Sunday, May 20, 2012

Top of Chiang Rai

Date: Mon, 21 May 2012 

Hey! How are you all?

I'm super tired. Elder Susi and I got up at two this morning so that we could go out to this mountain called Phu Chi Fa to see the sunrise. The members say it's great, and I have heard it's a must if you're serving in Chiang Rai. So we went. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the sunrise. We were up in a cloud at the summit. 

But there was a quick moment when the clouds parted, and we could see down into Laos. It looked so beautiful! It was interesting. As we hiked to the summit through the clouds, we couldn't see a whole lot. Every now and again, the wind would blow the clouds away just long enough to give us a glimpse towards the top. I thought about it as we climbed. Often in life we don't clearly see the top, or the end goal. There are mists and clouds that obscure us. Somtimes mists of darkness, but other times mists that seem comparable to the veil. And every now and then, through His infinite grace and mercy, our loving Father in Heaven parts the mists enough for us to catch a glimpse of the top. To catch a glimpse of our full potential. The mountains were so beautiful, green and lush. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to serve in such a wonderful place. 

The work this week was good! We were blessed with a lot of success. We have been doing a lot of tracting. It's actually really becoming enjoyable as odd as that may sound. I just think that it is so interesting to talk with all of these people, some of them have really interesting stories. Take this guy we found, for example. His name is Sit. We were just tracting.  It was our first home of the day.  We came to his door and he just lets us in. We started talking to him about prayer and how it is the process of communicating with Heavenly Father. 

To put things into perspective, we asked him if he knew any one far away. He said yes, that his family was in China. We asked him when was the last time he had talked to them. Then he started to tear up. He told us that about twenty years ago, he was forced to leave his family in China, and that he really misses them, and wonders if he can see them again. 

It's times like that that I rejoice in the perfect Plan of Happiness, which was prepared for us! For all of us, individually, and collectively! Think about that! That's the message we bring.  We are here to help God's sons and daughters understand their purpose in this life and their potential in the life to come.  Because of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice, we can all become perfect. How much wisdom is in that plan?? I am so grateful for the knowledge of this gospel. 

We did have two investigators say no to baptism, but it's good. It was only the second lesson. I say it's good, because President Smith told me that when we have investigators say no at first, it's good because often times they will voice their concerns at that point. These two did. They wondered mostly about keeping the Sabbath day holy.  It was only their second lesson, but it's so important to figure out their concerns early. 

It's great the way Preach My Gospel has us work. This week, district meeting was on chapter 4 in Preach MY Gospel. It's all about making our prayers more meaningful. That's something that President Smith has been asking the mission--"how do we make our prayers meaningful?" He talked about the importance of kneeling. I remember when I learned the importance of kneeling. I was reading the Screwtape Letters, you know that book by C.S.Lewis. In it, Wormwood and Screwtape talk about how if they can get people not to kneel, then it affects their prayers. 

I hope you're all kneeling morning and night, thanking and petitioning God each day. If you want to imporove your prayers, I suggest that you do the prayer evaluation activity in Preach My Gospel Ch 4.

Thank you so  much for all of your love and support! You're the best!
Elder Todd
Forward in Faith

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finding people in Chiang Rai

Date: Mon, 7 May 2012 09:39:48 


Hey Again!
I feel like I just emailed you yesterday. It's crazy how fast the time is flying! 

Things are getting rainy here in Thailand! It's rained for the last few days here, but things are still going along. I'm doing great and am absolutely loving being here. The reason why I am emailing you a little early today is because we have to go down to Chiang Mai today to interview with President Smith. Tomorrow is his last zone conference. It's actually pretty sad to think that he is going home. But I'm sure President and Sister Senior will be just fantastic!

   So this last week was really good! One really interesting thing happened on Tuesday. Actually, it was just kind of a crazy day in general. But we were out tracting, and we were at the front of this one house.  This little boy saunters over to me and just stares up at me. I say hello and he asks what were doing, if he could do it too and get paid. I told him we don't get money--our service is all volunteer. He then proceeds to tell us about how he could see ghosts. It was actually pretty funny, he is from Austrailia and speaks English and Thai (his mom is Thai, his Dad from England).  Anyway, It was just really interesting having him talking to us about how he could see ghosts because he took green slobber from a black dog, and rubbed it on his eyes.

   But apart from that crazy moment, Tuesday was a really great day. We found this one guy, who got in a car accident about 5 months ago. He is trying to find a religion for himself. He just quit being a Buddhist monk. About Buddhism, he said, "it doens't make any sense." In Buddhism your sins are always with you. You just try to do good, and by doing good, "Tham Boon" you offset your sin. 

