July 20, 2010
I love Thonburi. It's hot and the rejections are pretty intense but I love this place. It's here where I really became acquainted with the feelings of God about His children. I knew God loved his children but I didn't know how much he really did until I came here and I saw God's hand in their lives.
It's here that I have had some of the greatest Isaan food in the country. Even the taam sang here is pretty good. Bangkok has too many treats all over the place. Seriously, if we weren't walking all day I would get fat. From shaved ice, to waffles, fruit that's sweeter than sugar to 7-11s galore, Bangkok and the Thai economy run off of the food industry.
The smell of khlongs, the taste of sweat from every pore and the grime all combine against a background of rowed houses and apartment complexes with some of the most beautiful temples you can imagine. We walk all over, combing the sois for people to talk to, people to teach. And sometimes it rains, especially in the rainy season. Soaked, tired, but, oh, so happy.
We had some interesting experiences of being rejected this week but we continued to work hard and in the end it's paying off because of our two miraculous investigators. Moves is now upon us and I won't be going to moves. There will, however, now be two greenies in Thonburi. What a crazy time. I can't believe it. Elder Perich is going to get a greenie.
In the Bangkok Stake there are 13 wards/branches. There isn't enough membership to support that. In fact what happened to Thonburi is that they split it off into three branches too quickly. At one point Thonburi had 100+ members coming out. But when they split it into the two and then three branches it left the mother branch, Thonburi, weak. Of course, at that point it seemed like growth would let them split the Stake. Thonburi needs more members to function as a ward. Please pray that we can find people who will become attached to the Gospel. Please pray that members will return to activity. We want to help this branch and help these people in this city to see the power of the atonement.
I want to talk about the greatest experiences and the greatest lessons. Cherry and Num. Wow! I have never had investigators quite like this. I can't believe them. We introduced the plan of salvation last time. But before that they told us two incredible experiences. One was a dream of a friend who doesn't know they are learning with us. He said he saw Num holding a gold book, like the gold plates, and that he was cherishing it. And the other one is even more amazing. When we introduced the three degrees of glory, Num and Cherry both smiled. Num shared an experience of how he was reading the bible and praying about heaven before he ever knew anything about the Church and he said that God told him that the kingdom of heaven has three kingdoms - three levels. I was floored. They are keeping commitments better than any investigator I have ever seen. They read the scriptures daily, pray daily. They even read the Joseph Smith history. Cherry asked me to help her sign up for the Liahona and she wanted a Pearl of Great Price. They love the scriptures and are learning so well.
As for me, I love training. It's so awesome. And I realize it's an intense responsibility. Sometimes situations are hard and life gets hard but you always have the Savior to help you. Of course, I know on my mission I haven't seen that many baptisms or anything like that. Often we view missionary work as baptism. But what is missionary work really? Missionary work is an invitation to experience a mighty change of heart, to come unto Christ. Missionary work is about loving these people even if they reject your teachings. Missionary work is being an example of the Savior in word and deed. I know that the Savior watches out for us. Even on the days that it's hard. I know God loves these people so much. Even if they don't know Him, He loves them. And I love them too.
I know that this is the place I need to be right now. I am grateful for all of your support. Sorry if it's a short letter, I am so tired today! It's exhausting here in Bangkok for some reason. But I'm so grateful to be doing this with a great companion and in a great area.
I love you all,
Elder Jacob Newman