Monday, May 3, 2010

A Trip to Bangkok and a New Companion

May 3, 2010

Dearest Family,

It's been a crazy week - what with moves meeting and all. But it's been a really great week at the same time. The funny thing about this moves is how almost everyone in my group went senior companion or were placed with someone of the close age. Actually, several people in my group went trainer this moves. It's pretty intense to think that we are now old enough to be trainers and to do all of that. I realized this moves, however, how much Thai we can understand and how long we have really been here. I

Anyway, the trip to moves was bittersweet. It was really sad to say goodbye to Elder Day. He's going to be a fantastic zone leader in Srinakarin. I will miss him and our fun times here in Chiang Mai but on the trip to moves, I felt sure I would get a great new companion. I got to moves meeting, after a very restless night. (I had to sleep on the top bunk on the train, the most uncomfortable place to sleep ever. I can never sleep on the top.)

Moves meeting really focused on our efforts to find new people and to help people progress. We also talked about how this time in Thailand is a bit stressful and that certain areas are closing for missionary work for the time being. I think it was only the Sisters area in Asoke/Din Daeng. Besides that, they warned us to avoid any red shirt activity.

Anyway, it came to the announcement and Elder Jensen is now my companion. He is awesome and we are going to do some great things here in Chiang Mai. I am excited! Elder Jensen is from Arizona. He has a great personality, so friendly and speaks Thai very well. He has a great attitude and I love his style of teaching and working. He's a hard worker and is very dedicated. There's a word in Thai to describe him that means "to set up heart" which I don't know how to translate the meaning. He's served in Nongkhai and was companions with Elder Peterson, actually. It's going to be sweet. He knows Sarah Jane's freshman roommates, Courtney and Casey. We are getting along great and we've seen some great things so far. Elder Jensen has had two Thai,... well... one Thai and one Laotian, companions.

But the first random happening in Thailand that's been this random happened this week. I got off the train in Chiang Mai and carried some bags onto the platform. I looked to my right and I see. Get this. Stephanie Messick my piano teacher with her new husband! To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I was way confused. We had been on the same train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. She just came here to vacation. She saw us before we got off the train but she didn't see me and then she said to me "Right when you got off the train I was about to ask if the Elders knew you." Turns out, she actually got to see me! She took a picture with me. They said they just came to travel around - they don't speak Thai, clearly, but they will probably have a good time. I was so shocked. Wow! It made my day to run into someone so randomly like that. What are the chances that that would EVER happen?

I can say that I feel genuinely eager to start the moves off and make things happen here in Chiang Mai. I feel that this is the time for Chiang Mai and we're going to see so many things happen!

I still get to translate every week in church. There are actually members who live here in Chiang Mai from America. One family has three children and he works for the government doing something here in Thailand. There are also single members who own a world renowned fly-fishing company called Rainy's where a lot of the members work who attend Church weekly. They can't speak Thai.

Did you ever see where the Church is on google earth? You should be able to find it pretty easily. It's by a wad called wad phrasing (a temple). I will write it in Thai for you to find it วัดพระสิงห์. It's a pretty big and noticeable wad that's in a well trafficked and touristy part of the city. You should have no problem finding it. It is right near our house.

A lesson that I seem to keep learning every week is how we are all children of God. I have seen that so intimately here in Thailand. Everyday we go out and share our hearts and tell these people of their eternal potential. Sometimes they don't listen. Other times they tell us all religions teach us to be good. But in the end, that piece of knowledge is so crucial and so valuable. If we know that we are children of God, we know that we come from someone who is divine. We know we have a bright future. I’ve seen that as I have taught and invited. Elder Jensen has real power when he invites. It seems like he speaks straight from his heart. Also with him, I have seen how all of the sudden, I feel way comfortable talking with everyone.

Each and EVERY one of my companions has been SUCH a blessing to me. I've seen how we can really make a difference even if it's only to the companion we are with. I've also seen how God works in the lives of his children one by one. The members in Thailand are just like that. They all have a story that's unique and special as to how they found the Church and stayed active. I think, however, the most important lesson I've learned is how much of an influence the things my own parents did for me made.

Serving a mission has been the greatest decision I ever made in my life. Hands down. I've changed drastically and I will never be the same person again. That's just the facts. I've seen how everything in my life is different. First of all, I feel healthier. Second of all, I speak and read Thai (who would have guessed that one) but most of all, I feel the happiest and closest to God I've ever felt. It's great. I can't explain. In Thai we say I explain incorrectly. That's the way I feel. Anyway, I'm doing great. I don't have much to report from this week besides just remember the difference we can make. Each and every one of us has something we can do to change someone's life today. So don't just sit around, go out and do it!

I love you lots and pray for you always,

With Love,

Elder Jacob Newman

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