Monday, June 20, 2011

MyTime in Thailand Has Changed my Life

June 20, 2011

Dearest Family,

The past two years have passed by in a flash. Seriously. I cannot believe that it was over two years ago I found out that I would be coming to Thailand to serve as a missionary, speaking Thai and helping non-Christians come to know the Savior. To say it has been an honor would be an understatement. Of course, like all human experiences, it isn't without its trials, challenges, and heartaches, but in the end, it is a small price to pay to thank the Savior.

I feel that since I have come to Thailand, I have seen how we all are really the same. We all love our families. We all need some things that we just don't seem to find sometimes. And one of the best pieces of news is that families can be together forever. This isn't just for us as an immediate family but extends to my family in Thailand. Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle. That's what Thai is about - family. That's what the Gospel is about. Family. I love my family so much. And I will miss my Thai family so much. But this isn't the end of my association with Thailand. This is simply the beginning. I am eager to continue to speak, read and write Thai and interact with Thais for the rest of my life. There is some purpose that I don't understand as to why I was sent here to Thailand. But I do know that I will be forever grateful that I met all of the people that I have.

Sure there were days where we walked out in the heat and got nothing. But then there were the times where we saw the smile on Sister Naang's face when she said she feels that our Father in Heaven comes down and sits beside her as she prays. Or the time where Sister A said she was told to wait before going to the temple so that Chaang could be baptized. Or the time where you just felt so discouraged in Thonburi but Sister Cherry writes you a wonderful friendship book page.

Love is sacrifice. Love is forgiveness. Love is power. Whatever we do, we must do it in love. I love Thailand. Saying goodbye isn't the easiest thing, but at this time it is the right thing. I will do my best to finish out strong and to remember my purpose. And then it's onto a new phase of life. Centered on the Savior. And I am eager to always have the heart of a Thai. I will always be Thai in my heart.

So this week we saw Angelo and Poy. They are doing well but they aren't able to come to Church yet. It seems like there are all kinds of obstacles in the way. But they are doing fairly well.

This week we also went out to Ganthalag. The people out there are drying up pretty fast. The unfortunate thing is that one of them decided not to learn anymore because he feels like he can't keep the word of wisdom. Another couple decided to stop learning because of the wife. Some people are falling out but we are going to keep working with them.

We are also working with Sister Oy. She is Sister Grxsanna's daughter. No one has really ever taught her by herself. We asked her who God was and she didn't understand. We are going to work with her. It reminds me of the scripture about how Christ allowed the crowd to feel the wounds one by one. And that's what she needs. We all need to feel the Gospel one by one. That's how it's taught. One by one. Little by little. And that's how we will have to teach her. Sister Grxsanna sits there with her glasses and the scriptures that she has to hide from her husband and teaches us. She teaches by the Spirit. She teaches us that we are all children of God. She calls us "child" and we learn together with Brother Ice. And we have many experiences that we share together.

Yesterday at Church, Sister Grxsanna secretly gave me a hug. She looked so sad as we parted. I remember her baptism. She was so ready and so beautiful in her white gown. I will never forget how excited she was to be baptized.

And then Sanya and Bunmii are still just doing great as new members of the Church. They are helping their friends in Ganthalag to come to know the Gospel also.

Alrighty dearest family. I love you all to pieces. That's all I have for today. But please remember. The Gospel is true. My time in Thailand has changed my life and will continue to shape my life for the rest of my days. I love the Lord, our Father in Heaven, the Gospel and the power of the scriptures and the simplicity of the Gospel. Pray for charity, the greatest of all of God's gifts and we will see the power of the Lord in our lives.


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sister Joy

June 13, 2011

Dearest Family,

This week was a bit crazy. Most of our investigators aren't doing that well. We had to drop Rag. He just wasn't keeping commitments to come to Church. And Robbie seems to have disappeared off of the face of the planet. But we are continuing to work with Angelo who is doing pretty well. He's a referral machine. He's always inviting his friends to learn English. The story I really want to talk about this week though is Sister Joy.

Elder Senalai and I made an appointment to meet with Sister Pat's husband (she's a recent convert who the Sisters taught in Warin) and when we went to his house, we met Sister Joy who is not a relative but lives there so they can take care of her. Sister Joy was a strong member before being diagnosed with cancer. Now she can hardly walk, she is stuck at home and cannot attend Church. As we talked to her, she sat there eating a Thai dip and lettuce with sticky rice. Sick people's food. Or so she said. She's been endowed. Her body is frail and she probably weighs less than 100 pounds. But she has a firm belief in our Father in Heaven. Her brain is slowly being taken by the cancer but she refuses to give up. She continues to do her best. I thought of how she said she missed Church and the scriptures. She needs a blessing. She needs home teachers. She needs the sacrament. I often worry about the Thai members who are ill because they don't get visited very often.

I really will miss Thailand so much but it feels exciting to look forward to a change of pace and a chance to get a new, fresh perspective. My mission has been a very formative event. I think I have become more of a global citizen. And I have realized how the Gospel is so very precious in the lives of those who live it.

I am still really tired and I have been gaining a lot of weight it feels like but I am not sure exactly why although my appetite has increased. And I apparently, in the words of President Smith, do not look like an Ethiopian concentration camp victim anymore.

I know that the Gospel has the power to change our broken hearts. I know that as we come to realize the real power of grace, the real role of the Savior in our lives we won't have a desire to be who we were before. We all have concerns. And we all have doubts and problems but the Gospel helps us to face those things with courage and hope that the future will be better. I love Elder Senalai and seeing how the Gospel has helped him in his life. Thai people have to sacrifice a lot to join to the Church.

This past weekend they created a new District in Bangkok, which is the next step to a second stake in Bangkok. I know that the growth of the Church is helping the Thai people grow closer to our Father in Heaven. The Gospel gives us a power to face the challenges of the world with hope and love for all mankind. I love the Gospel and I know that one day we will understand the reason why things work out the way they do. I am eager to share the Gospel in the little time that is left. Remember to stay true to the truth and to love the Lord always.


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, June 6, 2011

Elder Senalai is Awesome!

June 6, 2011

Dearest Family,

So two years back seems like an eternity ago but it seems like yesterday a the same time. On Sunday, Sister Nida feed us and I saw some pictures on my Facebook. Sister Ging and I thought about how much my life has changed in the past two years. When I was in Roi Et, Sister Waruni said that it's amazing to think that two people from such different and far away places could come to know one another. Not only have I lost a lot of weight, I have gained an appreciation for Thai food, culture, and people. And I have learned how to speak Thai. I am going to miss speaking Thai with Thai people so much. I love going around everyday and speaking this crazy tonal language and joking around with them.

And I will miss my current companion. Oh wow, we get along so well it's awesome. The other day he said to me that when we talk to one another in the future we would use pronouns that you only use with close friends, otherwise it's not super polite. It's just like you wouldn't say "What's up?" to your grandmother. I will miss him a ton! I wish you could get a chance to meet the glorious Elder Senalai. I am so grateful that I was given such a fantastic last companion. We talk together all the time, I teach him English, he teaches me Thai, we laugh and he seems like he's getting a lot more confident as a missionary. He's so great! I am lucky to be with him.

Anyway, today we are in Galasin because Elder Senalai has to get a new ummm bad prachachon - citizen card. I couldn't remember the word in English. I am seriously going to speak English SO poorly. You can't make fun of me too much.