We then explained to him how the miracle of the Atonement works--that through Jesus Christ's infinite sacrifice, all sin that may be upon us at this time can be taken away through His divine grace and by  obedience to the laws and principles of the Gospel. The Atonement really is so amazing if we all think about it. It is such an awesome gift that has been given to each of us that we are able to repent, and recieve and retain a remission of our sins. I love that we can retain a remission of our sins. I love the quote by President Howard W. Hunter in Preach MY Gospel  at the end of chapter one. I callenge you all to read that.

   Then one other really cool thing happened this week.  We found a way sweet investigator. Well, more accurately, she found us. She has been coming to English class and she asked us if she could learn about the message of Jesus Christ. So, of course we said yes! She is really good, and really nice. She works at Sizzler. Yeah, they have Sizzlers ALL over in Thailand. (Sizzler makes me think of how Cate always wanted to go there when she was younger, according to my recollection).  Anyway, this new investigator is really good. And she is really interested. She even brought a friend to church yesterday! It was was sweet! 

English class is a really good way to find people to teach, because it allows them to come to the church in a non threatening way. They come to learn English for free, and they get more than that. They get a gospel message each lesson. Our purpose isn't to be Englsih teachers, but to find people to teach, baptize and prepare them for the temple.  The end goal is for people to enter into Gods presence permanently after this life.

I love you all. And I hope all is well! Take care, Be safe!
Forward in Faith!
Elder Todd

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chiang Rai Lockout

Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2012 11:49:19

Hey everyone!

How are you all doing? Things up here in Chiang Rai are just fantastic. 

Last week, on preparation day, Elder Susi and I had an interesting thing happen to us. We got locked out of our house. We didn't have the key to open the front door, but we did have the key to open the door on our balcony. It would be really helpful for you if I had a picture of our house, but I don't-- sorry!  Anyway,  we had to climb up on the balcony to get into our house. I'm sure if any of our neighbors would have seen us,  they would have been very confused by what we were doing. They would have wondered why there were two guys in white shirts climbing up to the balcony. Yeah, that was a fun experience. 

I want to thank you all for your prayers for us and for Chiang Rai this past week. They have been heard, and answered. We were able to find a lot of new people to teach this week.

On Tuesday, we had some really good tracting planned in this neighborhood. We got into the neighborhood and started going door to door, just like normal. The people were saying no to us, because they were Islam. It was nuts! There were so many people there from Pakistan. But there is this way good Islamic treat. Its called a Rotii. It's just delicious. It's deep fried, so not good for us at all, but they're so good! Anyone who served in Thailand should know what I'm talking about. But it was way weird, to see a mosque in the middle of the neighborhood in Buddhist Thailand. We did find this new investigator, Mo. He is interested inthe Book of Mormon and wants to learn more! So that was good!

Then Wednesday was a good day. We didn't get into a lot of houses to teach, but we did do a lot of work just hitting the pavement. Showing our faith to the Lord is preparing people here for us.

Then Thursday Morning the Zone Leaders came to exchange with us. We had district meeting which was on following the promptings of the spirit. We focused on Chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel--relying on the spirit. 

After our meeting, we did exchanges. Elder Susi went with Elder Wagstaff, and I went with Elder Merrel. It was really good! Elder Merrel and I had coordination meeting with our branch president who is also the branch mission leader. 

We didn't have bikes, so we had to walk to his house. It was way way way hot! When we would find ourselves standing in one place for a second too long, our shoes started sticking to the pavement! And also, the zone leaders were told that it's so hot that in some places that birds would land on the pavement and spontaneously combust! Crazy stuff!

That's when Sister Smith gave the new mission rule that every missionary MUST drink 2 liters of plain water a day. No compromises. But good. 

So Elder Merrel and I were just tracting our way to the branch president's house. It was cool. You meet a lot of really interesting people just tracting. People who are just sitting outside, and yet saying they have no time. People washing their car.  People skinning frogs to cook them. Just all sorts of people. 

At the end of the night it was about 7:30, and Elder Merrel and I were pretty hungry as we hadn't eaten since about noon and had been walking everywhere. So we were looking for someplace to eat and there was this little girl and her dad outside their restaurant. We stopped by to talk to them.  We ended up eating there and teaching them. It was a family of three with an 8 year old daughter! They were way sweet! Their names are Chinakorn, Phorn, and Iff. The wife, Phorn  was way good. She was saying that she doen't like how a lot of parents leave thier children with the grandparents out in the provinces, and the parents go work in Bangkok.  That is actually pretty common here.  She said it's important for families to stay together! That it's important for husbands and wives to raise their children! I know that the Lord was preparing this family for us. The more I am here the more I am amazed at the forknowledge of God some people have. He truly is omniscient. He knows exactly how things will happen. It's just our job as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to conform to His will, and accept the Father and accept Jesus Chirst as our Savior.

