December 27, 2010
Talk about an interesting Christmas here in Thailand. It definitely didn't feel like Christmas at all except for the fact there was a party at the Church. We ended up at the Church a lot of the day because Khaaw Glawng was baptized yesterday! I had to type the program in Thai which took me forever.
The Christmas program really focused on the birth of Jesus Christ. The nativity that the branch did was very good. One of our investigators, a 15 year old named Party, was an angel in it.
I thought about how little even Thai members know about Christ's ministry and life and especially his birth as they presented the Nativity. Sister Waruni talked about it a bit in her talk on Sunday. She said she didn't know much of anything about Christmas but this year she learned so much and felt an increased sense of gratitude.
In Thailand at Christmas there is little or no sign of Jesus Christ at all. The only thing you will see is signs that say "Merry X-mas" or something like that. Christmas is a normal day in Thailand. People still go to work, still go about their normal days.
We also went around singing carols to members. We visited a lot of members who help us here in Roi Et. It was really fun to go and have those special memories with people like Sister Jan, Brother Siriwit, Brother Loesaan, Sister Jampii, and many other wonderful members in Roi Et.
Khaaw Glawng was interviewed on Thursday for baptism. He’s been ready for a long time but we were trying to get his dad, Chaang, in the picture. Chaang is an interesting case. In the past: 1) He never read the scriptures on his own and 2) He never prayed in his own free time. He told us yesterday, “I was so anti” but that his heart has changed a lot. The first day I met Chaang, I knew he was being forced to learn by Sister A. But then something really amazing happened. We had a lesson where Elder Thrap and I told him he had to keep commitments in order to know the things that we were telling him were true. He started to keep commitments. And he's never been the same since. Chaang had been a very indifferent investigator. As we have been teaching him for this time around, he smiles, he asks questions, he's involved in the lesson, he's marking the scriptures in his free time and he's praying with his family.
I have learned that we must have faith that our investigators can change. If Heavenly Father can change Chaang, he can change any heart. Their family is happier, there's more peace in their home. Yesterday Chaang told us that he wants to go to the temple to get married and that he wants to be baptized. He loved Khaaw Glawng's service. He came to the priesthood hour for the first time ever. Everyone was shocked. We have to have faith that the Gospel can change people. We have to have faith in the converting and transforming power of the Gospel. Brother Chaang will be ready for his date as he continues to do the things that will open his heart. He's a miracle in action.
Party, one of our younger investigators, came to the baptism, which he loved. The last time we taught him, he told us that he wanted to be ordained to the priesthood and that he wanted to be an "Elder". He also said he wanted to be baptized. We are going to keep working with him. He's a champ at keeping commitments and he's really changed a lot since he started learning the Gospel. He's a great young man.
Manob is still struggling a bit with his food not selling well. He sells very close to Sister Dawgrag and they are friends. Manob was a referral from her. He hasn't come to Church yet because of his financial situation. He understands well but needs help coming to Church.
Nxng came to Church for all three hours this week! That was a really great step for him. I feel that he will be ready for baptism this January. He's doing really well and is progressing quite a bit more than we anticipated. He has developed some good intentions as he has learned the Gospel more and more and he will make a good member of the Church.
Aa is still struggling to come to Church. His wife had the special experience of seeing her father in a dream as she prayed every night. She brought this up as we taught them last week. I feel like they are such an adorable family - Aa, Naang, Nam Khaang (Dew as in dew on the grass) - and they just need to understand how coming to Church will help them and they will come here fairly soon.
We met another new investigator named Phaybuun on a 10 minute lesson. We went back to see him and he had kept commitments and loved it. It was amazing, he understood so well. We will be going back to see him for a third time tonight. It was such a short lesson at first but enough that he was very interested.
Pawng came to Church! This is his third time as an investigator and the second time he's investigated with his wife. He showed up at Church even though we had to cancel our appointment with him on Saturday night.
I know that the Lord loves these people here in Thailand. As I get closer to getting home, I don't really want to think about it because it just makes me too sad. I love Thailand too much. I am addicted to Thailand and I love these people and the opportunity to teach the Gospel so much. I will never forget what I have learned here as I have seen the power of the atonement in my life and in the lives of others.
I love you all so dearly and pray for you all daily!
Elder Jacob Newman