Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A message from home

Thank you everyone who has followed this blog for the last two years. You can tell that this has been a wonderful experience for Brandon. He has grown so much. Thank you for all your support to us. We love you.
Aleen Holt

last email

Hey family

Well seeing that this is the last email that I have to send, I'm not really sure what I want to report. I think I'll tell you about this last weekend.

For our district we had three baptisms. On Tuesday I interviewed 2 investigators that the office elders were teaching. One passed, the other had to have a 2nd interview but in the end passed. As well as "M" our investigator, remember her? She was interviewed on Tuesday as well, by the zone leaders. She had to have a second interview as well but passed that. So our weekend was full of baptisms and confirmations. We had two baptisms set up one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. For Saturday the 2 office elders investigators had asked that I baptize them. So I really couldn't refuse and told them I was happy to do it, which I really was. Their names are Mam (แหม่ม) and Toy (ต๋อย). On Sunday Mam and Toy were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then after church on Sunday our investigator M (แอ็ม) was baptized by Elder Merrill. I didn't get out of the program though, she asked that I would be one of the speakers. so I got to speak on Enduring to the end, which I switched to "growing" to the end. I never liked the word to endure. It makes things seem difficult and painful. But growing is a fun thing to do and its what we have to do continually until our life ends here and we get to meet our Father in Heaven and our Savior. So in the end, it was a pretty good weekend.

This week might be the shortest of all letters. But I do have to say. Mom if you want me to go back out on a mission for another 2 years for blessings, I would love to do it, of course I would be missing you the whole time, or you can just make me and dad work together and we can give a whack at being a handy man.
I think this talk (his homecoming talk, mom) will be one of the funnest that I have had in a long time. Tell the bishop that I would be happy to talk. Then tell Vern (Garrett)that I only want 15 minutes no more.. 55555.

OK well I think that's all I can think of to say. I'll keep the rest for Saturday so I have something to talk about.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

PS see you Saturday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting trunky

Hello family

I'm doing good. Well its less then 2 weeks until I get home and well.. I'm not really sure what to do. Like you said in the email, Mom, I have a lot of mixed feelings. Sad to leave the people I love, glad to come home to you, sad that not all things worked out, sad that I wasn't the one to fix all the problems of Thailand, scared to death to go back into regular society.

But in the end its what the Lord wants and needs.

I learned an interesting lesson yesterday that I think helped me know one of the things that I have to do as soon as I get home. In the church, in Thailand the word "home teaching" doesn't really exist, except with a few individuals that understand the importance of it. In the past month or two, because as the district leader I have the responsibility to work with the branch leaders in missionary work and any other thing that President Smith wants us to do, I have been working with the Elders Quorum President to get home teaching set up with the missionaries. In the last few months President Smith had authorized the Elders and Sisters to get home and visiting teaching assignments, as long as it is done in the proper requirement that he set. For example, we have to be switched off with members, we can't go and do it as a missionary companionship. President Smith's idea is that he will let us train the members in the branches that we serve to understand that home teaching is important and its not hard to do. I personally think it is a lot easier to do than to teach investigators. Any ways after a lot of persuasion AKA twisting wrists, aka, going over to houses and watching them fill out the home teaching assignments we finally got home teaching assignments last week.

Yesterday we had our first appointment with a member that has helped out the Elders more then we can thank her for. Her name is Sister Issunee. She has helped us teach almost all of our investigators at one point and is now fellowshipping M (แอ็ม). Anyways it was a good visit for us and for the member that we are paired up with. She expressed how thankful she was to have home teachers again because she said that it has been a long time since she'd had home teachers visit and she feels the love of God when priesthood holders come and visit. She also was thankful because it helps her safety wise as well. She says that just the fact that we walked in and placed our shoes in front of her home lets those in other rooms know that she has friends that are guys. That helps in that she is a single woman and has had a lot of problems with stalkers in the past to the point that she has had to move apartments several times and now lives and travels around with her cousin.

Who would have thought that home teaching could solve so many problems? Anyways I learned that when I get back, I need to repent from being the way I was before the mission and work to do my home teaching every month.

Thank you for sending me my school schedule. I see there might be a few changes for sure but that's OK. I'll take care of them when I get back. One thing I want to do is take a few refresher classes and fix some of my grades that I messed up before.
Man, I have to stop being so lazy in the morning. I think Connor and I will have to go to the rec center every morning for sure.

Well with the less active member that we found/ she found us, She didn't go back to church this last week because it was a special meeting. It was a stake/ district conference. and it was special as in they changed up the Bangkok stake and the Pakkret district boundaries. And also changed the name of the Pakkret district to the Bangkok north district. But that's a different story.

Anyways with Sister Vanta, that's the name of the less active member, she is a good friend of the Branch President, to the point that she considers him her older brother. He has been working with her for a while to help her start making her return back. She has "agreed" to come to sacrament meetings but that's it. She still doesn't feel the most confident in staying longer than that or getting involved with the branch too much. I think there is still some unkind feelings on both sides that still exist so I think it will take some more time. But Elder Merrill and I want to help her out more. I'm not too sure about her daughter, I should probably ask about that, huh? Anyways that's one thing that I think will have to be changed in Thailand. Is the importance of bringing back less active members. Because there is 2000 to 3000 members that are active out of 16-18 thousand on record. That's a big gap. Home teaching I think will be one of the biggest changes to help, next will be getting the proper branch council meeting set up and going. That is really painful to watch and work on changing.

Anyways, that's all I've got for the week.

Ii love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

PS see you in 2 weeks

PSS yes I am getting a little trunky but not a lot.

Monday, June 6, 2011

2 years down, 3 weeks to go!

Hey Everyone

I'm doing great. Its really strange to think that I hit my 2 year mark last Friday. I have been a missionary for my 2 years now all it is is a 3 week paid vacation, right. Well I was on switch offs with Elder McConkie at the time and asked him about that thought, I liked his answer a lot. For a vacation there is no other place I would want to be then in Thailand and there is nothing else that I would want to do for R and R then teach the gospel. So I'm going to try to enjoy my vacation as much as possible before its time to go home.

This last week was one of the more typical weeks, nothing amazingly exciting happened. For the moment our dater M is still progressing slowly but surely. She is building a great foundation to her testimony by doing the best things anyone could do; Praying often, Reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and going to church every day. I don't think there will be much that can stop her from getting baptized.

With Doom, she is learning more and more as we teach her. The biggest thing that we talked about when we saw her was about her reading in the Book of Mormon, which she admitted that she had not been very good at. So we explained that one thing that will help her to be able to fight the trials that she is experiencing in her life is to read the Book of Mormon every day. And that will give her the power that she can only get from reading. As I was explaining that to her, the song "Scripture Power" was going through my head. If I known how to sing that in Thai that is something that I probably would have done. lol

One thing that I have learned on a mission is exactly that, its so important to do three things, because when we decide not to read, pray or go to church we miss out on the spiritual strength that we can get from doing it to help us out in our day to day life.

Oh I lied, there was something cool that happened last week. There was a day that all of our appointments fell through and so Elder Merrill and I had a free morning to tract and find new investigators. So we went to a place that I haven't personally gone before. I nick-named the place the sois of doom. They are these small alleyways that go between houses on a major street that we pass often on our way to most of our appointments. As we went in and out of the alleyways we found there were a lot of houses in between but not really a lot of people that were home. Most people had taken off for work. so we walked up and down not really having much success. In the end we came out of one alley after walking down to the end and back and was met by a lady on her scooter. She asked, "Elders, do you have investigators around here?" Normally just the fact alone that they remember our name correctly, is a shock to us. So of course we stopped and talked. She said after we asked her how she knew elder, "I am a less active member, I have not been to church for a long time, my whole family are members and my oldest daughter is a return missionary, are you coming over to my house or not?" That was a mouth full but after getting over the shock, we both said yes and ran for our bikes. Then we followed her to her house.