You asked about what you should bring to keep dry in all of the rain. Umbrellas do work well. You should have one. If it's really rainy, you just have to wait it out a bit. You should have seen it in Ubon this past week. It was FLOODING like crazy. It might be a good idea to bring a rain jacket. I don't think you know how wet you will get. Your shoes will get REALLY wet but they will dry out after a while.

Unfortunately, Robbie kind of fell off the face of the earth but then we had a lesson with him. He said at this time he is so busy but then he told us that he didn't sign a long term contract with the school in Amnaad Chaeron because he is thinking of joining the Church. Shocking? Yeah. He is still really hard to meet but we are going to keep trying our hardest. Robbie's Thai is difficult for me to understand. When first learning Thai, you might think tones are not that obvious but they are WAY obvious to me now. If I say a tone wrong it feels so weird. Isaan is like taking Thai and just changing all the tones and some words. Elder Senalai is from the Isaan so he speaks it sometimes.

Rag keeps saying he will come to Church and doesn't. I think we are going to set him aside for a bit just because he isn't really keeping that commitment. But it's also unclear if he's reading but we are going to go visit him today and let him know.

This week was great. I know the Gospel is true and our Father in Heaven loves us. Always remember that he will never forget you.


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another Great Week in Warin

May 23, 2011

Dearest Family,

So this week was another great week here in Warin. This last email I sent you we didn't really have any investigators but Elder Senalai and I have been working really hard and so we have some investigators that are learning pretty regularly now. From the Italian/ Thai 24 year old and his friend who he referred to us, Robbie and his Thai wife, Brother Rag, and a referral from a recent convert’s friend in Gantharag, things are going really well in our area. I am not sure that we will see anyone baptized before I leave Ubon but I think that the area is becoming better and better.

It feels so weird to think that tomorrow is my last Zone Conference as a missionary. It seems like yesterday it was my first Zone Conference in Bangkhen where the air conditioner broke. (Yes, it was just as hot as you imagine.) My mission has gone by quickly. But I look back and think of all the wonderful things that I have seen and all the wonderful friends that I have made. My life without Thailand would be so different. Thailand is an amazing place. I will miss speaking Thai everyday. So. Much. And I will miss all of my Thai friends that I have made here. That's why I guess I will just have to find a way to come back to Thailand.

Anyway, this week was one of those really fast weeks. It was full of lots of great happenings. A quick update on our investigators.

Rag - He got off of alcohol again but he is still struggling. Please. Don't ever drink. Getting addicted to alcohol has done nothing but made his life miserable. He drinks because he lost his daughter but when we fall into alcoholism, we lose hope and lose sight of who we really are. This is a very sad situation. Anyway, he's doing better but I am not sure how long it will take him to kick the habit.

Robbie and his wife - Robbie is a very smart man. He knows a lot about the Bible. He brought up a concern about how the prophet is the earthly leader of the Church rather than apostles. We are working with him to help him understand that the Book of Mormon is a powerful tool for his life. He talked about the changes that he has seen in his life since he has been reading the Book of Mormon but he still doesn't quite connect them as an answer from God. His wife also reads and enjoys the changes she has been seeing but again still doesn't quite connect the dots. This week he didn't go to Church but we will keep working with him.

Gantharag folks - Brother Had is just full of referrals. This last week two other people showed up at Church who are friends of our recent converts/their friends. They are pretty interested. Gantharag is far away but it is well worth the time to go out there and teach about 4 - 5 different interested parties. It is really great to see how the Gospel changed Brother Sanya and how he wants to go out and share it with all of his friends. I love that about the Gospel, the power to change and the power to be something better and more than we are right now.

This week was really great. I feel pretty good. Sure I am tired everyday - that's probably from just being a missionary for so long but I love serving here in Thailand. I consider it such a pleasure to come and work with these people and help them come to know our Savior. When we know who we are, we won't have a desire to live short of our potential. Remember the most simple words: “I am a Child of God.” We must always remember who we are and where we come from. Then and only then, will we have happiness that we can't obtain from anything else. I know the Gospel has power to change people's lives in a profound way.

I love you all and pray for you daily. Do the things that are right and remember to love and forgive one another.


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, May 16, 2011

A New Thai Companion, Elder Senalai

May 16, 2011

Dearest Family,

Let me put the past week into a few words: Hot, Lots of Inviting, A new Thai companion, A South Africa, white, Buddhist/Christian investigator who came to Church. This week was one of the most fun weeks of my mission in some ways.

I got the amazing Elder Senalai from Kalasin for my companion! Elder Senalai is super Christ-like, funny and very relaxed. He is 25 years old, a college graduate (humanities-law) and has served as an Elder's quorum president. He's such a great guy! He just came from Chiang Mai where they had quite a few investigators. We are going through a finding phase here in Warin but we are working hard.

So this week was hot! Elder Harris and I went inviting in Warin one morning and I seriously thought that my body was going to shrivel into a small ball. It was so hot that when we got to the Church for study, I was sopping wet. (It was a Songraan of sweat shall we say. It's like Mother Nature was throwing buckets of heat on us. Although this time I would have loved to have someone throw a bucket of water on me.)

About two weeks ago, Elder Gudmundsen and I were out by Brother Rag's house to go to visit him. At the time he wasn't there because he went to go see someone who was sick in the hospital. But while we were waiting, we ran into a faraang. Usually when we run into a foreigner in Thailand we almost always get a negative response. I remember in Chiang Mai I was told to go back home, in Roi Et I was told to leave Thai people alone. But this man was different. As he sat in this typical Thai house with a petite Thai woman named Kay (chicken) and her son and Kay's father and mother, I couldn't help but notice how out of place he looked. Imagine a foreigner over six feet tall sitting in a one room, small Thai shack. We said hello to him hesitatingly. We were greeted by a very friendly hello and a lengthy discussion ensued.

His name is Robbie. A German by birth, he has spent most of his life in South Africa. He has many degrees including a PHD in Industrial Engineering. He converted to Buddhism about 30 years ago. He knew of the Mormons very well. He called us the only true Christians that he knew of. Before converting to Buddhism, he was a member of the Church of South African clergy. He knows the Bible and has read it countless times. He converted to a very simple kind of Buddhism. His belief is that Christ traveled to India, learned of Buddhism and then went back to Israel to teach Buddhism and for that he was killed. He believes that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He was fascinated by what we were doing in Thailand and talked about his experience with Mormons a little bit. As we sat there and talked with him, he expressed how he believed that the Lord Buddha (as he called him) taught to deny all unwholesomeness. I immediately thought of the last chapter in the Book of Mormon where Moroni calls upon us to deny ourselves of all ungodliness and come unto Christ. At that time we gave him Elder Gudmundsen's pocket Book of Mormon and then we asked him to pray about it.

This last week, we went to visit him on Saturday night with Elder Senalai. The conversation that ensued was fascinating. This man is extremely intelligent and educated and thought he had found the path that he desired but he told us how he feels so lost and how he feels that the Book of Mormon might be the answer for him. He started to pray again and he had a very intense spiritual experience as we prayed with him at the end of our lesson. He talked of meeting with us as a journey. When I asked if he would go to Church with us, he was simply delighted. He's reading the Book of Mormon and he has lots of questions but he is willing to learn. We are going to see him again this Wednesday and I am excited.

