Sunday, June 24, 2012

Teaching English and Riding in the Rain

Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2012 

Hey Family!
How are you all doing? Isn't life just fantastic? I don't think that I ever imagined being as tired as I am, or as happy as I am. It really is amazing how fulfilling this work is. It's weird-- one week from today we will be in Chiang Mai meeting President Senior. It will be interesting to see the leadership change. But, just like all things in the church, we will support the new President. It's cool because unlike elections, we don't choose. God chooses. Through His omniscience, he chooses who will lead His church. Then, by common consent, we get to support the chosen leader and it works. It really is pretty cool if you think about it.
This last week was a solid week. Our investigators are doing well. Leck is still looking solid for his baptism date on the 28th.  He just needs to start coming to church. He really likes the things that we are sharing with him, and It's so cool to see the spirit working with him, opening the eyes of his understanding to know of the truthfulness of the gospel.  He is reading and the branch president LOVES him. I'm still not sure why. But it's good. 

Then there's Naen. She is still good. She is still coming to church, reading and praying daily. She said she got her answer about baptism, but is going to talk to us more about it tomorrow night after English class. So please keep her in your prayers that she will get baptized! 

Unfortunatley,  we had to do some cleaning of our area book. We had to move on from people who weren't willing to make or keep commitments. But we found some really good people to teach. Yui, the girl from English last week who changed her mind, is doing well. We are teaching her again tonight. Then there was a new lady who showed up to English last week. Her name is Fone. She seems like she is going to be way solid. She is willing to drive like 25 kilos to come learn at the church. Sacrifice truly brings forth blessings.  Then we had some members bring some friends to church yesterday. That was really sweet. Things here are so good!
Another great experience-- the other day we were biking to an appointment, and it started POURING! The rain here is amazing. People are always surprised that we will go out in the rain. Thai people are all so afraid of getting sick, and getting wet.
We had a really good lesson with our recent convert T. We were talking a little about prophets with him. He was saying that he knew that prophets were God's representatives on the earth, but after reading President Monson's words he said to us, "I think that they have to have power greater than any man." 
We responded yes. Then the story of Nephi and the sealing power from Helaman popped into my head. So we read Helaman 10:6-7 with him. He loved it! He was also asking about infant baptism. He used to be Catholic. So we read in Moroni 8 with him. 
Then I said, "Do you think that God would hold an infant who just came out of their mom's stomach, who can't speak, or understand anything, accountable to sin?"
His eyes lit up, and he started laughing and said, "Thats ridiculous! Why would a child like that be held accountable."   
It was amazing to feel those words just come out of my mouth as I opened it in faith, not knowing exactly what I was going to say.
We were also able to do a lot of teaching about the atonement. A lot of time we just teach from Alma 7:11-13, which is great. But this week, I have started to use some verses that really are powerful to me. In Mosiah 14:4-5 "Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he wqas wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." That last line, "with his stripes we are healed" is a line that holds so much power to me. I don't know why, but I can't think of that line without my soul being stirred. Without knowing, that that line is 100% true. I know that Jesus Christ truly is our Savior. And because He descended beneath all things, He alone was able to conquer all things. Never forget Him. Do not look past the mark. For this, thanks be to God.
I love you all so much. Please keep our investiagtors and the Thai poeple in your prayers.
Elder Todd

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Teaching in Chiang Rai

Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 


How are you all doing? This week was a really good week. The Lord really เทพร, poured out blessings upon us. It felt really good.

Tuesday actually started off slowly. We had some appointments no show on us,  which really was a bummer.  One of them was MaBrang and she isn't learning anymore. Her friend who referred her said she was mostly interested in BYU-Hawaii, so that was disappointing.  But then went on to English class. We had a bunch of new people show up to class. We do splits with the members and then Elder Haughton teaches English and I teach a short introductory lesson to the new people. So I was able to teach three lessons from that. It was really good. One of the ladies we taught said she wasn't interested, but then when we shared a spirtual thought about the resurrection, she changed her mind and said she wanted to learn. We also found this other guy, Leck. He is 20 and wants the whole world to repent. He has a baptismal date for the 28th of July.  That was really a tender mercy to be able to teach him. 

On Wednesday, we had the Zone Leaders come up to teach District Meeting. The meeting was all about our purpose and how we need to fulfill it. The ZL's taught the importance of having love for everyone. It was really good. I really just learned a lot about having more charity. Then Elder Wagstaff and I went out to work. It's cool I got to work with him one last time before he will จบ(cob) his mission. We had a good time, we went and taught our investigator Bird. He is doing really well, and loves coming to church! He listens too which is good for a 10-year old. He said he wants to be a missionary too along with his friend Bank. We also went out to teach Bow and Jaa at Mae Fah Luang University. They were doing alright. They aren't putting a whole lot of effort into coming to church. But they just need time. 

On Thursday we had a really good lesson with Naen. She is doing very well. We taught her about keeping the Sabbath holy and how it would be good if she didn't work on Sundays.  She said it'll be hard because no one gets Sundays off at her workplace.  But Like Nephi promises, God will prepare a way. It's all about having the faith sufficient to obey God, even if it requires miracles. We gave her Ether 12 to read, and she loved it. That is my favorite chapter in the scriptures on faith. I read it in the MTC and it really established a good foundation for my entire mission. I LOVE it. 

Naen called us up to tell us she loved it too--especially verse 27. "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weaknesses. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me: for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." That verse really is amazing if we think about it. If we ponder on how weak we really are and how we rely upon God for everything, we are forced to stay humble and always remember Him. We must remember our God day and night and always do what He would have us do. Naen still hasn't had a chance to talk with her boss, but please keep her in your prayers, along with Bird, and Leck, and Ice. Ice is being difficult. No one can get a hold of him. So we'll see what happens there.

One other thing that I was thinking about this morning was repentance. What a great principle it is. It lies at the core of missionary work. Having faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ sufficient enough to repent is essential. Really believing that there is a balm of Gilead is huge. That there is a way for us to be healed from our sins is beyond description.   

I love Alma 29. "O that I was an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!  Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of he earth." 

We all have the responsiblitity to help our friends neighbors, family members, and co-workers repent and come unto Christ with broken hearts and contrite spirits and be saved. I know that this gospel is true. This is the Lord's kingdom on the earth. And it will fulfill its divinely mandated destiny. 

I love you all. I am grateful for repentance that is possible for the sacrifice of the Savior.  For that, thanks be to God. 

Elder Todd

Sunday, June 10, 2012

T's Baptism, Riding Elephants & Elder Gudmundson

Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2012 12:15:30 +0700

Hey Everybody!

How are you? Hope everyone is doing great.

First of all,  this week ended well. We were blessed to bring another child of God into the fold through the sacred ordinances of baptism and confirmation. It was a really sweet experience to be able to baptize T.  His real name A Ja YeBiang. He was so happy after he was baptized. We always have the investigators get up and share their testimony before the Bishop welcomes them to the ward. His was really good.  The best part was at the end when he looked at our investiagtor named Ice, and said something along the lines of, "Get baptized no matter what!" It was really good! He is going to be a really good member too. 

In addition to the baptism, this week was a really solid week.  We were able to get some really good new investigators. First of all, we are teaching Ice. He is from the hill tribes around here. His is the Lisu tribe. He has learned the gospel before, but stopped progressing because he couldn't go to church. Now, however, he want's to get baptized and is doing his best to get Sundays off. Please pray for him. He really wants to be baptized.  He knows that the church is true.

Our other investigator is MaaBraang. She is a singer actually. She is a member referral. Yesterday she got called into work and said she couldn't make it becasue she was going to stay at church! It was really good! Really cool. Then we were teaching her after church, and we asked her if she believes God is there. She responded with the following experience:

 She was leaving to come to church yesterday morning. It takes her a while to get there, but she wanted to get there early. So as she was driving she prayed in her heart that she could make it. She said for the first time in her life every single light was green. She said that she knew that God answered her prayers. That he lived. Then we committed her to baptism on July 14! She was really excited and so were her friends. The Lord is really blessing us. Thanks be to God. 

One thing that I have been doing lately as I write in my journal is to always conclude by writing down something that the Lord blessed us with that day. This has enabled me to notice His hand more in my life, and it has given me much more for which to be grateful. I encourage you all to thank Him for everything that we have. For without God, we are nothing. We are less than the dust of the earth. I know that the more we show our gratitude to our Father, the more we will see His hand working for us in our lives. I've seen it myself. I promise that He is there, only a prayer away. He is just waiting to open the windows of heaven.

So, another thing I've been pondering this week has been the concepts of progression and patience. I re-read some of my favorite scriptures on this subject and I want to share them with you.

Doctrince and Covenants 93:12-14,21
"12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fullness at the first, but received grace for grace;

 13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
 14 And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
 20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of hisfulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace."
I love these scriptures because Jesus didn't receive everything at first. He continued from grace to grace. And it's for that reason He was called the Son of God.  And if we will be patient, and continue from grace to grace, we also will recieve a fulness.
Just remember to be patient in all things, and to be humble and put our trust in God. I know that doing so will bring forth the blessings of heaven.
I love you all! Stay faithful and true!
Elder Todd
P.S. Oh,  one more cool thing.  Yesterday at church, there were three girls who showed up.  They were from mainland China and had gotten baptized in Hawaii.  They're now in school at Mae Fa Luang University in Chiang Rai.  Also, there was a guy that came who served his mission in the Toronto, Persian speaking mission. So, at one church service, we got to hear English, Thai, Chinese, and Persian! All the members were saying that it was an international branch. Way cool.  I love this gospel.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June in Chiang Rai

Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2012 
Subject: June already! Wow.



How are you all doing? Things here are great! The Lord truly blessed us a ton this week, and I mean a ton. So, first of all. As I have started my new study in Preach My Gospel, I have realized that there is no point in studying if I don't apply what I learn. The same is true for investigators, and for members alike. For all of you, if in your personal studies, you don't apply the principles that you learn, if we don't follow the inspiration that we recieve, then our studies have no effect, and we aren't showing the Lord that we value the greater light and knowledge that He so freely gives us. In retrospect, it's probably one of the biggest lessons that I have learned from my first year as a missionary. It's a great lesson, and one that I will remember throughought my life.

One interesting thing that happened this week occured as we were waiting to meet a member to go to a teaching appointment. This white man walked by, and we said hello to him. Most of the time people give us a dirty look or they just ignore us. But this guy got a big smile on his face and came over and started talking to us. He was from Norway! I told him that my brother-in-law was of Norwegien descent, and said that his mother's last name was Langeland. He corrected me on the pronunciation in Norweigian, (sorry John I butchered it), but he was nice. He asked us what we were doing here so we told him that we were missionaries. Then when he found out where we were from he proceeded to ask us how many wives we had. Yeah, we still get that even in Asia. But we talked to him about how we don't do that and he was surprised. He seemeed interested to learn more, but was heading home soon. So I gave him one of the two English pass along cards I had with the Salt Lake Temple on the front. He was very interested in the temple and said he'd go learn more!  I only hope that good things happen with him! It's just important to be missionaries always. 

I love Alma 6:6. "Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God."  It's a great scripture for all of us, reminding us that we need to always be looking for missionary opportunities. So I hope that you all look for opportunites to share this glorious message. 

I'll illustrate this with what happened at church yesterday. We were expecting 2 maybe 3 investigators to show up at church. Well, we were blessed greatly by the Lord. We had 3 members bring 5 friends-- all referrals that they had given to us! They alll came to church and we were able to teach them the Gospel after church! One of them is a singer, one is a 10 year-old little boy, and the other 3 are college students. So we got a good mix, and the best news is that they are all interested to learn more about the gospel. They all seem interested that our church is different from other Christian religions. I'm just grateful that we have the unique message of the restoration of the gospel at our center. It's so great to be able to share the truth with them.  In the end, we expected 2 investiagtors at church  but that number turned into 7! 
I echo what Elder Nelson said last conference "Thanks be to God." I have been so grateful to Him this week. 

This week started off rough. We weren't having a lot of success. We were getting frustrated. But I was humbled. I read Mosiah 3:19 and realized that I really did need to put off the natural man and better submit to the Father's will. The last line about submitting as a child submitteth to the will of his father has really been in my mind this week. Humility is something that I'm learning and I'm learning it well. I feel that the more I have reconciled myself to submit to the will of God, the more the blessings have come. 

Let me tell you of one. Last week, we picked up a former investigator named T. Well, he had some concerns about Joseph Smith and whether he really even lived on the earth. He had a concern that his family wanted him to be baptized Catholic. But he knew the truth. So, we tried to get an appointment with him on Saturday. He said he wasn't free but  we could try calling back if we wanted. Well, we called. He said he could see us. So we went to the church to see him. Our member we had called to help us wasn't there, he had forgotten. But another member was there. Sister Gay. So we asked her if she could help us. We had planned to watch a DVD that would help him understand the restoration. He said he had already seen it a couple of times.  So instead, and following the spirit, we began to talk about the restoration. We talked about it for about an hour. We talked about all of the things that have happend as a result of the restoration. I talked about how I had wondered myself about Joseph Smith, but how I had come to know the truth. The spirit was there  and it was so strong! I watched as his breathing started getting heavier.  His heart started going faster and it was as if I could actually see the Spirit swelling within his breast. He then said he wanted to be baptized! So we committed him for Saturday the 9th. He accepted! I cannot thank the Lord enough for that blessing. I know that the Lord had been working with him. So please keep T in your prayers this week. 

Well that's all I have today! Thank you for praying that we will get new gators(investigators). They have been answered. I know that the Lord's hand is in this work. It's His work, His church, His Kingdom. 

I love you all!

Love Elder Todd

Forward in Faith

Zone Conference in Chiang Rai

This was the last Zone Conference Elder Todd will have with President and Sister Smith.  They are "Cobbing" at the end of the month.  The Thailand Bangkok Mission will then be turned over to President and Sister Senior.  One of the Thailand Missionary traditions is to have your president cut off your time as you get ready to go home or "cob."  Since Pres. Smith won't get the chance to sent these current missionaries home, he wanted them to each enjoy the tradition with he and Sister Smith, even if it's early.  So at the end of Zone Conference meetings, they all got a little snip!

Elder Todd is a Trainer in Chiang Rai!

Date: Mon, 28 May 2012 12:15:36

Hey Everyone!

Well, first things first. I got my new companion and he is new to Thailand. He just got here from the MTC on Tuesday afternoon! Its way fun. I was just doing nightly phone calls with the Zone Leaders and then President Smith beeped in and assigned me to train. So here I am! Elder Tolman and Elder Heap are also training! So half of my MTC group is training now! It's fun, but makes me feel old. haha.

 My new companion is Elder Haughton from Apple Valley California. He is really good! He is willing to speak the language, and he wants to work hard! So we are really making some good plans to help this area really grow! We still get to do a lot of tracting, but hey, we show our faith to the Lord as we tract. 

The training is good, but with this new program we have an extra hour of companionship study each day.  Plus, instead of 30 miniutes language study, we get and hour. My group was the first group to go through it, so now we get to experience the other end of it. Way crazy! 

Well, about our investigators. This week, the day before heading down to transfers Elder Susi and I were out tracting and just not having any luck. Then, we came to this one house. The man let us in. He said he was Chrsitian and Buddhist (I don't know how) but he let us in. As we were talking to him, I had the strongest feeling to talk to him about baptism. So we did, then I had the strongest feeling to extend to him the soft baptismal commitment, (When you come to know these things are true will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?) But as I was extedning that commitment, the feeling changed to just striaght up, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?"   He said, "Yes."  Then we gave him a date. June 24. Hopefully he can make that date! His name is Tirasak. Please keep him in oyur prayers that he will accept this message. 

Our next progressing investigator is Naen. She is a non-member referral. She is Catholic, yeah Chiang Rai has a lot of Christian people. Anyway, she has come to church the last 4 Sundays. But she isn't quite sure about being baptized again.(Catholic). So we gave her 3 Nephi 11 to read. Then the next lesson we reviewed it. We talked about how it was the way that the Savior has said baptism must be done. She then said she is begining to understand. She said it makes sense, because so many religions teach baptism, but not the same way, and they don't teach the same message! Way sweet! The Spirit of the Lord was working with her. She is really starting to progress well. Plese pray for her as well. 

This week, I got the quad you sent in the mail. Thanks mom. I'm really excited because I have started reading it. Not cover to cover. But I am going through Preach My Gospel, and reading and marking EVERY scripture mentioned. I'm marking it even if it's referenced in the previous section. President Smtih said he did it as a missionary in Hong Kong, It took him over a year, but it took him through almost all of the standard works. It's been really cool and neat so far. If any of you are struggling with your study of the scriptures, or are looking for a way to improve it, I would suggest this study technique.  I'm liking it.

So we went down to Bangkok, and we got to the Chaengwattana Church, and I realized that I had left my camera on the bus. I immediately called the bus company, but as it was about 5:30 in the morning, no one was there. I thought back to Gene R. Cook's talk on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that I had read the night before. In that talk, he tells the story of having his briefcase stolen, and how his scriptures had been in the briefcase.  He didn't get them back for several months. I started thinking that I wouldn't get my camera back. I was praying and kept calling the bus office. Nothing. Then 8.00 came around. I had to go into a meeting. I was in meetings until noon.  Still nothing. I was beginning to think that I wasn't going to see my camera again. Then, as we were studying, I felt the impression, call the company. So I did. They had my camera! I am so grateful that I was able to recover it and get it back, that no one stole it. The Lord is truly looking over us. I love the words "Thanks be to God."

Well That's all from Chiang Rai! I love you all and hope you are all safe and doing well! Life is good! 

Forard in Faith!

Elder Todd
The Photos below:
FHE in Chiang Rai
and Members seeing us off at the bus station.