Wednesday, August 25, 2010
1. This week it rained a lot. That probably doesn't mean very much to you, so I will describe what raining "a lot" means. On Friday we headed out of the house at around 11:30 to go eat and teach an appointment at 1:00. As we were teaching this appointment it started to rain. Thailand rain storms typically last for a very short duration but the rain is very hard. We waited in this guys house for about an hour before it cleared up and biked to a nearby mall. Over there we proceeded to contact some people. As we started to contact it started to rain again. This time it rained for about 3 hours. After all was said and done, the streets were flooded. Once the sewers fill up with water, the roads just flood like crazy. All of the main roads were flooded with about two feet of water. Bangkok traffic + two feet of water = problems, yes lots of problems. We had two appointments at the church that night, so we proceeded to bike to the church. At this point it wasn't raining anymore so at first I attempted to try to stay on my bike and stay dry. But after biking I realized that the task of staying dry would be impossible. While biking the water from the road would reach up my shin almost to my knee at times. Yeah, dress pants and leather dress shoes. I'm sure we looked ridiculous as everyone looked on at us wearing their shorts and flip-flops.
2. Zone Conference was this last week. The topic was the Book of Mormon. It is a good book, you should read it or if you are too lazy to read it at least watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkKblIMfmjI - I know this book to be a true book.
This is Jesus Christ's book. Jesus Christ commissioned it, wrote it, and preserved it for thousands of years. There is no other book that can give you more faith and hope than the Book of Mormon. The Bible has confused people for thousands of years. Their misinterpretations of the law caused the Jews to miss their Messiah. The Bible still confuses people in the present and has caused many devout Christians to miss their Messiah again in these last days. The Book of Mormon is a rock. It plainly testifies to the divinity of Jesus Christ and the restoration of his church through his prophet Joseph Smith. Through reading it we will know the truth of all things.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Well today I am a little bit tired.
Last night right as we were turning off the light to go to bed we noticed that there was a rat in the house. (this happens way more than you might think, pretty sure this is part of Satan's plan to make me more tired and keep me from working as hard as I could with a full nights rest) So Elder Hardy and I went through the regular procedures of catching this rat. We got our trusty broom and our trusty bucket. The strategy is to close off all the exits and to sweep it into the bucket so that we can throw it out of the house. So as we were doing this, this rat was fairly resilient. It manages to escape all of our efforts for nearly 20 minutes. After repeated attempts we trapped it back behind a cabinet with two exits. I was on one side with my broom and Elder Hardy was on the other with his broom. The rat was trapped. It was scared. It had nothing else to do. It finally made a break for it across the ground towards the bathroom, but on the way it suddenly stopped and fell over. It had a heart attack and was on its back with all its limbs pulsing in and out. After about 5 minutes it finally threw up and died. Not a pretty sight. Well it is still in my head. No animal cruelty or anything intended here, it just died!
So yeah. Pretty good week here in Bangna. Things are going really great. I feel that my understanding of missionary work and teaching has grown amazingly in the last few months. In the last six weeks as I have been focusing all of my efforts on finding families, we have 4-5 progressing families that are very serious investigators. This is such an obvious change from how missionary work was done when I arrived in Thailand. I am very excited for the future of Thailand, especially for the future of Bangna. I have been here a long time. Six months is a really long time. I love the place, but to say that I'm not area-trunky would be a lie. Bangna has been a special place for me simply because I have seen growth and progression here. In my other areas I always felt that the work and the area was heading in a backwards trend, but in Bangna I have seen remarkable improvements in the ward mission program and in the priesthood organization. I am grateful to have been a part of the progression in this ward.
Yesterday evening we had a couple of hours in the evening free to go out and contact. This was wonderful because we are almost always busy in the evenings, especially on the weekend. We went over to an area that I thought that I had invited every street. (after being in the area for 6 months, I have been down every street and know pretty much every shortcut in the entire city, Elder Hardy is always amazed how I can navigate through small alleyways and shortcuts to get us to a destination in half the time) We got to the end of a little soi, that is the Thai word for street, and I started to talk with a couple of people at the end. They wondered if I had come to give them money. They had us confused with the last christian group that came through. This soi was next to a Lutheran Church/School. After talking with these people, I learned that this soi was MUCH bigger than I thought. What I thought was a dead end actually was a tiny alleyway back into a giant ghetto. I didn't really want to back there, but my curiosity got the best of me. We decided to take a walk back there. We were met with mobs of begging children, adults, and elderly people that just wanted us to give them money. It was fairly depressing. The lack of misunderstanding was impossible to breach; all they wanted was money. (which we aren't allowed to give) They did not want to listen to us. God really wants to help these people. God wants to help all of His children, but sometimes they refuse to let Him help.
Being on a mission is a very unique experience simply because it gives you such an opportunity to gain experience without having to face any of the usual consequences of experience. The transition from childhood to adulthood has to happen for everyone, but typically it is a painful experience resulting in addictions, debt, unexpected children, pain, etc.. However, on a mission the transition takes place in an artificial reality; it is completely outside of the realm of my past and the realm of my future. In the last month I have learned so much about parenting. After making a focus on teaching families, I have been able to see the inter working of families, lots of them. I go up and talk to a 20 year old couple on the street with a baby on the way and ask them if they are scared to be parents. The typical answer is no. They just say they are going to "go with it." No plans, no preparation. If they even had the slightest clue that one day they are going to be accountable for the individual stewardship of each one of their children, they would be scared silly. Punishing and beating children is looked very down upon here in Thailand. I challenge anyone who is against punishing their children to come look at the family situation in Thailand, you will be convinced. Justice is a law that must be satisfied. Mercy cannot be applicable in all cases and in all situations; look at the Plan of Salvation, if everyone received absolute mercy, would there be a point?
So we accidentally ran into Jesus-Shirt man again this week. He was less drunk this time, but just as crazy as ever. He asked me to say a prayer for him, so I did. In the prayer I attempted to cast the demons out of him. It may have worked, afterwards I committed him to pray about Joseph Smith being a prophet. We will see if he shows up to church.
Love, peace, and rainbows,
More interesting things.
This week I was out inviting and I found a guy who was pretty interested. I offered to give him a ten minute message about the Book of Mormon and he accepted. We went up and talked on his porch. I told him that I wanted to start with a prayer so we prayed and after we prayed I opened my eyes and there was this big African man standing in front of me with his wife. He said, “Hey! Were you just praying?” This kinda took me off my guard. He was way excited to see that people were teaching about Jesus in Thailand. He pushed his wife over to try to learn with us. In the end I got his number and handed it off to the international Elders. It is really fun talking to people from Africa. All I have to do is go up to them and say in a really excited voice, “We teach about JESUS!” and then their eyes light up and get way excited.
Last week we were biking towards the church and I hear someone shout at me “Hey Elders, whats up?” This was a little bit strange so I turn to see this really muscular white guy talking to us. I thought that this was very strange. I examined the man; about forty years-old, maybe 300 pounds, looks American, his entire body covered in tattoos and his head and eyebrows were shaven meaning that he was just a monk. I start talking to him and find out that he is from Philadelphia and is friends with the Elders over there. He is Buddhist and comes to Thailand like once a year. This was pretty weird but then this situation was interrupted as this crazy crazy old Thai man comes in. I quickly examine him; about 60 years old, looks like he hasn't bathed in AT LEAST 60 years, and he is wearing a T-shirt with a giant picture of Jesus on the cross. He started talking crazy stuff. He was telling us that he used to go to our church a number of years ago, but then he found a new church that gave him three new T-shirts, so he changed religions. At this point there was just too much weirdness for one contact so we said bye and biked away. I guess the moral of the story is: the church that gives you the most free T-shirts is the best church.
Well I got a new greenie this moves. After training Elder Tibbetts for 3 months I guess that God decided to give me another chance to do better. Hopefully this time I won't fail or else I might end up training again! My new companion is a guy named Elder Hardy. He is 23 years-old and was just in the Air Force for 4 years. He is a really good worker and should be really easy to work with. To this point in my mission, I still have never had a companion that is younger than me. He is doing what your average greenie always does. Falls on his bike a lot, says funny/inappropriate things to locals on accident, and is confused when members call him a “greenie” in Thai. I guess that is one word they don't teach you in the MTC.
So last week Niwad was confirmed a member of the church and was given the priesthood. The Bishop chose me to be the one to confer the priesthood to him. This was an interesting experience. This was the first time I had ever done it, typically recent converts are given the priesthood by the bishopric without the involvement of the missionaries, but I was happy to do it. I have ministered a confirmation, a confirment of the priesthood, priesthood blessings, etc. but I still have never baptized anyone. I have a goal to never baptize someone on my mission. Baptizing people isn't very good in terms of the long run. The person who baptizes them creates a unique bond that they will always remember. I would much rather have that be a member than have it be me. This week at church Niwad showed up in his newly purchased white shirt and tie to be able to minister in the sacrament. It was really cool to see just because of how quickly he progressed. I invited him just over 2 months ago and he already is administering the sacrament. It made me feel really good to see him glow like that.
For the last month or so a phrase has been going through my mind a lot. The phrase is “A hope for a better world.” It has just been ringing in my head for a very long time now. I actually ended up writing a song based off of that phrase. Interestingly enough this week I was reading the scriptures in Ether(I haven't read Ether in about three months) and found the phrase in Ether chapter 12 verse 4. I am positive that I didn't read the phrase in the last several months, but it was just floating in my head. When I saw this scripture it really shocked me. I really think this scripture might be my very favorite scripture in all of the standard works. “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” I really like this scripture because the Thai people have no hope. None at all. They have no goal for today, tomorrow, or next week. They just wake up and go with it. This is because of their belief system rooted in reincarnation. They have no focal point were they can focus their efforts towards. But when we believe in God when we believe in His plan of happiness this gives us a hope for today, a hope for tomorrow, a hope for next week. Through our faith our life is held strong and we are filled with light. I know this to be true.