Unfortunately, Rag started drinking alcohol again. We are going to keep working with him to help him get back on the path that he should be on. I feel sad that this happened to him but I know that he will recover. Eventually.

So anyway, all is well. And being with a Thai companion is awesome. I love Thailand and I love this opportunity to serve the Thai people.

Love you all lots,

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, May 2, 2011

LDS Chapel in Ubon Ratchatani

Brother Sanya and Sister Bunmii Were Baptized Yesterday

May 2, 2011

Hello All,

This week I am not quite as tired. Although, I do feel really fat today! Yesterday a member made dinner for all of us missionaries - to say it was incredible would be an understatement. She made waterfall pork with sticky rice and something called tom kha kai - a chicken/coconut milk soup that was amazing. It actually was her birthday also, so we had cake - I had the bai toey cake. Bai toey is a very unique Thai flavor that they use to make a green custard that I love. Whenever I think of Thailand, I will think of the taste of bai toey, the sweat on my brow everyday, the smell of humidity and the heat of the sun. There are many emotions associated with Thailand. Flavors, smells, feelings, all wrapped into a giant ball that is Thailand.

This past week there were some really good things that happened. Brother Sanya and Sister Bunmii were baptized. They are referrals from President Had. They are a cute little couple - he gave up alcohol in a short period of time and it really helped their family a lot. They came to Church from a place that is about 60 kilos away in the nearby province of Srisaket (which has a Church but Ubon is closer for them and President Had is a member here). The service yesterday was a simple one. President Had baptized this cute family who aren't very educated but have pure spirits and hearts. They speak with Father in Heaven in a simple, heartfelt, grateful and loving way.

There were a lot of investigators at Church yesterday including another cute family that the Sisters are teaching who are both named Leg (small). The other Elders had a hilarious investigator named Nid (little bit) who only speaks to us in Isaan and is sassy. That's the best way of putting it - sassy.

So what else happened this week? There were funny moments from dogs that seem to always chase my companion but leave me alone, to a video of me screaming because the members put a bug on my clothes. There was being exhausted walking around Bangkok after eating a Japanese buffet where Thai people showed that they can eat a lot of tempura shrimp. This week was another grand old week in the happiest place on Earth (no... not Disneyland. Please. Disneyland is in English. This is in Thai!).

We did exchanges in Srisaket where we walked and invited all day, I was exhausted! The next morning I woke up with a sore throat and a bad headache. But then it was back to Ubon on a cramped and really hot bus where I taught district meeting and then headed to Yasothon. It was a good time in Yaso but it was very tiring.

Unfortunately, rain fall and false appointments were on the agenda for the two days in Yasothon. But we taught an awesome investigator named Chuuchaad who refers to himself as "Brother.” Elder Anderson and Elder Grover are good guys. They are hard workers and willing to do their best. I love working with both of them.

Yasothon is a pretty good place. It has a very country feel. People there don't really speak Thai very well. They usually speak Isaan in their day to day conversations. Isaan has a completely different rhythm to it. I don't know how to describe it. The tones are all over the place. Thai is very organized in its use of tones. Isaan is pretty much anything goes.

After returning to Warin we got a chance to see Rag who is doing very well! He is getting off of alcohol and is working to get off of cigarettes. His countenance has become brighter and he is smiling more. That's a common indicator of conversion - the physical change. I remember as we continued to teach Aa and Naang, there was almost a physical change in them. I remember how Chaang's personality changed. And I remember how countless other people changed their lives for the better as they embraced the Gospel. Embracing the Gospel is putting off the natural man. Anyone can be the natural man. The question that we are asked by Christ is "Will you come up to the higher plane?" Think of Nicodemus for a moment. He asked the question that all mankind wonders "How can I come closer to the Divine?" Christ responded "You must be born again." Christ calls us to be born again, looking beyond the physical into the spiritual realm. Christ calls upon us all to abandon the natural man and have his image in our countenance.

I love the Lord and I love being a missionary. It’s weird to think it’s coming to a close but I am so grateful for this opportunity. I hope we can all come unto Christ and และ​ปฏิเสธ​ตน​จาก​ความ​ไม่​เป็น​เหมือน​พระผู้เป็นเจ้า​ทุก​อย่าง.

Love you all so much. Praying for you,

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, April 25, 2011

This Was a Crazy Week!

April 25, 2011

Dearest Family,

So talk about a crazy and confusing week! Last night I traveled to Bangkok to renew my visa. We took NakhonChai Air first class to Bangkok. Imagine going first class on an airplane but actually being on a bus. The “flight” attendants wear traditional/stereotypical flight attendant uniforms. They gave us drinks (I had hot Ovaltine which is huge here in Thailand) and then they gave us sandwiches and fruit. The seats were extremely comfortable but to say that I slept 2 hours is an overstatement. So if this email sounds a bit non sequitur, I’m sorry. I am simply so tired. We will probably just take it easy here in Bangkok before we leave to go back.

I saw Elder Seymour today as we went to renew our visas. He is always so loving and I am grateful for his special friendship. We have a lot of memories together that I will never forget.

This week my companion and the Thai Zone Leader went to work in Burriram at the request of the AP’s. While they were gone, Elder Harris and I had a delightful exchanges where we were totally rained on and had lots of canceled appointments. But in the end we taught with a really funny member named Sister Noy who talks very loudly and is super funny.

We also had a really cool experience as we taught a young 19 year old off the invite. His name is Van and at first he wasn't super interested. Then we talked and we perked up his interest and we prayed. He didn't show anything at first but then we talked and evaluated why he didn't feel anything. Then he prayed for us and he asked if God was there. He received an answer on the spot and was grinning from ear to ear. His schedule is a bit confusing and we haven't gone to see him again but Elder Harris and Elder Charit should get a chance again.

I went to Yasothon this week with Elder Grover. We taught a cute little family named Theb (angel) and Joy. They are Christians but are struggling to accept certain aspects of the Church - mainly the Word of Wisdom and the Book of Mormon. They are a good couple though and they continue to go to Church regularly. Elder Grover is a great guy - humble, hard working and loving. He's been a great blessing for Yasothon. We had some good times as I explored one of the smallest areas in the mission. Elder Grover's really dedicated and wants to help Yasothon a lot.

In other happenings this week, Bunmii and Sanya are doing great! They are going to be baptized this Sunday by President Had. The both passed their interviews.

Yesterday we also met Sister Grxsanna at Church. She had the best news of the week - her husband gave her permission to be baptized for real this time. After a setback with coffee and her husband's indifference, she received permission and will be baptized this weekend also! She was so excited.

With all the changes in the future, that leaves us with very few investigators but I am confident we can find. Rag is still struggling to overcome his alcohol addiction but he is trying so hard. I have rarely met investigators who are as dedicated as he is. He is determined to be baptized and to make his life better. We went to pick him up for Church but we couldn't find him so we had to go.

It's weird to think that this Mother's Day is the last time I’ll talk on the phone with you from Thailand. I am going to miss Thailand so much. I will miss things like glass bottles, hospital uniforms, fruit carts, dentist clinics, Thai fast food, drinking water with a straw always, sitting on traditional Thai mats, eating from a sticky rice holder, waing people and everything in between. But I know that my time in Thailand will always have a special place in my heart. I am different. Besides weighing 50 pounds less, I am not quite the same person. I am Thai-ified.

