This week has been super great. The weather is nice and sunny all the time in the city of angels. You can only vaguely tell that it's Christmas in the areas that have more foreigners.
This week was a week of goodbyes. That was a sad thing for me, but I think that it taught me a lot of good lessons. We saw Brother Boon again this week and he's doing really well. He has such a desire to keep the commandments and to repent. I haven't really ever seen someone quite like him. I remember one of my first days in Thailand we went to visit him. Granted, at that point I couldn't understand what was going on at all, but I felt his desire to come back to Church. And now to see him attending Church weekly has been such a blessing.
We went to the Christmas party at the Asoke building. Asoke is downtown! The heart of Bangkok! We took a "Khlong Monster" (Khlong with the wrong tone means fluent, khlong in this case means like the river/canal) or a boat to the event from a place called The Mall Bangkapi. We went with Brother Egg and two investigators. It was really fun to see everyone! I got to see Stop for just a second. He looks great and is always so friendly. I also got to see one of Stop's friends who I met on a day that I switched off in Stop's area.
Sunday was sad for me to think that it was my last Sunday here in Bangkapi. I will miss everything about this place. From our Bishop who works SO hard for this ward to all the members here who really demonstrate their faith, it's a GREAT place. I will miss everything about here. We had a fireside with a Sister missionary who finished a while back but served here in Bangkapi. She's a Thai sister who will be attending BYU Provo this winter. Then they asked both me and Sister Amnuaychoke to share our testimonies since we would be leaving. It was pretty emotional for me. And for Brother Egg, too. Brother Egg is really sad that I am leaving Bangkapi but we will always be friends! He gave a talk on the plan of salvation in sacrament meeting that day that was incredible! He speaks Thai so clearly! Brother Egg really taught me that people are prepared. I don't know if I ever told the story about how he came to meet the missionaries but it's a good one so I will tell it again.
Over a year ago, the Elders were giving out English fliers at the Mall Bankgapi. Egg saw one of the Elders greet a beggar and smile at him and he stopped and wondered, "What is that person doing and how can he be so happy?" He took a flier from them but unfortunately when he tried to call the number, the Elders’ number had changed! But he found them again a few weeks later. He went to learn English. The Sister who came back to Bangkapi for the fireside was the Sister who taught the advanced class that he was in. And he expressed a desire to learn about the Church. After that, he gained a strong testimony. He read the Book of Mormon. He experienced difficulties with his family accepting his decision and didn't quite know what to do. But in the end, he decided to press forward. He learned with the Elders on and off for about a year until he approached us and said he was ready. Then he set a baptismal date. His story teaches us this: What we do when no body is watching can sometimes bring forth miracles.
Yesterday, we saw Brother Chaliaw for the last time! I have never seen a man who is so humble and so willing to follow God's commandments. He has such a love for God and is so excited in his quiet way about our Father in Heaven. He shared his testimony of prayer yesterday and it was amazing! He doesn't say much but when he does, he speaks straight from the heart. It was hard to say goodbye. Even though distance may separate us, we are never far away. It's like what Brother Egg told me roughly in English "When we are far away from one another, we can still feel close to one another as we pray for each other." God bridges the gap. God gives us a chance to feel the love of our loved ones. I really know that.
I really learned this lesson again this week: Perfect love casteth out all fear. I know that's really how we can do everything. Sometimes we may think that we cannot love enough, but I know that as we put forth our best efforts, love can change everything. And I know that as we have the pure love of Christ and try to let our light so shine, we will be able to see the light of others around us.
Although my Thai is getting better I know that being a faraang, I won't ever speak Thai perfectly or chad like a Thai person. But the thing that is important is that the Spirit speaks Thai chad maag! That's a good lesson to remember, when we wonder if we can ever learn Thai.
I will miss here so much and I will miss Elder Olinger. He really is a great missionary! I know that he will continue to do great things here in Bangkapi and will see so many more miracles just like I have seen this moves. He has one moves left.
For some reason that I don’t fully understand, I came to Bangkapi. To see Brother Egg's baptism, to see the faith of Lucky, to see the members of the Church who truly love God has been an amazing experience. I have changed here. This week reminded me how much I really love Thailand! I say that every week but I mean it!
I love you all and miss you all! Thank you for your support and prayers.
Love,Elder Jacob Newman
p.s. - Take your guesses where I am going. There are three possible areas- the North, the Isaan or Bangkok. The North is Chiang Mai/ Chiang Rai. Isaan is the eastern part of Thailand and Bangkok is... well Bangkok.