Greetings and salutations from the land of smiles! All continues to go well as the hot season approaches and we are enjoying Nong Khai. It's been a pretty good week. A bit fast and it's all a bit of a blur but it's been going really well.
It's crazy to think that in four days I will hit my 6th month mark in country! Being in Thailand is really such an experience. I feel I have learned so much but it has gone too fast! It's crazy, it's like a whirlwind. As Nicole said, you have two years to serve the Lord and the rest of your life to think about it. I thought about that this last week as I reflected on how fast it has gone. I feel so blessed to be here in Thailand at this time and to see wonderful things happening everyday. Granted, it's hot and there are lots of challenges, but that's where the fun comes in, right? Thailand is a magical place. I know I say that every week but I think about it so often here.
Thailand is full of temples. I am always surprised how many wads we see around here. Even in the middle of nowhere you will see wads that are ornately decorated with gold and unique Thai design. The other day we were riding past one and they started ringing their bells. I don't understand much of the Buddhist culture but it is beautiful and something that I really love about Thailand.
Nong Khai is pretty small and so most of our investigators right now have come through referrals. The branch here is built from referrals. They are the way missionary work works! When we introduce our friends to the gospel, it's the way that they come to see the sweet fruits of it. This branch is built from referrals from Mae Khlong (Mother Fluent) who is now living in Orem running a Thai restaurant called Thai Chili Garden. The owner, Brother Sitiwong, just returned from a trip to America. He speaks English very well and has quite a nice house in Nong Khai. He gave us a referral this week that we have been teaching named Taengthai (Cucumber). She is young but pretty interested. I love seeing the members share the gospel. It's really amazing to see how something that we take for granted like prayer is such a new and exciting concept to others. Teaching prayer to Thai people is one of my favorite things. I feel that prayer has real power.
I feel so blessed to be here in Thailand! It's way hot but I love it! I wish I could express my love for this place enough really. I have come to see these people as my brothers and sisters. I can't speak their language as well as I would like to but I love them so much! I love the beauty of their language, their smiles, their traditions. I think that as a missionary in Thailand I have come to see how as children of God, we really aren't all that different. Sure I am Christian and most of Thailand is Buddhist, they have darker skin and I am really white, but I have seen that we all have the same needs, the same desires. We love our families just the same. I love that. And that's the greatest lesson I have learned in my time here.
Anyway. Our investigators and other news! This week we did a lot of elimination of our old investigators. Pretty much we are down to our three main ones- Jiab, and Yo/Jid. Jiab is doing pretty well. She is searching for that spiritual witness. I don't know exactly how to help her gain it. I feel like she has a desire to do it but yet it is hard to see how to help her. I don't think for me it was necessarily an event that helped me understand that the Gospel was true but rather a journey. I think she, like many of us, is on that journey. She sees the positive change in her husband and wants that change to help their family. With her, I have pondered about how family prayer can be a blessing to families. I encourage everyone to pray as a family morning and night! It will strengthen us in times of trials and keep us closer as families. I know that it is a blessing to us all.
Yo and Jid are doing well but still also lack that spiritual witness. They see the good things but want to be more sure. We taught with Brother Sitiwong this week who they really look to as an authority for religious belief. It was great. In Thailand, the members CARRY the missionary work forward and I know that as they continue to step up and take their roles, they will see miracles in Thailand. They, as converts, carry the spirit so strongly. I have seen that here and I have seen that in Bangkapi. Thai people can really teach the gospel so well and in such a way that is understandable to Thai people. I love that there are so many Thai elders and sisters in the mission to help us press the work forward. They are such a valuable asset! I hope that one day they can just have zone conferences and everything in Thai because they are the bulk of the missionaries! One day!
As for other work this week, I feel that our visits to less actives and recent converts went well. I love seeing the strength of the recent converts here in Nong Khai. They are firmly rooted in the gospel and have testimonies that are anchored in Jesus Christ. I have realized that we must anchor our testimonies in Christ and in His teachings. As we do this, come what may, we will have the happiness that Christ has promised us. Bind ourselves to Christ and never let go. He is the Redeemer and He will help us. As we record our spiritual impressions and ponder upon him, I know that we will look back and see miracles. Everyday there are miracles, we just fail to look for them. Looking back, I have seen miracles in Thailand. Everyday! Whether it be as simple as understanding a conversation or the joy of finding someone who will listen to our message, miracles are all around us.
I don't know if I ever told you all how much I love you. I have gained such an appreciation for everything you have done for me. Every one of you is a blessing to me and I know that you are truly angels in my life. There are people who come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn and I feel that my siblings, my nieces and nephews, the extended family and my Thai brothers and sisters and my friends, the extended family of God are all blessings in my life.
I love you all. Always have Faith in Christ!
Elder Jacob Newman