I am grateful for the Thai people whom I love so deeply. They are so funny, loving, caring and just amazing people. When we love those who we serve and pray for that charity we will remember the Charity of our Savior in giving his life for us. I am so grateful for His sacrifice and for its infinite power in our lives. Easter is a special time. May we all remember to thank our Father in Heaven for the gift of his Son. I know that he lives and loves us. Let us live our lives in a way that we always would be comfortable standing in the presence of the Savior. I love the work and I am excited for another week to come with another trip to Yasothon. I love you all.

Love you all lots!

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, April 18, 2011


April 18, 2011

Dear Family,

Songkran was the MAJOR happening this week. I don't know that I can begin to describe what this water festival is really like. Imagine this: Streets are full of garbage can sized tanks full of water. People take buckets, cups, pots and use them to throw water on all people who are passing by. Squirt gun sales are insane. People sell thousands of buckets, bowls and other equipment for Songkran. Children and adults both do it. Imagine walking down a major street and the traffic is so heavy that you can't go anywhere. Imagine people sitting in the back of trucks with buckets and barrels full of water that they are throwing at you. And the water often is chilled by giant cubes of ice. Then imagine the loudest music you have ever heard.

We played on Thursday. In Ubon they have a huge park that was set up like a water park. Seriously. You can't imagine the amount of water and how wet you really get. Motorcyclists, pedestrians, even cars, they all get wet. For three days they play really hard. To the Thais, it actually is a time of year to ask for blessings, it's the Thai New Year. Originally Songkran was one day and people would go to other houses where the adults would pour water on them and bless them. But, it's not really a religious thing. We got a chance to see it with Sister Grxsanna. She did it to a friend who she introduced to the Gospel, a 20 plus year old guy. She blessed him that he would live his life according to the Gospel. What you do is you kneel down and pour water into the cupped hand of an adult and then they pour it over your shoulders and proclaim blessings.

So Songkran was a nice bit of a break. It's an interesting cultural study.

Here are some funny things from this week:

1) One of my favorite was when Sister Grxsanna told us that the government asked people to not play until the assigned day because they were worried about official documents getting wet. It was so funny.

2) We got lost on the way to visit Bunmii and Sanya and were stuck in Songkran traffic. It was crazy.

3) One of our investigators dropped us because she had a dream where the elephant God gave them supposed winning lottery numbers? She is still really nice to us but she wants her husband to go at it alone.

4) The members here in Ubon call me "Watermelon" because my face got a little sun burnt. It's a joke off of the word faraang which means guava but also foreigner. I said I am not a faraang but that I am a Thai and one of them said, with your face like this you are a watermelon.

5) The members here are pretty funny. It's definitely a change of pace from Roi Et. The branch president is a return missionary. Most of the members are fairly long term members. There is one member who is 79 years old - Mother Surii - meaning sun - who has been a member for almost 40 years. Wow! She's really funny, too.

This week was a lot of fun and a lot of heat! It's getting so hot here. I guess the season is upon us. Yesterday there was a crazy rain storm that left us stuck at the Church for quite a bit. I learned the phrase for raining cats and dogs in Thai. Dang, I don't know what I am going to do when I can't learn Thai all the time. I love Thailand and I am going to miss it so much. Thai people are so funny and I love their culture. I am going to miss the members, the food, and everything in between.

Bunmii and Sanya, our investigators who are referrals from President Had, are doing really well. Sanya gave up alcohol and has been clean for five weeks. He had alcoholism to the point that he would shake if he gave it up. He's doing so well! They are a cute little Isaan family. Isaan people are so nice and loving and have so much namjai - generosity. They give us corn to eat every time we meet with them.

We are working with Brother Rag who is striving to overcoming his addiction to alcohol. Sister Grxsanna interviewed for baptism this week. It came out that she was still drinking coffee. So, she had to wait. We are going to see her this Tuesday.

You asked about getting to the church in Ubon. We take a Tuk Tuk to Church. Our driver, Father Thiam, is the uncle of a member and a current investigator. Imagine this - a fifty year old short Thai Isaan man who laughs heartily and speaks Isaan with us. I love him to pieces. It takes us about 20 minutes to get to the Church. We cross the river to get from Warin to Ubon.

I am grateful for the Savior, who's always patient with me and helps me everyday. He lives and loves us. Our Father in Heaven is mindful of us all and the Gospel has power to change our lives. May we all follow him and do the things that are right. Often we have to realize that God's blessings come in many shapes and sizes. With a positive outlook while seeing the good things - from the beauty of Warin to the deliciousness of eating red ants in a dish - there is happiness all around us.

I love you all so much.


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ubon Ratchathani Warin Chamrab

April 4, 2011

Dear Family

Welcome to Ubon Ratchathani Warin Chamrab. And so the journey of the last area of my mission begins. My new companion is Elder Gudmundsen from California. He's been out about 6 moves now. He's been with Thais except for his trainer, Elder Crowley, and now me. Warin is pretty small, but it’s a nice place.

After transfers last Thursday, we rode on a bus for about 12 hours to Ubon. We got out at the Church and Thiam, a relative of a member who drives the missionaries around all the time, came to pick us up. He took us to Warin, an additional 20 minutes.

I miss Roi Et. I didn't really think it would come to the point where I would say that but I feel like I want to go back! From Sister Dawgrag's delicious food to Elder Merrell's humor and President Sutheb and his wife and the Isaan smaller town culture of Roi Et, it's one of the best areas in the mission.

Ubon has the biggest church building of the Church in all of Southeast Asia. There are about 70 -100 people who show up every week. There's a returned missionary from the 80s who is the branch president. And there are lots of priesthood holders. It's a pretty good branch.

Here in Warin, there are quite a few investigators that are really good but are stuck on some concerns. We have two families who are referrals from the district president that are doing pretty well but they live about 60 kilos away.

I learned this week was how much I love Roi Et. On our last day there, before driving us to Kohn Kaen, Waruni and Sutheb took us to their house to eat a delicious meal. They had a kind of rice that's way healthy and unprocessed, the most delicious fish in the world with a tamarind sauce, different kinds of vegetable dishes and a mild soup. It was amazing. There were also mangos and some Thai treats. I love that family so much. Jampii (Mother Jampii) helped Mother Waruni make everything. They love the Gospel. Mother Jampii is Mary Poppins with a motorcycle and a carpet bag. It's awesome.

I love Roi Et for all the miracles that happened there. We worked hard and we saw some great things. I know that the Gospel has power. It's not just simply an invention that we make have power. We cannot deny certain things in our lives no matter what the world may say. The Gospel has power as we open our hearts at least a little bit to that power. Think of Brother Chaang. Think of Aa and Naang. Think of Egg in Bangkapi. Think of Jiab in Nongkhai. These people changed their lives in such a drastic way.

Often when we speak of missions, we speak of having fun, feeling the Spirit, baptisms. When I look back on my mission, I will reflect on those things for sure, but I will reflect upon the growth of character also. One day in Thonburi Elder Panom gave me a great example. He said, "Elder Newman have you ever seen a big, beautiful tree before?" I told him that I had. He proceeded to compare our lives with that of a tree. We will have winds, rains, days where the sun beats down upon us. As a sapling, a tree must develop strength. But if it can survive beyond that point, we can become that tree. The most beautiful words in Mormonism are the words "Heavenly Father". We are saplings but when He looks at us we aren't just simply a bunch of twigs, we are something much greater than that. The beauty of the Gospel lies in the power of God to make us more like Him - eternal progression. That's the purpose of this life.

