Monday, May 24, 2010

General Authorities in country

Hello Everyone

Well this week I'm writing from the province next door in the Zone leaders area of Udorn. I'm here for two reasons. First this weekend has been really sweet because we have had four General Authorities in Thailand. I think it was Saturday and Sunday that all four of them were here. Elder Oaks, Bishop Burton, Elder Holister from the Quorum of the Seventies Presidency, and Elder Pratt from the Area Seventies. Today there was a special Fireside for the missionaries mission wide. It was held in downtown Bangkok but we watched by the power of live Internet streaming up here in Udorn.

Elder Jolley and I had to get up at 4:30 to hop on a bus at 5:30 to ride 4 hours to get here. It kind of reminded me of early morning swimming. Anyways it was a really sweet fireside where Elder Holister and Sister Holister spoke (the other General Authorities needed to tend to some business in other parts of Asia so they left the country). They talked about the purpose of our missions. And about applying everything we learn here not only here but in our afterlife/ when we return home.

President Smith said that a real miracle happened in the last few days, and I have to agree with him. He said that the resulting and sudden peace was not because of the military intervention only, but because the Lord was clearing a safe way for the General Authorities to come to Thailand.

The second reason that I am in Udorn is for the next few days Elder Jolley and I are going to switch off with our Zone Leaders. Elder Jolley is going back to Sakon and I will stay here. We'll be switched off for the next 4 days. The great thing was that our Zone leaders didn't tell us that we would be switching off until after I was almost asleep last night because of the early morning wake up. So when they called I had to wake up and hurry and pack some clothes for the next few days. Elder Jolley and I will switch back on Thursday at Zone Conference.

This last week has been interesting. As I can see in your email you've seen some of the damage in Bangkok. There were also other place in other parts of the country that were lit on fire. Because of the events that happened on Tuesday last week, we got a call from our zone leader saying First that we had to return to our house and stay there. They later called back to report that there had been a curfew made between the hours of 8 pm and 5 am. This was made by the government so it applied to everyone. However thankfully nothing happened in our area. but we still followed the curfew for the last few nights, I think today they are lifting it, so everything should be going back to normal maybe. I saw photos of the Central mall that was burned down. I am pretty sure that's the one where most of the missionaries go when they can to buy neck ties. That was a way huge mall its crazy that its gone now.

Anyways none of that really affected us anyways because we are in the house normally at 8:30. So the work moved on. We have not had the chance to meet the guy at Citi bank again yet but we will keep trying. I called him the other day and he says that he doesn't always work at that branch so he'll call us when he is back again. Other than that the work has been slow this last week. We have invited a lot and I really don't have any cool stories to share this time but maybe next week.

Ok I have to go the time is short today. Thank you for the root beer recipe. I'm way excited to try it when we get a chance.

Love you all.

Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Info about the riots

Hello Everyone

It was great to here from you too last week. I missed you guys. And it was really strange to here your voice Connor. Its dropped since last time we talked. One of the things that hit me was when I realized that I was a day ahead of you. That's a little mind boggling.

We have heard about the Riots in Bangkok here as well. Last night we had what they called a "mob" here. Its not really a mob. Just kind of a rally, so we did our best to avoid it. Luckily its not really a huge thing here in Sakon. But its funny how more and more people our asking us about our views. We just reply, "We are wearing the colors we support. White with a Black badge over our hearts. We are the White Shirts of our Lord" We haven't had any problems with that phrase yet so I think its pretty good. There is a member here who tells us about all that the media will tell the people here. I'm not really sure how much that is and I am sure that its skewed a little bit.

Other than that we have had a little bit of a disappointing week this week. Mostly because almost all of our appointments have fallen through at the last moment, and the problem is that those are with the people that we have found in the last week or two. So none of them progressed. But on the brighter side that extra time gave us more time to find new people to teach and increase our investigator pool.

