Sunday, December 25, 2011

The BEST Christmas gift!

Today we did not get an email from Elder Todd. Nope. Today, Christmas Day 2011, we got to see and hear Bud via SKYPE!
It was the best part of Christmas for our family. We got to hear about: his life in Roi Et, the city itself, his apartment, his daily routine, the investigators they are teaching, his fantastic companion, Elder Wagstaff, his wonderful mission president, President Smith and Sister Smith, his Thai language, his zone, his health, what he's learned, what he loves, the spicy delicious food, the terrific members in the church branch, his baptisms, and much more.

Bud looked great! He sounded so happy. He seems to be fully immersed in his work there. He was happy to catch up with us, but he is glad to be a missionary in Thailand. He told us his mission is flying way too fast. He loves Roi Et and says it will always be a special place to him. He's met wonderful people there and he loves them. They have taken great care of our Elder and we are grateful!

SKYPING was so much fun. We loved seeing his his expressions when he was telling us about his life. It was much better than a phone call. It was such a great Christmas visit!

We'll look for his regular weekly email next Sunday. And his mother will look forward to her next SKYPE with Elder Todd--Mother's Day 2012! What a wonderful Christmas gift our conversation was. We loved every minute!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jojo gets Baptized! Great week in Roi Et.

Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:38:28 +0700
Subject: This week

Dear Family,

Well Jojo got baptized yesterday! It was a really cool experience for him. When he bore his testimony, he talked about how he has been coming to church for the past four years and now he is so glad that he finally got baptized! Also, it was really good because his parents were there and are willing to learn with the elders in Samutpragan. It was a really good end to another fun week!

I can't belive that the weeks are going by so quickly! It really doesn't feel to me that Christmas is close. I mean, there are some stores that have Santa stickers and trees on their windows, but those have all been up since August. Same with Happy New Year signs in lots of the restaurants. But the time really is flying! I never thought that I could be so busy, and have so much fun! This week was really really busy for us actually. So busy in fact, that we didn't have time to do any tracting, which neither of us really minded because it's not very effective.

One thing that Elder Wagstaff and I worked on this week was getting family history up and going. We took some time to help the family history specialists here in the branch know what to do, and helped them understand how they can fulfill their calling. Family history isn't something that's really used in finding here, but we feel like it can be really useful. After all, Elijah returned to the earth "To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse— (D&C 110:15)" Elder Bendar spoke about this last conference too. It's something that will help this work progress. It is key in bringing about God's work, and His glory.

We also set up some family home evenings to take our investigators to. That was really fun to do, and I think that it helped them too. I went to one with a member and Elder Wagstaff went to another. We talked about the restoration. It was really good! We helped the families understand more. I went with our investigators Nawa and หMeow. They are some of the funnest people I have taught, and they are really good. Nawa already believed in Christ and the Bible. But his wife, Meow, is pretty devout Buddhist. I think they are opening up. They are starting to recognize that they are receiving answers to questions they ask. Nawa also shared an experience of his that helped him gain his testimony of the Holy Ghost, and the importance of coming to church! He talked about how he doesn't get angry as easily anymore. It really is so much fun to see these people begin to change their lives and follow the Savior.

Also this week, we improved our English class. It wasn't really being an effective finding tool because there were lots of kids that just caused a ruckus. But we split the classes and things are more focused. We feel like it can really become an effective finding tool. It's suggested in Preach My Gospel, which is a book written by inspired men of God, so, obviously it's great, and should be used.

That's my advice to people who have their mission calls, or are preparing to recieve them. Study Prach My Gospel. Famliarize yourselves with its pages. It is designed to help you become the missionary the Savior expects you to be.

Well, this week I also got my third flat tire since being in Roi Et. We were late for an appointment and we were hustling. That's when my sidewall caught something and I heard psssss, and my tire was flat in like 3 seconds. But we were fine. We're safe, and doing well.

That's all for now. I will talk to you in a week! Be safe! I love you all!

Elder Todd

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Staying in Roi Et with Elder Wagstaff!! Things are great!

Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2011 11:38:25 +0700
Subject: hey

Another week in Roi Et!

I feel so lucky and so blessed that I am still in Roi Et! Yes, I didn't get transfered. It's weird though. I will have lived here for almost six months. It's been fantastic, and I am really looking forward to having a great time here.

This week was a great week. I am trying to make my emails contain a little more information so I wrote down some cool things that happened each day.

So first off, last Monday at dinner, I ate fish. And guess what? Fish doesn't taste the way it smells! It was actually good. I have been expanding my horizons for what I will eat. I can also stomach tomatoes now, so thats a good thing.

Thursday morning, we got a call from a member saying that there was smoke coming out of the church. So we went to see what was wrong. There was some sort of short with some of the air machines and I guess there was fire coming out of them. Luckily the power in the whole building went out before too much damage was done, so the church is fine. That is a good thing, because yesterday at church we had more than 100 people for the second time since I have been here! It was great!

Roi Et's branch is actually bigger than some of the wards in Bangkok. The members here are so great; they are so willing to help. It really makes a big difference. And with the help of Preach My Gospel chapter 13, we are able to work with the branch effectively. The members are willing to give us referrals. Actually, one referral, a sister's nephew, Jojo passed his baptismal interview with the Zone Leaders yesterday and will be getting baptized this Sunday! We're really happy for him. He wants it really badly too.

I had a really cool experience this week. Elder Wagstaff had to go to Mahasarkham to interview one of their investigators, but we had 5 lessons that we needed to teach. Mahasarakham is about 45 minutes away. So we exchanged with members, and I went by myself with a member to teach the five appointments. It was really great. And they all went well. I didn't speak English for about 6 hours except for a few phone calls. It really stretched me, but it testified to me that the Lord truly does qualify those He calls.

This week Elder Wagstaff and I implemented a finding tool that is in Preach My Gospel Chapter 9. We opened up a scripture study class for investigators and their friends. We did a test run with it this week, and a few members and two of the sisters' investigators showed up. It was really good. The investigators asked if we would hold it the next day. We are hoping that they will start bringing their friends, and hopefully their friends will be interested and learn. Each week, the more I study in Preach My Gospel, the more it just makes sense to use it. It was made for a reason, and that reason was to help this work progress.

This week we also had a really good district meeting. Because it was Sister Itow's last meeting, Elder Wagstaff asked her to take some time to talk about what she thinks we could do to be a more effective district and better focused as missionaries. She chose Doctrine and Covenants section 4. We went through and broke it down verse by verse, picking it apart, and talking about how it can apply to us. It just makes more sense to me now that I am part of that "Marvelous work."

Well, Things here are good! It's cold! It was 19 degrees this morning when we woke up. Of course that is Celcius, but still way cold! And it's been pretty windy too. But I woulndn't trade what i'm doing for anything!

I love you all! Be safe! Remember the TRUE spirit of this season.

Elder Todd

In the Rice Paddys of Roi Et!

Thanks to Sister Itow--more photos!

Sister Itow has completed her mission. Her last area was in Roi Et in the same district with Elder Todd and Elder Wagstaff. Luckily, she had some cute photos of the Elders and Sisters in their area and she sent them home prior to her arrival. Her mother was good enough to post a link to them so Bud's family got a few extra glimpses of him! Thanks Sister Itow.

Three Baptisms! Air, B, and June

Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2011 11:40:14 +0700
Subject: Hey!

SO, it sounds like you had a pretty crazy week weatrherwise! Here in Roi Et the weather is just sabaay sabaay. It's way comfortable-- in the lower 80's I think. Actually, it got cold enough where we turned off our air conditioner this morning because we were both freezing! haha I'm getting acclimatized to it here which is great! I really am loving Roi Et!

