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