Sunday, January 27, 2013

Progress in Pakkret

January 27, 2013

Happy Almost February!

Can you believe it? The time is going by SO fast! It’s like sand slipping through my fingers. Or, to quote Jacob from the Book of Mormon, "The time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream..."

But we're doing all that we can to make the most of the next several months. One of the things that we have been talking about in our zone, is being diligent.  We’ve determined that diligence isn’t fulfilled by just running hard or going, going, going to accomplish things.  That won’t really be effective and isn’t the right way to be “diligent.”  Instead, we’re focusing on giving a consistent, concerted effort over a period of time. That's diligence!

 One scripture that has been on my mind lately, is something that the Prophet Joseph Smith said to a group of elders while traveling along the Missouri river. He stated, “But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief."(D&C 61:3)

That's something that I feel that the Lord wanted me to learn this week—how to really work smart. I feel like I’m also supposed to take the time to think about HIS children and determine what is it that THEY need.  I’m pondering how can I help THEM.

We did a zone training about discerning by the Spirit.  We discussed how instead of rushing up to someone and just throwing facts about the gospel at them,  we should really talk to them and LISTEN to them. Then, by the Spirit,  we should discern what it is that they need. It's hard. And we're working on developing that skill. But it's helped me to just take the time and care about the people more. 

This week was just really great!  So as you know, we've been focusing on less-active members. I can't remember if I told you this last week or not, but President Senior was telling me that what we're learning to do with less active people, will be of great benefit to me when I go home. He said that the things we are learning will really make a difference in the work that I will do in the church for the rest of my life.

We had some really great experiences with the less actives we saw this week. So we've been working with Sister Vaenda. She's been a member of the church most of her life. But recently, she has become kind of bitter. So instead of going over and calling her to repentance telling her to get back to church, we decided to follow Ammon's example. We had gone and cut her lawn the week before, and this week we were going to do some more clean up. We got there and just started to work, cleaning up her yard. We uncovered what I thought was a motorcycle trail, but as we worked we discovered it was an actual driveway.  It was a fully paved concrete driveway!  It had just gotten grown over to the point it was barely a trail.  

One interesting thing that popped into my head as I was working was that I should do my best work. I remember mom always saying to me, "Do a Todd job." She meant to do something worthy to put your name on it. But as soon as that thought entered my head, another line from Preach My Gospel came to mind.  "Honor Christ's name by your actions." I then changed my mindset from doing a Todd job, to making my work worthy of the Savior’s name.  I hoped Hewould be willing to claim our effort as His. That's what we all promised to do when we were baptized. We agreed to do His work when we took upon ourselves His sacred name. I pray that we will always live worthy of it.

Anyway that's not the end of the story. We were just talking to her and she said that she needed this help, and that the work we did in the name of the Savior was the motivation she needed to go to church. Can you imagine our joy when we saw her walk into the chapel yesterday? I'm so grateful for that. The Lord is looking over us. 

I only wish there was enough time for me to tell you everything good that happened because of the Lord pouring out His blessings. But I don't have enough time. One day.

Lek and Tiger are still progressing. They'll be interviewed again this Thursday! Then, because of district conference on Saturday and Sunday, they'll wait till the next week to get baptized.  They’re date should be Febrkuary 9th. But they really came forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits. The Spirit of the Lord wrought a change in their hearts. 

Sister Palm--oh man! She's golden! She's really progressing, she's starting to use the language of prayer correctly, which in Thai is difficult because you have to us a whole other vocabulary. It’s the Thai that’s used only when speaking to royalty or those of high rank. But she's getting it. Then on Saturday after the baptism of the Sri Lankan family she and our other investigator Tui were there. She told Tui to just get his act together and get a baptismal date! She said, “Isn't it just so great?”  He's really opening up to us as well. The Lord is sending us really prepared people! It's great! 

Well, thanks so much for all your prayers! Please continue to do so. I'll do the same.

Love you tons! 
Elder Todd


Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Lord is Hastening His work!

Mon, 21 Jan 2013 
Dear Family,

I was astonished yesterday when I woke up and realized that it was already Sunday again. I remember right before I left the MTC, I got a letter from Nate. He had just crossed his year mark. He said that the crazy thing was that people said year two goes even faster than year one. Like so many things in life, I didn't comprehend it until I experienced it myself. 

