Monday, January 25, 2010

Rainy Days in Nong Khai and Faith

1/25/2010 or (2553)

Hello Family,

I imagine that everyone is doing well! This week I have had a bit of a cold. I picked it up from the Zone Leaders who came for switch off this week with Elder Peterson and me. I am getting over it now, however.

Anyway, another good week here in Nong Khai. I can't believe we are heading down to renew our visas and go to moves meeting on Wednesday! It's crazy how fast this moves has gone. This week was really great. It rained this week for two days straight which was a little rougher. Thai people don't go outside in the rain or they believe you will get sick. So we had a lot of appointments fall through on those two days. The temperature, however, felt really nice and cool. It was a little wet though.

This last week we spent a long day at the Church for Elder Peterson to do interviews and have a branch presidency meeting. So that day, I got a lot of reading done. I like to spend my time writing in my journal so I can keep caught up or reading the Bible in Thai. The language of the Bible is really fun to read and it reflects Thai grammar better than the Book of Mormon. I found a really cool verse in there the other day. It was about Christ praying in Gethsemane where He says something in Thai to the effect of "Father if thou be willing take this cup from me but not according to my *heart* but according to your will." I thought that was a really neat translation. It never hit me that it could be translated that way before. Often times when we read scriptures in another language, we understand better. Thai also makes the Isaiah chapters easier because it uses different pronouns to determine when God is talking and when Isaiah is commenting. Another joy of Thai pronouns!

Church was great yesterday. We had a great talk about patience by Sister Ngek and another good talk about keeping baptismal covenants by Brother Nui. The classes were also great. We saw three investigators at Church too! We had Jiab and Yo with Jid.

We teach English on Wednesdays. About 20 people attend. Elder Chiu and I teach basic. Basic is hard to teach because it's mostly taught in Thai. But it's pretty fun. English has brought in a lot of members here in the past. Lots of members attend actually. It's a great chance for them to practice English. English is pretty fun to teach, even if basic is a little hard. It's a good chance to practice Thai, that's for sure!

We ride our bikes a lot. It's almost completely flat here. They are the cheapest and most convenient way to get around. It's always fun to see the countryside. We ride by wads and rice paddies with animal life and then we also get to see markets and all kinds of other sites.

Anyway, onto the happenings of the week. Tuesday I switched off with Elder Brown. He's a great guy. He's in Elder Peterson's group. We went and taught a less active member named Brother Tawng who works at driving a saam law (three wheeled car). The lesson was a bit distracting with his little boy but it was a good lesson. Then we went and saw an investigator who has been an investigator for 5 years named Ting. He's just not quite ready at this point. He's encountered some opposition from his wife and isn't quite ready. We taught him a lesson about Alma 32 that went well and it really gave me some new insights into faith and perceptions of how we should act on our faith. We must rely on God but we must also realize that after we pray and ask God for help we need to go out and take action. True faith is a matter of action - God expects us to put in our work too. That, in turn, will lead to the desired results in our lives. God will work miracles but we must show our willingness to act and to do the things that will bring about change in our lives.

This week we also taught lessons with the super sharp Sister Priaw and the awesome Brother Nui (a member who used to be Catholic- was raised Catholic). Those were both good lessons. They are both really great members who have such great understanding. Sister Priaw always has great scriptural insights, sharing a verse with us every time we meet. Brother Nui has a lot of great faith and really has a firm understanding of the true meaning of faith. Often faith is not a matter of miracles, faith is a matter of the ordinary events of our every day lives.

We also found out this week that Kaeg will be going south for a time to do some healing. We don't know how long it will be, he doesn't have any idea. His brothers/sisters/relatives (unclear which?) asked him to do it. So he will be down there for a time, sadly. He has a great desire to be baptized and to keep the commandments but his time is not yet come for baptism.

Yo and Jid, however, finally made it to Church. They are looking for a special experience with God. Elder Peterson taught them on switch offs and so did I when I switched off with our district leader, Elder D. We both get the feeling that they have a lot of sincerity and that God will hear and answer their prayers, it's just a matter of them expressing faith by coming to Church often. They keep commitments and ask really great questions. They are deep thinkers who really ponder the things that we teach and try to apply the things they learn from the scriptures.

Jiab is doing well. Her ultimate concern is abandoning former traditions. She expresses her concerns openly. She, however, is still expressing faith and slowly but surely, I have seen a change in her from the first week I got here. We taught her both Saturday and Sunday. She is still searching for that spiritual witness. We will keep working with her to establish a firmer faith in Jesus Christ and to see her eventually gain that spiritual witness.

And we also saw the Primary President, Sister Khraysii this week. She's a soft-spoken woman with a lot of faith. She ponders the scriptures deeply and speaks with the Spirit. She lives in an open air house where he husband raises chickens and she sells pigs blood. She told us about the scripture in Matthew about His yoke/burden. It was a great lesson with her and great to be introduced to her. Another example of a great member in Thailand. The members who demonstrate faith despite challenges and who see the eternal perspective on the world.

Anyway, besides that, everything is going well. We continue to eat delicious food and enjoy fairly good health besides my cold right now. Thailand is the happiest place on earth, as always. I hope that all is going well at home and that everyone is enjoying the Utah winter. I pray for you all daily and know that as we rely on God, He will bless us. When we exercise faith unto action, we will see great results in our life.

With love and hope in Christ,

Elder Newman

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