Friday was an interesting day. It was hard. We got ignored and rejected quite a bit. We actually ran into a Thai man who had lived in America and spoke English very well. He started talking to us and challenging us about how we thought that only white people could go to heaven, and a ton of things that just aren't true of the church at all. He tried to bible bash with us. But we just left. That experience really helped me to feel the power of the atonement. When we are reviled, and made a hiss and a byword, we have every right to stand tall, and to know that we stand with the Savior. We can find comfrot in the fact that He knows exactly what we are experiecneing and that He will succor us. I know He lives. And I know that He is here for us always. No matter what. We can always be strengthened by Hm, and his infinite atonement.

Well, I love you all so much! than
ks for all you your prayers and love. Please keep our investigators in your prayers. Especially that family.

Elder Todd

Forward in Faith.

Chiang Rai

Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2012 11:55:15 

Hey Everyone! 

How are you all doing? I'm doing well up here in Chiang Rai. 

So Songkran is over, thank goodness. We were able to stay pretty dry from all the water this last week, but it was really hot!  Chiang Rai is a really interesting place. It feels really familiar too me; like a mix of San Diego, Arizona, Park City, and Sun Valley or something. It's really hard to explain, but it's great.

The work is kind of going a little slow. We don't have a whole lot of investigators, and we have been working really hard this last week to get out there and find people. One really important thing that I learned in Thon Buri is that no matter what we are doing, we need to constantly be finding those whom the Lord is preparing to recieve the gospel. No matter what, we have to talk to everyone. It is part of our purpose as missionaries, to "Invite others to come unto Christ..." And as we learn in cahpter 9 of Preach My Gospel, nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach. We can't help anyone repent and prepare for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation unless we have found them and begun to teach them! Finding is super important. 

We did a lot of tracting this week.  A lot of it. And we did teach a few people.  But for the most part we didn't have any luck. We're getting out and doing our best, pushing ourselves to contact that one extra person. I know that when we do that, we show our dedication. The Lord will see that we are commited to bringing souls unto Him, and then He will bless us with great success. We could sit inside and think of creative ways to find people all day, but when we are proactive and get out and work, going forward in fatih, that's when we really learn how we can find people.  It's the way we show that we are commited, dedicated servants of the Lord.

    This week, we had a special training in Chiang Mai. It was really good! Really good. It gave us another tool to use for finding, which is fantastic. It's actually somehting that Elder Wagstaff and I tried to do in Roi Et, but we weren't sure how. But In March President Smith called the assistants and had them put together a training on it. Family History!!! It's all about using that spirit of Elijiah. It's just like it says in D&C 110 
 13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious avision burst upon us; for bElijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
 14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
 15 To aturn the bhearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
 16 Therefore, the akeys of this bdispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful cday of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
This is so powerful, and true. In Preach My Gospel, Chapter 9, there are 2 pages devoted to finding investigators through family history.  It's given the most, and probably used the least in the world, at least in Thailand. But we talked and practiced how to invite using family history and it was really good! If anyone has any cool stories about any ancestors of ours, I would love to hear them so that I can share them with people we invite. 

Chiang Mai was a really cool place, but there are a lot of foreigners, or "farangs" as Thai people call them. It's the same in Chiang Rai too. People just come to vacation.  So there are a lot of farang places to eat.  Elder Susi loves the farang food. The Thai food here is really good. I keep hearing about this one dish, khaw soi. It's a northern dish, and I hear it's really good!  I'm way excited to try it. 

So yeah, this week was really just a lot of getting out and puonding pavement, trying to find people to teach  One of our investigators is really solid! Her name is A. She is so good! She would be getting baptized too, except she has to work on Sundays, and her boss won't give her time off. She said she has to wait until July until she can talk with her boss's boss at a conference. But she is willing to learn until then. She wants it too! it's way sweet. She wants to be baptized for her salvation! That's the way it should be. Please keep her in your prayers. Please keep Chiang Rai in your prayers too.  Pray that we may find those the Lord is preparing. 

Well,  I love you all so much! Thanks for eveything! Go forward in Faith!
Elder Todd