Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ubon is Incredible--So many blessings

Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2013

Dear Family,

Isn't life so full of blessings? The Lord is so merciful to us and we are so grateful for that. This last week was no exception as we have seen the Lord's hand extended in love to His children here in Ubon. 

I don't even know where to start counting and naming the blessings. We're so blessed, and it's something that I hope we will all begin to take into consideration as we come closer to Easter. Because of the Savior and the Love of the Father, we can all be cleansed from our mistakes, and the obstacle of physical death has been conquered. I'm just so grateful for the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Things here with Elder Tolman are just as great as ever! I'm learning so much from him. He's been a great companion. Interestingly, we realized that the vast majority of our conversations are gospel centered. It's really cool because Elder Gong from the Area Presidency told president Senior to have the missionaries make friends out of their companions so that in 20 or 30 years we could still be friends. I think that Elder Tolman and I will be that way and it's because of the substance of what we talk about. Our conversations are not about movies, or sports or the future jobs we could have. We talk about the gospel, and how we can always make sure that we are faithful, even when things in our lives will get rough. 

It's making a difference in our work too. I believe that the Lord has seen that we are focusing our efforts on His work and the things of eternity, and as a result, He has poured out blessings upon our heads. Here is just a list of a few of the blessings from yesterday:

-over 100 people in the province of Ubon at church
-2 Melchizideck Priesthood holders coming back to church
-an investigator accepting a baptismal date
-investigators coming to church
-2 new referrals
-the branch deciding to become a more friendly, loving branch

This is just the tip of the iceberg when counting the blessings we recieved this last week.

I'm really grateful, and my heart is full of joy. Full of it. There is nothing that I have done in my life which has been as fulfilling as this work. The work of the Lord is an amazing blessing. And it has changed me. I hope and pray that it will continue to change me as well. 

Here's an update on our investigators this week.

Ton is doing well. It's really cool, actually. His faith is increasing a ton. He is going to be talking to his professor to see if he can find a way to come to church on Sunday. His class takes place during the hours of church but he's trying to change it because he wants to. It's his desire to be baptized. He is really changing. It's so amazing to see the change that occurs in people through the Atonement of Christ. It's the catalyst that allows change to occur in our hearts. It's like with King Benjamin's people, the atonement changes us so we have no desire to do evil, but to do good continually. 

Tak has a baptismal date! She is so prepared! It's been really great to see the change in her. At first she just wanted to know about the Church. She said she wasn't looking to change religions. But she has started to increase her faith by reading in the Book of Mormon. She keeps saying to us, "Sorry, I haven't read very much. I was really busy." 
Then it turns out that in two days she's read 3 or 4 chapters. It shows she's really willing. (There are some people who I feel like I'm pulling teeth trying to get them to read a page a day.) And what's more,  she isn't reading to read, but to understand. She reads over things and uses google to find the meaning of things. It's great! We've steered her to and so she gets the truth. 

We also taught her about Heavenly Father, and she said she wasn't sure if she believed that He was there. We committed her to go home and pray to ask if He was. That was on Saturday night. Then on Sunday after church we were teaching her again. When asked about that, her face lit up and she got a big smile on her face. She said she didn't hear a voice, but she felt something. We explained that that was the influence of the Holy Ghost. Then we taught her the Restoration. Elder Tolman gave her the baptismal commitment for the 31st! For Easter! She said yes without reservation. She has increased so much in faith! 

Her daughter, Ping Ping, is so funny too. Every time we pray she says, "Again?" The thing that I like about this is that she is seeing that prayer isn't something that we do in times of crisis or despair. But we do it always. She's learning that it's through prayer we draw nearer to God, thus He draws nearer to us.

Pong and Jahn. are both doing well. The biggest thing for them is we have gotten them to start on their family history. It's cool because they are getting interested in those who came before them. Family History is SO KEY! It's every bit the work of salvation as baptism. I hope you all try it, or at least try indexing. I hear it's way easy.  
Pong has quit coffee! That's a huge blessing. He's drinking ovaltine now in the mornings. It's funny, he's just so happy about it. Last Monday night we had family home evening at their place. They taught us how to make Thai food. Well, Isaan food which is real Thai food. I'll make it for you all someday. 

I'm just so grateful. This coming week I'll be focusing on developing greater charity. I invite you to all work on it with me. Remember, this is the "new commandment." And if we are filled with charity, and love one another, we tell others by deed rather than word, that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. 

I love you all!

Elder Todd


Sunday, March 3, 2013


Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2013 
Subject: March already? wow....

Hey Todd family!

How are you? Have you eaten rice yet, or not? We have eaten already. 

That's just a standard greeting here. Things seem to revolve around rice. Granted, a lot of people think that we just eat bread and don't know how to eat rice. They always seem especially amazed if we are eating sticky rice. I love it! It's so great! 

How are things for you all? Here in Ubon, things are going along just great! I'm really loving life, and loving every second of my mission! 

I'm really excited to hear about Sarah and Christian. I hope and know that they will make the best of missionaries. I am so proud that in our families we can say, "In this family, we serve missions." It's as Elder Holland said, "What greater legacy could grandparents show their grandchildren than by deed as well as word saying, in this family, we serve missions?" So great!!

This last week was busy but great! Here's the rundown for our ผู้สนใจ, investigators. Right now we've got three with a baptismal date: Ton, Pong, and Can.

Ton is good.  Right now we're looking at him getting baptized on the 24th. He's 22 and a really nice guy. He is willing to believe in our message. It's kind of funny.  We taught him the restoration this last week, and when we asked him if he believed that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, he said, "Yeah, I think so. I mean most of the world believes in Him so it makes sense." We then explained that it's important for him to receive his own spiritual witness. So that's what we're working with. But he'll be baptized this month. 

Then we're working with Pong and Jahn. I don't know how to spell her name in English. I really struggle trying to figure out how to write Thai in English. I struggle speaking English too. Sometimes I say things to other missionaries and they look way confused. I look at Elder Tolman and he says, "I get it." But our grammar is not very good, I guess. But back to Pong and Jahn. They are doing well. They'll get baptized on April 15th or the 16th. They are really starting to get it. Beyond that, there's not a whole lot new with them.

We do have this progressing investigator named Tuck. She is really good. I would call her an honest, humble, seeker of truth. Her daughter is really cute too. Her name is Pin Pin, and she's 5. I have learned the truth in Isaiah's words that "a little child shall lead them." 

We were in the lesson and she grabbed one of our pamphlets, the Plan of Salvation, which has a picture of the resurrected Lord coming out of the tomb. She came and asked us what was on Christ's foot and why was there was a wound. She is so observant and it makes her mother think about important things. We really must be as the little children are and be humble, and submissive. It was so cool. 

Soon we'll be experiencing that,  right Pearsons? But there's something special about Tuck. She was at church yesterday and afterwards helped clean things. The members always eat rice together after church, and we just saw her in there washing dishes making friends with some of the ladies in the branch. It was really cool and a great blessing.

Another great blessing was in the form of a less active. We got a call from some of the missionaries in Udorn. They said that they had a less active for us to go find. He had moved to Ubon and had an unbaptized daughter. So we were on it like white on rice. We got there and started talking to him. We came to find out that he was the District family history specialist up in Udorn. It's cool because we are really pushing family history and doing it among the members. We are watching as the Spirit of Elijah touches the hearts and changes them. So anyway, he came to church yesterday, interviewed with the branch president and is getting his life back on track. We feel he will be instrumental in our vision of using family history to strengthen the branch.

We're so grateful for the Lord's blessings! Look for them in our lives. They're there.

Love you all! 

Love, Elder Todd



Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hey Everyone!

Isn't life amazing? And just absolutely great? 