Luckily, she was pretty close to where we were. We sat down with her and talked for about 2 hours about her life as a member. And we talked, I mean she talked and we didn't say a thing. She has been a member since she was 8. Her whole household is less active, except for her daughter who is a RM. She lives in Salt Lake. But she explained that she has been less active before until one day about 10 years ago she was working and saw the elders pass then followed them and told them to come over to her house. Just like she did with us. She said that on that day and on the day we met her that she felt like it was time to go back and coincidentally the elders passed by on that day.

She explained to us why she went less active, she got offended and no one would help her and now she feels like she wants to come back. She also explained that she was dating a man who wasn't a member and want the elders to teach him if he opened up. We were perfectly happy to help with that one.

I think the Lord really was leading us on that day but we didn't know it. We came to the end of that alley right when she was passing by and could see us. and had we not been there we would not have known she was a member that needed help.

I know that this true is the Lord's Church and that he does love and lead our paths everyday.

OK I have to go
love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Sunday, June 5, 2011

May 30, 2011

สวัสดีครัป everyone

Its been a good week. This week we were able to give out two baptism dates. The first was with "M." Her boyfriend has left for Japan and he agrees not to move back in with her when he comes back. So that clears up a big problem. She has agreed to get baptized on the 19th of June. No that's not because I am going home on the 24th but because that's when we felt that she would be ready. She is progressing really fast as well. We went to teach her one night last week and she said that she had already given up coffee and we hadn't even taught let alone commit her to follow the Word of Wisdom. We had talked about it a little to let her know what was coming up in her future needless to say after that she had said that we returned the next time and taught and committed her to follow the Word of Wisdom. The two biggies in the commandment list are out of the way. There are a few other commandments that we need to talk about but I don't think she will have any problems with them. She is going to be fun to teach.

Next we gave one to Doom. She is not progressing quite as fast as "M" but, she is still progressing. Her date is for the 19th as well. With that there is her daughter UUM (อุ้ม) as well that should be baptized on that date. She is currently struggling with the Word of Wisdom with coffee and smoking as well. We also need to cover a lot of commandments with her in order to get her ready. Next there is the fact that her husband isn't really on the best of terms with us. Not to the point that he is anti but Doom is worried about what would happen if she gets baptized. So with that in mind its very important that we have members help in order to help us with some concerns that we don't quite have the experience in. But, I have faith that it will be good.

I'm glad to hear that the package got to home safely. That's got some books and things in it that I want for keepsakes. I'm probably going to send two or three more home that size. I think it will make traveling a lot more สบายๆ with less stuff in the suitcases coming home to worry about.

Today I picked up my new suit. It took a chunk of cash but I am happy with it. I'll send pictures home next week.

Well with the weather here in Thailand, its still raining everyday. But in Bangkok its a lot easier to get around because of taxis. In my areas before if it rained we were stuck where we were because it came down so hard.

Here are some words in Thai. Love ความรัก, happiness ความสุก, pray การสวดอ้อนวอน This one may not translate correctly because its a word that the church made up, learn เรียน, and life ชีวิต, and faith ศรัทธา, I'll give you some more next week if you remind me.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John

Monday, May 23, 2011

Utah weather has nothing on Thailand! lol

Hey family, friends, and fellow followers of my letters

This week has been slow but progress with the work has been made. What a strange way of starting my letter its too formal. Any who I'm doing great. Today for an activity Elder Merrill And I met up with Brother Keng from the Udorn Branch and went and visited the Floating markets. That was a blast I'll be sure to throw in some photos..... if I get time. Today we're under a time limit shorter then normal because we have been playing all day all over Thailand. The Floating markets are in a province where there's not an Elders area. The province of Rajaburii. My grammar is getting horrible. Please forgive me if I can't speak English properly for the first few weeks.

This last week we have been teaching a new couple named Did and M. We found them about 3 weeks ago but they haven't really been progressing until they went to the church this last week. M was the one that let us into their apartment when we knocked on their door. She had been introduced to Christianity when she was younger by her friend and had taken an interest to praying. She had been praying on her own before we came. The night that we knocked on her door she felt that it might have been a answer to one of the times that she prayed. Did has no background for Christianity but he is enjoying learning with us more then M is, or it seems. The problem is that Did is traveling to Japan for 3 months this Wednesday. So we are going to see if we can get the missionaries to find him over there. Whoever teaches him will have to know how to speak Thai. If possible they should be speaking Sakonakhorn because he is from there. That made us friends really fast. You don't meet a lat of people that are bold enough to eat dog and say they like it in Bangkok.

Today I went and got the final fittings for the suit that I'm getting cut. It will be finished next week I'll be sure to send pictures. If possible Mom I would like you to put some more money into my account just because its going to be more than my last suit. $150 should be good. I love you too.

Anyway the weather here in Thailand has been strange this hot season as in it has not really been hot at all. But it has been really rainy and when it rains it pours and when it pours in Bangkok it backs up the sewers and when the sewers are backed up it floods. Last week we were in a taxi going to find a investigator and turned onto a street that there was a river of water up to our car doors. It gave us the feeling of riding in a boat.

Today we are going to try and give Doom a baptismal date I'll tell you about it next week

Anyways that's my mind in a nutshell today.

I love you all

Brandon John Holt

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ending area is Pakkret

Hey family and friends

I have to say it was so much more fun talking to you by skype than by phone. I hope Connor gets to go to a mission that has permission to use skype as well so I can see it from the other side.

This week I'm doing great. We were a little trunky after our phone calls but that's normal. It didn't slow us down though. We still have a lot of work to do. This last week, a lot of things happened because of the transfers meeting. First I am still in Pakkret. This is my ending area. Next I have a new companion named Elder Merrill. He is awesome. Next Doom has had a major break through in her progression. Last I have a short time on the computer this week because we just got back from Bangkok and we have to go work tonight so this might be a short email. So if I don't talk about anything you want me to remind me next week.

With Doom I'm still not really sure what has been going on but suddenly she is becoming a lot more converted. She suddenly wants to come to church more and read and pray about baptism. This is a lot different than before, at first we literally had to twist her arm a lot to get her to pray once when we came to teach her. The real miracle happened yesterday at church. Last Saturday we were swinging by her house to see if she was going to church on Sunday. She said that she wanted to but didn't want to go behind her husband's back. Last time her husband was out of town and she lied to him and told him that she was going to work. This time she was going to talk to see if she would let her go with her daugthter. She also said that she wanted him to learn with us as well. (That was a huge change from the first lesson, she didn't want him to learn at all) Well she said that she was going to pray and ask Heavenly Father for help. This was from no advice from us, but we supported her all the way! The next day was way surprising to us when she, her daughter, and her husband all showed up to church. Its a miracle what can happen when the Spirit works with people. My goal is to help her get baptised before I go home. So Elder Merrill and I have a lot of work to do with that family.

Today I went in and got the fabric and fittings for my second suit. This one will be a little more expensive. It will cost 7300 baht. But it will be a lot better quality. I have laid a down payment of 2000 baht and so I will need 5300 baht or about 176 dollars to pay for the rest. Its worth it.

OK I'm going to take off.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hey, only a week until Mom's day

Hey สวัสดีครับ family

Hows life going? This week I'm still alive and kicking!!! Anyways this last was a lot of meetings. Well really there were only two, a fireside and a meeting, but it did seem like I was out of my area a lot this week.

Anyway, first off, last Wednesday we had the Church History meeting for the missionaries. What it was, was that two representatives from the Church History department, sorry I can't remember their names, and Elder Pratt. One of the members of the Seventies for the Asia South area, were touring all through Asia, because it has never been done before. The purpose was to gather information to write a history about the church. So as they went they also wanted to help the missionaries by giving them better understanding of church history and it was all uncut, for whatever that means. Well there were a lot of cool things asked, like what is the Church's take on the Mountain Meadow Massacre. The assistant to the church historian, who has written two books on it, said that he thinks its the worst thing that happened in church history, by far. That's why he did so much research on it. He added that in. He thinks the main cause of it was, members being inpatient and not following council. In the end it ended up being a mistake covering up a mistake covering up a mistake, until it lead to the massacre.

I personally asked about some anti-mormon material that I had received in my firty (first?,mom) area about the Book of Mormon. I asked about the how many changes the Book of Mormon had, why it was changed and what did the changes do to the Book of Mormon. My answer was that there were changes in printing the first addition for short, mostly grammar changes, but there is a book put out by BYU that has every change in it. He said he didn't recommend me to look it up unless I like looking at English stuff because it was boring for him to look at it. Maybe I'll look it up for fun

They followed talking about what we should do if we find anti-mormon, The historian just advised remember what they said and the answer will come up later. For example, he said that in the past those who were against the church tried to prove the Book of Mormon wrong based off the sword of Laban being built out of steel in the bronze era where there was no steal forging. Well after 10 years they found a sword in Jerusalem that was made at the same time period that was made out of steel. He said this happens all the time. I also learned a interesting fact. The church has the worlds largest archive of Anti-mormon material in the world. That's because of a commandment in D&C that they are to keep everything against them for a record.

After Elder Christensen and I took a trip to the hospital. Not about me or him really. But Elder Christensen had to get a check up from a trip about 3 months ago. We went to one of the worlds best hospitals, it felt more like a hotel really. We walked in to the bottom floors and there was a complete food court with McDonald's and Subway. I could get sick there and wouldn't mind. Anyways it gave me a thought that maybe if I decided to learn further then being a firefighter then maybe I will look for a internship here in Thailand. It would give me another reason to come back.

Last is we had a leadership training meeting that I had to go to. Its all about the Simplified curriculum that is supposed to start this month in the MTC. I'm kind of sad that I won't be here for the next year. Because I was here when we started learning all this stuff last June and after a year the mission has turned upside down from what it use to be. I can only imagine what the missionaries will do to it next year.
I'll see you next week on skype and maybe explain the snake pictures.555

Love you

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hey everybody

I'm doing great this week. It was a pretty busy week in that we had to prepare for a baptism this last Sunday. This last Sunday we had a baptism of a woman from Cambodia. Her name is Sarimom. Her husband, Vaughn, is a member already and has been for the last 4 or 5 years. So she has been going to church for the last couple of years and learned with the Elders several years as well. She has wanted to be baptized for the last 4 years but has not been able to because of her visa situation. She is what is called an asylum seeker, Which means that they are refugees but the U.N. has not yet acknowledged them as so. The reason the church does not allow asylum seekers to be baptized is for welfare reasons. They don't want people to be baptized then after they start receiving welfare support they will disappear or go inactive because they don't have a true testimony. But for Sister Sarimom's, or Mom for short, case, she was given special permission to be baptized from President Smith. So she was able to be baptized. They live in the Assistants to the President, Elder Brown and Elder McConkie, area but they didn't have time to get them ready so they gave Elder Christensen and me charge over them. So it took about a week to review everything, get interviewed and then baptized. That was definitely the fastest anyone I taught got baptized. It was a good baptism.

This coming week we have a special fireside for the missionaries coming up. We are going to have a Church Historian and a General Authority come up and answer questions about anything we want to know about concerning the history of the church. I'm way excited about it because they want us to focus on the questions that we have got from investigators that stopped them progressing, or anything that we have heard of in the past or anything strange rumors that we have heard of. I can think of a lot that I heard of in the MTC, for example the theory of the Hollow Earth. That's where the 10 lost tribes of Israel are. 5555. OK, maybe not that question but I do have a few that I have always wondered about.

Hey I had an amazing thing happen yesterday for Easter. We ate a real Easter meal at the mission home. It was amazingly good food. Ham, potato salad and birthday cake with ice cream. That was for Elder Brown and Me. His birthday is on the 27th of April. It was a good time that we had to sit down and think about the Savior and his Atonement for us.

With all the snow that's falling I might still be able to go skiing when I get back. That will be fun.

I have been talking to some senior missionaries that are living in the district. Elder and Sister Sangswaan. They live in Bountiful. But they told me of a really good Thai place that they said they thought was pretty authentic Thai food. Called the Thai Garden. If I remember right, its on 9th East across the street from Little Caesers pizza. That's a place that I intend to go to. I also have had a few members tell me of a place or two that members own in Provo, that say if I tell them that I served in the Pakkret branch that they would give me a discount for sure. I'm going to have to find a place for Issan food. That's my favorite kind of Thai food. Nothing like papaya salad with water fall and sticky rice. saab saab. That's Issan.

Well today is a fast letter. See you in 2 weeks

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Songkran celebration

Hello everyone

I'm doing great this week. This last week was a little wet in that it was the yearly celebration for my birthday. The whole country was involved in the country-wide water, and powder fight. So last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the wetness started. We decided to play on Wednesday. This year there were a little more rules then last year to keep us safe. For example, we needed to be in at 6pm every night to stay off the road. Lots and Lots of people drinking. Also we needed to play with members at a church, So because Pakkret didn't have enough people to have any activity, we decided to go to the Don Mueng branch next to our area. There we met President and Sister Smith and several other senior couples that wanted to participate a little in the festive activities. There are photos to show the fun of water. One of the interesting experiences was the dancing. We walked into the church late because we got lost. Just as we walked in the members started dancing. They invited all the missionaries to dance but none of us were exactly sure if we could or not..... I'm sure there was a rule somewhere that said that missionaries are not allowed to dance. Anyways we watched and learned from the example of our leader, President Smith, who got up and started dancing. After that we decided that we could join too.

After the dancing and eating food, we went outside the church and started throwing water. Usually there are pickup trucks that have people in the back of them to throw water in them and fight. But it was a little quite in Bangkok because most people left to go back home to their own province. So we decided to take it out with the scooters that were zooming by. As they came by they were hit with a large amount of water that usually made a painful slapping sound when it hit them. Or when we were feeling nicer, the members and we'd stop them and drop water on them as they passed by.

Remember the point of Songkran is to give out and get the most blessings. You do this by throwing water, or powder on someone. So the wetter and more powder you have on your face by the end the more blessings you get.

Other than that, we were really worried at the beginning of the week that we weren't going to be able to teach anyone during Songkran because everyone left the town. But Elder Christensen and I came up with a good back-up plan. Knock on doors. For most of the week we went to a huge apartment complex were we knocked on every door we could. There were some people that turned us down, sometimes we would get doors slammed in our face. That was the fun part because I felt like a real missionary(lol). But we were blessed by the Lord for our efforts. We found about 11 people and a few other families to teach. And most of them were generally interested. So it gave us a really good chance to replenish our area.

With Doom, we didn't have a chance to see her last week because a few days she was sick and then others she had Songkran activities, but today we will be seeing her. We followed up with her last week and she said that she had been reading the Book of Mormon. So that's a plus.

Man, It must be getting really close for me to come home because Ryan Nelson went in to the MTC the same day I did. That crazy. Anyway be sure to say hi to Jake when he gets back for me next week.

Hey we got a phone call this morning for Sister Mam. She called and asked us if we had seen the news. (I think she forgot that we don't watch the news) Anyways she said that there were lots of tornadoes in the south eastern states. According to her report she said there were 260 counted. but I'm not sure if that is true. How was the damage? Mam said that there were some in Virgina, was it close to Allyson and Jed's house?

Anyways that what I've got for this week

I hope you are all doing well at home.

Love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, April 11, 2011

A wonderful note from the Mission Mom, Sister Smith

Hi moms,
Elder Holt stayed in Pakkret with Elder Christensen as his companion. This will be his last move so he will finish here. Enjoy every minute all you new moms, it has gone SO quickly. I was truly surprised how fast this time has flown. Yet my arms are aching for a "son" hug.
Aleen Holt
Missionary Mom of Elder Brandon Holt
Bangkok Thailand Mission

April 4,2011
Dear Sister Holt,

We attended Pakkret Branch on Sunday. Your sweet son sat by me and translated the entire meeting. He did an excellent job. You can be very proud of him. He even made sure that I had someone to translate the next hour, because he had to go to another class.

I can understand your desire to have a “mom hug”. I have 4 grown sons and I still miss hugging them. I have to fight the urge to give our missionaries a great big “mom hug” every time I see them. It makes us very sad to see them leave the mission. They come as sweet and innocent boys (and girls), but they leave as strong and confident men (and women), ready to take on the world. At the airport I give them a great big “missionary mom hug” and then watch them go through immigration and head for home. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I watched my own sons leave on their missions. It helps me understand in a very small way how God can love so many children at once. Your heart must grow as you serve the Lord, for I truly love each one of my dear missionaries. Thank you for sending them here and then supporting them while they serve.

God Bless you for your sacrifice,

Love Always, Sister Smith

Happy 21st Birthday

Hey Everybody

Well so as for the weather update here the temperature has gone over 100 degrees. I miss the snow. Other then that I am doing great this week. So this last week we watch conference Saturday and Sunday. And I got to watch it in English all except one session because we were on the look out for some investigators that in the end didn't show up. That's alright though. They will be there next week. Sometime the problem with investigators showing up to church on a General Conference weekend is that they believe that church is just us watching white old people in America every week(not to mean any disrespect). I thought this conference was awesome. I don't know about you but I think there were some subliminal messages that all those that were home from missions and/or those preparing to go home from their missions should go home and prepare for missions but, I could be mistaken.

Still my favorite speaker is President Uckdorf. Both his talks were very good. I also loved the priesthood session with President Erying and President Monson. If possible could you send me a copy of the last three talks of the priesthood session? I like to study those a little better. And then don't forget to send me a conference issue next month.

Well I like the story of Doom. Its still in the process of progressing. But pretty much how we started teaching her is because we taught Mam and May and Mo everyday. Remember that wooden path and the door that we have to pass to get to mam house? Dooms house is on the same path. Well to get to Mam we pass her house very time. And normally the time that we see her, Doom would be sitting on the outside of her house. So every time we would make sure that we said hi and asked her how she was doing. Over time she got to know us. She noticed one time that we were parking and locking our bikes about a kilo or more away to walk into Mam's house. Well she was concerned and said then that we could bring our bike in and park them in front of her house so that we wouldn't have to be afraid of then getting stolen. She also would invite us to eat dinner with her and her family often. Well one day after we had taught Mam, Doom invited us to eat dinner, and I told her that we had to run home because we were a little late, but we'll take it another day she said OK what day? So I don't really know why that time was different but I decided to take the bait and schedule a dinner appointment. So after a few days we went back and ate somtum and said that we would start teaching her the same things that we taught Mam. She agreed. So since then we have been teaching her the gospel. We have had a lot of challenges with her because she is really, really, really Buddhist and is set in her ways. But she did say if we could prove that the things we teach are better then she will change. She also has a lot of family problem and other things that are slowing her down. So for now we decided to teach her slowly working with one commitment at a time. The first being read and pray about the Book of Mormon. She is a good friend and its way fun to teach her because I can feel the spirit when we teach.

Well so to register for classes and to see my transcript you will need to have this number ------ That's my student Id number or if that doesn't work then I think you will just use my social security number. If I remember right you will find the site to go into on the main page of the UVU website. Then after getting in, there should be a tab to see my transcript and or register for classes. Any luck on finding a EMT intermediate class that I can take in the summer? I think if you have the chance, talk to the Councilor in the Fire Academy about class registration. I'm not really sure of what all needs to be done in the way of GE in UVU. I didn't really do a good job at that one when I was there before. I think the first year I'm back I will focus on retaking classes that I didn't get the best grades in and work on all of the GE that need to be done. For way of classes after you get to see my transcript could you tell me what classes I took that I got grades lower then an A. Knowing me probably a lot. 555. But I would like to retake those to refresh my memory and to improve my ged. Other then that for classes I'm not 100% sure what I want to take yet but I'll get back to you after I know what I have taken or what I need to retake.

Ok today its another short letter.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hey I didn't move

Hey everybody

I'm doing great this week. Well for a quick update I'm still in Nontoburi and as a district leader. And I am still with Elder Christensen. But that's all right that saves me the trouble of packing everything up. This last week at church we got to see Mam, Mo, and May get confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are so awesome as members. Recently we have started teaching one of Mam's neighbors and friend named Doom. She has a husband and a daughter. The daughter named oom has sat in on a few lessons when we were teaching Mam and her household. Doom has a ton of concerns but none of which the gospel can't handle.

Today we had the chance to serve Doom. She is a teacher at a school for handicap children. Today she was moving rooms because its the summer season for them . So a few days ago I said that my oldest sister was a teacher and I helped her move stuff around her school a couple of times so we would be happy to help. At first she was against it but after a little bit she was OK with it and set up a time to go in and help her. We helped her move her room for a few hours and got everything into the room but then we left her to do the normal p-days activities. It was good. I learned a lot about her and her daughter in the time that we were working together.

So I got the package, thank you very much for sending me everything. Its way strange to think that when I get back home I will be able to do anything that I want except rent a car. The cakes that you sent will be baked and eaten with photos taken so that you know how the party went.
With those CDs that I sent that is everything that is on the cards here up to the point that I made the CDs and sent them. So its a good backup in case I lose anything. I should make a new CD now to backup everything.

So I think from here on out I'm going to slowly think about the after mission life a little bit. For example I will need some help in registering for school in the fall semester as well as finding classes that I need to take and/or retake. One thing that needs to be done probably before I get back is be registered for a EMT intermediate class. I would like to be able to take a class in the summer so that for the fall I could be looking for a job and a way to get experience in the EMT field. Mom could you look that up for me? I love you

This week I'm way excited for general conference. I am hoping there will be a way that I can here it in English. There should be because there are a lot of members here who can not speak Thai. so crossing fingers.

Anyways this week email is short sorry

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What did I just feel?