We did have a cool thing happen as well. On Thursday morning as we were inviting we had pointed ourselves towards a convenience store where we could buy a few snacks. Along the way we were going to invite everyone that we could see. So we did just that. We talked to a lot of people that morning. There was one time that we were almost to this store that we were going to stop and buy a snack. I was inviting someone who really didn't seem that interested in learning about the gospel. As I was talking to this guy, We noticed a man walk out of a Citi Bank across the street and walk across and place himself in our path. Between us and the store. After I handed a pass-along-card with the guy I was currently talking to I asked him to give us a call if he was interested in learning more and then said goodbye. By that time Elder Jolly had started a conversation with the man that had placed himself between us and the store. As we talked to him he was interested to learn. So we tried to set an appointment. He asked if we were free at that time. We told him yes. Then all three of us went back into the Citi bank and talked for a few minutes. We were able to teach him about prayer and set some expectations of what we were going to do. He was really interested. He said something that really struck me. It was, "I know that if I have a lot of money that I could never be truly happy, But I think what you guys have can help me." The interesting thing is that Elder Jolley and I can't really figure out why he left the building and crossed the street to be in our path. It goes to show you that the promise it says in Preach My Gospel is true. The Lord will place people in your path, who are prepared to receive the gospel.

We had the senior couple who are in charge of the houses come and inspect our house the other day. They said they would have given us a A plus except for a thing or two that we hadn't thought of cleaning. mainly the floor under the stairs and the microwave. So Mom, you can now live with peace knowing that our house is clean and livable. It really is really nice, after the painters came back and cleaned it up for us. It feels like a mansion because its huge for just 2 elders.

Thats crazy that Eric got his call. What is that now. 4 missionaries out of our ward. oh 5 I forgot Caleb. That's amazing. Eric be an awesome missionary.

Jasmine Rice? I wonder if that's the rice they eat here. I don't know I will have to ask around. They use a thing called a huad, to make sticky rice. It kind of looks like a big basket that you stick in a steam pot. Maybe that is why it didn't taste so good? I don't know. But I'll ask around to try and find out if there is a rice here called Jasmine rice. That's one thing I will buy and ship home though is a huad so I can make sticky rice for you guys.

Well the weather I think is slowly starting to turn. Its funny because when the weather changes here everyone catches a cold. but the missionaries are okay because we are used to the cold weather changes. It is starting to rain a lot more. For the last 3 or 4 days it has rained once every day. We talked to a man the other day that said that next month It will rain a lot. So much that all the rice fields will fill up with water and farmers will be able to plant their rice. That's a lot. Because pretty much everywhere outside of the city is a rice field. I'm really excited to see that rain come.

Okay My time is running up. Until next week.

I love you

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, May 3, 2010

Almost Mother's Day!!

Hello Family

How has this last week been for you? Well I think i will first tell you the number to call because its not the same as last time. Each area i work in will have a different number because when you call, you call straight to our cell phones. sweet, no? That should get connect you to our phone. Ok so about the time. I'm not really sure what the time will be there but Elder Jolley and I just agreed my slot is at 8:00 am Bangkok time zone on Monday morning. So if the math on my watch is right that should be 6:00pm Sunday night at your time. I think its a 13 hours difference, but I'm not sure about the daylight savings thing so you may want to do the math before calling and not trust me. Also, because this phone call will be on our Preparation day, there won't be any email that day. So we can talk about this next week over the phone.

Well this last week has been busy because of all of the traveling. We worked up to Wednesday afternoon, then hopped on a bus and took off to Udorn, where Elder Berrnet and I would switch companions and joined the 2 sister missionaries and 2 other elders coming down out of another area and take the 10 hour train ride to Bangkok.

