Sunday, July 27, 2014


So last week was the question: What is wrong?

I finally found out the answer. And guess how it came? Through the same person that helped me solve my last question. Elder Tanner, my district leader.

I'll explain. On Friday we went on switch-offs. Which meant that Elder Tanner and I got to run around the city teaching people. We managed to get a lesson with two specific investigators who have been struggling for a bit. We sat down and had a super powerful lesson about temples and the priesthood. They applied it to themselves so well, saying that they would want to marry a priesthood holder in the temple. Then at the end, after the Spirit manifested itself, they both committed themselves to reading for at least 10 minutes a day in the Book of Mormon and praying with true sincerity to know if this path is true and the path they should walk. Then we read Moroni 10:4. I told them that this prophet was speaking to them and then I switched out the words you and ye to their names as I read it. The Spirit testified, and they responded. Before that lesson coming to church was เป็นไปไม่ได้ or impossible. They made a specific effort to come to church yesterday. Asking us to call them at 6 am to wake them up to go to church.

One received a witness from the Holy Ghost that night of the truthfulness of the restored gospel.
They said, "We will find a way to go to church".
They were so happy to come early to Sacrament Meeting all dressed up.

Rewind; right after the lesson, we grabbed them both copies of "for the strength of youth" and "preparing to enter the holy temple". While walking back to the room after retrieving the books Elder Tanner expressed something that really hit me. 

"After this ends, lets not forget to say a prayer of thanks"

The two sisters left and we knelt down. I don't remember what Elder Tanner said in that prayer, but the Spirit spoke, telling me, "Elder Osborn, you forgot that I am your companion when you teach, I am your companion when you invite. You have gotten too used to success. Seen too many baptisms. Forgotten who is really converting these souls. So I took it away from you. You weren't grateful for the blessings I have given you. So I let you know what it was like to not have them. Don't you see now? You forgot how important bringing a soul unto Me is. You may have been a little prideful. I am pleased that you have been improving yourself, but you just missed the mark. You forgot to be grateful. Now that you've seen how I teach, you can follow my example. Cherish their progression. Take joy in the little things. Invite Me into the room and I will truly teach them. Because when I teach, hearts change."

Elder Tanner finished the prayer and I had tears streaming down my face.

We hugged and went back to work. The Spirit testifying to souls the entire day. That night after reviewing what happened that day, he told me the things he learned from me and I shared what I learned from him. I felt enlightened. Lifted.

I thought of the prophetic insight of President Uchtdorf: "Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues."

I had been perfecting myself in so many things. But I had simply missed something. Something I thought I truly understood because I thought I already possessed it. 
I had perfected my obedience, increased my faith, obtained more charity, worked both harder and smarter. But the Spirit taught me the crowning attribute of gratitude.

I reflect on Elder Brown's thoughts;
"I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ I was as bitter as gall. And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. … … And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’"

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

The miracle of these two sisters preparing to be baptized and accepting a baptismal date was just one of the many that followed.

Yesterday we had nine investigators at Church. Compared to the one last week.

What's also really interesting is I've been seeing all of the other Christlike attributes follow gratitude. I've been noticing more tolerance and love in my soul. But I didn't do it. He did. I just had to be grateful and He did the converting of my heart.

 "And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received. And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.  And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless,that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac,and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out."

The calling of a missionary is an interesting calling. Elder Jeng and I have been discussing this concept a lot. We've found that if anything, the purpose of the mission is not to bring the gospel to others; it is to change. It is a trial. Through, study, sharing, teaching, and inviting. We change. "Getting rid of the character flaws that allow sin in the first place and replacing it with a godly walk." This is true repentance.

We work. Yes. We teach. Yes. We find people and help guide them to Him. Yes. But in the end it all comes down to the fact that I am not the same person I was yesterday.

He calls to us, saying, “All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”

In light of this unusually popular subject in our mission (here we call this consecration, you can probably just call it conversion), I invite all of you to read the following:

The Challenge to Become by DALLIN H. OAKS
Alma 7
Converted unto the lord By Elder David A. Bednar
Repentance and Conversion by Elder Russell M. Nelson

I would also like to invite all of you to consider yourself in your current state and look for the little things you can improve today. Because "the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."

Elder Osborn

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


This week was a party!

Well, actually it wasn't. Remember that time when I wrote about trials and how God was trying me? Well, that week was child's play. But seriously. That week was like passing your spelling test in 2nd grade with the words, run, bed, fun, and smile. This week was like taking the AP Calculus test. But it was rushed so you only had a few hours to learn all of the material before the test.

Compare those two tests. And put the second grader in the Calculus test. This is my week this week. For the first time in my mission. I have nobody with a baptismal date. Nobody. As we went through our key indicators I wanted to punch something! No daters! WHAT?! 

The mission's goal for this month is 4 baptisms per companionship.  Which basically translates one every week. Which is perfectly possible and even easy for this mission now.

The interesting thing is, that my work hasn't changed at all compared with previous areas. I'm doing it the same. I'm doing it the same as other Elders who are baptizing like crazy. I honestly can't figure out what is wrong. What am I doing wrong? If anything I have become more efficient since that month we got 7 baptisms. But what happened? We're sitting with a big fat zero for our baptisms. And for our goals. And nobody has a date. 
This morning in the shower I imagined walking into transfers meeting, after the entire mission had hit the goal, every companionship with at least 1 baptism. Most with 4. And I have to stand in front of everyone else thinking, "I am the only one here who didn't baptize anyone in July." Everyone would know that there was one companionship who didn't get even one baptism, but nobody would know who it was. But I do. I know who it was. It was me.

I was getting a little down on myself a few days ago. Around Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday the Zone Leaders drove six hours to come on a switch-off with us. I went with a very powerful missionary for a day. We didn't get the chance to teach anyone. Because everyone who we set up bailed out or forgot. So I got sunburned as we stood in front of the post office. At the end of the switch-off the other Elder said that I worked hard and I was an impressive missionary. He consoled me and said that sometimes -- no matter how hard we work -- you don't meet success. 

Since last Sunday, in the evening hours -- which are our favorite and most effective contacting times -- it has rained. We bike to the place just to meet an incoming tropical storm. And at the first drop of rain everyone scatters. So we invite those who stay a little longer. After our time is out, we bike back to the church. Arriving completely soaked we find that the three people we set up all are not answering our phone calls. We wait for a couple minutes, hoping they show up, and go back out.

Another interesting thing is my contacting, regardless of the fruits of my contacting, has improved drastically. I've never found so many interested people while contacting before. 9+ almost every day. (compared to my last area of 1 or 2)

One of my personality traits is to analyze every situation and find out what God is trying to teach me. So I've been doing a sort of personal sanctification and consecration process. Perfecting myself so as to get rid of anything that could be hindering the work. I can see the improvement, but yet the numbers, everything, just continues to drop.

Recently I concluded it must be my faith. But then upon more examination I found that I believe and expect miracles even more than ever.

My prayers? Maybe. Improve my prayers. Then notice that things continue to degrade.
Is it my charity? my studies? my obedience? my patience? my hope? my diligence? What is it? Through a week of soul-searching my searches came up blank. I'm not perfect, but there's not something so wrong as to upset the work. What is wrong?

My companion says it's agency. Yeah, agency does play a role, but it can't be the issue. That's just an excuse. Agency accounts for an individual failure or rejection of truth. Agency cannot account for an entire area going down the drain.

I know He is teaching me something. Pushing me. Stretching me. But is it worth all of these people's salvation? 
This spiritual P90-X can't be worth all of these souls. 

Another thought I had this morning: Is God trying to teach my companion something? Maybe... Maybe he is teaching my companion a life lesson and I get to sit along for the ride and be perfected in the process. There are so many possibilities for what is happening. I will be honest, I have no idea what is wrong.

I feel like I have failed, I have missed the mark, tripped in front of the finish line. But somehow I'm still kicking, if anything, harder. I am not satisfied with mediocrity, nor just okay. Or even great. I have high expectations and I will meet them. There is not a fiber in my soul that says, "give up, let in, slow down." 

As for how I feel. I feel peaceful. Disappointed. Sad. A little frustrated. But surprisingly peaceful.

I feel a little like Job. "The Lord giveth. And the Lord taketh away." The Lord has given me success before, lots of success, and lots of joy in that. But now the Lord hath taken away. Yet I still feel gratitude and love for Him. So I will say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord". 

My heart and my head say "keep pushing, the blessings will come." I'm waiting patiently for the blessings to come. As long as I keep fighting, keep perfecting and sanctifying myself with His help; as long as I am more diligent, more obedient, more patient, the blessings will come.
So I will work harder.
I will wait longer.
I will love deeper.
I will teach with power.

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I know that before my mission I was a very week 18-year-old. Now I'm a less week 19-year-old. I'm not quite to the point of strong. So I feel humbled. My spiritual coach is just showing me what I can't do (my imperfections) to show me where I must improve. Then he throws on the weight. The really hard part (the trials, the lack of success). Then, with that boost of humility and a lot of reliance on His grace. I'll walk out stronger. Maybe not perfect yet. Definitely not. But better, stronger.

