I hope this doesn't freak anyone out, but I almost died this week, twice. haha.
Story number one:
So Elder Wilko and I were out at one of the malls contacting people. We were talking to this guy who was selling fruit when out of nowhere this tree near us started to fall over. At first I was just confused why this tree was moving so much and branches were falling off of it, cause there's never any wind here... But we both realized it at the same time and the guy we were talking to was facing the other way. We pulled him out of the way and took a few steps back. And then just watched this tree collapse right next to us. bahaha.
The only problem. During the commotion the guy booked it. So we didn't get to tell him about baptism. Within 20 minutes the tree was gone, they had cut it up so fast and just hauled it away! So Thailand.
We, us and the zone leaders who live in our house too, went to gumpawapi for a day to do some contacting so they could get a baptism this month. While we were street contacting I almost got hit by a speeding car passing a truck. I lived, but the car was like a foot from me going probably 35.
So. I think I have referenced it, but our mission is turning things around right now. And it's really cool to be training right when all of this is going down. Thailand hasn't exactly been the most productive mission, and it was even bad enough that when missionaries would be successful and get lots of baptisms, other Elders would judge them, saying they're baptism hungry. Last year there were 600 baptisms in thailand, but the growth of the church here was - 4%..... So president Senior is pushing this new idea.
We are a baptizing mission. This month we have a really serious goal of having every single companionship get a baptism. We're calling it bovember, (baptism + november = bovember....) hahaha But it's even intense enough that if a companionship gets a baptism, they give their investigators with a baptismal date to other missionaries who look like they won't get a baptism this month. We've already given away one investigator and are giving another away later today. We haven't gotten our baptism yet, but เเสม is awesome and may even get baptized !
So you're probably thinking that this is ridiculous, we're putting so much focus on baptism right? That's not our purpose. Our purpose is to bring souls to Christ.
But baptism is one of the greatest blessings we have on earth. We can literally wash away our sins. Especially in Thailand where everyone is Buddhist, that is a beautiful blessing. They can't get rid of their sins, they just tell us that they go to the wat and tham buun, basically do some kind of rite that negates their sins and mistakes... But when we tell them they can wash all of their sins away they are very interested in that idea and are willing to do anything to do it. It's beautiful to watch the change in people as they prepare for baptism and how happy they are once they receive the Holy Ghost. And we've been promised that when we focus on baptism, other aspects of the work will get better too. It's amazing to see these promises be fulfilled within hours. So while we were in gumpawapi the zone leaders promised the elders there that when they put their focus on baptism other aspects of missionary would would increase, they specifically promised in less active work. Within an hour of our day of inviting people to be baptized, the gumpawapi elders found a less active Melchizedek priesthood holder that had been less active for almost 10 years! That's amazing! Gumpawapi only has 30 people at church every week so priesthood is so important here.
As for me receiving blessings from focusing on baptism, I've been blessed with the language. I was really frustrated, cause people are always talking to me and I can never understand them. But Elder Gilley went on splits with me. We went to a park, and, still near eachother, contacted by ourselves. So much more effective. Plus it forced me to speak thai and understand thai cause I didn't have a buddy right next to me to answer them when I couldn't. I talked to six teenagers first. It was brutal, I couldn't understand them, they could kind of understand me, it was a rough few minutes. haha
But over the past few days I've been getting better. , by myself, (I want to clarify that we're not breaking any rules, we're allowed to contact people like this :) ), I got five people with a baptismal date in half an hour. You never know how many of them will actually meet with us and make it to membership in the church, but I was pretty happy. Last night, with some of the ward mission leaders and other friends and members and เเสม also we went contacting at a park for an hour and a half. We did splits with the members so we could talk to as many people as possible. A very simple contacting idea.
Basically in Thai we'd say, and don't be surprised or stunned by this, it sounds better in thai than in english and it is how the APs and the President are pushing our contacting style, something along the lines of:
Hi! Pull out a picture of a guy getting baptized.
Have you ever seen this picture before?
This is baptism, it's how we wash our sins away. Have you ever washed your sins away?
Well you can! When you get baptized you will be clean of sin. Will you be baptized this month on the 24th?
At the church on soy jintakham.
Anybody can be baptized, but we can't teach you everything about it in one time. Here's our number. Can I have yours and we can meet again and you can learn more about baptism?
I know that baptism is real and you can be clean of your sins.
That's it. I could probably say it fancier, but in Thai you don't need to. A conversation like this isn't abrupt or rude in any way, so I don't have to be talented or skilled in speaking to teach them. That's it. A basic street contact. (It's been helping my Thai so much, especially in understanding others.I had an entire conversation about random stuff last night with a member, in complete thai!!) It's cool because when we do that you can see the Holy Ghost working in them. Some people are all over it! Others straight up say no. Others you can see them wanting to say yes for a reason they don't realize, but say no. But when we contact like this and give them a choice from the beginning it really gives the Holy Ghost a chance to testify and help them make a decision.
Our zone leaders started teaching me this just a few days after I got here, and about now this concept is growing and I've heard that the entire mission is going to be trained on it in a couple weeks. Wow.
And this bovember idea is just the beginning. In my opinion President is trying to get everyone a baptism to show the missionaries that they can get them. Then we will grow each month, getting a baptism every month, then two. Who knows! But it's so cool to see the work accelerating right when I got here.
Just to clarify, we're not ignoring the rest of the work, like recent convert and less active work. We're still doing all of the same work in those areas, just putting additional focus on Baptism so we can get more members and priesthood holders to get a temple! These people want a temple. In the church in Udorn almost every single piece of art is a picture of a temple. :) They want one so bad. And getting one is our mission's overarching goal.
In more temporal terms--
After this we are going to a cake buffet. haha of course they'd have one here.
I'm getting pretty good at standing up on my bike no handed too. haha.
Saying "so what the crap" instead of sawwaddii khrap while we bike is hilarious and the people's reactions are varying. It keeps us happy.
Thai food is delicious, and continues to get more delicious.
We still don't own any toilet paper, but I think when I get home I'll see what I can do to install one of those sprayers in our house. hahahahaha jk.
Singing in thai sounds horrible still. It's singing so I enjoy it, but thai isn't exactly a beautiful sounding language, and when it's sung....... ไม่ เพราะ haha
Every day here is the best day ever.
Elder Christopher Osborn
PS I finished alma 5 this morning in case you're reading with me still. :)
This is us on the way to the internet cafe. hahahahaha.
We found this sign on Saturday too. Long lost free English class poster. haha.
Absolutely beautiful sunset over the Isan night, sorry the picture isn't good, we were in the back of a bus.
We played a little game of risk to relax last p- day. Our board was a map of thailand, our pieces were cut up straws, and our dice were paper dice that we made. So ghetto.
This tree almost hit us.
This coffee and dessert bar just a bit away from the church is called lucifer..... Why? hahahaha so funny!