Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pictures Week #17

Sidelined - Week #17

The past week comprised of a rough seven days indeed. New minor health issues manifested what seems like every moment. They started on the night before Thanksgiving Thursday. I had some minor stomach discomfort but I went to sleep regardless and could not sleep. I woke up the next morning and my stomach was not feeling good at all and my head was dizzier than ever, to the point of not being able to concentrate at all. I laid in bed for studies and slept while my companion had his own study time. I woke up hours later and a member offered to bring me somewhere to eat some simple food. I was so sick that I didn't even want to talk to anyone and could only manage three spoonfuls of rice. We returned home to plan but I ended up passing out again and woke up feeling much better.

I still was not feeling 100 percent so I opted to just have a smoothie for my Thanksgiving dinner. We were supposed to have a big feast at a buffet restaurant but some member drama took that idea off the board. Instead, we opted to go to the usual market and eat at the usual place we always do but I went for a watermelon smoothie instead of some rice. We returned home early because I started to feel dizzy again with the drugs wearing off. Over the next few days my stomach would occasionally feel upset, my head would hurt, and I hurt my neck by sleeping on it wrong to top it all off. To make a long story short, nothing went right with my health this week but thanks to the amazing mission nurse and an awesome companion, I am alive and well.

Because I was sidelined for much of the week with health issues, my companion tried his best to teach lessons and contact while I tried to survive. We had some amazing teaching opportunities this week that have set us up to have more success and more baptisms, such as one lesson in which we unexpectedly taught 7 unrelated investigators at the same time with two members present. We are hoping to have 6 total baptisms by the end of the transfer, and we already have 1 so far. We believe that miracles will come to pass that will help us achieve our high goals.

This P-day we decided to take things sabay (chill) and just hang around with the members and play some ping-pong. It is nice to not have to worry about getting rides set up and making sure everything falls in place. ​

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pics Week #16

We Need Baptism! Week #16

And it keeps coming. Kamphaengphet is truly the best area in the mission, and I can accurately say that is no opinion. Although my hair is yet to re-obtain it's luscious status, I attached a plethora of pictures of our latest dunk for you all to enjoy. Sister Mo is the miracle I discussed in my last weekly email. She had to be dunked twice because her hair is so long, and also due to the fact that I have never baptized a girl before. We had some visitors at the baptism too, which is why there is another falang in the picture. Sister Mullen served here in Kamphaeng and so she came back to visit with her parents (her mom was born here, too) and her sister and friend.

Speaking of them, I had the terrifying experience of having to translate her friend's testimony on the stand. I stood next to her and she would say thinks into the microphone while I made an attempt to translate it. The members all said it was clear, they could understand every word, but Phii did say I need to work on my grammar. But overall they said it made sense, and it was a lot of fun. I also had to deliver a talk just minutes later and that was fun as well, but I lost track of where I was on the paper and because it was written in Thai, I decided just to ditch it and speak freely, so I winged it in Thai which was super hard but they said they understood every word of that.

I have also yet to mention my new companion! My first companion and trainer, Elder Powers, was unexpectedly transferred to Bangkok where he will end his mission. I received a new follow-up trainer, Elder Woodbury from Nevada. He is amazing and just finished training an Elder from my older group in the MTC, Elder Oakes who just went down to the office this transfer to be an office Elder. In fact, his past two companions both became office elders after being his companion, meaning if I am to become an office Elder next transfer, his trend will continue.

It was a crazy week this week and so meeting with all of our investigators due to transfers (causing us to travel to Bangkok), a meeting up in Lampang, and bringing Elder Woodbury up to speed on this amazing area. There is also a lot of drama happening in the area as well which has caused a slight speed bump but in the end everything will ok and this glorious work will press forward.

Today for P-Day we will be going to a waterfall again because it is so beautiful, so pictures of that will be up next week. Hopefully our two baptisms scheduled for next weeks will come to fruition as well, but due to all of the traveling this past week, we now are forced to teach a large amount of material to them in two weeks and also obtain their parent's permission. So please pray that I will have my 5th and 6th baptisms next week!

Hope all is well in the land of eternal P-days!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pictures Week #15


The house where he lives

The Land of MIRACLES - Week #15

After a lot of stress that we do not have any investigators ready for baptism, this week miracles unfolded before our eyes. We quickly went from zero people with a baptismal date to three! In the next two weeks we will have three more baptisms!! How it happened was the real miracle.

When we arrived in our area, the first girl we taught was a girl named Sister Mo. She is sixteen years old and she has been taught maybe around twenty lessons. She is the most solid investigator we have but her mom has never allowed her to be baptized because she is afraid of missionaries. She is so solid that she comes to church every week and she is treated as a member now. She helps teach lessons and fellowships, and has brought a few referrals as well. At sports night a few days ago she told us that she talked to her mom and she finally agreed! It came out of nowhere so I was shocked. We wanted to set her baptismal date for yesterday but that was impractical so she is getting baptized next week, miracles really do happen!

The other two came before that had happened. We taught the referrals from my RC their third lesson. We never had a really good opportunity to teach so we finally got around to teaching them the remainder of the Restoration. They are pretty solid too, they are quiet in lessons because that is how most Thai girls are, they will either laugh super hard at everything or not talk at all, except for Sister Mo there is no in between. Upon extending the baptismal invitation, not only did they both say yes, but they both said their parents would have no problem in allowing them to be Christian. So we were able to set a date for them!

