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

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