(Note from Mom): Danny tells us that he just lost this letter, cause his email crashed, but luckily he had saved it previously in word, so we got to hear from him this week! sigh...
If you would like to write to Danny, he would love to hear from you. It may take a while to get to him, since all letters go to the mission home. (4 weeks or so) Here is the address!!!
Elder Daniel Elling Brown
Thailand Bangkok Mission Home
50/829-832 Muang Thong Thani
Chaengwatana Road, T.
Ban Mai A., Pakkret, Nonthaburi 11120
The news came. I will be moving out today. Elder Booth will also be leaving Sarakham. They are merging the areas together, so Elder Gardner and Elder Murphy will be serving together. Where I am going? I am still not sure...
I don't know if I have ever really explained it before... but in Thailand they have what is called a "moves meeting." Apparently Thailand is one of the few missions left in the world that still has a moves meeting. Once every six weeks everyone in the mission (or close to everyone) goes to Bangkok to meet together. The meeting consists of mission announcements, trainings, etc.. But the highlight of the meeting is they announce who is serving with whom and in what area. It really is quite exciting. We also get the opportunity to hear from the Elders that are leaving the mission and the Elders who are just coming in.
That will be happening tomorrow. But two days before the meeting, the assistants call to let you know if anyone is moving, so that they can pack. So I know I'm going, I just don't know where. From the inside information that I have gathered (my last companion is an AP...), I think that I will be having a native Thai companion this next moves. I really hope that I do. That will help my Thai immensely. I can communicate right now; I just sound like a Yankee. Also, it is very hard for the older generation to understand me (mostly because they can't even speak Thai themselves.) I did pick up a Laotian phrase book, so maybe that will help too. It is a very, very silly language. It is easier pronounce than Thai; but, there are more tones so that doesn't help at all.
Things I am going to miss about Sarakham:
Being out in the middle of nowhere -- Seriously though, I feel bad for people who don't have missions where they get to bike on dirt paths through rice fields while trying to wade their way through huge bamboo plants. This place is so simple. Many of the people here only work 2-3 months out of the year growing rice, then they just sit on their butts and enjoy the sun the rest of the year. It doesn't get much better than that. I will be an Easan kid the rest of my life. My accent sounds like I am from the middle of no where. That is because I am!
The investigators -- I have taught so many good people here! So many bad people too... But I really have been blessed. We have always had people to teach. I am thankful to the Lord for entrusting me with all the people that I have been able to teach here. I hope that I have taught them as much as they have taught me. Special shout outs go to Num, Jawng and his family, On, Em, Awy and her family, Man, Jimmy, Go, Dang, Oo, Wirwit and Samli.
Talking with college kids -- Sarakham is full of college kids. They really are my favorite people to talk to. The younger generation is so blunt. They will tell you straight up what they are thinking. If they are not interested they will reject you. Which is the biggest blessing ever. They also tend to be more open and less set in their ways.
The good times I had with the missionaries that I served here with -- Elder Nance, Elder Gardner, Elder Booth, Elder Murphy, and Elder Cline. Have a lot of good memories with them. I have been up and down every street in this city multiple times. Just looking down streets brings back memories; memories of good times and memories of bad times. all of which are blessings and have taught me lessons that will last me the rest of my life.
The members -- The members here are fantastic. The Lord has really been preparing them. A lot of changes are happening in the mission right now, mostly because the country has to reduce missionary numbers by over 40 Elders. This is the reason that the other area in Sarakham is being closed. All areas will be 2 Elder areas. This means that the members will have to pick up the rest of the work. I think they are ready. When I came in, they were very reliant on missionaries. Our vision here in Sarakham has been to strengthen Priesthood holders and prepare them to worthily fulfill service callings in the church. I can honestly say that are active Priesthood holders has doubled in size. They are ready. Some of the members I will miss the most:
Brother Bong: he is the 1st counselor in the branch presidency, church grounds keeper, Sunday school president, and assistant branch clerk. He is about 45 years old. He is also almost deaf, so when he goes teaching with us, it is hilarious. He never knows what we are talking about so he always testifies about the wrong thing. He is your typical Thai guy. He owns a rice selling shop in the city. I will miss his willingness to always help the Elders.
Sister Nog: is the Primary President. She is a convert of 4 years. She converted after the spirit talked to her on multiple occasions until she had no choice but to join. I am glad the Lord had her here. She is the go to person in Sarakham. She will help you all day, any day, with anything. She knows how to fix any problem. If you kick a soccer ball through a neighbor’s window, she can help you. If you break the faucet of your kitchen sink, she can help you. If your washing machine breaks and you need a new one, she can help you. If you have a craving for chocolate, she can help you. If you don't know how to find an investigators house, she can help you. She is a very great teacher and I love teaching with her because she can explain things so simply (she teaches primary.) She will be going to Salt Lake next year to go to the temple. You should try to meet her.
Brother Chaa: is a recent convert. He got the priesthood the week that I came in. He is just a cool guy. He is 22 years old and really kind. He always tries to pay for stuff for us and buys us stuff all the time. Teaching him is really interesting. I wish I could speak Thai better so I could understand his personality better. His native language is actually Cambodian though... I hope to stay friends with him in the future.
Brother Bawn: is actually a member in Galasin(a city about an hour away.) He goes to school in Sarakham and helps us teach whenever he is here. He is so willing to help with anything. He will be graduating college this year and will be going on a mission in April. I hope I get to be companions with him! The first lesson I ever taught in Thailand he was helping us teach. He is an all-around great guy.
Sister Ud and her family: one of the few active families in the branch. Sister Ud, Brother No, Sister Meen, and Brother Egg. They are all great. They all have leadership callings in the branch. Sister Ud has a restaurant that we eat at almost every day. I will miss their dedication to the gospel. They also have another daughter that is out serving a mission right now.
Brother Salad and his family: are awesome! Don't worry his name isn't salad; salad actually means pirate in Thai, which makes him ten times cooler. He has a wife and two young boys. Him and his wife both speak English fluently. They both served missions and are sealed in the temple. When I got here he was inactive. He hadn't been to church in about a year. We started teaching him and just showed that we cared about him and he came back. He hasn't missed a week of church the last seven weeks since he has been back. We have even got him to start teaching with the Elders again. The other day he told me a joke in English. "Why does Nephi come to pass so often?" "Because he likes to play Football." I thought it was hilarious... I wish him all the success in the world.
President Sumaid -- is all you would ever want from a Branch President. He is a young guy, about 30 years old. He is unmarried. He is a return missionary. He understands how missionary work is supposed to work. He is always willing to help us. His fire is amazing; I just hope my next area will have a president comparable to him.
It has been a great five months. I'll miss you Sarakham.
เอ็ลเดอร์ บราวน์ ( Elder Brown )