The train rides are something that I enjoy. It gives the us time to kick back for a little bit talk about our areas and other things with other missionaries then have a huge sleep over.... well if you are able to sleep on a moving train that is. To get onto this train we have to move quick( the conductors don't really like us that much because we slow the departure time) and get all of the luggage of the missionaries going down onto the train and packed away and out of the aisle of the train. I think it took us a total of 20 to 30 minutes to get on and find our beds and tie everything down. ( sisters have a lot of stuff, but I'm not complaining) Anyways, we left Udorn in the north east about 8:00 Pm and finally got to where we wanted to go at Don Mueng, a suburb of Bangkok, at 5:30 Am. where we hopped of and met the other missionaries coming out of the north and the east. From there we hopped into the back of song taws, Pick up trucks that have seats welded into the back of them, and went to the church in Pakkret to moves meeting.

In the meeting first President Smith talked a little bit about the progress of the mission. He talked a lot about key indicators or the numbers that we measure our areas by, and how important they really are. I don't know if you remember me telling you but over the last few months the number of missionaries has dropped from 140 to 110 people. Which at first may not seem like a lot but if you think about every area needs to have 2 missionaries in it, that means 15 areas were closed in the last few months and can't open until the numbers go back up. So the biggest thing that President Smith stressed is that we need to have steady and improved key indicators so that President Smith can go before the Brethren and be able to ask for more missionaries confidently.

After President Smith was finished those who are going home gave their one liners advice/ get back/ last thing to remember them by. This is one of the things that is always looked forward to. Its sometimes a real hoot as well. After that the new missionaries that came in introduced themselves in Thai if they are from America and in English if they are from Thailand. It always brings me back to the first time when I first came to country. That seems like forever ago but really its only 9 months ago. Anyways that's a lot of fun as well. After that President Smith told who was moving, where they were moving to and who is thier companion is. The crazy thing is that this moves meeting 2 people in my MTC Group went senior companion and will train 2 of the new missionaries. Elder Brown, my MTC companion, and Elder McConkie. so the rest of us will follow in the coming moves meetings. Anyways after that we had some more training meetings then it was over.

After the meeting. I had to run off with others in my group to go renew my visa, this was the reason that I came down. So we hopped back into a song taw and went to the government office. It always remind me of the DMV or the place to go get your driver license at. There are a lot of people and numbers being called. Thankfully being a missionary has its advantages. we went, signed some papers, showed our faces, then a member from the office stayed behind to pay the fees and we walked out. It took all of 15-20 minutes.

After that we had some extra time to eat and do whatever. But the normal places were closed because of the events in Bangkok right now so most of us went back to the church and waited until we headed off to the train station. This time was great because it gave me a chance to talk to my past companions. Elder Hawks in Lopburi and Elder Blackhurst who was my companion here in Sakon. They were both doing well. Elder Hawks is going to finish his mission in lop buri in July he will go home. and ELder BLackhurst became a zone leader. When the time came we took our stuff to the train station. got some food to eat at the local Burger King and then when the train came hopped back on for the trip back home.

Well in this whole event I was able to pick up both packages that you sent. thank you for everything. I needed the food, so I won't eat anymore rats for a while and the shirts as well. I'm planning to go buy some new shirts in the next week. Some of them have some good stains in them that will never come out. so they need to be replaced. so if you could place 50 dollars in my credit account that should be enough to buy shirts and have left over for anything else I need.

Also Connor thank you for " Ammon's guide to being an awesome missionary" I'm finding a lot of things that I have never see before in those chapters. Have you had the chance to do this before? If not you should consider there is a lot you could learn as well.

I also got Marie's invitation this week. That's exciting! I'm glad she is getting married to Chris as well. I had a chance to meet him before I left, he is a great guy. They will be very happy together. Although it was very strange to think that one of my best friends is getting married, we can't be that old yet can we? oh well. That's life.

Hey that's really sweet that Tom (Call) got his call. That's exciting for him. He is going English speaking right?

Oh I was also able to get the books as well. I'm hoping we will get the chance to talk to Vernon this week. I'll give them to him then. Thank you Dad also for writing you testimony in German. I think it will help a lot. When it comes I will give it too him as well.

Ok I think I'm out of time again. I wish I had more there is so much that I could tell you every week.

I love you all.

Elder Brandon John Holt

PS talk to you next week