Time marches forward.  As we near the second coming of our Lord, He is hastening His work. That is something that President Senior talked to us about at Zone Leader Council, or Counsel as he wanted to call it. He said that we all know that the Lord is hastening his work. And what happens in a war when one side starts working faster? The other side does the same. It was a voice of warning raised. As this marvelous work goes forth we must step up in all things. 

That includes obedience. We'll be receiving an increase of missionaries in April, and one thing that we're really focusing on is establishing a culture of obedience. That is the culture of Christ. It's somehing that is crucial. I encourage you to continue to develop that culture wherever you live.  

One of the things that we talked about was less active members. After the meeting President told me, when you go home you're not going to be working with baptism as much as you are now. But you will be going home and have the responsibility to help the less actives. He told me to learn and develop this skill so that it may be of benefit to me always. 

We talked about following the Spirit and using discernment to talk to people on the street and finding out what it is they need. The Lord already knows, we just need to figure it out. It's something that's hard to teach, but we can learn  by experience. I was paired with Elder Banta from my MTC group. We were walking through this college campus talking about what things could help people. We felt that helping someone understand their divine nature, and individual worth would make a big difference in their lives. We saw this woman who just had a worldy look about her. We went up and asked her if she new what her individual worth and divine nature were. She was a little shocked, but we testified to her that we are all children of God. We told her that He loves us and has prepared many things for us. And that our potential is greater that we know. She was left with a feeling of wonder. But she should be looking to take the lessons.

It reminds me of what Paul wrote:  

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.

If only we could all begin to understand this scripture. There are great things that Heavenly Father sees in us, and expects from us. 

One thing that was really cool happened yesterday at church.  A member brought two visitors; her boss and his wife from, Iran. They didn't speak Thai so we got to translate for them. It was really fun. They were nice. They took copies of the Book of Mormon in Persian with them. I figure in countries like that, the Lord has specific purposes for those copies of the Book of Mormon. 

I was a sad about our investigators this week. Lek didn't pass her interview. She had a problem with a sin in the past and needs to meet with one of the counselors in the mission presidency to resolve it.  As a result her son Tiger won't be getting baptized until she is ready. I'm confident they will still be baptized.  Hopefully it won't be too long. Please keep them in your prayers. 

Ni Naa is also having struggles. Her mom is not happy with Christianity. She is very strict Buddhist. But Ni Naa still wants to change. Please pray that her mothers heart will be softened.

One last experience,  well two,  happened yesterday. The first was that I had the opportunity to interview 2 Sri Lankan boys for baptism. It was really interesting to do it because it was in English. They're refugees here, and don't speak English super well. And the interpreter didn't make it!  So we decided to go forward and follow the Spirit. It was so sad to hear what they had been through coming from Sri Lanka. They feel that Thailand is like the promise land. They shared experiences how they just know God had stretched forth His hand in their lives. 

Then Last night there was another lady who I was blessed to interview. It was amazing. The first thing she told me was that she and her husband have a goal to be sealed in the temple. Also she wants to be baptized that she may receive eternal life. That's a really good reason! She has been learning the gospel for about a year, because she has been waiting for her husband, who is a member, to be ready to baptize her.  She just really opened up and shared her very strong testimony of the Atonement. It was really special. I love getting to interview because other people's testimonies build mine up. The Spirit really just builds and enlightens both of us. 

I'm so grateful to God, and for His Mercy. I love you all so much!



Monday, January 14, 2013

Miracles continue in Pakkret!

Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 
Hey Mom, Dad, Jennifer and John, Cate and Dave, Brooke and Lauren!

Happy Children's Day! This last Saturday was children's day here. Basically it's a day just for kids. We were assigned to go to some service at a community center with some kids and their parents. Usually for service we don't do things involving children, because of increasing legal complexities. But we got to go and we just played a bunch of games with them, like:  "Elder Says,"  the hokey pokey, three legged red light green light, and they showed us the Thai version of duck duck goose, which is way more fun. 

The community appreciated it. The parents all seemed so grateful, and it was a chance to think like the Savior taught, "suffer the little children." I was reminded that the children are the future. And so it is with the church. Without the rising generation, the church, the kingdom has no future. That is why the role that Jennifer and John will be taking on here soon is so crucial. Church leaders have taught for years that "the most important of the Lord's work [we] will ever do will be within the walls of [our] own homes." Mom and Dad, thank you for doing a great job.

One thing that I'd like to share with you from my studies this week is something that I have started doing recently.  I wish I would have done it my whole mission. Thomas Edison said; ''The value of an idea lies in the using of the idea." The same is true with knowledge that the Lord blesses us with. If we don't apply the things that we learn as we study the scriptures, then our study is without profit. So, as I try to improve myself and become what the Lord sees me as, I have begun to write a conclusion at the end of my studies. What I learned and what I will apply. I feel like things are going well, because I can pray at the end of my study for the Lord to help me with those things for that day, then turn it into a  regular thing.

So here's the rundown. First off-- Sister Nong. She's doing really well! It was really funny when we went over to teach her. She said, 'Elder, I have a question. Is the lottery that the government supports, against the church policy? We could have just answered her question. But I rememberd what I had read from the book "True to the Faith." So we read it together. That The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opposed to all forms of gambling including government sponsored lotteries. She said, Oh. Ok. Her sister then said we all told you! All 6 of us said it till we were red in the face! Then she said, we should have pulled out the book sooner. It's the same with teaching. We need to always teach from the scriptures, from the manuals that give authority to our words. It is for that reason that the Lord has blessed us with these things. She's doing really well.

For Lek and Tiger. They're looking at making the date for the 26. We were mistaken. They had committed to the 26.  They are ready and know that they're ready. 

Then Ni Naa. She is really progressing. The way that she came to our church after the Catholic church in Germany is amazing. Thai people don't differentiate between churches. They think, "Oh they believe in Christ. They're all the same." The Lord has used that to His advantage with people who have become interested in Christianity overseas. It's been a great blessing to see people brought to the true and living church. She's  doing really well. Her parents don't want her to go to church and be baptized, but she said she's felt that there is something inside of her telling her that she can communicate with God. The Lord has prepared her.

Then our other dater, her name is Palm, like a palm tree. She has a baptism date for the 22nd of February. She's got a little issue with coming to church, but she found a way yesterday which I think will only build her faith that the Lord can and will make it possible. She came to English class and that's how we found her. So she's looking really good on her progressing. She said she's 80% sure that this is true. She just needs to check the other 20%

Then yesterday, we had an astounding 7 walk ins to church. 4 in our area! They came and were talking to us. The son asked me, "Did Joseph Smith really see what he said he saw?"  I was grateful that I was able to answer YES. I could because of the feelings that the Spirit of the Lord brought to my heart in that instant. It was different. Earlier in the week we had taught a couple who after hearing the Joseph SMith story said, "It's just a fantasy. It's just a story tale." I feel bad for them. It is one of the MOST important events that has ever happened. But if our hearts are hard, the Spirit of the Lord can't let us know that it's true.  But I testify that it is true. And that the church is true!  I love you all.

Be safe and faithful! Stay warm! 


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Elder Todd and Elder Doria Comps in MTC & Pakkret

Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2013 


Hello Todd Family!

How are you doing? This last week was a busy one! It was great! One of the biggest events was that we moved houses. I always heard that it was a pain to close down an old missionary house. It is. There was SO much junk that missionaries had left there. But the move went well. 

That's not super important though. Here's what is. We've really been seeing the Lord's hand this last week. I'm as humbled as ever to be reminded that this is His work.

When President Senior first got to Thailand, there was an new emphasis placed on working with the less-active members and bringing them back to church. President told us that it was the Lord's will that we work through them, and that as we did so, we would be blessed. Once the mission made the change, we set a record for baptisms in one month. As we continued we still had high numbers of baptisms.  But as of late, we've slowed down on both number of baptisms and reactivation work. 

I believe that there is an interesting correlation between the two. We can't look at them as two unrelated things. When it comes down to it, it is the same redemptive work of God. So we're placing an emphasis on it. We went into MLS and we got a list of the whole branch--some 460 members. We have only 102 on average who are active. SO, where are the rest? We started working on locating them. And as we did the Lord brought us investigators. It's kind of like how Elder Holland said last conference in paraphrasing the Savior, "if I want fish, I can get fish.." Well if the Lord wants investigators, He can get investigators. So here's the rundown on the investigators. 

Lek and Tiger. They're doing well. Not a whole lot new with them. They have dates for the 19th. A mother and a son.

Nina. She walked into church yesterday. She had wanted to go to church for years but her parents would not let her. She went to study abroad in Germany and went into a Catholic church. Then, upon coming back to Thailand, she came to church with us yesterday! She want's to follow the Savior. She should be getting baptized on the 26 of this month! We'll have to work more with her, but I'm feeling really optimistic! She already had a Bible and is reading it. Now she has a Book of Mormon too! 

Then Brother Tui, another walk-in from last week. He's really beginning to progress. He still doesn't understand a whole lot, but he's reading and praying. He's starting the first steps. We're teaching him about the Savior more in depth tonight. We're going to watch a movie with him at an FHE. That will be great for him! 

We had a member bring his two friends, another walk in that's also starting to learn.  

It's really good here. I'm learning a lot about the importance of consecration. Right now we're working as a zone on a 40 day fast. We made a list of anything that pokes at our spiritual side. Anything that doesn't let the Spirit work with us and we're fasting from it for the next 40 days. It's based off of a talk by Gene R. Cook. 

Sorry today is so short! I'm short on time I love you all!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Baptism in Pakkret--Exchanges in Asoke

Mon, 31 Dec 2012
Happy new year! And what a happy one it will be!

This gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of joy, and I pray that we will all be able to find a greater measure of joy as we enter into this new chapter in life. The new year is a great time to set a vision for what we want to become by year's end. But it's not enough just to get that big picture. Once we have our vision set, it's our responsibility to set goals that will contribute to our vision, then make plans for how we will accomplish those goals.
It's been really cool for me here in Pakkret. We work very closely with the District President, President Sathit. He's been getting a lot of things from the Asia Area Presidency as the Bangkok North District plans to become a Stake this year! He's been sharing a lot of the goal setting and planning that Elder Watson, Elder Gong, and Elder Wilson have been giving him. It's all about vision, goals, and plans. I challenge you all to prayerfully set a vision for what you want to become by the end of 2013. Set goals and plan. Then post those goals somewhere you will see them. I'll do it if you will. I know that it will help us on our quest to be perfect as out Master is.

  Well, this last week was a very busy one. I didn't get to stay in our area very much because I was busy with exchanges. But I learned a lot. The first exchange was Tuesday evening. I went to Asoke with Elder Banjamin.  He's President Sathit's son. He's an assistant down there. That was really good. We talked a lot about charity and love and the way that we need to show it without ever compromising out fixed principles of gospel living.  If we can do that, we can better love other people. It's really important. It's something that I already know, but just keeps staying on the surface. It doesen't matter how เก่ง, how skilled we are. If we don't have charity, we're nothing and our faith is vain.  It's all about love.
One of the interesting things that happened in Asoke was that we taught Elder Banjamin's investigators over Skype.  It was really weird, not going to lie.  But she lives a ways south in a place called NakornSiThanmarad, so we used computers. It's pretty crazy to see how the gospel can be shared nowadays.

  I  also did exchanges in the Bang Khaen area. That's where Elder Houghton is. But I was with his companion, Elder Segura. It was good. Elder Segura was in the MTC with me. He's grown a ton! He was talking to me about how in this final stretch of his mission he really want's to do something that will leave his mark. It's good. Se la diferencia. I think that's how you say it. Be the difference. We all need to look for ways to be the difference for good in the lives of others. It's all about ministering. So many of us think of missionary work as just teaching, but it's so much more than that. It's all about doing what the Savior did. That's my focus for this new year. We find it in Matthew 20. 

25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be agreatamong you, let him be your bminister;
 27 And whosoever awill be chief among you, let him be yourbservant:
 28 Even as the aSon of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to bgive his life a cransom for many.


Also this week, Sister Nong got baptized!! It was such a special day, and she asked me to baptize her. I'll send a picture next week. Her sister got up to speak at the baptism. Her sister talked about how she had been praying for a way to help Nong.  She shared that there had been some trials between them, but the end the trials brought them together to live under the same roof. And Nong learned about the gospel and then got baptized! She was at a loss for words, but so happy! It was such a blessing to see that the Lord truly is mindful of EACH of His children. 

We also had about 5 walk ins. The Lord is POURING out blessing on us. I'm so grateful.

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week! Be safe, and faithful!

Love you all!