Saturday, October 30, 2010

another baptism

Hey everybody

How's it going? I am surprisingly dry....for now. Well as for the reports of the floods I hear about them often. And it makes me miss Lop Buri. I always hoped I would see a flood when I was there and now they have flooding up to their necks. There is also flooding in a area called Corad. That not spelled very well. Anyways the flooding isn't good because it's over the biggest traffic and transport part of Thailand for the north and Essan to Bangkok. So a lot of people are having a hard time traveling. Here in Ubon the rain missed us so it's been pretty dry for now but because the river that flows around Ubon comes out of that area it won't be long until flooding takes effect here as well. And when that happens the Elders will be ready to help out. And of course we will be careful. I have also herd of the reports of the typhoon heading this way as well as a tropical storm on coast of Myanmar heading this way. Its going to make a really fun week if they both make it this far inland. I can't wait I can already imagine myself using my lifeguard skills and pulling several people out of the water.55555

Well It has been quite a busy week for us here. Because we had to plan and have a baptism as well as switch off in different areas in the middle of the week. Elder Jensen was a little nervous to lead the area and carry out the Lord's work while I was in a different area. He gets to do it again because Elder Tom, the Thai elder in Warin, and I have to go to training meetings for three days in a different province north of us. Elder Jensen and Elder Intawong will be staying behind and looking after both areas. The best part is they are both new missionaries.

This last week I went to the province called Yasothorn to be with one of my old MTC companions Elder Petvixey. It was fun. Thy are was much like Sakon Nakon, out in the country side. It was funny as I talked to people, many people kept asking me why I came there. Then they would say this is Yasothorn nothing ever happens here. It was a good 2 days.

Then on Saturday we had the baptism. Her name is Mai. I talked about her a few weeks ago about how she literally taught herself. Well we got everything worked out and ready to go so that she could get baptized. She asked me to be the one to baptize her. I was happy to accept and this time I wasn't as nervous as I was last time. Then on Sunday she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have to say she is probably one of the most favorite people that I had the chance to teach so far. She is an amazing mother and I'm pretty sure she considers the elders her children now.(and I thought that 3 moms before was too much) She told me of a story. A few weeks ago we had to tell her that she couldn't get baptized on her original date because of a family problem that came up. She then told me that because she had a lot of anger at me specifically because I was the one who moved into the area and told her the news. Well that week on Saturday I called her to invite her to church. She said that after she hung up she thought a lot about if it was worth it to go to church if she wasn't able to get baptized. In the end she decided to pray about it. She said that after she prayed about it she got the impression that if she stopped going she would be throwing away everything that she had been saying when the elders came and taught her. So she said she went to the church that week. And that she would go every week afterwords no matter if she would be baptized or not. Well about 2 weeks ago President called me and we had a good talk about her family situation. Then he gave the OK to baptize her. She said the day we told her that she was going to be able to get baptized she has never felt so much joy. Then she said that after that she liked me a lot more than before.( I'm not sure what to think about that 5555) anyways I for one am really glad she made that choice to keep going to church because if she had chosen not to go she may have never gotten baptized. It goes to show you even if at first our life seems hard and the way is dark if we trust the lord and follow what he asks us to do we will get to where we need to go.

I have to say its been really fun to train and watch Elder Jensen learn to be a missionary because I can see a lot of what I did when I first came here. I was afraid to offend someone because the culture was so different and everything I did seemed to be awkward or a mistake. That's kind of how Elder Jensen feels but he is doing great. I think in a few weeks he will be a great missionary.

Hey Uncle Lance is in India. If he can get a visa to Thailand there is a international airport in Ubon (our house is right under where the planes land and take off. There are f-16's that buzz our house every day) he could come and visit. I could show him what real Thai food is. But he may not be able to travel after that. 5555. The food is hard on an American stomach. There are still a few things that I get diarrhea from when I eat it but it's so worth it.

Sister Wichittra Wongwiruphab. I know her. I heard that she was going to BYU after her mission. That's interesting that she found her way into our ward. I met her when she was serving in Kong Khang and I was with Elder Blackhurst in Sakon Nakhon. That's something I'm going to have to tell Sister Akagi who is in my district. I think she was companions with her for a little bit. I haven't met her sister yet but maybe in the future. Before I forget have I ever told you guys that the Thai ward is in the church by Hidden Village park. I'm going to have to go there a few times to practice my Thai after the mission.

Well that's my week in a nutshell. I think I'm going to be in for another crazy one this next week.

Before I go I was thinking about something that needs to be addressed now even though I still have a long time until I go home. Have you guys thought about coming to pick me up or maybe better coming back to Thailand with me after I finish? If not I think its something we should start thinking about.

OK I love you

Elder Brandon John Holt

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's a Boy!

Hey Everyone

Well I think many of you are interested in what happened the last week. Well here's how it went. So on Monday and Tuesday everyone in the district was excited trying to guess where they would be going and what was going to happen. And then President Smith started making calls. Well I found out Monday morning that Elder Baker received the calling to be a district leader in a different area. So thinking about that I figured I was safe not going anywhere because I knew the area. Next after that I got a phone call. Right then I started praying that I wouldn't be called zone leader. But that wasn't President Smith's plans for me. He called me and asked me to be a Trainer for a new missionary coming in. So I asked if I would be moving and he said no. So I said yes. After that on Tuesday we got a phone from the zone leaders telling who would all be moving. Elder LeSueur was moving to his excitement. He is getting bored of this area and wanted to see more of Thailand. Well he got his wish and at moves meeting he was moved to Asoke which is the center of Bangkok and the most busy part of the mission. We as missionaries give it the nick name of "The Beast"
Next they said that Elder Baker and Elder Christenson both are moving. Elder Baker moved to Lop Buri. He will have a good time there and Elder Christenson to a province called Maha Sadacome or something like that. Cant spell it in English. Then said that both the sisters are staying here.

Well we took a two-story tour bus down Wednesday night and after picking everyone up on the way down we got to the church in Pakkret in the morning. At moves meeting I met several others in my group who were going to be trainers as well. Anyway after the normal things that happened. The missionaries that were going home gave their one liners and the new missionaries introduced themselves in Thai, some were very good and others were somewhat awkward. That's alright, we are all supportive with cheers because we all know what it was like to be in their shoes. Its strange in the group going home was my third companion, Elder Blackhurst. Remember him? Another strange thing to think about is next transfer meeting Elder Jolly my 4th and last senior companion will go home. Man I'm getting home in the mission.

That's something that President Smith talked about in this meeting is that 60% of the missionaries have been in the mission less then 5 moves or less than 6 months as missionaries. So in order to spread out the experience more He combined some of the districts together and increased the size. That happen to the District that I,m over now. Now we have a extra area in a different province called Yasotorn its to the north-west of us.

Anyways until the mission grows old and more experienced things are going to get a little tight with leadership positions. They also combined 4 different zones to take down the number of zone leaders that are needed. There are now only 6 zones. But I'm pretty sure my next move might take me to zone leader.

Anyways after that President Smith announced who was going to be companions with whom. I found out that I'm training a Elder named Elder Jensen. He is from Ceder Hills Utah. Down by Provo. Its going to be good to be with a companion from Utah again. Anyways. Elder Jensen is awesome already. He is doing a lot better than what I was when I was a new missionary. He can understand Thai, and speak it pretty good. Yesterday he was given compliments from a few members at how good he was already. Its going to be a good transfer with him. Right now he is in NMS New Missionary Shock. Something everyone goes through in the culture shock cross over. But in a few days after he has gotten use to Thailand, he will be a great missionary.

So I got the package. Thank you for the new shoes. They fit pretty good. I have forgotten what it feels like to wear shoes that aren't broken in. I haven't had the chance to break them in outside yet because of the rain, I want to try and keep them nice, so I might only wear them on Sunday and meetings and in case of emergency flooding. Normally when it rains everything that is not placed in a bag gets wet so my shoes get wet and soaked. At night though, if I place them in front of a fan and then in the morning polish them, they are as good as new.

For the next package I'm not sure what I need but I'll be thinking about it. The next moves meeting will be on Thanksgiving if nothing changes so that's an easy deadline to make. After that the first week of January. Woo where did the year go.

Anyways that's all I have time to send today

I love you all
thank you for your prayers

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, October 11, 2010

teeth cleaned in Thailand

Hello family
Well its that time of the month again. The time where everyone gets to predict where everyone is going and what we are all doing. Then we have to wait with nervousness for the phone calls that come tomorrow. Here is the worst part, there is really no one who can predict where I am going to go because with me anything can happen. Let me give you the choices. I can 1. move and be a zone leader (I don't want this one) 2. I could stay and train. 3. I could stay here with Elder Lesueur for another moves (Probably not). 4. I could stay here and be a district leader just like I am now (not likely) 5. I could just move to another area and stay district leader (99.9% no) and 6. I could move to a new area and just be senior companion with no calling (this would be my favorite but I'm 100% sure it won't happen.. but I thought it would be fun just to think it out here). So what do you guys think is going to happen. I can't wait. From the rumors that the zone leaders are passing around which are normally true if your zone leader will be going home, is that there will be big boundary changes coming up in the mission.
This last weekend was a little interesting. I got some of conference in English. yay :P but, there were some events that happened that made it so I wasn't able to listen to the morning Sunday session at all and the Saturday session in Thai. That's all right I can wait until the conference edition. Here's what happened (just like monk) On Saturday we arrived at the church at 9 am. as we walked in we were greeted by some members and investigators. coincidentally this week our branch president and some other members took a trip to the Hong Kong temple so they were not present for this. Anyway the first councilor stayed behind and was presiding. We found out after a few minutes that nobody who was present knew how to work the satellite system, so they left it up to Elder Baker, our technology expert in the mission. So as he was playing with the system he found out that something went wrong and we didn't have conference. Well by this time it was 10 am when we were supposed to start.
Well Elder Baker, being the one he is, he formed a plan and then put it to action. He had Elder Lesuesr and me run home and grab our memory card and meet him at the nearest internet cafe. There he spent the next few hours downloading and putting an English version of conference with the Thai translation together (they didn't have the Thai translation posted on the church web site yet) He saved the day.
By 1 pm we were able to watch the morning session and conference. But there was only a Thai version at the time so I watched it in Thai. The next day we DL(downloaded) it in English so we could watch the other sessions, Elder Lesueur wasn't feeling too good on Sunday morning so we stayed in and he slept to recover. But by noon he was alright so we went out and watched the rest at church.
I really like the priesthood session a lot. I felt there was something in each talk I could apply to missionary work. Also when President Eyring asked the full time missionaries to stand up, the 4 of us watching did. It was great.
Ok My time is a little short today. but before I go I have to tell you. Today I did something that I didn't think I would do in Thailand. I got my teeth cleaned at the dentist. Elder Lesueur and I have been talking about it and it only cost 500 baht or 17 dollars to do. It was nice. Yes it was clean. And it was done the same as they do it in America. I have nice clean teeth now.
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt

exchange in Warin

Hey everybody
Well this week has been a good working week for us here in Ubon. Last Friday our zone leaders came and held a meeting with all the Elders (and 2 sisters) in the zone. They went over some of the new program that the First Presidency is putting out and training all the missionaries over the next year. They focused on starting a first lesson with someone. Let me give you an example of one thing that will be changing. Since I got into the mission field our idea of a first lesson has been to teach the Restoration or a point of the Restoration. In the program that is changing to be some of the things that is in chapter 10 of Preach my Gospel(That chapter is titled How Can I Improve My Teaching Skills? Mom). So in the last week we have been working on some of the phrases that it asks us to be able to use. We have taught a few new lessons in the past week and I feel that it helps to set the expectations better for those we teach. It also sets it up so that right away we can start to understand the needs of out investigators and by using the help of the Spirit teach to their needs.
This last week I also took a day to exchange companions with the Elders that live in Warin. I went to Warin to understand how they are teaching and inviting and to see how I can help them improve. Its strange to be the one who gets to decide when to switch off rather then receiving the phone call to be told what day I'm going to another area. As the District leader here in Ubon I have to switch off with every member in the district to get to know them and to train them if necessary. So I spent last Wednesday with Elder Christenson and got to know him better. He is a great Elder from St. George. We had a good time working together. We ended spending time inviting in an area of Ubon or Warin, I'm still not really sure, its kind of a island in the middle of our area. It was kind of a poorer area of Ubon. Recently due to flooding many people were out of their houses and in tents on a dry part of the the "island." We spent a few hours inviting and teaching people there. On a interesting invite something interesting happened. As we were walking by a house a man shouted to Elder Christenson and I in Laos. From my 7 months I stayed in Sakon I learned a little bit of Laos, enough to understand what he said, then I answered back. He asked us how we were and I'm pretty sure I gave him a heart attack when I answered back because he jumped pretty bad. After that we had a talk about what we do and asked if we could come back later. They weren't interested but they were good friends.
I'm way excited for conference this week. From some of the things that Dad talked about I can't wait to hear it all. The best thing of all is that this time I'm going to here it in English. Ubon is a stake center....well will be. so they have satellite feed. Which means that I don't have to stress about not understanding it. I'm way excited. but if possible I still would like a copy of the conference issue when it comes out. That way I can have my personal copy to carry with me when I move.
I haven't yet got the package. I should be able to get it around the 14th. That is when the next moves meeting is. Oh man that's a scary thought. I have everyone confused in predicting what's going to happen to me next moves. I could move and become a zone leader because there are so many people leaving the mission this time ( I don't want to do that). Then I could stay another moves with Elder Lesueur which would be sweet. Or I could train next moves (there are about 18 people coming in) so for every person there needs to be a trainer for every person ( I think this is what I am going to do). Its going to be a crazy.
One last thing before I finish. Connor I had the opportunity to talk to some members about your facebook. I still can't figure out how in the world you were able to get a trade for a yellow and silver paperclip to 10 karat gold earrings and $100 gift cards to AE. I got to see the pictures you put up as well. That's way sweet. Also Jay, one of the guys that recently got baptized is going to try and find you on facebook. He is sixteen. I think you two will have fun talking together.
Any ways that's all I've got
until next week
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt
ps Connor, don't date too many girls before the weekend.

