Monday, November 29, 2010

Elder Newman and Elder Thrap

My New Companion, Elder Thrap, is Fantastic!

November 29, 2010

Dearest Family,

How are you all doing today? I am having an absolutely marvelous time here in RoiEt this week because we have seen so many miracles since Elder Thrap came here to RoiEt. It's so fun to have a companion that is as fantastic as he is. Let me tell the story from the beginning.

First of all, this week was a bit crazy. Tuesday morning Elder Pimsuwan and I were having companionship study when we got a call from President Smith. He said, “Elder Newman I am going to ask you to train again.” I was shocked because I've been in RoiEt for six weeks and I had already trained! Elder Pimsuwan was moving and he joked that he would be going to International with a Thai companion.

We finished up our time together and I thought about what I learned from him. The greatest lesson I learned from him was the power of repentance. He once told me that repentance isn't just about correcting sin but it's also about making the good things in our lives better. We all have challenges in life and we all need to rely on the Lord in order to overcome these challenges, but sometimes we neglect the aspect of repentance from the side of making good things even better. Our desire to press forward and to become more like the Savior is a journey of repentance. In Thai the word for repentance is return heart. I like to think of repentance as us returning to the heart that Christ and Heavenly Father have given us. The new heart that we took upon us as we were baptized. The new heart that we can have every week as we take the sacrament and every day as we keep those sacred covenants of baptism. I know that the Lord wants us to repent. I learned so much from Elder Pimsuwan and I was so grateful to be his companion.

We got packed for moves meeting and Sister Waruni and President Sutheb drove us and the Mahasarakham Elders to Khon Kaen. I love Sister Waruni and President Sutheb. I call Sister Waruni mom and she calls me son. It's so awesome to think that even in a small town in the middle of Thailand there are members like this who sacrifice so much for the Church. They have been members for less than 5 years and he is the branch president and she is in the primary. One of their daughters is learning at BYU Hawaii. Another daughter is not yet a member and is working in Bangkok.

We got to moves meeting after a very unrestful bus ride and I waited for my new companion to come. His name is Elder Thrap! He speaks Thai VERY clearly and is so diligent in everything he does. And Elder Pimsuwan... This is the biggest news for him. He is in International with a Thai companion. Everyone was so shocked at moves meeting. It was the talk of the meeting.

The bus ride back to RoiEt took forever because the bus had a problem with the brakes. But, when we got back everything started going crazy well. It's amazing - I have so many stories from this past week. I don't know if I'll have time to tell them all!

In biggest news - Sister A's husband, Chaang (elephant), is on the track I feel. We taught him yesterday and for the FIRST time since I have been here, he started taking a more active role in the lesson and he prayed for us. He's never accepted the commitment to pray for us. I invited him to pray at the end and he got on his knees and prayed. It was a great lesson where we used 2nd Nephi 32: 8-9 to explain why we must pray, since he hadn't prayed since we met him. And we left him a chapter to read. He's doing really well. His attitude changed SO much since the last time we met him. I think it was the fact we were bold with him and invited him to prepare to be baptized in this short period of time. Please pray that Chaang will progress and that he will feel the power of the gospel in his life. Please pray that Sister A will be a good example and that their son, Khaaw Glawng will also progress!

We also met with Wirayud who is struggling and is having a lot of temptations come into his life at this time. Please pray that he will be able to do those things that are right and realize that he call still progress for baptism. He didn't go to Church yesterday due to an emergency.

As far as for other happenings I will summarize:
1. Meeting adorable families at the public park who we will hopefully get a chance to teach.
2. Meeting a former investigator who attended Church about 20 times.
3. Meeting a potential who was extremely willing for us to go visit him.
4. Meeting someone in the park who had been baptized in another Christian church. He used the word baptism. I was shocked. No time people know that word really because it's a borrowing from English.

This week, I saw how the power of faith, obedience and sacrifice will make our lives holier and how we can see many miracles as we open our eyes. The best option is to choose the right and choose to live after the manner of happiness. That's the way our lives must be. We have challenges but as we work to conquer the giants in our lives, we gain a new perspective and life becomes what it should be - a matter of joy. Sometimes we get too caught up in the things that aren't important. I know that as we focus on the Savior and the things that are important, it is then, and only then, that we can have the peace and happiness that we wish to have.

I love you all dearly and pray for you all daily. Thank you for all you do! It's exciting to train again. This time it's not as stressful - probably cause of the fact that we have a place to live!


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Isaan Zone Conference November 2010

RoiEt Branch is big and really strong

November 22, 2010

Hello Family

I hope that you are all well. This past week went by extremely quickly. I can't even believe it. I feel a little more tired but pretty healthy. Riding my bike all over, talking to everyone and being out in the sun all day is pretty tiring. I probably won’t be going to Bangkok this week. I don’t need to renew my visa until next moves.