About three thousand years ago the prophet Isaiah spoke of "a marvelous work and a wonder." It's amazing to really look and see that this Latter-day work is that marvelous work. I feel so privileged to be part of that work. It is a wonder as well, how we can find success. It's really great to know that, at the end of the day it isn't my work.  It's not President Senior's work. It's the Lord's work. Elder Holland reminded us that our missionary work is the Lord's work, the Lord's glory, and it's going to get done His way. Then he tells the missionaries that he hopes they are comfortable with that. I don't know how we can't be. 

The Lord has stretched forth His mighty hand again this week. We were blessed to have a baptism! Yes! Sister Boom was recieved into the church by way of baptism and confirmation! It was a great, and we're so grateful to the Lord for this blessing!

We also had the opportunity to take a training around to the Zone. It was all on Doctrine and Covenants section 4. It really is important to this work. We sometimes seem to take it for granted. But it's true.  As we serve the Lord with all of our heart, might, mind and strength, His power is stretched forth. 

That's something that I want to talk about. Elder Tolman and I have been working on trying to figure out how we can better help the branch here, and how we might better establish the church in Ubon. We felt a little at a loss. It was way cool because last night President called us. He said that we were on his mind and he felt like he should call us. (thank goodness for the Holy Ghost.) He called and we chatted for a bit. Then he said something that really hit me. He said, "Sit back and watch the power of the Lord." It's made me think. It made me remember to let the Lord do His work, and for me to be an instrument in His hand. We found the guidance that was given in Preach MY Gospel ch. 9 about the importance of members, really helpful. It is counsel from the Apostles, so of course it's amazing. And we really just want to help members get excited about the work. It should make a difference in everything. 

This is where I turn to the scriptures. In the Book of Helaman, chapter 3 we read about the people of Nephi, who were prideful and not keeping the commandments of the Lord.  They were contending one with another and it was hurting the entire civilization. Then we have Helaman the 2nd appointed as chief judge. He kept the ways of the Lord, and his two sons, Nephi(who will get the sealing power) and Lehi "began to grow up to the Lord." Though they have struggles, they start being righteous and the Lord blesses them. Helaman 3:24 reads "..insomuch that there were thousands who did join themselves unto the Church and were baptized unto repentance." Verse 25 says "And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were astonished beyond measure." V. 26 "And it came to pass that the work of the Lord did prosper unto the baptizing and uniting(bringing back less actives?) to the church of God, many souls, yea, even tens of thousands." v. 27 "Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name."

I thought about this a lot. I thought maybe this could happen to us, but on a smaller scale. Instead of thousands maybe for us it would be 10's. Then the thought came into my mind, who am I to restrict the Lord? It is His work. And it will get done His way. Elder Tolman and I feel with our whole hearts that Ubon and in fact, all of Thailand can become like these people. The key is found in Helaman 3:35, one of my favorite verses. "Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility  and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation  yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God." Elder Tolman and I will be following this pattern. We don't have a lot of time. But it is time to put our shoulders to the wheel. Shall we not go on in so great a cause? The power of the Lord will be shewed forth. I know that. 

I love you all. I love this work so much. It means so much to me. SO MUCH. I wish I could have more time. I know that this work will fill the earth and will bring salvation unto many. If only we will wax strong in mighty fasting and prayer, and give our hearts to God. Consecration is the ONLY way. 

Press forward!


Elder Todd.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Elder Todd! 21 and happy in Ubon.

Busy week in Udon!

Working with people of Ubon!

Tolman and Todd in Tuk Tuk

February 18, 2013

Hey Todd family!

Isn't life just peachy? Things can't get much better than they are! 

Thanks for all of your birthday wishes!  I love you and thank you all! 
And for Christian, I'm really excited for you! A mission in Texas will be a great experience. It sounds like there are going to be a lot of  mission calls coming soon.  That's good,  because there is a lot of work to be done. 

