Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Traveling to Bangkok

Hey family

Well I didn't really have quite as exciting week as a had two weeks ago but it was good. We have really spent this whole week trying to find new investigators because we are dropping many of the people that we have been teaching the last few months that haven't been progressing. Its been really hard. We have been able to start teaching one guy though. His name is Meow or Cat in English. I must have invited him several weeks ago with Elder Blackhurst but forgot about it because last week as Elder Jolley and I were walking by he shouted, " hey Elder." and I recognized him. He then asked us if we still had that book that he wanted to give him. We said we did then made an appointment to see him the next day. He works with his wife in the market selling vegetables. So we asked if we could meet him at the place that he sells.

I think that he didn't realize that we wanted to sit down and teach him because he wasn't there at first when we went to meet him. We waited for a few minutes and he showed up riding his bike.... well the front half is a bike, the back half is a trailer to move stuff around in. Its called a samlaw or in English its called a 3wheel. Anyways he came and said he was putting stuff away for the night. We figured that this wasn't the best time to teach him so we asked if we could help.... Well really we just started putting stuff away and didn't ask because if you ask people they usually say its all right, I don't need help. So we helped him put his stuff into his 3 wheel bike and take it down the street to store for the night. After we finished that we set up another appointment to see him the next day.

The next day we returned again and tried to sit down to teach him. But he was busy again. This time he was taking bug repellent and placing it into small bags so that he could sell it. So we again figured that this was a bad time to teach and sat down with him and helped him make these bags of bug repellent. This time we left him a Book of Mormon and set another appointment for a later time the next day and to meet him at his house. After we left we realized that we had no idea where he lived.

The next day we ran into him in front of our church. He was running some stuff somewhere. So we asked him where his house was and got his number in case we got lost. That night as we were looking for his house, because we did get lost, we tried to call him but was unable to reach him. So we did the next best thing and tried to find someone to help us find him. Also know as Inviting . So we talked to a guy and his friend that were close by. One happened to be drinking and was unable to speak clearly( this is a reason I will never drink, it literally makes you stupid). Anyways the other guy was only buzzed a little bit and we tried to talk to him. After asking if he knew Meow he said you are those guys with that book. This was a little confusing at first but we asked what book. he said the one about Jesus. Normally it means that someone gave him a bible, but he said wait I'll go get it. So he left and brought out a Book of Mormon. That was a little surprising. He said that he had finished it and it was good but he was really interested in learning more. So we grabbed his name and address and told him that we would back in the morning.

Well the next day we went back and the guy that we found wasn't really interested anymore then when he was drunk but the funny thing is as we were talking to him, Meow, the guy we were originally looking for walks out on the street and motions to us. He told us he was sorry that we tried to call and couldn't get him because his phone had no power. He then asked if we could teach right then. We said yes. SO we were able to teach him finally. We also saw him a few days after that with a member to help us explain more. We are planning to go back tonight for the third time as well. One thing I think I learned from this is that you might not always get to teach a guy on the first time. But be diligent if the Lord has prepared him to learn there will be a way.

On Wednesday we will go to Udorn where we will hop on the train to take us down to Bangkok. We are going as a zone its going to be fun. What the plan is to leave at night so we can get there early morning Thursday to go to Moves meeting. After moves meeting depending on what is going to happen, We haven't gotten any calls whether we are moving or not yet, I will have some free time to go around with another Elder and renew my visa as well as see Bangkok. I love traveling. Thursday night we'll hop back on the train and come back to Udorn and then on Friday morning will hop on a bus back here. whew. That's a lot of traveling.

Mom I'm pleased to say I have about 10 or so pages left in my journal. So I'm looking for a new one in the next few days. I never thought that I would fill a whole book up.

Connor I have to say after the shirt thing, You're the man.

