December 13, 2010
In the last two weeks we have taught more lessons than I have taught in a long time. It's crazy. Elder Thrap is a good influence. He has a hardworking, dedicated, organized personality and I have been working to emulate that more. His Thai is getting really good, he's becoming braver and less scared of talking to people and he's always willing to try new things. It's the joy of having a greenie.
We’re teaching a referral from President Sutheb, Ah, who is doing really well. We’re working to get his wife involved. He noticed in President Sutheb's life an increase of peace, direction and family happiness. Sutheb and Waruni are wonderful examples of members of the Church. They understand the doctrine, the way the Church should work and have a desire to help the Church grow in Thailand. The Sisters are teaching his older sister. It's a family affair. President Sutheb was referred by his older brother and his older brother's family is still active, even though his brother has since passed away.
The Church here in RoiEt has so many families and couples. That sets RoiEt apart from my other areas besides Chiang Mai – the number of full member families. I love to see Sister A's family coming to church together, even though Chaang isn't a member yet. Little Khaaw Glong is so adorable. He speaks really quietly and is always so polite. He's a tiny little guy, about nine years old and he looks so handsome with his shirt and tie. Then there's his older Brother Faang who passes the sacrament and Sister A and Brother Chaang.
Chaang is a bit stubborn. Yesterday as we taught him I thought about the things that I have seen with him. I compared his desire to get an answer from God and to follow God with him buying a can of coke. Chaang can't expect God to give him a 10 baht coke when he's only given God about two baht worth of effort. I asked Chaang how much he thinks he had given God and he admitted about two baht. We talked about repentance with him. We asked him if he is willing to begin to repent. He said that he didn't understand. The word repentance in Thai means "to return (to) heart". Chaang began to ask questions. How do I repent? What will it do for me?
Repentance is one of the greatest blessings that God gives to His children. We all make mistakes and these mistakes stop us from moving forward. The mistakes of the past leave us feeling like we can't move forward. But as we learn the Gospel and the steps of repentance, we understand that when we sin, we simply forget who we are. We forget we are children of God and that we don't always need to make the same mistakes over and over again. God wants us to see that. And I want Brother Chaang to see that so clearly. The reason he's been an investigator forever is because he hasn’t known how to find faith in Christ. He hasn’t known why he needed or wanted to have faith in Christ.
As we repent, we develop faith in Jesus Christ. Repentance brings the power of godliness into our lives. We need to think of this as we go to Church to renew our covenants with God. The word for covenant in Thai has an interesting connotation. The first part of the word is a common root in Thai that is often used to show connection between two parties (relationship, for example) the word covenant in Thai literally means to bind and promise. When we make a covenant with God, we are bound to Him. Does it mean we are always going to be perfect? No! If we were there would be no need for covenants and there would be no progression. Our covenants are the means by which we grow closer to God and enjoy the power of godliness in our lives. As we make covenants with God, whether at the sacrament table, or in the temple, we are in essence, inviting the power of godliness to come into our lives and to be with us always. We are humans, so we will make mistakes, but the covenants that we make with God call us to a higher plane of existence and discipleship.
As far as for Chaang, he's not quite ready to make this covenant with God. We are going to have to push his baptism back a bit, but I know that he will receive that answer. He must give God the full 10 baht. Once he does, he will know that God lives and loves him.
Wirayud is struggling a bit because of work. He hasn't been to Church regularly lately and he went to Chiang Rai this weekend. He hasn't been reading the scriptures regularly and he's been asking us why his life seems more difficult now. I don't think he quite understands why we read the scriptures.
Lessons learned this week:
1. Patience - God needs us to be humble for Him to change our lives. We must not have pride and instead learn to accept his timing. It will all work out. I know that we must have patience if we want happiness.
2. Repentance - We must repent daily and find ways that we can be better.
3. Love - Charity. We must see people as they are and we must learn to love those we serve.
I love the opportunity to be training again. I love this time here in RoiEt. I feel extremely happy and very grateful for the blessings that God has given me. I am so grateful for the blessings of the Gospel and the power of God in our lives.
I love you all dearly and know that God loves you too. Please take care of yourselves and I pray for you all daily.
Elder Jacob Newman