Things here in Ubon are really going well. I feel blessed that the Lord sent me here. And things are so great with Elder Tolman! We've had a lot to do and been super busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

So, as far as highlights from this week--they're all connected with the wonderful people that I've been blessed to work with. 

Sister Boom has now come to understand the Sabbath day. She didn't really understand it before. But now she's looking really good to make her baptism on Saturday! We're looking forward to that! It will be a great day. We didn't really get to see her a whole lot this week. It just so happens that her schedule for work interferes with our proselyting hours. 

Ton is also doing really well! He has a humble heart  and good intentions. He loves the activities and the friends that he has made in the Church. We're working with him on getting the fundamentals down. He's really struggling with reading. It's hard because there is a different language form of speech used for reading books.  And the Book of Mormon uses a TON of hi-so, formal, and royal vocabulary. So, a lot of the people out here don't quite get it. But the cool thing is the more he reads, the more he understands. He should be looking good for a March baptism. 

We are also teaching a couple named Pong and Can. They have two daughters that are members. They are way good! We had an absolutely amazing lesson with them this last week. 

Elder Tolman and I have been looking for ways to improve our teaching. One of the things that a member in Asoke mentioned is that people don't understand enough about the Savior.  So we made a goal to teach from the Bible along with the Book of Mormon. It's a bit of a problem. In the MTC there was almost a negative attitude towards the translation of the Thai Bible and a lot of people, as a result, don't use it. But they recently came out with a new translation, translated from Hebrew. It's actually not too bad and seems, in some ways, to be more accurate with definitions that are in the Bible Dictionary.  So we decided we're going to start using it as we teach about the ministry of Christ.  

In our lesson with Pong, we used EVERY book of Scripture:  The Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. We're so blessed that we had so much scripture to explain what we were teaching. 

Do we ever murmur that God gives us so much of His word? Why should we? So often we say, "A Bible, a Bible, we have a Bible, it's called the Book of Mormon, and we need no more Bible." We need to really use the full cannon of scripture to the convincing of the Jew and gentile that Jesus is the Christ. I testify that He is. The first principle of the gospel is faith in HIM. Principles 2, 3 4, 20, 90 cannot come until we have that faith. 

Oh, so back to the lesson.  It was AMAZING. We taught about the Plan of Salvation. The Spirit was so strong and they expressed their desires to be baptized! We were so grateful that the Spirit unfolded these things to their understanding. 

I testify that as we use the scriptures, we will have greater light and understanding come into our lives. It is the word of God, and there is power therein. Never neglect it, or fail to read. I love you all. Have a great week! Go make someone smile!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Missionaries in Ubon

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013 13:16

Hello Hello!
How are you all doing? I honestly cannot believe how fast this last week went. I think I say that a lot, but hey, it's true. 
Things here in Ubon are really good.   Marie Livingston served here. I've seen some of her records. That's been fun!   
SO where to start? I don't know. 
How about with our investigators. That is why I'm here afterall. So here they are. 
I talked about Sister Boom. She's good. She's really nice and really wants to be baptized. She interviewed this week and passed!  Plans were made for her baptism next Saturday. But yesterday, she went to work, and she didn't keep the Sabbath. As a result, she will have to wait to be baptized. It's sad. And it may seem a little harsh.  But it's something that is a problem. 
Preach My Gospel tells us the importance of the Sabbath. It teaches that if we grow careless in our reverence for the Sabbath, our religious life decays, and all aspects of life will be negatively affected. 
Something that I'm learning over and over is obedience. I think I talk about it ALL THE TIME. But it IS the first law of heaven. We simply can't have the Spirit without being worthy. We must, "go out from among the wicked, and be clean... that bear the vessels of the Lord. (D&C 38:42)."  
I know Sister Boom will be baptized. She's got a lot of really good desire. Her husband is also started learning with us. His name in Gan. He is good too.  He's a little slower when it comes to learning. He dropped out of school in about ninth grade, but he likes going to church. He's got a smoking problem--about 20 cigarettes a day. But he's down from 30 at the beginning of the week. He said he believes in God because he sees that people can change. It's so true. Believe it or not, we are not cast in stone. We can change through the atonement of Christ the Lord. We can improve ourselves each day. That's the promise of the atonement, the conditions of repentance, the miracle of forgiveness. It's all about becoming. The Lord doesn't see as we do. "For the Lord looketh upon the Heart" 1 Samuel 16:7 (I think that's the reference.) 
I'm out of time. But really quickly before I sign off, here is an update of our other investigators. We are teaching a man named Ton. He's good We've only taught him once. He needs the basics. 
We're also teaching a man named Phong. His daughters are members, and he's really solid. He's just waiting for a sign, so we're working with him about knowing by the power of the Holy Ghost, since, "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye shall know the truth of all things.(Moroni 10:5)."   If that's wrong it's because I can't remember how to say it in English.
Well, I love you all TONS! Be obedient and faithful!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Todd and Tolman-Companions at last!

Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2013 11:47

What a week! Things here are fantastic as ever!
So, BIG NEWS!! I'm not sure if you knew, but the countries of Laos and Myanmar are in our mission. Well, this last week, the Lord's hand was stretched forth. Here is what I can say about Laos: 
"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."

Pretty amazing if you ask me. 
Well, I also got transferred. I'm now serving in Ubon! It's way out in the Easaan. And my new companion is.... Elder Tolman!!! We finally get to be companions! Things are great! It's a whitewash.  Neither of us have ever served here, but luckily Elder Tolman served in nearby Yasothorn, so he kind of knows the area. It's just the two of us here. There were a lot of changes in areas last transfers, so some of the companionships got moved out because we're short on man power. We're waiting to get that increase in missionary complement. 
It was sad to leave Pakkret and all those members and investigators, but we feel that there will be great adventures here for us. Lek and Tiger passed their interviews for baptism. I'm sad I won't get to see there baptisms, but it's comforting to know that they'll happen! 
So, We haven't really had a whole lot of time to work here yet. Thursday we had transfers, then Friday we had zone leader council in Bangkok, then we got on a train on Friday night and came up here! It was nuts. We were in the dead center of Bangkok, and we were trying to get a taxi to take us and all of our bags to the train station. It was rush hour, traffic was worse than usual, and no one would take us. We were kind of panicking and we weren't sure whether or not we'd make our train. But guess what we did! We prayed. We felt the impression to call the Assistants, Elder Benjamin and Elder Heap. So we did. They had just finished a teaching appointment and were close. They came and picked us up in their van. Then they got us to the train station on time! It was amazing. What was anticipated to take well over an hour took us not even 30 minutes in rush hour traffic. We just kept hitting green lights. I know that it was because the Lord made things possible. We were so grateful.
We made it up here on Saturday morning. We got our stuff all into the house and we started trying to figure out things here. It's been a little bit of a challenge just because everything is so new to us, but it's so much fun.
Elder Tolman is as great as ever. The branch here is big. The district president told us that they've had almost 150 at church! That's a ton! So I'm really excited to be here. We've got some investigators too. I don't know them very well, but they were at church yesterday and they have baptismal dates. One is Sister Boom. She seems good and really humble. And the other is Brother Ton. I'll give you more info about them as things move forward.
One thing that I want to share with you is from 2 Nephi 21:2-5. It talks about Jesus Christ, and how He was blessed with the ability to judge because the Spirit gave it to Him. It's something that Elder Tolman and I will be focusing on here; how to follow the Spirit more. This coming week I encourage you all to study from chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel, and try and give a greater role to the Holy Ghost in everything you do. We are promised that if we use the Holy Ghost for our guide, we shall not be deceived. 
I love you all! Be safe and strong and healthy! -- ้ด้วยความรัก

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Progress in Pakkret

January 27, 2013

Happy Almost February!