Ok my time is up. I'll try not to eat anything too crazy this coming week, but I can't make any promises

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Songkran celebration

Hello Family

How are you? Well it's been a really really crazy week. I will start with the last time I wrote an email. After we wrote emails really fast we hurried and ran home and changed into our playing uniform, which is for me a Red Hawaiian shirt with rolled up kackie pants and flip flops. Next we had to find a place, which was safe for us ( meaning no drinking and no girls that aren't members and with people who know the missionary standards), to play. So we called a sister that was a return missionary and we joined up with her and several other members. Next we had to buy our weapons for the fight. Elder Jolley and I chose little black buckets for about 20 baht. We had been told by some other missionaries not to worry about buying squirt guns because they were expensive and ineffective. So after that we arrived on scene and helped the members get ready. Turns out they use all kinds of things to do stuff to the water. They place red, yellow, blue and green dyes in the water, they get powder ready to throw, they buy large blocks of ice, and they fill up large barrows of water and place them in the back of trucks. It was a lot like getting ready for a war. And then after it started getting hot, the game began.

People hopped into the back of pick-up trucks and rode around. They use buckets and squirt guns and pots and pans, and different powders, and soaked those on the side of the roads. That's where we played. We used our buckets and hoses and cold water and fought back. Each truck would only slowdown or stop for a few seconds but we would both be soaked through after the fight. I think this was one time that I was grateful for the heat here in Thailand. especially after they threw ice water on us. It was a blast.

After a few hours of this fighting going, on the group we were with loaded up a pick-up truck and took off around the town. We stayed behind and guarded the area because it would have been breaking mission rules to hop into the back of a truck. so we continued the fight for a few minutes. After a few minutes they returned, soaked. After a hour or two more they stopped the fighting between trucks because of a parade.

This is when it got really cool. The whole idea of Somkran is to be wet. Throwing water and putting powder on peoples faces is representing giving blessings to them. So the idea is who ever is the wettest and has the most powder on their face has the most blessings. So when the parade came down the street the buckets of water and hoses squirting water were aimed at the people in the parade.

They had all kinds of things. Dancers, bands, floats with women in traditional Thai Dresses (those were really fun to watch, because they would get the most wet because everyone would aim the water at them. Sometimes they had umbrellas and sometime they wouldn't. Sometimes they would have men whose job was to hold the umbrella of the women. It was really fun to watch them try to stay dry, but look elegant at the same time. And do it with a smile as well). Sometime people in the parade would come out and drop water down the back of our shirts and rub powder on our faces. Sometimes the people watching would go back into the parade and sprinkle water on the people in it. I think everyone wanted to get the white guys wet and covered in powder, because they seemed to target Elder Jolley and I a lot. There was one time several girls ran out of the parade at us. That was interesting. I have never seen Elder Jolley run so fast. LOL

The whole thing was really fun but, at night we had to go back and go to work. Needless to say nothing got done that night because we had English and we figured no one would show up, which was true. So we stayed in our house and cleaned a little bit.

The work the rest of the week was really slow and hard, because all of our investigators were either out of town or they asked not to meet us for the week so they could spend that time with their families. So we tried to do what we could. Invite where it was dried and see members. We saw a lot of members. and a lot of our recent converts. The interesting part is how Somkran turned into somkhram, which is war in Thai, for the missionaries, because we had to try our best to stay dry in between our appointments, it was tough but doable.

We did get to know some of our members really well. I got to try something that I have had my eyes set to eat since before I came to Thailand. Yesterday we went out of the main city which isn't really big, to find a less active member. His name is Brother Bong. He is a sweet guy and is in the possess of coming back into the church. We went out yesterday to get to know him a little better as well as share a few spiritual thoughts with him. At church that day he asked me if I wanted to eat any strange foods I told him what I wanted to try. He then told me he had some and would cook some up for Elder Jolley and me. Here is thing number three that I have eaten that's impossible to get in the states, It's Rat. We got there and after we taught him he BBQed some rats and gave it to us tail and all. It really didn't have much of a taste to it but it was good. I couldn't help but think of Tessa eating rats at the same time. Now I can say I have eaten the same thing that I fed my hawk. LOL

Thanks for the letter for Stu. Its good to hear from him and here whats going on in his life right now.

I got a phone call from the Zone leaders this week. They said I'll be going down to Bangkok to renew my visa so I should get the packages in 2 weeks or on the 29th.

Ok I have to go now I love you all. Thank you for all your love and support.

Elder Brandon John Holt

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Happy Songkran

Hello Everyone

Well, today after a few minutes after our alarm went off to wake us up, our zone leaders called us to tell us to get out of the house and send emails as soon as possible. It seems yesterday the worst fighting in Bangkok broke out and they told us it was all over the news at home. So we are supposed to tell you that we are still ok and everything is alright. That's as much as I know:)

Anyways.... Well I'm not really sure where to start this week. Well Yesterday was my Birthday, that was strange???? I think I am 2 decades old and no longer a Teenager. Weird. ( I love these cool faces i can now put into my email) I had a good Birthday I decided. Yesterday was the start of Songkran so we spent the afternoon dodging water. I'll tell you more about that later, and we had some time to feast at Pizza Company the local pizza place in Thailand. We ordered 2 sodas, spaghetti, BBQ chicken, Garlic bread, and a large Hawaiian Pizza extra thousand Island dressing. Sounds like the appetite of two missionaries huh?? Well a strange thing happens when you haven't eaten a American meal that size for a long time. You get full to the point that you are more then sick but, I think in the end we both enjoyed it. It was a great birthday dinner.

Other then that it was a normal day of work. Most of our investigator appointments fell through due to the National Holiday and we won't be able to get back to any of them until the end of the Holiday. So we spent the day trying to invite.

Well Conference here was an interesting experience. I can't wait for the Ensign to come, to understand the talks a little bit better. It was in Thai like I predicted but, that's alright because it helped me gauge how much I have improved since six months ago. I was able to understand the basic ideas of the talks. It's a little bit harder to understand the talks of Conference because they use a higher form of Thai then normal Street talking, and then when they add in big words in English they translate a little bit funny in Thai. Its also funny to watch the action of the speakers, For example Elder Holland, and then when they get excited the translater still talks in a boring monotone voice. I however love what I understood out of Elder Holland's, President Uchtdorf's, and Presidents Monson's talks. It was really strange for the Saturday morning sessions because for the morning and afternoon we had a total of 11 people watch, and for the priesthood session we had 5, both numbers include the two Elders. Much different from the large groups of people in Utah. But I'm glad to say I feel that the branch here is starting to grow.

Last Week we taught Brother Lek, the member that got baptized a few weeks ago, about the priesthood and challenged him to go to the Branch President and ask for a interview for the Aaronic Priesthood. Elder Jolley and I both feel like he is ready to start preparing to receive the Higher priesthood. He took the challenge and I think he was interviewed after conference the other day. If we get the chance this week to see him we will follow up.

We had a sweet finding experience the other day. One of the days in the past week we were biking around at night trying to find people to invite. To me, It feels like its impossible to invite anyone after it gets dark because a lot of people go home and either sleep or drink. Both make it hard to invite. So we had been riding around for a few hours, and I had notice that we had come out of the city a little bit where there was really nothing but a gas station, With a 7-11,and a Big furniture store that was closed. I was leading and felt like we weren't really going to have any luck finding any one way out where we were so i mention this to Elder Jolley and we began to turn around. As we crossed the street, It was one of the main streets that came into Sakon Nakhon, Elder Jolley took the lead and started speeding up. As i started speeding up I heard someone shout. "Elder, Elder." I looked around and found that someone was waving from a scooter, for me to stop. So I did. It turns out the guy that stopped me had been a formal investigator in another area 6 months ago and had moved before he was able to get baptized. After we had introductions he asked "Can I be baptized." It kind of threw us back but, we said after a little reviewing he could. We grabbed his number and then went on our way. We decided to stop at the only gas station out there for a quick break then head home. As we stopped there was a guy sitting on his scooter waiting for a friend. Elder Jolley started talking to him and he was way interested. So we grabbed his number and then he left on his way. It's crazy how the Lord works on with you to help you find people that he has prepared. If We had not been out that far out of the city we would have never met those two people.

Well for today, President Smith has given us permission to "Play Songkran" as the Thais say. I'm way excited. There is no holiday in the states that I think compares. The best way for me to describe it is its like the 4th of July. Everyone stops work and plays but this is a 3 to 4 day event and everyone plays. Some people buy squirt guns, others just use buckets and pans. Some will hop into the back of a pick-up truck and others station themselves on the side of the road. Then the fighting begins. They throw water, and powder and no one is safe or will stay dry. The Uniform for the Event is a Hawaiian Shirt. So for the last few weeks there have been Hawaiian shirts sold everywhere. Elder Jolley and I bought shirts last night. And are going to buy guns this morning. Then We hopefully can find a place with the members to play. A member has invited us to ride in her Pick-up but that's breaking mission rules so that's out of the question. But it going to be a party. I'll make sure to take lots of pictures.

I haven't gotten the Birthday package and I fear I won't until I go down to Bangkok at the end of the month to renew my visa. With the German I think if you can send it Asap that would be better. Because I'm afraid that I might be moving next month so I may not get a chance to pick up any packages except for when I go to Bangkok this month.

Well I think that my time is up. I love you all. Thank you for your prayers I know they help.

This is the true church. The Book of Mormon is true and it was translated by the prophet of God, Joseph Smith. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary, to be one of the Lord's tools here in Thailand.

Love your son, Grandson, and Brother

Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April conference

Hello family of mine

How is everyone? I think here in Thailand, we are in the hottest months of the year. That throws me off a little bit. I forget the month a lot. It feels more like the hot weather of August then the cool spring mornings of April. So when Brother Wally, a member from Alaska in our Branch, came up and wished us a happy Easter I had totally forgot that it was Easter.

This last week we had Zone Conference in Khong Keng. President Smith talked about our purpose as a missionary. He pointed out some good points. For example we all know the missionary purpose by heart "bring others to Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, laying on the hands of the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end" but do we realize that we are the only way to salvation for the people here in Thailand. That we are the only people who will find them and teach them. It places a lot more responsibility on our shoulders when you put it that way.

It was a great zone conference, and I was able to meet up with Sister Webb, who had served in Lop Buri when I was there and ask about the investigators that I taught and the members that I worked with. It was great to here about some of them.

After Conference Elder Jolley and I hopped back on a bus and returned to Sakon Nakhon.

On Wednesday The Branch here had its first wedding ever to happen in this branch, with Vernon, the German man that I talked about last week, and another member in the branch. Elder Jolley had the privilege of being the best man, because he was translating for Vernon at the same time. It's a sweet thing when there is a wedding here because they do it the Thai way then the church way. I'm not really sure what was entailed for the Thai part of it because we didn't have time to go because of the work, but that's alright. After they had a wedding reception that we didn't make because of English class that we taught. Its funny because this was a real wedding because as it was happening it rained. Proving that no matter what country you are getting married in the weather will do all it can to stop it. We also didn't have any students show up to English class that night, so we got to go eat a good dinner at the Pizza Company.

Sorry for this Email coming so slow this week. Elder Jolley and I spent the morning cleaning our house. After the house painter had been working there for the last week it really needed it. Oh ya I don't remember if I told you, about 3 weeks ago our landlord called us and asked if they could come over to inspect the house. We said yes. They came over and told us they have some time and money and want to fix the house up. It had been 8 years or more since anything had been done with it. We were more than happy to let them do as they pleased because after 8 years of elders the house really needs some major cleaning. So this last week painters have been painting the outside and inside of our house and have been fixing up the little things. So we have had to move things around over the weekend to help them paint. Its been fun. One of the things I found interesting is one thing that Elder Jolley pointed out. The scaffolding that they use to get to the upper floor outside is just bamboo poles. They balance themselves and hang off them and do all kinds of tricks, that if I were to do I would be yelled at, to paint the house.

I'm glad that you enjoyed conference, We get to watch DVD copies of it this weekend. I'm way excited to watch it. But not so much for it being in Thai. Oh well, I guess it will be a great way to test my language skills and see how far I have improved in the last months. Last time I remember not understanding a thing. But I think it will be different this time. Would you please send me a copy of the Ensign when it comes out next month as well?

OK, my time is up for this week, but before I go I want to ask for a thing or 2. First if you can send me a copy of the new Gospel Principle manual in English I think that would help me a little more on what we are learning in church. I have a Thai copy but its hard to understand all the time. Next is one for Dad. The German guy that married the member here, has become more and more interested in the church. Yesterday I was translating for him, and he told me, " I wish I was able to understand what is going on, if I had one of those books in a language that I could understand think it would help a lot." So I was thinking, Do you think you could find a Book Of Mormon and a gospel Principles Manual in German and send it to me? That's about all I think I need for the time being, Dad maybe you could write your testimony in German as well. I think that would help him a lot.

OK I have to go. I love you all. Thank you also for all that you do. and for your love and support.

Your son and Brother

Elder Brandon John Holt