We went and celebrated by getting some icecream. I was so cold after I was shivering. (I will not share how much ice cream I ate to make me shiver -- in Thailand, in the hot season )
That was fun. But also, more importantly. Last Monday after emailing we got a phone call from President Senior...
So on Wednesday morning we drove Elder Lucas to the mission home for mission leadership conference.
He went zone leader, and I didn't get a replacement. So now I'm with Elder Sayavong and Elder Winsor again! After only 3 weeks... So that was fun. I brought that desk that I really liked from the other room back because I liked it so much. I also brought that soft spinny chair too.
3 Elders. 1 companionship. 1 district.
Elder Winsor is only a couple months older than me in the mission and Elder Sayavong is still training, so we're a pretty young group down here. But that isn't stopping us from working hard and successfully.
Yes. We got 2 baptisms this week. One of them was a girl who has been an investigator for months and was inherited from the Sisters before -- which is REALLY long here in Thailand now. The other was a woman who came to church for the first time last Sunday -- the 30th. They both got baptized yesterday.
Next week is our general conference weekend and it is songrang. (I think that's how it's spelled).
Songrang is basically the coolest holiday in the world. Way cooler than anything in america. I've heard that it compared with Christmas from some Elders.
So here's what it is:
The entire country stops everything. 79 million people. They stop everything! Stores, restaurants, everything. For three days. Why? So they can have a giant water fight for three days. Yes. You read correctly. A water fight. 79 million people. 3 days. In one of the busiest craziest cities in the world. Bangkok Thailand.
We're only allowed to play one day, and we have to be in our house by 7 every day, but that's still enough. I'm way pumped!! The idea is that it is played on the three hottest days of the year, just before the rainy season starts. So they have a water fight and try to throw so much water that the gods decide to play too and it rains. Way boss.
I'm also way excited for general conference. We watch it a week late so they can translate it and broadcast it here. We'll still watch it in English. Super excited. The only problem. It doesn't count as a time for an investigator at church, which means all of the people we had at church on Sunday can't be baptized until the 20th. That's okay, we have 5 really solid investigators with dates for the 20th.
Today we had a way fun sports day. The entire zone got together and played frisbee, soccer, basketball. Way fun! Got to see everybody and run around in the sun for 4 hours.
Also, since Elder Sayavong is still training, we study for an extra hour and a half, so I make phone calls while Elder Winsor does the training, and I get my super long language study again. That's fun, but really long.
Still learning lessons. Humility and charity, knowledge and diligence.
We had one other investigator who was supposed to get baptized yesterday. She decided she wasn't ready yet. We taught her everything. Explained that if an 8 year old can be ready for baptism, she definitely is. So we just wait for her until she decides that she's ready. It's rough to see that kind of mindset because I've seen too many people fall off the path when they decide to put off their baptism. Satan works really hard to get you to stall, then he just has more time to stop you.
We have a special mission, the Thailand Bangkok Mission has now become a baptizing mission. 218 people were baptized last month. And the bar has been set higher for this month and the next. But it's still not all happy and baptisms. From what I've seen, usually 1 in 3 of the REALLY solid investigators with a baptismal date end up getting baptized. Which is why we work with a lot of people. What we do we've started to call "sifting". We invite hundreds of people a day to be baptized to get a few numbers and appointments set up, then only a small portion of those actually show up, then only a few of those keep learning, and only a couple of those are the "elect" who get baptized the next week. We just sift through the people to find those who have been prepared by the hand of the Lord. Everyone we see who gets baptized has been prepared in some way. It's fascinating to watch.
Saturday was a way interesting day. We took Elder Sayavong to the doctor to get some medication and taught 3 recent convert lessons in the waiting room over the phone. Then that evening while we were teaching three Pakistani guys showed up at the church to talk to us. Two were evangelists, the other was a pastor. All from the Evangelist Church. They had been forced from their country with 150 other leaders of their church because they were christian. They came looking for help. It's hard because we can't help them because of legal complexities. They told us they were walking past and saw the cross on the top of our church... there isn't a cross on our church.
But at the end of our talk they asked if we could pray together. The pastor began singing. He sang hallelujah over and over again in a way cool Middle Eastern sound. The other two kept saying "amen" and "yes" while he sang. Then all of the sudden he had his hands up in the air and started talking really fast in Urdu. It sounded like alien language. He went for about a minute while we just sat there stunned and the other two kept saying amen. then they all crossed themselves and said a final "praise the Lord, amen".
Woah... that was an experience. We walked away from that thinking how grateful we were to be in the true Church of Jesus Christ. That we know how to pray to our Heavenly Father, how to speak with Him. How to converse with Him.
That is why I'm here. To help others know this is true. That they are children of their Heavenly Father and they can receive a remission of their sins.
The people of Thailand really believe that they cannot be relieved of sin. Just on the way here this guy started to argue with us saying that you cannot be relieved from sin. You just have to live with it your whole life. The culture here has a lack of hope. It's sad. You can see it in everyone's eyes, the way they walk. They think that this life is just a stepping stone. They'll be something else next life, won't take knowledge, experience, or family. There's no hope, no desire to be your best. Everyone just sits through life. There's no motivation, no hope for anything. I ask people if they want to be with their children for eternity. They say no. I ask why. They say you can't. I tell them that they can. They just say you can't and you walk on to the next person, hoping this person has a desire and a vision of the eternities.
Some of them see the light. They're so prepared I could say anything and they would agree. I pray for the gift of teaching so God can speak through me to them. I pray to meet those who have the gift of believing on the words of the faithful, so that when I meet them they believe me when I tell them, "You can be freed from sin. You can be clean again."
And it is a special experience to meet someone, see them believe, and watch the light come into their lives as they prepare to be baptized.
Well. I'm off for today. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Don't forget to read your scriptures, pray more than often, go to church, and pay your tithing. Because you can't afford not to keep the commandments.
This is sister เบียร์, or Beer. She's the younger girl.
Also we have sister Sutiraa, or สุธีรา. The older woman.
And us at the hospital. We felt so useless as we just sat there waiting, so we took this picture. Look! 3 Elders!