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!