Sunday, July 18, 2010

Making progress in Sakon Nakon

Hello Family

I hope you are having a Great time at the beach. Here in Sakon we have had a great week. But its been a lot of work that Elder Peacock and I had to do.

Mostly it has been involved with finding people to teach. I realize now why President Smith put so much stress on it a few months ago at a Zone conference. Here is a dumb thing to say but I have learned how true it is now. When you find people to teach, you have people to teach, then you have people to baptize and become members in the Kingdom of God. Its true. The start of missionary work is finding people to teach. I learned this because of the events of the last 4 months.

I don't know if I have ever talked about it but for the last for months Sakon Nakhon has been a "Dead area." I was so excited to leave Lop Buri because the way Lop Buri was going it became a "dead area" as well on my 4th moves there. Let me define the term "Dead Area." A "Dead Area" is an area that isn't producing the "Numbers" needed to be progressing. Numbers refer to the key indicators that missionaries report every week to their leaders such as how many new investigators you have taught in the last week, how many Investigators are going to church each week, or how many investigators that you are teaching have a date to get baptized. There are a few other things as well. For Sakon Nakhon it has been a long time since the area has gone anywhere. When I came into this area at the end of January they had a full Area book (the book the missionaries keep all their records in. That can include but is not limited to current progressing investigators, new investigators, potential investigators and former investigators. There's some other things in it as well) of Investigators that were not really going anywhere. So with some convincing Elder Blackhurst and I began dropping investigators that were not going anywhere. At this time missionaries had the feeling if you let go of an investigator you may never have anyone new to teach thus making your days full of no fun inviting in the hot sun with hours on hours without end. So it was really really hard to drop investigators. Now days that idea has changed I'll go into that later. So by the end of my 5th moves with Elder Blackhurst we had cleared out most of the investigators that were not going anywhere. Next when Elder Blackhurst left and Elder Jolley became my companion, we continued to teach and drop investigators but we were not finding very effectively so the area slowly ran out of investigators. Because we suddenly had no one to teach, we had no one to go to church, therefore no one was baptized in the past few months. This was a very hard time for Elder Jolley and I but to keep it simple we were really teaching anybody who was really willing to progress in the gospel full heart, mind, might. and strength plus because the area was not producing the numbers, The Assistants then became involved and began putting more pressure on us to improve, Which was needed. By the end of my 6th moves Sakon Nakhon was a dead area and we spent most of our days inviting. But we didn't do it very effectively I think because we didn't really ever find anyone to teach. So the theme of the next moves, moves number 7, was just like Obama's campaign, Change. Elder Jolley and I made goals to repent of all our mistakes in the past and start new going back to the basics. Last moves I really learned that contrary to what I think Preach My Gospel, as President Smith puts it,was written on the other side of the veil and not just some book of suggestions that the Brethren of the church gave to the American missionaries. Of course I didn't really think that to that extreme but I like to exaggerate. Really all it was was that over the last few years missionaries have drifted away from using Preach my Gospel as they should and it has been taught from father to son or from trainer to trainee or from senior companion to junior companion. Any ways that's a lot of nonsense that i just typed so I'll get back to the original story. So last moves I learned a lot of stuff to help this area become a progressing area again.

Near the end of the moves I don't know why but I had the desire to stay one more moves. I think that I didn't want to leave another dead area like I left Lop Buri. So I did something that to this day I'm still wondering why I did it. I wrote President Smith and asked if I could stay another 6 weeks. Much to my surprise President Smith said OK and made me District leader of Sakon Nakhon. Normally I would have been the one that moves because when Elder Jolley left I had been here the longest. Anyway, the whole point of these 2 long paragraphs is this, In the last few weeks, with the help of my companion Elder Peacock, we have been able to change the direction of the area. Its was a slow start but its been like a Exponential Graph (look Jen I found a use for math after high school, I think).

Yesterday was the first day we had investigators at church for about 2 months I think. Even some of the members were excited for them coming in as well. Yesterday the Branch President was kind enough to ask me to speak in church so I was sitting on "The Stand" with another member when our investigators walked in. The member next to me, Brother dom or tree, who also is a return missionary, looked over and asked, "Is that a whole family?" I replied yes. He was really impressed. This idea that President Smith had of teaching families not just single people with families really works.

Not only have we had success in getting a family to church but now we are finding about 9 new investigators every week. We have several truly progressing investigators, and we have been finding about 30 people who might be investigators in the future every week. I have started losing sleep on all the people that I have to worry about helping progress. Its great.

One thing I do know is there is no way that I personally could have done this alone. The Lord has really blessed us to help this area grow. He has made us instruments in His hands.

One thing that I keep thinking about is that we can't get complacent or ever be satisfied. So Elder Peacock and I will continue to keep trying to improve. Its been a satisfying week.

Anyways so it sounds like you guys are having a good week on the beach. The beach house really has changed that much huh? sweet I hope I get a chance to go again when I get back.

About this Mercedes. I think Connor is right, I think it's just a joke you're playing on me. lol. I never saw any photos of it. So I don't believe that its true. But if it was true, I almost laughed because I know how much Dad wanted one and coincidentally it sounds like it was totaled. Sorry Dad. So what did the damage look like? How were the other Cars? Was anybody else hurt? HIw are you doing dad?

Hey last week I bought a card reader so i can send pictures a lot easier now. So I put some up. The first few are of Elder Peacock's and my adventure this morning. We went to a fabric shop to buy some cloth because Elder Peacock wants to make a book cover for his Book of Mormon in Thai. When we got there it literally was full of piles and piles of fabric. So I snapped some photos and thought that Mom would enjoy seeing how the fabric stores are here in Thailand. We spent a long time going through the very thin walking space to find some fabric that we liked.

The other photos are of our house. The first two are of the sleeping/study room. and the other our living room and kitchen. This house here is really really big for just 2 Elders. It has 4 bedrooms on the top floor, a kitchen a back yard....kind of, 2 bathrooms, with only one working shower. It's not perfect but it will do.

Connor. Its good to hear that you are getting in shape for next season. You've still got a long way to go until you beat my time in backstroke. You can't do it until I'm there to see you. Any ways good luck. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

OK I have to go. It just started to rain and we still need to get haircuts, sigh.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

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