This week we had a really good week. We hit all of our goals for other lessons and lessons with a member, which really made us feel great! We also exceeded our goal of investigators at church! Coming to church is such a key part of conversion. It makes me think of a quote by President Hinckley, "Activity is the genius of this church." I can just hear him saying that. It's so true too! We're all supposed to be magnifying whatever callings we have.

That's something that I was reminded of this week. Often times in the church, we feel like we need to be in leadership positions, or have certain callings. But it really doesn't matter as long as we do our best to act in all diligence and fulfilll those callings. Take Nephi and Lehi for example (in Helaman) Nephi gets the sealing power, and is the prophet, but does Lehi feel less or down about that? No! Lehi still goes about doing what he was called to do. Lehi was just as righteous, just as capable to be the prophet, but he didn't get the call. We must do things out of a righteous desire to do things. Just like it says in D&C 121

34 Behold, there are many acalled, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? 35 Because their ahearts are set so much upon the things of this bworld, and caspire to the dhonors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson— 36 That the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness. 37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to acover our bsins, or to gratify our cpride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. 38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to akick against the pricks, to bpersecute the saints, and to cfight against God. 39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the anature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little bauthority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion. 40 Hence many are called, but afew are chosen. 41 No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the bpriesthood, only by cpersuasion, by dlong-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; 42 By akindness, and pure bknowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the csoul without dhypocrisy, and without eguile— 43 aReproving betimes with bsharpness, when cmoved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of dlove toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of adeath. 45 Let thy abowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy cconfidence wax strong in the dpresence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the edews from heaven. 46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant acompanion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of brighteousness and truth; and thy cdominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

That is one of my favorite sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. It's an important lesson for us all. It also reminds me that numbers mean nothing, unless there is a name and a face with each one of them. Because every single soul is precious to God, so it should be precious to me.

We were blessed to have three baptisms this week. One is named, Air. I just want to say a few things about her. I noticed such an amazing change in her after her baptism, when we went and followed up with her. She was so much happier, so much more open to talking to us, and to trying to get her family to share the gospel. This gospel is to change us and our lives. And it can. It's one of the many promises of the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thant no matter who we are, or what we have done we can come unto Him, and He will help us. Because He loves us. I know that that is true. Well I hope you all are well! I love you lots!

Elder Todd

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving--Thai Missionary Style

Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 11:40:01 +0700
Subject: Week it doesn't really matter what week im on

Hey Everyone!

How are you doing? How was Thanksgiving? My Thanksgiving was different than I thought it would be. We were supposed to be here in Roi Et for the branch Thanksgiving activity. But on Wednesday, after district meeting, Sister Itow got a call from Elder Komgrit, (he is an assistant), and he told her she had to be in Bangkok on Thursday at 8:00 AM to renew her visa. She and Elder Wagstaff are in the same MTC group and are on the same renewal track for visa. So he asked her to ask if we had to go down, and we did. We spent Wednesday night on a bus down to Bangkok, got there at about 5:30 in the morning, and went to the Phetchaburi building. That's the building where the temple will be one day. But on Thursday, we got there and waited. Then, they renewed their visas, we ate lunch, and got back on a bus to Khon Kaen so we could take a connector to Roi Et.

We had Thanksgiving dinner out of a little Styrofoam box with rice and some chicken that the bus gave us. It really made me grateful for how blessed we always are at Thanksgiving. I'm sure thanksgiving was fantastic at home, but this year, I really am so grateful that I am on a mission. I love you all alot, but I wouldn't trade my opportunity to be serving here for a meal back at home. There is no work that brings more satisfaction than this. Helping my brothers and my sisters learn of their Savior, and come unto Him is amazing. I am so grateful my Father in Heaven has given me this opportunity.

We got to Khon Kaen at about 9:30 and there were no buses, so we slept at the Zone Leader's house. We finally got to Roi Et on Friday morning. Then I finally got to shower!, After that, I went on an exchange to MahaSarakham. It was good. I learned some good things. Then Saturday we exchanged back then went up to Khon Kaen so that we could get an investigator interviewed. Then I came back to Roi Et. So I spent a lot of time on buses this week.

This week we also had two more investigators interviewed for baptism, June and B. They passed! I'm really excited for them. They are going to baptized, along with Air, next Sunday! I have really been so blessed by the Lord. I work in an amazing area, and branch, I have great investigators, an obedient hardworking companion, and I'm having a fun time along the way.

This week, I was looking through Preach My Gospel and reading about my purpose as a missionary. I was reading the statements on missionary work at the end of chapter 1. I loved the quote by President Howard W. Hunter:
"What does the atonement have to do with missionary work? Anytime we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others... a great indicator of our personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others."

The lessons that I am learning as a missionary are helping my own conversion to the gospel grow. They are helping me convert myself more and more each day to the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are lessons that are shaping me for the rest of my life. And I thank the Lord for the opportunities that He is giving me to grow. His hand truly is in this work, helping each one of His children progress toward their potential as sons and daughters of a Heavenly King. It is my prayer that we will all become more converted to the gospel, and show God that we appreciate what He has given us, and to show the Savior of the world that we are grateful for His eternal sacrafice by sharing the gospel with all around us. I love you all. I love this church, the message of the restoration. I love the Atonement, and the ability we all have to transform through it. Don't take it for granted. Be safe, faithful, obedient, and diligent. I love you all so much!
Elder Todd

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Week--Six Month Mark

Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 11:54:47 +0700
Subject: Another week-- gone already

Hey Everyone!

How are you all doing? Things here are just great! I'm actually in shock that this Thursday is already Thanksgiving. I totally forgot about it until yesterday. The branch here announced that this Thursday they are having their วันขอบคฺณพระเจ้า activity on Thursday. Its cool that the word for Thanksgiving, literally translates as "day thank you Lord." But yeah, anyway, I can't believe that November is almost over! It has just gone by so quickly!

This week was just a blur! We did some good things. We got the opportunity to do some service for some members here. It's one thing that Elder Wagstaff and I have found to be a good use of time. It's good because, like we learn in Mosiah 2:17 "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn thatwhen ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." And, in addition to being able to follow the example of Jesus Christ by serving our fellow men, members are more willing to trust us with their friends.

This week we had a total of four referrals contacted, and we still have four more that we have yet to contact. Referrals really are the best way to do this work. When contacting through a referral, the investigator immediately has a friend in the church, and they can ask any question to that friend. They have a support system that a lot of investigators who are found other ways, don't. So, please if you have anyone to refer to the Missionaries, don't hesitate. Don't be afraid either. If we don't share this message of the gospel with our fellowmen, we are being selfish. We are withholding from them, that which will give them peace and happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come.

One thing that I learned in my personal study this week that really is helping me is from Preach My Gospel chapter 1, about my purpose as a missionary. The line that says something along the lines of, "as your understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel with all those around you will grow as well." I was thinking about that. I remembered something that Dave said, about how he tried to always think about the atonement. I thought that if we really try to understand the Savior's atonement, that great sacrifice that he did for us, then we will want everyone to be able to come unto Him, and have the promises of the atonement extended to them.

I love the scripture that reminds us, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." And D&C 58:42 or Isaiah 1:18 which teach us, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." I am always amazed at the infinite mercy that the Holy One of Israel is always willing to extend. The promise of the atonement is amazing. And I love studying it.

So, we had a good sacrament meeting yesterday. It was one of the highlights of the week. This little kid who is like 9 spoke. He is our landlady's son. Actually, a funny thing is that his real name means "Patriarchal Blessing," and his nickname, everyone here has a nickname, is Jarom. Yeah, they can get away with those names here. His sister is Omni. Anyway, Jarom got up and sung "Called To Serve." It was really good, and he just did it and wasn't really nervous or anything! Then he talked about service.

