Monday, October 25, 2010

Mon Oct. 25th 2010

There has been a lot of flooding in Thailand in Oct. Here are a couple of pictures. President Smith is standing in what was a field.

This week has been crazy busy and the craziness is only getting crazier. I really feel that my life as a zone leader has actually started. Before the change to merge zones together, zones were too small and the role of the zone leader didn't really exist. Now with the combined zone, suddenly zone leader are no longer just some sort of glorified district leader. I've come to discover that the role of a zone leader is very similar to the role of a trainer, except for the fact that I live in different cities than my district leaders, work in different areas, and never see them.

I finally had a chance to meet a couple of our investigators in this area. There is a sweet family whose names are Jeep, Bee, and Boom. Jeep is the father, Bee is his wife, and Boom is their little son. They are both teachers at a local college and have been learning with the missionaries for over a month now. I have seen them once and we taught about praying as a family. As I have been teaching families for awhile now, I have really found that the commitment to pray as a family is so very important. I think it is overlooked by a lot of people, but I think it helps so much because it involves a principle of accountability. One thing I have learned on my mission is: if something is not working the way it should, it is most likely a problem of accountability. I'll explain. When we have fathers and mothers take the responsibility to teach and pray with their kids, it makes the parents study and do the things they are teaching their kids. It makes them the teacher, not the learner. Also it makes them accountable to their kids for the things that they are teaching them.

I met another investigator named Oobah. She is female in her mid-twenties who was referred to us by a member. She has been learning for about a month and has had an interesting learning experience. She has lots of friends who are members of many different sects of Christianity, so she has been "shopping around" for awhile now. Fortunately for us, she had the chance to talk to Elder Perkins, of the Seventy, for about half an hour last week. She has almost stopped learning several times but I really feel that she is almost converted. Right now we are really trying to help her build a relationship with God. She believes in God. She thinks that God can help her, but without a clear belief of who God is and how He relates to us it is almost impossible to get an answer. God is not running or hiding from us. Contacting God is not a difficult search that we have to read many books or study with many teachers to accomplish, but contacting God simply is humbling ourselves to the point that we actually believe that it is easy enough as to ask and receive. Sometimes this humbling process takes a long journey, but it most certainly does not have to be long or hard at all.

I also met a cute little family. The fathers name is Bradit and the moms name is Noy. They have 4 kids. Three adolescent girls, and a baby boy. Also their grandma lives at the house too. The grandma is absolutely hilarious. She is really old and has a hard time hearing so oft times she will say things that are absolutely off topic. She always tells us that we are really good people and that she likes us, which is actually really interesting for the older generation. Typically the very old generation is more shut to ideas of Christianity or ideas of listening to foreigners, but she is convinced that we are holy men that can help her family. Bradit was actually taught by the elders about two years ago. He finished the Book of Mormon but never really attended church. Things just never really worked out. I'm excited for them and feel that there is a lot of potential in that family. Noy really opened up last lesson. I feel that she has been really left out of the whole thing for too long and now she feels included.

Kohn Kaen is very busy. The next two weeks are going to be hectic. This week I will only be in Kohn Kaen for 2 days. I will be spending most of my week training or getting trained. President Smith is coming up for a couple of days to do another training. That should be good.

Elder Brown

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oct 18-2010-Kohn Kaen

Just as I predicted, I moved to Kohn Kaen with Elder R. We are now the zone leaders for a huge new area with 30 or so missionaries to watch out for. We have no free time cause this district is so large and spread out; Some of the areas are 5 hours away from us. (a long way on bikes) We have to sacrifice two full days to do baptismal interviews or companionship exchanges.
---- I think we need a private plane-- :> Also we need to work with the companionships a lot more than usual simply because they are all so new. We have some companionships that have a senior companion that has been in country for only 3 months!!!!

Even though Kohn Kaen is 2 hours down the road from Udorn, I still traveled 8 hours to Bangkok to transfers meeting. The trip was a little crazy. In the past the mission has used trains for traveling to Bangkok but recently we have just been renting very large tour buses. This puts the responsibility on us for getting all of the craziness figured out. The bus driver this time was completely clueless. The biggest problem was that the drivers compartment was not connected to the area that we sat in (it is a double-decker bus) so, we were unable to communicate with him. Often times he would get lost and simply pull over and not do anything for a long time. I've never been a bus driver, but I swear its not that hard. All you have to do is follow the big green signs that say "Bangkok."

The funniest part about the whole trip was when we were finally arriving at the chapel in Muang Thong. We were pulling down the street that goes to the church and we hear the buses engine die. I was confused... because typically you want to park the bus before you turn of the engine. I made a joke that it would be funny if the bus died. We hear him try to start the engine, and yes. The bus was dead, about 10 feet from the church. Pretty good place to break down, except for the fact that we were on a little tiny 1 line road blocking everyone from leaving their driveway and going to work. I got off the bus and noticed that there was gas all over the ground so I had everyone evacuate. The genius bus driver went outside and let up a cigarette. He then stuck his head under the bus, while continuing to smoke the cigarette, only to find out that the gas tank and tubes were leaking like crazy. Yeah, not the smartest guy ever. I'm just glad that God was looking after us.

The transfer meeting was pretty hectic. Many, many people leaving and many, many people coming in. In the end our zone was renamed to the "Isaan" zone and was given almost 30 missionaries, the majority of which have been in country for less than 6 months. Needless to say, the mission lacks training and we have very few people that can give that much needed training.

After renewing my visa we got the bus all packed up and headed back to Kohn Kaen. The ride home was just as much of a joke, the driver got lost. I arrived in Kohn Kaen late on Thursday night. Today is Monday and I still have not worked in my area! Friday was shot because Elder Ri was really sick. Saturday was shot because we had to go to Sakonakorn (which is a 4-5 hour bus ride one way) where I interviewed a baptismal candidate. Sunday was used at a two hour branch council meeting followed by a very long, but very needed planning session at the house. Hopefully tonight I can get out and work in the area.

Anyways. I'll give you an update next week.


Elder Brown

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oct 12th 2010-Udon

New arriving missionaries!


This week I headed down to Bangkok for my first Zone Leader Council. This meeting was newly implemented about 6 months ago as a mandate of the new missionary curriculum. Since then, I have always heard from the Zone Leaders how great Zone Leader Council is. Although the travel time from both ways from Udorn to Bangkok is about 17 hours on a bus, the 2 hour meeting was worth the ride.

The meeting started with a Bishop from Bangkok stressing the importance of helping our zones get their investigators involved in the seminary and institute programs of the church. After that we gave an accountability of the zones baptismal results and goals for the next two months. As a mission in the month of September we baptized 30 people. The goal for October was 39, but the goal for December was over 100.

After that we had a couple of trainings. The first training was on how to use the Introduction to the Book of Mormon. You might ask, why are the missionaries in Thailand just training on using that page? Well, because we don't even have it in Thai yet. The new edition of the Book of Mormon in Thai is finally coming, for serious this time. The mission ordered 10,000 copies and they will be here in November. I am really excited for the new book, not only because it will have a dictionary, index, and introduction, but it will also be a lot easier to understand by the Thai people.

The other training they gave us was on resolving concerns with the baptismal commitment. We took a poll in the mission and came up with the three most common concerns that are given by investigators. They were: 1. I'm buddhist, 2. I'm not ready, and 3. I don't understand. We talked about the various ways to resolve these concerns and specifically we emphasized the importance to train our missionaries to answer these common concerns using the scriptures.

After the trainings we received a big announcement. The mission areas/zones/districts are changing dramatically. Currently in Thailand there are 8 zones: 4 in Bangkok, 3 in the Isaan, and 1 in the North. After this transfer there will only be 6 zones. There will only be 3 in Bangkok, 2 in the Isaan, and 1 in the North. The reason why this is significant is because one of the zones that is closing is the Udorn Zone. That just happens to be where I am serving right now. So yes, I am moving. Where I am moving to? Well, I'm not sure but the obvious guess is that I am moving to Khon Kaen to be companions with Elder R. The reason why this is the obvious guess is because the Kohn Kaen zone and the Udorn zone are combining to be the "Isaan Zone." Elder R is Elder D's companion before I came, so that would be fun. Not only are there going to be a lot less zones, there are going to be a lot less districts. Most zones will now only have 3 districts. The reasons they are doing this is because the mission is VERY young right now. The majority of missionaries have only been here for a couple of months, so we will have a lot less leaders. I am really excited for these changes because it will make training and accountability a lot more effective.

This is Elder D's last week as a missionary, so his letter was pretty short so he wants to leave, so that means that I have to leave. Remind me next week to tell you a story about someone named Ploy.


Elder Brown

Monday, October 4, 2010

Oct 4th 2010-Udon


This week Moot's wife, Bow, had her baby. The baby had to be C-sectioned. The birth was also complicated by a fairly large tumor. In the end the baby was born without any problems. They named her Eve. (actually in Thai the name Eve is translated to Aewaa) We went and visited them in the hospital the day after; they were very happy. We taught them about the importance of families and gave them a nice copy of the proclamation to the world. We talked about temples for a little bit and Moot informed us that he already has a goal to attend the temple with his family in a few years. They are doing really good and will be baptized soon.

Friday started off with a new "specialized training." Every month we will have a training inside the zone on specific teaching skills. Elder D and I gave the training. It was pretty easy because all the trainings are standardized lessons from church head quarters, so we pretty much just have to read a paper. This training was on "How to Begin Teaching." I feel that the zone really benefited from what we had to say and feels a lot more confident on first lessons. After the training President Smith came and worked with Elder D and I. We had four appointments, but two of them fell through. President Smith drove us around in his car and taught the other two lessons with us. It was really good to talk with President Smith. He is a man with a lot of experience and he likes to talk.

This week will be a pretty short week. Tuesday and Wednesday will be taken up by traveling to Bangkok for Zone Leaders council and then the weekend will be taken up by General Conference. I hope we can get some work done this week.

Sorry, I tried to type more this week, but the Internet cafe's internet kept crashing! Sorry did the best I could before I ran out of time.

Catch you next week,

Elder Brown