Monday, June 28, 2010

need fireworks!

Hello Everyone

Well I would like to take the time to rant a little about computer games. Coincidentally we are here in Udorn this week for switch offs. On the way down I was reading Elder Bednars talk about "things as they really are," which came out in this months Liahona. Anyways the reason I want to rant is we are in an internet cafe where there are about 60 plus 14 to 16 year old's who all just got off of school, and Elder Peacock and I can barely hear each other because they are shouting so loud. We almost didn't get computers to work on either. Don't ever waste your time in a computer place playing games.( I'm one to talk after hasters) Anyways after that i feel better.

Well, this week in Sakon Nakon Has been a busy one for us. We have been trying our hardest to teach all those who we taught last week while trying to find and keep in contact with new investigators this week. Both we're not doing too well. But that's alright this week we have set some goals and plans to change that. We found and taught 9 new investigators this last week. That's a lot more then we originally set goals for. Its way sweet. There are some families and some single people as well in that group.

Elder Peacock and I have been going to areas outside of the main city of Sakon. Its sweet because we found one or two neighborhoods that I have passed before but never saw because They were hidden in the jungles... well... trees and would have never found them except we were willing to go onto every little street that branched off of the main street to Udorn. We went out of the city about 7 kilos at one point. I'm not sure how far that is in miles. The suggestion is not to leave the areas more then 10 kilos from your house if you are in an area that you can only bike in. It starts to take a lot of travel time and the distances to church can be a factor on weather or not investigators go to church.

This coming week the Zone leaders will be switching off with us. So like last time some one will be here in Udorn and the other companion will be going back to the area for the week. Unlike last time I'm the district leader and will be the one returning to Sakon while Elder Peacock will stay in Udorn. I'm way excited. I always love switch offs because I get to learn a lot. Especially this time being an inexperienced DL, I have a few questions that I'm going to ask for help on.

At the end of the week we have zone conference in Khong Keng. That's were Elder Peacock and I will meet up again and return to our area. I believe President Smith will explain his vision with missionaries and member relations. Its something that as a mission we have been really working on. Elder Peacock and I have been trying to follow as close to Preach my Gospel as we can but at the same time there are a few questions that need to be answered by a mission president. I think our over all broad vision is to make it like the relations between Missionaries and members at home. Where no one really knows the elders but at the same time the elders are working thought the ward mission leaders to continue to help the branches and wards progress.

This week we had a return missionary that came back to the Sakon Nakon branch with his wife and parents. We ran into him one time when we were inviting and it happen to start raining. thankfully a members house was near by and we could take some cover for a few minutes until the rain lessened. He had been a missionary in Sakon about 2 years ago. His mom took our names and phone numbers. she said she wanted to call you and tell you how we are doing. So you might get a phone call in a few weeks.

I wish I had a way to send more pictures this week but we left all that stuff back home. I'm glad you enjoyed the ones from last week. The people we were eating with were mostly members. Some were just friends and other people that worked there at the place we were at as well. We were at a dentist office.

In the recent weeks people have been planting rice and working more in the fields. Its been really sweet to watch and talk to people that we invite. It seems that almost every one here in Sakon have a rice field or two that they work in. That differently is the crop to grow. I'll try and get some pictures of it to send home if i have the chance

Connor is in the Stadium of Fire. What is he doing in it?

I'm glad you told me grandma is still living, I was afraid you forgot to mention something or that I missed something in a past email. So what was given to us through her will. I hope grandma is not to upset for being left in a care center. I remember that was the last thing that she wanted to do. How is the Holt family doing with the recent events?

oh man everyone is getting married. all my cousins that were close to my age as well. That's strange. Wish Greg congrats from me.

Okay I think that's all I got for this week

I love you all.

Elder Brandon John Holt

PS I had an opportunity to listen to Jens radio broad cast way back when I was in the MTC this last week. Way to go Jen!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wow this leadership thing is harder then i thought :P

Hello Family

It sounds like everyone has had a good week back at home. Connor you do have a very busy summer. One thing i will always remember is Brother and Sister Hutchison (I can't spell) advice before they left on there mission in Argentina, which is enjoy the summer between your 9th and 10th grade year because after this year you will have a job and have to fight off girls. So its a good thing you are doing all that. It sounds like a blast.

Well this week is a little different being the leader here has pushed my stress levels a little bit. Elder Peacock and I have been working really hard to find and teach new families. That seems to be what President Smith is stressing all over the mission. We need to find families rather then single people out of families. The hard thing about this week is the last few days the families that we have been teach before haven't been able to meet with us. So we had to make do with finding new families for the moment. We were able to teach three or four new families and its great because this next week we are going to revisit all of them to help them progress.

