Monday, January 23, 2012

A New Transfer

Hello everyone! This week was a big one. Got a phone call from our District Leader on Tuesday telling us who would be moving. Me. So we went down to Bangkok on Thursday to Moves Meeting. We took a train! That was kind of fun. It had little beds where we could sleep, pretty sweet. I totally had a feeling I would be staying in Bangkok and...I was right! I got called to serve in the Bangkapi Ward which is part of the only Stake in Thailand. They are currently working on making Bangkok three stakes.

Bangkapi is a real nice place. It is a little north of Asoke (downtown Bangkok). Bangkok is so busy. So many people and taxi's everywhere. They have huge malls with tons of stuff to eat. I kind of like the feel of being in a big city. I think I'm going to enjoy my time here.

My new companion is Elder Lyman from Washington. I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve together in this area. It is alot different from Surin. I am so impressed with the growth and the strength of the members here. They have a way nice church building or at least from what I am used to. Nicest of the areas I have served in so far. It's weird having a Bishop instead of a Branch President.

There are lots of recent converts that we will have to stay on top of to keep strong. For right now we do have some good investigators who are sincerely interested. The ward support system will help so much in converting people. There is so much priesthood that can help fellowship our investigators. Lots of young men preparing for missions as well!

I'm in a four elder house like in Udon. There is Elder Jensen from Lone Peak and in my home stake. His companion is Elder Segura, one of my nongs from the MTC. Our house is right off of a busy road and the oldest of the three houses I have lived in so far. All the houses in Bangkok are packed in so tight and so many people in them. Lots of apartment buildings as well. Ready to get some work done in those.

This transfer should be a blast. I am looking forward to the experiences I am going to have and opportunities to grow.

Pdays are super fun in Bangkok. Today we are planning on going to Bayoke Tower, the tallest building in Thailand. There is a buffet at the top and you can see over Bangkok I hear. We will probably take a taxi there and then ride the Khlong Monster back home - the big boat that rides down the gross, brown, sewer Bangkok canal. Should be a fun day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Christmas from Thailand

Elder Zitting sent us a box full of wonderful things that represent his time spent in Thailand including lots and lots of snacks and treats, some good and some not so good. Fish flavored potato chips? A drink with bits of fruit snacks in it? The banana chocolate sticks were yummy as were the gummy candies and many more tasty treats. We waited to open the package while skyping with him Christmas night.

This is what Josh wrote to us -

Hello Family!

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas with cold weather and snow the way Christmas should be. Here it is hot but Thailand weather doesn't phase me. I still feel the Christmas spirit.

I put some things in this package I thought represented Thailand and some things I thought you guys would like such as the elephant pillowcases. Surin is known for elephants. There are elephants on everything and I figured hey, everyone sleeps and they are way cool looking I think. I hope you guys do too. I got six of them - one for Mom and Dad and for all of my siblings and their spouses/kids. I sent lots of Thai candy/food type stuff. Everyone try some of everything and tell me what you like best. This is all the stuff I like to get when I go to 7-Eleven here. I also put in an Ensign/Liahona written in Thai and a Thai Book of Mormon. You'll enjoy seeing those. This language is pretty amazing.

Love you all. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy 2012!
Elder Joshua Benjamin Zitting

Monday, January 16, 2012

A New Year

Hello family, friends, loved ones. I can't believe it has been a week since I talked to you guys on the computer. That was the best thing ever. So glad you are all doing well. Not gonna lie, I was a little homesick for a while after that call but I think I'm ok now. I haven't really gotten homesick that bad my entire mission. I try to look at all of the pictures and stuff you guys send me and it helps me to know the real reason why I am out on a mission. So grateful for all of you and your examples to me in my ife. Thank you.

I know I am out here on my mission to bring souls in Thailand unto Christ and into the only true Gospel on the face of the earth. Wouldn't trade it for anything. Being out here among all of the Buddhist traditions and things just verifies of the divinity and truth of our Heavenly Father's message to all of his children. I know my mission will become holy ground to me when I become older just like Elder Waddell's talk last conference. I try my best to live worthily to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost in all phases of the work. It is hard sometimes, as is everything in life, but we all can do hard things and the Lord will bless us for it.

Can't believe it is 2012 already. 2011 probably was the fastest year in my entire life. New Year's was pretty crazy here, the whole mission had to come home early, 6 pm on Saturday night because it was way too dangerous out on New Year's Eve. It is a pretty big holiday in Thailand so we studied at night instead. There were fireworks and all sorts of explosions going on this whole last week.

