Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrating Christmas

Hello family

No worries about the missed email. Its ok because this week I get to send and read email and talk to you. Hey so I have some information that I think you would like concerning the phone call that I will get. That's right You will need to call me. strange huh? well heres the info.
So you will have to call this number xxxxxx. Now Mom don't get too excited and call early because its against the mission laws. lol. So I'm not really sure the time difference but I think the best time to call me will be around 9:30 Pm on Christmas day I think that would be Christmas morning around 7:30 Am for you guys but I'm not sure so you may want to check that before. I'll be waiting for you on the other line. I might also answer in Thai, because I won't recognize the number, so don't be surprised when someone picks up and is speaking a different language. lol.

Well here in Thailand people are kind of getting ready for Christmas. But nobody really celebrates like we do back in the states. There are a few places that have Christmas trees up, but its still not huge. There are also always shops to buy Christmas lights and stuff at because the Buddhist will use stuff like that to decorate their shrines. But you see what the real thing every one here is getting ready for is New Years. That's going to be a crazy few days. If I understood right they are going to take 3 days to celebrate it. Its going to be a fun few days trying to find some new investigators.

Well the Christmas program was a good success. Elder Hawkes and I were shepherds after all. The ward had several rooms set up and they broke the people into groups then they traveled from room to room and saw little skits and songs that we preformed. they had a room for the Angels, wise men, King Herod, shepherds, The Inn keeper, and Mary and Joseph in the manger. After everyone had traveled around Elder Hawkes and I ran and grabbed some homemade Ice Cream( mmmm Thai coconut ice cream) and then ran home so we weren't late for curfew at 9. But I hear after we left they had a drawing for presents that everyone brought and they were doing some other things as well. Looked really fun but we couldn't stay.

We went down to the north of Bangkok on Saturday for a District Leader Training meeting that Elder Hawkes had to go to. We also took one of our investigators down for a baptismal interview. Were going to have a baptism this Sunday. Its cool because the man getting baptized is the first investigator that I ever taught here in Thailand.

I also got your package on Saturday from the Zone leaders. It must have been sitting in their house for a few days because when I got it, it was infested with ants. That tends to happen sometimes here. Ants are really good at sniffing out food. So I'm sorry to announce that I opened that package. But I didn't unwrap anything yet, except the peanut brittle and the candy canes. but I was able to save the candy. Well actually, Sister ระเบียบ ( reb-Biab) helped with the peanut brittle. I thought it was too far gone to save so I was going to throw it away but Sister ระเบียบ stopped me and said that, " your mother would be sad if you throw away your candy." She then got all of the ants out for me. The peanut brittle is still good and yummy. :P Oh Sister ระบียบ is the wife of the investigator that is getting baptised this sunday. She is like our grandma here. She always spoils us with treats when we go over to teach.

16 ins of snow on the east coast. I'll take some of that. I'm sick of this 80 degree clear blue skies palm tree weather. I hope Ally and Jed made it safe.

Well I have one more thing I need to tell you before I go. President Smith has now switched our Preparation days to Mondays so I think you will have to write Emails on Sunday night so that I can get them here on Monday morning.

OKI love you all and I can't wait to talk to you on Christmas.

Elder Brandon J. Holt

Almost Christmas

Hey Family

Sorry, I may have forgot to tell you that I was going to have Preparation day on Tuesday this week. That's all right it will give me some time to send some pictures this week. (hopefully if this computer will let me upload).

Well so far it has been a crazy week and it will only get crazier as the week goes by. The reason we have preparation day on Tuesday this week is because moves day is tomorrow. There are some huge changes starting this moves. One is the sister area here in Lop Buri is closing down. Sister Josephson and now Sister O Nell, the sister that replaced Sister Webb( She had a family problem and had to return home for a few weeks, but she will come back we hope) are both moving to new areas and Elder Hawkes and I are taking over their investigators. So in the next week Elder Hawkes and I will have to sort through all our investigators in Lop Buri and decide who we can use time to see and who we can drop because they are not really progressing.

Elder Hawkes and I are not going to moves meeting tomorrow because President Smith is changing things up so that only the missionaries that have to go to meeting will go. So if you're not moving areas you can stay in your area and keep the work going instead of having to take the day off to travel to the north of Bangkok for a meeting. It used to be that everyone in the 3 Bangkok Zones had to go to moves meeting.

Since I'm not moving this moves and this is starting 4th moves in Lop Buri, I will most likely move next moves in 7 weeks from now, Unless something really crazy happens between now and then.

This week the members have been getting ready for the Christmas program on Saturday night. We helped them last night set up a lot of the decorations there were a lot. They really are going all out with trying to bring the Christmas spirit to Thailand. They have changed the lights blue in the cultural hall and have set up stage like things in other rooms. I think they are going to have people move from one room to another, doing a little skit in each room. It's going to be really fun. I think that I am a shepherd in one of the rooms but I'm not really sure. I'll tell you more about it next week and I may send pictures if I take any.

So Elder Hawkes and I have discovered a very yummy treat here in Thailand this week. Coconut. Yummy. They have them everywhere and they are pretty cheep and yummy. We got one for the first time here when we were inviting a guy and went back to give him a Book of Mormon. He was living in a shop where his sister sells coconut. This is how nice Thai people really are. She gave us a free coconut. We enjoyed the treat. The coconut milk is the best part too.

That's really about it for the week.
I'll be looking forward to next week

Love you
Elder Brandon J Holt.

PS I wasn't able to send any photos. The computer won't read that's alright I'm creating the DVD right now to send home.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hello family

It has been a plain normal week of missionary work. This has been the first week in several weeks that we have not had to leave our area in order to go to Bangkok. So we have had the full week to prepare our investigators and members for the coming moves meeting.

We had the chance to talk to a teach two new investigators. First is a soldier in the Thai army -- There are a lot of soldiers here in Lop Buri because Lop Buri is a big military base -- It took us a little while to find his house because he lives in a community that I have never been to before but, after asking some guards at one of the entrances of the base they were able to point us in the right direction. It was a really really short lesson because he was in a rush to go to some army thing I'm not really sure what. We went in and gave him a Book of Mormon and he brought his family in then we left. We haven't had a chance to set a date for another appointment but we plan to call him in the next day or so.

The other guy is a older gentleman that one of our Zone leaders and I found during our switch offs last weeks. He had recently gotten out of the hospital after a car ran in to him and he lost his leg. He was out on the street walking with crutches. He told us he was so happy to be out and walking again. We returned and taught him the restoration and I think we are planing to go see him tomorrow.

We had to drop some of our investigators because most of them have hit the point were either they began to progress themselves or they can not be baptized. It has been a really interesting experience to see how teaching people the gospel changes their lives. It is also interesting to see that everyone has imperfections and trials that they must overcome in order to receive baptism. I know that these trials that we all have are given to us to help us to learn and grow. Have I ever told you that I love Missionary work? Well I do. I'm glad I'm over here. Although it is far away from my home land. I am happy to serve the lord and lead his children back to him.

Today we went to Ayutia( Im not really sure how to spell it in English) We traveled down on the train and then in tuk tuks as we visited a market and a ancient wat. I have some good pictures that I'm going to try and send today.

Wow 17 days till Christmas already, time flies when you're on a mission. I think I have decided that 2 years is not enough time to serve a mission and get all that you want to do done. Here is something to think about; tomorrow is the 10th of December, that is my 4 month mark in Thailand. The very first missionary stayed only 4 months in Thailand and then returned because the frustration he had at not being able to overcome the language barrier. I think at this point for me although I still don't speak very well and make mistakes all the time ( I'm reminded of that fact by both the members and my companion) I know that I will speak as good as I need to in order to help the work progress here.

with some of the questions, The sunflowers are awesome. They have a season of late October to the middle of December. A lot of missionaries come up to Lop Buri if they can to see them every year.

I have the SD card that you sent in the first package here, so no worries about that. I think it will be easier to send CDs back and hang on to the sd cards here. I may buy another one here. I'm not really sure on that yet.