A baptism!

Hello everybody

I'm doing great. Well I want to tell you of the baptism that we had this last Saturday. It was of an investigator that is named เป็ด (ped) duck in English. He is an investigator that has been learning for the last year. but has known the Elders for the last 16 years. He first met the Elders just after he graduated from the university with a teaching degree. He is an English teacher. Anyways one day he was in a library reading a book and a Elder approached him and invited him to start taking the discussions. He accepted and after learning with the elders he wanted to be baptized but before he could be, he moved into anther province of Thailand which didn't have a branch in it yet to work so he wasn't able to be baptized at that time. After a few years passed by, he moved back into the Ubon province and last year when he was in a park, one of the missionaries in my MTC group, Elder Parkinson and his trainer, Elder Wright, invited him to come to the English class. So he started learning with the Elders again until last Saturday where he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love his story because it really shows how the Lord prepared him. As well as how Heavenly Father is leading us everyday in our lives. Sometimes we may not know where but in the end if we are doing everything that we are supposed to, we will end up where the Lord wants us.
As we were talking to him about his baptism program we asked him who he wanted to baptize him. Then he thought for awhile, Then said, "Elder Holt." I was a little surprised to say because I just got transferred into the area and didn't really know anyone so I asked him why. He replied, "Well, the first Elder to teach me was from Utah, then the elder to find me last year was from Utah so I think it would only be right if an elder from Utah were to baptize me." So I told him, well it makes sense and accepted the honor to baptize him.
I have to say, baptizing an investigator in a different language is a lot different then doing it in English in the temple. I had an opportunity to go to the temple and baptize Marie and some other friends just before I went into the MTC. So I was a little nervous to do it. As I was baptizing him, I remembered to speak very slowly so that I was able to pronounce every word correctly. I think the hardest part was to say Ped's real name. I don't remember if I ever have told you. Most people here in Thailand have a nick name which everybody uses to call them, then they have a real name. They use the real name in anything official. So being in the church I get to learn a lot of real names.
Elder Lesueur's and my goal is to baptize 5 people before the end of the Transfers which is in the middle of next month. We have one more investigator that has a date to get baptized on the 10th of October that we are working a few issues out with her but I think she will be ready. I think I talked about her a week or 2 ago, her name is Mai. She is really sweet to teach because she literally teaches herself. I think we will be able to make our goal.
Well the other day I met an interesting person. As we were getting ready to eat one day for lunch we chose a restaurant that we like to eat at. When we got there we chose a table to sit at. At the table next to us there was a man wearing a religious hat. I decided to start a conversation with him. (one thing that I have really liked here in Ubon is that the elders here are friends with people in all kinds of religions, for example, there is a Muslim mosque that we pass by every day where everyone knows the elders and always shouts hello as we pass by.) Anyways I greeted the man in Thai, he replied in Thai then in English how am I. At this point I'm a little confused because he spoke very clear Thai and then very clear English. Anyway we started talking. After I while I learned that he was from India. He was Shik, and he was a fortune teller. After talking our food came so we ate a little before talking. All of a sudden the man said Elder, (His name is Pamii by the way) in your past you had 2 girlfriends right, one was a little darker skin, and the other was very beautiful. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I only had one girlfriend, Kelli. Anyways he then asked me if I had any accidents in the past? I showed him my finger and told him I cut myself with a knife. He said, "Hmm this is very bad for you right now, this time will be very bad and difficult, but in your future you will be very high up in your business and have very good luck. and be happy." After that he stood up and said we will meet again in the future, have a good day and paid for his meal and walked out. That was a little strange I have to admit but hey I got a free fortune telling. Its amazing what kind of people you can meet here in Thailand.
Well with Jay(as a "pen pal", adds Mom) I think it would be a great idea. I'm actually surprised that Connor and Ice aren't friends yet on facebook. I talked to a member named Deao (that may not be spelled right) the other day who thought that Connor was me (why does everyone do that) and added him to his friends, I don't know how much English Jay can speak but I'll talk to him and see what he thinks.
Well I'll send some photos of the baptism
Ok I have to go
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt