January 17, 2011
Here's some funny news to start off today. Since coming to Roi Et, I have had an elephant randomly try to pick me up, a cow lick me, and several roosters attack me. Animals and I don't get along apparently? There was a man taking care of cattle yesterday and his cattle started to lick my arm. It was very random. We proceeded to teach him. Meaning the man. Not the cattle.
Anyway, this week was.... amazing. Okay, so there might have been just a little crying at Brother Chaang's baptism. It was a great time. I really loved it and that's the story that I want to talk about this week. First of all, Chaang's interview was super short. The Zone Leaders came from Khawn Gaen and they interviewed both him and Wirayud and Arum (they were legally married and are going to be baptized this week). Elder Harris, from my group interviewed Brother Chaang. He said Brother Chaang respected me a lot and that he had a great testimony. Brother Chaang is the quiet type but lately there's been more of a smile in his life and his personality has changed completely. After the interview I said "All right Chaang, who's going to baptize you?" And he said - You are Elder Newman. I was shocked and slightly taken aback.
Chaang doesn't show much emotion. So we prepared the baptism, making a really nice program with a beautiful picture of the Salt Lake Temple on the front. Sister A said something that was very touching. She said she thought last year she would just go to the temple by herself but she prayed about it and got an answer that she should just keep saving money so all four of them could go together. That was when Brother Chaang wasn't showing any interest. He would listen to the Elders out of his concern/love for Sister A but he had no testimony really. He didn't get answers to his prayers. Chaang is a very honest man. If he doesn't believe, he will tell you. He doesn't lie. He didn't do this because of peer pressure. It wasn't until Elder Thrap and I started teaching him this time around that within the course of 6 weeks, he underwent a massive transformation. Reading the scriptures daily, praying daily, praying as a family. It was incredible. And I thought about it - how long has Sister A waited for this? Three years. That's a long time to feel like God doesn't answer your prayers.
I feel so honored and touched that Elder Thrap and I had a small part in the culminating process of Brother Chaang's conversion. He told his family and his friends that he's going to be Christian. He even told his really strict parents. He's so brave. And he loves the gospel, even if he falls asleep in Church sometimes - he usually comes straight from working the night shift. This week his son, Khaaw Glawng, had an accident that put him in the hospital on Sunday but he was out in time for the baptism and it wasn't anything too serious. He fell while running with friends and had some symptoms after. So Brother Chaang went to sacrament but Sister A didn't go because she was with Khaaw Glawng. But they made it back in time for the baptism.
So I was nervous to baptize him. I was shaking. The service began. It was so quiet. It was the quietest service I have ever been in. You could literally hear a pin drop. It was so sacred. Sister A gave a great talk and cried a little bit. And we sang “This Is the Christ” in Thai. Then there was the moment. The water was cold but Brother Chaang was so excited. He went under the water and came up smiling, as broad as ever. Then we got changed and he was so excited.
Then came the most sweet testimony. Brother Chaang said something to the effect of, "I have been an investigator for three years but I feel as if there is something that has caused me to come into the Church. I know Jesus Christ is the Savior. I will be a strong member and I will lead my family to be an eternal family." And I thought about it. Even if I had come to Thailand just for Brother Chaang I would take it all - all the rejection of Thonburi, all the heat of, well, every area and everything in between. It was awesome. I know that this is why I came to Roi Et. I can't believe what a blessing this is in my life.
Never forget the power of the Gospel. It changes our families. And it changes our lives. Don't put it off as merely good teachings or just chance, the atonement of Jesus Christ has power. It's about him - it's about Brother Chaang, it's about all these people who need this hope in their lives. And even while we strive through grief and pain because the Gospel doesn't make life easy all the time, we know that we have a goal to be together as a family forever. One day, I hope I can meet Brother Chaang and Sister A in the temple as an eternal family and have the privilege of seeing them again. It's just such a miracle.
I love this work even if it's stressful and emotionally tiring sometimes. Brother Chaang just makes it all worth it. Pray for him to always be strong to the end. He's a champ! I love you all so much and I pray for you daily. Busy as ever. Roi Et continues to be awesome. Too much news to put in today!
Elder Jacob Newman