Hey family

No matter how bad the media portrays the damage from the earthquake, I am doing great. I was informed of the earthquake right after it hit Bangkok by our investigator Sister Mam. She called us to ask us how we were doing. That was really strange because it was about 9 at night and we had just finished our nightly planning for the next day. Any ways in the phone call she said she was just checking up on us. That was strange because she has never done that before and didn't say anything about the earthquake. The next day when we went to an appointment that we have with her she explained that she wanted to see what floor of the apartment we were on to see if we felt the earthquake or not. With us was a member who was in a different apartment but on a higher floor who said that he felt a little bit of a shake but it wasn't too noticeable. Other than that I heard up in Chang Mai, it hit at a magnitude of about 3.6. was that right? (Local news said 6.9 Mom) I also have seen a few photos of the damage of some of the Buddhist temples up there. Truth be told that's something I never would have thought Thailand would experience.
This last Sunday we had Sister Mam, Mo and Mae's baptism. It went really well and there was a huge turn out of members to watch. We even had the Primary sing a epic version of "Follow the Prophet". That was May's and Mos favorite song that they learned in Primary. Lately when we have had baptisms we have been asking the recent converts here to be the ones to baptize so that they can have the opportunity to learn and use their priesthood. For Mae and Mo we had a priest who was about 17 baptize them. Then for Sister Mam we had Brother Nipone baptize someone for the first time. He was kind of nervous and I think we forgot to tell them both that she had to be fully immersed So in the end Sister Mam was baptized 4 times! There was a investigator in a different area that made a funny comment of well the little girls hadn't had as much time to sin so they were quick but the older lady had to be baptized a lot to be cleaned. It made Elder Christensen and I laugh and then it gave us an excellent opportunity to explain about baptism.
This last week wasn't too eventful, however this next week will mark another 6 weeks down, to my horror and sadness. So coming up is transfer meetings. This is going to be a really really big one. From what I'm hearing it sounds like that there will be a lot of people switching up assignments in order to allow those who are younger in the mission to begin to get experience before our MTC group and the group in front of us pack up for home in the next 2 transfers. I'm kind of crossing my fingers hoping that I go down in the assignments but, it probably won't happen. However because Elder Christensen became my companion there is a very good chance that I may be moving. I'm not to sure how happy I am about that. I love Pakkret now and there are a lot of people that I can still help get baptized but in the end I'll go where the Lord wants me to go. So this area or, if I move, my next area will be my last area depending on this transfers meeting. I'll let you know the results of it next week.
So I haven't got the package yet but it is probably in the office. And I will get a hold of it this week.
I sent some photos first is of the baptism. Next I really like because its the path that leads to Sister Mam's house. Its all wood. Last year when it was flooding the path was covered by water with another 2 or so feet above and then the path is about 5 feet off the ground. There was a lot of flooding. Then the 3rd picture is of the house that we go under to get to her house. Then well the last is of me... I think. Its one that Mae took when she got a hold of Elder Christensen's camera.
This week I'm going to take some money out of the bank because I'm going to start sending packages home with stuff that I want to keep but don't want to take with me. I'm sending it home by boat so it should get home about the same time I do

Ok I have to go
I love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brrr, it's cold inThailand!

Hello family
I'm doing great this week. How are all of you? This last week a storm from the north hit Bangkok and something amazing happen. The temperature dropped down to 60 degrees. It was wonderful. Although everyone who wasn't from Utah was freezing, I was really happy to be able to have some good cool weather in a while.
This week there isn't a lot to say. We had training meeting for the simplified curriculum of the MTC training that is going into the MTC in May. The focus of President Smith this time was, it sounds like the same thing that stake conference was on for you guys. The doctrine of Christ. It is amazing to me when you look at it how simple Heavenly Fathers Plan is for us, but at the same time how perfect it is as well. In the center of it is Jesus Christ's Atonement for us, On the outside there is Faith in Christ, Repentance of our sins, then Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, then Baptism by fire or Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, Last Enduring to the End, or Following every commandment that we promise to follow at the time we are baptized until we die. One of my favorite scriptures to read now is 3Nephi27:13-22. But in the end that's the purpose of missionaries: To " Invite others to come unto Christ by receiving His restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Here is an interesting fact. That was the thing that took Quorum of the Twelve the longest time to come up with. A single phrase that would have our entire purpose in it. The next thing was the baptismal commitment that we use on page 40 in Preach My Gospel. Any ways every time I go to a training meeting I get a little sad because I won't get to see how the mission changes in the next year with the new program coming from the MTC.
As for Sister Mam and her 2 kids Mo and May. We decided to postpone the baptism for a week longer just so we could get any legal issues out of the way. Because May and Mo were given to Mam to look after when they were young, they are not her family by law and/or blood. So we have been trying to find out what kind of laws Thailand has for foster parents. It turns out that Mo and May's parents are still alive and around but neither of them are willing to take liability of them. So when they were young, Mo when she was 2 and May when she was 6 months, they were given to Mam to raise. And they have been there ever since. The Church also requires signatures for the legal guardian or parents of minors, so we have been talking to President Smith trying to figure out what to do. In the end we decided because Mam has had custody of Mo and May for so long and the parents don't want anything to do with them that it would be OK for Mam to sign the baptismal records for them. And they will be baptized this next Sunday. The other day Mam said something that I liked a lot. On the day she invited us to her house, she never thought that the things we taught would have been for her more then for May and Mo who she was intending to take us to teach, and "Make more obedient." She herself really has changed a lot. I was happy for her for being able to find the gospel.
I'll send photos next week
Hey before I forget. I got Sister Smith's Blog site where she now sends all of her pictures by email to her son who puts them on for her. She takes a lot from the training meetings and sticks them on. Smithhere@blogspot.com. You should be able to find some pictures of me and those in the zones and districts that I work in.
OK, I have to go
Love you all
Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's HOT again.

Hey everybody

Well as I opened up my email this morning, I got a surprise. My flight plans for coming home are set in stone. It seems that they really are serious about sending me home. according to the tickets I leave here at 8:30 in the morning and then travel through Hong Kong and San Francisco coming to a stop in Salt Lake City at 7:30 pm on the 24th of June I don't want to go home.
Anyways for the week in the news. Its funny how we get the news around here as missionaries. Normally it comes through our taxi drivers that we take to church when we travel to our church and other places that would be too far otherwise to travel by bike. Mostly its just rumors or exaggerated news. For example I heard that there have been several red shirts riots in Bangkok when really its just that they are rallying together for elections that are coming up in the next month or two I think. But through the news system I did hear that Japan got hit by a tsunami and earthquake. We were told by President Smith that it was a 8.9 to 9.0 on the Rickert scale. That's crazy, I wonder what it would be like if that happened here in Thailand. Better not to think about it.
This last week was a normal week. Elder Christensen and I have started to get used to the new schedule of where we leave the house in the morning to teach and find investigators. Slowly we are finding investigators that are home at the time, but it took a few days of long searching and talking to people. We also have been exploring and getting to know our area better together by going into places and areas of our area that I have never been to. The area that Elder Kampanat and I went to the most to work in was switched into the assistants area. So its been like I moved into a new area all over again.
This last Sunday we had a mass of people come our church. Total it was 136 or so people. That's the most that I have ever seen in any branch that I have worked in. But the reason there were so many people was because there was a fireside for the members who were from Cambodia. In Bangkok there use to be a Cambodia ward but because of conflicts and lots of other problems the ward was dissolved. Many people went inactive and now I think that they are working on trying to put it back together but I'm not sure how long that will take. Anyways its been interesting to watch because in the Pakkret branch there are lots of families that have come back to church and a few that were baptized in the last few months as well. It could happen in the future
Coming up this week we will have Sister Mam and her 2 foster children's baptism. Yesterday the branch president interviewed them to get to know them better. Then tomorrow they will be interviewed by our zone leaders. Then when they pass that interview they will be baptized on Sunday. This is an awesome family. I'm way excited for them.
This last week I read a talk about the Book of Mormon called " Flooding the world with the Book of Mormon" by President Ezra Taft Benson. It is an awesome talk about how we as members of the Lord's church and I as a missionary need to learn how to use the Book of Mormon more fully in our day to day teaching and life so that we can help spread the gospel through the world. It's good, you should look it up.
OK, I'm out of time for the day
I love you
Elder Brandon John Holt

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

actual release date!

Hey every body

I'm doing great this week. How are you doing this week? Well, before I forget I should answer the things that mom asked about in the email. For my birthday, well, I want a car for proselyting purposes... and safety555 but other than that I think that money is a good idea. It would help me get ready to go home. As I am starting to prepare for the return trip on the 24th of June 2011. But I'll get to you about how much. for now I think that $I00 will be enough. But i would like to buy another suit that will be a little more money because I'm going to go to a different place and make it of a different fabric.

This last week we have switched to our summer proselyting schedule that we were following last year. That is we leave our house around 7 30 a.m. where its already hot and getting hotter then we work until about 1:30 p.m. where its really really really hot and then after 4:00 where its back to the enduring hot stage we go back to work. Then we wake up at 6 am and sleep at 10:00. Its been a little hard to get used to but its nice not to be in the blistering heat in the morning.

This last Sunday was a little strange because it was the first Sunday that we hadn't had a baptism in about 4 or so weeks. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. But Brother Nipone did get confirmed a member this last Sunday. This Sunday our sacrament meeting was stuffed full. We had 117 people at church. That's more than I have ever seen in any of the areas that I have served in the past. Looks like we might make the goal of 130 people pretty fast at this rate. For the month of March our district has 5 baptisms planned, the first one starting next week of a lady that is learning with the assistants, Elder Brown and Elder McConkie, two Elders in my MTC group. Then we have Mam and her 2 children from our area that should be baptized on the 20th of March. Then the office Elders have another that will be baptized on the 27th of March. Thailand is become a very fruitful place full of the Spirit. I remember when I first came in that it was unheard of to have baptisms every month but that is what my goal is before I finish my mission. Have at least one baptism a month before I go home. Now it definitely, possible as well.

So with the new church it is being built for the Pakkret branch that I'm serving in right now. But I believe they will move the International ward up here as well because most of the members live in the Pakkret branch area but have to drive into the middle of Bangkok every Sunday. So that will make it more convenient for them. Also right now there is a rumor for the office, which because I'm this close to the office its pretty 80% true that they will be make big changes with the branches and wards inside and outside of the Bangkok stake. Right now I'm not in the stake because its the Pakkret district but that might change up a little bit.

As far as changing up areas This is my prediction now. Is that I will move come the end of the month and maybe train one more missionary then die. But as normal anything can happen. Its going to be a good surprise and if in the end I stay here I won't mind. This is a great place.

I'm good for sunscreen and powder which I can get here. I have learned of the joy of using powder but I wont talk about that too much. 555

OK I have to go, love you

Elder Brandon John Holt

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book of Mormon Testimony

Hey everyone,

I'm doing great this week. Not so tired. Its amazing what happens when you try your best to go to bed early every day.

Anyway, this week we had a baptism. Brother นิพนธ Nipone was baptized. It was a rushed together program but it turn out really well. Next week he will be confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He will be a great addition to the branch here in Pakkret.

Last week President Smith paid a visit to the Pakkret branch. I think this is the branch that he comes to when he is not visiting any other branch in the country. He talk to the congregation about the new church building that is being built for the Pakkret branch. It will be the biggest building in all of south-east Asia. So He told them that it needed to be full to capacity before it opened in 6 months for now. President Smith and the branch president made goals to raise the number of members coming to church every week to 130 members. Currently it is about 107. Yesterday it was at 101. So the branch council and the full time missionaries have a lot of work to do together over the next 6 months. But I think in the last month already we have seen many miracles.

In the month of February 9 people were baptized. One of the members that helps us teach a lot is named Brother Oat. I asked him about what he thinks about our goals at the start of the month, he was way excited because the branch had set a goal at 12 baptisms this year, the same goal for last year, which they didn't make. This year in almost 2 months they made their goal. So they had to increase their goal to 20 people. Last time I talk to Brother Oat it seems like the mission presidency would like them to change the goal again because at the rate people are being baptized in the branch here we are going to hit that goal by April. And that just the work for the full time missionaries. I think they are going to raise the goal for 40 people. We can do it no problem with the Lord's help. I'm way excited for this area. And I'm kind of hoping that I don't move before I finish my mission to get a chance to see the results. Thailand is exploding with the spirit of God right now and I don't think its going to slow down at all.

The focus that I want to work on with the district here is going to be on the Book of Mormon and using it more fully in our teaching. Last month the new translation of the Book of Mormon made it over seas and was distributed. It is amazing. There are a lot of improvements. For one the font is a lot bigger. One of the most common excuses that I got was " I can't read this. The letters are too small" but now the bigger print better change that or my investigators won't get the copy of the Book of Mormon. Anyways other then that. It has been amazing to me as I have learned to use the Book of Mormon as a teaching tool, how things in the Book of Mormon, whether just a single verse to several chapters, apply to me as well as to the Investigators that we teach. For example did you know that in 3rd Nephi 24 it is a almost direct quote for Malachi 4 in the Old Testament. Its quoted by the Savior and applies to tithing. That chapter has come very handy for teaching investigators. And then there in the example of Nephi who is completely obedient to the Lord and his commandments and the example of his brothers who were rebellious in their obedience. I wish i had studied the Book of Mormon more fully as I am doing now before my mission. It truly was written for our time and day. And I want to help our investigators see that as well. The Book of Mormon is true and is truly a testament of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the last days.

With Sister Ice our investigator that wasn't married. I think it would just as simple as that. Just go to the government office and sign a few papers. The thing is it sounds like her husband is against it. This last week we asked the branch president to give her a blessing and we fasted together for her. Now we are going to follow up with her in talking to her husband.

So I decided of some things that I want to have here before the end of my mission. I think I am going to need another memory card before to much longer for my camera. I filled the 4 gig up and am getting by on the 2 gig but there are a lot of computer files, talks and other things that the assistants have sent the leaders, that are going to fill it up really fast.

I also would like a copy of my call letter. That was something that i should have had since the beginning of m mission, but I didn't really think about it until now, funny huh? Also I think I'm not going to be able to find Cardova color show polish over here. would you send me a can?

I love you all

Yes mom I am eating healthy and well the vitamins are out. you could send me a small bottle it you want.

Elder Brandon john Holt

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New companion

hello family

I'm doing great not counting the fact that I'm getting more and more tired. That's something that I have noticed the last few months is that I'm more and more exhausted at night. Well, maybe I'll get to the point to where I get home I will get dragged off the plane. That is what Elder Holland wanted us to do in the MTC.

Anyhow so Elder Kampanat and I had a curve ball thrown at us this last week. On Tuesday last week we got a call from the zone leaders saying that Elder Kampanat was moving. Well, that was a fast 6 weeks. Anyway he moved up to the Issan. He has been hoping to get a chance to practice his Issan for the last few weeks. Because he was from Bangkok he can't understand the east language because the dialect is so different. Anyways because he moved I got a new companion. Its an Elder that I have already had the pleasure of working with in Ubon. Elder Christensen. He was in my district when I was companions with Elder Leseuer. Then transferred areas when I began training Elder Jensen. He is a great guy and has a awesome testimony.

In this last week a lot has happened in our area with the daters. Do you remember ice and Nipone. They are the 2 original daters that we have been working with since I got to Pakkret 6 weeks ago. They both got interviewed again. Brother Nipone passed, and will be baptized next Sunday. I'm way excited for him, he has had some hard times in his life and the gospel is going to help him a lot. Sister Ice was interviewed and didn't pass because of a family issue. She isn't married by law. That's something that is very very important to make sure happens. The more I teach and learn about the law of chastity the more that I can see it is something that Thailand needs a lot. And it needs to be taught with boldness. Here it is something that I think the community sees there is a problem but it is unable to solve because they have never really understood how to solve the problem. Its one thing that I am grateful for the Lord giving us a commandment to keep our minds and bodies clean by following the law of chastity. For anyplace that it is not there, families are being destroyed by Satan and his attacks. With Sister Ice we will help her understand the importance of being married the right way and how it will help her family.

