actually true. Thai is an adventure. From using correct pronouns to vowel lengths and gramatical patterns, everyday is a new adventure. My comprehension-05t is getting way better. It's really a miracle.
Let me end with some things that I have learned this week. I have learned that God really does prepare people to listen about Jesus Christ. The message that He is risen changes the lives of people everyday. When we watched Finding Faith in Christ this week, I realized how much that means to the Thai people. How that hope can help them. The hope that we can be together as one eternal family forever is a miracle that changes people's lives. God gives us courage in spite of trials. Even if there are days where we get frustrated because we can't speak as well as we wish, God helps us to press forward with faith in Him and His promises. I have no doubt that God prepares a way for us to do the things that are hard. He prepares us to help those around us. Even if it's only a smile that we can offer, I know these simple things can change our lives. Charity has a power that is beyond that which we can comprehend. The power of God isn't found just in the majestic things, it's found in His love that He offers to us and calls us to offer to our fellow men.
This opportunity to be in Thailand reminds me of the frailty of life. One moment we go about and then the next our lives can change. Drug abuse, addictions, hardships, these all change everything. But the one thing that won't change is the love of God. In a world that is ever-changing, we can rely on that love. So when any of us fail to feel the worth within ourselves or fail to understand the reason behind our hardships, the love of God will be there for us. As Cherie Call says, when you need a shoulder bow your head and pray. I know that He lives and that Jesus Christ loved the world so much that he atoned not only for our sins but our heartaches, our sorrows. My testimony grows of that everyday. The message that He is risen gives us hope! I know He lives! Thailand is a land ready for this message.
God loves the Thais. I know I was sent here for a reason. And I can't wait to keep finding out that reason!
Thailand is still swell and I love every moment. Don't worry about me, this is the best thing I have ever or will ever do! I send you with my prayers and blessings.
I love you all so much,
Elder Jacob Newman
p.s.- Send my love to all my friends. Tell them their support is SO wonderful!