October 25, 2010
Here in RoiEt - the 101, LA or whatever other nickname you want to call it - things are going pretty well. We recently went through a period where we dropped almost all of our investigators so we are doing a lot of finding. Elder Phimsuwan continues to be great. We get along really well and communicate well together. It's funny - my English and my Thai are getting so messed up now. Since we speak in Thai almost all the time - except for times when I teach him English phrases - my brain sometimes goes between English and Thai with no real difference in between the two. It's a bit of a challenge to get things out correctly in either language. Elder Phimsuwan speaks English very well. He just rarely will speak English with me. I love working with him. He's a lot of fun and it's really interesting to get the Thai perspective on everything.
My district includes our companionship and a companionship of Sisters in RoiEt. (It's definitely the most backcountry of the Sisters’ areas.) And, there is a companionship in a nearby place called Mahasarakham. RoiEt and Mahasarakham are pretty similar in climate and make-up from what I understand. We do switch-offs at least once a transfer.
The flooding is big news around here. All day long we hear the radio and the TV on the streets talking about flooding throughout the Isaan and the Bangkok area. There's been a lot of rain here but RoiEt has avoided the worst of it. The water, however, is really high in the rivers. The Church is working on relief efforts in Korat since Korat seems to have been hit pretty hard. The rest of the Isaan is also experiencing some problems.
This week it's the end of the Buddhist lent (Phansaa) and so a lot of people go other places on vacation. So, the streets have been really empty and there haven't been many people to talk to. We are trying to focus on finding new investigators, specifically families and people who will keep commitments. At this time, the investigators that we do have are very good. We have the adorable family of Chamnaan and Jai who have many children, are already Christian and love coming to Church. We taught them this last week and after many months of being investigators set a baptismal date with them. They are planning on being baptized on December 5th 2010. We also got to meet with the amazing Wirayut this week. He's a great investigator. Ironically, he and his wife are both tribal people from Chiang Mai. He can speak Thai and Northern very well but she, Arun, can't speak or understand Thai very much. They are reading the Book of Mormon and are really dedicated to learning more about the gospel. He told us that he can't wait to tell his friends about this in Chiang Mai. He loves the Book of Mormon.
The branch here is much bigger than I am used to. It is full of children and families. We live right across from a member family - Sister Dograg and her husband, Brother Wichian, and their children Omni and Jarom. Omni, the daughter, is about 12 and the son, Jarom, is about 9. They have been members for a long time. The branch is full of members who are long-time converts. The Branch President, however, is a recent convert. He is one of the most humble and soft-spoken, kind men I have ever met. President Sutheb and his wife, Sister Waruni, are amazing assets. They smile, love the members and really want to help the Branch. Lately, there's been an emphasized push on Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching. They are working so hard to help the members catch the vision. Visiting and Home Teaching are the heart of the Church. Without this, our membership will not be strong and will not have the pleasing word of God. Members, especially recent converts, need the help of members to understand doctrine, to build friendships and to continue on the path towards righteousness. That's another lesson I have learned - to not neglect Home or Visiting Teaching.
I love the Thai people. That's the motivation to do missionary work. Elder Day related a great story before he went home. He told of a less active member in Nongkhai. One day the missionaries went to help him gather rice. In the process of gathering rice you have to be careful to not waste a lot of rice since you have to use a sieve of some sort to gather it. He told Elder Day, “Be careful son, every grain has value.” Isn't that so true? No matter who we are, where we are, what we've been in the past or what we are becoming, we all have value in the sight of God. The world tries to tell us otherwise. Many people will tell us that we don't have value. But every grain has value. I know this to be true because I experience it everyday. So often, we merely look upon the outside value of things. We look upon the things that the world can see. But as we ponder upon the reality of human existence, we realize that there is far more to us than what the eye can see or the ear can hear. So often, in the rush of everything, I think we all, especially myself, forget about that. We must remember. We must have patience and love and charity. I love the things I've learned here in Thailand. Sacrifice brings forth blessings untold.
I love you all so very very much. More than words can tell. And I pray for you all daily. Please be happy, healthy and enjoy things!
Love you lots,
Elder Jacob Newman