Monday, December 20, 2010

Second Christmas in Thailand

Hello every body
Well, this last week, Elder Jensen and I had companionship exchanges with the zone leaders. I was with Elder Phanom (ผนม). I was way excited to work with him. I met Elder Phanom in the very beginning of my mission when I was in Lopburi for my first two transfers. I remember telling him that I hoped we could have one day that we could be companions together. I had almost forgot about that when as we were getting ready to switch back Elder Phanom asked "So is your dream fulfilled?" I laughed and told him yes.
We switched off for two days and because he had served in Ubon for 6 months, he knew some different neighborhoods to go inviting. So he took me around one day to find new people to teach.
This week we may not be having any baptisms. Well at least the ones that I talked about last week. (อว้น) and (วัลย์) or fat and one won't be getting baptized this week because they had to run off to do some family things so we haven't had enough time to get them ready but, they will get baptized next month.
However there is someone that might still get baptized this week. Her name is jitrii or (จิตรี). I think I wrote about her the last week or two. She has been really exciting to teach. Let me explain the story. So about three weeks ago we ran into her in front of her house and invited her about Heavenly Father. Well she had been studying a new religion/ cult I'm not really sure what it is. That a guy in Bangkok started where he claimed to know about a spiritual father. So she was interested to know what our thoughts were on Heavenly Father. She asked questions like, What does he look like? or Do you have a picture of him?' So we sat there and taught her about the restoration and showed her one of the photos of the restoration. we didn't have a lot of time to talk at that meeting because we didn't have a member with the priesthood with us so we couldn't teach but we did set up another appointment with her. The next day we returned to go back and teach. We taught more about the restoration, and in the end we asked her to pray about it. Well she said no. Normally that would be where we stop teaching and find someone else to teach but, Elder Jensen and I both felt something about her. So we asked if we could come back another day to talk, she agreed. We went back again and tried to teach about the restoration again and she still refused to pray at the end of the restoration. One thing we realized when we taught her after the second time is that we had been taking young adult members to help us teach. She is about 67 years old so in the end according to Thai culture the young adults are still children and she wouldn't even listen to them. Well that night we asked if we could meet her at the church next time. This time however we took the first councilor in the branch presidency with us to teach. That night we gave her a tour of the church and told about each of the different rooms. This is where she began to change with the Spirit. At the end of that lesson we committed her to come to church. she said she would come. This was 2 Sundays ago. she came and she began to open her heart. The next Monday we saw her with two members, a husband and a wife. We learned at that time that jitrii was a retired nurse. The sister that we brought was a nurse as well. That helped a lot. However that night everyone shared their testimony about prayer. One thing I have learned as a missionary is that nothing is more powerful then 4 people in the room sharing simple testimony. Well after everyone shared, I asked a question that I don't think I have ever asked anyone. It was, "What do you feel right now?" she said good. Then I asked have you ever felt like this before. she thought for a minute then said that she had felt the same the first time that she walked to church when we gave her a tour of the church. Then she had felt it again when she went to church. Next she said that she felt this almost every time that the elders had come. Then Elder Jensen and I both testified that that feeling was the Holy Ghost. And then everything clicked. She understood. So we committed her to pray and she said that she would try.
Well the next day as Elder Jensen and I were studying we received a phone call from jitrii. She said that she had received her answer and asked if we could come over that night. We said that we would be happy to. During that morning Elder Jensen and I prayed to figure out when we should give her a baptismal date. After praying we received an answer that surprised both of us. That was that she was to be baptized on Christmas day. That night we asked her if she would be baptized and she said yes. So every night following, we have seen her and taught everything that she needs to know to be able to pass the interview to be baptized. It's amazing what the Spirit can do to people. For example we taught her the Word of Wisdom and she said that she had been very, very, very addicted to coffee. but she said that she would stop drinking for the last couple of days. She has had a really bad headache because of the addiction. Every concern that she has had she has solved herself and put her trust in the Lord. So far as we know she is going to get baptized on this Saturday.
OK i have to run
I love you all Merry Christmas.
Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, December 13, 2010


Hello Family
Well I'm going to make this a little short because I need to send a good letter to President Smith. However let me tell you of our week.
I'll start on Wednesday. This last Wednesday, we had to travel to Si sa gade the providence next door to Ubon for a meeting with our zone and the assistants to the president. They thought a lot on how to truly work through faith as a missionary. One thing I definitely learned is that our faith is definitely shown through our Thoughts, Words and Actions. For example if we are truly committed to our purpose as a missionary, we will be able to enter any house and teach a lesson.
Let me tell you some of the miracles that happened this last week to illustrate. Remember jitrii (จิตรี) She is the lady that we found because we talked about Heavenly Father and she was interested in that. Well, for the last week she told us most determinedly that she would not want to learn anymore because she told us that she could not follow the things that we asked her to do. Mainly to go to church and pray. Well on Friday, we asked her if we could we could meet her at the church to teach because it might be a little better of an environment to learn. Well really she said that she was feeling bad that we had to come from the church to see her at her house, so we conveniently offered her to meet her at the church and she accepted. So at church we gave her a tour of the church and used very faith filled words for example " when you come to church you will see that the members will be the ones behind the pulpit teaching the rest of the members." or " In the third hour of church you will come to this room where you will be with other women called Relief Society" Instead of " if you come" Well our faith was rewarded because at the end of the tour she said that she would come to church on Sunday. And she did. She is going to be a great member in the future.
Another miracle is that we found a lot more new investigators than we have ever found in this area. The whole district was power boosted with the spirit and faith.
We also gave two investigators that have been learning since April baptismal dates for the 23rd of December. Their names are fat and one. I'm really excited for them. I'll try to remember to write more about them next week.
So in Thailand, more specifically in the east part of Thailand, there are these yellow signs posted on the power poles. They say things like Jesus is the redeemer of the world, or Repent of your sins, or have you written your name in heaven yet? What's interesting is, in my stay in the Issan is that I still can't figure who places these signs and apparently no one else knows because they either ask us if we put them up or they say they don't know either. I used to think that they were annoying and that no one really pays attention to them but as I have been here in Ubon, many of our investigators have mention the signs at one time or another for one reason that they decided to learn with us. To this day I'm not sure who put them up but if I figure it out I'm going to thank them for opening peoples hearts to the gospel.
OK I love you
Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Teaching new investigators

Hey family
Well today its a nice 80 degrees outside and everyone is dressed up in jackets and coats. I'm doing great.
This week has been a lot of work. We spent a lot of time finding new investigators. I don't know why but many of the investigators that we have taught in the past aren't keeping the appointments that they originally set up with us and it seems to be hard to meet with us again. So with the free time we have more time to find new investigators.
For example this last week we found through our efforts 14 new investigators. I think everyone we taught are in families. That's what I have found out the biggest key to the gospel is. Is teaching families. Because that is what the gospel is.
One of the new families that we found is a family of women. We were going into an area that we once had several investigators in several months ago so we were hoping to find maybe one of the former investigators and see if they were ready to learn further with us. At the same time we were going to visit a investigator and try to invite them to church to see if they would go. As we were walking buy some houses there was a tent with some childrens clothes hanging up. I saw a lady with her baby sitting down and smiling at us as we walked by. Normally I try to avoid all contact with women here that smile at us because usually they are thinking differently when I talk to them ( I'll let you figure that out)but, for some reason I went against all reason and turned around and walked into the tent to talk to the lady. After a few minutes of talking, I figured out that her name was boo(ปู) or crab in Thai and that she lived there with her step mother and step sister. She had recently divorced and moved out to Ubon to be with family. Her step mother was named bui (ปุ้ย) and her step sister named yoke (หยก). We told them that we wanted to share a message about family with them but, we needed a member of the opposite sex to be with us. They agreed and on the following day we returned to talk about the gospel and how it helps the family. They were really excited to learn. We are going to try to see them again tomorrow after we teach English with them. I'm excited to teach them.
We found another person that I am really excited to teach today. Her name is jitri(จิตรี) She is a elderly lady who loves to take care of cats. Lots of cats. Lately when we have gone tracting to find new investigators we stay in areas with in 1 or 2 kilos from the church. That way many of those we teach really don't have any excuse to not go to church because of travel. Anyways every now and then, in walking in an area that we go often we find a street that we haven't ever taken a step on. So it was with Jitri street. We hadn't walked out very far until we saw her in her house, which is a old townhouse that doesn't have a front wall. She uses tarps to block it off. We called her and she looked up and asked in broken English, "You are missionaries right". We said yes and talked a little about what we had to share. She asked, "Are you guys Christian?", this time in Thai. And I said that we were Mormon. That threw her off. She then asked, "I have never heard of Mormon. What is your God". I answered Heavenly Father. She then asked ya well what does Heavenly Father look like, I then began to explain that he looks like you and me or we look like him because he created us in his image. He has a perfect body like us. This seemed to intrigue her because she invited us in. Needless to say we didn't go in because we needed to have to have a member of the opposite sex with us. But she had a lot of questions and began to ask. It turns out that she had been reading a book about a guy that has a religious theory about how everyone has a spiritual father. She showed us the book and showed us a 12 sided star on the back she said that this is what the book says
Heavenly Father looks like. Then she asks do you have a picture of what Heavenly Father looks like? Thankfully I had a passaolng that talks about the first vision. I pulled that out and showed it to her and pointed out in the pitcure that see here is a picture of what he looks like and his Son Jesus Christ as well. She was even more intrigued. So we asked if we could come back to see her again with a guy memeber with us. The next day was just as cool. We are going to go back tonight to see her again.
Well I'm really short on time today
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hey family

