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.