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. 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