Can you believe it? The time is going by SO fast! It’s like sand slipping through my fingers. Or, to quote Jacob from the Book of Mormon, "The time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream..."

But we're doing all that we can to make the most of the next several months. One of the things that we have been talking about in our zone, is being diligent.  We’ve determined that diligence isn’t fulfilled by just running hard or going, going, going to accomplish things.  That won’t really be effective and isn’t the right way to be “diligent.”  Instead, we’re focusing on giving a consistent, concerted effort over a period of time. That's diligence!

 One scripture that has been on my mind lately, is something that the Prophet Joseph Smith said to a group of elders while traveling along the Missouri river. He stated, “But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief."(D&C 61:3)

That's something that I feel that the Lord wanted me to learn this week—how to really work smart. I feel like I’m also supposed to take the time to think about HIS children and determine what is it that THEY need.  I’m pondering how can I help THEM.

We did a zone training about discerning by the Spirit.  We discussed how instead of rushing up to someone and just throwing facts about the gospel at them,  we should really talk to them and LISTEN to them. Then, by the Spirit,  we should discern what it is that they need. It's hard. And we're working on developing that skill. But it's helped me to just take the time and care about the people more. 

This week was just really great!  So as you know, we've been focusing on less-active members. I can't remember if I told you this last week or not, but President Senior was telling me that what we're learning to do with less active people, will be of great benefit to me when I go home. He said that the things we are learning will really make a difference in the work that I will do in the church for the rest of my life.

We had some really great experiences with the less actives we saw this week. So we've been working with Sister Vaenda. She's been a member of the church most of her life. But recently, she has become kind of bitter. So instead of going over and calling her to repentance telling her to get back to church, we decided to follow Ammon's example. We had gone and cut her lawn the week before, and this week we were going to do some more clean up. We got there and just started to work, cleaning up her yard. We uncovered what I thought was a motorcycle trail, but as we worked we discovered it was an actual driveway.  It was a fully paved concrete driveway!  It had just gotten grown over to the point it was barely a trail.  

One interesting thing that popped into my head as I was working was that I should do my best work. I remember mom always saying to me, "Do a Todd job." She meant to do something worthy to put your name on it. But as soon as that thought entered my head, another line from Preach My Gospel came to mind.  "Honor Christ's name by your actions." I then changed my mindset from doing a Todd job, to making my work worthy of the Savior’s name.  I hoped Hewould be willing to claim our effort as His. That's what we all promised to do when we were baptized. We agreed to do His work when we took upon ourselves His sacred name. I pray that we will always live worthy of it.

Anyway that's not the end of the story. We were just talking to her and she said that she needed this help, and that the work we did in the name of the Savior was the motivation she needed to go to church. Can you imagine our joy when we saw her walk into the chapel yesterday? I'm so grateful for that. The Lord is looking over us. 

I only wish there was enough time for me to tell you everything good that happened because of the Lord pouring out His blessings. But I don't have enough time. One day.

Lek and Tiger are still progressing. They'll be interviewed again this Thursday! Then, because of district conference on Saturday and Sunday, they'll wait till the next week to get baptized.  They’re date should be Febrkuary 9th. But they really came forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits. The Spirit of the Lord wrought a change in their hearts. 

Sister Palm--oh man! She's golden! She's really progressing, she's starting to use the language of prayer correctly, which in Thai is difficult because you have to us a whole other vocabulary. It’s the Thai that’s used only when speaking to royalty or those of high rank. But she's getting it. Then on Saturday after the baptism of the Sri Lankan family she and our other investigator Tui were there. She told Tui to just get his act together and get a baptismal date! She said, “Isn't it just so great?”  He's really opening up to us as well. The Lord is sending us really prepared people! It's great! 

Well, thanks so much for all your prayers! Please continue to do so. I'll do the same.

Love you tons! 
Elder Todd