I'm doing super-duper this week. How's everyone at home? Well I don't remember if I told you that this last week was a transfers week or not but that's alright, because I wasn't planning on moving anyways. I did however get the package that was sent and will be putting up the decorations in our house if we have time. we should.....maybe. Anyhow.

This week went by really fast. In our district only 2 out of four companionships stayed behind to work. That makes this the 3rd transfer meeting that I missed through out my entire mission. It's strange not going down because you're not informed about a lot of things. Its all kind of up to the Zone leaders or what you hear from the gossip in the mission to get informed.

This week many of our investigators were either out of town or were unable to meet with us. So we had a lot of time to go find new investigators through the wonderful technique of tracting or inviting as I have sometimes called it. Its great to spend the time out in the sun day after day talking to people who really could care less. But I also love it because it's the best time to really understand Thai people and culture. For example I learned that right now in Thailand there is a huge craze about Hula hoops. I have been noticing more and more women and a few men hula hooping. Last night I figured out why. The heath department has set a goal for all of Thailand here to have more then 70% of Thai women with waist sizes under 30 inches. They decided that hula hoops were the way to do it. Maybe I should get on this. I seem to have trouble working out in the mornings. For the last week I have been working on my leg strength by walking. From my bed into the next room to the sofa. I think I am starting to see great results. Anyways

In the last week we had a few miracles in our finding. For example. There was a night when we were out in a neighborhood that Elder Jensen and I have been walking through at least once a day to find new people. This particular time we were with a member named Ice. Remember him, he was one of the 3 brothers that got baptized when I first got here. He is an amazing missionary. Anyways we were walking and Brother Ice saw a man behind his gate and hailed him. We went over and talked to him for a few minutes. Then asked if we could share a message about eternal families with him. He said he had to ask his wife first and walked inside for a few minutes. After a few minutes he came back out, and said if we could come back later because his wife wasn't feeling very well. That's a normal excuse not to listen to us so I figured he wasn't interested. But we asked if we could exchange phone numbers anyway. After that we walked away down the street. at the end of the street I got a phone call and to our surprise it was the man that we had just invited. He asked if we could come back and talk for a few minutes.

Some what still surprised we decided to turn back and see what he had to say. As we got there we were greeted by him and his wife at the gate. They both welcomed us in. As we sat down and started talking we learned that the wife had been a former investigator about 5 years ago and almost was baptized. The man talked to us a lot about family and how he liked how we talked about Eternal families. He said that kind of has a ring to it. Anyways I asked him why they didn't let us in at first. They said because at first the wife thought we were some kind of insurance salesman. Now that I think about it It's true, and its the best kind. 555

We haven't had a chance to get back to them yet but we will try in the future.

This week I sent some pictures home. the first few are of our thanksgiving party that Elder Jensen and I had. We had 2 there. Then there are some of the baptism that we had over the weekend. Remember the lady we baptized a few weeks ago. Well her children were baptized this week. It was a crazy week trying to get them ready for it.
Then I also sent some of our ลอยกระทง (laykrathong) adventure last Sunday.

Ok I have run out of time today sorry

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt


Hello Family

Happy ลอยกระทง. Remember last year when about this time, I was in Lop Buri still. That seems forever ago. Yesterday was Loykrathong day here in Thailand. We had a few minutes just before we went back home last night to go float the plant boats that a member made for us. It was fun to take part in the Thai culture for a few minutes. I understand a little bit more about it this year then I did last year. Loykrathong is a festival in order to worship the spirit of the water, which brings life to all the earth and plant and rice and so forth. It also sweeps away all the bad stuff in the earth as well. So in order to give thanks to the water spirit they make small islands to float on the rivers and lakes of the cities. So last night we went to a reservoir nearby and placed the boat in the water. There were so many people. The only way that I can explain it is by comparing it to the 4th of July. But I still don't think that could come that close.
Anyways. This last week was a busy week but I feel like we got more done. On Tuesday I exchanged companions with Elder ตัอม or Tom in Warin the area across the river from us. We went and taught 3 new families, one being a part-member family with a less active member in it. Those guys are doing great over there. The best missionary is a native one working to bring his people unto Christ. And Elder Tom and Intavong or intawong prove that.

The rest of the week Elder Jensen and I worked in our area together to help our investigators. This was a week where we looked at many of our investigators that have not been progressing or we have been unable to meet with and decided how much time that we have to devote to them. Many of them we have decided to stop teaching because they have either no time or lack the commitment to progress. So until they are ready in the future we will, as President Smith says, "place them on the shelf" where we can see them but not teach them until they are ready to progress. AKA Formal investigator part in our area book. And with the cleaning up of the area book we have been doing the last few weeks the Elder in the future can find them again. A clean area book is very important, I'm sure Nate or Jed know how it feels when you get to a new area with missionaries that haven't been taking good care of the records.
Anyways we found a cool new investigator yesterday. We were tracting or inviting in a neighborhood that we have been to quite a lot the past week. As we were walking, we saw a man walk out of his house to take the garbage out. We talked to him and come to find out that we had invited him to come to English class a couple of days earlier. I hate when I talk to people that I have talked to before and don't recognize them. That happens a lot to me. And because I am one of the few white guys that can speak Thai, my age in this part of Thailand everyone remembers me. 5555. Anyways after I finally realized who he was, we started talking to him about Christianity. He asked a lot about a being missionary and the mission life. For example he couldn't believe that on Sundays we live and work from 8 in the morning to 8 at night without pay of one baht. We kept talking to him and he said he would like to learn a little about what we had to teach.

His name was เบิล (bun) or gun in Englih. He lived with his wife. We sat down and asked if his wife would be interested in learning too. He said that he was a little scared to ask because they had been a fight in the morning and on non-talking terms for the day. (what a great time the meet the missionaries) Anyways we asked him to try and he did but she wasn't willing to even say more then a word to him so she didn't come, but she did at least sit down in front of her computer in the same room. Anyways as we started talking he asked what is a great way to calm down after a fight like this. I looked at him and said well we have this thing called prayer. That works really well. so from that we started teaching him. It turned out that he was really interested in learning more. We have our next appointment with him tomorrow.

Well my time is short again. I need to learn how to type faster.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Miracles from listening to the Spirit

Hey family

I'm doing great this week. I finally got a whole week in my area. By the looks of it, it will probably be the only whole week that Elder Jensen and I will have together as well. This week I have companion exchanges with Elder Fowls and Elder Perry, our zone leaders. Then at the end of the week is Zone Conference. Its funny I was thinking this morning about when there were days that I had nothing to do before I was a missionary, and now I hardily have time enough to write a letter on our preparation days. I think I like it better this way. I always have something to do.