The Sister's also had a baptism this week! It was a great day for them. It was a little sad for us because we were supposed to have this family come up and be interviewed, but I guess the husband took the car and it was just kind of a mess since they live 80 Kilos outside of the city. Also, Jojo is looking good for his date on the 18 of December. Also we have two new investigators, A and James. They are good, and progressing well!

I'm still loving being in Roi Et! The Zone leaders were down here for an exchange. That was a lot of fun. I was with Elder Kampanat. He is Thai. He is so nice and a way hard-working missionary. He is only on his 9th transfer. I learned a lot from him. He told me the biggesy thing I need to work on, is getting better at Thai. But he said that I speak well enough. I could always improve in all things, though.

Well, I'm loving being here. Elder Wagstaff is awesome! We are just doing great work! Be safe and smart! And write soon!

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers.
Elder Todd

Harvest Season--Roi Et Style

Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 14:35:33 +0700
Subject: 14 November 2011

Hey family!
How are you all doing? I'm doing so great! Life is just fantastic right now! I hope you liked the pictures of me with the rice harvesting! It was super fun!

So this week was different than the past few weeks. But in a good way. We took a bus back from Bangkok on Monday night. We left at 10:00 PM and we got to Roi Et at 7:00 AM on Tuesday morning. It wasn't the best nights sleep on a bus, but it's not a big deal. We still got to do some good work. Ever since I got into country it's been tracting, tracting and more tracting. But this week things changed. President Hinckley said that tracting isn't the most effective way of missionary work. The most effective way is through the members of the church. Because when members give the missionaries referrals, that investigator has an immediate support system. They have a friend who they can turn to for support and ask questions. So, Elder Wagstaff came in and we talked about that. We have been focusing more on referrals, and less on going inviting. Its making a difference. We are having better lessons, and we are able to focus on the investigators that we have now. Its been really good. And the best thing is, that now that we are trying for referrals, they are coming! The more we are willing to help out the members, the more willing they are to help us.

Then on Friday Elder Wagstaff and I went up to Udorn Thani for Zone Conference/Mission Tour with Elder Gong from the Asia Area Presidency. It was good, There was a little training for Elder Wagstaff since he is a new district leader. While he was having his training I went on an exchange with Elder Sipperly. It was good. We did get one return appointment.

Then We had Zone Conference on Saturday. It was really cool. Elder Gong came and shook our hands, and asked where we were from. He got to me and said that he knew my family. We talked about Jennifer since she was in his Late Summer Honors class at BYU. He asked how she was. I was so proud to be able to say that she is finishing law school! He asked me to tell you all hello, he also came to me after the conference and asked me again to tell you hello. Those men truly are amazing! He talked to us about the Doctrine of Christ. Then we read through 3 Nephi 11 and looked for references to baptism. It was really good! He also did a question and answer session with us. That was really cool. Also D&C 50:22 about how, as a companionship, after teaching a lesson we should both be edified, along with the investigator.

This week, we have two more investigators with a baptismal date. First, Bupphaa, who we have been teaching since August. She has a goal for the 4th of December. Then last night we taught a first lesson to a boy named JoJo. He is a referral that is 10. We extended him the invitation to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authourity of God. He accepted! I was really happy that he decided to accept!

One bummer this week was my bike got a flat tire. I had to bike on this little green kids bike yesterday that was a members son's. Elder Wagstaff said it looked hilarious to see a big white guy on this tiny little bike. I'll try and get a picture. Then I also lost my planner. I never thought I would need a planner so badly! I love being able to plan every night, and to know what I am going to do each day. Mom, I hope that makes you happy!

Well things are great! I'm loving being with Elder Wagstaff. He is way good at Thai! and the work! I love you all, and hearing from you all. Be safe, and don't do anything stupid!

ELder Todd

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 12 It's a natural disaster! More floods to come!

Date: Mon, 31 October, 2011
Subject: Week 12

Hey Family!
So this was my twelfth week in country! I can't believe it! I feel like i'm in such a crazy time warp where I feel like I JUST got to Thailand, but at the same time I Feel like I have been here forever. I love it though! It's so great.

The work is hard, but so rewarding and so worth it! There are definetly some funny things that happen. For example just about 10 minutes ago we were biking over to the interenet shop where we come to email. I got distracted by some kids playing in the street and didn't see a parked scooter and I crashed into it. It was pretty embarassing, but funny at the same time. I guess I just need to pay attention more! No?

Well, this week was good. We are still safe from the floods in the city, but once you get 10 Kilos out of the city I guess the floods are pretty high. We actually got two elders moved to our district from the evacuated Pakkret zone. Elders Ahlstrom and Stott! They are up in Mahasarakham, like 45 minutes away, but we get to see them at district meetings on Wednesday, so thats very fun! We are wondering if we will get some more up here in roi et. It would be very fun! And we have the room.

It's sad to see pictures in newspapers from the floods. But I guess that it's not the actual flooding that is causing the elders to be pulled out. It's the lack of clean water. No shower water, and no drinking water are causing a major problem. We are fine up here in Roi Et so don't worry.

This week was a pretty good week. The sisters had a baptism. Actually the guy who got baptized, Singha, is awesome! He cold turkeyed smoking, alcohol, drugs, and coffee and hasn't releapsed. That was like 3 plus weeks ago. It just goes to show, that through faith and prayer anything is possible!

We got some new investigators that seem pretty good too! There are these two girls B and Mammoth. B is protestant, but hasn't been baptized with any denomination yet. They say that they are friends but they might be girlfriends, so we'll just have to teach them the law of chastity. Then, last night we were teaching our investigator Bubphaa. She had two customers at her store, and they stayed for the lesson. They belong to a Christian church here, but that church publishes anti-LDS pamphleyts and things. They bring to pass the promise that Moroni made to Joseph Smith that his name would be had for good and evil among all nations kindreds tounges and people.

We also had a big service project out in a neighborhood where we teach that happens to have a bunch of the members from Roi Et, Mahasarakham, and Khon Kaen. The district president was there too! We painted a wall out in front of the school. It was fun. I felt like I was painting back at the H rock a little bit, except this time, we were using paint rollers and brushes instead of socks and brooms! It's all very fun! I'll send some pictures for sure!

Other than that this week was a pretty average week of just teaching and finding. We unfortunately had some investigators drop us. Pawn is one of them. It's sad because she was progressing well until she went out of town and decided she doesn't have time for us anymore.

One scripture that I have come to love this week is Alma 44:3. Read it and ponder Captian Moroni's words of faith. Also I recieved a lot of help from Ether 2:17
" 17 And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly atight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish."
So this verse is a little redundant, no? But I really like it becuse of what it meant for the people of the brother of Jared. The Lord was going to bring them to the promise land in these barges that we "tight like unto a dish." The Lord new that the journey wouldn't be an easy one so he had the Brother of Jared prepare the barges for rough, tempestuous seas. Sometimes in life, we face those kinds of trials. But the Lord will never give us a trial greater than we can endure. Sometimes, He will come rescue us. Other times, he lets us ride out the trial on our own. He will only let us ride them out on our own if He has prepared us. By doing so He shows His faith in us. He believes in us. He knows that we can do these things. And we can. If we will turn to Him, and rely on the Holy on of Israel to be our support. Never forget that. Have faith and look to Him always, and in ALL things. Be quick to observe the blessings you receive from Him. Then thank Him for those blessings, and I promise you that He will pour out more blessings upon your head.

I love you all! Be safe and smart. But most of all be faithful!
Elder Todd

Week 11. Floods in Bangkok

Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:30:26 +0700
Subject: Week 11

Hey everybody!

