Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome to 2554 (2011)

January 3, 2011

Dearest Family,

Welcome to 2554! Or do I mean 2011? It's a bit confusing here. Everything that's Thai says 2554, anything that's got a dash of faraang in it says 2011. It's crazy to think how fast life passes by us. It's like our lives are a dream and then we look back and we wonder what happened.

So this week was a bit crazy. This next week will be even crazier. It's time for us to head to Bangkok. (Yes, it's that time again) Although the chances are very slim that I am moving. I will be in Roi Et for another six weeks and then I will move to my final area. Gulp. That's a sad thought. I have come to love Roi Et so much because I have seen how my entire mission I have been brought to this point for a reason.

So, this week. Well, let's talk about some of the best experiences so far. First of all, Brother Chaang. Oh man, he's so awesome, I can't even believe it. If you were to tell any of the companionships who taught him in the past that he was this good, they wouldn't believe it. He has been taught by countless companionships and every time it's just ended in him being disinterested and feeling like he was forced to learn. But at this time, he's so different. I don't get it.

I think it all started with him reading the scriptures. He wants to follow his family and make it a family affair. It's the weirdest thing ever - Brother Chaang was so quiet, never said a word when we ask questions. Now we teach lessons where he 1. Laughs. Yes. Brother Chaang can laugh! 2. Asks questions that are deep and related 3. Has comments about the things he reads. I think what we see in Brother Chaang is the power of the scriptures. When we read the scriptures everyday, it's like drinking water. He found that he enjoys the self confidence he has and that he wants to maintain those feelings. He therefore does it. He's well on his way to probably being baptized in either 2 or 3 weeks. He's a miracle. I thought about how this is the answer to Sister A's 4 years of prayers. She probably prayed everyday. Does that show that God didn't listen? No. It shows that God knew best and that God knew his timing.

Manob still hasn't come to Church but he had a realization this week that every Sunday and only on Sunday does business come up. He realized, however, that the business he goes to do never gets resolved. He therefore decided, as Brother Siriwid (the member who helped us teach) said, to step forward and go to Church no matter what happens.

Nxng is still struggling to keep basic commitments. I am so perplexed. He talks the talk a lot but he often fails to walk the walk as it were. He talks about how we must read scriptures but then he doesn't. And then he talks about how we must repent but then he doesn't. I am pretty sure that we will have to pray really hard that he will be able to do all the things that he must do to be prepared to be baptized.

A lot of people this week were unable to meet because of the new year. It's a huge thing in Thailand. They go around partying and go to different provinces to visit family. So this week we didn't see much of Party and we didn't see Aa and his family. Pong and Num also cancelled our appointment and failed to show up to Church. One of the hardest things you do as a missionary is to drop investigators. But there comes a point where you must do it. It's hard but they are simply not ready. We must leave the word to work on them.

The greatest lesson I learned this week was the lesson of strength. When life hands you a broken bow, like Nephi was given, you can either decide to sit there and complain about the bow or you can go and make another one. The choice is ours. Where does the true strength come from? It comes from making that new bow and finding the strength that only the Savior can provide.

I love the Savior. He doesn't just let us erase our mistakes like we would erase the mistakes on our homework but he literally gives us a whole new sheet. It's a wonderful thing to know that we can always rely on Him even in the hardest times in our lives. He knows who we are. That's why he cheers us on always. Satan, however, also knows who we are. And that's why he desires us to suffer because he knows who we can and will become as we keep God's commandments.

There is peace, safety and joy in the commandments. They aren't going to be convenient. If you think that life will convenient because you are Mormon or because you believe in God, you will find yourself extremely disappointed. The righteous will be tempted and tried the most.

There is joy in repentance and in relying on the atonement. I love that. But don't think your life will be easy because of the Gospel. Life will be hard but the Gospel will make life worth it. That's the point of view that will help us in the times of our greatest challenges. Let's say – “Why is it like this? I have always kept the commandments.” God knows that. The Gospel is there to comfort you, to cheer you and to help you move on with your life.

How I love Thailand and love the gospel. I love you all and pray for you all. Please never forget that He loves you.

Roi Et is so awesome. All of my areas have been so great. And this area is no exception. Everything's going very well and I know that God's watching out for us!


Elder Jacob Newman

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