With music, Elder Ito was kind enough to leave me his CD player and speakers here in lop buri. but no CDS that I can listen to. Here is what the missionary handbook says on music that we can listen too. " Listen only to music that is consistent with the sacred spirit of your calling. Music should invite the Spirit, Help you focus on the work, and direct your thoughts and feelings to the Savior. Do not listen to music that pulls your thoughts away from your work, merely entertains, has romantic lyrics or overtones, or dulls your spiritual sensitivity by its tempo, beat, loudness, lyrics, or intensity."
That's pretty strict. President Smith clarified it as this, if it has a drum set in it for example a lot of EFY stuff does, we can't listen to it, But I believe that classical, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Christmas music is still good to listen to. I also agree on not sending my I pod. CDS are ok though.

well I think that's all I can think of to put in this weeks email.
I love you all.

Elder Brandon John Holt.
Ps. Sorry i wasn't able to get the computer to read my camera.
Oh and also P-day may be next Tuesday so please write emails a day earlier or I won't get them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

6 months as a missionary That was fast

Hey family

Its hard to believe that 6 months ago tomorrow I was walking into the MTC not sure what I was doing yet. And look at me now I'm in the middle of Thailand teaching the gospel to those who know very little about Heavenly Father and the gospel. What a rush. To this day I still get chills when I realize that I am in Thailand, so far from home.

Sounds like a good week. With Jen and Nate moving in and all. Where is the house they found, what city is it in? what kind of neighborhood. How are they both doing and how is Kaylie doing?

Thanksgiving was a busy day. I don't think I ever realized how much work goes into it. First in the morning we went out with brother Aladin to find enough chicken to feed 30 to 40 people. (We had to use chicken because turkey can only be found in Bangkok and it is very very expensive, 2 - 3 thousand baht I believe. That comes to 60 to 90 dollars) We looked for little stands on the side of the roads, This is where the best and cheapest chickens are found, people who raise their own chickens. After that we went to the church to make mashed potatoes, stuffing and apple cobbler. The funny thing, we couldn't really follow any of the recipes that we had because we didn't have all the stuff. That's Martha Stewart for ya, always putting to much fancy into her meals. Anyways, after 6-7 hours of preparing and several runs to the local Carr Four, which is like the Walmart here, We had a dinner that would feed 30 people.

I think about that many people showed up. We had a short program, and everyone who wanted to was able to share what they were thankful for. Then we ate. Thankfully there were leftovers of stuffing and mash potatoes, Elder Hawkes and I returned later in the week and had a good free lunch.

This week was a normal week of teaching our investigators. It seems as each of our investigators progress they each have hit a problem or concern that they must overcome in order to progress towards baptism. This is something that I have learned to rejoice in, because if our investigators can build faith enough to overcome their concerns then the Lord will bless them even more and they will have greater faith than before.

There are many different types of houses that I have taught in here. Most houses have tile floors in order to make cleaning easier. Thailand is always dirty and dusty. I have taught in houses that have had couches and TV and most of the luxuries of what we have in our home in Utah. Then I have taught in homes that are smaller then my first room in the house and are made out of sheet metal and thick tree limbs and don't have more than a bamboo mat and a bed for sleeping in. It really is amazing here. I was talking to another missionary here who was saying that we really don't need all the conforts that we get back in our homes to be happy. with computers and TV and Air conditioners. People here live simpler and I think they are the happiest people I have ever met.

Today we had a Zone เถิว or in other words we went and saw things together as a Zone We went to visit the sunflower fields and monkeys again. It was fun. I'll send some photos next week.

Ok I have to go. I have enjoyed reading the conference talks. There have been many that have talked about the Holy Ghost and the power of personal Revelation. This is such an important thing to know about in the world we live today. Through personal revelation and the Holy Ghost we can learn of the love that Heavenly Father has for us.

Love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt.

Searching in the darkness for those that are lost.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Hello family

Well I have to inform you that before you read this email I will have celebrated thanksgiving twice. That's because the International Ward in Bangkok hosted all the missionaries in the 3 Bangkok Zones for thanks giving. Last Saturday we were hosted by the bishop of the Ward. I have to say walking into an American style home after 5 months was quite a culture shock. It was interesting because the first thing we noticed, as we walked into the house is that they had carpet and 3 leather couches. I love couches. Anyways when we walked in we weren't sure what to do because we have been so used to the Thai culture for so long we just kind of stood in the doorway for several minutes and soaked it all in.

The Spencer's are a really nice family. Brother Spencer works for a international company and has lived in Thailand for 3 years. They are originally from Orem, Utah but they haven't live there for some time. 20 years at least.

For dinner we had an amazing turkey with mash potatoes and gravy, yams, cranberry, stuffing, rolls, and yummy yummy yummy pie. I miss eating good pie. It was quite a treat.

On Sunday i was giving the great opportunity to speak. Brother Oat the 2nd councilor in the branch presidency told us on Thursday that the elders needed to speak on Sunday. He then suggested to rock paper scissor for who get the honor of speaking. I won.

To put the outcome of the talk on Sunday in a short phrase. Lets just say I'm glad I still have a senior companion. I was supposed to talk on fasting but after struggling for a few minuets I just bore my testimony and called it good. The language barrier is still there but its getting better.

one of our investigators was kind enough/ sarcastic enough to point out the words that i said. Hes a great guy we see him a lot I think I'll try to get him back somehow to show him how much i appreciate him. lol

On Monday we had Zone conference. This time Elder Prate the area seventy over Asia, was touring through Thailand. So he talked to us. He talked about the importance of complete obedience, with a little bit of how we should pray with our investigators, members, companions, and ourselves. The Answer is on our knees. In the past few days as we have taught our investigators and members we have asked them to kneel as we and they pray. It is amazing at the difference of the spirit in the room when we pray on our knees vs when we sit, stand, or lay down.

Well we get to celebrate thanksgiving again tomorrow when we make thanksgiving dinner for the Branch here in Lop Buri. That was really not what we were planning to do but after it was announced over the pulpit on Sunday, then Brother Oat kindly informed us that we would be making thanksgiving dinner, we really didn't have much of a choice. Truth be told I really am not too happy about it because with zone conference and thanksgiving last Saturday we haven't had a lot of time to look for and teach our investigators. But it should be fun to do anyway.....hopefully.
We also won't have turkey it was expensive here, so chicken will work.

Well that's about it for the week. I'm glad that everyone enjoyed and got a kick out of the pictures that I sent home more will be on their way soon. I also am planning on stopping in a photo place were I can get a CD made of all the pictures I have so far and send a copy home so you can see all of the photos and a few of the last videos I made in the last day at the MTC.

The dish with shrimp was som tum. It is an Eesan dish for east Thailand. Its yummy. This dish in the photo happen to be a lot hotter than I expected and by the time I was done eating it I had tears running down my face.

With the elephants I'm not sure if there is a place in lop Buri to ride them but we can take a hour ride on a train and find one in Ayutia. I'm not really sure what the price is but because we are foreign it won't be cheap.

I got the package this week, Thank you for the poptarts and pudding and cider. Its starting to get really cold in the morning. Cider will be good.

Ok I have to go
I'm really excited to read the rest of conference talks,

Love you
Elder Brandon J Holt (โฮล์ท)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey I think the temperature dropped

Hello Family

Life sounds really good at home. snow and all. Well you guessed right I'm still in Lop Buri. I don't think I will move next moves either. I talked to one of the AP ( assistants to president) a few weeks ago when we did switch offs about moving. He says I probably won't move unless I need to fill a space somewhere, at my point in a mission. Usually what happens is first those who are จปอยู่( going home) move first then President Smith calls new Elders to fill any callings then if there are holes where there are no callings, President Smith will move Elders in my group or the Groups that came after us in to area. Any ways there is still a pretty good chance that I will move next time because 16 missionaries are going home. So I'm not really sure if I'm going to move or not.
Hey I got a new companion this week. His name is Elder Hawkes. He is from Fort Worth, Texas. He has been a Missionary for more then a year now. He came into Thailand since last August. He is a really great guy and helps me a lot with my Thai and teaching. He also just got out of the Bangkok area, so he is really happy to ride his bike and be in the country area again.
Well I discovered something about Bangkok last week after moves meeting. Its really really Crowded. There are an Infinite amount of people there. I really can't explain or compare it to any other city that I have been in. It was crazy.
Any ways I spent the day with several Really Really Trunky missionaries. Which means they really couldn't wait to get home. It was a fun day to go through some of the street markets and see what they had to offer.

The next day was moves meeting where I got to see everyone in my group except Elder Harris who stayed up in the North East to keep working in his area. Most of us got new companions and some moved as there area closed. There is a shortage of missionaries coming in the next few months. Our numbers in Thailand will go from around 130,140 to 92. So a lot of the areas will have to close and there will be a lot of people moving to different areas. I could be one of them, only President Smith knows.
Elder Hawkes and I became companions and headed back up to Lop Buri with the Sisters (neither of them moved).
The next day Elder Hawkes and I traveled around and meet some of the members and our investigators. I learned that I had a better knowledge of Thai then I thought I had a pretty good conversation with a few of the members.
This week we have focused a lot on finding new Investigators. That is something that is going to need to happen because we are coming closer to the point where our current Investigators are going to be baptized and then we won't have any one to teach. So Elder Hawkes and I have traveled to different มูบ้าน( Neighborhoods) and talked to a lot of people about the gospel. Hopefully some of them will be interested.

We should have a Baptism or two in the next month. We can't wait for that. Also the branch is getting ready to start practicing for the Ward Christmas program. I think they want me to play Joseph, but it will be 3 days after moves meeting so we are kind of worried that Elder Hawkes or I won't be here.

We're not really doing anything for Preparation day today. Just hanging out and cleaning the house which needs to be done really really bad.

Wow a blizzard I miss the snow. It is now the Dry season here in Thailand and the temperature has dropped a few degrees. Its really nice to go outside. I can't wait to send a letter to Richard. It's a blast to write to other missionaries. I have been writing to Matt Ruben and Alex Recsiek as well as some other missionaries that I met when I was down at UVU.

The Best way to describe how the language is to say its a struggle everyday. Some days I understand people better then others. But Its coming. I get to see that a lot when I change companions or try something new.

Wow Connor you're getting pretty close to what my times were as a sophomore in high school. I can't wait to see what these next months will do to you . oh and just a little advice, when the swimming gets hard sing my favorite song to sing while I was swimming, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming." It helps a lot.

Hey so I remembered my camera this week.

The first few photos are of when we went to visit a Wat or Buddhist temple a few weeks ago. I'm not sure where the dog came from but its really cool looking. Next is during ลอยกระทง (liegratong) and with the family we went and floated boats and lit of these big lamps with.
Next there are a few when we went and saw the sunflowers, they were everywhere. We also went to a place to eat that was a floating dock on a lake. As well as ate true Thai Ice cream sandwiches.

Oh and the last few are special. you see I have a confession to make. I now have eating bugs and grubs. the pictures are of me eating a water beetle that didn't really taste very good. In fact after eating it it came back up. But before I ate that I ate a grasshopper and several larva. which where pretty good. the larva tasted a little like pop corn. yummy

ok I'm out of time for this week

I love you all Elder Brandon John Holt

November 10,2009

Hello family

First I must apologize, I was going to send photos in this email but you see my camera is in a van that is currently 4 or 5 stories below me.
Right now Elder Ito, Sister Josephson, Sister Webb, and I are in a huge mall in the heart of Bangkok. This is the biggest mall that I have ever seen. It's got every thing here literally. Its called Central World. and it's in a city called Ding Dang. Oh I don't think I have ever told you, Bangkok is like a state or county made up of several cities. Ding Dang is the heart of Bangkok and is very very busy. The church office and mission headquarters is in a city called Pakkret.
This last week has gone by really fast. It was a pretty normal week except that it was Elder Ito's last week. So at most places we went or taught in the last week we stopped to take pictures and Elder Ito said his goodbyes. The Investigators and Members in Lop Buri really love Elder Ito and it was sad for him as well as them to say goodbye.
Because of moves meeting this week we moved English class to Tuesdays. Also because of moves meeting we didn't teach anything. Its called showcase night. A night where the missionaries play games or do some easy activity in order to relax before traveling to Bangkok to change companions or whatever. Last night we watched a movie in English, with permission of course...... I think. It was Wall-e. I love that movie. Everyone had a good time and it was nice to relax for a few moments.

Today we came to Bangkok in order for Elder Ito to meet up with all of the missionaries that are leaving on Friday with him. We are just kind of sight seeing and window shopping for the day. oh and we might get hair cuts I really need one.

So with packages I usually get a chance to get them every 2 to 3 weeks so Ii should see the one you sent in either tomorrow or next week I think. As for one you send in December, I know that we are having moves meeting a week early in order to help those who are heading home to get home before Christmas.Sso that one should make it before then.

hmm with cooking I have done a little. We eat in at our house usually for breakfast and dinner Sunday night. We have a ok gas stove and a microwave. so I have made things from french toast to tacos. I normally make pasta with olive oil. Andrea got me addicted to it. Its also a good way to have energy.

Tonight Elder Ito and I are staying in a different missionaries home in Bangkok. Then, tomorrow is moves meeting and I will get a new companion. That's still a strange thought. There is a pretty good possibility that it could be a Native missionary. That will be interesting if that happens for the first few days to be able to speak. But who knows. Any way it happens it will be for the better.

801-773-4396 This is Elder Ito's phone number. He says he likes food and sharing stories and would be happy to come and tell stories about Lop Buri and Thailand. He gets back Friday night.

That's way cool that Richards getting ready to start his mission. My advice to him is this, no matter what happens in the MTC its easier on the other side, or once you get in country. To learn the language and to be more focused on the work.

As I think back I think that the MTC really was the hardest part of my mission so far. Because I was confined to very small quarters, I was so close to home, and I never saw any of my investigators. But it was worth every single second. I learned so much there.

Ok I think that's about it. Sorry again for not sending photos in this email. I'll try to remember next week as well as tell you about my companion.

Ok love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Really Big Bats

Hello family.

This week has been a way cool week. I took a lot of photos, but I didn't bring the cord to upload them to the computer. I may have to do that next week.

Anyways I found out that even in Thailand they have a holiday that celebrates something about their dead, but I don't really know the details. It's called ลอยกะตง or pronounced Lie-Gra- cong That's a heavy O like in comb not the ah sound. Anyways its comparable here to the 4th of July. Crazy Fireworks, all kinds of festivals and shows. It's a party. At night and depending on how close you are to a body of water They have a tradition of making boats and placing a candle in them and floating them down the rivers and canals. Also they have these cool lanterns that they light that work like hot air balloons. You light a flame in them and then release them into the sky. and they float away. It's really cool. Elder Ito and I and the two sister missionaries, Sister Josephson and Sister Webb, had a opportunity to celebrate with some of the members here in Lop Buri where we did both things. I'll try to remember to bring the cord next week so that Ican send pictures home next week.
Today we went and saw sunflowers. A little ways from Lop Buri there is a place where sun flowers grow and covers fields and fields and mountains. Its awesome. It's also a very popular activity, for the missionaries close enough to do it, to do. We had a member take us to them . Pictures of those will also be sent home.
On the way back Brother Oat took us to see two things. First was a Wat ( a Buddhist temple) that was built in some of the caves in the Mountains of Lop Buri. These caves were infested with Bats. Really Really Big Bats. Brother Oat says at night they fly out to eat in a huge crowd. Kind of like in the Batman movie, as Elder Ito explained to me. As we were walking through the caves we couldn't see any of the bats because it was really dark, but we could smell and hear them. I pointed my camera up and took a picture to see how many bats and how close they were to us. I wish I hadn't. The pictures revealed that the walls above us were covered with bats and that they were only about 3 feet above my head. Needless to say we walked very fast out of the caves after we saw that.
After the wat we went to a Restaurant kind of place (you really can't call it a restaurant to American standards). Basically they built a make shift dock with drift wood and placed some huts on it. This is all floating on a lake. We enjoyed a nice lunch/ dinner here Of papaya salad with shrimp. Its called som tum. Its something that I have become addicted to. Its also very very hot/ spicy. I think this time I was crying by the time I finished eating it. I also have learned with Thai spice, Pepsi won't cool your tongue. Only ice can do that.
Also this morning, Elder Ito and I made the trip down to Bangkok in order to renew my visa. It needs to be renewed about every 3 months or so.

That's pretty much the excitement for the week. Most of our investigators have continued to learn and progress closer to baptism. If every thing goes as planned we should have a baptism at the end of this month.

Man, skiing already. That's something I miss. I didn't get a chance to ski at all last year. Oh well the mountains will still be there when I get back..... hopefully.

I remember the first time I went down to Ceder City, that was a blast. Stuart, Matt, Kevin, and I stayed at one of the Ceder City's swimmer's house for the night. It was a blast. We made friends that night that Stuart and I have always kept up with since then. We even had a few chances to hang out with them when they came up or we went down to compete the years after. Is the swim team going to be housed or stay in a hotel?

That's sweet about the mission calls that came. I think Elder Porter will be glad to here where Caleb is going, if he hasn't already. He is the other missionary in my group that knows the Becerras.

Not counting the crab I don't think I have eaten anything with more then 4 legs. Last week I did have the opportunity to eat Pig ears. That was chewy. I also found out where I can go to eat a scorpion. I may try that in the weeks to come after I build up the stomach muscles.

The interview was in English thankfully. It might have been difficult to do in Thai. I always like the one on one time I get with President Smith in the interview. It gives me a chance to ask some questions about mission work that I can't answer myself.

Well I have been thinking about it. Next week Elder Ito goes home and I get a new companion. It very well could be a native. Which would help me a lot to understand the language and culture here. But it could also be very stressful as well. No matter how it turns out all is well. The Lord will give me the best companion to help me progress at His speed.

Say good luck to Caleb and Stacy for me, as well as Richard. Will you grab his address for the MTC next week for me? I don't know if I'll have time to write him the next few weeks. but I want too.

OK time is up

I love you all.

Elder Brandon J Holt

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hello Family in the land of fluffy white stuff

Sorry I haven't email yet today. Right now it's 8:30 at night and mom if you check your email you are probably worried, sorry.

Today has been a very busy day. We went down to the Mission Office in Bangkok in order to have our interview with President Smith. He interviews all the missionaries once a month and today was our turn. We spent about 6 hours in his office waiting for our turn. In that time I had time to read the email but not answer it. I also had a opportunity to talk to 2 of the elders that were in the MTC with me that I haven't seen since we first came to Thailand.

So Kevin Warburton is going to Albania. Wow I didn't think that the church sent missionaries to the Yugoslavia area in Europe. Wow he'll will have an adventure there. And that language will be a cool language to learn.

Elder Ito is getting ready to leave this moves so on our Preparation days we have spent a little bit of time looking for things for him to take home to his family. Its strange to think that next moves I'll have a new companion. Elder Ito has been a great help in helping me progress to become a better missionary.

I'm glad you agree to the idea with the new suit. But I have been thinking, I also talked to some elders about it, I think I won't get one quite yet. It may not be a good idea to get one now so soon in my mission but maybe in a few months. That way it will last longer. When I get it made it will be about 5000 baht. or with math (33baht to 1 dollar) about 150 dollars. So I may get one cut in April or so.

That's so cool to here that Richard is getting ready for a mission. I'll have to write him for sure but I think I'll send it to the MTC because it may not make it to him on time.

Swine Flu is back huh? That's interesting to hear. People here are always sick, if they can still walk they just put on a mask and go about life. They can also stop by a drug store and buy any kind of drug they want, no prescription needed. For your assurance I'm not sick yet( knock on wood) I think that the swine flu went through Thailand just before we left the MTC. I'm told that most flus start in the Thailand area because of the climate but I'm not sure.

With English Class we have had smaller numbers show up the last few weeks. I'm not really sure why.

Anyways this week has been pretty normal. for what normal can be as a missionary in Thailand. Yesterday we had switch offs with our Zone Leaders. I was paired up with our new Zone Leader, Elder Briant. He is a great guy I learned a lot from him the little time we worked together. One thing we focused on was inviting. We went through a lot of different neighborhoods and talked to different people and left them pass along cards.

Also yesterday because Elder Briant wasn't familiar with a lot of the members or investigators I did a lot of the talking. I also taught an entire lesson by my self for the first time in Thailand. That helped me see how much I have progressed in the last few months.

OK My time is up
I love you all

Elder Brandon Holt

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lots of rain

Hello everyone from home

As Dad's phone says, it is very hot. It has been hot all week. I also learned a very common saying here during the rainy season, "when the day is hot, It will rain" something like that I'm not really sure if that's the exact words but it goes something like that... I think.
Right now its raining a lot. I'm really glad I'm inside writing emails and not out riding my bike.

Well let's see. Last week for preparation day, Brother Aladin took us to see a wat that was being built on the side of a mountain. It was awesome. I plan to send pictures next week because I forgot to grab my camera today. To get to it we had to climb several hundred stairs. They were beautifully decorated and by the time we reached the top I felt like I just got done with a tear down work out in swimming oh how I missed those days.
Well I'm glad to hear that nothing has changed at home with the high school world. and Hey I heard that Murry won homecoming. Sweet.
Anyways we teach English class every Wednesday night to anyone that comes for about a hour and a half. The group that comes changes size every week.
Anyways I'm not really sure how ( I don't think Elder Ito Knows how either) but somehow we ended up at a funeral. That was a interesting experience. and I would go again if I got the chance. Any ways to sum it up, because I didn't understand any of it, it was held at a wat in lop buri and the monks chanted for a few minutes and then we left .
What was interesting was no one really seem sad. there was no crying, but instead there was a solemn quiet. All except the members of our church who visited with their friends and family that were there. Anyways we ran off really fast afterwords in order to make it back to our home.
Off, our Investigator from English is doing really good. We were posting up signs over Lop Buri yesterday to advertise for English Class, and he came up and said hi. He also showed us some places we could tape up signs. We are planning to teach him the rest of the Plan of Salvation tonight.
Lets see oh before I forget, Connor you might like this fact. I have discovered that Ska is Huge in Thailand. One of the few times I glanced at a TV as we were eating lunch one day, they were advertising a Ska concert. Also I heard a Band name that I think I recognize, "The Teddy Ska band" anyways Connor you should look them up and tell me if they are any good.
Well lets see, Ik have a request for a few items in this next pacage, First send more Poptarts I loved getting those and eating a few for breakfast and snacks at night. Also I would like to have a picture of Tessa and me. There should be a few either on my computer or in my junk drawer in what used to be my dresser. I think it could make a good object lesson. Last I would like to request a Triple combination of the Book of Mormon, D & C, and Pearl of Great Price. I am finding that I don't ever use the bible except in personal study and it takes up a lot of space in my bag. Oh and please send a copy of the November Ensign as well. I would like to know what was talked about.

The guitar in the picture is mine at the moment. We think that someone left it behind when they left, so it became the house guitar. The only problem is that when ever I try to replace the strings on it, a single string breaks. So I have bought a lot of strings for it.

Today we don't have anything really planned other then hanging out and buying a few things. Elder Ito is starting to buy things to take home to his family next month when he returns. We are planning to go visit a shop where we think I can buy a Acrylic ball to juggle. Hey Connor how is that coming along? Any ways that's about our day. And the rain just got a lot worse.