Elder Peacock is a great guy. As I told you last week he is from Orem, Utah. I found out though that he has lived all over Europe, mainly France. He says that everyone in his family speaks French fluently but he forgets it because of the Thai that is going through our head. He has been in Thailand for about 6 months already. Coincidentally he came to Sakon about the same time that I got here in my 5th moves. He is in his five moves and just came out of a area in my old zone. So he was able to give me a update on what has been going on the last 4 months in Lopburi.

The other way that I am able to get up dates from my old area is through the moves meetings and through letters from the members that I keep in contact with. The missionaries are able to send mail through the system of sending stuff to the office and then the office distributing through out the mission. I have been keeping up with a family that I saw baptized while I was there. Elder Peacock has a card reader to upload his photos so if I have time I'm going to try and upload a photo or two.

I didn't tell you last email but, Elder Hawks my second companion has Finished his mission and went home. He left last moves meeting. That's way strange to think that. I think in 2 more moves Elder Blackhurst will leave then following that Elder Jolley and then well everyone after that is younger then me in the mission so then that means I'm next. Scary. Not to be trunky or anything.

Ok so I got some photos on this time. I think I will buy a card reader. This is a lot better. Any ways. The first photo is of that family that I am writing in Lopburi. That was my last night there. Next is a golfing photo of when elder Blackhurst and I took some R and R time. Then, well, it speaks for itself. After that is Elder Jolley and I and our Songran experiences. There are a lot more as well but I didn't have room to upload next week. Enjoy!

Ok that, I think, is it for this week.

I love you.

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, June 14, 2010

District leader and new companion

Hello Everyone

Well This week was not what I was thinking it was going to be. First I will say I have not yet moved areas. That puts me four moves in Lop Buri and four moves in Sakon Nakon. Well I'll start with Monday. We went back and taught Joe and Meow( This is a different person). They are a sweet family. We went back and had their kids join in on the lesson this time. We asked Meow who is mom to explain prayer. She did wonderfully and added something that impressed me a lot. She said to her kids,"We are going to try out what they teach us AS A FAMILY because it is important to do things like this AS A FAMILY. If in the end its not right for us we at least tried it AS A FAMILY ( the Caps are added by me)". Anyway, it was really sweet. They said they were going to try to go to church this week but couldn't make it at the last minute. That's alright for now. We will teach them again next week.

Well Wednesday turned out to be a stressful day for everyone in the mission. Let me explain. So I first recieved a phone call in the morning. To my surprise it was President Smith. He told me that he had taken interest in the letters that I sent the last few weeks. I have been asking to stay in Sakon Nakon for one more moves. He told me he was willing to grant that request and that he was going to up my responsibilities by making me District leader. At this point I almost fell off my bike. Anyway I told him that I would be happy to accept the calling. He then told me that I would have to go to moves meeting for some training that was to be held Friday night. Take note of that last information.

So we learned from that call that Elder Jolley would be moving and me staying (woot woot). Well Elder Jolley and I decided to celebrate the normal way that we celebrate here which is to order two large pizzas and be filled. After that we returned home and studied. In study the Zone Leaders called and confirmed our knowledge that Elder Jolley was moving and I was staying.

After study we went to go check the bus times. It was about 5pm and that's when the last bus leaves. So we took note and started to head off to invite. As we were heading to the area that we were planning to talk to people, the Zone leaders called again and told us that plans had changed. They wanted us to leave for Udorn, where we would take a train or bus down to Bangkok, right away. We thought they were kidding at first because Elder Jolley hadn't even thought about packing yet. Much to our dismay they said that they weren't and moves meeting had been moved a day in advance. So because there were no buses leaving in that direction until the morning we had to hire a taxi AKA someone with a pick up truck who ask us for 3000 baht or about 90 dollars give or take, to go. We had no other choice so we took it.

We left Sakon after Elder Jolley packed about 7:30 and got to Udorn about 9:30 which was making really good time, at least we got something for the price. From there we hung out in the Udorn Elder's house until 3am when we hopped on our bikes and went to the bus station, where a bus that the church had paid for would pick us up and take us down to Bangkok.
It was a really nice double-decker bus that came with massage seats. Needless to say however I did not sleep very well. We stopped on the way down at some other cities to pick up other missionaries.

At about 12 we got to Pakkret were the meeting was held. Those who were renewing visas hopped on another bus, the rest of us stayed at the church and ate a good Thai meal that was provided by the members there. At night the new missionaries arrived with President and Sister Smith. And the moves meeting began. ELder Jolley got a new companion and I ashamed to admit it but I have no idea where he moved to. My new Junior companion is Elder Peacock. He is a pretty sweet guy. I'm way excited to work with him. He is from Orem, Utah.

After that I went into a training meeting and met some of the other members in my group as well, where we were trained by one of the Assistants to the President and a Zone Leader about the responsibilities and other things that the District leaders are supposed to do.

After that it was a mad dash to fit all the luggage and bikes and other things back onto the bus and hop on and return.

I'm way excited for this moves. Things have already started to move. We taught a new family the first day that we were back who are way sweet. Yesterday we had the most people come to church that I have ever seen for a long time. About 54 people showed up. And we were able to set up some new appointments with other families the next few days.

I definitely agree with that article that you sent. That is one of the things that Elder Ito, my trainer, taught me a lot. Everyone has been blessed with different talent and gifts. Then the Lord places us in the right place with the right person in the right circumstances. Then if we are following the commandments and keeping our covenants, we will do the things that the Lord has prepared us to do in this life and time.

I got the package that you sent mom. Thank you for the food as well. I love pudding! I am way impressed with the few talks that I have read in the conference talks so far. I really like Elders Packer's where he literally calls every priesthood holder. Those here are tired, lazy, fallen away, and those who are active and fulfilling their callings to step up and increase the power of the priesthood of the Lord upon the world.

You don't need to send any more deodorant for a little bit. I still have 3 sticks that I haven't used yet but thank you for the concern.

Sounds like Dad and Connor are having a good time and can understand my situation when I first got here a little bit, lol.

The rain, well it comes and goes. Sometimes it comes down way hard for all night. and sometimes hard for just a few minutes, but it always comes down hard I have noticed. So we normally try to find cover if it starts raining and we are not in a rush.

Ok my time is up

It's been a crazy week, and its only going to get better.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Friday, June 11, 2010

Week 53

Hello family

First I want Dad and Connor to know that I'm jealous. Other then that I don't need to rant any more.

Well this week nothing really too exciting has happened. We had the chance to start teaching a new family. I'm way excited about them. About a week ago we were inviting in a area that we have been going to for the past few weeks. It's a small little neighborhood behind a hotel. Anyways we hadn't had any real success in this area but we decided to go back for another look. We spent a few minutes walking around, And talk to some people who weren't really interested in learning about the gospel. So after having no luck we decided to go. As we were heading out towards the main street, this neighborhood only had one main way in and out, I noticed a street that we had never gone down before that had a house with its lights on. I told Elder Jolley and we decided to take a look. As we got closer to the house at the end of the street, we noticed a man on top of the roof, which made us even more interested to talk to him. We got to the house and called out to him and asked him what he was doing? He replied he was looking at the stars. This night however a storm was in the process of rolling in so you couldn't see the stars. Anyways we had a funny conversation after that that I can't really recall. Turns out he was really up there to stick a satellite dish on his brother's house. As I was talking to him the owner of the house started to talk to Elder Jolley. It was strange because the first thing he said is oh I wanted to talk to you guys, I'm interested. That kind of through us off. We asked he if he knew that we taught religion not really English. (most people think we are mainly here to teach English). He replied that he knew that and he was interested in both. So we invited him to come to English with his family and made an appointment to come back a few days later.

When we went back it was a really good first lesson with him and his wife. At first his wife was really closed to us but by the end of the lesson she prayed to close the lesson. That is something that is always exciting the first time someone prays. Today after we finish up we are going again to teach them. I called Joe, the owner of the house, last night and he seemed really excited to have us come.

The rest of the week nothing really exciting has happened. We both have been getting more and more nervous as we get closer to moves meeting because there is a possibility either one of us can move, even both of us can move. If nothing crazy goes down it will most likely be me that moves. But we'll see. Hopefully we find out tomorrow when the zone leaders call.

Well regarding to the Questions in the email. For the last few months it been really hard to send a lot of letters out. So I have this big pile of letters from people that sent me some way back in March that I need to reply to. No worries though I'm sure I will find time to reply to all as well as send out new letters as well.

That sounds like a crazy week Elder Hale had. To think a volcano. I'm glad I'm here in Thailand where the people keep telling me they don't get earthquakes, or volcanoes, or anything else that too crazy, just lots of rain. Everyday. Did he have to leave his area for a little bit?

Connor when did you become interested in Girls??? Sounds like you have had a party the last week. I remember that time, that was one of my favorite. Anyways don't have too much fun that we can't party when I get back.

Ok Sorry for the short letter this week. Have fun in the south Dad and Connor. Don't forget to wear sunscreen. I have learned that the hard way the last few weeks. Yes mom I put sun screen on every day.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

PS. Oh I almost forgot.

Two Sundays ago I had the chance to give the German Book of Mormon and the Gospel Principles book to Vernon the German man. He was really happy to get them because he could understand better what we were teaching in church. I haven't yet seen him since then to follow up. Thank you for your help with sending that here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One year down!

Hello Family

Well Its going to be a really strange week because I'm hitting the one year mark. I had a thought today as we were cleaning the house. I think it was one year today that I gave my farewell talk. That's strange. Anyways.

This last week I did a lot of traveling outside of my area. As the last email said I was in Udorn with Elder Rovic. He is one of the 2 zone leaders. The other Zone leader, Elder Westwood, Came to Sakon Nakhon and worked with Elder Jolley here. I learned a lot from Elder Rovic. Mainly the importance of putting your effort in the right place. One thing we talked about is the improvement of the whole zone over the last 6 weeks since Elder Rovic has become a Zone Leader here. 6 weeks ago our Zone, Minus one area with missionaries that were tearing it up, was pretty much dead. We weren't finding anybody new to teach. After going over the results with him, I saw that our key investigators have gone up a lot. We figured that this is because we changed the focus of where we were placing our effort. We have really focused on finding new people to teach that were really interested. It kind of hard to explain more then that. Anyways I learned a lot about how to invite people that the Lord has prepared better.

After 3 days in Udorn, we went to Khon Keng to have zone Conference. Here is where I met back up with Elder Jolley and switched back. At zone Conference, President Smith taught us about effective goal setting, daily and weekly planning, and the improvements to the English class that is going to take place nationwide. It was funny as President Smith was talking about how to take a vision and make it happen, I kept thinking about my dream to become a falconer. When I was 12 I had a vision to become a falconer. So I set goals that I needed to make. Such as have $1500 dollars for the equipment by the time I was 16, and take and pass the test. Through the goals and plans that I set I was able to achieve my vision and trap Tessa when I was 17 in high school. Thinking about that the past few days has really helped me to realize how helpful knowing what your vision is and making goals to achieve it is.

Well a little about Udorn. Its a much bigger city then Sakon Nakhon. I'm told its the third biggest tourist trap in Thailand, under Bangkok and Chaing Mai. Its really big. They have a lot a members there. So much that there is 2 branches there. The Missionaries there have split the city into three areas. Well really two. The zone leaders area, the Udorn District leader area, just normal missionaries, and the Sisters area, which cover the whole city. I have switched off enough in Udorn now that I think I can find my way from the bus station to the Elders home, but anymore then that and I'm lost.

So concerning the curfew, as far as we, the missionaries in Sakon Nakon, its been lifted. Things never really got crazy here thankfully.But you are right It was placed on specific provinces in the country. It was interesting as we were in Khong Keng this last weekend. The District Leader over that area warned us that there were certain areas that were off limits for the missionaries still to go into because of the events that took and may still be taking place. but other than that the country has really quieted down from my point of view. But everyone is still on guard.

It was interesting, I had the chance to talk to some firefighters in Udorn (that was really fun because I also learned a little about firefighting in Thailand) and he said when everything went crazy his fire truck caught on fire, but he didn't really explain why, I think he was a little embarrassed about it.

Anyways that's about it for what has been happening here in Thailand for the last week. Moves meeting is coming up really fast again, it on the 11th of June. so in about a week and a half. Elder Jolley and I know that one of us have to move because we have been together for 2 moves already. Its probably me that will move, unless something strange happens like I train or become senior companion. we'll see. Either way its going to be a exciting moves meeting.

I found out what Jasmine rice is here. It is a type of rice they eat. They call it the rice that smells good.That's a rough translation. Anyways if I get the chance to buy it I'll buy a little bit and tell you what I think. Speaking about cooking. In Udorn I tried to make a Thai desert, Its sticky rice with mango. Anyways I was able to do it. so when I get back I will have to make it. Its really good. Its also really really sweet. I think this next year I'm going to have to be more adventurous as well and start really learning how to make more Thai food. A lot of it really wouldn't be too hard, just takes some time to do it.

I can't wait to get the new conference addition. That one thing i have really learned to love on a mission. The sweet things that the apostles and our prophet tell us every year. And i have 4 pages left in my journal. I think that i will end it on Thursday one year after I started it in the MTC. No rush though if you send it in the next few days i should get it at move meeting. And until then I can write in a different note book.

Ok I have to go I love you all, and wish you warmer weather. But not to the weather here.

~ * ~

Mom here. We're thinking about making this blog private. If you would like to be included in the list, please either comment below or email/call me. Thanks for supporting our missionary!