Greetings from the land where in December it feels like a Utah June! Things are going pretty well here in the land of smiles. I have been a bit sick the past couple of days, but nothing to worry about at all. I am already starting to feel better. I think it was just a little bug of some sort.
Before I forget, next week we will be having P-day on Tuesday since moves will be on a Wednesday. Which, yes...is very strange. There are 14 missionaries leaving so areas will need to be switched around. They are closing many Elders’ areas and at least one Sisters’ area as they are now downsizing the mission. By the end of next moves, there will be less than 100 missionaries in the mission.
Unfortunately, this week was full of appointments that fell through and problems in contacting our investigators. We are still having a hard time finding new investigators. Despite all of that, as we press forward, we see that everything works for our good. And there were things that made it all worth it.
First of all, we had a really hard day earlier last week. We had been out inviting all day, tired and about ready to give up. But we decided to go visit Max, Brother Golf's friend, since we hadn't been able to contact him and he didn't show up to our last appointment. We dropped by Brother Golf's house, called Max and asked if we could talk to him. We talked to him, shared a short thought from the scriptures and then asked him about baptism. He told us that ever since we set the goal for him to be baptized, he has been working to live the word of wisdom. He's also been working to live other laws that we technically haven't taught him yet. He expressed how excited he was about baptism and how he is eager to be baptized. He said that having a goal for his baptism has changed everything.
Lucky continues to do great and is really eager to be baptized. He finished the Book of Mormon the other day and now he's asking great questions about the D and C. He's so great! He has a lot of faith and really loves to meet with us. I have no doubt that he has been prepared for a long time.
In other good news for this week, Brother Egg got to bless the sacrament for the first time this last week. He did it like a pro! Also, he has been asked by the Sisters’ investigator who will be baptized this Sunday to be the person who will baptize her! He's way excited. Yesterday he hit his one mark month since his baptism. It's been so amazing to see Egg's journey into the Church. He's such an example of someone who truly loves the Gospel and desires to serve. He has been asking us lots of questions about what it takes to be a missionary because he has plans to be one in the future. He seems like he really has a desire to do missionary work!
We have also been working with a former investigator named Bobby. He's a bit perplexing and I don't know what to do with him exactly but we will see where he ends up going. We will have to see what happens with him.
We had a rather sad experience this week. Sister Amnuaychoke has not been feeling well. We had a district meeting on Saturday to plan for the Christmas party and she fell very ill. We had to grab a taxi to take her to the hospital. She is out now, but is still not feeling very well. It's been a hard time for her. She is a Thai sister who has lived in Hong Kong most of her life but came back to Thailand to serve a mission.
A lesson that I learned this week was a quote that came from the Emma Smith movie that I really liked. She says something to the effect of "Strength isn't something you have, it's something you find." I think that's so often true in our own lives. So often I think we experience heartache, sorrow, disappointment or rejection, and we view it as something negative for us. But strength is not something we simply have; it's something we find in all of these experiences. Lately, I feel as if I have to rely more and more upon God and find new love that I didn't know I would need. Especially as Christmas approaches in a land where reminders of Christmas are few and far between, I feel particularly grateful for the new hope that Christmas really brings. It reminds me of the Cherie Call songs about Christmas quite a bit. When we need that strength that can only come from Jesus Christ, I reflect upon the song she sings about the little boy giving something that was from his heart. And then she compares it with us. She says something to the effect of "I told him it was broken, but it's all that I have.... And He said it was just what He wanted... It's was my heart..." I think that's the real spirit of Christmas- giving our heart, even when we can't imagine how we can give anymore. I know that as we give our heart, God sees our efforts and blesses us. God doesn't give us any challenge we can't bear. His kindness will really not depart from us. I have seen that more times than I can count.
Some 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ came to earth in the most humble of circumstances. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, was born amidst animals and hay. In the most humble circumstances, the condescension of God is made manifest. He lived a perfect life and yet was scorned and scoffed. But through it all, He lived so that we might live again. He came into the world to take upon us our sorrows and to help us find that strength that we all so earnestly seek. Christmas time is a reminder of all that God has done for us. And to be here in Thailand sharing the knowledge that we have a Redeemer, that we have the ability to overcome heartache and sorrow, that the grave is not the end of our existence, is one of the greatest blessings that I can think of this Christmas time.
And so everything goes well! Despite challenges and trials and lots of hard work, it's so fun to be here. Perfect love casteth out all fear. I know that's the truth, the love of Christ can cast out all fear, I know it can! I know it can.
Anyway, I love you all and pray for you daily. Remember, Thailand is a special place with the best people ever! =)
With love and prayers,
Elder Jacob Newman