Friday, October 8, 2010

Greetings From a Rainy, Wet Southeastern Asia

October 4, 2010

Dearest Family,

Greetings from a rainy, wet and humid South Eastern Asia Monday! It seems so crazy that another six months has passed - another conference is upon us. It seems like yesterday I was watching Conference in English in Chiang Mai. But that was actually six months ago. How fast time seems to fly while you are here in Thailand. My time in Thonburi has gone by so quickly. I cannot believe that transfers will soon be upon us (they started calling them transfers - weird right?) and that my time in Thonburi might be at an end. I don't think it's quite over yet though. I think I will be here for this last moves. I feel there's still some things left to do and some things that I still need to resolve.

Thonburi is a place that I will never forget. I don't know what to say about it exactly. Yesterday Sister Cherry gave me friendship book entry that almost made me cry. She started it off and said the words that I wanted to hear. She said first of all "We have to thank Heavenly Father that you were sent here to Thonburi. You helped our ward so much." She told me many other things that were just the answers that I needed. I don't know how she knew what I needed to hear from her family but she knew exactly what I wanted to think of my time in Thonburi as. I felt so touched to think that our Father in Heaven knew exactly why I needed to be here.

I might be the in the last set of second Elders that will be here in Thonburi until they decide to try it again in the future, but I feel grateful for this opportunity to have served here. This side of Bangkok isn't visited terribly often unless people are going to go to Wad Arun, but if I ever come back to Thailand, this will be my first stop for sure. The strong feelings that we associate with the places we love the most never leave us.

Elder Iverson told me yesterday that I am stuck on the members. And it's true. I love the members here so much. I feel such a strong connection - it's so ironic how our lives are so guided like that. The bishop's family is great friends with Brother Ped's and Sister Ju's family in Chiang Mai and know all the members in Chiang Mai since they lived there. And it's so amazing to think that I had the chance to come here in the middle of Bangkok to find some of the lost sheep.

You asked about a typical Sacrament Meeting in Thonburi. There is the teacher, deacon, bishopric member, chorister and relief society first counselor in the same family who show up every day - Brother Johnny and Sister Taeng and their family. Then there's the bishop's family - Cherry, Bishop, Kiwi, Navy, Ivy - so adorable, seriously. And then there's the other regular members - Sister Pranom who cleans the chapels in Bangkok with her two young adult sons, Sister Ganjana and her daughter Nina, Sister Fon and Brother Poniwad - a long, long time member - Brother Long, I could name them all. Usually there are about two speakers or three sometimes. The bishop takes a lot of time to speak. He's CES and a great speaker. I love him! Sacrament meeting is simple.

Our chapel is on Jaran 22, right behind it is a wad and it's also next to a coffin making factory. It's deep in a soy that's a typical Thonburi soy.

Interpreting for the deaf lady is extremely difficult and very tiring but it's been a good experience and it's improved my comprehension a lot. She's a very nice Sister.

Brother Sutheb keeps having conflicts with Church but he's doing better, he's starting to live some commandments that have been a struggle for him in the past. I can see the change within him as we have taught him over the past couple of months. He will only continue to progress as he comes to Church and expresses his faith. I have seen him give up a lot things and express a true desire to repent. He will continue to progress as he strives to exercise faith in the Savior.

We met with a referral from a member named Wan. She will take some time to understand what we are teaching but she will gradually understand more and more as we emphasize the teachings that will help her to come to know her Heavenly Father.

And we also had a wonderful experience with Bo, a referral from a new member in Stop's ward. She is living here in Thonburi and was Christian in the past but expressed that she hadn't been too church-going until she graduated. Then she started going to church and went many places but none of them felt right exactly. So she came to our church and she feels great about it. We taught her a first lesson about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. She seems ready to accept the Gospel.

Besides that we walked a lot. And by a lot, I mean a ton. We contacted a lot and found some people who have potential. Elder Panom and I did switch offs this week which was bittersweet almost. It's our last time switching off since he will be moving. I have grown to love Elder Panom and his wonderful influence. He has such an amazing conversion story that I almost can't believe it. I feel as if his influence will be invaluable for the Church in Thailand in the future. Lots of contacting - that's Thonburi. City contacting since the soys have lots of people but it's very unclear where everyone lives.

I know that God loves us. Even when we feel like maybe no one knows or cares, there's always someone who cares. God has an infinite role in our lives. He sent me to Thonburi perhaps to learn some lessons or perhaps to develop patience. Or perhaps to become more like our Savior. No matter what the purpose - to help the deaf lady perhaps - I know I came here for a reason. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. The Gospel has power and we are all a part of it. Remember that God loves us all!


Elder Jacob Newman

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