Monday, January 28, 2013

Last week in Sakon Nakhon

This will probably be my last week in Sakon, maybe even the Issan. Transfers meeting is on the 31st so we'll see what happens.

I was talking to my companion this week about how crazy it is that we serve a mission for two years, leave our homes, speak a different language teaching about Jesus Christ and go to a country we didn't know before getting called. It's crazy. Of couse it is what the Lord wants us to do and it is the experience of a lifetime but mind-blowing for some people. We meet people everyday that are amazed at what we do and I never really thought about it for the last two years. The Lord definitely prepares us to do His work and is with us while we do it, which is the reason that we can do it.

Whoops, I got another Thai watch. This one is really cool.

This week has been a lot of visiting less-active members and even active members and helping them understand what their role is in helping this branch grow. We went to visit our first counselor who lives in a catholic neighborhood. That's the church with the elephant in front of it. A neighborhood with hundreds of christians - one of the few in Thailand.

Yesterday we saw a big blessing and the results of our efforts this past week in visiting. We had 10 Melchizedek Priesthood holders at church. The most I have seen since I have been here. We also had three Prospective Elders (Aaronic Priesthood holders) preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Two more and we qualify for a ward. We just need those men to come every week and pay a full tithe as well. Can't wait to use what I have learned in this area in my next and last area and help them grow as well.

Mekong River. On the other side with the mountains is Laos. This is Nakhon Phanom, where we went to visit some members and ate at a restaurant right on the river.

A nice looking sandwich at that restaurant -

And this dish!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another Baptism

Buey was baptized this week! She is so strong and bore one of the best testimonies after a baptism I have seen from an investigator. She hit it on all clinders, really seems like she has been a member for years now. She has gained that strong testimony through diligent study in the scriptures and listening in church and to members and their experiences. She brought her oldest son to the baptism. She wants him to grow up in the church and to become a missionary. Her other two children are also boys, ages 1 and 2. Her husband just recently passed away about six month ago. She is a saint. Brother Ohh baptized her. He's a new member of just a few months. (see blog page date of November 8th about him). It was his first chance to baptize someone.

This weekend was pretty eventful for the Sakon Nakhon Branch. Yesterday, Sunday, we had some people released and some callings extended. Also had some ordinations and advancements in the Priesthood which is always good to see because these are the things that help establish the church and help it to grow. We got a new ward clerk, second counselor moved up to first but still don't have a second. Got a new branch mission leader - it is Brother Ohh! Yes, the branch mission leader must have the Melchizedek Priesthood which means Brother Ohh got the Melchizedek Priesthood!! Usually they wait until the next district conference to do the ordination and to give the new convert sufficient time to prepare himself and fulfill his duties in the Aaronic Priesthood which Brother Ohh has been doing. So the District President said we could do it now and he will be a great addition to our Elders Quroum and will be a fantastic Branch Mission Leader. It will help him a ton on preparing for a mission. Brother Chaleum (baptized recently, see him on blog page date of Januarh 18) also got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday.

Such great things are happening. Once again I am very blessed to be able to see them happen and see how the Lord wants his organizations in the church to be run. It has been a blast helping Brother Ohh progress in the gospel. I have seen him from new investigator not reading in the Book of Mormon to Branch Mission Leader with the Melchizedek Priesthood. Amazing.

I just got a package from the Church book center this last week along with a bunch of other stuff. It's nice to have a fresh new Book of Mormon to read and a new translation of the Bible in Thai too. Yeah! Mail is cool even at home, but on your mission it is worshipped.

My new King's Watch

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Years Eve and a Baptism in 2013

Elder Terry and I at New Year's FHE. It was cold and we weren't prepared with jackets so the members gave us these to wear...

Sister Pen's baptism. Brother Mueng, former branch president, baptized her

I had to pedal Elder Terry around town on this three wheel bike because he hurt his knee. It was pretty hard.

This past week was a good one with Pen's baptism. Buey also passed her interview and will be baptized and confirmed this weekend. Super exciting and so happy for both of them. My time here in Sakon Nakhon is winding down. Transfers is on the 31st. So I have just over two weeks left here.

The branch has faced some more adversity here this past week. It has been good number wise, our third straight week with over 50 people at church. But with there being no first counselor in the branch presidency (left to join the Jehovah's Witness) or branch clerk right now there have been some problems with the Relief Society lately. Nothing we can't overcome and learn from. We are going to work with the branch president this week and try our best to get him to extend callings to people because we need it really bad. He needs it. By calling some people to these leadership positions it takes more of the load off of his shoulders. We have a good spiritual thought planned for FHE tonight that we think will help the members who attend to focus on our goal of becoming a ward. We also have planned to talk about charity, the pure love of Christ, and how it is essential that the members of His Church have love one unto another to help his church grow.

Our other progressing investigators right now are Jack, a vietnamese guy I told you about, and a girl named Nim, another referral who we were able to give a baptismal date to this last week.

My new glasses - Ray Banzzzzzzz

My apartment.....pretty nice huh......jk, it's a member's house

Jimmer in the newspaper - I've missed him

A very pretty sunset

My Christmas and Death Papers

Package my family sent me

Things that were in it

Christmas cards I received

Christmas Dinner

Closest thing to Molten Lava Cake in Thailand

It was great talking to you all on skype Christmas Day (for me). So glad you guys had a great Christmas. We had a pretty good one as well. We ate some really good food and then had a nice Christmas nap. I don't know if I have ever taken a nap on Christmas before, but that was nice. I stil haven't used the money you gave me for Christmas. Thank you for that again.

I am grateful for this Christmas season and for the opportunity we have to remember the greatest gift our Heavenly Father could give us, his Son, Jesus Christ. It is a life changing experience being out here celebrating Christmas in Thailand for the second year in a row. Nothing like it was my first 19 years of my life. So now I can honestly say I understand the meaning of Christmas, having been without it the way I had it my entire life up until now.

We have met a few others this last week from talking to everyone on the streets. That is the way Pres. Senior has told us to focus our finding efforts but focusing on current investigators, RCLA's, member visits and service first. Packing our days with that stuff and then talking to everyone we see in between. It is quite effective and the way we should've been doing it all along I think. The way we share the gospel is always changing, but the truth of it always stays the same.

Christmas CD from President and Sister Senior

Death Papers - April 12th

Sprint to the Finish Goal

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chaleum's Baptism

Chaleum is the tall one in white. He was baptized by Brother Manop, a high counselor and branch president.

Branch members at the baptism

I've experienced another bountiful harvest. This time here in Sakon. I am really enjoying Sakon right now and being in this branch. It might actually be one of my favorite areas by the time I am done here. I have seen a lot of success and have seen myself change as well. I don't know what it is, we never really have that many investigators ever. Not nearly as many as I have had my entire mission in my other areas, but the ones we do teach are awesome. I think that is kind of the goal in the new finding technique that Pres Senior has been implementing. We talk to everyone and find those who are really prepared. Then we don't have to waste the Lord's time teaching those people who aren't going to be baptized. I love it. I would rather talk to hundreds of people a day and have them reject our message and then find that one person that is ready and willing to follow the Savior than to teach a bunch of people lessons and have them not do anything. My attitude has definitely changed about that this last little while on my mission.

We had 40 plus people at church for the second week in an row. The Lord is blessing us and the members here in this area. Even through these are hard times with leaders and members struggling to fulfill their callings, those strong memebers are pulling together and helping the Lord's kingdom grow. I am aexcited to keep it going, even after my mission.

Celebrating Christmas the Thailand Way - 2012

Christmas Parade

A big Catholic church the Christmas parade was at in Sakon - biggest in Thailand

Christmas activity at the church

Members made the Christmas sign

Christmas tree in Udon

The tree during the day

Christmas bowling