So I'm guessing you are all hearing about the floods. We haven't really been affected in Roi Et until this week when we found out that transfers, which should be happening on Thursday, will not be happening until further notice. This transfer was a 7 week transfer to begin with, they're usually six weeks. So with the continuation, this becomes a very long transfer. But no big deal.

Things in Roi Et are great! It's a nice day today, not a cloud in the sky. Probably in the low 80's so a little on the warm side. One of the members said to me the other day, "Welcome to 'cold' season." Haha I told her that it snowed in Salt Lake last week (that's what Brooke said), and that would feel comfortable to me. She thought I was crazy! The members here are so great! It's awesome to see the faith of the saints of God everywhere in the world. Church is a little different here because of some cultural things, like the members always eat together after church. But the sacrament is the same, and the spirit of the Lord is the same. That's the beauty of the restored gospel.

Well, this week was a pretty good week. Teaching-wise, it was better than last week, even with two of our investigators going out of town. It was interesting to see, a lot of people have had relatives who were born here but moved to Bangkok. Now they're coming back because of the floods. The floods really are creating a mess here. Mahasarakham is getting two new elders from the Pakkret Zone, so they will have 4 elders there, upping our district from 6 to 8. The whole Pakkret Zone and half of the Asoke Zone are out of commission as far as I understand. Its pretty crazy!

Speaking of Sarakham, I went on another exchange up there this last weeks. It wasn't too bad. Sometimes I feel like exchanges are really inconvenient because they take you away from your investigators. I love all of the people that we are teaching. It can be a little frustrating at times, but it's good.

Last night we taught our investigator Bubphaa. She is good. We have been teaching her for over two months now. She knows the gospel is true, but she won't accept a baptismal date! She has some concerns that she feels like she needs to take care of before she can repent. But she doesn't feel like she can be open and honest with her mom yet. We talked about the purpose of this life, how its a time to prepare to meet God. I opened to Alma 13:27 about not procrastinating the day of your repentance. We walked away feeling that she had a greater desire to repent. Each day I am grateful as I write in my journal. I am able to look back and see how the Lord has used me to help His children come unto Him. There are so many tender mercies that I know are blessings from the Lord. Whether they be barely making a green light on the way rushing to an appointment, or finding new investigators-- they are ever present. Ifeel so grateful that I get to be in the mission field experiencing those tender mercies first-hand.

In life we all face difficulties. A mission is a very interesting thing. I feel like it's a microcosm of life, and that everything is more condensed and exaggerated. The good times are so good, and the hard times are very trying. But the good times, the miracles, the mericies of the Lord are so amazing that all of the sorrow and sadness of the hard times are swallowed up in the joy of those moments. In Third Nephi 22:7 the Lord tells us " For a small moment have I aforsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee." Remember that, and D&C 121.

Well i'm safe and well. I pray for you all and love you lots! Keep up the good work! I loved hearing from you this weeks!
Elder Todd

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New badges and a little missionary service!

Week 10

Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 11:38:49 +0700
Subject: Week 10

Dear Family

How are you all? It was great to get some emails from you and hear you're all alive and that the floods aren't affecting you. They aren't affecting me either. The Easaan (that's the eastern region of the country) is more elevated than Bangkok, the South, the north, and the central part. So we're good.

We've had some rainy days this past week, but nothing too bad. The biggest downside of the rain is that it deters people from coming to church, lessons, and English class. We have a couple that we are teaching and they live in the middle of their rice Field. There is only a dirt road out to it, and so when it rains, its very very difficult to get cars, motorcycles, or bikes out to it. So we can't tech them. Plus its like 15-17 Kilometers from the city. But its okay, becuase we always have a trial right before we recieve a blessing!

So nothing really happened with our investigators this week. We had lots of lessons cancel, and only a few at church. But were going to push through. We had a really good weekly planning session this week, and we feel good about this week. We both want to finish strong because it is the last full week of the transfer.

This week we had Zone Training up in Khon Kean. The Assistants were there, and the Zone Leaders, Elder McDonald and Elder Hardy, gave the training. It was really good. It was on the "How to Begin teaching" section in Preach My Gospel. Those 10 points are amazing.

President Packer had those points come to him in the night. He wrote them all down and gave them to the people to put them in Preach My Gospel. The people put them in, but in paragraph form. When President Packer saw that, he said, "No, no, it needs to be bullet points." Those points are so helpful in beginning teaching, and even in lessons that follow. I know that they are revelation from God, so that we can help His children come unto Him, and recieve the saving ordinances, the first being baptism. The training was really good.

After the training, I went on an exchange with Elder McDonald. He is from Pleasant Grove. We were talking and guess what? He goes to Pacific Beach every year, and he knows about TACO SURF! His granparents have a condo in the blue tower right on the beach that we can see from the G's.

Speaking of them, I got GranAnns letter that she had to resend. The original address looked fine. It was so great to hear from her! I hope all is well with her and Grandpa Bud.

Anyway, E. McDonald and I were going to do some service at Khon Kaen University with some of his investigators. On the way over, we were using some of the "how to begin teaching points" with the taxi driver and it was awesome. We helped cut up ginger roots for a cancer medicine.

E. McDonald is really good at Thai. We talked about it. He told me about his experience reading the Book of Mormon in Thai. He said he did, and literally the next day after finishing, his understanding improved so much. I believe it. The Book of Mormon can work miracles in investigators lives, so why not in the lives of missionaries? I did the math. If I read 10 pages a day in Thai, I will finish on December 31. So that's my goal.

We were teaching some of his investigators, and it was really fun. He gave me a lot of parts in the lessons and let me teach some of the laws, and doctrines. Its great! One of the members helping us said to me that I speak Thai well, but with english grammar. It's a problem. Right now I'm just translating in my head. But I think as I read the Book of Mormon and read correct Thai, then I will learn grammar better. It will help a lot along with studying it and practicing. It's like what Elder Holland said about not bringing my own tounge.

Well that's about it for this week. Hopefully we get more of our investigators progressing. I love you all. Choose the Right, read your scriptures every day and pray. I promise you will recieve help form the Lord in every aspect of you life.

Elder Todd

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#1 General Conference in Thailand

Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 11:25:01 +0700
Subject: week 9

Hey everybody!

How are you doing? This week was an amazing week! Especially because of general conference! It was amazing! Sister Itow didn't want to watch it in Thai so she got it on a flash drive in English so we were all able to watch it in English.

It was weird to me during the Saturday afternoon session when it hit me that I was in Thailand watching General Conference. I was learning the same thing that you all learned last week. I don't think that I have ever gotten so much out of conference. It makes me want to be a better person all around. Elder Holland, and Elder Christofferson, and President Uchtdorf's Saturday afternoon were some amazing talks! But really, they all were.

Well, this week was a pretty good week here actually. We taught some good lessons to our progressing investigators. Unfortunately, because some investigators won't keep commitments, they aren't counted as progressors. It's hard to see people who have started on the path to true happiness choose to not keep going, or to see them choose to slow down.

One thing that I have realized this week, is how much our own attitude and our own choices affect everything. We have a lot more power than we think we do. As we were reminded in conference, only we can choose for ourselves. 2 Nephi 2:27 is one of my favorite scriptures on agency. Sometimes peoples' agency can be very frustrating. But during those times, I take a step back, and remember that I have my own agency. And I remember the tremendous blessing that comes with it. I realize, with that blessing also comes great responsibility.

I feel as if more and more in the world, the lie is being told, that we won't be held accountable for our own actions. THIS IS A LIE. In the end, every man, woman, and child will be held accountable for each and everything that he or she did in their lives. Whether it be choosing to be obedient, choosing Christ, choosing eternal life, living with God in His presence forever, or choosing eternal misery. It is up to us if we choose happiness or to put ourselves into captivity, and the chains of sin.