I got the family Christmas card and package with the October Conference Ensign. Glad to see that I made it on the Christmas card this year even though I wasn't there and now I can read all of the conference talks. Also got Nat's package with pictures and Emily's 2012 Family Calendar. Thank you, I love seeing everybody.

It's winter here in Thailand and even though I think my body is ready for some cold weather and snow it's never going to happen in Thailand. It's like having summer all year long for two straight years. It's pretty cool I guess. It hasn't rained even a little bit these last two or three months since the flooding. It will start raining again once we get into the hot season. It is in the 70's and 80's now but with humidity it makes cooler weather feel cooler and hotter weather feel hotter. There have been a few times that I have needed a jacket since the summer ended.

This week is transfers week so I could get moved. I have really noticed how close and connected I have become to some of the investigators here. Tong is still not feeling well. I have enjoyed teaching him but disappointed I couldn't get him baptized while I was here but I know he will get baptized in the future. Our Cambodians are going back to Cambodia for a while so we got their contact info to send to the church in Cambodia. I hope they can get some missionaries out to their house and help them get baptized. That would be awesome.

I can now understand and contribute more than I have on my whole mission to the point where I really can feel the power of being a missionary. I really feel for the people we teach now and sincerely want to help them. I hope I can keep and even gain a stronger desire to serve as I become older in the mission. There are numerous investigators I have taught who I don't mention when I email because there isn't anything that spectacular that happens, and some of them still aren't baptized, but being one of two missionaries that teaches them all that they know about God and the purpose of life and about everything really, makes me feel connected to them in a special way. I am grateful for the experiences I have gained while being here in Surin with investigators that didn't really progress and those that did progress towards baptism, I have learned a lot.

Best Christmas Present Ever...

December 25, 2011 7:00 p.m. in Pleasant Grove we got the best Christmas present of the day...a call from Thailand over skype! It was the most incredible hour and a half! Josh got to talk to all of his family from Rhode Island to Utah. Josh looked so good, healthy and happy. He couldn't quit smiling and neither could we. He reported that his rabbies shots are finished and he's feeling great. He can still remember how to speak English and has his usual funny and enjoyable personality. He misses American food greatly but doesn't miss his former lifestyle. Little Nic told him he got a Nintendo DS for Christmas and that video games are his life. Josh commented back, "Not for me anymore. Missionary work is my life now. I love it."

Technology is a wonderful thing. It was so amazing to talk face to face. We enjoyed such an amazing day with our family. The love we have for one another and the spirit of the season was so evident. It hardly seemed that Emily, Paul, Jonah and Parker were 2,000 miles away and who knows how many miles away for Josh in Thailand. Seeing everyone together on one screen is truly amazing.

We are incredibly proud to be a family of missionaries. To raise a son or a daughter who has a desire to serve the Lord for two years is a great blessing.

May the Lord bless and keep you Elder Zitting throughout the next year in the place you have come to love and the people you love to serve. We love you!!

December in Thailand

Can't believe it is December already and I am at 8 months on my mission. It really goes by so fast, it's not fair. It is just extra motivation to make the most of every opportunity as a missionary.

Christmastime already and here in Surin it is surprising decorated on the streets -lights and stuff like that. They are selling Christmas trees and decorations at big department stores. Maybe E Dix and I will go and get some for our house.

I am here in Surin for another transfer and I am going to try my best to make the most out of these next six weeks and see if we can get some people to church and get them baptized! The key right now is getting them to church. Our mission has a rule that investigators cannot get baptized until they have been to church at least four times. We are working with Mot who is 17 years old. Taught him one lesson off the invite and he accepted a baptismal date but his parents aren't too happy about us teaching him. Kind of a bummer but that doesn't stop us. Our other baptismal dater is Tong who is sill recovering from his foot injury. We also have Oot (Ooodii) and a girl named Ta. Another person named Nuy we found last week. We gave him a lesson that was probably one of the best lessons I've ever been in on so far on my mission. He wanted to know if God was real so we told him to pray to know. He wanted to pray right then so he did and felt that God was real. He prayed perfectly the first lesson. He kept saying throughout the lesson that he wanted to samphat (the best translation into English I would say is "touch") the message and know of it's truth. I truly believe he was prepared by the Lord for us to meet.

Our English class is kinda struggling. Only four people came last week. In Udorn, English class was a way good source of new investigators. Here in the Isaan, it's difficult. We hand out thousands of English flyers every week.