Well over the past week we met some amazing people and had some miracles happen. I'll start with Pa Brayad, the man you wrote about in the email today. A few days ago we had an appointment to teach him. Well he is a 63 year old man. He lives with his daughter and son's girlfriend right now. Anyways we have been trying to teach his daughter but she has been in Bangkok for the past few weeks so we haven't been able to teach her. This last time she was there. As we sat down she had got up to study, she is taking tests and trying to get a job in general management. I had a thought that went through my mind that if she did not sit down at this time with us now she probably won't ever sit down to learn with us. So I did the only thing that I could do which was to shout into the next room and try to start to have a conversation with her until she came and sat down with us. It worked. After that Elder Jensen and I had an incredible lesson with both Pa Brayad and his daughter named Fone or Rain. We committed them to be baptized when they know that the gospel is true and they both agreed.

Next was one of our new investigators that we taught last Saturday. We have been trying for the last 2 weeks to talk to them. They are a husband and wife named Ahkome and Jambii. They work with some of their family as clothes washers and they pick up side jobs on the side to make money as well. As we finally got a few minutes to sit down with them, one thing that really stood out to me is a thing that Jambiii said when we asked her why she sat down with us. She said that for the past few years that she has been looking for two things and she doesn't know why. One is that she has been looking for something that she doesn't have. She said she doesn't know what that thing is but she thinks we might have it for her. Next she said she has had a feeling that she needs to change her name and that she thinks that we might be able to do that. ( in Thailand its really easy to change your name. A lot of people do it here) I told her that I might not be able to help her change her name but I know that I have something that she is looking for if she is willing to listen to me. I'm way excited to go back and teach her and her husband this week.

Last is a thing that happened last night. Elder Jensen and I had been out tracking and had decided to change areas because we were getting bored of the place that we were in. As we were going along we ran into Ice, one of the 3 brothers that was baptized a few weeks ago. We had a quick talk with him then he went on his way. As we were talking to him a man stopped close by to smoke a cigarette. After talking to Ice the man looked as though he wanted to talk to us but couldn't bring himself to do it. So to help, I went to him and started to talk to him. I'm not sure why but I started talking to him about smoking and how if he was willing to stop we had a way to help him stop for good. ( Word of wisdom invites are always shocking to me) Anyways we started to talk and then he started talking about the Book of Mormon and Nephi. That was a little shocking. So I asked if he had learned with the Elders before. He said yes but he had only learned a little then stopped. He said that he had only read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon. For only reading a little he knew it really well. I asked him if we could meet him at his house to talk to him more. He said he was going to a friend's house and because it was closer we could go there. I thought about it and figured it was OK. So we went to his friend's house and taught him and his friend a lesson and got their information, to go back another day. Afterwords Elder Jensen and I thought about it. If we had not decided to change areas that we were inviting in that place at that time we would have never ran into that man.

There are some of the miracles that we saw.

OK time is short today

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hello family

I'm doing great here. Well Its been a busy week with a meeting in a different providence of Roy Et. or 101 in numbers. Elder Tom and I left on Wednesday and we were in the meeting from about noon until noon on Friday, with breaks at night to sleep of course. We both went because we were trainers. This is the training meeting for the new program called the specialized training program, original name huh, but anyways we have to go to training meetings about every 2 months until the program enters the MTC in May.

It's way sweet if nothing really new, everything we learned is found in Preach My Gospel. Its just now more tuned to help us teach with the Spirit better. One of the things we are working on is asking inspired questions that help our investigators realize the things that we are teaching and how it is true.

We got back on Friday, and Elder Jensen and I went to work. One of these weeks we will get a chance to work together for a full week. It might be this week....maybe.

But after that on Saturday and Sunday was district conference for all the branches in the Ubon district. So on Saturday night we had quite a lot of people at our church. President Smith found me that night as we were taking a break and asked if we could stay behind to translate for Elder and Sister Watkins, the senior missionaries that are in charge of family history. Not many members came for the Saturday night session because of the distance they have to travel.

But for Sunday it was even crazier. We had everybody come. Including the missionaries. We were able to get several of our investigators to church that day as well. One of the investigators that we have been working with lately is named Brayad.(ประหยัด) He is a 62 year old man that we invited out in front of his house. The first time we taught him he told us that no matter what he would stay Buddhist as the rest of his family. The first week after we had contacted him he went to church and has been going every week for the last three weeks. He is one of our best investigators he tries to understand everything we teach him and after going to church he always has questions to ask. That's my favorite type of investigator one who asks questions to understand better. It beats teaching a quiet one any day.

Well think about the paragraph about coming and picking me up. I think it would be a great idea. I finish in the middle of June. I don't have my exact release date yet but I will in the next few weeks. The only problem is that if you pick me up I still have to be a missionary until I get released fully by President Hunter. I also think there is a rule on not going to visit your areas. So thinking about it, it may be better to wait until I get home then have a date within 6 months of getting home to go back. Because I think I want to show you all those that I taught and met. As well as do a few things that I couldn't do as a missionary. We still have some time to think about it.

I'm still wondering about this strange Mercedes that I keep hearing about. Its been in three crashes already. I think everybody is trying to take it If this is the trouble of having a nice car, I don't ever want to get one.

With the photos of the sunflowers, that was a photo that was left over since I was in Lop Buri. I thought she (Grandma June, Mom) would like it. Today we went to a tiger zoo. I took some pictures but didn't bring anything to put them on the computer. next week.

Well that's all I've got for this week.

Love you

Elder Brandon John Holt

Saturday, October 30, 2010

another baptism

Hey everybody

How's it going? I am surprisingly dry....for now. Well as for the reports of the floods I hear about them often. And it makes me miss Lop Buri. I always hoped I would see a flood when I was there and now they have flooding up to their necks. There is also flooding in a area called Corad. That not spelled very well. Anyways the flooding isn't good because it's over the biggest traffic and transport part of Thailand for the north and Essan to Bangkok. So a lot of people are having a hard time traveling. Here in Ubon the rain missed us so it's been pretty dry for now but because the river that flows around Ubon comes out of that area it won't be long until flooding takes effect here as well. And when that happens the Elders will be ready to help out. And of course we will be careful. I have also herd of the reports of the typhoon heading this way as well as a tropical storm on coast of Myanmar heading this way. Its going to make a really fun week if they both make it this far inland. I can't wait I can already imagine myself using my lifeguard skills and pulling several people out of the water.55555

Well It has been quite a busy week for us here. Because we had to plan and have a baptism as well as switch off in different areas in the middle of the week. Elder Jensen was a little nervous to lead the area and carry out the Lord's work while I was in a different area. He gets to do it again because Elder Tom, the Thai elder in Warin, and I have to go to training meetings for three days in a different province north of us. Elder Jensen and Elder Intawong will be staying behind and looking after both areas. The best part is they are both new missionaries.

This last week I went to the province called Yasothorn to be with one of my old MTC companions Elder Petvixey. It was fun. Thy are was much like Sakon Nakon, out in the country side. It was funny as I talked to people, many people kept asking me why I came there. Then they would say this is Yasothorn nothing ever happens here. It was a good 2 days.

Then on Saturday we had the baptism. Her name is Mai. I talked about her a few weeks ago about how she literally taught herself. Well we got everything worked out and ready to go so that she could get baptized. She asked me to be the one to baptize her. I was happy to accept and this time I wasn't as nervous as I was last time. Then on Sunday she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have to say she is probably one of the most favorite people that I had the chance to teach so far. She is an amazing mother and I'm pretty sure she considers the elders her children now.(and I thought that 3 moms before was too much) She told me of a story. A few weeks ago we had to tell her that she couldn't get baptized on her original date because of a family problem that came up. She then told me that because she had a lot of anger at me specifically because I was the one who moved into the area and told her the news. Well that week on Saturday I called her to invite her to church. She said that after she hung up she thought a lot about if it was worth it to go to church if she wasn't able to get baptized. In the end she decided to pray about it. She said that after she prayed about it she got the impression that if she stopped going she would be throwing away everything that she had been saying when the elders came and taught her. So she said she went to the church that week. And that she would go every week afterwords no matter if she would be baptized or not. Well about 2 weeks ago President called me and we had a good talk about her family situation. Then he gave the OK to baptize her. She said the day we told her that she was going to be able to get baptized she has never felt so much joy. Then she said that after that she liked me a lot more than before.( I'm not sure what to think about that 5555) anyways I for one am really glad she made that choice to keep going to church because if she had chosen not to go she may have never gotten baptized. It goes to show you even if at first our life seems hard and the way is dark if we trust the lord and follow what he asks us to do we will get to where we need to go.