I know the Gospel is true. I know that our Redeemer lives and one day we will see how he helped us through the hardest times in our lives.

I love you all and pray for you.

Elder Jacob Newman

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It is Super Cold Here in Roi Et!

March 28, 2011

Hello Family,

This week went by really fast but we saw some great happenings. It's also super cold today. Super. Super. Cold.

Aa and Naang are doing great. They were confirmed this week. We also saw Chaang who said something very touching to me. We were leaving after teaching him for this last time - we talked about him reading scriptures and also about Joseph Smith and the story of being tarred and feathered. As I was leaving with Elder Merrill he said to me, "I will miss you Elder. You know if it wasn't for you I probably wouldn't have gotten baptized." Chaang isn't a man of many words but he means every word he says. He won't lie. I felt so touched to think that I had a small part here in Roi Et. Their family is doing really well. Sister E and he went on vacation this last week and the week before. She is going to be opening a kidney clinic that's about 20 - 40 kilos from the city. She will now be working Monday through Friday which will be really good for their family.

Chaeron's family came to Church. They are so cute and doing well. Brother Lersen is involved in their teaching almost every time. I will miss all of these wonderful members here in Roi Et. From Mae Waruni and President Sutheb to Lersen and Aew (his wife) and Gift and Brother Giang and Sister Kay and Mae Jampii and everyone in between, I love this branch.

I love the whole identity of being Mormon. There is power in identity. As we come to realize that the power in our identity comes from God, we realize that we must live our lives in harmony with his will. I know that the Savior sees the big picture and that through Him we will be healed and receive help. I know that the Lord lives and loves us.

I really know that the Lord knows us. He knows our problems, our concerns and our challenges. I know that as we rely on him, it doesn't all work out at once, but it just works out. The scriptures can speak to us as we learn to look for answers in them. Prayer is an act of work - God expects us to act and to do our part. I know that families can be together forever and that my time in Thailand has taught me how important family is. I know that God watches us, the Gospel is restored and it will bless the lives of the Thai people.

I pray for you all daily.

Love you all so much,

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, March 21, 2011

Aa and Naang at Their Baptism with Pres. Sutheb

Aa and Naang Were Baptized!

March 21, 2011

Dearest Family,

This last week was cold here in Roi Et. We had to wear long sleeves one day. I didn't sweat. I was confused. There was a light drizzle of rain - Thai people don't like the rain. But, it was a good week.

Yesterday Aa and Naang were baptized! I spoke on baptism and Mae Waruni spoke on the Holy Ghost. Naang uses the pronoun Sister. (Thai has such a complex pronoun system for women. Women often use their names or their pronoun such as older sibling, grandma, or sister as the word for "I".) Brother Aa gave a very touching testimony. They are wonderful and I know that they will help the Church to grow here in Roi Et especially since they are under the watchful care of President Sutheb and his wife, Waruni.

I realized how much I love Aa and Naang and Sutheb and Waruni. They are all saints. Truly, how I love the saints here in Thailand. It's so amazing to think that even though we were born on different continents and we lead such different lives, that we are brought together by our Father in Heaven who loves us all. The news of the Gospel is that we are all family and that as such, we have a responsibility to love one another.

So there were lots of great things that happened. We had a "sabai" exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Perich again. Elder Perich is a really sincere and kind man. I look up to him a lot. We taught some good lessons. We taught a fairly new investigator, Daeng, who now really wants to be baptized.

Chaeron's family is doing really great but this week only the children, On and Off came to Church. The family hadn't sold too well this last week since it was cold. When it's hot they sell really well and Sunday was a scorcher. So they went to sell because they had an "emergency ice" situation in the morning. But they are progressing well.

I really love seeing how the Gospel changes people. That's the greatest thing about the Gospel that we don't have to be stuck forever. The Gospel is about change and the power of the atonement. I know that Jesus Christ can heal us but it has to be on his time and in his way. Often times that healing doesn't take place in an instant. Patience, love, hope and charity will bring about that healing. The families we are teaching are all doing so well and I am so happy to be here in Roi Et.

My mission has been a blessing in my life. It isn’t the easiest thing to do or the most fun thing to do at this point in my life but it was the right thing to do. I know that one day I will look back and see how God filled in the holes in my heart, how I was an influence for good and how much I loved my mission. But as for now, we cherish the journey and work our hardest. And that's all God expects. I love the Lord Jesus Christ and know that He loves us so much. I love the Thai people because they are my family. And I love my family in America because they always love me.


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sister Dawgrag Opened Her Restaurant!

March 14, 2011

Dearest Family,

There is always a little something in the week that just makes us super excited. This week that little something was the fact that Sister Dawgrag opened her restaurant right next to our house. She sells everything and it is amazing. I also learned from Sister Dawgrag that she bought the land where the Elders’ house is and built the house specifically for the Elders. Sister Dawgrag is the example of the word example. She loves the Church with all her heart. She loves the Gospel because the Gospel changed her into the person she is today. I look up to Sister Dawgrag.

And then there's Father Jan. And Father Khiaw. And all kinds of other people in this branch that I love. I think of them as my family. Then I reflect upon my real family and how much they love me. I think of how much they want me to be successful and happy. I love this opportunity to serve here in Thailand because I know that one day we will realize that we are all part of a much greater eternal family.

We can't expect everyone to accept the message of the Gospel - today Chaysit called and dropped himself because of family pressure and some other issues - but we know that for us as we accept the Gospel and the fruits of the Gospel our lives will be better. I know that through the power of the infinite atonement, even the darkest times can seem better.

I love Roi Et so much and the members here are so amazing. I have seen miracles that I cannot fully describe. The greatest miracle I have seen, however, is the miracle of patience and endurance within me. Sure my time as a missionary isn't over yet and there are many challenges to come but I have learned we have to take everything one day, one hour, one step at a time. Don't run faster than you need to. Don't kill yourself with stress. Don't let yourself forget who you are.

I know that the Lord lives. I remember teaching Aa and Naang this week and they said, “Before we didn't know the word repentance. To return to your heart.” When we repent, we have to forgive. If we cannot forgive others for things that they have done in the past or we cannot forgive ourselves, we must draw upon the power of the atonement to find the strength to forgive. We must remember that we cannot change the past but dwelling on the past will not bring any good results.

Chaeron's family came to Church and they found friends and new associates. They are loving the power of the Gospel in their lives. The Gospel really does have power - God wants us to remember that always. So don't forget it!

Hey, I love you all so much. I love this work and I know that I am meant to be here. Please keep praying hard for me. I pray hard for you all always. Pray that we will choose the right and love the Savior more everyday!


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Adventurous Week in Roi Et

March 7, 2011

Dearest Family,

This was an adventurous week. Many things happened and we taught lots of lessons. I was rather shocked that we managed to turn out about 19 lessons and got many good new investigators.

This week was Boon Phaweed in Roi Et, a major festival where they eat spaghetti like-noodles and cover them in different kinds of sauces. They give it out for free all over the city - all you can eat. There were a ton of people at the Bxng (public park) and a lot of dancing and loud Isaan music. (The music almost always has a banjo-like sound to it.)

As far as other good news, Sister Dawgrag is opening her restaurant at her house which is diagonally across from our house and we are so excited. She makes the best Thai food ever. Seriously, I can't really eat at other taam sang places. Taam sang is like according to your order, Thai fast food places. You have things like sweet and sour pork, chicken, fried rice, basil dishes, all kinds of delicious things. She makes sweet and sour chicken or pork with apples and pineapple. Delicious!

We made the 10 kilo bike ride to Chaeron's house again this week. It was dark. It took us about an hour but it went all right, much better than last time. We taught this cute family with Brother Loersan and they are adorable. It's Chaeron - father, Phongpad - wife, On – daughter, Off - Son. Yes. Their names are On and Off but they are pronounced with tones. They are so cute. They sit, keep commitments and listen to the things we say. They are so interested and they love Father Loersan (we call him dad just like we call everyone mom and dad and big brother out here in Thailand). They are progressing really well!

Aa and Naang are also doing great. They told us that they have a better relationship because of the Gospel. Same with Chaeron - they said that they never really have done much as a family like this where they all sit down and talk. They love it and they are learning really well, genuinely interested and attentive.

Chaysid is a bit on the backburner because of some unexpected issues, sensitive information! But we also got a random call from an investigator in the past named Tay who is a friend of Brother Ball and he's doing pretty well, he's really determined to learn.

We went into another neighborhood where the dogs wanted to get to us. Okay, Thailand has lots of dogs but I have never seen that many brave dogs in one street! They tried to jump on us - that day we didn't really find any investigators there though.

What I learned this week is that we can't forget who we are. There are lots of people out there who will tell you who they think you are. But I feel impressed to say that the world is a poor judge of character. We are all children of God and as such we have a divine potential. The Gospel blesses us at all times and God wants us to find peace which he promises on his time, not on our time.

I will miss Roi Et a lot. There's a lot of hard memories here but there are so many amazing memories that I have here - from the miracle of Brother Chaang to the miracle of myself, I have grown here and I love these people more than I thought ever possible. It's nice to think that I have fathers and mothers and older siblings in Thailand that all care for me and know that I am doing my best. And add to that a true family that loves me for who I am. I love you all so much.

I know my mission has changed my life. I am not perfect; the Savior doesn't ask me to be perfect in an instance. He knows my trials and my tribulations. He knows the pains in my life because he felt my pains. That's the power of the Gospel. All religions teach us to be good but not all religions teach us to live up to our potential. You are a son of God. You are a daughter of God. And so your needs are great. You will live with him again.

I remember reading the words of Orson F. Whitney about the atonement. He watched as Christ knelt in the garden, his heart reached out to him. And then, in an instant, the scene changed to where Christ was about to ascend into heaven and he cried to Christ, begging him to take him with him. But Christ said "No, these have done their work. You must stay and do yours". Orson replied "Promise I will come to you at the end." Christ replied "That will depend entirely upon you" I know that one day we will kneel before the Savior and hopefully he will say to us "You did your best. That's all I asked. I didn't ask you to give more than you could. I asked you to give all that you have and I make up the rest." And he will. “I will not forget thee. I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands and my walls are before you.” He lives.


Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, February 28, 2011

Aa and Naang Are Still Doing So Well!

February 28, 2011

Dearest Family,

This was an interesting week. We are going through a lot of changes with our investigators. Aa and Naang are still doing so well. Saturday they didn't meet with us but they should be getting baptized in the next two weeks. The thing that I have noticed about them, as with Brother Chaang, is that the Gospel changed their personalities. Brother Chaang never really showed much interest in anything before he started to sincerely learn the Gospel. But now, when we go see him, he smiles, brings us water, feeds us his special sauce for unripened mangos (a fish sauce of some sort) and then he smiles more. The Gospel changed Naang as she opened her heart and saw the fruits of the Gospel. She loves to tell us about what she reads from the scriptures.

I really like that phrase that you wrote from Valerie Whitehead's farewell, “the atonement is infinite.” The Thai translation adds a new meaning to it that I hadn't really thought of before. The Atonement of Christ has no borders, as we say in Thai. It means that there are no bounds to the power that He has to help and heal us. I believe that we are all a little bit broken. We all have problems, little and big, concerns, obstacles and things that we don't understand. Often the best option for us isn't to simply have God take away these problems, but for us to learn through them. The most amazing part of the atonement is the patience of our Redeemer. Christ was patient in all His sufferings. At those times where we simply feel that we cannot go on or we do not understand why things have worked out the way that they have, we must remember that Christ endured with patience and with love.

We need to live by faith and hope in the power of the atonement with no borders. We see our problems and wonder why God simply doesn't intervene and fix it all. God is our Loving Father in Heaven. Even though we feel confused, burdened, and stressed in our lives, the Savior is always there for us but often leaves us to find the strength within us.

My time is Roi Et is a testimony to this. It has been very stressful because of situations that have occurred. And while I do not understand many things, there is a force that continues to aid me as I try to help Heavenly Father's children know who they are. That's the news of the Gospel - who we really are. Do we remember who we are? Most of our problems in life result from a kind of identity crisis, I suppose you could say. We are children of God. Do we remember that when we feel abandoned? Do we remember that when life gets us down or when we think things are rough? I know that we are all children of God. We aren't any less. And as such, we have an inheritance. God loves us so much. God will always remember us.

It's really really hot here in Roi Et. Luckily we are starting the summer schedule tomorrow. All is going fairly well, though. A bit tired. And still stressed out but that's just a Newman characteristic, I guess. By the way, our new Zone leader is Elder Perich - awesome. I love Elder Perich. We know each other from Thonburi and he's way good and extremely helpful.

So, we are finding a lot of new investigators this week. We’re not sure what's going to happen with Chaysid. We have to figure out some matters with him. And then there are also some new investigators that we are working with - a 22 year old name Jo, some 20 plus year olds named Chad and Gawn, and a cute little family named Jaroen (Dad) and Pongphad (Mom) and their daugther who live about 10 kilos from the Church - riding our bikes to their house at seven o'clock at night was a little bit nerve-wracking, it was extremely dark.

To say this week was strange in other random happenings would be a bit of an understatement - let's put it in a few words. District conference translation for 6 hours, running into a faraang at the Bxng (public park in Roi Et) who tried to take us to the police station - don't worry about that one. And lots of hours of inviting to find new investigators. All in all, it was a memorable and fun week. Elder Merril is great. I really like him a lot. He works hard and is patient. That's the best characteristic to have - patience.

I love you all so much. I know the Gospel has power and will help us in our times of trial!

Love you lots,

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, February 21, 2011

Still in Roi Et

February 21, 2011

Dearest Family,

This last week was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. It all started out with the announcement about transfers. Elder Thrap was moved to Ayutthaya (the ancient city). I didn't get to see him off in Bangkok and I wasn't expecting that I would still be here in Roi Et.

The day Elder Thrap left was particularly challenging. The ride to Mahasarakham, which was proceeded by the members sending Elder Thrap off with an activity at the Church (Think Thai dancing, roses, an excellent talk by Sister A about the atonement.), was a hard ride. All the way there I thought of the first day Elder Thrap came to Roi Et. He changed my mission forever. Our time together wasn't the easiest time of my mission but it was a time where I felt so appreciated and loved by my companion.

We got to Sarakham and I taught Elder Thrap the last word I would teach him as his companion - the word for us to say goodbye - laa. We laa gan (say goodybe to one another). After hugs and pictures, he drove away. I will miss him.

As far as other news... This week we had Aa at Church but Naang fell ill so she couldn't attend. They are doing so well. They read the scriptures like champions and really feel the difference the Gospel is making in their lives. They are doing their best to keep their commitments. Chaysid is doing pretty good but we aren't exactly sure what his story is with only attending the first hour of Church.

As far as Manob, for right now he has to be set aside. Unfortunately he took up smoking again and isn't really reading the scriptures. I felt very sad about this but he needs a bit of a break. And then of course there is Phaybuun, he isn't doing too well either. His legal issue with his girlfriend is so complex and is taking a lot of time. So our investigator pool is dwindling a bit. But we are out to find new investigators and that's what we will do.

Every area goes through patterns. Roi Et just got out of a super great period and now it's the testing period. Sometimes it's hot and tiring but there's nothing better than trying. That's all God expects is that we try.

My new companion, Elder Merril, is a transfer four missionary who speaks Thai very clearly and is an extremely hard worker. Also bold. It's been pretty great so far. Elder Merril is very funny and has a fun personality. it will be a good six weeks together. He's helping me be less stressed out and take things at a slower pace all while working hard. He sings well, is funny and way sabaai.

So trials. I know that God gives us challenges because He loves us. In the crisis of the moment, that is the hardest thing to say. We may not understand why we have to go through a certain trial. And sometimes trials continue for a long period of time. But often the learning isn't found in the end of the trial but in the heat of it. What we can obtain from the Gospel is hope. Hope is the courage to face the future despite the fact that we have fears. Fear is a natural reaction because we can't control so many things.

I know that as we love God and love our fellow men and just try our best, everything will work out. Our lives won't be comfortable just because we keep the commandments. The right thing isn't always the easiest thing to do. But it is the right thing to do.

I know that God lives and loves us. Even on those days where's it's really hot and we aren't finding anyone. God doesn't forget us in the midst of trial and affliction, but some of the answers we are just meant to find for ourselves. Keeping the commandments, reading the scriptures daily, praying daily and living our lives in harmony with the Gospel will bring us hope. The source of hope is Jesus Christ.

I know the Gospel is true. God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Love you all dearly and deeply,

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kahn Kaen Zone Conference

Life Presses on in Roi Et!

February 14, 2011

Dearest Family,

Life presses on in Roi Et! This week was not nearly as stressful because we started off the week with a visit to the DINOSAUR museum in Kalasin which was super awesome. That made the week a lot more relaxing. Today will be a little stressful because we probably need to start packing. We haven’t heard yet, but one of us will most likely be moving. I will miss Elder Thrap immensely as we move on, whether I move or he moves. I know that he will continue to do marvelous things in Thailand.

Roi Et will have such a special place in my heart. It's the area where I really learned how to be a missionary and where I learned how to help people progress in the Gospel. From Brother Chaang's six week transformation to Wirayud, Alum, Nxng, and everyone else in between, Roi Et is a place where I tried my hardest and saw fruit that I could clearly see. I feel so blessed to have come here and met all the wonderful members. I love all them all. It's a place where I realized that I have to rely on the Lord and never give up. I learned that I must diligently try to follow the example of Jesus Christ always, no matter how hard it is.

After serving in Thonburi, I know that we have to live our lives on God's timetable. I’ve seen that here in Roi Et. I need to be patient, love the Lord and try my hardest. That's all he expects. Isn't it amazing to know that Jesus Christ makes up the difference when we trust in Him? We will make mistakes and find problems in the journey of life. But the greatest news is that we don't have to face them alone. Brother Sirawid (a member here in Roi Et) always says, "Coming into the Church doesn't mean that we won't have challenges but it does mean that we won't have to face them alone. We will receive divine protection."

Yesterday I was called upon to give a blessing to a sister who wants to be a missionary but has hepatitis B so she needs treatment before she can go. It will take months to recover. She must learn to "อดทนด้วยดี" - endure through it well. All will work out. I am trying to do the same. We must endure diligently always. I love the Lord and I love that He always helps me.

In other good news, Aa and Naang came to Church. They are doing so well. They continue to read from the scriptures daily and they are progressing very well. We recently dropped Manob, who went to Bangkok to find money. He just needs time and to be in a less stressful situation to make this covenant. Phaybuun is a bit on the back burner right now. Party is back but he needs to be going to Church regularly before we can do much of anything with him. We also taught a young man named Park this week who was really quite good - he got an answer to his prayer in the lesson. It was a cool experience. This weekend I did exchanges in Sarakham. They don't have a lot of super interested investigators right now but they are working hard and trying their best.

May God bless you all. I love you and pray for you daily.


Elder Jacob Newman

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This Was A Challenging Week

February 7, 2011

Dearest Family,

Here in Roi Et, life rolls on as I approach my 14th moves in Thailand. It's so crazy to think how close I am to finishing my mission. Of course, it's somewhat exciting. But to be entirely honest, it's terrifying. I will miss about 1,000,000 things about Thailand, from soy dogs, coke in a bag, pharmacies on every street corner, places to buy food every 10 feet, elephants in the streets, Thai people, their language, Isaan eating mats, Bangkok nights, to everything else that's amazing about Thailand. I don't know how I feel about going back to America where I am afraid I will not be able to speak Thai every day all day long and talk to people about the Gospel all day in Thai. So it's a mixed feeling.

This past weekend we went to teach Brother Chaang with Sister Waruni and President Sutheb. I feel like they are my Thai parents. They call me their son and I call her Mom. I call him Prathaan though. Although, he might as well be dad. It's so amazing to have such an intimate connection with these people.

Our investigators were a particular challenge this week but we are working our hardest and trying our best.

Brother Phaybuun is being a little stubborn lately. He still hasn't attended Church regularly and he hasn't kept appointments lately. His baptismal date was scheduled for this week but he didn't do his part. He has only attended Church one time and he hasn't really been too diligent in keeping commitments. It's very unfortunate to see how he knows the Gospel will bless him but he doesn't act on that knowledge fully.

Brother Manob is desperately poor. He is so in debt that he has to continue to go into debt further and further to stay alive. He sells rice and noodles - a typical Thai restaurant - that sells for about 25 - 30 baht per plate. So, his life isn't going too well at this time. He feels like he can't close on Sundays because he has five debt collectors who will come to hunt him down daily - asking for funds that he just can't provide a lot of times. He still prays and reads but going to Church is a challenge. This weekend he went to Bangkok to ask to borrow more money from his older Sister.

Brother Aa, Sister Naang and Sister Naamkhaang are all struggling to get to Church and to keep the Sabbath day holy. This week they will need to attend Church in order to make their baptismal date. They are keeping other commitments very well, but Church seems to be a problem for them.

Chaysid is doing very well. He told us that the scriptures have power and that he views the Book of Mormon as a sacred book. He's a bit hard to read sometimes but he keeps commitments and has come to sacrament meeting weekly. He likes meeting with us and likes to read the scriptures. I don't know if I said this but he has also had a broken leg for the past 6 months that still hasn't healed so he's fairly homebound. But he still makes it out to Church every week. This last Sunday, he was our only investigator at Church, unfortunately.

