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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First Letter From Thailand!! He made it!

Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 21:15:58 -0700
Subject: Hello from the 101!

Hey Family!

SO, I'm in Thailand safe and sound. I'm in my first Area... Roi Et! It's a city about 6 to 8 hours away from Bangkok. It's in the eastern part of the country, but not that close to Laos and Cambodia. These first few days have been quite interesting. It's so weird to be so far away from home. It's weird to think that right now, I am half a world away from you. I'm trying to figure out how to set my watch from Utah time. It's 9:50 pm in Utah on Sunday right now. It's 10:50 AM here on Monday. We are 13 hours ahead of you.

Our house is nice. I feel very blessed. My trainer is Elder Ackerman (Super fruity smoothies.. its like Jamba Juice). He has been out about a year and a half. I think he said that he goes home in March. Thats really crazy that someone is going home that soon.

When I first stepped off of the airplane I thought, "wow this is hot." But then we stepped outside of the airport and I think all of us were soaked. It was pretty gross.
We got in about midnight on Tuesday and went straight to President Smith's house and went to bed. The next day we went to the office got our passports and stuff all taken care of and had intervies with President Smith. Then we did the "Dan Jones" where we had to go out with an older missionary and place a book of Mormon. We went to the Thai version of "the projects" basically, and we knocked some doors. They got slammed in our faces. I was actually really sruprised. But then we got into a door. We talked with a man for about 30 minutes. He talked about how he wanted to quit smoking and stuff. It was awesome!

Thursday we had transfer meeting. We were assigned our companions and then we waited around Bangkok for people to get their visas. There were some issues, but everything got worked out. We then left on a bus with our whole zone and went to our areas.

The area I'm in seems to be doing well! We have a family of three getting baptized this Saturday, then two girls scheduled for next Saturday and 3 more the following Saturday! How sweet is that? It really makes me happy, except we don't have any other investigators. So, we need to find some. I know that the Lord has prepared people here. We just need to find them.

It's been hard because Elder Ackerman has had a fever the last couple of days. But hopefully things are on the up and up! We went 'inviting' in a couple of neighborhoods yesterday. We talked to 3 people, but they didn't seem too interested. Bummer right? I keep hearing that referals are the best way. We are hoping to get one tonight.

Dogs are EVERYWHERE! Its disgusting. They are some of the ugliest dogs too. And if we get bitten, we have to get a rabies shot. We take 0 chances. So please pray that I'll never get bitten. Seriously.

Thailand is much different than I thought it would be. I still don't feel like I'm in Asia. I feel more like I'm in Arizona or California (somewhere HOT). The only difference is, I'm surrounded by Asians all speaking a different language. I guess it just goes to show that people around the world are pretty similar. We're all children of God. We all have some desire for guidance or religion. Sometimes, though, we just don't know where to find it. I feel like that's a lot of what I need to help people do here in Thailand.

Church yesterday was so great! I think that it's so amazing that the sacrament has the exact same meaning, no matter what langugae it's in, and no matter what country you're in when you partake of it. (Even if it is North Carolina, Jennifer and John). The branch here had 93 people in attendance yesterday! I feel like that's a pretty good number of people. It's really great to see the work of the Lord in action now. I'm sure that in these next 21 months, I will see many peoples' lives change for the better. And it's all because of the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to have that in our lives. The atonement is perhaps the greatest resource that we have. We can use it for ANYTHING. Christ is there, outside the door waiting for us to open the door, and let Him in.

Thank you so much for all of your emails! I have the best family in the world! Please feel free to send actual letters and not just emails. They're nice because then I can keep them with me. Letters in the mail take about 10 days to get here, and then they get sent from the office to our house every Wednesday. If you ever need to send a package, they go to the mission home and we pick them up at transfer meeting.

Well, I hope all is well! Jen and John, I am glad that you made it to North Carolina safely! Eat some Carolina BBQ for me please. Cate and Dave, enjoy your new place to live! Brookie and La, get ready for a busy year! FOCUS. Study hard. I know you will because you're Todds. Dad, I hope all is well with work, and I wish you the very best. Mom, I hope yw is better now that camp is over. Enjoy your time in Cali.

I love you all more than words can express! You're always in my prayers.


Elder Todd