To some investigators, and even to many members of the church, it may seem like God has given us so many commandments, and they bind us down. In reality, it's the opposite. God gives us commandments to set us free. God is all about giving us freedom, giving us our agency. That's what we fought for in the premortal life. Satan, all he wants to do is bind us down. To trap us in the gulf of never ending sorrow. To lead us into crooked paths. If we start down those paths, we can always return. The sooner, the easier, and the better. But, choose this day to serve the Lord (Josh 24:15). Pray continually for the Lord to help you avoid those crooked paths. Let your heart be continually drawn out in prayer unto your eternal father.

We invited Tan to conference. He said he could come. I was so excited for him to come hear the words of the prophet! But then on sunday morning, about twenty minutes before, he called and said he didn't have a way he could come. I was really sad. He is so good! I feel like he has the desire to be baptized, to come forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witness unto the church that he has repented of his sins.(D&C 20:37) He wants to come read his scriptures at the chuch, but when he can come, we aren't free to open it up. We have been teaching him there, and I think he likes the spirit he feels there.

Pawn was out of town this week and doesn't know when she will be back. We started teaching these poeple who live out in the middle of a rice paddy. They are a member referral. They were actually expecting us t come to them. Its good because they came to us, but since they are old, and rooted in Buddhist ways, it will probably take some time.

This week i was on an exhcange with Elder Christensen. We were here in Roi Et. We taught some good lessons. We were inviting in a neighborhood, and there is a house that has a big "Beware of Dog" sign. The gate was open and I was a little hesitant. The lady who lived there was standing outside. So we started talking to her. We taught her and her 18 year-old son about prayer. It was really good! She was saying she was actually looking to change religions. At the end of the lesson, they each said their own prayer. The son asked if God lived, then we he was done, he waited and we didn't even tell him to do that! It just shows that the Lord is prepearing people everywhere for His gospel. No matter who you are, no matter where you are going in the world, I promise that you can baptize people. I know that the Lord will prepare people. You may just be starting the planting of the seed, but I know that every missionary in the world, who is obedient, who tries, and who is diligent, does some good to build the Kingdom of God on the Earth, preparatory to the Second coming of the Messiah.

Well, All is well here! I hope you are all well! Do your part in wherever you may be in the vineyard. The gospel is true. i promise you that. I love you.
Elder ทอดด์

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011

Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 11:12:41 +0700


Hey everybody! How are you all doing? How was General Conference? I'm really jealous that you all got to watch it! I bet it was so good! That's nuts that they are turning the Provo Tabernacle into another Provo Temple! They could really use it! So, I guess it was kind of "a blessing in the skies" that the Tabernacle was damaged. I'm really excited to get to watch conference, even if it is in Thai.

We were teaching an investigator about the Restoration yesterday, and we were talking about Joseph Smith and how he was a prophet, and then about President Monson being a prophet. Then I was like, "hey you can come on Saturday and Sunday and hear the words of the living prophet!" It was way sweet! I hope she will come! She seems pretty good. She prays everyday, but she said that she is having a hard time finding the time to read the Book of Mormon. I know that a lot of people feel like they have that problem. Before my mission, there were some days I felt like i didn't have time. But I know that if we will make the time to read the Book of Mormon every day, the Lord will bless us more than we will know.

This week was an alright week work-wise. I went up to Mahasarakham with Elder Jensen. It was good to go on an exchange because I learned some good things. But we didn't get much done. Part of that was because one of the bikes broke and we had to go get an estimate on it. That was kind of a hassle.

We had a really good district meeting on Wednesday. One of our Zone Leaders, Elder Hardy (He was a loadmaster on an AC-130 gunship) gave us a really good training on "We invite, they commit, we follow up." It was all about making commitments, and inviting investigators to act.

Elder Ackerman and I have also had the opportunity to be involved with some service at the former branch president's house. He just got released a week or two ago because he has to get surgery. He's helped us so much. He takes us to catch the bus to go to transfers meeting, and he helps us teach a couple times a week. So, when he asked for help, we were happy to serve him. We have been doing some yard work for him. It feels really good to be able to do some manual labor. It's good to just get in and work hard. It reminded me a lot of my days at Birch Creek Ranch.

So with our investigator เเทน(Tan), we have a little issue. He works on Sunday, and can't come to church. We are going to have to move his baptismal date. Its a shame, because he really has the willingness to change his life, and to be baptized. But he says he can't change his work schedule. We had a really good lesson this week on the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. We have been practicing teaching those quite a bit. A lot of people here have a problem with the abortions part. If they get an abortion, help, or suggest it, they have to meet with President Smith or one of his counselors before they can be baptized. I wonder how big of a problem it is in the U.S.

Yesterday we had a really great experience with one of our investigators. He lives 60 kilometers away, which is about an hour and a half car ride. He called us yesterday morning and said that he wasn't sure if he could make it to church because his house was flooded, and it was pouring rain. Well, we got to the church, and just before Sacrament meeting started he walked in. He had gotten on his motorcycle and driven the whole way in the pouring rain just so he could come to Sacrament meeting. He had to leave right after so that he could go home and makes sure that his family was ok. I thought of the sacrifices that he had to make to come to church, and I know that the Lord is blessing him for that.

This week I have learned some really great things in my studies. The first comes from Alma 32, one of the great chapters on faith. I read in verses 40 and 41 about a tree of everlasting life. It made me think of the seed, and the experiment we are to do with the seed, which is the word of God. That seed, when planted and nourished, will end up being our own tree of life. We must continue to try the experiment over and over in order to nourish it.

The next thing was in Alma 5:26-29. I was studying about humility, and I thought of the Savior. I thought to myself, He was the most humble man ever to walk this earth. Part of me wonders if for that reason, he is the greatest of all. I think its very possible. Humility is a crucial starting point for everything in the church. We must be humble enough to start to experiment to see if these things are true. Then will our faith grow.

Well, all is well here with me! I hope that you are all doing well! I'm excited for conference, and I hope you all learned something because I know that there was something for each individual person who listened to conference.

Be Safe! Be smart! I love you all!
Elder Todd

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 11:19:45 +0700
Subject: Week 7

Hey Todd family!

How are you doing this week? This weekwas a pretty good one for me here in ร้อย เอ็ด.
We had leadership training on Tuesday here. President and Sister Smith and the assistants were up here for that. Since I'm not a leader or a trainer I went out on an exchange with Elder Clark and Elder Revelli. They were both in the group ahead of me at the MTC. It was really fun to be able to go out and to work with them. It's fun because we're all pretty close to the same time in the field, and we all worked really well together. We tried to let each other have equal shares in inviting, and teaching.
But it was kind of hard working in a threesome. It's scary enough for people to have two big white people at their door. But then if there are three, it can be hard for them to let us in. This last week we had a hard time finding new people to teach. People don't like letting us in or talking to us. But we try, and will keep giving them the chance to hear the restored gospel.

On Wednesday, I went up to Mahasarakham on an exchange. It was good! I was with Elder Christensen. He was good. We talked to a lot of people, and taught this one lesson that turned out kinda weird. We got to the area that we were inviting, and right as we locked the bikes up to the pole, this old man came up to us and asked us to come to his house. We looked at each other thinking, "This is kinda sketchy."
The nice thing is that were in Thailand and we can communicate out loud to each other without offending anyone. But we thought, "we'll just go and see." Besides, neither of us had a bad feeling about going with him. So we got to his house, and we taught him a little. It was hard because he kept saying everything in his life was Buddhist, and it would always be. Then he tried to get us to go into his house. When he did, I just had a bad feeling and Elder Christensen and I got out of there. Its just a testimony to me that our Father in Heaven cares about us.

This week on our goals for the key indicators in the missionary planner, (you can see them in Preach My Gospel chapter 8,) we were really close on a lot of them, and exceeded some of them which was wonderful!

One of our investigators whom we have been trying to commit to a baptismal date to for a while, finally told us the real reason she hadn't accepted. I had been praying about it, and really trying to figure out what the problem was. I kept feeling like it was something about family. So, we were teaching her about the Atonement, and how we can become cleansed from sin. We committed her to repent. But she said she didn't feel like she could because she was still lying to her family. We don't know what about, but at least we got to the bottom of the problem. Now we just need to figure out how to help her be honest with her family. We taught the 10 commandments last night, so hopefully she will honor her father and mother.

Dave told me last week that the Atonement is the center of everything that we do. I have really been thinking about that this week. I've been trying to study and understand it more. As I see people throughout the day I try and think, "how can the Atonement help them?"
I believe the answer is trying to see people the way that the Savior sees them. I believe that if we can see everyone that way, as a precious soul, we will be able to have true charity for all men.

Well, I hope all is well with you! Thank you for your prayers. They are felt. They help. You're in my prayers. Be safe, be smart. Work hard. Show the Lord your love for Him by keeping His commandments.

Elder Todd

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting into the Swing of things.... Week 6 in Thailand!

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2011 11:23:05 +0700
Subject: week 6 In Thailand

Hey Everyone!

So this week finished my sixth week here in Thailand!

It was a really good week by way of work! We taught a good amount of lessons, and got 6 new investigators. We also were able to give two more investigators baptismal dates.

The two people who accepted dates this week are amazing! One is a 21 year-old named Tan. He is really good. He basically gave himself a baptismal date. We committed him to baptism and he said he wasn't sure. So then we gave the soft baptismal commitment which is, "When you know these things are true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized?" He accepted it. Then we were talking a little more about baptism and why it is so essential, he asked us, "How soon can I be baptized?" It was really cool.

I have really liked teaching him ever since our first lesson when we taught him about prayer. For his first prayer, he didn't even have to read how to do it. He gave thanks more than asking for blessings. It is so great to see people who really get the gospel. It's amazing to see how the Holy Ghost will bring these things to their remembrance. Everyone knows the church is true, they just don't remember.

The other person who set a baptismal date this week is Pawn. She is probably in her 30s-40s and she runs an internet shop. She was coming to our weekly English class and that is how we found her. She is really good too. The other day we were teaching her about the restoration. At the end of the lesson we asked her if she would pray to know that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God. I was shocked when she said she said, "No, i won't ask." When we asked why not she said, "I already believe that he was a prophet." It was really really cool!
But we still wanted her to get her own confirmation that it is true, so she prayed and yesterday she told us that she had received a confirmation! Its amazing to see that the Lord truly is working and preparing his children. It proves that He truly is our loving Heavenly Father, that He knows each of us individually, cares about each and every one of us, and wants us all to feel His love for us.

This week in studies I came across something that was really interesting. I was reading in Preach My Gospel chapter 5 about the Book of Mormon, studying its role in the conversion process. At the end of the chapter there is an additional study page. I was looking at that and there was a story about an investigator who was reading 3 Nephi 11 when The Father introduces the Son to the Nephites. When God says "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." The investigator stopped. He said to the missionaries the God was proud of His son. He then says that it doesn't matter what other people think, it only matters what God thinks. He then decided to be baptized, and not care what friends and neighbors think. This is applicable to missionaries and members. SO often we are afraid to open our mouths and share the gospel. We are afraid that we might offend someone, or lose a friend. But if we truly love them, we will be bold, and only care about pleasing our Creator. For without Him, we are nothing.

Saturday was a hard day. We invited all day long. We talked to so many people. And we didn't teach a single lesson. It was really hard. But i remembered what Elder Holland said about the days we are rejected, when we are spit upon, when we are made a hiss and a byword. He told us we should stand tall, because we stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest life this world has every seen. Jesus Christ was the only pure and perfect missionary. I can't imagine how the Savior felt when He was rejected by His own people. He knew them on such a more personal basis than know the Thai people. I just can't imagine how it would be to have them reject His message.

Well, Things are good here! Were looking at another good week! Lots of lessons planned, so hopefully they all happen! The food is still amazing! The people are fantastic! We had dinner with the new branch president last night and that was great! He seems good.

I would love to hear from you all! I got a letter from the Darbys and the Fausts! That was wonderful!

I love you all! be safe, be smart, work hard. Be bold in sharing the Gospel. go out and astonish someone!

Love, Elder Todd

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week 5

Date: Mon, 12 Sep 2011 11:23:18 +0700
Subject: Week 5

Hey family! How is everyone?

I'm so happy to hear about the G's! That's going to be such an awesome experience for them!

This week was a pretty good week here in Roi Et. I really am loving it here. It's such a wonderful place and I wish you all could come see it! We had transfers this week. I stayed with Elder Ackerman here. That's how the new training program works--we stay together 12 weeks. But we did get a new sister here. Sister Roper. She was in the younger Thai district in the MTC. It's wonderful to see someone else here that I knew before I came in country!

We have been doing a good amount of teaching and inviting. Inviting still isn't the best way to do this work, but we actually found this man and his daughter and we have taught them twice. They seem pretty good, but we will see. He is probably in his 40's and I'm not sure what he does. His daughter is 10 and speaks really good English! We are trying to get her to our English class that we teach every Tuesday night. It's our weekly service project that President Smith has outlined for us. We also have a new investigator from English class. Her name in Pohn. She seems really good. We have only taught her once though. She wouldn't answer her phone yesterday when we were trying to set up an appointment. It would be great if we could get her husband to come learn with her, but he has a really unsure work schedule. That's one thing that has really surprised me about Thailand; there is no weekend unless you're a teacher or work for the government. Everyone else is just open every day of the week pretty much. It can make it difficult for getting investigators to church.

One thing that really hit me this week is the importance of attitude. I have always known that your attitude is a very important part of who you are. I was just riding my bike down the street and I thought to my self, if I have a bad attitude, I'm not going to be an effective missionary. This gospel is a gospel of joy. If i am not happy, how am I supposed to share the unique, joyous message of the restoration with someone?

I had an interesting experience this week. We were out inviting, and we got into this one guys house. We asked if we could start with a prayer and then he kind of got mad at us. He asked us, "Why are you doing this?" We told him we were missionaries because we know the gospel is true. He said everyone says that what they have is true. Then he asked us what the real reason we were on missions was. He couldn't accept the fact that it is because we love this gospel and know that it is true.

I got an interesting letter from one of my friends. In it, she said that she has seen the hand of the Lord too many times for faith shakers to come into her life and break her faith. That really made me think. I looked back on things, and I realize that the Lord has blessed me so greatly! He has been so merciful to me. There is no way that I could deny that this gospel is true. With that knowledge, we can look at every trial as a blessing. I believe that if we look at life with a true gospel perspective, looking at life the way our Redeemer does, that we should always find reason to rejoice. We should take on every trial, and instead of thinking, "this is hard," we should be thinking, "what does my Loving Heavenly Father want me to learn from this?" "How is He helping me grow into the son or daughter that He needs me to be?" And then, after that experience, we must not forget to thank the Lord and to acknowledge that He has helped us grow. I believe that when we thank Him for trials that grow us, He will see that we recognize His hand, and then will give us more experiences we can grow from.

We had a lesson with our progressing investigator, Bubphaa yesterday. She has been progressing well, giving up coffee. But she won't accept a baptismal date. She has great faith, and she seems like she is truly penitent, but we just can't figure out her concern. Also, we have two more investigators with a baptismal date. Atid, and his daughter June. His wife is a member already. The hard thing with them is they live 60 Kilos outside the city, so we only teach them on Sundays. But he is making progress in quitting smoking. In three weeks hes gone from like 8 packs a day to two! Its so amazing to see the faith and commitment of these people here. I really love them, and I think its the people here that makes me love Roi Et so much!