We recently met a new investigator named Breeze and he's doing really well. This Sunday he came to Church, but didn't make it in time for the sacrament and so he came back when we were eating lunch and we taught him for the third time. He has a lot of problems in his life and wants to find peace.

Brother Nxng, however, did not come to Church on time for his confirmation and only stayed at Church for 15 minutes. This week was definitely a week of trials, as Wirayud also was still in Chiang Mai and didn't get confirmed either.

Basically, the thing that I learned this week is that not everything works out as we plan. As we live our lives according to the Gospel, we aren't guaranteed to be happy all the time but we are guaranteed that we will know where true happiness comes from and that we must live our lives in accordance with Gospel standards. Often choosing the right comes at great personal sacrifice and while it's always the right thing to do it isn't the easiest or the most pain free thing to do. The question is “are we going to live a life that is comfortable or are we going to live a life that is right?”

I love the Lord and love His work. It isn’t easy but we must press onward and be true in the faith. Missionary work isn’t always fun but it’s always worth it.

Love you all so much and pray for you daily.

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, January 31, 2011

This Was a Crazy Week!

January 31, 2011

This week was crazy. We had major trainings in Roi Et during the middle of the week. Some other things that came up in the week were a last minute baptism program that had several mistakes, a baptism, Elder Thrap on exchanges, some crazy changes with investigators and a stressful time at Church.

Anyway, so I like to use the word stress a lot. Stress comes from hurry I guess. I feel in a hurry to make the last bit of my time in Thailand the best time possible. I only get to do this once and who knows when I'll be back in Thailand. Leaving Thailand will be very hard.

Brother Wirayud is doing well. This weekend he went to Chiang Mai for an election that's super important. He's in a different district from the city of Chiang Mai but in the same province. It’s a place called Chiang Daaw. He is a great guy and wants his father to also join the Church. His mother who recently died was Christian in Chiang Daaw but his father is still Buddhist. He, like most Thai tribal people of that generation, cannot read Thai but can speak Thai somewhat.

So this week! Nxng was baptized. He interviewed with Elder Ritchie on Friday night and then passed and we planned his baptism on Saturday. (Brother Ball showed up at Church too. He's Nxng's friend from Amway.) Anyway, he did a great job and he has a good testimony. He was baptized along with the granddaughter of a member whose parents are both members. Her grandma and grandpa are temple endowed and sealed. Nxng has a really interesting experience. He's been an investigator on and off for a long, long time. But he's doing really well and he's keeping the commandments. He has a desire to follow Christ and to be a good example. We are now going to be trying to work with his family to open their hearts more. They live in a neighborhood that is very frequently proselytized

Church was a stressful yesterday. Let's just say a sacrament meeting with talks about the Spirit World, the gathering of Israel and signs of the second coming might be just a little intense. Some of our investigators are struggling to come to Church - Manob was too cold/didn't wake up on time - we aren't sure if that's what really happened or if it's something else. Phaybuun had a bit of an emergency with a close relative who's arm started swelling after taking the cast off. And then Art, a new investigator from English class didn't show up either. But Chaysid and Nxng both showed up. So this week we are going to be working on helping our investigators get to Church.

Elder Thrap went on exchanges since we had the MTC new curriculum trainings in Roi Et. He was with Elder Heftel and Elder Grover.It sounds like they had some funny experiences on their exchanges. (I, on the other hand, was in trainings all week about the MTC new curriculum.) They had a great time and taught a lot of lessons. They also taught Brother Chaang who continues to do well, attending all three hours and enjoying Church even if he looks bored sometimes. Most of the time he has to come straight from work but he wears a white shirt and a tie every week. Brother Chaang is a champ. He's a miracle and he will do great things for the Church in Roi Et. Sister A is so active now with him, they are such a wonderful family with Khaaw Glawng and Khaaw Faang. Khaaw Glawng wears his cute little tie. Khaaw Faang passes the sacrament. It's such a great picture of an upper-middle class Thai Mormon family.

All is going well. That doesn't mean that it's perfect but when you have an investigator who identifies himself to Heavenly Father, when you meet people who are interested or when you simply try your best, that's the best feeling of them all. I love this opportunity to be a missionary. A mission isn't the easiest thing you will do; you will face challenges that you never thought you would. The path will have pot holes and dips. But we press on, with steadfast faith in Christ. And so we press forward.

I pray for you all daily. Love you lots,

Elder Jacob Newman

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Love the Mission!

January 24, 2011

I love the mission. Oh wow, if I could really describe how blessed I feel to come to Roi Et, I don't know if I can explain it in words. Roi Et hasn't been my easiest but it's been the most worthwhile area. I know that the Lord is watching out for me and that He's helping.

Elder Thrap and I have seen so many miraculous things. From Brother Chaang (He told us he would do his home teaching, he comes for all three hours every week in a white shirt and tie, and greeted us when we went to visited him, actually excited to see us.) - to Manob (Who we started calling Brother and who told us he would abandon everything to come to know God.) - to Phaybuun (Who tells us that he was tired of being in the dark and now is in the light because of us.) I can't believe that miracles of Roi Et.

Here in Roi Et when I finally realized that our attitude is the single most important aspect in anything we do, I saw how miracles started to happen. We are teaching double digit lessons every week, we are finding people, seeing baptisms (Wirayud and Alum - turns out it's an l not an r - welcome to Thailand!) and we are also seeing people change their lives. People give up so much for the Gospel. I am so grateful for the opportunity to come to Roi Et and meet such wonderful people. I love the Lord and I love the work here in Roi Et.

Missionary work is a team effort. All those companionships who came to teach Brother Chaang were preparing him. For some reason, however, during the time that our companionship taught we saw Him bring about a mighty change of heart in him. Brother Chaang is so different. The last time we taught him before his baptism, I started to get emotional because for the first time in my mission, I felt like I had seen such a drastic change in someone that I had taught. I felt as if in some small way I had helped Sister A's family. She wanted him to be baptized so badly. She wants the blessings of the temple in her home. One day they will have them. One day Brother Chaang and Sister A, Khaaw Glawng and Khaaw Faang will go to the temple together and be sealed as an eternal family. They are such a cute family. And he's such a great dad. The Gospel has changed their family and it will continue to change their family when they make a trip to the temple.

So this week Wirayud and Alum got baptized. Wirayud is great! The branch loves him and his wife. And so that was a great moment. This next week we should have one more baptism with Brother Nxng- who's doing much better and is keeping commitments very well. He shared his testimony with Elder Thrap while I went to do exchanges in Sarakham (Mahasarkham) and I met sister Nog who knows Sister Cherry and Bishop Arun in Thonburi.

I have gained such a testimony of His Gospel while I have been here. Don't ever forget that repentance isn't something that's not convenient but is something that will bring us true joy and happiness. Don't let Satan try to tell you that you haven't repented when you have and also remember that Satan’s goal is make us miserable. I have seen this in the lives of too many people. We all have a tendency to forget about the atonement and try to hack it on our own. God wants us, with all His heart, for us to rely on Him. Please rely on Him and remember that His promises are sure. He doesn't lie and he doesn't deviate from the current course that he is taking. I love His Gospel. I am not perfect but the Savior is always there to help me.

Also always remember to VLOGROP everything you watch, read, listen to or do. We must remember that we can't just be the natural man but we must become true Saints through the atonement of Christ.

Love you all - Remember He lives.

Elder Jacob Newman