February 22, 2010
I hope that all is going well for you all this week. Things are great up here in Nongkhai. The weather is starting to heat up with an odd exception this last Friday. The temperature dropped to about 75 degrees. It was freezing and I am not even kidding. I was shivering! We got home and the house felt cold too. For the first time ever, I wish I had long sleep pants. But that was just an odd happening on our part. Nongkhai is cooler than Bangkok typically but not that much cooler.
Things are just simply marvelous this week. If marvelous were an adequate description I think that would be it. Unfortunately, it isn't quite good enough. This week was simply amazing. It is possibly the most miraculous week I have seen in Thailand.
Zone Conference was pretty good. It's a long drive to Khon Kaen. But we had some good training on finding new investigators and we discovered that our schedule will undergo a massive change starting March 1st. It's actually an experiment to see how it effects how we work. We will get up at 6, go out from 7:30-1:30, study from 1:30- 4:00 then go out from 4:00-8:30 with meal time in there. 8:30 we will plan and 10:00 we will go to bed. I am really curious to see how it works. They brought up the point that really from 1:00 – 4:00 NO one is outside because it's the hot part of the day. And it's true. In the early morning, the town is bustling. You see people going to the market to buy their foods, men commuting to work, women putting their laundry out to hang in the sun, and children playing in the street. Besides that, Zone Conference was pretty good. It's always fun to see everyone from my group. In our two Zones (Udorn and Khon Kaen) we have Elder Crowley and I along with Elder Holt and Sister Akagi. They are all doing really well! Everyone looks so trim and healthy. I guess that's what you get from bike riding and lots of quality exercise.
Anyway, onto the big news of the week. So we got back from Zone Conference at about 5:00 and we had an appointment at the Church with Jiab at 6:00. She called to make sure it was still on and apparently she had stepped on a nail so she had to go get it fixed up and get shots at the doctor. But we met her at the Church and wow. It was an amazing lesson. We followed up on lots of things she was concerned with, namely the 10 commandments and knowing if God was there, along with her family prayer. She had kept her commitment to pray as a family, even praying in the car one day they forgot. I really felt her growing testimony so strongly! She all of the sudden, had all of her concerns resolved and came to the lesson and was... different. She also started using the pronoun Sister.
In Thai, when we talk about ourselves, we can use all kinds of pronouns. Technically I could say "Elder knows that Christ lives" and it would be the same as saying I know Christ lives or I could say Phii - older sibling- knows that Christ lives. Sister is a pronoun that sisters in the church use frequently. It was quite a noticeable thing.
She told us about how she's coming to know that God is there. She said there are so many things that have changed in her life since she started learning. Then she talked about how at first she said "I heard Brother Somluck talk about eternal families and being together forever. And I told myself mai aw- which means I don't want it- but then I started to learn and see how he changed" I saw the transforming power of Christ as her heart softened. She is such a dedicated person in everything she does. And so she will be getting baptized soon. I don't know what really changed her spiritual witness issue. I feel that as they prayed together, something changed.
After the lesson, Elder Peterson and I looked at each other and said "Wow. She's progressed a lot in the past week." The transforming power of the atonement can't be underestimated. It changed Brother Somluck and it's changing Jiab as we speak. The next day we met with her to review baptismal questions and she answered them from her heart. She is honest. Jiab is not one to lie, she will tell it to you straight out. I see within Jiab the fruits of our labors. Her small seed of faith began to sprout, then flourish and grow into something wonderful. She has desire to do good continually. She has a desire to be baptized. She now says she wants that eternal family for her and Brother Somluck. This one lesson, followed by another great lesson, made all the week of heat, false appointments (that's what we call them in Thai), and discouragement worth it. I think it's amazing to see how as we just simply work and go about our days, praying for our investigators, miracles just happen. God watches out for His children and takes care of their needs.
Yo and Jid are also doing great. They made the week worth it two fold. Our last lesson with them, we taught with Brother Terdsak. He helped so much to help them understand and he friendshipped them well. They are waiting to get baptized. They have faith. They are doing the things they should. They are following the commandments and I see within them much of what I see within Jiab. I see the seed of faith, once small, sprouting and growing slowly but surely. Granted, Jiab's seemed to sprout within the matter of a week.
God really blessed us this week. It so often works like that. We will go through times where it's just not exactly working how we want it to. Often we will have pain and wonder why. Often we will be rejected over and over again and wonder why. At these times, however, I know God is near. God loves us. He loves you and he loves the people in Thailand. Christ's atonement has infinite power to change both you and me. I know that Christ brings us true strength and because of Him, I have seen the most miraculous week in Thailand.
I really love you all and I know your prayers helped this week. Families can be together forever! Pray for Jiab to continue to gain that testimony.
Sending love and joy to America,
Elder Jacob Newman