Monday, May 24, 2010

The Thai People Are Wonderful

May 24, 2010

Dearest Family,

Sorry I am emailing later than usual, today we actually did service. The faraang family in our branch, the Atnips, are moving to Bangkok so we helped them get packed up. The movers were Thai so we went to help.

This week has been a bit crazy with all the political activity and the missionary activity! Being with Elder Jensen, we put our time out there for sure. I haven't ever come back more exhausted and satisfied in Thailand. I feel like we are really putting forth our effort. We are talking to everyone. And frankly, it's really fun. I remember at first how it's so scary to talk to Thai people. But then you look in their eyes and realize that they love you for trying to speak their language and they are simply so friendly.

We talk to so many people each day. Whether it be about English class or religion, we introduce ourselves, learn new vocabulary together, feel our love for the people, laugh all day long and find people who are willing to listen. I feel like we are on the verge of something big here in Chiang Mai. The area in the past has been a little rough. It has seen some great success but it's also been a little slow. But we are seeing miracles as we exercise faith. I think the greatest miracles we see, however, are in our own perspectives. I have seen my perspective of life change. We met a man the other day who told us that he didn't think about tomorrow. He only thought about today. I thought about how in our own lives, an eternal perspective is a crucial aspect in creating a happy life. When we know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going, life gains purpose. Life becomes more than simple suffering and happiness. Suffering becomes a time of purification. Sanctity. We see that we do have a purpose for being here and that we all come from, what I have come to call in Thai, the highest royal being.

And so the work in Chiang Mai pushes on! This last week we got a new investigator every day except for Sunday. I feel very happy about the progress going on in the area. 

As far as the rest of the week, I know that all of you heard about and probably, wait...did panic about the political action in Thailand. No need to worry. Everything is once again peaceful here in Chiang Mai. In fact, there are no symbols of red shirts anywhere. The train station was vacated of red shirts and the city is at peace again. We actually were only put on lockdown for one day because of the action going on in Chiang Mai. I heard about the action in Bangkok and I know it seems very scary. But please don't worry. The areas that were evacuated are Asoke and Ding Daeng which are downtown Bangkok. They will be able to go back soon hopefully.

Actually, Elder Oaks came for a special stake conference this past weekend along with Bishop Burton and Elder Halstrom. Elder Oaks gave a special prayer for peace in the country. It's pretty miraculous they came. The political action of last week fizzled out at a very auspicious time for them to come. In fact, it's too much to be coincidental.

Elder Halstrom gave a mission conference that we watched via Skype. It was great. He talked about changing something in the things we do today to be a better missionary. He also answered questions and gave some great counsel.

There were so many faraangs at Church this last week. The BYU group and a group doing an internship in Chiang Raay. It was pretty crazy. There weren't enough headsets and translation was a bit difficult. SarahJane's friend will be here for three months. Pretty funny how that worked out like that. She's living in a different amphoe called Sangamphaeng where the District Leader companionship used to live. The group seems to love it even though, except for a few returned missionaries, they can't speak Thai at all. What a neat opportunity to come back and do humanitarian service in Thailand.

Anyway... Thailand continues to be wonderful! 
This week there were some great things that happened. We met a family named Yuun (the dad) and Faam (the mom). They are Catholic and seriously the most generous people I have met. The first time they saw us they said to us "You look so happy, how can we be as happy as you are?" They don't quite get the impact of our message however. Granted, Thai isn't their first language - they are hill tribe people. They sell fried treats, Thai custard and drinks at franchise stands that are common across Thailand. But they don't quite get the idea of the restoration or of authority. We are going to keep working with them and help them to read in the Book of Mormon, gain testimonies and get to Church. They are so kind. They feed us so much fruit and so many treats I feel guilty. They live in a tiny wooden house that's just off the center of the city. Humble circumstances. I hope they can get it.

Noy, a baptisimal dater, didn't come to Church this week, sadly. I thought for sure he would come but we found out he's on the wagon for baptism. We just need to get members involved and help him gain more faith. I know this is possible. He's shown his faith already by being so gracious to us and really listening to us intently.

Ploy is a literal diamond (ploy is the word diamond) in the rough. She's a great investigator. She's progressing so well and gaining a testimony. She's going to be a solid convert because she has her dad in the Church who's the rock, Brother Biw, and she has lots of friends in the Young Women's. She's reading scriptures and excited about baptism. I love seeing how her faith is growing and how she really has a desire to do the things that are right!

Like I said earlier, Elder Jensen and I are on fire with new investigators. Just keep praying we can find the ones who are really ready. We are so willing to work and so willing to find them. I just want to help these people see how having that eternal perspective changes everything. I love this place. Ah, the food, the people, the missionary work, even the heat, I just love it. Even when it's hard, I'm so glad I made the decision to come here. Life as a missionary is one of the most fun and most rewarding experiences you will ever have. I feel so focused and motivated to stay focused. My priorities have changed for the better and I see how God worked in my life to bring me to this point. It's crazy to look back and see how everything leads to the point we are at now. It's like a great chain of events that lead to a great story.

I love this time to serve God. As it approaches my year mark I feel sad to think it's almost halfway over but I'm determined to make it the best mission possible! No regrets because it's really not my mission it's God's mission. Once we realize it's His, not our, work, missionary work becomes much more fun and less stressful. It becomes about love and not about anything else. And I love it. It's been a great moves so far. One of the best of my mission and I am grateful to be here in Chiang Mai. I love you all and pray for you daily. Remember that God loves you too! I had so many experiences this week that made me think of God's love, from the man who's girlfriend left him to talking to Brother Off who's struggling right now, God loves us. Don't ever forget it. Ever. 

Love you all lots,

Elder Jacob Newman

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