Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A message from home

Thank you everyone who has followed this blog for the last two years. You can tell that this has been a wonderful experience for Brandon. He has grown so much. Thank you for all your support to us. We love you.
Aleen Holt

last email

Hey family

Well seeing that this is the last email that I have to send, I'm not really sure what I want to report. I think I'll tell you about this last weekend.

For our district we had three baptisms. On Tuesday I interviewed 2 investigators that the office elders were teaching. One passed, the other had to have a 2nd interview but in the end passed. As well as "M" our investigator, remember her? She was interviewed on Tuesday as well, by the zone leaders. She had to have a second interview as well but passed that. So our weekend was full of baptisms and confirmations. We had two baptisms set up one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. For Saturday the 2 office elders investigators had asked that I baptize them. So I really couldn't refuse and told them I was happy to do it, which I really was. Their names are Mam (แหม่ม) and Toy (ต๋อย). On Sunday Mam and Toy were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then after church on Sunday our investigator M (แอ็ม) was baptized by Elder Merrill. I didn't get out of the program though, she asked that I would be one of the speakers. so I got to speak on Enduring to the end, which I switched to "growing" to the end. I never liked the word to endure. It makes things seem difficult and painful. But growing is a fun thing to do and its what we have to do continually until our life ends here and we get to meet our Father in Heaven and our Savior. So in the end, it was a pretty good weekend.

This week might be the shortest of all letters. But I do have to say. Mom if you want me to go back out on a mission for another 2 years for blessings, I would love to do it, of course I would be missing you the whole time, or you can just make me and dad work together and we can give a whack at being a handy man.
I think this talk (his homecoming talk, mom) will be one of the funnest that I have had in a long time. Tell the bishop that I would be happy to talk. Then tell Vern (Garrett)that I only want 15 minutes no more.. 55555.

OK well I think that's all I can think of to say. I'll keep the rest for Saturday so I have something to talk about.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

PS see you Saturday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting trunky

Hello family

I'm doing good. Well its less then 2 weeks until I get home and well.. I'm not really sure what to do. Like you said in the email, Mom, I have a lot of mixed feelings. Sad to leave the people I love, glad to come home to you, sad that not all things worked out, sad that I wasn't the one to fix all the problems of Thailand, scared to death to go back into regular society.

But in the end its what the Lord wants and needs.

I learned an interesting lesson yesterday that I think helped me know one of the things that I have to do as soon as I get home. In the church, in Thailand the word "home teaching" doesn't really exist, except with a few individuals that understand the importance of it. In the past month or two, because as the district leader I have the responsibility to work with the branch leaders in missionary work and any other thing that President Smith wants us to do, I have been working with the Elders Quorum President to get home teaching set up with the missionaries. In the last few months President Smith had authorized the Elders and Sisters to get home and visiting teaching assignments, as long as it is done in the proper requirement that he set. For example, we have to be switched off with members, we can't go and do it as a missionary companionship. President Smith's idea is that he will let us train the members in the branches that we serve to understand that home teaching is important and its not hard to do. I personally think it is a lot easier to do than to teach investigators. Any ways after a lot of persuasion AKA twisting wrists, aka, going over to houses and watching them fill out the home teaching assignments we finally got home teaching assignments last week.

Yesterday we had our first appointment with a member that has helped out the Elders more then we can thank her for. Her name is Sister Issunee. She has helped us teach almost all of our investigators at one point and is now fellowshipping M (แอ็ม). Anyways it was a good visit for us and for the member that we are paired up with. She expressed how thankful she was to have home teachers again because she said that it has been a long time since she'd had home teachers visit and she feels the love of God when priesthood holders come and visit. She also was thankful because it helps her safety wise as well. She says that just the fact that we walked in and placed our shoes in front of her home lets those in other rooms know that she has friends that are guys. That helps in that she is a single woman and has had a lot of problems with stalkers in the past to the point that she has had to move apartments several times and now lives and travels around with her cousin.

Who would have thought that home teaching could solve so many problems? Anyways I learned that when I get back, I need to repent from being the way I was before the mission and work to do my home teaching every month.

Thank you for sending me my school schedule. I see there might be a few changes for sure but that's OK. I'll take care of them when I get back. One thing I want to do is take a few refresher classes and fix some of my grades that I messed up before.
Man, I have to stop being so lazy in the morning. I think Connor and I will have to go to the rec center every morning for sure.

Well with the less active member that we found/ she found us, She didn't go back to church this last week because it was a special meeting. It was a stake/ district conference. and it was special as in they changed up the Bangkok stake and the Pakkret district boundaries. And also changed the name of the Pakkret district to the Bangkok north district. But that's a different story.