Remember mam? she went to church last Sunday and was able to see a baptism of an investigator that the assistant taught. Then this last Saturday we gave her date and she accepted to be baptized on the 20th of march. She will need to overcome a smoking and coffee drinking problem but she should be able to stop by this Friday. She already has a good start to a testimony. We will help her build it more.

Thanks for the updates on the ward mission plan dad. We were able to talk to our branch mission leader, Brother Smith(he is from New Zealand), and now I think he understands a little bit better of how the plan works. He is going to try his hardest to get things moving her in the Pakkret branch. If we can get this program figured out then I know it will be able to help Thailand out a lot with the retention problem that it has at the moment.

Well, this week the temperature has been increasing as we roll into the hot season. I'm going to die. I will have to keep the thoughts of snow through my head a lot.

I was thinking of something that you could send me in the next package. I ran out of cardova shoe polish and have not been able to find any yet. It might just be easier to send some. But I'm going to look this week in a different store. I tell you next week.

That's it for this week. Thank you for your prayers and support

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Testimony of the Atonement

Hello Family

I'm doing great this week. Still alive and kicking. Its been a pretty slow week for the mission work this week, we had a lot of little chores to do, plus zone meeting, that was fun. So we were slowed down but the pace is coming back.

So we'll start with zone conference this week. I was thinking about it, the meetings here have really changed since I came into the country. For example The first zone conference there were lots of missionaries, probably up to 50. because every zone in Bangkok came. This last time it was only one zone the Pakkret zone with 14 elders, 2 sisters, and about 6 or 8 senior missionaries. Then President and Sister Smith as well. It was nice cozy and personal. I like it this way a lot better but it sounds like its a lot of work for President Smith. He had three zone conferences in a role that he had to be at this last week.

The meeting was on the Atonement and the importance of teaching it correctly so that our investigators understand how it plays on their lives. It's something that I personally am grateful for. That one reason I am glad that I came on a mission. I never really looked at the gospel as something that I needed, well I take that back but I didn't really understand the importance of the gospel and how it all relies on the Atonement. teaching it everyday helped me to see the importance of it. If our Savor hadn't given everything for us we really would be stuck were we are not being able to better ourselves in anyway. But because of the Atonement we are able to repent of our imperfections and become better through the mercies and grace of the Savior.

The funny thing about this is the next day with Brother Nipoe and Sister Eye, our two daters, we discovered that they didn't yet have a testimony or a very good understanding of the atonement and the power that is in in. So we had a chance to teach them about it.

After Zone meeting was over we had a zone activity. We, as a zone, went into Bangkok to see Wat Arome, a ancient Buddhist temple. that is just off the main river that cuts Bangkok in half. Its awesome. I will send some pictures of the activity. and of the wat.

The rest of the week was a lot of planning and trying to help our investigators get to baptism. Sister eye didn't pass her baptismal interview which isn't a big deal it just means that we need to wait a little longer to help her receive her testimony and be truly ready to be a member in the Lord's Kingdom. Next week we are going to have her get interviewed again, then she will be ready.

I got the first package last week and have enjoyed the stuff that you sent. Thank you for the deodorant especially. Now Elder Kampanat doesn't have to worry about me stinking anymore 555.

In my MTC group there were originally 15 people. 12 elders and 3 sisters but the sisters have all returned home now and its just the elders. That reminds me I forgot who our bishops name is, don't tell him that, I need to know in order to give the information to the office. Anyways we all got the papers at the same time. Elder Porter and I were talking last week at how strange it is to think that a year and a half ago we were in the MTC, it only seems like a few weeks ago I just got to Thailand. I hate how time flies.

Connor, Brother Keng says hi. He was sitting next to me a few minutes ago but had to run to catch his flight back home. Did you know that he is going to Las Vegas for two months in March. then he will be going to San Diego. I said we will have to meet up when I get back. Maybe when we go to Laguna you and I will take a trip to the acupuncture school that he will learning at. Oh and I think there is no way that you can beat my hair style that I had my junior year. Half black half blond, shaved and divided down the middle and to top it off liberty spikes. That was the idea of one of the girls on the team. Mom almost fainted. 555555 love you mom.

Dad I sending you a plan that we are trying to put into action here in Thailand for the ward council. Tell me what you think and if you have ever seen anything like it. I think its experimental and they are trying it out here in Thailand to see how it works but I definitely think it can work if it is worked right. It has to do with recent coverts and less active families as well and part- member families.

Ok I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Death (Release) Date!

Hello family

I'm doing good this week. We did have as fast of a week as we had with 19 lessons only 17 this week. That' s a little below average but that's because we had some stuff to do this week. This last week we had companion exchanges with the zone leaders. One thing that is a lot of fun is that in every zone one of the 2 zone leaders is in my MTC group. This one is Elder Porter. He is the one who knows the Becerras. Me and him had a good talk about how cool it was that Zach and Caleb got to meet up in the MTC. That's not something that happens very often. Then I got to thinking that I'm really glad that Connor is 4 years younger then me because if it were 2 it would be a four year wait until we saw each other.

Elder Porter and I had a good time working together in our area. I got a lot of good points to help here being the district leader, that will really help us as missionaries build our faith and our investigators to progress and have spiritual experiences a lot faster.

For example Elder Porter and I had time to go tracting/Inviting. As we were in a neighborhood that seem to be tracked a lot by the missionaries before we came, we met a man by the name of Wirat. He was in his 60's. We introduced ourselves and he invited us in his house. He said that he was looking at a termite problem, which here in Thailand if your house isn't cement then it is infested by termites. Needless to say his house was all wood. but he didn't notice the problem until a plug in the wall stopped working so he was trying to remove it. He had never done it before. I told him that I have and would do it for him. ( Thanks for redoing the house so much mom and dad, that's a skill that I did find a use for here, removing electric plug covers.) So after a few minutes and a numb hand from a shock, (he forgot to turn off the power,) I wasn't thinking, I was able to get the cover off to see the termite nest. Fact, if your house has a termite problem you can hear the termites move inside the wall. That was way weird to hear.

After we helped him to see where the nest was we started to have a conversation. We said after that we would like to share a message about the restored gospel. He was happy to listen. At the end we asked him to pray, here is a key point that we as missionaries here in Thailand have just learned recently: When you pray for an answer and do it according to Moroni 10:3-5 -- meaning that first you do it ( faith in Christ) next you do it because you really want an answer (Sincerity) Then if you get the answer whether or not you like it or not you will follow it ( real intent) -- you will get an answer. So when we ask an investigator to pray we make sure that they ask a question. For example, "Father in Heaven should I get baptized?", or "Father in Heaven, should I go to church?". If its done in the right way our investigators will receive an answer. So that was what we did with Wirat. One thing I have noticed is that if it is done right the investigator will receive an answer every time but might not realize what they felt was the Holy Ghost answering their question. With Wirat he got his answer but didn't understand, but before we left he said something that I don't think I have heard anyone that I've met on a invite say, "I want to study this more, and if it is true I will become a member of your church for sure". I'm excited to go back and see him.

