Monday, February 18, 2013

Bangkok Thailand Mission Photo



This picture was taken at our last zone conference when I got transferred to Phitsanulok. I am right in the middle, third row up.

It is pronounced Pits-a-new-lowg with a g sound at the end of the low (lowg). Haha Thai is a hard language, I have been very blessed to be a missionary here, I have realized that is basically the only way to learn languages. I have met tons of people in Thailand who have learned Thai, but they struggle, no matter how many years and years they study they still can't speak as good as a missionary can. Plus the Lord blesses us with the gift of tongues. Learning Thai has made me realize how hard learning a language really is, and I admire everyone who learns a foreign language.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Phitsanulok

Well this week was definitely not what I was expecting at all. Last week I was transferred to Chiang Mai and now, believe it or not, I only stayed there for one week. There was an emergency with my companion who hadn't heard from home since the beginning of his mission in November and it was really bothering him. He broke down one night and decided he wanted to go home. I talked to him about it as did President Senior. Hopefully he will be coming back.

President Senior came to Chiang Mai to interview everyone in our district and told me of some things that he had in mind for me to do to finish my mission out strong. He said he actually did not have me in Chiang Mai until a day before moves but because of all the changes with missionaries going into Laos he ended up moving me to Chiang Mai, but had me on the moves board for Phitsanulok, in the Chiang Mai zone, about half-way between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. So when this event happened with my companion he saw it as a good opportunity to put things back into place and how he felt it would be the best for the mission.

He gave me the choice but I wanted to do what President Senior felt was best - that was to move me to Phitsanulok. I feel really good about it here in Phitsanulok. My companion is Elder Campbell from Kaysville. We will get along great. He is the oldest junior companion I've had on moves 7, so it will be nice having a more experienced missionary than I have had the last little while.

We have a rented church building. Haha I thought I would have that nice Chiang Mai church for a while, but oh well, it will just make me appreciate our big, nice, beautiful churches in America when I get back. This area is close to getting a church of their own though. They need 80 people at church to get a building and they have had around 70 the last few weeks. The things that President Senior had in mind for me and this area got me very excited to get here and go to work.

They are going to create a new district (of branches) here in Thailand in this area. They want to make this area the district center and have to get another four branches to make it that. They have a few areas to the south and north of here - Nakhon Sawan, Sukhothai and Phetchaburi. All of those places have had missionaries in the past but not for years and years and the church has died out there, sadly. But, because the Lord is hastening his work we are to find those members who are still there, get the church going again and prepare the way for missionaries to serve there in a couple of months. This is unlike anything I have ever done my entire mission and I'm super excited to do it. President senior said he wanted an older and experienced missionary to do it and I am definitely older, I don't know about the experienced. So hopefuly we will be spending a few days a week there in those areas reestablishing the church.

There are some good investigators who should be baptized here soon. I don't have too much to say about them because I have met them all about once. I did my first baptismal interview yesterday for an investigator of the sister's and he passed. There are a couple more next week to be interviewed.

So this week was just another curve ball thrown at me in my mission but I will try my best to make the most of the opportunities the Lord has given me. I have been given a lot.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Preparing the way for the Gospel in Laos

This week we had some amazing news at transfers meeting. President Senior called everyone in the entire mission to the meeting which has never happened, at least in my time here. This is he announced:

"By invitation, the Thailand Bangkok Mission received approval to have four young service volunteers to labor in Vientiane, Laos. These service volunteers will work with Deseret International Charities under the direction of the senior couples who are located in Vientiane and will be involved in a variety of humanitarian and educational service opportunities, including clean water projects, hygiene, neo-natal education and English language instruction. The young volunteers will also support the branch activities of the Laotian saints in Vientiane, Laos. the Church is not yet officially recognized in Laos and this recent activity is for the purpose of providing additional educational and humanitarian service."

There have never been young full-time missionaries from our church in Laos doing any kind of service. There have been senior couples there for a while and missionaries have only gone there to do visa things. The four missionaries that got called were definitely prepared by the Lord to do this task and to prepare the way for the gospel to eventually be preached in the country of Laos. They happen to be missionaries that I am super close with, all four in fact. Elder Kunz, who is in my group from the MTC, Elder Crawley, from Pleasant Grove, we know lots of the same people. Elder Tzanis, my companion in Rangsit and Elder Wright, you obviously know who he is and how I know him. That meeting was one of the most spiritual meetings I've ever been in. I can't really explain it. President Senior showed the picture of the first six missionaries in Thailand and explained about what they did in paving the way for the gospel to bless so many lives in this land. I'm sure it will be the same for Laos coming up here in the future.

So I am lucky to be a missionary right now. The Lord is hastening this work just like Elder Holland said last conference. It is a great feeling. I'm excited to get the work going here in Chiang Mai!

New area - Chiang Mai

They call it heaven here in this mission because it is not really like anywhere else in Thailand. It is almost as north as you can get in Thailand. Tons of tourists and people on vacation here from all over the world. I was super excited when I got called here. It will be a good place to end my mission. It's probably the second biggest city in all of Thailand, Bangkok being the first of course. It is surrounded by forest and big mountains! I was in awe when I saw the mountains for the first time when I got here. They are big ones like back home in Utah except that they are so green, no snow, just tons of trees. Very pretty!

I am still District Leader. I went from one of the smallest districts in the mission to one of the biggest. There are two branches here - the zone leaders are in one and my companion and I and two sisters are in the other one. There are two other elders further south in a province called Lampang so there are eight missionaries in this district. There is a big nice church here in Chiang Mai. The third church building on my mission (Udon and Bangkapi). Good to be out of the rented buildings that they have in Surin, Rangsit and Sakon.

Some of the tourists here are Mormon. There were a bunch of people from the states at church yesterday, probably about 10. I will most likely have to translate for them every Sunday which I am getting better at. Translating is one of the hardest things ever. I like English to Thai better than Thai to English.

A picture with some of the members in Sakon Nakhon before leaving. I will miss these people.


Elder Terry and I as we were leaving Sakon Nakhon.


My companion is from Laos. I had a feeling I was going to get another Asian companion before I left. I've never had a Thai companion but now two from Laos. Elder Kettawong is his name and he seems like a great guy. He just got done training so he is ready to go. This is my third companion I've had to followup train (Tzanis and Ellsworth). I think we will get along well. He is super cool. All of his family are members in Laos.


My street in Chiang Mai