Anyways with Sister Vanta, that's the name of the less active member, she is a good friend of the Branch President, to the point that she considers him her older brother. He has been working with her for a while to help her start making her return back. She has "agreed" to come to sacrament meetings but that's it. She still doesn't feel the most confident in staying longer than that or getting involved with the branch too much. I think there is still some unkind feelings on both sides that still exist so I think it will take some more time. But Elder Merrill and I want to help her out more. I'm not too sure about her daughter, I should probably ask about that, huh? Anyways that's one thing that I think will have to be changed in Thailand. Is the importance of bringing back less active members. Because there is 2000 to 3000 members that are active out of 16-18 thousand on record. That's a big gap. Home teaching I think will be one of the biggest changes to help, next will be getting the proper branch council meeting set up and going. That is really painful to watch and work on changing.

Anyways, that's all I've got for the week.

Ii love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

PS see you in 2 weeks

PSS yes I am getting a little trunky but not a lot.

Monday, June 6, 2011

2 years down, 3 weeks to go!

Hey Everyone

I'm doing great. Its really strange to think that I hit my 2 year mark last Friday. I have been a missionary for my 2 years now all it is is a 3 week paid vacation, right. Well I was on switch offs with Elder McConkie at the time and asked him about that thought, I liked his answer a lot. For a vacation there is no other place I would want to be then in Thailand and there is nothing else that I would want to do for R and R then teach the gospel. So I'm going to try to enjoy my vacation as much as possible before its time to go home.

This last week was one of the more typical weeks, nothing amazingly exciting happened. For the moment our dater M is still progressing slowly but surely. She is building a great foundation to her testimony by doing the best things anyone could do; Praying often, Reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and going to church every day. I don't think there will be much that can stop her from getting baptized.

With Doom, she is learning more and more as we teach her. The biggest thing that we talked about when we saw her was about her reading in the Book of Mormon, which she admitted that she had not been very good at. So we explained that one thing that will help her to be able to fight the trials that she is experiencing in her life is to read the Book of Mormon every day. And that will give her the power that she can only get from reading. As I was explaining that to her, the song "Scripture Power" was going through my head. If I known how to sing that in Thai that is something that I probably would have done. lol

One thing that I have learned on a mission is exactly that, its so important to do three things, because when we decide not to read, pray or go to church we miss out on the spiritual strength that we can get from doing it to help us out in our day to day life.

Oh I lied, there was something cool that happened last week. There was a day that all of our appointments fell through and so Elder Merrill and I had a free morning to tract and find new investigators. So we went to a place that I haven't personally gone before. I nick-named the place the sois of doom. They are these small alleyways that go between houses on a major street that we pass often on our way to most of our appointments. As we went in and out of the alleyways we found there were a lot of houses in between but not really a lot of people that were home. Most people had taken off for work. so we walked up and down not really having much success. In the end we came out of one alley after walking down to the end and back and was met by a lady on her scooter. She asked, "Elders, do you have investigators around here?" Normally just the fact alone that they remember our name correctly, is a shock to us. So of course we stopped and talked. She said after we asked her how she knew elder, "I am a less active member, I have not been to church for a long time, my whole family are members and my oldest daughter is a return missionary, are you coming over to my house or not?" That was a mouth full but after getting over the shock, we both said yes and ran for our bikes. Then we followed her to her house.

Luckily, she was pretty close to where we were. We sat down with her and talked for about 2 hours about her life as a member. And we talked, I mean she talked and we didn't say a thing. She has been a member since she was 8. Her whole household is less active, except for her daughter who is a RM. She lives in Salt Lake. But she explained that she has been less active before until one day about 10 years ago she was working and saw the elders pass then followed them and told them to come over to her house. Just like she did with us. She said that on that day and on the day we met her that she felt like it was time to go back and coincidentally the elders passed by on that day.

She explained to us why she went less active, she got offended and no one would help her and now she feels like she wants to come back. She also explained that she was dating a man who wasn't a member and want the elders to teach him if he opened up. We were perfectly happy to help with that one.

I think the Lord really was leading us on that day but we didn't know it. We came to the end of that alley right when she was passing by and could see us. and had we not been there we would not have known she was a member that needed help.

I know that this true is the Lord's Church and that he does love and lead our paths everyday.

OK I have to go
love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Sunday, June 5, 2011

May 30, 2011

สวัสดีครัป everyone

Its been a good week. This week we were able to give out two baptism dates. The first was with "M." Her boyfriend has left for Japan and he agrees not to move back in with her when he comes back. So that clears up a big problem. She has agreed to get baptized on the 19th of June. No that's not because I am going home on the 24th but because that's when we felt that she would be ready. She is progressing really fast as well. We went to teach her one night last week and she said that she had already given up coffee and we hadn't even taught let alone commit her to follow the Word of Wisdom. We had talked about it a little to let her know what was coming up in her future needless to say after that she had said that we returned the next time and taught and committed her to follow the Word of Wisdom. The two biggies in the commandment list are out of the way. There are a few other commandments that we need to talk about but I don't think she will have any problems with them. She is going to be fun to teach.

Next we gave one to Doom. She is not progressing quite as fast as "M" but, she is still progressing. Her date is for the 19th as well. With that there is her daughter UUM (อุ้ม) as well that should be baptized on that date. She is currently struggling with the Word of Wisdom with coffee and smoking as well. We also need to cover a lot of commandments with her in order to get her ready. Next there is the fact that her husband isn't really on the best of terms with us. Not to the point that he is anti but Doom is worried about what would happen if she gets baptized. So with that in mind its very important that we have members help in order to help us with some concerns that we don't quite have the experience in. But, I have faith that it will be good.

I'm glad to hear that the package got to home safely. That's got some books and things in it that I want for keepsakes. I'm probably going to send two or three more home that size. I think it will make traveling a lot more สบายๆ with less stuff in the suitcases coming home to worry about.

Today I picked up my new suit. It took a chunk of cash but I am happy with it. I'll send pictures home next week.

Well with the weather here in Thailand, its still raining everyday. But in Bangkok its a lot easier to get around because of taxis. In my areas before if it rained we were stuck where we were because it came down so hard.

Here are some words in Thai. Love ความรัก, happiness ความสุก, pray การสวดอ้อนวอน This one may not translate correctly because its a word that the church made up, learn เรียน, and life ชีวิต, and faith ศรัทธา, I'll give you some more next week if you remind me.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John

Monday, May 23, 2011

Utah weather has nothing on Thailand! lol

Hey family, friends, and fellow followers of my letters

This week has been slow but progress with the work has been made. What a strange way of starting my letter its too formal. Any who I'm doing great. Today for an activity Elder Merrill And I met up with Brother Keng from the Udorn Branch and went and visited the Floating markets. That was a blast I'll be sure to throw in some photos..... if I get time. Today we're under a time limit shorter then normal because we have been playing all day all over Thailand. The Floating markets are in a province where there's not an Elders area. The province of Rajaburii. My grammar is getting horrible. Please forgive me if I can't speak English properly for the first few weeks.

This last week we have been teaching a new couple named Did and M. We found them about 3 weeks ago but they haven't really been progressing until they went to the church this last week. M was the one that let us into their apartment when we knocked on their door. She had been introduced to Christianity when she was younger by her friend and had taken an interest to praying. She had been praying on her own before we came. The night that we knocked on her door she felt that it might have been a answer to one of the times that she prayed. Did has no background for Christianity but he is enjoying learning with us more then M is, or it seems. The problem is that Did is traveling to Japan for 3 months this Wednesday. So we are going to see if we can get the missionaries to find him over there. Whoever teaches him will have to know how to speak Thai. If possible they should be speaking Sakonakhorn because he is from there. That made us friends really fast. You don't meet a lat of people that are bold enough to eat dog and say they like it in Bangkok.

Today I went and got the final fittings for the suit that I'm getting cut. It will be finished next week I'll be sure to send pictures. If possible Mom I would like you to put some more money into my account just because its going to be more than my last suit. $150 should be good. I love you too.

Anyway the weather here in Thailand has been strange this hot season as in it has not really been hot at all. But it has been really rainy and when it rains it pours and when it pours in Bangkok it backs up the sewers and when the sewers are backed up it floods. Last week we were in a taxi going to find a investigator and turned onto a street that there was a river of water up to our car doors. It gave us the feeling of riding in a boat.

Today we are going to try and give Doom a baptismal date I'll tell you about it next week

Anyways that's my mind in a nutshell today.

I love you all

Brandon John Holt

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ending area is Pakkret

Hey family and friends

I have to say it was so much more fun talking to you by skype than by phone. I hope Connor gets to go to a mission that has permission to use skype as well so I can see it from the other side.

This week I'm doing great. We were a little trunky after our phone calls but that's normal. It didn't slow us down though. We still have a lot of work to do. This last week, a lot of things happened because of the transfers meeting. First I am still in Pakkret. This is my ending area. Next I have a new companion named Elder Merrill. He is awesome. Next Doom has had a major break through in her progression. Last I have a short time on the computer this week because we just got back from Bangkok and we have to go work tonight so this might be a short email. So if I don't talk about anything you want me to remind me next week.

With Doom I'm still not really sure what has been going on but suddenly she is becoming a lot more converted. She suddenly wants to come to church more and read and pray about baptism. This is a lot different than before, at first we literally had to twist her arm a lot to get her to pray once when we came to teach her. The real miracle happened yesterday at church. Last Saturday we were swinging by her house to see if she was going to church on Sunday. She said that she wanted to but didn't want to go behind her husband's back. Last time her husband was out of town and she lied to him and told him that she was going to work. This time she was going to talk to see if she would let her go with her daugthter. She also said that she wanted him to learn with us as well. (That was a huge change from the first lesson, she didn't want him to learn at all) Well she said that she was going to pray and ask Heavenly Father for help. This was from no advice from us, but we supported her all the way! The next day was way surprising to us when she, her daughter, and her husband all showed up to church. Its a miracle what can happen when the Spirit works with people. My goal is to help her get baptised before I go home. So Elder Merrill and I have a lot of work to do with that family.

Today I went in and got the fabric and fittings for my second suit. This one will be a little more expensive. It will cost 7300 baht. But it will be a lot better quality. I have laid a down payment of 2000 baht and so I will need 5300 baht or about 176 dollars to pay for the rest. Its worth it.

OK I'm going to take off.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt