Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Week #4 Pics

The Days by Weeks, The Weeks by Days - Week #4

Time stands still here, at least in the moment. Until you look back and you have already been here a month! Crazy! It is starting to get sad talking to missionaries because they reported after us and leave before us, a good 90% of them with the only exceptions being the Eastern Euros and Mandos/Cantos. It is funny to see people's reaction when they here how long we have been here and how much longer we have. But the time is starting to pick up a lot.

As the language becomes easier, the days and weeks become faster. The alphabet is starting to come to me. Yesterday we read 1 Nephi 1:1 in Thai and went around reading one syllable with the correct tone and we couldn't even finish one verse in 15 minutes before we had to move on to another activity. But we are progressing everyday. All the Thais carry an alphabet card on them so that it is easier to read and write, I have two now because I lost mine but then I found it and someone gave me an extra one they made haha.

Our investigators are progressing well. The biggest piece of news is that yesterday we went on splits with the other district, because our teachers wanted us to. The objective was to build unity between districts because we are SO different. Their district is more serious about everything and so they are a little stressed about the language but our district releases our stress through a lot of humor haha and so learning the language doesn't freak us out too much, we just take it step by step. So when we went on splits it was so different teaching with Elder Johnson, his style was much much different from Elder Kekauoha's but we still taught a good lesson to Phii Mai and resolved some of his concerns about baptism.

But the lesson after that (we taught again that night) we were back to our normal companionships and we taught one of the most solid lessons to Phii Baa of all time. We taught mostly about repentance and living prophets, and transitioned using ancient prophets in the scriptures. We were trying to put an emphasis on the baptismal interview questions as we wait to baptize him. He says that he does not know if he is willing to give up alcohol so next lesson we have to talk about the Word of Wisdom and also how that relates to Joseph Smith so he knows it is revelation.

Every Saturday we have TRCs or teaching resource center lessons where we teach returned missionaries from Thailand lessons meant for members. We teach them as themselves and they can help us out with language when we get stuck, unlike our investigators. This week went super well, we taught a lesson to one person the first lesson and then two the second time, the opposite of what it was last week. One of them was the same guy we taught last week, a soccer player who plays for BYU! He is so awesome and last week we asked him in Thai how our Thai was and his answer in English was "Amazing, you Elders are ready to go Thailand" We sure don't feel ready haha lots more to learn. Our recent TRCs also wrote that about us, in script that we had to read, and Sister Khawmuangnoy told us we had to be more confident about the language haha.

Other than that, nothing much happened this week. For the next two weeks nothing much will happen until the new Thai missionaries come in!! We are waiting patiently for September 14th because we cannot wait to be the Phii Thais. Both districts agreed to speak only in Thai around them on their first day so that will freak them out haha. That day is when new Cambodians, new Thais, new Indos, and new Malays come in so our zone will be back to about a hundred or so strong! Just have to wait 2 more weeks.

I will keep my out tomorrow for Elder Molloy to come in, I don't know of anyone else going in that day. I have been hanging out with Elder Willes whenever possible, we hung out in his classroom a little bit Sunday night because the Sunday night movie they were in broke and ours was full so we went back to the classroom and I saw him so I hung out with him and taught him some Thai for about 30 minutes.

I will be getting some pictures later today at the temple! And around p-day. I have my camera on me but it is too early to send some pictures so they will be sent later! Love you all, thanks for the packages and letters!

p.s. Dear Elders did not get sent out last night to any of the missionaries so if you asked me anything I don't respond to today, I am sorry!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Our zone has disappeared - Week #3

Nothing much happened this week, only a few noteworthy items.

Firstly, the Phii Thais (the Thai elders and sisters who reported 9 weeks ago) left yesterday at 4:20 in the morning. It is crazy that in just one transfer we will probably be able to see them. The Cambodians and Mongolians that reported 9 weeks ago leave today at around noon. So our zone went from being one of the largest with over a hundred to being small once again, about half of the elders and sisters have left or will leave. Before this the only departure we had was Elder Bastian, one of the ZLs who was a solo missionary like Elder Willes but no one else in the MTC was speaking his language though, which is Hmong and he went to Milwaukee, weird. So gym days are quiet now, and they will be until Friday when all the new Wednesday missionaries have their first gym day. It is crazy to think that I have been here 3 weeks because I can still remember the anticipation for my first gym day.