I have to say its been really fun to train and watch Elder Jensen learn to be a missionary because I can see a lot of what I did when I first came here. I was afraid to offend someone because the culture was so different and everything I did seemed to be awkward or a mistake. That's kind of how Elder Jensen feels but he is doing great. I think in a few weeks he will be a great missionary.

Hey Uncle Lance is in India. If he can get a visa to Thailand there is a international airport in Ubon (our house is right under where the planes land and take off. There are f-16's that buzz our house every day) he could come and visit. I could show him what real Thai food is. But he may not be able to travel after that. 5555. The food is hard on an American stomach. There are still a few things that I get diarrhea from when I eat it but it's so worth it.

Sister Wichittra Wongwiruphab. I know her. I heard that she was going to BYU after her mission. That's interesting that she found her way into our ward. I met her when she was serving in Kong Khang and I was with Elder Blackhurst in Sakon Nakhon. That's something I'm going to have to tell Sister Akagi who is in my district. I think she was companions with her for a little bit. I haven't met her sister yet but maybe in the future. Before I forget have I ever told you guys that the Thai ward is in the church by Hidden Village park. I'm going to have to go there a few times to practice my Thai after the mission.

Well that's my week in a nutshell. I think I'm going to be in for another crazy one this next week.

Before I go I was thinking about something that needs to be addressed now even though I still have a long time until I go home. Have you guys thought about coming to pick me up or maybe better coming back to Thailand with me after I finish? If not I think its something we should start thinking about.

OK I love you

Elder Brandon John Holt

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's a Boy!

Hey Everyone

Well I think many of you are interested in what happened the last week. Well here's how it went. So on Monday and Tuesday everyone in the district was excited trying to guess where they would be going and what was going to happen. And then President Smith started making calls. Well I found out Monday morning that Elder Baker received the calling to be a district leader in a different area. So thinking about that I figured I was safe not going anywhere because I knew the area. Next after that I got a phone call. Right then I started praying that I wouldn't be called zone leader. But that wasn't President Smith's plans for me. He called me and asked me to be a Trainer for a new missionary coming in. So I asked if I would be moving and he said no. So I said yes. After that on Tuesday we got a phone from the zone leaders telling who would all be moving. Elder LeSueur was moving to his excitement. He is getting bored of this area and wanted to see more of Thailand. Well he got his wish and at moves meeting he was moved to Asoke which is the center of Bangkok and the most busy part of the mission. We as missionaries give it the nick name of "The Beast"
Next they said that Elder Baker and Elder Christenson both are moving. Elder Baker moved to Lop Buri. He will have a good time there and Elder Christenson to a province called Maha Sadacome or something like that. Cant spell it in English. Then said that both the sisters are staying here.

Well we took a two-story tour bus down Wednesday night and after picking everyone up on the way down we got to the church in Pakkret in the morning. At moves meeting I met several others in my group who were going to be trainers as well. Anyway after the normal things that happened. The missionaries that were going home gave their one liners and the new missionaries introduced themselves in Thai, some were very good and others were somewhat awkward. That's alright, we are all supportive with cheers because we all know what it was like to be in their shoes. Its strange in the group going home was my third companion, Elder Blackhurst. Remember him? Another strange thing to think about is next transfer meeting Elder Jolly my 4th and last senior companion will go home. Man I'm getting home in the mission.

That's something that President Smith talked about in this meeting is that 60% of the missionaries have been in the mission less then 5 moves or less than 6 months as missionaries. So in order to spread out the experience more He combined some of the districts together and increased the size. That happen to the District that I,m over now. Now we have a extra area in a different province called Yasotorn its to the north-west of us.

Anyways until the mission grows old and more experienced things are going to get a little tight with leadership positions. They also combined 4 different zones to take down the number of zone leaders that are needed. There are now only 6 zones. But I'm pretty sure my next move might take me to zone leader.

Anyways after that President Smith announced who was going to be companions with whom. I found out that I'm training a Elder named Elder Jensen. He is from Ceder Hills Utah. Down by Provo. Its going to be good to be with a companion from Utah again. Anyways. Elder Jensen is awesome already. He is doing a lot better than what I was when I was a new missionary. He can understand Thai, and speak it pretty good. Yesterday he was given compliments from a few members at how good he was already. Its going to be a good transfer with him. Right now he is in NMS New Missionary Shock. Something everyone goes through in the culture shock cross over. But in a few days after he has gotten use to Thailand, he will be a great missionary.

So I got the package. Thank you for the new shoes. They fit pretty good. I have forgotten what it feels like to wear shoes that aren't broken in. I haven't had the chance to break them in outside yet because of the rain, I want to try and keep them nice, so I might only wear them on Sunday and meetings and in case of emergency flooding. Normally when it rains everything that is not placed in a bag gets wet so my shoes get wet and soaked. At night though, if I place them in front of a fan and then in the morning polish them, they are as good as new.

For the next package I'm not sure what I need but I'll be thinking about it. The next moves meeting will be on Thanksgiving if nothing changes so that's an easy deadline to make. After that the first week of January. Woo where did the year go.

Anyways that's all I have time to send today

I love you all
thank you for your prayers

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, October 11, 2010

teeth cleaned in Thailand

Hello family
Well its that time of the month again. The time where everyone gets to predict where everyone is going and what we are all doing. Then we have to wait with nervousness for the phone calls that come tomorrow. Here is the worst part, there is really no one who can predict where I am going to go because with me anything can happen. Let me give you the choices. I can 1. move and be a zone leader (I don't want this one) 2. I could stay and train. 3. I could stay here with Elder Lesueur for another moves (Probably not). 4. I could stay here and be a district leader just like I am now (not likely) 5. I could just move to another area and stay district leader (99.9% no) and 6. I could move to a new area and just be senior companion with no calling (this would be my favorite but I'm 100% sure it won't happen.. but I thought it would be fun just to think it out here). So what do you guys think is going to happen. I can't wait. From the rumors that the zone leaders are passing around which are normally true if your zone leader will be going home, is that there will be big boundary changes coming up in the mission.
This last weekend was a little interesting. I got some of conference in English. yay :P but, there were some events that happened that made it so I wasn't able to listen to the morning Sunday session at all and the Saturday session in Thai. That's all right I can wait until the conference edition. Here's what happened (just like monk) On Saturday we arrived at the church at 9 am. as we walked in we were greeted by some members and investigators. coincidentally this week our branch president and some other members took a trip to the Hong Kong temple so they were not present for this. Anyway the first councilor stayed behind and was presiding. We found out after a few minutes that nobody who was present knew how to work the satellite system, so they left it up to Elder Baker, our technology expert in the mission. So as he was playing with the system he found out that something went wrong and we didn't have conference. Well by this time it was 10 am when we were supposed to start.
Well Elder Baker, being the one he is, he formed a plan and then put it to action. He had Elder Lesuesr and me run home and grab our memory card and meet him at the nearest internet cafe. There he spent the next few hours downloading and putting an English version of conference with the Thai translation together (they didn't have the Thai translation posted on the church web site yet) He saved the day.
By 1 pm we were able to watch the morning session and conference. But there was only a Thai version at the time so I watched it in Thai. The next day we DL(downloaded) it in English so we could watch the other sessions, Elder Lesueur wasn't feeling too good on Sunday morning so we stayed in and he slept to recover. But by noon he was alright so we went out and watched the rest at church.
I really like the priesthood session a lot. I felt there was something in each talk I could apply to missionary work. Also when President Eyring asked the full time missionaries to stand up, the 4 of us watching did. It was great.
Ok My time is a little short today. but before I go I have to tell you. Today I did something that I didn't think I would do in Thailand. I got my teeth cleaned at the dentist. Elder Lesueur and I have been talking about it and it only cost 500 baht or 17 dollars to do. It was nice. Yes it was clean. And it was done the same as they do it in America. I have nice clean teeth now.
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt

exchange in Warin

Hey everybody
Well this week has been a good working week for us here in Ubon. Last Friday our zone leaders came and held a meeting with all the Elders (and 2 sisters) in the zone. They went over some of the new program that the First Presidency is putting out and training all the missionaries over the next year. They focused on starting a first lesson with someone. Let me give you an example of one thing that will be changing. Since I got into the mission field our idea of a first lesson has been to teach the Restoration or a point of the Restoration. In the program that is changing to be some of the things that is in chapter 10 of Preach my Gospel(That chapter is titled How Can I Improve My Teaching Skills? Mom). So in the last week we have been working on some of the phrases that it asks us to be able to use. We have taught a few new lessons in the past week and I feel that it helps to set the expectations better for those we teach. It also sets it up so that right away we can start to understand the needs of out investigators and by using the help of the Spirit teach to their needs.
This last week I also took a day to exchange companions with the Elders that live in Warin. I went to Warin to understand how they are teaching and inviting and to see how I can help them improve. Its strange to be the one who gets to decide when to switch off rather then receiving the phone call to be told what day I'm going to another area. As the District leader here in Ubon I have to switch off with every member in the district to get to know them and to train them if necessary. So I spent last Wednesday with Elder Christenson and got to know him better. He is a great Elder from St. George. We had a good time working together. We ended spending time inviting in an area of Ubon or Warin, I'm still not really sure, its kind of a island in the middle of our area. It was kind of a poorer area of Ubon. Recently due to flooding many people were out of their houses and in tents on a dry part of the the "island." We spent a few hours inviting and teaching people there. On a interesting invite something interesting happened. As we were walking by a house a man shouted to Elder Christenson and I in Laos. From my 7 months I stayed in Sakon I learned a little bit of Laos, enough to understand what he said, then I answered back. He asked us how we were and I'm pretty sure I gave him a heart attack when I answered back because he jumped pretty bad. After that we had a talk about what we do and asked if we could come back later. They weren't interested but they were good friends.
I'm way excited for conference this week. From some of the things that Dad talked about I can't wait to hear it all. The best thing of all is that this time I'm going to here it in English. Ubon is a stake center....well will be. so they have satellite feed. Which means that I don't have to stress about not understanding it. I'm way excited. but if possible I still would like a copy of the conference issue when it comes out. That way I can have my personal copy to carry with me when I move.
I haven't yet got the package. I should be able to get it around the 14th. That is when the next moves meeting is. Oh man that's a scary thought. I have everyone confused in predicting what's going to happen to me next moves. I could move and become a zone leader because there are so many people leaving the mission this time ( I don't want to do that). Then I could stay another moves with Elder Lesueur which would be sweet. Or I could train next moves (there are about 18 people coming in) so for every person there needs to be a trainer for every person ( I think this is what I am going to do). Its going to be a crazy.
One last thing before I finish. Connor I had the opportunity to talk to some members about your facebook. I still can't figure out how in the world you were able to get a trade for a yellow and silver paperclip to 10 karat gold earrings and $100 gift cards to AE. I got to see the pictures you put up as well. That's way sweet. Also Jay, one of the guys that recently got baptized is going to try and find you on facebook. He is sixteen. I think you two will have fun talking together.
Any ways that's all I've got
until next week
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt
ps Connor, don't date too many girls before the weekend.

A baptism!

Hello everybody

I'm doing great. Well I want to tell you of the baptism that we had this last Saturday. It was of an investigator that is named เป็ด (ped) duck in English. He is an investigator that has been learning for the last year. but has known the Elders for the last 16 years. He first met the Elders just after he graduated from the university with a teaching degree. He is an English teacher. Anyways one day he was in a library reading a book and a Elder approached him and invited him to start taking the discussions. He accepted and after learning with the elders he wanted to be baptized but before he could be, he moved into anther province of Thailand which didn't have a branch in it yet to work so he wasn't able to be baptized at that time. After a few years passed by, he moved back into the Ubon province and last year when he was in a park, one of the missionaries in my MTC group, Elder Parkinson and his trainer, Elder Wright, invited him to come to the English class. So he started learning with the Elders again until last Saturday where he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love his story because it really shows how the Lord prepared him. As well as how Heavenly Father is leading us everyday in our lives. Sometimes we may not know where but in the end if we are doing everything that we are supposed to, we will end up where the Lord wants us.
As we were talking to him about his baptism program we asked him who he wanted to baptize him. Then he thought for awhile, Then said, "Elder Holt." I was a little surprised to say because I just got transferred into the area and didn't really know anyone so I asked him why. He replied, "Well, the first Elder to teach me was from Utah, then the elder to find me last year was from Utah so I think it would only be right if an elder from Utah were to baptize me." So I told him, well it makes sense and accepted the honor to baptize him.
I have to say, baptizing an investigator in a different language is a lot different then doing it in English in the temple. I had an opportunity to go to the temple and baptize Marie and some other friends just before I went into the MTC. So I was a little nervous to do it. As I was baptizing him, I remembered to speak very slowly so that I was able to pronounce every word correctly. I think the hardest part was to say Ped's real name. I don't remember if I ever have told you. Most people here in Thailand have a nick name which everybody uses to call them, then they have a real name. They use the real name in anything official. So being in the church I get to learn a lot of real names.
Elder Lesueur's and my goal is to baptize 5 people before the end of the Transfers which is in the middle of next month. We have one more investigator that has a date to get baptized on the 10th of October that we are working a few issues out with her but I think she will be ready. I think I talked about her a week or 2 ago, her name is Mai. She is really sweet to teach because she literally teaches herself. I think we will be able to make our goal.
Well the other day I met an interesting person. As we were getting ready to eat one day for lunch we chose a restaurant that we like to eat at. When we got there we chose a table to sit at. At the table next to us there was a man wearing a religious hat. I decided to start a conversation with him. (one thing that I have really liked here in Ubon is that the elders here are friends with people in all kinds of religions, for example, there is a Muslim mosque that we pass by every day where everyone knows the elders and always shouts hello as we pass by.) Anyways I greeted the man in Thai, he replied in Thai then in English how am I. At this point I'm a little confused because he spoke very clear Thai and then very clear English. Anyway we started talking. After I while I learned that he was from India. He was Shik, and he was a fortune teller. After talking our food came so we ate a little before talking. All of a sudden the man said Elder, (His name is Pamii by the way) in your past you had 2 girlfriends right, one was a little darker skin, and the other was very beautiful. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I only had one girlfriend, Kelli. Anyways he then asked me if I had any accidents in the past? I showed him my finger and told him I cut myself with a knife. He said, "Hmm this is very bad for you right now, this time will be very bad and difficult, but in your future you will be very high up in your business and have very good luck. and be happy." After that he stood up and said we will meet again in the future, have a good day and paid for his meal and walked out. That was a little strange I have to admit but hey I got a free fortune telling. Its amazing what kind of people you can meet here in Thailand.
Well with Jay(as a "pen pal", adds Mom) I think it would be a great idea. I'm actually surprised that Connor and Ice aren't friends yet on facebook. I talked to a member named Deao (that may not be spelled right) the other day who thought that Connor was me (why does everyone do that) and added him to his friends, I don't know how much English Jay can speak but I'll talk to him and see what he thinks.
Well I'll send some photos of the baptism
Ok I have to go
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 baptisms

Hello Family

Well It has been a busy week since Elder Perkins from the Asia Area Presidency came through Ubon. On Wednesday night the Zone leader called me up and told us that Elder Perkins and President Smith were going to interview our zone the next day when they fly in. So on Thursday the whole zone came in and spent the day at the church.( that's never a good combination, a bunch of missionaries stuck in the church that are dying to work.) Anyways, between Elder Perkins interviewing the junior companions ( lucky Elder Lesueur 555) and President Smith interviewing senior companions, they got through us all in little under an hour and we were able to go back to work. So we helped relive the boredom of some of the missionaries that had to leave their area and Warin and we switched off with 2 another district of missionaries. It helped a lot too, we were doubled booked for some of our appointments.

The next day we had the a meeting with Elder Perkins, President smith and their wives. It was a really really good meeting. Elder Perkins told us this when he started the meeting that he didn't really prepare much to share and said that was the purpose of the interviews the day before was to receive inspiration on what he needed to talk about. The over all focus of the meeting was on using the Spirit in our teaching. But he also talked about the importance of Christ-like attributes and tied them in to the temple covenants, and then talked about the idea of being bold in teaching and inviting people. That's something that has been on every missionaries mind. He asked us to try and follow an experiment wherein we each wrote down two question that was on our minds then let the Spirit answer them in the meeting. It worked, I had one answered before the end of the meeting.

In the end it all went over really smooth, no problems. Everything went through.