Oh I wanted to run a idea by you mom. So since I am in Asia and its really cheap to get a custom made suit. Plus the guy the missionaries buy from is a member so he gives us a huge discount, plus I was given a coupon for a really big discount, do you think I could go buy one?

Oh I almost forgot. I don't think that I have Scott Arata's address. Could you send that to me please?

Dad I was able to read the news ward letter. How long have you been sending letters to the missionaries? It's a good idea.

Well I think we're about ready to face the rain. Lots of rain from the look of it. :(
Oh for the question about my shoes. You see really no matter what we do we are never dry rain or no rain. so we just kind of go and dry out as we ride or teach or what ever.


I love you guys lots

Elder Brandon Holt

Off to fight the rain.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Monkeys are Evil

Hey everyone.

Ok this email may be a little shorter then the last because I'm going to add a few pictures in it.
Well last week there were a lot of meetings. Last Friday was Zone Conference where President Smith talked about how we can get the members to have the spirit of missionary work without crossing our authority. Mainly his plan is this, Because the Mission presidents are over all the branches that are not in the one stake in Bangkok, he is going to start training the branches on ward action plans, this is where we have no authority. For a short breakdown, I think Dad can fill you in the rest. The members come up with less active and people they want the missionaries to go see. Then at Correlation meetings the branch mission leaders will tell missionaries who to go visit. Hopefully through this plan we can get Thailand's baptisms up because the General Authorities are beginning to cut the missionary numbers down in Thailand. In the next 3 months we go from 150 missionaries to 110 or 100 missionaries.
Saturday and Sunday were conference. That was a very interesting experience. It was in Thai so I really didn't understand much. I had a really nice nap though. :P
It was nice when the translator had to stop for a few minutes in order to let the speaker catchup, because it would switch into English for a few seconds.
From the Expression of the speakers it sounded like it was a really good conference. :P

The rest of the week was spent trying to find new investigators and make sure all of the progressing investigators had a baptismal date. At the moment we now have 11 investigators that have baptismal dates.

One of the interesting investigators that we are teaching, is named อ๊อฟor Off in English. We found him as we were putting up signs for our English class that we teach every Wednesday night. He started talking English after we talked to him a little bit about the class. To our surprise he had been in America for several years and knew about the church through Dancing with the stars and American Idol, Good old Marie Osmond and David Archaleta. They really did help a lot. Anyways we taught him after English last week and he has been progressing really well. He told me about a program called Couch Its a way to get back to Thailand. anyways.

So you may be wondering why Thais have strange names like "off" or "fight". Well most people in Thailand have two names. First is their nick name like "off" or even "A" for brother Sakhaa. This is the name that every one knows them by. Even in the church you call them by their nick name Like Brother Aladin. Aladin is his nick name. then they have their real name that is not normally given out at first meeting. this is for all official business. Any ways I thought it was a cool thought.

Well my bike is doing well. I have had a few flats already but I just take it to a repair shop that's on most corners and pay a few baht to get it fixed.

OK for a quick description of the pictures. Most of them are of monkeys hanging around town, no pun intended. And if we are in them and look nervous, its probably because we are. Monkeys are Evil. They tried to still my camera.
oh and another is of my desk I think one is on a good clean day and the other is after a hard day of study but cleaned a little for the picture.

OK I need to go now.
I hope everyone is doing well.

Love you all.

Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hey family. Happy B-day Connor

Hey ya family

It's been a very busy week. This is the first week of moves so we had to get back settled in and ready to go for another 6 weeks. After Moves meeting on Thursday last week I was able to take a trip to a Subway for lunch. Sadly to my shock and horror they didn't have the 5 dollar foot long deal. I was devastated. so I had to take the Sub of the day which cost 69 Baht. In dollars that about 2 but still it cost a lot. In Lopburi we normally eat a thing of rice or noodles for about 25 to 30 baht. Anyways it was nice to have a treat.

We returned home Thursday night and had all the appointments that we had to move because of the traveling that week. Friday was a busy day. Anyways we went back to Bangkok on Saturday because of whats called DLTM, district leader training meeting. Elder Ito had to go because he is the district leader. I sat outside with the rest of the other companions and chatted with them.

Every Monday we have district meeting to go over the plans of the week for the for missionaries in Lop Buri. This week we had to do a lot of stuff. It seems (well rumor has it I don't know the full or real story yet, but I think I'll figure it out at Zone Conference on Friday) that the General authority over south east Asia, noticed that Thailand isn't progressing as well as the countries around, for example Cambodia has been open to missionaries for less then 10 years and is getting a stake in the next year. Thailand has been open for 50 or 60 I forget and has only a stake. So he asked President Smith kindly but firmly(probably very firmly) what he plans to do to fix that problem. His solution: planning and lots of it.

We think but we are not sure, each district of missionaries did this the same time we did. We took all the numbers and results for the last 2 years of out area and found the average. Then we found the average of the last two moves. Then we predicted a few numbers and through a equation that Elder Ito used calculus came up with, and found the averages and of the next 1 moves, 1 year, 2 year, 3 year, 5 years. You should tell Jen this, After this I finally realized why I learned all that useless math in high school, for missionary work. What a coincidence. Anyways after the math we began to create a vision for this moves and set goals on how we want the branch here in Lop Buri to progress. I think we get to turn all this information in to the President on Friday during Zone conference.

So its been a crazy week this week. We have been working to get caught up to where we need to be with all of our investigators. Our goal is to have 12 of the people in a missionary hat trick. They need to be progressing, coming to church and have a baptism date to work forward to. after today 8 of our progressing investigators have all three. Its awesome.

So change of subject Last week when I said that I think it was coming to the end of the rainy season I discovered after I sent the email and left the computer cafe that I was wrong, really wrong. It started raining and didn't stop for three days. It rained a lot. And although rain gets the Thai people to stop working, for missionaries the work must go on rain or shine. So the next few days we rode in the rain. It only takes about 2 or 3 minuets until everything is soaked through. There were a few times I got off my bike and felt like I had just climbed out of a swimming pool. Its great.:P

That reminds me. Mom I need some advice what is the best way to get mudstains out of white shirts. I think I have ruined a few, I can't change the temperature of the wash water. I've tried bleach and stuff that we put on our collars to help keep them white( its not possible) any ways anything that would help would be nice. Oh that reminds me. Every missionary's house has a washing machine. No dryer though. For that we rely on good old air drying.

I got the package you sent last Thursday. I enjoyed the candy. I miss American candy. and I love the pictures as well. Remember if you send any in the future I can only pick them up at Zone conference or moves meeting. They can be anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks apart.

It's great to see the UEA curse is still going about. and to see that the car and Connor are still getting hurt. Jk Connor love you bro.

With the baptism thing I don't think its a policy to have missionary not baptize but it helps with the activity rate a lot.

Hey Happy Birthday tomorrow or yesterday I'm not really sure with the time difference, Connor. How's it feel to be 15? I was thinking about it the other day. In one year from now you will be able to drive and date. That's scary. I wonder how Mom's going to react to that?

Stop told me about you being in a band. But I don't think he understands what SKA is. Any how, where did the trumpet idea come from? That's really cool. And Nate's teaching you that's awesome. I hope you enjoy it. I had some friends in high school that played it and they loved it. It's also hard work but keep working on it. You will master it.

Stop speaks English as good as you and I, maybe a little better then me, but he speaks with Thai accent. I think he has scype maybe you can talk to him. You have to find the right time though. I think its a 13 hour time difference or so.

I can't wait until general conference this week. We watch it a week later because of the time difference.

any how
my time is running out I hope all is well
say hi to chip for me.

Elder Brandon Holt

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Burger King and Cockroachs

hey mom, and family

I need to answer some question before I get started on my week otherwise I will never answer them.
so let see. Ok, I met Elder Palmer yesterday. He's doing good. He said that he regrets getting surgery on his hand now. It hurts more now then it did before. He broke it on the mission and had really no problems with it. A year later it was making a strange popping noise and he wanted to see if there was anything he could do about it, so he went to see the doctor and he referred him to surgery. He said that he regreted trying to do anything about it now.LOL (Comment from Mom: This Elder Palmer broke his wrist in a biking accident earlier in his mission and the doctor's said his bone was dying, hence the surgery.)
It hasn't rained as much as it has in the last few weeks. The flooding has disappeared for now. I think the rainy season is coming to an end slowly but surely.
With General Conference, we will watch it next week end or the weekend of the 10th of October. They distribute a DVD to all the Branches then we watch with the branch. This could be fun, I get it watch in a language that I don't understand. I might get the chance to catch up on some sleep.
I'll probably get the package tomorrow at moves meeting. I'll let you know about it next week.
Ok so I wrote a list of things to talk about soIi can get it all down.

First this Sunday we had a baptism. Woot woot. And elder Ito and I had nothing to do with it. It was one of the Sisters Investigators and her two kids. It was awesome to see the support of the branch and the investigator's family. The Elders don't usually do the baptism personally anymore. Now its the branch presidents that baptize. That way it helps build the support system for the new member.

Yesterday we took our first of three trips to Bangkok this week. We went down to renew Elder Ito's visa. We woke up early and got on a van. Here in Thailand they have several ways to get around. Car, bike, train, van, bus and a thing call a sungcow, which is a pickup truck with seats in the back of it. Anyways the vans is the most common way for us to get back and forth between Bangkok and LopBuri. Normally we pay 1500 baght to rent a profit van but yesterday we paid 250 baght to get on a stuffed shoulder to shoulder van. It was a long 1 1/2 hour ride.
We finally arrived at the church where all of the missionaries were meeting up to renew their visas and I had the chance to talk to several elders that were in the MTC with me and see how they're doing.
After renewing Elder Ito's Visa we went to eat lunch at one of the greatest places in the world. Burger King. It was the first time that I had the chance to bite into a juicy, yummy, whopper. and fries. I love American food. Anyways then we made the trip back and went to some appointments we had.
throughout yesterday some fun things happened. The Tuesday before moves is the day everyone waits for because that's when we get phone calls telling us who's moving and to what calling, but not to where and who with. We find that out on moves meeting.
Anyways we found out yesterday that one of the sisters is moving and going to train a new Thai missionary. and that her junior companion Sister Josephson is staying here and training a new American missionary.
Elder Ito and I are both staying here as well this move. So you get this email.
Today I have been thinking about the changes that I have been through the last 7 weeks. One is I've lost 20 pounds. I'm back down to my junior year weight in high school. whether that's a good thing or not I don't know but I'm thinner. I can now eat most Thai food and not have to struggle to hold it down. There have been some strange things that I have eaten that I can't even describe. I have some good looking tan lines. One where my watch is and one around my shirt on my arms and about half way up my neck. Now if I forget to wear sun screen I don't have to worry about being fried like an egg. My skin has developed a little bit of resistance to the sun.

My understanding skills are improving a little bit. I can now separate words and tell when words are being said that I don't recognize. Where as before it came at me in a steady stream of words that I didn't understand.

I have a pretty good story to tell. the other day I saw my first cockroach. As Elder Ito and I were teaching an investigator I looked on the other side of the room and saw one run over to a corner and disappear behind a box. I didn't really think much of it because it was on the other side of the room. later through the lesson I felt something go over my foot. I looked down and saw this huge cockroach run by my foot. It was at this time I looked over to where my shoes were and really hoped there was nothing in them. I lifted up my feet and folded them under my legs and didn't ever put them back down until after the lesson. When we were putting our shoes back on I checked them to make sure that there was nothing inside of them. That was an interesting experience

This weeks scripture is D &C 88:77-80 Pay very close attention to verse 79 it tells what things we should be studying in school I thought it was cool,

OKmy time is up.

I Love you all.

Elder Brandon John Holt

-----Original Message-----

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Still hot and I'm afraid it's going to get hotter

Dear Family

I am sorry that you must now be confined to jackets. I however I have been blessed with the warmth of the world. Its nice but I think I'm going to miss the snow. :( Hey I also got sunburned the other day. I forgot sunblock. That was a interesting day.

So last week we didn't make it too the zoo with the Sister Niserat and Sister Josephson. We instead did some much needed cleaning around our house. I think we scrubbed every floor and cleaned all our bedding. We now no longer have a fear of walking around our house barefoot.

Last week the barber experience was interesting. My hair doesn't look to bad but I have had much better haircuts before. It kind of looks like I joined the army now. I think at first the barber wanted to give me a hair cut that is common for most collage age students. Its kind of how I had it before I was a missionary but short in the back and a little longer in the front. But he left it a lot longer in the front. I was really afraid he was going to leave it like that. I quickly put my fingers in my hair to the length I wanted it and said like this. I think he got the idea because he went back and fixed it.

This week we had switch offs with the Assistants to the presidents. Yesterday Elder Perry was my companion. He was made assistant when I arrived here and the last assistant โจะพ (finished) he has been in Thailand for 11 moves ( a move is 6 weeks) and has 5 left. Elders have 16 moves total in country and 2 in the MTC.

Any ways we went and had several appointments. The first was with a member Brother นัย (Nie) We talked to him about charity and sharing the gospel with friends. He now wants to take us around on Sunday and show us to some of his friends.

Next we went to teach an investigator named เล็ถ(lek) His wife is a member already and he started learning about 2 weeks ago. We taught him the plan of salvation. I was planning to commit him to baptism but the funny thing is he already committed himself to it. He wants to get baptized on December 27. So Elder Perry and I looked at each other and said OK, we think you can do that.

Last after a appointment fell through we talked Brother โอ๊ค (ood). He is a RM. Now he is the second councilor in the branch presidency. We talked about what he did on his mission to find investigators and what he is doing now. We did this while eating ice cream and Swensins. Who would have thought that American ice cream would be so popular. yummy. :).
Anyways we also talked about some of the statistics of the Lopburi branch. Last week we had a zone meeting in Bangkok to talk about what direction we need to move our areas in the next 2 years. One of those things is we need to make our branches into wards. With that we are supposed to have as a minimum of 15 full tithe priesthood holders we have exactly that and 20 that are inactive.

After the meeting Elder Perry talked to me about focusing our effort on reactivating those 20 inactive priestood holders. So that's what we are now meaning to do.

I'm gland to hear that Gramdpa and Grandma are doing better.
That's a awesome idea for a Eagle project Connor. I remember mine. One day Bishop White called up and asked if I needed to do an Eagle Project and I Did. So he asked me to organize a Blood drive most of the hard stuff was done already.

Remember as you work for the people in Mexico, that no effort is wasted, every person you help is one of Heavenly Father's children helped.

OK my time is almost up
Its crazy to think that next weeks my first moves will be up. next week the new missionaries will come in. It's exciting. I'll tell you more about it next week.

Love you,
remember the church is true no matter what you hear about it.

Elder Brandon Holt

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flooding and a new hair cut

Hey family
This week has been great. but first I should start with some of the events of last week.

So it rained again... we got caught in it and everything got wet. The next day we were riding around and exploring Lopburi and Inviting. I should explain that. So because we can't knock on doors. when we invite we find people on the street. So we have to find places with people that can talk for a few minutes. That can be hard sometimes. Anyways as we were exploring we had to ride our bikes through lakes where the rain caused flooding. There is a lot of flooding that I've seen. The challenge is to keep moving while keeping your feet dry. Its hard to do when the water covers the pedals. But we can get by sometimes.

We decided to drop 2 of our investigator that had dates. ชิ่ต(chit) and ไฟค์(fight). chit was losing interest in learning the church and kept making excuses why he was not coming to church, so we decided it wasn't his time to learn yet. But we will check up on him from time to time. Then Fight who is 17, hasn't really had the true desire to learn the gospel for the right reason. What I mean by that is we feel that he is learning about the church for the social reason and not to come unto Christ. Which is fine because I remember 2 years ago I would choose friends over church. But we are not here to be friends so we asked him to continue to come to church and told him that we are going to stop teaching him.