Here are some scriptures that I came across in study this week that I really liked.
First of all D&C 107:99-100. I love these two scriptures SO much. They really are helping me to have the right outlook.
Mosiah 28:3
D&C 6:36
Hebrews 5:4
And a quote
"Our leisure, even our play is a matter of serious concern. That is because there is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counter claimed by Satan."
C.S. Lewis.
Joshuah 24:15. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.

I love you all, and I hope that you will serve God. keep up the good work! You're the best family, you're in my prayers!
Elder Todd

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Monsoon Season

Hey Family!

Well, this is the start of my fifth week here in Thailand! I can't believe it. It's gone by pretty fast, looking back on it all. This is the last week of this transfer since its a short transfer. It doesn't really mean anything for me though. We should be getting two new people in our district. We should be getting one of the sisters from the younger district I was with in the MTC, coming here to Roi Et. That will be way fun to have another missionary I already know here! Also Elder Merrel up in Mahasarakam is moving, and Elder Christiansen is going to get a new companion.

This week is the first week where we haven't had any investigators with a baptisimal date. So it was kind of weird not to have the usual people to teach. But we found 8 new investigators which was great! I feel really good about them. Four of them live out in a neighborhood where there are 14 other members, which is pretty high for Thailand. So it will be really good if we can focus on that area and find a lot of new members there.

Yesterday was district conference and one of the men out there got the Melchizedek Priesthood! He is the only one out there with it, but its so good to have that power there! Earlier this week I was getting a little frustrated with finding people. It was just such a difficult process. But then I remembered something that Elder Bednar said to us at the MTC. He said, "This work is never about you, and it is never about me. Get out of the way so the Holy Ghost can fulfill His purpose." Once that thought popped into my head my entire attitude changed. And even though we didn't find people to teach, the rest of the day went differently. It was so much better when I just tried to focus on the needs of others.

I also realized that there is a difference between knowing my purpose as a missionary and internalizing it. When we internalize the missionary purpose we will forget about oursleves entirely. That's something Dave told me. He said that I'll forget about things like my birthday because when you have true missionary purpose instilled in your mind, all you care about is the eternal welfare of the souls of those around you. Its how Alma, Amulek, Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Himni, Nephi & Lehi and all of the great missionaries were able to have so much success. They are such great examples to look up to, even in regular life.

There was this one lesson we taught this week that was really great. We had been teaching another investigator at this sisters' shop, and a 21 year old boy came in and was waiting for his mom. While he was waiting, he sat and listened to the lesson. Afterwards, we got his contact information. This was last week. Then this week, we called Him up. We had an appointment with him on Wednesday, but he had to cancel because of the rain. So we rescheduled for Thursday. We talked to him about God. We asked if he believed in God. He said yes he did, because his aunt had told him there was a supreme creator. We taught him how to pray and about prayer. The concept for him clicked on the first lesson. It was amazing to see how the spirit worked so well with someone who had been prepared by the Lord for the gospel. It was so amazing.

Also, something way cool happened on Wednesday as we were out inviting. We were in this neighborhood where we hadn't planned to go. We were walking down the street when we heard, "Elders! Elders!" We turned around to see this 20 something year old man chasing us. He is a less active member that only remembers how to pray. He said that life has been really hard for him lately, and that he wants to learn the lessons again and come back to church! It's so great to see the way that the Lord will work with His children. It truly shows that He does care, and does love all of us.

We had some pretty crazy rain this week. We're deep in monsoon season. It's such a blast getting caught it the rain, but it makes it really hard to work. Well, all is well here, I hope all is well at home! Thank you for all of the letters and pictures! They're wonderful! Be safe and smart! Don't do stupid things!


Elder Todd

Fabulous Feast Thai Style!

Bud told us this wonderful Thai meal was prepared by this lovely family. They are members of the church who have very little themselves, but happily and generously share with the missionaries. They are so good and faithful. As parents, we are grateful for a family thousands of miles away that is taking such good care of our elder!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh, he's off, on a mission...

A Happy Surprise :)

Bud sent some pictures home on a photo card and look at this great surprise that popped up! How fun to have a picture of darling Elder Todd and the fabulous Korean Language MTC Trainer, Wess Musso (our cousin-in-law). Wess, we love you and thank you for being so good to Bud during those MTC weeks. He absolutely loved running into you!

In Country!

Subject: FW: Week 3
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 22:52:47 -0600

Sounds like he's getting into the groove more and more. Keep him in your prayers. Love you all xoxoxoxx Mom

Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 21:21:43 -0700
Subject: Week 3

Hey Family!

So today is the start of the fourth week of the transfer! Its crazy how quickly things are starting to go! I made that comment to one of the zone leaders who goes home on the 8th of Sweet September. He said the first year feels like four months, and the second week feels like two weeks. I really am beginning to LOVE Roi Et. It's a pretty great place!

This week was kind of crazy. I was on two exchanges. Last Monday I went up to Khon Kean with one of the Zone Leaders. It was really interesting to see what they have to do. It's a really busy job. They don't get very much time to do missionary work because they have to arrange all the logistics and stuff to make sure that the zone is running smoothly. It seemed pretty stressful. I'm sure part of it was that we had Zone Conference on Saturday. I'll talk about that in a minute. I had my first Big Mac in Khon Kaen. It was SO good! I don't know if it was just that it was American food or what. Then we came back to Roi Et for district meeting which was great! Then Elder Ackerman decided that he needed to go on an exchange with the Elders in Mahasarakam. So I stayed in Roi Et with Elder Merrel from Wednesday to Thursday night. That was hard. Then Thursday we headed up to Mahasarakam and slept there, then Friday morning we headed up to Khon Kaen again for Zone Conference.

In Zone Conference President Smith talked about how he is happy with the work we are doing. He said, "be happy, but never satisfied." Then he talked to us about the revelatory power of the Book of Mormon-- how it is a divine witness of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith truly was a prohpet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth today. He then played Elder Holland's talk on the Book of Mormon. I'm sure you all remember that. it's SO good! President Smith then gave us an assignment that I would like to inivite all of you to do.

Get a paperback Book of Mormon with no markings. Then read it once through with a red pencil. Mark all of the names and pronouns used in reference to Jesus Christ. Once you have done that, read it again and with another color (I'm doing yellow). Mark all of the verses that talk about the Doctrine of Chirst (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End). Then, once you finish the Book of Mormon that second way, take another color(green) and mark the words spoken by Chirst. His direct words and "thus Saith the Lord:" When you finish that, read it a fourth time, and with another color (blue) mark all of the Christlike Attributes found in Preach My Gospel chapter 6. So four readings of the Book of Mormon. I want to invite you all to do that by the time I get home. I know that you all can do it. It may take some time, but It will give so much more meaning to the Book of Mormon.

We had the last baptism of the month yesterday! Knot, Net, and their grandma. It was pretty funny. Net is 9 and really small so there weren't any baptisimal clothes that fit him, so he was wearing HUGE clothes. I feel so blessed that I have seen 8 people enter into a covenant with our Father in Heaven. I am so grateful for His mercy, and that through Jesus Christ every one can be cleansed so that we can live with God again.

I got all of your letters! Thank you so much! They meant a lot to me. I hope all is going well and that you are all well and safe! You're in my prayers. Be safe. Be smart. Be faithful.

Elder Todd

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Got some pics from MTC in the mail!

Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 21:23:36 -0700

Hey Everybody!

How are you all doing? Things are pretty good here! I got your emails and I really appreciate them all. I'll try to write back to them if I have time today. Brooke and La, I'm sorry you have to go back to school. But its good for you.

Well, this week has actually gone by really quickly! It's good. I've been working a lot more on my Thai. I've been focusing on learning the teaching points in the "How To Begin Teaching" section of chapter ten in Preach My Gospel. They are really good points, and they are really helpful. Preach My Gospel is so amazing. We have been studying how to begin teaching the people concepts, not lessons, and those things are so important.

We didn't do so hot on finding people this week though. We did get one referrral from a member which was really great! It was the first one I have received. Member referrals are the best way to do missionary work. So, you should give the missionaries referrals if you trust them. It's important to have trust with the missionaries. I have been trying to talk with the memebrs in the branch here. Its hard, and I don't understand very much, but I understand more and more each day.

We taught our recent convert family this week. It was great! We were teaching them about temples and they asked some questions about other Christian churches and when they found out no one else has temples they were very uninterested. They also said that they are no longer Buddhists, but they are Christians which is really good. Thai culture and Buddhist culture seem to be very intertwined. I think it's a big challenge for members when they have to give up Buddhism. I had a cool experience when we were teaching the family yesterday and Sister Oy asked about Alma 7:6 and idol worship. I was able to help them understand, by turning to Mosiah 13:12. It's where Abinadi is giving the 10 commandments to King Noah. I didn't know the 10 commandments were also in the Book of Mormon until Brother Miles showed me one day in the MTC. So we cleared up Idol worship which was good. They didn't understand that the pictures of the Savior are to help us remember Him, not to worship Him. It really is such a testimony builder to see the willingness of the people to change. They are awesome! A lot of the younger branch members are doing great, and are working hard.

Yesterday I was blessed to see the baptism of two teenage girls who we had been teaching. Cat and Bee. They have both been learning for a while, even though their parents aren't the biggest fans of the church. But their families have seen the change that has come over their children, and they see that it has been for the better. This gospel truly is a gospel of becoming. We change from what we used to be--the natural man. We go through the refiner's fire to become who God needs us to be. Steel is made from ore through heat. Fine steel is made with more heat. The harder the challenges, or the more we have to sacrifice, the more we submit our will to the Father's will. When that occurs, the finer we become. We grow into the children He wants us and needs us to be.

One of the things I realized during a hard time this week is that in the end, everyone has their own agency. Investigators choose to accept or reject the gospel. Companions can work with the spirit or not. Sometimes, the choices made by others do affect us. But we shouldn't sit back and wait for them to figure things out before acting ourselves. We need to be proactive, and do something. We can choose for oursleves, and oursleves only. But we can try and influence those around us for the better. Don't let others' choices affect you negatively. Choose to be happy. "Choose ye this day whom you will serve." Joshua 24:15!

I was reading in Alma 43:18-21 today. I think it is so interesting to see that the Nephites are concerned about protection. They prepare with armour. The Lamanites prepare with weapons. They are all about destruction. In this great conflict, those of us on the Lord's side are not the ones on the offensive.

This week I went on exchanges in Mahasarakham. It was fun. Except we were late to our appointments. I'm going on another exchange today actually down to Khon Khaen with the Zone Leaders. I don't know what to expect.

John, bringing that sleeping bag was a good call.

All is well here. I love you all very much, and you're always in my prayers. Its weird, yesterday was Nate's 13th month mark! You'll see him soon! haha Have fun, be safe! I love your emails, and hearing from you all!

Elder Todd

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2nd Week in Thailand, First Baptism!

Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2011 21:19:55 -0700

What a week! So I finished my first week in Thailand, and its been quite an experience. It's been hard, but I'm glad. It's under adverse conditions that we grow. As weird as it sounds, I kind of look forward to hard times, (even though when they come they aren't the funnest), because I know that when the difficulties pass, there will be somthing that is so rewarding. It makes the hard times absolutely worth it!

I had my first baptism on Saturday! Can you believe it?? A man named Sxxb, his wife Oy, and their daughter Nam Wan were all baptized. It was so cool to see a family get baptized! Everyone says those are the best, because families will stick with church moreso than when a single person is baptized. It was really good to see that happen. Seeing a family baptized really built my faith that the Lord is preparing people to receive His message. Now, I have to find them. It's amazing to see the sacrifice of the people. In Thailand, Sunday is no different from other days. Eveyone works on Sunday because they need the money. But Sxxb and Oy gave it up! It's so awesome!

I have eaten some interesting things this week. Well, just one I guess. We had noodles and there was pig intestine in the soup. It was weird to eat, and not the tastiest thing by any means! But it was a good experience. The food here is really good, really spicy though out in the Easaan. There is this stuff that I should be eating soon, Somtam I think. It's papaya salad, but apparently it's brutaly spicy! I'm really excited for that!

The work here is good. There have been around 380 baptisms in our mission since January, which is great. But there is a downside. While membership has increased, attendance has decreased. Its really sad to see actually. As we teach, we have been making sure that our investigators know that the covenants made at baptism are covenants that will last for time and all eternity. It's not just something that is done for 4 or 5 years.

We spend most of our time tracting. It's hard, and not very effective. Even President Hinckley said it. There's a quote is in the 'Finding People' chapter of Preach My Gospel about working with members, I think. He says that the most effective way to do missionary work is to get member referrals! So, if you have any, and you feel that the missionaries will treat those who you have in mind well, give them out! Don't allow your friends to procrastinate the day of their repentance.

We have 5 more people with baptismal dates. A 17 year-old named Cat, and her friend B are getting baptized on Sunday! It was going to be on Saturday, but Cat wanted to change the date so her mother would attend. That's actually really great, because her mother has been very opposed to us teaching her and opposed to the church. She only let us teach her daughter because we are required to teach minors in their parents' homes. Hopefully her mom sees that there is good in the church and decides to investigate for herself!

The next three baptisms we have are scheduled for a week from Sunday- a grandma and her two grandchildren. They have all made a lot of progress but mostly the fourteen year-old. Its great! The people here are so great! They are very different from me in many ways, but they are all children of a loving Father in Heaven, just as I am.

The members are awesome too! The Branch President here is so great! He sacrifices so much to help us do missionary work. Last night he drove us an hour and-a-half to an appointment. I felt bad about it, but he was happy to help us.

The work is hard, but there is nothing that feels better than walking into our house when I'm tired. Just feeling tired feels so good! I love working hard. I have found that I always had that desire in me, but now, I'm figuring out how to turn that desire into action. I'm learning that we all need to act. This is not a gospel of being acted upon. The Lord needs for us to start and act first.

I'm still not used to people driving on the wrong side of the road here. It baffles me. And there are also these trucks that drive around with huge speakers and they play messages. I don't know what they are saying, but it's interesting. There are no noise regulations here either, so people can just turn up their music as loud as they want.

Okay, so one last thing. I've been reading the Book of Mormon and I have absolutely fallen in love with it. It's my favorite possession that I own, and I never let it out of my sight. I really mean that. It is always with me. As I was reading First Nephi Chapter 8, I came across something interesting that I want you all to think about this week. In verese 24 it talks about people who cling to the rod. Read what happens to them. Then read verse 30 about the people who continually hold to the rod. Ask yourself, 'Do I catch hold of the rod and cling to it in hard times? Then when things get easy, do I let go and wander off?" OR-
"Do I continually hold to the word of God, feasting upon the words of eternal life each and evey day? Do I look to God in everything that I do, knowing that through Him, all things are possible?" Please continually hold to the rod. I love you all so much, and I want this for you.

All is well here. The work is hard, but I love it. I love you all so very much. You're the best family anyone could ever be blessed with. Never forget how much the Lord has blessed us with.

Love, Elder Todd