Sunday, July 29, 2012

Teaching, Training, Tracting--Chiang Rai

Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2012

Hey Everyone!

Can you believe that July is just about over? I am way bummed about it. But things are going well here. We had a good week. The mercies of the Lord were as evident as ever. 

One good experience happened on Monday night. We had just finished a lesson, teaching Ni, and we decided to go see a less-active member named Brother Thuan. So we went to his home. We sat down, and after praying we asked him how he was doing. He said that he had prayed the night before that we would come tomorrow. He said he was feeling tired and weak and was really struggling with everything. He asked for a blessing, and that I be the one to give it. It was an amazing experience. I just really felt like a mouthpiece for the Lord.  I know that the words coming out of my mouth were not my own, but were coming from above.  

I've had the opportunity on my mission many times to give people blessings and to use the priesthood to help others. I would say that those are some of the most powerful spiritual moments on my mission. The spirit is such an amazing feeling. 

This morning Elder Haughton and I were reading in Helaman chapter 5, about the Lamanites feeling the Spirit and allowing themselves to be converted. I love verse 47, "Peace, peace be unto you because of your fatih in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world." 

Peace. That's the message that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings. The promise of "Peace in this life, and eternal life in the world to come." And that's what the Spirit of the Lord brings to me. Peaceful easy feelings. One thing that I talked about with Elder Thompson last week when we were on exchanges, was finding out what the Lord want's me to do in Chiang Rai, with the branch, my companion, just finding the Lord's will through prayer and scripture study. I challenge you all to do that too; find out what the Lord needs of you. Then consecrate yourself to Him.

We have two new investigators this week. One is Ti from English class. She didn't seem super interested during the time we were teaching her, but she seemed like she wanted to learn  more after class. So, we'll see about that. She works at an internet cafe and is free after 6 always. Then we had a member who has been giving us referrals for a while, but none who we could really teach a whole lot.  Well, she called us the other night and said, "I finally have a referral you can teach." The referral is her roommate who is in college at Mae Fa Luang. She's named Ploi. She is good. We're going to see her tonight, so we'll see how things turn out. Mae Fa Luang is a beautiful campus. Elder Wagstaff and I went to teach there and both felt like it was a college campus in the U.S.-- really nice and clean. So we'll see how willing Ploi is too. 

As for our other investigators, Form is doing well.  He was sick and had to leave church early, but he is really liking what we teach. He is a humble soft spoken guy, but teaches Kung Fu which I would never have expected from him. We've taught him just about everything except tithing. But he should be good on that. He has started praying morning and night and that's making a big difference form him.

Ice was reluctant to meet with us this week. It's rained almost ever day and Thai people hate the rain.  He didn't come to church so we'll have to push his baptism date back... again. I feel bad. The commitment needs to be something he does and that he is totally committed to. But we'll keep working with him. 

Ta slacked off on his reading this week because he was testing. But we helped him get back on track. One thing that we also hit hard with him was to kneel when praying. I believe that it makes all the difference. It helps us humble ourselves too. It's good and important. 

Things here are going well. Sorry this week is so short we're pressed on time. But I love you all! Stay strong. Pray and read your scriptures!

Elder Todd

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A great teaching week in Chiang Rai

Mon, 23 Jul 2012  


Isn't life so great? Things here are going well. Just as always, it's going really fast. I remember this time last year,  I got a letter from Nate while I was in the MTC. He had just finished his first year and he told me how fast it went. He told me that everyone says the second year goes even faster. I didn't think that could be true. But it is. We're here to make the most of our time and do the best that we can. 

This last week was a really solid week. One really special experience happened as we were leaving from e-mailing you last week. We paid the owner of the shop and then he asked us what we were doing. He thought we were students.  So we told him that we were missionaries. He seemed interested, so I asked if there was some time that we could share our message with him. He looked at his empty shop and said, "How about right now?"   So we did! We sat there and taught him. It was a good reminder to me that even though it was preparation day, that we are still on the Lord's time. There is no such thing as "my time" or "my day." It's all the Lord's. It was a blessing. And he is really good. His name is Joe. So That was awesome! 

Then we headed up in the evening to Mae Fa Luang University to teach Ja. It was a good lesson for her. It was about the plan of Salvation. Ja is very strict Buddhist now, but is interested in how the Plan of Salvation works. The reason it works is because of the Atonement. Really, the plan couldn't take place without Christ saying "Here am I, send me," and saying "Not my will, but thine." He is the perfect example in all things.

Then on Tuesday we were able to go teach Form. He is doing well.  He is going to church and progressing. He has a baptismal date for the 4th of August. So, please keep him and all of our invesigators in your prayers. We talked to him all about the Book of Mormon, and its importance. How we all need to know if it's true. I heard Joseph Fielding Smith (I think) say that no member of this church can find themselves approved before the judgement bar without a serious study of the Book of Mormon. Then also, at English class on Tuesday night we had a lady show up who was willing to let us teach her. Her name was Oi. She is good.  She liked the Restoration, and committed herself to read the Book of Mormon! So that was good!

Ta is doing well also. He had to move his baptismal date back to September because he is a minor and has to go to church for 3 months straight before baptism. But it's for the best. We have to make sure that they won't just disappear. We also tired to teach his parents, but they will not change. It's sad. To reject the ability to change in our lives is to reject the central doctrine of the plan of Salvation-- the Atonement of our Lord and Savior. Please, never forget Him, and what He did for us. 

Also we have Ice back. He got Sundays off from work! So now we're going to review everything with him, and help him come to church. His date is for the 11 of August. So that will be really good! He is funny.  We were following up on his reading and praying. I asked him if he prayed he said Everynightsometimes. He said it really fast, but we were just like, "come on Ice."   Then he said he would try to pray each morning and each night.  He's good though.

Then we have this new girl we found, well, refound. She was once taught, but we have no record for her. Her name is Ni. She lives in what Elder Haughton and I call, "Le Favella." It looks just like one, so yeah. She is doing well, and she came to church! She likes it and knows some of the members already! 

It's sad though.  She is my age and already has an almost 2 year old daughter, and no father. It breaks my heart to think that so many of God's children are born into these circumstances. But we have the gospel and we must be the watchmen for our brothers and sisters like we are told in Ezekiel 3:19 "Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul." That sounds fairly grim but we must remember to be the watchmen for our brethren because we love them. If we love our fellow men, we will raise the voice of warning for them. Be they member or non-member. 3:20 says, "Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered (not enduring to the end); but his blood will I require at thine hand." Love your fellow men enough to open your mouths and let the Lord fill them by His Spirit. I know that as we raise our voices of warning we will be found spotless at the last day.

We also did exchanges with the Zone Leaders this week. It was good! I was with Elder Thompson, he is friends with Zach Gardner from BYU. We had a good time.  He asked me really good questions and helped me to realize how I can better consecrate my performance and become a stronger servant of the Lord.

One other funny thing happened. We were sitting in a lesson yesterday and guess what happened to me? Yeah,  my classic bloody nose.  But the guy didn't even notice. We had to close it out. Lucky we were close to the church. But that was my first bloody nose in over a year! It's a record. 

Well, I love you all! Be safe, read, pray, seek the will of the Lord for you. Do your best.


Elder Todd

Loving the work in Chiang Rai

16 July 2012 
Hello from Chiang Rai!

How are you all doing? Things here are moving along for sure! I can't believe how fast this last week went. Really it's just amazing. I feel like I've been here not too long. I love it though. No matter how rough the week may go. It's growing. I'm really learning a lot. 

Last Monday started off like a good day. We got out and went looking for new investigators. We didn't have a whole lot of success, but we met some interesting people. That's the thing, when we go out contacting we always meet interesting people. It makes it fun. We met this helicopter pilot who flies for the Thai Air Force. He was a nice guy, and listened to what we had to say, but he said he was Buddhist. That was a bummer, but it happens. 

I remember I came into the mission expecting to baptize everyone we taught. But I've learned that it is such a sifting process to find those that will receive you and those who the Lord is preparing for His Gospel. He really is preparing people. Our investigators are doing well. Taa, he has to move his baptismal date back two months because he is a minor and his parents won't get baptized so he has to go to church for 3 months. But he is determined to be baptized. And he wants it. He comes to church and all the church activities. He loves it. 

Lek is doing all right. We have been very upfront about baptism with him, but he told us that he doesn't want to change religions.  He just wants to study our church and be baptized so he can be cleansed from his sins. So we're going to work with him to help him understand that he can and needs to change. 

Then we have a new investigator. Aping. She is solid. She is Christian but goes to a church called "Noah's Ark." Yes it looks like a big boat too. She said that at Noah's Ark, all they do is sing to praise God, then they go home. She came to church yesterday and really enjoyed it! She has some friends at church too so that's good!

We think Naen is well but we're not sure. We haven't been in contact with her. She went to Chiang Mai and we haven't heard from here since. 

We also have this other investigator, Form. He was a referral and teaches Kung Fu. He came to church yesterday. He said he affiliates with all religions, because they're all good. We just need to help him see that good without ordinances does not equal salvation. 

Oh, then we also taught our recent convert Brother T. He is doing so well! He is still progressing in the gospel loving the Liahona and the messages from the first presidency talk. He read an old conference Liahona at the church and liked a talk about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by Elder Pearson. That was a good talk. And he is already talking about going to the Hong Kong Temple. He knows that the temple is necessary for our salvation and want's it! 

One thing that I studied to help me more this week is charity. It's one of those Christlike attributes that we all need to develop. In our church we look to our Savior as our example, and He is. Our perfect example. As missionaries we invite investigators to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the authority of God. We as members need to look unto Him as an example for us always. Doubt not, fear not. I love the New Testament for it's account of our Lord. It's the good book. I'm grateful for it. I love the testimonies of Christ given by His apostles and disciples in it. I love in Acts 2 when Peter is testifying about the Savior, and his bearing testimony allows the Spirit to pierce the hearts of the hearers, and then they ask the question "Men and bretheren what shall we do?" and Peter's answer "Be baptized." Bearing testimony is a key element for us all. 

Well, here's one interesting experience from this week. We were riding our bikes, and pulling a u-turn around this median, I looked and didn't see any cars, I looked the other way for one second, and looked back as I was turning, and to my surprise a car had come out of no where, so I turned sharply, and fell off of my bike to avoid it.  What happened next was amazing.  I seemed to fall so slowly, then it was as if the instant I hit the ground I hit a trampoline and I was back on my feet that quickly. I believe that there was divine assistance there. But it reminded me to be a safe driver. So I'll do it!

Well, I love you, and I love this work. I'm grateful for letters I get and testimonies, even if they're from my friends who write them in different languages and I can't understand. I can feel the Spirit of you testimony.

Forward in Faith!

Elder Todd

Busy in Chiang Rai training Elder Haughton

Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2012 
Subject: 7 กรกฎาคม 2012
Hey How are you all?

This last week was the Fourth of July, which didn't really mean anything for us here. We did sing the Star Spangled banner at the outset of companionship study though. It is in the Hymn book, after all. 

It's really weird, I feel like I was just sitting here e-mailing you yesterday. Time is a fickle friend. It just goes too fast. And when we want it to slow down, it just speeds up! But our time is short. And we need to make the most of it. We need to do our absolute best every day, even if we may not see direct results from it. 

That's one thing that I have been thinking about here in Thailand, just really trying to give my best everyday. It's hard. Since I've been given the trust of training another missionary, I have noticed that I have a whole lot of things that I need to improve on. I remember Elder Wagstaff said to me that he learned so much from training Elder Tolman. It's true. Both trainer and trainee learn so much. That's something that I really have thought about my whole mission. 

In the 50th section of the Doctrine and Covenants verse 22 we read "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that recieveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." We learn from this revelation that when the Spirit of the Lord is with us, those who teach, and those who receive will both learn. If we as teachers think that we cannot learn from those we teach, or think we teach because we have such a great knowledge, then we need to look to Alma 5:28 which says, "Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God." 

Humility is a key attribute of disciples of the Lord. It's something that we as members of the church must emulate to help others see that we don't esteem ourselves above them because we are a chosen people of the Lord. Don't be like the Zoramites who fell into apostasy. But be willing to improve and always look for the ways in which we can. I'm not saying that you're apostate.  This is just what I have been reminded of this week.

Our investigators are doing well. First of all there is Leck. He is really excited to get baptized in August. He is still struggling coming to church because he has an apprenticeship with one of his professors at his technical college. But he said he only has one more Sunday left before he can come to church. Then after that he is determined to come forever. So that's really solid. 

Next, is our investigator Taa. He is doing well. His parents like us. His dad was really happy because apparently no other house in their village had ever had Americans go visit before. But more important than that, his dad has already read to Alma 58 in 1 Week! He does have some good spare time while he is waiting for his rice crops to grow. But it's good! Taa loves coming to church, and to church activities. He goes to them, even though he lives 23 Kilometers away from the city. He has a date for the beginning of August!

We haven't seen Nim since last Monday. That's been one challenge here in Chiang Rai. We can't seem to meet with our investigators more that once a week. It's making it hard for us to help them in their progression. Sometimes I feel like since we can only see them weekly, we have to give them a lot of information. But it's more important to teach them according to their needs. If anyone has any good ideas, please let me know! 

Naen is doing alright. She comes to church, but only for Sacrament meeting, then she has to go to work. I feel like that's really hindering her progress too. We're going to focus on her and how we can help her. We're thinking that she's just going to have to find a new job. So we'll see how that turns out. We're planning on going over the tree of life with her this week, and helping her to choose which side to be on. So that should be good.

We're also trying to do a lot of new finding ideas. Finding is something that's really important. And tracting, well we just aren't seeing a whole lot of success from it. So we're trying new ideas, even if they haven't been tried before. As with all tools, if we just use one over and over it will get dull. That's the same with tracting. We need to cycle through, to keep them as sharp as they can be.

Well, I love you all so much. Be safe and faithful!


Elder Todd

President and Sister Senior have arrived.

Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2012 11:45:31 

Hey Famiglia!

How are you all doing?

Well, yesterday it was a little weird for us to hear our mission president use the words, "Donde Esta." But President Senior is here. It was really impressive to meet with him yesterday. He met with our zone down in Chiang Mai. He seems really on top of things-- just on it. 
His Thai is already very good. I wonder if Japanese and Thai have similar grammar structures. His Japanese fluency seems to have really helped him.  He already speaks with a good accent. He hit on two verses in the Bible (which made me really happy since I have come to LOVE the Bible). 

The first was in Isaiah 64:4:
"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hatch the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."
Then he talked about what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:9 
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 
He then explained to us how most cameras now have at least 1 megapixels, but the human eye can see with over 500.  He talked about how Beethoven composed his 9th symphony with Ode to Joy when he was deaf. Then he talked about Mosiah 18:21 where it talks about having our hearts knit together with unity and love. He talked about the great things that are in store for us. (That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard.)
He also talked to us saying that we can't keep the commandments always. For example it is impossible for us to keep the Sabbath day holy on Tuesday. He was making the point that we need to be obedient during the time set apart for certain commandments. He talked about the privilege it is to live according to the standards in the missionary handbook. This is the only time when we get to, so make sure we do!  He had a lot of great things to say.

This last week was a good learning week for me. I experienced a really good lesson on Sunday. We were teaching a new investigator named Frame. We were teaching the restoration. I was using scriptures and trying to explain the doctrine and she wasn't getting it. She was confused. Then, that night, I was reading a talk entitled, "The Challenging and Testifying Missionary." It talked about how new these concepts are for investigators, and how we really can't just blast them with doctrine. What we need to do is really make sure we are teaching by the spirit.  We need to make sure that we are letting them feel the spirit so that they can know for themselves that these things are true. I realized I've been hearing about the restoration for 20 years. I took a college class on it. But I can't just use all of that knowledge to teach investigators. I have to teach so they can feel the spirit. Bottom line. 

Well, last night we were teaching another investigator named Nim. We had planned to teach her about the restoration. But as we got going, she started expressing some concerns about prayer. That's when we took a step back and looked at the situation. We shifted gears and we just talked to her about prayer. We tried to help her understand the why of it and how prayer will help her. 

The first thing that needs to happen, as Elder Pearson told Nate two years ago, is that investigators need to understand that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them. SO, that's what we're focusing on. Talking to Elder Haughton about it afterwards we both said that if we ever have doubts, we don't pray about the restoration, we pray to ask God if He is there and if He loves us. That is what we all need to understand. We cannot receive  guidance without understanding where it comes from. We must deepen our understanding of deity always.

Also one other thing I've learned from recently is the talk, "The Fourth Missionary." It took me a while to get through it, but it made an impact on me. It talks about how there are four types of missionaries: 1. Disobedient, goes home. 2. Disobedient, but sticks it out. 3. Obedient, but withholds his heart. and 4. Obedient and consecrates himself. He talks about the difference between missionary 3 and 4 is one slight thing. But it makes all the difference. It's giving our heart. It's 1 Corinthians 13. He says that the 3rd missionary sacrifices his will to do what the Lord wants. But in his heart, does what he wants. He withholds his heart, and in the end, is changed very little by his mission. But the 4th missionary consecrates himself. He knows that the only intelligent way to serve is by giving the only thing that is truly ours, our heart, and yielding it to the Lord. The difference between consecration and sacrifice is that sacrifices implies giving up things that we want, while still, in our hearts desiring them. But consecrating them means that no matter what it is, we know that the Lord's way is best. And we give our hearts to him. I hope that we can all give our hearts to the Lord more. In everything.

I love you all.

Be safe. Be faithful. To the end.


Elder ทอดด์ 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The mission home has moved.  Elder Todd has a new address beginning the first of July 2012.  You can now send letters to:

Thailand Bangkok Mission

1645/6 New Phetchburi Road

Makkasan, Ratchathewi

Bangkok 10400