On Monday we had a surprise. Our Zone leaders came to our weekly District meeting and announced that we were going to have switch offs. Which is when we switch companions. That made me happy because I love both of our Zone Leaders. I was paired with Elder Johnson. We went around to find some of the investigators that we had contacted the week before. But when we went to go teach them they didn't show up. That's fine we'll find them another time. Elder Johnson spent several months in the Area last year so he knows the area and the members really well. We visited some of the members when we had some free time. We visited a family that he baptized when he was here. Brother Aladin is the ward mission leader now and helps the missionaries out almost everyday with teaching. They were kind enough to invite us to family home evening and dinner. Sister Aaw makes really good food.

The zone leaders spent the night with us, it was a party. Anyways the next day we rented a van and took a 2 hour ride back to Bangkok so we could have Zone Meeting. That's when the zone leaders teach us what their vision of the zone is and how they want it to move. I had the chance to catch up with Elder Brix and Sister Akogi, they both went through the MTC with me, and talk about what struggles they are dealing with as well.

Today Is P-day yay :). We don't really have any plans to leave Lopburi but the sisters, Sister Josephson and Sister Nitsarat, I'm pretty sure those are both spelled wrong, want to go to the zoo so we may do that.

I just got my first hair cut. It's interesting to get one when you can't speak the language that the barber speaks. So I was left to his mercy. I was able to kind of describe what I wanted to have done, so it didn't turn out too bad, but it's not the greatest. Good thing I don't have to look too attractive on a mission. :)

I can't remember with the last name of Merrill but I'm sure I swam with someone with that name. Its great to find connections about that.

I believe that Buddhas here are always wrapped in that cloth. I believe it's that same cloth the monks are covered in. Oh ya I never talked about that. There are monks everywhere its really cool to see them. Anyways I'm not really sure why they are covered but I hope to find out in the future one day.
You could send the Sd card back but make sure the photos are all saved somewhere that way I can come back and see them all after the mission.

I really want to see this mysterious niece that I have. you should yell at Jen for that, just kidding. but I would really like a photo when you send a package.
I'm glad Connor likes swimming. Its something he will remember all his life.
Oh I thought of something else you could send if you want. I miss peanut butter. Its really expensive here and comes in really small jars so I go through it really quickly. Also Kool aid would be good. All I really drink here is water and pepsi/coke. Which gets boring really fast.
Its strange to think that my first moves is over in two weeks. Its been fast and I have learned a lot. I can't wait to see our Nong Thais for the MTC and see what we looked like when we got here.

I glad to here everything is going well at home . and hope for the best.

May God be with you

Elder Brandon Holt
searching in the darkness for those that are lost.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brandon's address in Thailand for all you who want to mail him a letter. I know he would love to hear from you. To send a package be sure to send it USPS regular AIR MAIL or Priority Mail. Otherwise he will have to pay expensive duties on it.

Elder Brandon John Holt
50/829-832 Muang Thong Thani
Chaengwatana Road,
T.BanMai A. Pakkret
Nonthaburi 11120 Thailand

one month in Thailand

hey family

Hows home treating you? sounds really nice.

Well I just realized that this week I will be in thailand for one month. That's crazy its also strange to think in 2 weeks that my first moves will be over.

This week has been a pretty normal week, for what normal can be in Thailand. We realized at the beginning of the week that our investigator pool was running thin so starting on Sunday we have been making a big push to invite more people.

With the members in the ward we did something that challenged me a lot. Splits. Elder Ito went with several members and I went with several others. The whole point was to find inactive members and see what we could do to help them get over whatever it is that is holding them back from coming to church.

It was hard because I didn't have Elder Ito to translate for things I didn't understand (which was almost everything) but I was paired up with a return native missionary, Brother โด้. He's a funny guy. Anyways the rule for native missionaries is they have to study English every day we study Thai which is every day. so he speaks pretty good English.

Brotherโด้ and I visited several people that I had met once or twice, and shared a spiritual thought with them. However there were a lot of people that weren't home so we missed a lot. Elder Ito had better luck. He said that all he did was teach a spiritual thought and the members found out the rest.

I don't remember telling you that last week for Preparation day we visited a museum in Lop Buri. It helped us to understand more about Lopburi. It seems that Lop Buri was a political spot for the emperor in the 1600s. He did a lot of international work here. so there are a lot of ruins of a palace and different wats.

This week we went down to a city called Ayutia( I think tha'ts how you spell it) It was the Ancient capital of Siam. Most of the famous wats are here. also Many of the famous martial Arts movies are filmed there.

We took a train down to Ayutia this morning and spent most the day there. We stopped by several huge wats. I took some photos that I planned to send home. Also we met up with the elders in that area and ate some ice cream and a Swensens mmmmmmm ice cream.
Well that's about the excitement I had for the week I hope all is well

love you all

Elder Brandon J Holt
searching for those lost in the darkness.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hello family So this week I decided that is really hot and wet over here. I think it has rained every day. Anyways I'm still alive.

let's get to the question answering. With our bikes most elders either donate them to the mission and give them to native elders, some sell their bikes for a new suit, which is what Elder Ito is looking to do I may do that as well, or you can just trash them, the bikes get really rusty and unstable or at least from what I have seen with a lot of missionary's bikes here.

OK so after last week and zone conference my main focus has been setting goals for everything mission related. Goals for the next 2 moves that I'll be spending here in Lop Buri. Goals to help me learn the language, and goals to help me be a better missionary. It has taken a long time but I think I finally got some that will help me progress.

This week we began teaching an older man names Boonrod. We found him when we were inviting around the neighborhoods around our house. we have taught him three times the last week mainly about the Restoration. When we teach we have to teach slower then what missionarys would teach to Christian investigators because Christianity is a whole new subject to most Thai people. We took with us Brother Aladin the ward mission leader to most of the lessons so that he can help explain and share his conversion story and his testimony. I think Boonrod is coming along. He is a little hesitant because he has had Buddhist teachings all his life and it is hard to change, but I think he will over come.

Another investigator that has been making an improvement is ชี่ต(chit) Cool I found a way to write in Thai. Anyhow, he has been taking the discussions since before I arrived in country. Last week in our lesson we think he is finally beginning to see the difference between our religion and all the others. ชี่ต works in a drug store inside a Big C, kind of like a Walmart/ mall. We have had to teach him at his work a lot because it's hard to get a hold of him because he has to work a lot to support his family. Anyways ชี่ต is one of the investigators with a baptismal date, and I think he will make it.

Lets see..... this week Elder Ito and I found a great place to eat steak. We go there quite often because we love foriegn food, but its expensive. I also ate another thing that I never thought I would eat, ผ้าขิ้ริ้ว or in English, intestines. I'm not quite sure what kind of intestines, but I'm told it was pig. Anyways it was really good. I got it with a Essan dish called Lam It was really spicy and chewy. I also had the chance to eat Dragon fruit and guava. Those are both very good as well.

