Our Church in Sarakham
Today we played sports from 9 until about 2.
5 hours of exercising is a lot for my out of shape missionary body! Yesterday was Zone Lesson, so not all of the Elders in the Zone came back, but some of them came. We had a total of 10 people. We played a couple rounds of soccer, a few games of volleyball, and a lot of ping-pong. Speaking of ping-pong. I am getting pretty good. We have a ping-pong table in our apartment(no idea how it got there), we use it every morning for our 30 minutes of exercising. Asians sure love their ping-pong.
A lot has happened lately, I am not sure where to start. First thing that comes into my mind is the language. I am very happy where my language is right now. The last two days language has come so easily. I have been able to understand almost everything that has been said to me (as long as it is Thai and not Suay, Easian, Lao, Ngo, Corad, Khmer, etc..) I have been fasting a lot for help with the language lately and I think it has really paid off. I have started reading the Book of Mormon a lot in Thai, I am half-way through Jacob now. I am able to say almost everything I want to say (sometimes I have to circumlocute.) Yesterday I led all the lessons as well. I'm so glad for all the help I've received; it really is a relief to not have to worry about speaking so much. Keep praying for me, it really helps!
Next up. I want to talk about Preach My Gospel for a little bit. Preach My Gospel is the "missionary" manual that we use. It was released about 4-5 years ago. I can't say enough about this book. I strongly recommend everyone to read this book. It contains all of the "necessary" doctrine of the church in VERY simple and straight wording. It also contains many sections and chapters on how to perfect yourself. There is so much knowledge, teaching skills, and spiritual information it is almost ridiculous. Again, I suggest all members: new members, veteran members, old people, young people, people who have served missions, people who are thinking about serving a mission, and non-members, read Preach my Gospel. I have recently begun studying the book much more closely. I am making a check-list of all the suggestions in the book that I am not currently doing. The list has already gotten very long. I can assure you that if you follow the precepts in the book, you will notice a sharp increase in your personal spirituality.
This past week, Elder Nance and I had a special fast for success with our baptismal goals this moves, particularly with Dang and Uuh. We are really moving very quickly with Dang and Uuh and we were worried that they wouldn't be able to overcome their addictions in time. We fasted for them and then met with them three days later. When we got there, we found out that they had both quit, cold-turkey, all of their addictions three days before (the same day we fasted.) We were very impressed. (again, I can't say enough about the power of fasting)
This week we will be having a baptismal service in Sarakham, but I won't be able to be here. It is one of the other Elders investigators. His name is Wirawhit. I'm sad that I will be gone that day. He is a lawyer and a very smart man. He received his bachelors degree in theology. He grew up Buddhist, converted to Christianity in college, and then he found Mormonism. He is very influential with the Christian sects here in Sarakham. He started learning with the Elders about a year ago. One of our Zone Leaders, Elder Israelson, invited him. He learned and he found out that it was the truth. He just didn't want to believe it. He tried to deny it for many months, but after reading the Book of Mormon 6-7 times through, he decided that he had to be baptized. Needless to say, he will be greatly appreciated here. He loves missionary work and will be very happy to do missionary work with and without the Elders. He is also in the middle of writing a book about how the Book of Mormon is true. Very impressive individual.
This week I had a rather fun thought that I'd like to share. I like agency. It is one of my very favorite points of doctrine in the gospel. Everything relates back to agency. God created this Earth and sent us here to exercise agency. That was the whole point. We needed to learn how to choose. Everything God does is to help us exercise our agency properly, everything Satan does is to cause us to exercise our agency poorly. To have complete/perfect agency, four values must be met. There must be a choice. There must be a difference between the two choices. One must be capable to make the choice. One must know the full result and consequence of both sides of the choice. Needless to say, we are rarely functioning at a complete/perfect sense of agency very often. God wants us to be able to make choices. The only way He can bless us is through our choices. The only way we can learn is through choices. The only way to gain Eternal Life is through choices. So what are the choices and how do we make them? A person could learn about Christianity their entire life. They could have a doctorates degree. They could have the entire Bible memorized. This has absolutely no benefit to someone unless this knowledge somehow effects their choices or causes them to make a choice. God's mission is to help us make these choices. That is why He has missionary work. Missionaries find people. We bring them knowledge, but more importantly, we bring them choices. We invite them to change their life. We give them the two options, we tell them the difference between the two options, we give them the ability to change, and we explain the consequences of both choices.
Missionaries are an extension of God's mission to bring people agency.
I'm sure your bored of my spiritual babblings by this point. But I have one last comment to make. It is about faith.
Recently I have become completely fascinated by faith. Faith is my number one priority at the moment. I am working every day to do everything that the Lord has asked in order to build faith. The comment I would like to mention is about the two kinds of faith.
All faith is things hoped for, which are not seen, but true.
The first type of faith is the faith in things that will happen such as: faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, faith that God exists, etc.. This is the type of faith that is built through experience and expectation.
But, there is a second type of faith, a more rare breed of faith. The second type of faith is a faith that causes things to happen. A faith that changes the outcome of a situation. I have heard many people say, "I can not have faith that that investigator will be baptized, faith has to be something that is true, and they have no hope."
I feel that a sufficient enough amount of faith can literally change the outcome and cause an action to happen.
I've got many more things to say today, but I feel what I have written is sufficient. Hope all is well. This church is true, if you don't believe me. Come ask me. I'll have God convince you. Love you all.