Secondly, we taught a wild lesson yesterday to our investigator Phii Mai, who is our teacher Brother Omer. Brother Omer also played the role of our first investigator Phii J, so it is a little weird. We went into the lesson prepared to teach about the full gospel of Jesus Christ lesson but instead we felt prompted to ask about how his reading of the Book of Mormon was coming along. When he said his prayers felt good (he always just says dii, phom ruu sxg dii so we had to get more out of him) I testified that he could receive answers to his questions if he both prayed and read the Book of Mormon. I then asked about what he knew about Joseph Smith and it took off from there. We taught a whole lesson simply answering his questions about the restoration in Thai. They were tough questions too but I was able to muster the words in Thai that I needed for him to understand. We had him read five huge verses in Thai about the First Vision so we are going to touch on that in our next lesson. We asked if he would be baptized (our other investigator committed! Though he did ask if he didn't feel ready if he could back out so we are unsure exactly where he is at) and he said I don't know, so I told him we would return and ask if he was ready and he should pray and read in the meantime.

Other than that, the only other major event going on is we have finally started to learn scripp (as Elder Decker would say, he is one of the funniest kids I have ever met) and it is crazy. There are 44 consonants I think and close to 30 vowels. The tone marks change depending on what class consonant it is so it all just doesn't make sense but I don't question it and just learn it. I can write a few things in Thai and I can read Jesus Christ and Book of Mormon but it is very difficult. It is coming though, it is coming. I wish I could type some Thai but there is no option for it haha.

I am so sad I missed out on an eventful weekend with the family! I am so proud of Hayden and Makayla (I hope I spelled that right) and I congratulate them and wish them all the best! From the pictures it looks like it was a lot of fun! When are Griff and Toni getting sealed? I am having a hard time remembering because time is non-existent in this place haha. Sometimes we will wake up and think that it is a completely different day. I am so glad that Elder Willes joined me this week! He is in the class building right across from me and I have talked to him twice, I am not sure when his PDay is though. Being a solo missionary is tough but it is sweet as well, we had two in our zone at one point. They just get to float around with different companions.

I said goodbye to Elder Hunter yesterday and that was sad, because now we actually won't see each other for two years but he is going to kill it. There is an elder that came into his zone who speaks only Spanish and he has to learn English to learn Turkish so mad respect for him, such a nice guy.

I love and miss you all! Thank you for the letters, emails, and packages!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Week #2 Pics

What a roller coaster- Week #2

This week has been wild, well at least wild for the MTC I guess haha. Two important things happened. But first let me talk about my progression in the language.

I have memorized the Missionary Purpose, Baptismal Commitment (minus saying what day and time we will be holding a service, have to practice that still), as well as how to pray fluently, and I can bare a simple testimony. As far as conversation goes, I am still learning because I have to focus on gospel principles in order to fulfill our purpose. We have not started learning script yet but we are told it will start soon, that is going to be interesting and very challenging but we are told it is more fun. There are some Thai native sisters serving in other parts of the world learning English and Spanish and other languages that we see and we try to talk to them and wow they speak way faster and slur more than our RM teachers haha.

Speaking of our teachers, that is one of the important things. Brother Saunders is one of the Thai teachers but he is assigned to the other district, and is actually a Laotian teacher because he served in the Laos area of the Thailand mission for a while, so he actually teaches those learning Laotian but serving state side. What is so interesting is that once he said he went to BYU I asked if he knew Keegan and he said he plays basketball with him! Not only that but Brother Saunder's sister is also affected by Lyme disease but I haven't had the chance to talk to him about that yet, and he was also studying poli sci and economics at the Y but since switched his major because he wants to work in Thailand.

The other important thing is that our first investigator "Phii J" became one of our teachers, Brother Omer. My companion and I flipped out because we were so excited, that they had to calm us down. We loved Phii J so we were stoked when he became our teacher. It is a little annoying that he started teaching late so at times he will start teaching principles of grammar we already know, but no big deal, a refresher isn't the worst thing in the world. We had our last lesson with Phii J the day before he revealed himself as Brother Omer and were able to get a soft commitment on baptism, he said he wanted to get baptized but in the future because he didn't know enough. I said this week is a roller coaster because one of our lessons with him, he started laughing HYSTERICALLY at us, like crying. I was cracking up too but mostly because I did not know what was happening. Our confidence was destroyed because the lesson was going well, and then the feeling was just gone. He then committed to going to church but asked us where it was, we did not know how to explain, especially since we are in a fake Thailand when we teach haha.

Well we have two new investigators now, Phii Baa and Phii Mai (Brother Yuen and Brother Omer playing roles). The Phii Thais tell us eventually we will get up to 7 investigators so that will be fun. They leave in less than a week, today is their last p-day. It will be a sad day since a few of them are really good at volleyball. One of them is a lot like Ryan Shickling, he just skies and pounds the ball. I came close to blocking him only once, I read him but he pinballed it between my arms and it fell to the ground. There is another Elder Brown who plays, Chandler from Arizona, him and I have become close even though he is in the older group. They are all really cool and really helpful with the language.

Not much else has happened. Everyday is so similar, that we often have to ask each other when something happened. I forgot to say that I have also seen Elder Wayment! Elder Young and Elder Skonnard from my Tonga group are also here so that is crazy, as well as four kids I recognize from EFY. I love to go up to the Elders and Sisters going Tongan or French speaking and then just speaking very fast. The Tongan natives easily pick up on it but the palangis, the white elders, will mostly just stare at me and say 'ikai mahino or je ne le comprends pas or something like that haha I can not wait till the day I can speak Thai that confidently. The only thing I am very confident with is the above phrases and texts I have learned.

I forgot to say how tight my district is. Out of all districts, we really have the best guys. We are all really close and have a lot of fun. But I didn't mention that our zone, our row of classrooms is all tight as well. There are FOUR elders and sisters in our zone that I either knew or knew of before the MTC. One of the Smith twins, Tyler, is in the classroom next to mine and we have become so close, we play volleyball everyday and I try to teach him. One of the funniest kids I have ever met, and now I can actually tell the difference between him and his brother! One of the perks of the MTC I guess haha. Also Sister Galland from San Clemente who I talked to a little bit before is in the Viet district, and Elder Thach from Santa Ana who is actually going to the new Vietnam mission is also here (Sister Galland is going to Cambodia speaking Viet). Our branch president served in Thailand and was the mission president for Cambodia so he is a really good fit for the needs of our zone.

Hope all is well in the OC, I have really missed going to Disneyland and the beach and hanging out with everyone. The MTC is good and all but it is really just a slow transition between California and Thailand. There is a rumor floating around that Elder Holland will be speaking TONIGHT so my companion and I are definitely going to attend choir and get good seats for that. I am going to send pictures soon, I am going to move computers so I can send them soon, after I switch my loads. In terms of anything I need, can you send me my Tongan CTR ring, and if it is no hassle, my tupenu (Tongan skirt)? I want to wear it on p-days, the light blue one. There is a Samoan elder going to Singapore right next door to our dorm who loves to call me a true Polynesian and introduce me to all of his Samoan and Tongan friends and even gave me a lava-lava and was like you keep this, because you are a real Tongan.

Love and miss you all! I will be responding to all of your emails soon!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Elder Hollandddddddd

's son spoke at our Sunday devotional! Sorry for the disappointment in the title, just couldn't pass up the opportunity haha. It was a great talk and he looked a lot like Elder Holland spoke even more like him, it was scary.

The first few days in the MTC were rough, but our district pulled through. We were told about a billion times that it would go by faster once we reached Sunday and I guess it has started to pick up.

I was picked up at the curb on Wednesday by Elder Fairborn who was going to Texas Spanish speaking. It was stressful for the first hour because he took me everywhere I needed to go to get everything and then we got to the residence hall and he was like time to go to class grab this and this and this but forgot to tell me to grab my text books! Strike 1 Elder Fairborn, so I once I got to class, Brother Yuen, our Thai teacher, asked me where my blue bag was and I told him back in the residence so I had to go with one of the Elders and it was kinda awkward because we were both a little anxious so we didn't talk much. Elder Fairborn also told me I could take my orange dot off if I got annoyed because we heard "Welcome to the MTC!" about every 5 seconds. So I took it off but later got in trouble from an older Sister saying I couldn't so I had to get it back out and put it on and continue to be embarrassed haha. Strike 2 Elder Fairborn. But in reality, he did a good job of hosting. I met my companion about an hour later and it is Elder Kekauoha, he is from LA with Hawaiian and Japanese heritage. He speaks Spanish and Japanese but for some reason got assigned to Thailand, wild. He is literally one of the funniest guys I have ever met and our district is so tight. It seems like we have a lot more fun than any other district which sounds bad but I already have about a third of the core memorized in a few days so we are getting it done.

We are teaching an "investigator" named Phii Cee (J). He is white and Bro. Yuen told us that he is in fact a member who served in Thailand but is imitating an investigator he taught. He is progressing well and praying with his family and reading the BoM to know of its truth. It is crazy that in just a few days that we are able to understand at least what Cee is talking about. Yesterday we were actually able to answer his questions and introduced the BoM so it went well. We have 2 lessons left with him to try and get a baptismal commitment.

The language is crazy. It sounds like Indian French Mandarin. The tones are difficult but not as hard as I thought, it is mostly because the words of the gospel are sooo similar and very long

(This was all we got and then he emailed us and sent us this:)


(Elder Brown was able to hop on again today and finish his email)

Btw, so far I have seen Elder Hunter, Elder Loy, Sister Doezie, Sister Jones, Sister Call.

The MTC is nothing like I expected. I expected a lot more centralization but really there is a lot more freedom than I thought. For example, we have a 3-hour block of time for personal study, companionship study, and language study that we have no teacher for. At first, we did not use this time constructively and goofed off but finally we realized what we needed to get done. I have over 100 core words memorized and continue to learn, so the language is progressing well, I try to use it as much as I can and none of the other Elders understand what I am saying. What's funny is we will write slang we want translated into Thai for our teacher to see even though the phrases have no relevance. Things like dips like ranch, lit, haha our teacher sometimes just doesn't anything and just laughs.

I love our teacher, and the other Thai district's teacher as well, Brother Saunders. They were surprisingly MTC companions and are crazy good at the language even though Saunders is white haha Brother Yuen is Japanese-Hawaiian just like my companion and speaks very well. We have not begun learning script yet so I can only speak in romanized Thai. Something like this (except without tones)

Pom rak rian phasaa Thai, row yaak rian took phasaa taw mai suamaad dani.

That won't translate because it is romanized and I changed the romanization around because certain combinations of letters are different. I said I love to learn the Thai language, we want to learn all of the language but we can not right now. It is extremely difficult but we go day by day learning as many words as we can.

P-day was a good break from the daily routine and the Provo temple is veryyy different from Newport, or LA, or SD. Much more efficient, sessions start every 20 minutes. My entire p-day was thrown off because we waited in a long line for the sack breakfast line, which is different from where you normally eat, and then me and the DL Elder Wilcox were told we couldn't get food unless we had our ID cards. So me and him went on exchange to go get ours, but he didn't know where it was (it wasn't me this time haha) and it took forever so I walked in looked on top of his cabinet grabbed it and gave it to him, I felt like Mom and Elder Wilcox was me. So that threw off our laundry schedule, we missed gym time, laundry took forever because we were there late and got last picks on machines. During laundry we had to go to the store and hope our hangars didnt get stolen when we went, and bought some things we needed. So I am extremely sorry for not being able to email yesterday. I thought I would have more time but I received a notice to receive a JE vaccination and then we had to go get changed to get lunch then temple was straight after at 1 and then after that the internet went down. I knew I disappointed people, I really didn't have much time in the morning but I am trying to make up for it.

That night Neil L. Anderson came and spoke to us during the devotional which was really cool and motivated the missionaries going to low-baptism rate missions.

Ask me questions and I will answer them next email!

Also thanks to everyone for the packages and letters, I can really feel the love all the way here in Provo!

Chok dii!!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hey Mom and Dad,

Life is good in the MTC so far. I feel like I have been here 2 weeks rather than 2 days. We have been told a billion times that this week is super long so we will just have to tough it out. The language so far is super hard and just crazy. My companion is Elder Kekauoha and he is an amazing companion. Him and I are so far the most far along in the language. I can only email for a few minutes, my p-day is actually on Tuesday. Please tell Isaac, Dallas, and tell Isaac to tell Sadie that I won't be able to reply most likely till then.

Love you lots!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Elder Brown Enters the MTC

His last meal request was In-N-Out

Goodbye Elder Brown! We love you!