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