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