August 30, 2010
What a week! I have never been so tired during my mission. This deal with the meeting they had in Bangkok made things crazy. But the week was really great. Thonburi is the most worthwhile area I have ever been in. We've seen miracles as we have worked together to try to help this ward and area grow. We are going to start working more closely with the Bishop.
I can't believe how fast the time is passing. It seems just like yesterday I was a greenie in Bangkapi, just yesterday I was hearing Laotian on the streets, just yesterday I was in Chiang Mai eating Khaaw Soy. And then to hear about Brother Sakhaa coming back to Thailand. I can't wait to be able to actually see him should he be here in Thailand. I want to be able to speak Thai with him now that I can speak Thai. He has been such an influence in my life. I love him for teaching me that missionary work is about this - the Thai people. It isn't about the glory, the fame, the ability or the skill. What missionary work comes down to is helping our brothers and sisters understand their potential as humans. We are preparing for the eternal inheritance which God has prepared for us since before we existed as we know it. When we were with God, God prepared a marvelous plan that would allow us to reach our potential. God knew our potential and wanted to help us reach it. The Thai people have that potential. We all have that potential within us. We are not simply another human. We are children of God. Brother Sakhaa helped me understand. I think before I met him, I sort of understood. But I didn't understand on the level that he taught me.
You asked me if I always study the Gospel in Thai or spend some time in English. I study the gospel in English always. Although I will sometimes open the Thai for clarification. Often the Thai translation will help us understand more. That’s because of the pronouns. We can tell very clearly when God is talking to us because he will use a certain pronoun (the royal we) and he will use the word for you that is only used by royalty.
You also asked what it means when people say that Asoke is the “Belly of the Beast.” Wow. How to describe Asoke? Take my images of Thonburi that I've given you before and multiply its intensity by about 10. It's called that because it's all skyscrapers, full of people and really western. Siam Paragon. All kinds of hotels, fancy foods, but mostly just tons and tons of people. The BTS (Skytrain) and MRT (Underground) are SO crowded. There are so many people all over the place but they all live in the suburbs of Bangkok - Bangkapi, Bangkhae, etc. Asoke is the heart of Bangkok. It's a crazy place! It's where one of the first chapels in Thailand was and it's also where the translator of the Book of Mormon lives. I would love to meet her. Her name is Mother Sri (the r is never pronounced in Thai if it is after an S, it's simply a spelling thing.)
Elder Seymour's Thai has made massive strides! He speaks Thai so skillfully now. And he reads and writes so well too! I have been working on Thai with him 24/7. As we invite, I literally will teach him Thai principles all the time. I don't know what I will do when I can't talk about Thai with him all the time. And my Thai this moves has shot off because explaining things to him has helped me understand SO much more!
My time in Thonburi has taught me that as children of God, we must be taken care of and loved. As members of the Church, the road will not be easy, nor will it be simple. But in reality, the road towards eternity isn't meant to be that way. If it were easy, it just wouldn't be worthwhile. Thonburi has millions of people just waiting to hear the news about being children of God, about that divine potential.
This week as we taught a new investigator, Sutheb shared with us how he prayed daily, read the scriptures daily and desired to come to Church. He wants to see his potential as a child of God. I asked him a question. “Uncle, do you want to a regular person? An ordinary person?” When he said no, I told him that through the gospel, we become something greater than regular, we can become something extraordinary. We can become the kind of person who has happiness, the kind of person who has the right perspective about life and the kind of person who is like the Savior Jesus Christ. We have the potential to inherit that divine inheritance from our Heavenly King. In Thai it's just so perfect, because the word for child of God is the word for prince and princesses. I love that. God in Thai is the heavenly king. Thai expresses the love we have for him as our King. I love Him. Heavenly Father loves us all and He wants us all to be happy. God doesn't want us to be miserable. If he wanted us to be miserable, He wouldn't be a very good father. It's just at times as children we think we know what's best for us. But in reality, our Father in Heaven - He knows. Sometimes we must learn the things that are most important. Is money important? Not as important as family. Not as important as the anchor of the Gospel.
We are seeing a turn around in Thonburi. Next week the other Elders’ investigators are getting baptized. Sister Apple (Buen), Sugar (Naamtaan) and Ding, a family minus their father - who's not interested yet - are all getting baptized. The first baptism in Thonburi in possibly over two years. It's a miracle! She's a miracle and is a great investigator. It's all a matter of time.
I love you all. Thank you for all your support!
Elder Jacob Newman