We didn’t have a cell phone for a few weeks. It was because of an odd experience. We were going to visit an investigator and were waiting for Brother Jan (Brother Moon). Elder Pimsuwan and I were so tired that we closed our eyes for a minute. We think someone came and stole it from the back of Elder Pimsuwan's backpack. We didn't notice until we got to the investigator’s house. By then it was too late. So we called the office. They said they would get on it. It was a bit frustrating.

RoiEt is quite the branch. It's big and really strong. The thing that surprises me the most about RoiEt is the number of endowed members. The branch president and his wife, Sister Waruni and President Sutheb are the best ever. They are so humble and they love the Lord. They have only been members for about 4 years. Sister Waruni said that she had never heard the word God before the missionaries talked to her. Our ward mission leader is Father Khiaw (green). Here in the Isaan the word brother and sister aren't used as often as the typical Thai pronouns, Father, Mother, older sibling. Father and Mother are two words that they use in the Isaan a lot. In Bangkok you have to be really close to use those words.

This last week we had Zone Conference. It was a really good time. They talked about the new scriptures. I feel that these new scriptures will change so much for Thailand. Understanding of the scriptures is crucial to our understanding of the gospel. We talked about attending Church and helping investigators keep the Sabbath day holy. We talked about why we go to Church. Here in Thailand they really emphasize renewing of the covenant with God on Sunday. I really like it. I feel it's the correct attitude to go to Church with. We all do things that make our Father in Heaven sad but every week we can come to Church and change our lives. Change ourselves.

I love Thailand. I love Thai people so much. It's amazing to think about how much God loves all his children and desires them all to come to know him. But we are just so stubborn sometimes. It reminds me of Sister Laantaa in Nongkhai (inactive) who said that we are too stubborn sometimes to receive the good things God gives to us. We really are simply too stubborn. I love this opportunity to become less stubborn. But we have to repent and learn everyday.

This week we saw how sometimes our investigators do things that we don't understand. We had a few investigators move to another province without telling us until the day before. We are trying to figure out what to do with them. At this time we are working to find new investigators. We are finding some and we are hoping to work more with the branch to work with part member families.

I love you all so deeply and pray for you all daily!

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, November 15, 2010

Life Doesn't Work Out How We Plan

November 15, 2010

Dearest Family,

Talk about a crazy week this week. I am emailing later than usual because of exchanges with the Zone Leaders which was a bit crazy this past weekend. They came to exchange and do an interview for Wirayud and Arum to get baptized. That's probably the most complicated and intense story of the week.

Wirayud is a great candidate. His wife, Arum, can hardly speak Thai but they both have strong testimonies and are doing really well. They interviewed, however, and it came out that they cannot get baptized because they are not legally married and as of right now cannot be legally married because she is not a Thai citizen even though she was born in Thailand. And the process to change her citizenship is a lengthy and an expensive one that they could probably never afford. We aren't sure exactly what to do. It's still up in the air. I am not entirely sure how to proceed with him.

This week Wirayud also didn't go to Church. Elder Brown and I did exchanges this weekend. At first we thought that something had happened that Wirayud might have felt a bit discouraged about his interview but the after-interview talk went so well and there were smiles and laughs. It turns out that he was talking to his mother in Chiang Mai, he hung up the phone and then she passed away. I was so sad. I literally was shocked to hear this. The timing is extremely difficult. I am not sure exactly why he is going through this right now. We are praying extra hard for him. I love this couple and I hope that everything works out for them.

I liked the part in your email about the testimonies in your ward. Life doesn't work out how we planned. That's the greatest lesson I feel I have learned since coming to RoiEt. I feel that as I have reflected on my mission and all the things that have happened, I have come to see that it hasn't worked out exactly as I had planned. Or anything like I have planned. But I feel that the lesson we all must learn in life is to love the things that come our way. We must make a conscious decision to be happy and to live after the manner of happiness. We can let the actions of others or our circumstances dictate our happiness or we can decide to be a true Saint and find happiness in life. I feel that as I have made this decision, despite challenges, I feel happier and much more confident about life.

As we work with our investigators, I have seen how everything in our lives is about our choices. We must decide what we are going to do and how we are going to respond to our situations. I feel that on my mission I have seen so many times where the right choices have led to happiness. That's what we all must learn to do, heal from the past and move on to the future. Life doesn't work out as we planned. But if it did, would we really progress? Could we be happy? No. Happiness comes from realizing what life is about and what it isn't about. Life isn't about being rich, being well-liked, popular, or any of those things. Life is about becoming like our Savior and repentance.

Repentance is how we find joy. It is a change of thought and a lifelong process. As we take the sacrament, we come to realize the power of the atonement in our lives. This week they used the new Thai translation of the sacrament prayers. I felt the power of them more intimately. I felt the power of the covenant more powerfully. I want to look at my life everyday and find out how I can be better and do the things that I must to bring my life in harmony with His teachings more and more.

Anyway, I love you all so much and pray for you all daily. Thanks for all you do!


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, November 8, 2010

Elder Newman in a Special Training Meeting

I Feel Very Happy Here in Roi Et

November 8, 2010

Dearest Family,

This week seems to have gone by fast. On my birthday, we had district meeting and the Sisters surprised me with a slice of cake from 7-11. Then we taught English and had pizza to finish off the night. It was a good day and it was fun to be with Elder Phimsuwan for my birthday. The mission gives cookies to those who have birthdays at Zone Conferences. I got them at the special training. They were amazingly delicious.

Besides that, this week was pretty normal. We continued to work with our current investigators but some of them were unable to meet with us. Wirayud is doing really well. He still doesn't quite understand why he needs to pray about the Book of Mormon or the restoration which is making me a bit nervous as his baptism approaches here in the next two weeks. I haven't planned a baptism in a long time. The last one I planned was Sister Jiab's in Nongkhai because Ploy's baptism in Chiang Mai took place shortly after I left and in Thonburi our investigators weren't quite to that point.

I feel so grateful to see the change that has taken place in Wirayud. He told us of this change as he expressed his feelings that his relationship in his family has improved. His wife cannot really speak Thai but she has great desires to be baptized. Wirayud is from Chiang Mai and speaks Thai very well even though it's not his native language - his native language is a hill tribe language. Elder Phimsuwan and his companion met them at the public park one day, shortly before it was going to rain. They had had a day that wasn't too great and then they met this really fantastic investigator. God really does watch out for us.

So much in our lives is up to our decisions. That's something I really learned this week. We have a decision if we want to follow Jesus Christ. We have a decision if we want to have happiness in our lives. The Gospel doesn't make decisions for us but it gives us the light and understanding needed to help us make decisions. That's why we love the Gospel - because we know how to make choices that will be the best for us. I really love this opportunity to see the world so clearly. We see people as they really are, not as they seem. We see how the choices we make to do the simple things have such an impact on our lives.

I feel very happy here in Roi Et! I feel very blessed to be here with a good companion with some good investigators. I am grateful that the Lord is teaching me everyday to be a little better. We all have questions. Sometimes God doesn't answer our questions in an instant. Rather, God takes time. And teaches us. I am learning how to learn from God. We all are learning how to learn from Him. The best moments in which we learn are the moments when we admit that we don't understand and ask him to help us understand the things that are happening around us. And then God will open our eyes and help us to see the things that are truly important. God can help us to move mountains in our lives. We, however, have to get the shovel ready and dig. God helps us because He loves us. But we must always remember that we have an obligation to do our part.

I love the Gospel because it gives us such a clear perspective on the ways things are. And the way things should be. Don’t ever let the actions of others around us allow us to lose our perspective. We must remember that the actions of others are unimportant in the grand scheme of life. What is important is our reaction to those actions. We have a decision to do the right thing. The choice is ours.

I love the Lord and I love you all so very much. I pray for you all daily and hope you are all doing well.


Elder Jacob Newman

Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!

November 1, 2010

Dearest Family,

First of all thank you all for the warm birthday wishes. It seems so crazy to think back about the last three birthdays that I have had. My birthday at BYU, my roommates surprised me with cookies. Last year my birthday happened to be a Thai festival where they float little boats with candles on the water and so my trainer and I ate Korean barbecue. And now this year, I find myself in my fifth (read it fifth!) area with a fantastic companion Elder Phimsuwan. I am so grateful for all the blessings I have received here in Thailand. I feel that the best birthday presents that I have received are the blessings of good health, good friends, and most importantly good family.

I honestly don't know where I would be without family. Family is one of the most important things in our lives. No matter what changes, no matter how far apart we are, we know that our families can be together forever. Our family will always be our friends no matter what happens in the lives of others around us. I love that Gospel principle. The Gospel teaches us how families can build relationships that aren't simply meant to last in this life, but meant for eternity.

This week we learned a lot of lessons. I feel the greatest lesson we learned was the power of repentance. Repentance is a change of attitude and outlook on the world. I saw that as our investigators, who are amazing right now, repented and applied the teachings of the Gospel, their lives became better. Wirayud and his wife who can't speak Thai have a desire to follow the Savior and live like him more everyday. Chamnaan and Jai want to change their lives also. This weekend we saw so many miracles with meeting new investigators. God really led us to a lot of people who have a lot of potential. I feel that as we repent and come closer to the Savior, we will see that we find joy in repentance. We must have a mighty change of heart. As we draw closer to the Savior and learn to follow him more closely, we will receive blessings.

God really loves his children. He watches out for all of us, everyone. I know that he does care. My birthday here in Thailand will be amazing. I wouldn't spend it any other way. I love the fact that I can share the Gospel with all of these people. Thailand has changed my life. I talked about this the other day with Elder Phimsuwan. The day that I finish my mission will probably be the saddest day in my life. I have grown to love a place that I never knew I could love this way. Even through all the struggles and disappointments that we all experience in our missions, we grow to love a place, a people and a time that we never knew we could. I love this place. Every day is worth the price. Of course, I always sound so serious but I mean it!

Anyway, I love you all so dearly and pray for you all daily. May God bless you all. Again thanks for the birthday wishes - so weird that I am already 21. Almost.

Elder Jacob Newman