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