Had a good Zone Training in Ubon. We talked about using the spirit, recognizing the promptings, etc. Did a role play on teaching someone who has a concern about how their family is Buddhist and doesn't support their decision to be baptized. That is something I've faced a lot in Thailand. Also role played helping an investigator feel the spirit and know the truthfulness of the message to give them confidence to make the right decision to be baptized. Then we had a District Conference and all of the branches met together from the district which is Buriram, Surin, Sisaket, Warin, Ubon and Yasothon. Lots of people there to hear some good words of wisdom from the District Presidency and Pres. Smith.

Things I've eaten are a some big bugs that some members brought to church. They weren't too bad actually. I try not to eat too weird of things. Haha, I love Thailand. It is so different. There was a way good Mexican restaurant called Que Pasa in Bangkok - first Mexican food I've had in a long time. It was way good. I miss food in America. We've recently found a way good American food place here in Thailand called Starbeam's. The guy that opened it is from Boston. I had myself a Philly Cheesesteak. First one of those I've had in a while. They have all sorts of good stuff and a real good American breakfast like pancakes and bacon. Probably not good in America but here in Thailand it is the best we have and we Elders just need some American food now and then so I am glad we have that place. We will defintely go and eat there a few more times before I move from Surin.

E Dix and I fixed up a bike that one of the member's didn't want and gave it to the Cambodians so they can go to church on their own. That was way cool!! They were so thankful for it.

The downer for this month is that I got bit by a dog. I kept telling myself I was never going to get bit by a dog. Brother Olsen, my MTC teacher told a story of when he got bit by a dog and I didn't want that to ever happen to me. I usually just kick them if they get close or start chasing us on our bikes but this dang dog sniped me from behind when I was getting off my bike to visit an investigator. It was a black, soy (stray) dog which ran away after biting me. It pinched a little but didn't hurt that bad. It broke the skin and that is the rule - if it breaks the skin I have to go to the hospital and get rabbies shots. So we went to the hospital and they gave me a shot in each arm the first day and some pills. I had to go back while I was in Ubon and they gave me another one in my left arm. I will have to go back two more times for a series of five shots. Fun stuff! Sister Smith said every Elder gets bit by a dog at least once on average on their mission so hopefully my one time is over and done.

Just got an email saying the we need to tell our families we will be able to skype you guys for Chirstmas. E Dix and I were thinking P-day Monday for us at 9 am which will be Christmas night at 7 pm there in the U.S. Can't wait to see and talk to you all on Christmas Day.

Thanksgiving in Thailand

November 28, 2011

I'm here in Bangkok right now. Came down on a bus last night so E Dix (Elder Dixon) could renew his visa today. We got some pretty nice buses on our way down here with reclined seats and stuff, but I'm still too big for Thai standards, so it was a little crammed. I slept most of the way so it wasn't too bad. Bangkok is crazy, so many people and so much food.

We are with a bunch of elders emailing right now at a place here in Bangkok. This place is crazy, so many people and tall buildings and things like that. Haven't seen any flooding, most all of the roads are blocked off where it is still flooded. I hear that it is getting close to dry in most places. It is way hot in this email place and it smells way bad here because of the flood.

In Pratuu Nam, the huge market place in downtown Bangkok they had tons and tons of cheap suff. I got like eight way sweet ties that cost 20 bahts (about 62 cents). That is defintely an Elder's dream. They have hundreds of brand new ties sitting on a table. It was awesome.

While at the mission office I picked up your two packages you sent. I was very surprised at how fast they got here - two weeks. I LOVE packages! I saw a list of all the Elders who will be coming in country the next few months. Elder Wright will hit the MTC on the 14th which puts him here in country on the 28th of February. That will be a blast to have him here. He is in the same ward as Elder McDonald. How crazy is that? Elder Mac dies in April (goes home).

Thanksgiving was probably the least eventful one in all my days. The Bangkok elders were served turkey and all that good stuff from American members who live in the international ward...lucky! We couldn't find turkey anywhere to make for ourselves so we just went and ate hamburgers. Pretty boring Thanksgiving.

Last night I was thinking about how blessed I really am. I am so grateful for the life that I was given by my Heavenly Father. As my time grows longer here in Thailand I become closer to Thai people and start trying to even comprehend a little bit of what they go through such as our Cambodians that we are teaching. Right now they live in a little wood shack, sleep with hard wood floors, shower themselves with a bucket of water and go kill their own food with sticks and wood fishing poles. Nuan, the oldest one, was trying to find a clean pair of pants to go to church in and the hard choice I have to make is what tie I'm going to wear. They would have no idea what to do if they were given our lives for just one day. So grateful for the opporunity to be a missionary and a representative of our Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing else in the entire world is more self-rewarding than helping others come to know their Savior and watching their lives change in front of your very eyes.