Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What a Blessing to Be in Thailand!

June 7, 2010

Dearest Family,

Today we went to the Chiang Mai Zoo for an activity. The Zoo is awesome. I would highly recommend it, especially if you can get in on the Thai rather than the faraang price. They write the faraang price in roman numerals and the Thai one in Thai numerals. It's pretty funny.

Wow. What a crazy week. I don't know where to start. First of all I met Sister Limsukon - the sister missionary from Chiang Mai that we met in DC. She's now engaged. She's a ward missionary. It's weird to hear her speak Thai if only because her English is so good.

In other news, one of our investigators told us that he thinks Joseph Smith is a prophet of God or "apostle" but he said he would pray about it. We were on the verge of dropping him but he told us that his pastor from his Lahuu (hill tribe) Church is complaining that we are teaching him and his family. He feels a lot of social pressure but he wants to seek out truth. We met with him at the walking market yesterday. I was shocked at his willingness to do these things.

We found lots of great new people to teach this week. Some of them, however, we are turning over to other people in the district. For example, Elder Jensen invited a man out of work who is very interested. His name is Puu. That means crab. We met him along the street and when we saw him we asked him how he was doing. He said he was Catholic and out of work. We offered to give him a tour of the Church. We went and taught him a great first lesson. He said he felt like Joseph in a search for truth.

Other news. Investigators are picking up these days. Ploy continues to do great. Ploy told us about how she was sick but how she prayed and how her testimony was confirmed as she prayed and exercised faith. She expressed a belief in the restoration and in the gospel. It was a great last lesson. We are finding some great people. We had an Errand of Angels-esque moment except the investigator was falling asleep. It was on a first lesson. Elder Jensen extended the baptismal commitment and he seemed really to have quite a change around.

I hit my one year mark. Probably the weirdest moment of my time in Thailand. I felt so old and yet so young. I don't know how to describe it exactly. I feel like I just barely got here and now it's just slipping before me. It's so funny how we think we just barely figure things out, e.g. Thai, being a missionary and then by the time we do it's almost (well key word almost) passed away right before us. Life is so short. Don't waste it. I wasted way too much of it in the past. It's a sad reality to think that time that I could have been doing things worthwhile, I just sat around. But there's always the future to change. I love that about the gospel, it looks towards the future. Sure we mess up in the past, but we can always look forward to the future. I know that this is how God wants us to think about our lives. I have seen how our investigators have changed their lives as they look to the future. I think the purpose of my mission is to gain a perspective on life and to help these people gain a similar perspective. This work isn't easy, I won't ever say that. In fact, it's really hard. But frankly, if it weren't as hard as it was, I wouldn't really want to do it. The amount of work we put in is so worth it every second of every day.

I don't think I am changing companions this moves. I know that there's something great about to happen in Chiang Mai. We are seeing things really pick up. Please keep praying we will find people who are ready to act, not just ready to listen. Please pray that we will find people who will understand the impact of our message and not merely the fact that we come to teach good. Please pray that we will work hard every day.

This week I saw that we have to forget ourselves and just love these people. I love Thailand so much. Even when it's hard, hot and no one seems to be listening, there is nothing like the Thai smile - this last week we met a man with the brightest smile I have ever seen - or nothing like the kindness of Thai people. From the old grandpa we met while inviting in a neighborhood, to the people who simply act as if we don't exist, I feel an intimate and deep connection to all these people. I look around and see children of God, everywhere. And I just love them so much. From investigators who have taught me so much about life, to the people who cook our food on the streets, to everyone we talk to, I feel God loves them all. I love them all too. Chiang Mai with Elder Jensen has been a miracle because we are seeing people change their lives. I love this opportunity to be here in Chiang Mai. To be here in Thailand. What a blessing!

I love you all so very much and pray for you daily. Never forget the Savior- even if you do, He doesn't forget you.


Elder Jacob Newman

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