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