This is a shrine in udon.
I thought I would fill you in on a few things in Udon:
The food in Udon is pretty similar to the rest of Thailand. One interesting point to note is that they serve soup with almost all of their meals. This is unique to Udon and the surrounding areas. The plain soup that they have is a bland chicken broth that is jammed full of MSG and other substances. I like eating my food with soup because I like to pour the soup on top of the rice; I think it makes everything taste better.
Udon is a pretty big city for being in the middle of nowhere and it has a lot of white people. Udon is basically a haven for all the old, retired, white men to come and find a new wife and live a happy life. I think they like it because it is out of the city and it is very close to Laos so they can renew their visas easier. So with that being said there is a lot of foreign food. (foreign food meaning American food) American food is fantastic. Burgers, sandwiches, steaks, fries, etc. they are all just so good. Thai food is good, but as of lately I really like eating a good ol' American (kinda) burger.
We actually don't have an apartment here. It is a house that is rented. It is a pretty nice house that the Elders have lived in for a long time. It is at the end of a street behind a nice gate. Inside the gate there are two houses, the sisters live in the one on the left and we live in the one on the right. The house is two stories. It has 3 bathrooms and about 4 bedrooms. It also has a full kitchen. Almost the entire house is air conditioned. There are four of us Elders that live there.
I'm having a great time with my new companion. Elder "D" (he goes by Elder D because no one can say his name, most people have a hard enough time pronouncing "Elder") is a fun guy that is really easy to get along with. It has been fun to be "trained" again. This is my first moves as a Zone Leader so it is his job to help me understand all my new responsibilities. Unfortunately, after this moves he will be going home and I will be left as senior companion for the rest of my mission because all the Zone Leaders that are older are all going home. It is very likely that my next companion will be from my MTC group.
It has been so relieving to work with an experienced missionary. I have been working with brand new missionaries for a long time which made it so I had to teach and talk a lot. I like talking and I like teaching but unfortunately when I talk and teach it gives me very little opportunity to think and to listen. As I have been working with Elder D I have really had the opportunity to teach as a companionship and to teach a lot more effectively because I don't have to make everything up as I go; I can take a couple of minutes to ponder about what I am going to say.
We are teaching a lot of good families right now. This week we had 13 investigators at church, which is great. We have a family that is scheduled to be baptized on the 10th. The family keeps growing and growing. Right now we are teaching six members of that family, but we hope to add another 4-5 to that group.
We also teach an English class each week.
When we teach English we are mandated to teach a gospel lesson as well. But I usually just make the entire class oriented to the gospel. All the activities and readings that I use come from scriptures or liahonas. At the end I also give a 10-15 speel about what we come and teach. English class used to be a great finding tool for the Thailand Bangkok Mission. As of right now, I feel it has become less effective because 1. we find/invite a lot better and 2. most of the students at English class are young and don't have families(we only teach families now) But that is ok, it is still a fun service opportunity that we have every week.
A couple more details from this week.
Elder Perkins from the seventy toured the mission this week. We had the opportunity to hear him and his wife speak. It was a pretty good meeting, but I didn't get much out of it because I was translating almost the whole time. It was interesting that they chose me to translate for the conference just because I am still pretty young. It wasn't too hard except for when we got to the "questions and answers" part, then I was overwhelmed. People were asking ridiculously deep questions and I simply didn't have the vocab to translate correctly. Oh well. At the conference we learned that our mission is now on par with the world in getting investigators to church! The average missionary in the world gets 3-4 investigators at church. This is amazing that Thailand is now on par. Just one year ago we weren't even close. I'm excited to see what will happen in the coming year.
This week in sacrament I gave a talk. It was pretty interesting. I talked about charity and how it leads us to share the gospel. If we understand the atonement, we will have charity and we will want to help others come unto Christ. I used examples from 2 Ne 31, Enos, and Mosiah 27.
I had a chance to work and train the district leader in Sakonakorn for a couple of days. The district leader out there is named Elder P. It was a good switch offs. I like Elder P. He is a hard worker and knows how to do missionary work. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to eat dog. Maybe next month I'll have that experience.
Oh and my bike exploded. I hope I can get it fixed... It will probably be expensive.
Ok. I'm out of time.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Temple in Nongkhai
Well I moved. Finally. I was getting very antsy to move. I'm not really quite sure why. I loved Bangnaa. The area was on fire, the ward was fantastic, and all the areas in the district were doing great. Sometimes I just need a change and I got it. President called me last we and asked me if I was having a good preparation day, I said I was. After that he told me that I probably wouldn't be having preparation days anymore because he wanted to call me to be a Zone Leader. So now I'm a Zone Leader serving in an area called Udon. It is a pretty big city but it is definitely in the sticks. I'm glad I have been studying Lao for the last few moves because it is definitely coming in handy out here.
The zone is pretty small. In our zone there are only 10 missionaries, making it the smallest zone in the mission; however, it includes some fun areas that I am excited to work including Gumpawapi, Sagonakohn, and Nongkhai. Gumpawapi is the smallest city in the mission; they have no convenient stores and they only have one 7-11 that was just built a year or so ago. Sagonakohn is famous for its unique choice of animal meat; yes I will be eating dog within the next few weeks. Nongkhai is the newest opened branch in Thailand. It is literally connected to Lao; you can look down the street and see Laos.
I am starting to get used to the Isaan again. Lots of people from Laos and cars from Laos too! It is weird to see cars from Laos because in Laos the steering-wheel is on the left side of the car instead of the right.(yeah, same as America... that is weird to me) The Branch here is actually really good. The church building is the only building in all of Thailand that has more than one branch meeting in it. There are two branches that meet there; one morning block and one afternoon block.
I am really enjoying being a Zone Leader. It is so different working with an experienced missionary. I have been with young/green missionaries for the majority of my mission and now I am with a companion who is about to go home. I have a lot more time to get everything done, simply because the work is now divided in half. I just hope that I can be effective at doing my new responsibilities as a Zone Leader simply because about half of the missionaries in my zone are older/more experienced than I am.
In terms of an update, that is all I can really think of at the moment, but I will share a thought I have been thinking about lately. I would encourage all priesthood holders, and specifically missionaries to read Alma 13:1-9 and ponder on its significance, particularly verse 3. How great is our responsibility. I don't think that there is any way that we can grasp or understand the magnitude of our calling. Such few people get called to labor in the high priesthood. Our call has been given to us and we have been prepared. This is why we are on this Earth. We are here to serve. I am convinced that this life, particularly for priesthood holders, is all about service. Sometimes I feel that we focus too much and think that this life is about ourselves; proving ourselves or fixing ourselves. But I now feel that our main purpose is to reach out and bless others. I don't want to explain much more than that, but I strongly encourage everyone to read Alma 13 and ponder.
Yeah, I'm out of stuff to say. Later.