Monday, August 16, 2010

Thonburi Weeks

August 16, 2010

Dearest Family,

It's so crazy to think about how things past so quickly. My time in Thailand. One year in country this last week. Wow! That was a crazy moment. And here I am training in the heart of Bangkok. Was this in my plans? Nope. Is it the best thing ever? Yes.

Welcome to Thonburi weeks. I am so attached to Thonburi. Actually, this week was great. I didn't feel as stressed out and while I still feel tired - that's mostly from the Bangkok air and environment. But this week we saw some great progress along with another switch-offs with the Zone Leaders. I got a chance to see the other side of Bangkok. Talk about the city!

The Asoke Zone Leaders’ area is HUGE. We rode the BTS from place to place. Imagine a jungle of concrete. Imagine some of the most beautiful and fancy buildings you've seen - from Siam Paragon - literally called the Pride of Bangkok - to the tallest building in Bangkok. Neighborhoods are overshadowed by hundreds of skyscrapers. The Thai Bangkok city life is very evident - people who work and live in the same place - running little 7-11 like places, living with their families and living with their extended relations. Imagine all of this with subways, the BTS, boats and everything in between to get around. Their area is huge and has SO many people. Like Thonburi, however, it takes creativity to get to these people. Asoke would be a very fun place to be should I get to serve there someday.

As far as the rest of the week in Thonburi - we saw some awesome things for Mother's Day in Thailand. Happy Thai Mother's day by the way, Mother! Thai Mother's day is a big deal! Fireworks, parties, it's a holiday and there's people everywhere at the Sanaam Luang. It was an interesting and very cultural experience. I really thought about how much Thai people value family. I think I've mentioned this before but people work so hard for their families here. Taxis will go out and work for 12 to 14 hours to support their family. They come from the Isaan to work so that their kids can learn at better schools and hopefully have a better future than that of their parents. Usually both parents work to support their children in learning. Family is everything to Thai people. They work long hours and in an ironic sense they can't be there for the people they sacrifice so much for because they are working for them.

Long hours. Sweat. Sacrifice. I have seen the sacrifice of so many Thai members. Just imagine the translator of the Book of Mormon - she sacrificed everything for the Church. Imagine the average members who often sacrifice personal comforts to serve in the Church. Take Bishop Arun for example. He has been a bishop most of his married life because the Church just needs him. The Church in Thailand needs every soul - especially the Thonburi ward whose active membership is fairly low. It needs every soul to help run the ward! One person cannot do it alone. We need to help one another.

This week we met lots of new investigators who have some potential. From Mod (Ant) who told us that we were representatives of the Lord, to a family - Michael (except said Michun because Thais can't say l's at the end of words) and Taa - to a few others who have some potential, I really feel as if Thonburi is going to see progression. At this time we still can't contact Cherry and Num and neither can their friend, Sister Awm. They have testimonies, they just need to act. It's very heartbreaking for me to see how they have been unable to act on their faith. They will be baptized, I feel, we must just have patience.

Patience. That's the greatest lesson from Thonburi. Patience is not just simply waiting - patience is action. Patience brings us closer to the Lord and causes us to reflect on what we must do in order to be closer to him. I know that all these things, all these challenges in Thonburi haven't been because God doesn't care. In fact, God cares so intimately. The challenges of Thonburi were given to me because God knew I could do it and knew that for some reason I needed to come here. Maybe it was only to open the area to pave the way for future success. But no matter what it is, I know that God is watching out for us. I know that He cares for us so powerfully.

Anyway, this week was awesome. I know I'm learning a lot. Please pray that the Spirit will guide us and that we won't get too wet! Thank you so much for all your support. I love you all and pray for you daily. Never forget the gem that the Gospel is!

With Love,

Elder Jacob Newman


  1. Hi I'm a Thai member from Sydney, Australia. I read some of your stories and they are very inspirational for me and I think for other elders too. You speak Thai very well .. I have tried teaching them but never been worked more than 3 greeting sentences. Non of them could under the tone system. Down here many elders also found difficulties as same as you , weird, funny,... etc.

    Surprisingly, we got heaps of Thai investigators at our branch (teaching center) but they couldn't well communicate due to language barrier. Fellowship becomes a must to help elders as a living dictionary. Seeing you able to speak Thai, I really want you to visit our branch so bad. One problem is that I don't really know how to translate some specific words into Thai as I understand it in English (never heard and sing in Thai before) even though there are the books and pamphlets in Thai. Some time Thai language is too difficult to comprehend. Mission president told us that we are having elders who can speak Thai soon but about next year! I therefore have begun looking for some of them who are potential and then I found you first. It is hard to imagine how hard it is for missionary serving in Thailand. I personally believe that it will be extremely tough especially in BKK area.

    Btw If you don't mind I would love to tell some of your experience to elders who are temporary responsible for Thai investigators here. I do believe that you are a good missionary and will have priceless experience there. Cheers Mate!

  2. Yeah, I see. Elder Newman you may worry about your thai, but you shouldn't. You do great. Believe me I was your companion when you were just a begginer.

  3. HolyAnt,
    I am Elder Newman's mother. I post his letters on his blog for him since he can't do that while on his mission. If you send me your contact imformation, I would love to talk with you.