Life sounds really exciting at home. I hope to get some pictures as well. Which reminds me I need to warn you if you decide to send me a package do not send it express. There is a really nice fee that I get to pay on this side when I receive it. Also if you send me food items make sure they can last for a few weeks. I might not get the chance to pick up the package for several weeks. I think I get them at Zone conference and moves meetings, because they are sent to the mission office where I think its held until I pick it up. But if you do want to send a package you should send in it American candy , chocolate if possible. Also snacks are nice as well. I would also like to have another family photo if that's OK or make it two. I did some things to the last one to help make it an inviting tool. I'm going to try and send some pictures home this week to see if it will work. I hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yes, there are spiders in Thailand

Hi family

I hope all is going well. OK well I don't really know where to start, so much has happen so I'll start with Mom's questions.
Let's see, first. When Elder Ito, the two sisters and I came to Lop Buri, we did what was called a white wash, which in mission language means that we switch everyone out of the area and we're all new to the area. So when we got there we had to spend the first half of week or so trying to meet everyone. By Sunday we had met must of the active members and most of the investigators the last elders left behind for us.
Lop Buri is called the city of monkeys because it has monkeys . lots and lots of monkeys that if you're not looking will steal your stuff take it to the top of the wat or Buddhist temple they live in and throw it off the top to see if it breaks or not. It's a lot of fun to watch.
Elder Ito is from Claton, Utah. I told you some wrong information last email. Elder Ito was Elder Young's companion before he got hit by a car.
Right now I'm sitting in a computer gaming place much like Hasters that me, Stuart and Kevin used to go to. There thankfully is no timer on the computer but according to the missionary hand book we should only spend one hour emailing. so that's my time limit. We are in the middle of Bangkok in a suburban city called Muantoan... I think. It's about a 2 hour drive south of Lop Buri. Our Zone conference is in a city called Bangket which is also in the Bangkok area. The whole Bangkok area is covered by 3 of the 7 zones in Thailand. There are 3 zones in the eastern area and the last zone is in the north that covers the cities of Chang Mai and Chang Rai
Well lets see, I got my bike as you probably could tell with the missing money. Its a Trek. After we had mudflaps and a basket installed on it, Elder Ito made the comment that it could be a Transformer. So based on that comment and it's color. I named my bike Megatron.
We live in a house. It's most unusal(that's spelled wrong). I have found that the Lord has blessed it with all creeping things of life.
We got to do some experiments. Here is our question we are trying to answer. At what temperature does a plate size spider's blood boil? We have had two found in our house so far. One last night in our bathroom and another last week. Our solution is to mix bug spray and fire. Takes care of the problem after several blasts. Other than that our house isn't bad. After a little cleaning it looks really nice. There are street dogs everywhere and it seems like they howl every hour on the hour during the night.
One of my first experiences in Lop Buri was meeting the members the night we arrived. We went to the branch building, which is just a building that the church rents, after we arrived that night. We discovered that they were practicing for ward choir and we were volunteered as we walked in. This whole time Elder Ito was having conversations with everyone and I didn't understand a thing. It was at this point that I thought "I wonder how I got here?" The great thing is the members tried talking to me and I couldn't understand them. Nor could they understand me. It was at this point that I realized that they had taught me the wrong language in the MTC. Anyways the members are very nice and are really helpful when it comes to learning Thai.
Elder Ito and I were to arrive when we did. Lop Buri has began to pick up when it comes to investigators. In the last 2 and a half weeks we were able to set 4 baptism dates with investigators. We have also been able to teach many new lessons.
One of the investigators that we have been teaching is named Phaa Somsawk. He is a construction worker from eastern Thailand. Here in Thailand construction workers live on site where they are working that way they can work faster.., I think. Any ways last night we were at a members house for FHE and I discovered that he knows a lot of English. So we had a nice conversation in English about how he learned it and where he has worked in the world. He has worked in places all over the world like England and Egypt.
Well let's see. While I have been here I have tried some interesting food. First I had Durrean, which is a fruit, also it is the only thing that made the guy on Bizarre foods throw up, and I liked it. Smells bad though. I have also eaten a spicy fish paste. The interesting thing about this paste is the fish is rotten. It was really spicy. I only had a small nibble of that.
I have eaten at places that would not be FDA approved like this one place where they bring out a grill in front of you and you cook your own meat. Its really good.
I have also learned the importance of drinking coke or pepsi. When you eat some things it may not be cooked all the way so you drink coke and it kills all the bacteria and stuff that will make you sick.
Any ways I hope I'll is well. Sounds like the Oquirrh Mountain Temple is going good. Connor remember this is one of the best years of school because you're the oldest of the school. Remember though there are many younger than you that look up to you. So be a good example to them.
I hope all is going well in the Holt Hotel. Say high to the newbies for me

Love you all

Elder Brandon Holt

PS I wanted to send you some pictures but i forgot my cord so i'll send them next week if I remember.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hello family

I'm am so grateful to finally be able to get some news from home.
Okay, first Mom I'm really sorry I wasn't able to email you Wednesday night. I think if I was able I would have only sent this message,"I am here" by night here in Thailand all 15 of us were barely able to form complete sentences, we were so tired from traveling. Sorry you had to wait so long to get this email. It's about 5:30 pm here in Thailand. It's been a busy week and we just now finally have a small break to email. love you

Okay to start, I have been chased by dogs, monkeys, crazy moped drivers and nearly hit by the crazy traffic in Thailand and I'm loving every second of it.
So let's see after I hung up the phone on Monday of last week I ran to my plane so i could bound. We took off about 9 and landed in LAX around 10:30 Pacific time. From there we had to travel out of the national terminal into the international terminal. ( I apologize for the spelling now I'm losing my sense of English) any how. Here was the first culture shock to us. Most people who were in this area were traveling to southeast Asia with us. Here is also the worst part of the trip. Because of our name badges they moved us to the front of the line. So as I was checking in, it turns out that there was a miscommunication between the airport and 7 of our tickets. They forgot to change it a week ahead or something. any ways I got to pay a $100 fee for the change no biggy. yet. Because of the problem our travel leader sister Akagi had to call the travel office. We then spent the next 2 hours trying to fix the problem and the result in the end was to pay the fee and get reimbursed in Thailand like I decided. but because of this there was mega frustration some tears, some yelling, some mashing of teeth so not calling home, some moaning and complaining, I decided that night that I don't want to ever go back to LAX. That was a pain. Any how everything in the end got sorted out and I learned a lot about some of the people in the district.
OK so next there was a 14 hour flight to Taiwan. I liked it the Chinese take good care of their customers on their flights. Anyways I never saw the sun on Tuesday and I never slept. It was nice.
We landed around 8:30 in the morning their time. Time for breakfast. Yay. Me and another elder, Elder Newman, broke away from the main group. Yes, we could do this and took the time to find some food. We found a place to change so money which i still don't understand. And got some rice and pork , yum.

We stayed there for about 2 hours and I wanted to call you but my card didn't work internationally. We got onto anther flight and spent another 4 hours which flew by, no pun intended, in no time.

Bangkok airport is huge. It felt like we walked forever to get to customs and our stuff. ( side note at this time they had given a note to Sis. Akagi to give to the elders that suggested we freshen up before we leave the baggage claim. Don't know why, I figured I smelt good although I did have a really good shadow growing on my face.) Again as we began to walk through customs they saw our badges and waved us through.

We met the office Elder and the APs and President and Sister Smith on the other side. I like them. Brother Saakha described him as a soft teddy bear. he was right.
anyways I took some pictures to follow the trip.
We next went through the crazy streets of Thailand. People here drive very aggressively but at the same time very polite. For example, the horn is never used in anger. It's just a polite way to let someone that you're in their blind spot passing them. I think I prefer it here. At the mission home we took pictures that I think will somehow get back to you with the mission president. We ate lunch then we took off and and took care of some paper work at the office and got interviewed.
By night we were so happy to rest our heads on a real bed that I don't remember much after I crawled into bed.

The next day we quickly got ready and took off for the church. We met our trainers there. Because of the huge group of missionaries leaving the mission that we're replacing, every missionary in Thailand was there. We got to see our Phii Thai's that left us 5 weeks before and meet their companions. Well because I'm running out of time I'm going to skip most of this and just say my trainer is ELder Ito. If the name is familiar it's because he was Elders Young's companion when he got hit by the truck. I met him too, he made a full recovery and no one would know that he was in a mess before. Elder Ito is from Claton Utah, he is on his last 2 moves in the mission which means he leave in November.
They assigned us to a city called Lop Buri, the city of monkeys, we opened the area. there our 2 Sisters that work in our district as well. so it's the 4 of us. Lop Buri is 2 hours north of Bangkok but still in the Bangkok province. it's about in the middle of Thailand. OK

I have to go I'll be looking forward to telling you more about my adventure next week

love you

Elder Brandon Holt