Other than those three investigators, we have a large teaching pool that hasn't really come through for us in follow-up lessons. Sister Mo has two friends that are very solid as well but they both have difficulties with parents. They seem to be the next closest investigators to baptism if we expect more miracles to happen, and they will.

So in two weeks I will have had six baptisms. That is an amazing number, seeing as the number per transfer for a typical companionship is about 0.8 and we are in one of the slowest areas in the mission. The transfer ends on Thursday, we are unsure if we will receive two more Elders here or not but it is looking like that will not happen. A new group of missionaries are coming in and I was hoping that one of my Nong's (younger group) would be put in KPP but I am not sure that will be case.

This week we had two RMs come visit us. One of them served here about a year ago before going to Lao and the other served here a long time ago, when there were sisters here. We only met with the Elder that went to Lao because when the other was here we had to go to Bangkok for my trainer's ending mission meeting. We also had a switch off a few days ago with the area of the district leader so we were three hours away for a full day, which makes it hard to keep up with our area's goals.

Things are going very well here in Thailand and I am excited for another transfer full of BAPTISM!

Love you all!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

My Companion Was Almost Shot... Week #14

Ok that is sort of a misleading title, but seems like Elder Varner is doing the same over in England haha. There is a member in our church named Brother Suthep and he is a police officer. Real interesting guy, loves to talk about all the interesting experiences he has had getting shot and doing the shooting. During our first weeks, he just randomly called us up and said he wanted to come to church. I saw his record in the area book but thought nothing of it, and now he has been rescued. Anyway, at church yesterday he had to go to the bathroom during third hour and so he handed his gun to my companion but he didn't say anything about what he was doing so my companion freaked when he put his loaded gun in his lap. He thought he was going to die but everything is fine he just had to go to the bathroom.

Nothing much happened this week. Because of our mission tour in Chiang Mai and then zone training in Philoog we were not even in our area for most of the week. So we only were able to contact a few referrals and get one new investigator. We have to work towards progressing our investigators. We found out this week that we were whitewashed into Gamphaeng because it became a slow area and the attitude of the Elders reflected it. So far we did turn that around and now we lead the zone in baptisms this transfer at 3. It was a slow month for the mission in baptisms, coming in at only 40, so that is rough but for how slow our area is, the President is impressed and there are rumors circulating that we will receive another pair of Elders.

( pictures from Sister Johnson's FB of Chiang Mai Zone Conference)

Because nothing much happened this week due to our meetings, I wanted to touch on a few cultural things here:

- Girls and guys almost never kiss before marriage, it is totally out of their culture
- Every song that they make is about relationships, and it is almost always about breakups and wanting to take revenge or being sad
- It is out of their culture to make appointments between each other, so for Elders to make appointments it is very difficult
- Everyone rides mopeds or motorbikes here. And if it is not one of those, it is a Hilux truck, I have seen thousands of those
- What they eat here is usually one of two things. Guaytiaw which is noodles with meat in soup, super popular. But the most popular is just slapping any kind of meat on rice. Out in the East, the food is way good, everything is pretty much served with sticky rice, but up here in the north we mostly just eat chicken or pork on rice everyday, but it is super good.
- It is out of culture to drink anything without a straw, they believe that you will get sick from the container, but it is also hard to find a bathroom with soap, so I do not understand but whatever.

I might add more later on as I think of interesting cultural things, but if you have questions about Thailand email me at!

Sorry no pictures this week, no baptism, and there is not much in Philoog. In Chiang Mai we were only there for a short time and when we were out it was dark and the pictures were not good. I will send more next week of our house! Love you and miss you all! 

Questions I asked him a few weeks ago:
-What is an average day like for you? 

We normally wake up, exercise, eat, get ready, and then we study for a few hours, we then leave the house and kind of just drift and find things to do. Plans are never solid so we contact and teach when we can. We normally eat at 12 and at 8, so our day wraps up at 8 because we have to be home at 9.

-What do you make yourself to eat? 

We don't ever really make anything to eat, I make ramen for breakfast and then everything else is eaten outside the house because restaurants are super cheap here, the ones that are not American.

-Do you ride a bike everywhere you go? 

Yes. Unless we go explore for P-Day, then we have members that take us.

-Do you knock on doors/track? 

Never. My companion has only done it once in his mission, contacting is done in or in front of shopping centers mostly, or on the streets.

-How big is your ward? 

It is a branch of about 30 in attendance, but it fluctuates.

-What do you do on your P-Days? 

We usually just tell the members we want to go explore and then they take us.

-What is the weirdest thing you have eaten? 

Besides that one bug I haven't eaten anything else very weird. I have avoided pig blood and chicken feet successfully.

-What is the hardest thing there for you? 

Understanding people. They say I speak very well and I can read and write but understanding people is extremely difficult. My companion said it took him six transfers to understand people fully, but the members told me that it should take me four.

-What do you love the most? 

The members here are amazing.

-What is the most spiritual thing you have experienced so far? 

Having one of our investigators say yes to baptism in his first lesson, a very rare miracle. It was the first time I ever extended a baptismal commitment, too, so it was very special and way cool.

-How are you sleeping? 

No problems.

-What's the weather like, is it super rainy? 

Rainy season is over and we are about to transition into cold season where it will be in the 70s.

-Have you felt sick at all? 

Some things do not digest well, and so it gives me bad stomach aches at times but it is a normal thing in this mission.

-Do they celebrate Halloween there? 

Normally but this year it was cancelled due to the death of the King.