Right now I don't remember if I have ever told you we have 2 investigators with a date to be baptized. One is named Sister I and the other is Brother Nipone. Sister I has a date to get baptized on the 12 of February and Brother Nipone has a date to get baptized on the 19th of February a week later. Both of them are doing really well. Our goal with both of them is to try and teach their families. They both are married but their spouses aren't ever around when we teach them.

Yesterday I had a interesting experience. So one of the duties of being a District leader is interviewing investigators to be baptized. Elder Brown and Elder Chew recently had 9 people from Cambodia transferred to them because the Elders from a different area realized that they lived in our area. They are all ready to be baptized, so its just a matter to make sure that everything is legal according to the law, meaning they aren't illegal immigrants, Thailand gets them too, imagine that, then interview and baptize. So yesterday I interviewed 5 people out of that group. 4 of them were children between the age of 8 to 12 I think... We're not really sure on the dates. and then their mother. The children have been in Thailand long enough that they can read and speak Thai really well. But their mother has a Cambodian accent. They all passed. With their mother it was a little harder because there was a little bit of a language barrier but with the use of pictures and speaking slowly we got through that. It was fun to listen to her talk because she spoke Thai like she was from the southern states. I almost expected her to say ya'll.

Sounds like you guys are all having a blast at home. Connor, nice job on you times. Dad don't get eaten by alligators, and Mom, I just got a letter this last week, that disturbs me a lot. Its nick-named "the Death Papers". It's from President Smith and the office and says that I will be traveling home on the 14th of June 2554 or 2011. That's really strange to think... I saw 3 of my companions receive their death papers. Anyways you don't have to worry about Sunday dinner only having 3 at the table anymore. Oh man what the heck happened to the last 2 years of my life. Make it slow down.

OK, that's it for today.

I love you all.

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lots of teaching going on

Hey everybody

I'm doing great this week. Well, it has been an interesting week. Last Wednesday to Friday, the leaders of the mission in Bangkok had a specialized training meeting to talk about the new program that the First Presidency and the General Authorities are going to introduce into the MTC in May. It doesn't change the Preach My Gospel program at all. What it really is, is a better way to teach. We listened to a recording of Elder Holland explaining it to the Mission Presidents in the MTC last summer. He explained that as we learned how to use Preach My Gospel as a guide we learned what to teach really well. But after a study we weren't learning the "How to Teach" very well until the end of our missions. So after a study they came up with 8 areas to help us as missionaries to improve our "How to Teach." Mainly it focuses on how to teach better with the Spirit. I get way excited to teach after I go to these trainings.

Elder Brown and Elder Chiew our Assistents to the presidents are working hard as well to help us learn how to apply these things better. They came up with several techniques to help us teach better with the Spirit and let our investigators understand what the Spirit feels like earlier in the teaching process.

This week in teaching was another crazy week. When I was out of the area for 2 nights Elder Kampanat was doing awesome at keeping the work going. We taught in the end about 27 lessons. We were also able to get back to a few of the new investigators that we found last week. One of those being a man named taw(ต่อ). I think the best way I can describe him is hippy. Well more like Rocker hippy. He is in his 30 - 40s. has long hair and has a shaggy beard. Yesterday we went back for a second visit. He had read the little brochure that we left him which talks a little about the restoration as well as baptism. After we prayed that was the first thing that he asked about. He said that he had seen baptism on a foreign film before and was wondering what it was. Well we were happy to explain what it was and why we do it. He asked also where do we do it. And when can he do it. That what surprised me a little bit. After explaining about how we can receive answers through prayers we asked him when he feels the things we teach are true if he would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized? He said yes. So then he was committed. Next time we are going to try and give him a baptism date.

I think i really like it here in Bangkok because I can understand everybody. Here they speak central Thai. That's what they taught us in the MTC so I don't have to know any other kind of language to understand. but then again I have never been perfect at the language, there still is a lot to improve.

So this last p-day Elder Kampanat took me into the beast of Bangkok and helped me to get a suit cut. Today we are going to pick it up. It cost about 3000 baht. or about 90 dollars. which I think is a really good deal for a custom tailored suit. Anyways I'll send some pictures next week of what it looks like.

This next week is switch offs with the zone leaders. Elder Porter, another elder from my MTC group, and I will be switching off. Its going to be fun

I forgot to explain about my area. I think this is the biggest area that I have ever worked in yet. The district covers part of two Provinces and 4 different districts. There are a lot of apartments but thankfully there are a lot of neighborhoods as well. That's where we normally are because we still can't knock door to door. That would make life so much easier if we could. Anyways if I have my camera with me next week I'll take some pictures to send.

OK, I have to go.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt

Monday, January 17, 2011

First full week back in Bangkok

Hello family

I'm doing great this week. Bangkok is crazy!!!! I have never ever seen so many people in Thailand. Every time I think about how many people are in the area that my district covers it blows me away to think how much work needs to be done. Anyways to sum up this week really fast it was pretty much running back and forth teaching all kinds of new people and trying to get to know our investigators as well as members. I'm way glad its preparation day and I get a few minutes to sit.

In the last week Elder Kampanat and I gave three investigators baptismal dates. 2 of which are on the 19th of February and 1 which is on the 25th of February. However that last one will probably be moved because the investigator named choke didn't really understand when we said he was going to get baptized. So we will have to keep working with him. The first two however are awesome investigators. One is a lady by the name of eye. She is in her 30s and has been making changes in her life to come into the fold of the Savior. She has an amazing testimony of the gospel already. We might move her date up if possible. The other is a man named nipone. He is a quiet shy man that sells dish washing soap for a living. He too, is starting to build a testimony of Christ and the gospel.

We met some interesting people this last week. For example we met a Hmong. He has been in Thailand all his life, or so I think.... His name in chuu. It was interesting to teach him because he speaks Thai, but he speaks to about my skill level. So we had to speak Thai really slowly and had to be careful to explain the meaning of words. For example when we said prayer he didn't understand but after we explained it and prayed I think he understood a lot better. He can't read Thai but thankfully we have the office which we can get a Book of Mormon in about every language it comes in. Anyways with chuu we are trying to set up another appointment with him. He works from 8 in the morning to 9 at night. so it makes it a little difficult to meet. But we'll see what we can do.

Another man that we met was named luang. He is a graffic designs artist and works at his house. He has a ton of knowledge about religion and loves to study on his free time. So when we offered to teach him about our religion for free he said yes. I think he will be a really good investigator. he seemed to understand the restoration really well.

Elder Kampanat is an awesome missionary. If it wasn't for him and his outgoing attitude to teach everyone he sees, we would have never been able to reach and surpass our goals for teaching lessons this week. Together we taught 29 lessons. That is the most that I have ever taught in one week. That's a lot. Anyways. Elder Kampanat is from Bangkok. so he knows the area pretty well. He lives in the south part of Bangkok and is from the Sinockgrin ward in the Bangkok stake. He is the only member in his family but he has an amazing testimony and is willing to share with everybody that he sees. He spent a year or two in West Virgina which is where he learned how to speak English, as an exchange student. Sounds familiar, no? After he got back he met the missionaries and got a testimony and was baptized. He has been an awesome companion. although he makes it impossible to serve myself because he loves to serve me first. lol. He is one of the most humble guys that I have ever met. He also loves to ballroom dance. I'm hoping one day to learn a little from him.

Because I am in the office area I can get packages the week they come in so no waiting time. That's a plus being here. Anyway for requests I don't have a lot that I can think of for the moment. Just deodorant and maybe some stuff to cook, like pudding, and I just received inspiration of stove top stuffing. We have a stove top to cook stuff. so ya. Anyway I trust you, and will be grateful for whatever you send.

That's about it for this week. I agree time is going too fast. I hope it slows down.

I love you all

Elder Brandon John Holt