So after the meeting the next thing for me and Elder Lesueur to tackle was a baptism that we decided to move up 2 weeks ahead of time. We had 3 people baptized this Saturday then on Sunday they were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Their names are Ice, Jay Jay, and James. Well, that's their nick names anyways. They are 3 sweet brothers that have been learning with the Elders for 1 1/2 months. They met us through the English program that we teach every Tuesday night. As far as I understand the whole story it goes like this. Ice who is 19 years old. Came and learned English and piano, which the sister missionaries teach here, the Elder Lesueur and his last companion asked if he was interested in learning about Jesus Christ. He was and they taught him a first lesson. They next asked if they could teach his family at his house the next time. Ice agreed and introduced the Elders to his younger brothers, Jay who is 16 and James, 13. Next they asked them to go to church at that lesson and they have been going to church plus every other activity that was at the church for the last 3 months. Ice is a great leader for his family. In the last week we took him with us to help us teach and he did a great job.

One of the coolest stories that I heard about these three is this. About three years ago Jay was doing a homework art assignment and found a card of Jesus Christ and painted a picture of the card. Well the funny thing is that that card that he paint was a pass-along card that the missionaries use of when the Savior visited the Nephites the first time. He had no idea what it was about until the Elders taught him three or four times and one day they pulled out the card for an example. Jay got up and pulled out the painting and the elders found out it was a good copy of the the pass-along card. That helped Jay get a lot more interested in the picture. They showed me the painting the other day when we were teaching them. Its really good. I'll send a picture of it in the email.

One of our biggest focus' this week was to help them get their mother to the baptism. Their mother is a single mom that makes an income by washing and ironing clothes. She hasn't been able to learn with the elders because she literally works from sun-up to long after sun-down. So in order to help her have an hour to see her three sons baptized, Elder Lesueur and I took our ironing boards and irons from our house, luckily we have 2 of both, hoped on a tuk tuk and drove over to her shop on Saturday morning. She was a bit surprised to see to white guys in shirts and ties with ironing boards and "can't take no attitude" show up at her shop. We decided if there is one thing that we are good at doing its ironing shirts. So before she could refuse we had set up our boards and had piles of cloths that we were working through. After an hour we had reduced her load enough to help her have free time to go to the baptism. It was good she went, She definitely felt the spirit that night.

Saturday night Elder Lesueur baptized the three of them and I was one of the witnesses. Elder Lesueur was way nervous to do it in ThaiIbut he did a really good job.

I don't know about you guys but I think the time is going really too fast. We are already back to the fall. Sooner than later it will be spring. Anyways, I still miss the cold a lot. I hope one day that I will get to to throw a snowball at Connor again.

Yes i got the journal in the last package you sent me. but it may not be a bad idea to send me another one. If I keep up with writing in it I should fill it up before I get home and will need another one. Thanks for sending me shoes it much appreciated.

OK quick about the photos. They are of Ice, Jay and James' baptism day and there are a few of when we helped their mom iron clothes. Other peolpe in the photo are members. and check out the painting that Jay is holding in the second photo.

OK I've got to go.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hey family

I hope dinner was tasty. I tried to get this email out before you went to bed. This week has been fun.
Last Monday Elder Lesueur, the Elders in Warin( the other elder area in the district), and I learned how to make our favorite Thai dish Nam tok. It is surprisingly easy. I'm finding the more Thai food I learn how to make, the more I realize that Thai food is really really easy to make. Really all Thai food is is taking rice, meat and throw it into a pot with some seasonings and presto you have a plate of food.
The next few days not a whole lot got done because we took a day off so that Elder Lesueur could recover from the flu. No it wasn't bad, but we just wanted him to recover quickly so that we can work fully with our energy. By the next day he was back to his normal happy self and we were working again.
On Wednesday I decided to take a day to switch off with Elder Baker the senior companion in Warin so that I could see if I could learn the area a little bit. Warin is about 25 min by bike ride to the south of Ubon. Between us there is a river that is really sweet view. When I get the chance I'll take a picture and send it to you. The water of the river isn't too pretty to look at but the jungle on the sides are.
Warin is a lot more like Sakon in that there is a lot less city. Its more in the countryside. But there are a lot of different neighborhoods to invite and find families. We spent most of the day in the sun. Looking for people to teach. For what Elder Baker has been reporting to me every night we found a family that night that we thought had been formal investigators but weren't but are learning and will be coming to church.
Thursday Elder Lesueur and I were back in Ubon together. Ubon has 5 investigators that have dates to get baptized currently. We saw a few of them that night. One is a lady named Mai. She is way sweet. As we have been teaching her she literally will teach herself. For example. the last time we saw her we taught her about the process of repentance. I like to use an example of me stealing bread( there is a stereo type here in Thailand where white people like to eat bread.....this coming for the guy who buys a 1 1/2 loafs of bread every week) from 7-11. So I asked her after I stole the bread what was the first thing that she thought that I needed to do to repent. She replied, Well if I was you elder, I think in order to repent I would first have to learn and know that stealing that bread was a sin. 1 recognizing sins. I didn't teach her anything before that. Next I asked her, so could I steal bread after I knew it was a sin and call it repentance, she said no, that wouldn't be true repentance. you would have to stop altogether, 2. stop sinning, I then asked her, so After I stopped then am I finished with repenting. She said no you would have to tell the person you wronged, in this case it would be the 7-11 manager and then pay for the bread and anything else that they require to make up for it. 4 fixing the wrong cause. Then we taught her about confessing the sin in prayer, 3. confession. and then I asked OK so
I repented from stealing that bread if I went in and stole a chochlate bar would I have still repented. she replyed well no because you are still stealing. If you truly repented when you tell Father in Heaven that you won't steal again its not just for bread but for everything you need to follow the commandment. Bingo. 5. Keep the commandments. She has been really fun to teach. If everything goes well she will be baptised in about a month.
There also is another investigator who recently passed the baptismal interview, his name is Bead or Duck in English. He will be getting baptized on the 25th this month. We are way excited for him. He has been learning with the Elders for the last year, and now he has made all the changes in his life to be able to get baptized. Its going to be a few really good weeks for us as our investigators get baptized.
In the coming week we are having a mission tour. And being the District leader Elder Lesueur and I have had some things to do to prepare for it. Normally when the missionaries in the zone get together for meetings they come to Ubon. So I have to find a hotel for the Elders to stay the night before, a way of feeding, and transportation for Elder Perkins from the Area presidency. Thankfully Elder Lesueur knew the area really well and the members love to help out. So as of now I think we have everything sorted out. I can't wait for Friday. That's when the meeting is.
Well I want to tell a quick story to explain the subject line. Last night Elder Lesueur and I were out after teaching a lesson on our way home. As we were riding our bike it started to sprinkle. I think we were probably 20 min or so away form our home so I didn't think we were going to have too much of a problem. Then again this is Thailand. So about 5 min later the rain goes from a light drizzle to a heavy downpour which is unexplainable to Utah standards. Within a few minutes, we were soaked through and still 10 minutes from our home. So we put our heads down and kept going. It started raining so hard that it hurt. It was a lot of fun to look on the sides of the road and see the faces people were making as they saw two white guys bike by in shirts and ties in the rain. We even got some calls of su-su or keeping fighting or ya yahm paa or don't accept defeat. The best part of the whole story is what happened when we were a few blocks from our house. as I crossed an intersection I looked up just in time to see the river of water I was about to ride into. As we went onto the flooded main street Elder Leseuer and I kept pushing forward. I had the thought that I was swimming because that water was 2 feet. We got home safe and sound and then cleaned up for bed. Its way crazy in 15 minutes the street flooded everywhere. I remember before my mission I always wanted to see flooding and now I can say that I had to ride my bike through floods to get home. lol
Anyways I am out of time
I love you
Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, September 13, 2010

transfer to Ubon

Hello Family

Well this might be a little shocking but I am not in Bangkok yet. I have moved to the bottom corner of the Issan, Ubon. It seem that Elder Baker, the Elder that predicted that I would be moving to Ubon was right. I need to learn his trick.
So Ubon is quite different then Sakon Nakhon. First, it is huge. In the Ubon district there are three missionaries areas. The Ubon elders, Ubon sisters, and there is a district to the south of the capital city called Warin that elders are in. Next its different because it is more city. In the last three days or so that I have been here I still haven't seen the outskirts of the town. But it still isn't as crazy as Bangkok is. So I'm happy to be here.
President Smith asked me to be district leader in the Ubon district. It increased my responsibilities a little bit from looking after 2 people, myself and my companion, to 6 people, 4 elders and two sisters. I pretty much gave up all my free time at night to make phone calls and check up on the other areas as well as report our progress to the Zone leaders. Its making me learn a concept that I never have been very good with, Time Management.
My new companion is Elder Lesueur. He is a sweet missionary. He is on his third moves. So he is still leaning the language and some of the mission work but he is miles ahead of what I was at in my third moves. He can understand Thai. Anyways he is from Gilbert, Arizona, a place that is well know in the mission because of President and Sister Smith and several other missionaries from that area. Anyways he is way sweet. He has helped me a lot the last few days to learn my way around the city and meet our investigators.
The three Ubon mission areas all meet up in one branch on Sunday. They have a church building. A big church building. In fac,t it is the Largest Church Building in southeast Asia. This last Sunday was a little bit of a culture shock for me because it was in a church. I felt a little like I was back in America. There were about 90-100 members that came so that's another change coming from a branch that was struggling to get 40 people to church every week. It was fun as well.
Our investigators are sweet as well. Elder Lesueur and his formal companion did a great job with the area. There are 5 investigators that are lined up to get baptized next month, It was exciting for us and for the members.
Concerning the language. I had the opportunity to talk to a sister missionary who is from Sakon, about the language and dialect. She said that what I originally thought was the Issan language was another language called yaa but is similar. One interesting fact that I learned from talking to her was that in Sakon there is 10 plus different languages that are used. One day I hope to go back and get the chance to study the difference between them all. Anyways here is Ubon they speak Issan or Thai if you are like us and speak with them in Thai they speak Thai.
So that's the new area. I'm way excited to work here. One thing that I learned is this was one of Elder Ito's areas I asked members about him and they seem to remember him really well.
Anyways, The moves meeting was changed up a little bit, normally it takes all morning to have the meeting because of trainings that are after but, the new program changed it so that we don't have trainings after. So we just went and sat down President Smith taught a little, the new missionaries introduced themselves, the old ones said their last lines before their death. There was only Elder young and Elder Lilliy, Both really sweet missionaries that will be missed. Then President Smith released and called people to different callings. President Smith called a Thai missionary for the assistant. Everyone is way excited for Elder Gongla to be the new AP. It apparently has been about 8 years since there has been a Thai as an AP. Then he told everyone where they are moving and who their companion is. I was at the center of a few jokes which were pretty funny. President Smith said, " Our first item of business is to get Elder Holt out of Sakon Nakhon." It seems that the whole mission knows about me.
Anyways after the meeting we hopped on the bus and took a 13-15 hour ride to Ubon. One thing I have done here a lot is travel. I really will not ever complain about the drive to Laguna again. lol. I also have learned that a great way to entertain yourself is that catch up on sleep.
That's about all I have to report for the week.
Oh hey before I go. I can officially say that I have walked a pair of shoes out of commission. The heal on my black pair of eccos is completely gone. So that pair has been retired until I can find a place to get it fixed. I'm a little worried because the only places that I have found are on the side of the streets and they probably don't do the best jobs. But it will all work out in the end.
Today I did something that I have never done before. I needed to get a hair cut way bad. So Elder Lesueur took me to a members shop who is a barber. He cut my hair and then shaved my face and ears and trimmed my eyebrows. The whole time the member was shaving he kept repeating, " So much hair so much hair, You Utahn have so much hair." It was funny anyhow after the shave he gave me a really nice massage that not even the nice ladies at Sports Clips can beat. and I did it for about 50 baht or $1.25 I love Thailand.
Today a member said that she would teach us how to make my favorite Issan dish and probably my favorite Thai dish called nam tok or translated to water fall. I'm way excited.
Anywho it is going to be a great 6 weeks
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hello Family

Hey Everyone. I’m doing great. Well this week is the week of moves. If it all goes according to plan moves meeting will be on Thursday, and outside of that I’m not really sure what’s going to happen. From the knowledge I was able to gain last week. It sounds like there are some District Leaders places opening up, in Ubon in the south east, In Chiang Mai in the north and In Non Kai or the providence above Sakon Nakon and Udorn. And of course there probably are a lot of places in Bangkok that are opening up but, I didn't want to try and figure that out. Too many areas there. My guess is that I will go into Bangkok but I wouldn't mind going to Chaing Mai or Ubon. I still can't figure out why but there are a few Elders that have predicted me to go into the Office. That brings up nightmares of when I worked at Spectrum. Oh the redundancy.

So after sending the email last week we got on a taxi and drove into the heart of Bangkok. I don't know why but I always get claustrophobic a little bit when I go there. There are a lot of people everywhere. And little places to walk. Anyways one of the most popular places for missionaries to go to is a little stand that sells Neck ties for 20 baht a piece. The Lady that sells them knows us so well that she gives missionaries a "special price" and for missionaries that go their first time an even better deal of 6 ties for 100. It a great place I bought about 6 or so ties to replace some of the ties that have stains on them for my messy eating habits.

After that we didn’t really have time to go looking for watches so I still don’t have my Rolex, But next time I’m in that area I’ll get one, and maybe a suit as well. So after eating lunch at Dairy Queen (that was a treat) we headed home back to the area that I was going to work in that night.

As I was in the center of Bangkok I caught a glimpse of the mall that was lit on fire a few months ago. Central World. A lot of the glass windows on the outside were melted. That must have been a really hot fire. Anyways they are in the process of rebuilding it now. Thankfully there is another mall close by called Siam that is just as nice, and just as huge. America has nothing on the malls here.

That night Elder Carlile and I spent the night inviting and trying to find people interested in learning the gospel. It was amazing to me there are so many people. We spent three hours walking down one street that was probably a half mile long if that and talking to everyone we saw. That probably shows that I have been out in the country too long. 55555 lol

Thursday was another day of training meetings. Sister Smith announced that they were getting too many phone calls from worried moms not getting emails on time. At that time it was up to 22, I’m sure before the day was up there was more. So in order to prove that we were alright she took a picture of us and put it on the web site. One thing you might want to look into mom is face book. Sister Smith has a face book page and says that she is always on it in the office. Connor should be able to help you find her page. Anyways ,these meetings are pretty sweet. They are taking place all over the world. I just got a letter on Saturday from Matt in Australia talking about his experience with the new curriculum. Really it is nothing new. It is a better way of teaching and understanding of how to use the spirit in our teaching. Everything that we learned was in Preach my Gospel but it was a new way of looking at it. I’m way excited to start applying it into my teaching.

After the meetings, that night we hopped back into the vans and took the same route to get back to sakon, dropping everybody off. That was a really long way home. It was about 15 hours both ways. So far that the van driver said that we had to pay 3 day payments, although we only need him for 2 we had to pay for 6. That cost a lot.

That route was fun because I have never been to any of those areas before. So I got to see different areas a little bit and see many of those that I knew. Something hit me that week. I know almost everyone older than me. Those who are in the leadership positions either are in my MTC group, in the group ahead of me or just behind me, or I have been companions with them or worked with them or close by them. That’s not a good sign. I’m getting old.

Speaking of Matt he should be getting home in the next month that’s strange. Not only that but Alex Recseck will be getting home in December. Oh man where did the 2 years go? All my friends are heading home.

Wish Jen a happy Birthday for me. That strange to think she is almost 30 that means I am almost a legal adult. I better stop thinking that

Well I’m pretty sure the next time I write I will be in a new area with a new companion. I’ll tell you all about my experience next week.

For I have to go.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

a long bus ride

Hey everybody

Sorry this letter came late this week. I'm still doing well and am well alive. Well let me explain what has been going on the last few days. It all started Saturday when Elder Peacock and I were inviting, the Zone leaders gave us a call. Because it was Elder Peacocks day to have the phone he answered and then handed me the phone. That's never a good thing, if they don't tell him or they only want to talk to me because it means its something important out of the ordinary. I said hello, it was Elder Degrafanite. I love how he talks so here is his dialogue "Elder Holt, you know how we talked about having those training meetings in the near future?" I replied yes. He said "Well I'm calling to tell you that they will be in the near future, as in next week." After that he explained that on Tuesday (yesterday) and Thursday we would be having meeting for the district leaders, trainers, and zone leaders. And they would be taking place in Bangkok. After hanging up I could only think of the headache that would come.

On Sunday after church the zone leaders called again and gave me an assignment and the path that I was to travel to get down. My job was to find a รดตู้ or a van that would carry 10+ missionaries down. Then on Monday morning I was to travel into the south of the Issan or the south part and pick up every district leader and zone leader in that area. Elder Peacock would be switching off with his old MTC companion in an area down there.

Funny think happened after I hung up the phone on Sunday is that all our appointments fell through all of a sudden and I had time to begin to negotiate a price with Private van drivers. It wasn't that fun and in the end it took another member who could speak Issan and Thai better then I could to make sure I understood everything clearly enough to be able to get a OK price. Then working through the assistants I had to try to bring the price down. In the end it cost about 9000 baut. Some of that had to come out of my personal money and MFS money so that we would have enough cash to pay.

On Monday Elder Peacock and I got on the van at 8 in the morning. Then went to a providence south of us called Yasotorn, where Elder Peacock hopped off and switched off, after that we went to Ubon, then Si Saket then Surin then to a place called Corrad. Then to Bangkok. All and all I was on that van for 15 and a half hours. After this I will never complain about the ride to Laguna again. Anyways we got into Bangkok about 12:30 that night. Thankfully the APs felt our pain and let us sleep in a really nice hotel. With an all you can eat breakfast buffet. yummy.

The next day was Tuesday. We spent all day in meetings. It was a lot like the MTC again. President Smith did a lot of training on the new program that was coming in. Its not really new. Its just taking the stuff that we know already and helping us do things better, ie, using the spirit more, asking questions, using the Book of Mormon more in our teachings. I learned a lot.

After the meetings we switched off and were paired up with elders that are in areas of Bangkok. Then we separated into those areas. I was placed in a area called Suppan Suun or translated Tall Bridge. I'm paired off with Elder Carlile who is a district leader in Chiang Rai the farthest north in Thailand you can get. Its been a lot of fun to be with him because he was companions with Elder Hawks after I left Lopburi so he has been filling me in a little bit with what happened after I left to Sakon.

Today is our preparation day and our plans our to go "shopping" in Bangkok. I need some new ties and I think I might buy a watch if I find a Rolex for the right
Anyways after today's activities Elder Carlile and I will be working in this area to invite and find some families tonight. Then tomorrow we will be going back to meeting all day.
After which We will be traveling the night back to our areas. Woot Woot another 15 hour car trip. I can't wait.

So next week is the week of moves and I will be moving this time. Its been fun to talk to other missionaries down here. They all make fun of me that I stayed 5 moves in an area. I still love it though I have seen great change in the area over the last 7 months. Talking to Sister Smith,she said that President Smith felt really bad that I stayed there that long. and that there was a mistake that was made that he didn't catch. But I still stick with my statement that I made, there was a reason whether I know it or not that I stayed in Sakon for as long as I did.

Anyways I should be able to send one last email from Sakon before I leave next week. As I came down an elder that I'm good friends with in Ubon predicted that I will be moving into that area so I can be a district leader there. In the end I don't think I really care too much where I end up just as long as its in a bigger city then Sakon. The country is nice to live in but its a hard place to do missionary work.

It sounds like it has been a busy summer these last few months. Now it's back to school. Here is a scary thought. Next time Dad gives blessings for school he'll give me one, but I'm not trunky.

That's way sweet to hear about Kaylie starting to walk and soon to be running. I can't wait to see pictures in a few weeks. I have a feeling that I will soon be hearing more adventures of Kaylie the girl and Chip the dog.

OK, I'm out of time for this week.
Before I go I read the talk that Elder D. Told Christofferson gave in the last conference. It talks about the importance of the Scriptures. They not only give us the teachings of the prophets but the standards that the Lord expects us to live in this life as well as in eternity. I am grateful for them and am learning the truthfulness of them as I teach with them more and more. I know that they are true.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hey Family

Mom, I'm doing fine.55555 That's a scary thought, Mom you are learning Thai text. the number 5 is pronounces ha (I cant really explain the tone very well without speaking it).So they use it the same way we use LOL to say that we are laughing or what not.

Well Its been an average week. We have taught our usual families that are progressing. The Vietnamese family from France has gone back to France. So Elder Peacock and I are going to see if there is anyway we can get their teaching record to France so they can continue to learn. They were really fun to work with. We have two or three other families that we are working with right now.

Another family is named น้อย and ปลา ( noy and blaa) or little and fish. We have been teaching them for the last 5 or 6 weeks. They have two daughters. They are a pretty sweet family the other day we started teaching them about The Plan of Salvation and the Gospel. Blaa was really interested in the gospel after we taught a little about it. I think that she will progress nicely.

I have a interesting story to tell you. In the last few weeks the rain has picked up a lot. I don't remember if I have ever told you but, the rain hasn't been falling very often. well let me rephrase that it hasn't been raining like normal. To me it rains more then enough. lol. Anyways. In consequence many people who plant rice were not able to do it until the last few weeks. The other day we were out inviting. Moments before we had had one of our appointments fall through so we were a little sour about that but that's life. So we went back to work. As we were going through an area that I swear that I have talked to everyone before, we came up to a family that were getting ready to plant rice.

Elder Peacock whispers to me as we stop, "let's see if we can help them" I not thinking much of it said OK. As we started a conversation with the farmers. we figured out that they were getting ready to plant rice the next day. Currently they were moving the rice plants from where they first planted it to grow to take them to another field to plant again. As much as I can figure out they first plant the rice to let it grow roots and grow a stalk. then after a few weeks they pull the plants out and replant them in a new field ( like the ones that I sent photos of). Anyway the Rice farmers were standing in one of the fields that is full of water as we are on the side talking to them. as I was trying to talk to one of them Elder Peacock was trying to talk to another person in the field and moved to the path that goes between the fields so that he could talk to them. Or so I thought.

Elder Peacock asked them if he could help out. and like most times we ask people if they need help, they said no and not to worry about it. Well this was not my companions idea. Next thing I knew Elder Peacock was rolling up his pants pulling his socks over his pants and walking into the water Shoes and All. I almost laughed when I saw the faces of the rice farmers when they saw a white guy who was dressed up in white shirt and tie and nice dress shoes walk into their field and started to pull up the rice as well. It was good. Anyways between the protest of "Don't worry, you get dirty," I decided to follow the example of my companion and rolled up my pants and socks and walked in.

We didn't have a whole lot of time to help but we did a little bit. In the end we talked to the one in charge and gave him our number. Whether or not he was interested I'm not really sure but, they definitely got a new impression of "the white guys that ride their bikes around the town."

After we left that area we decided to go into a new area or an area that I have never invited before. It was getting dark about this time and a storm was coming in. So everyone who was smart went home and locked up. We on the other hand went back to work. After a few minutes in this new area with not a lot of success it started to rain. There hasn't really been too many rain storms here in Sakon when we were biking that the rain comes down hard so we tried to find some cover under a tree. unfortunately the rain picked up and the tree we hid under wasn't enough to slow it down. So we decided to leave our cover from under a tree and see if there was a building or something better that we could hide and wait out the storm.

Within the 30 seconds that we ran/ biked for cover we were soaked through. I wondered if we were breaking rules because we literally had to swim through the rain. We were able to find a little motorcycle shop to hide under for a few minutes. after we got there a few other people ran and joined us as well. We sat there with the others that were with us for about 30 minutes until the rain slowed down a little bit then hopped back on our bikes and rode home in the rain. In between waiting we talked to those around us and found out that they were the employees that worked there. They were mostly young college kids a little younger than us. Then there was their boss who was about 30. We had a fun conversation with them about the Issan language. Then we invited then to come learn English with us. Then took off.

When we got home that night our street had flooded. That was sweet to see. I haven't seen flooding since I left LopBuri. Anyway I decided whoever built our house was smart because it had been lifted a few feet off from the main level of the street. So there was no flooding in our house but some of our neighbors got it bad.

That was a fun night

I recently have been trying to make a Thai dish called kai-ge-ow. Its basically a egg omelet. But its something that I like to eat a lot so I thought I would try and learn it so I can take it home.

That's way strange to think that its been over a year already. On grandpa's birthday it will be one year in Thailand. I must have changed a lot physically because every time I show the picture that we took as a family a week before I went into the MTC. People think that I am Connor in the picture. Then they are really shocked when I show them which person is me.

Anyways wish Grandpa and Kaylie a happy birthday for me.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt