Monday, July 12, 2010

Thonburi Is a Magical Place

July 12, 2010

Dear Family,

What a week. Thonburi is a magical place. I can't describe my feelings for this place really. I love it in such a deep way. I loved Chiang Mai for its beauty, its members and the things I learned. Thonburi I love because of how much more have I come to know God. This week I saw that God knows His children so personally. I have learned that on my mission but I didn't see how real it was until this week. And a miracle. Despite all the hours in the sun of proselytizing where we couldn't find anyone out on the streets, this one event made the entire week worth it. Well two events.

We taught another family. We've taught them two times. He wants to see results from the gospel but he's not quite ready to act. She's interested but shy about it. He doesn't see how the gospel will bring his family more happiness. But I know that it will.

Besides that we have had some good experiences inviting. There's this street called Thaa Ding Daeng that we went to that was SO CROWDED. If I were to give someone a taste of Bangkok Thai life, I would take them there on the weekend. There were children running in the streets, people eating rice on mats outside of their houses, street vendors everywhere, people talking and sitting out in the streets. Thai people living their lives.

It's so different from America. In America, we have become isolated from each other due to cars, homes, etc. In Thailand everyone is literally one big family. It's funny to be here in Bangkok where they speak Thai all the time and so I understand almost everything. Addressing each other as big brother/sister, little brother/sister, grandmother, uncle, aunt, mother, father. Thai is such a close language. Everyone has a relationship with everyone. It's not just you - you is a member of your family. You is said like big brother or you is aunt or you is father. Children and parents will use their title as a pronoun. Fathers will say things like "Daddy thinks you're great." I love that aspect of Thai culture. Thai life is wonderful.

We have been talking to so many people I can't even count how many we have been talking to. And Thai people are always nice about not being interested- they always say that they don't have time and say it with a smile. I love that about Thailand - sure it's somewhat frustrating when they feel grengjay to learn with us - but I love how nice Thai people are. From other news this week, we taught about the word of wisdom at a university, had a great English class, and a lot of appointments fell through.

On Tuesday we went to teach Cherry and Num. We introduced the restoration and the Book of Mormon. It was a powerful spiritual lesson that was taught in their shop where they sell bags by a port near a major hospital here in Thonburi. They wanted to read the Book of Mormon. They told us their story and I have never felt anyone quite like this before. Cherry and Num have been Christian for quite a while. Two weeks ago, however, they didn't feel like they could stay at their Church for some reason. They felt uncomfortable and out of place. They went outside and read the Bible together and said they read a verse in Isaiah that talked about being lead to the promised land of milk and honey. Sister Awm, their member friend, gave them an article from the Liahona and they loved it. Cherry said that the thought of that scripture came back into her mind as we taught her. She felt as if she was being led to the promised land of milk and honey. They both were extremely dedicated to keeping their commitments.

A few days later, Elder Seymour and I went out inviting - after being turned down many times and after having many appointments fall through, we were walking by a place called "The Mall Thaa Phra." And amazingly, we ran into Cherry. The exact time we were walking by she was waiting for Num while he took something to be fixed at The Mall. Bangkok is so big. How is it possible we could have met that day? She proceeded to tell me this, "Elder. I've been reading every day. And I received an answer. I've received so many answers as I have read from the Book of Mormon. I know it's true." I was floored. I have never had an investigator who received an answer in two days like she did. She also said she and Num need another copy because they "fight" over who gets to read the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, they were stuck at work so they couldn't go to Church this Sunday. They will have concerns, mostly Num about the idea of the Restoration and the difference between mainstream Christianity. But I want to say this: God knows us. God more than just casually knows us. Things in life happen for a reason and people we meet influence our lives in profound ways. He prepares us and nurtures us. I cannot deny this from this experience. Please pray that Num will find regular work that can allow him to come to Church on Sunday. And please pray that they will understand the things we teach and progress. Pray that they will have a desire to go to Church and to receive the Restored Gospel.

Having a loog - a kid – ลูก - is such a transforming experience - being a trainer that is. I have never really felt this concerned for the welfare of someone else before. It's literally like having a child. I feel like he teaches me more than I teach him. Sure, he doesn't have as much experience with Thai but Thai's only a fraction of what we do. He knows what's right and he follows God. He works hard and has a good attitude. We are working hard to find investigators and I know that together we will accomplish miracles. We have seen so many things already. Opening a new area is not easy and Thonburi is tricky but I know that there are people just waiting. We don't know where they are until we go out there and try. I know that God has a plan for us. I don't know why this moves has worked out exactly the way it has but it has been the best moves of my mission. The days we feel the power of God in the lives of others - that's success. Success comes from the one. And we never know how the one can change our lives forever. It all starts out with a seed.

Thonburi's members are awesome. There are few of them but I swear every week more and more members are coming to Church. I don't know how it's possible. Please pray that these members will continue to come back and that this ward will flourish! I know that as we work together and pray together, it will happen! Thonburi has so much potential and these people here are amazing. I can't forget that and I never will.

Thailand is an amazing place. Miracles happen everyday, we just have to see them. I still have my sense of humor, I promise. It's there, it's just life is serious sometimes. Thanks for everything. I love you all so much and pray for you daily.

With Love,

Elder Jacob Newman

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