That is a summary of my life right now. Happy, but not. Successful, but somehow not.
Don't worry about me. I'm getting along fine.

Elder Osborn

Here's a picture of a river. :)

Monday, July 14, 2014


This week was so fun! We got to go on two big adventures!

The first one was last Monday. For our P-day we went on an adventure to a national park in the jungle. SO cool! We didn't have enough time to go see any waterfalls but we had a blast anyways.
To get to this massive cliff/view we had to cross over 16 little bridges over super deep crevices. It was beautiful!

Then we worked for a few days.

Then we went up back into the mountains for a national YSA activity! We led an activity and were there just to support all of them. I got to see several of my recent converts. And guess what they all said. "Elder. You've gotten fatter." I'm glad I've developed relationships like that with my converts that they feel comfortable enough to tell me I'm fatter. Or maybe that's just Thai culture? Wait, yes it is. Everyone will tell you you're fat. There's even a member here and her name literally means chubby. Yeah, I love Thailand.

I also got to play Foosball with President and Sister Senior. Guess who won? We did. And it was with a goalie shot across the table! So much fun!

So work wise; we basically cleaned out our investigator pool. Nobody is picking up their phones, keeping commitments, or came to church even though they said they would. So, we will go out and find new people who are willing to keep commitments and who want to be baptized. 

That's what's so cool about this mission. It somebody doesn't want to be baptized, we just don't teach them. We don't have time to. I'd rather teach one person who actually wants to get baptized and is willing to change his or her life to do so than to teach 200 people who are interested in family history work, or temples, or want to know more about the Bible, or anything for that matter. Because we're looking for those who are humble and in a preparation to hear the word. These type of people are willing to change their lives. The mission has baptized 1,055 people like this from January to June, and the goals and visions are only raising. This month the mission goal is four baptisms per companionship. 

At our last training we were encouraged to do the impossible; to increase quantity and quality. Not just one of them. Both. Because, yet again, "with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible".

The entire mission is now consecrating itself, one Elder and Sister at a time. I feel that we understand that every blessing that comes from heaven comes because we were obedient to a certain law or commandment. So as our entire mission has been purifying itself and becoming more obedient in the small things, we are seeing miracles.

"Yea, he that repenteth, and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing... it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance." I believe that with all my heart.

Elder Osborn

Pictures: Our first adventure into the mountains!

So, remember that song, "I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in His ways"?
I thought of that song and started singing as we sanded these pieces of wood for the YSA activity.

Transporting them was also pretty interesting.

 Now this is the YSA activity. a service project at an orphanage and some games.

Monday, July 7, 2014


So, a correction of the numbers I shared last time. Our area is a lot bigger than I thought. It is an entire Jangwat. Which is basically a state. The city has about 75,000 - 95,000 people. But the Jangwat has about 3,000,000 people. So yes. 4 Elders and 3 million people. Welcome to the Thailand Bangkok Mission.

Last week I didn't mention my new house, which is huge! It is like 4 times as big as our last house. So by comparisin, total square feet; our house is about as big as the kitchen/family room at home. Crazy right! So that really shows how tiny my house in Bangkok was.

This week we had a zone training in the closest area to ours; 3 hours away. So we rode a bus there and back for a 1.5 hour training. Way fun, I usually don't carry around a copy of the Book of Mormon when I go anywhere that I can give out. Usually just baptism cards. But I - for some weird reason decided to bring an extra copy to read on the way there. On the way back I found a VERY prepared soul. By the time I was finished with him he had a couple reading assignments and had been referred to the Elders where he lives. He accepted a baptismal date on the bus and will be getting baptized next Sunday. Way cool!

Also, I have never had so many investigators. We've gotten a few of them into the daters pile and we've picked up some more too. Lots of referrals. Super fun.

Our house is hilarious. I am with Elder Jeng, Elder Tamang, and Elder Tanner. So much fun. We have the most hilarious evenings and mornings. Last night, Elder Tamang, who is one of those break-dancing dancer guys (way cool right!?) was showing us how to do handstands and Elder Tanner kept trying to do them. I - already knowing that I couldn't do them from an interesting experiment in my last area - just decided to watch. hahaha He was pretty frustrated that he couldn't figure out how to do it that he even was trying to do them during exercise this morning. Don't get me wrong, he made a lot of improvement. As for me, I'm still doing headstands against a wall. haha So I think Elder Tanner is further than me in actually doing a handstand.

Our miracle for this week was when one investigator who is a doctor and has a rough schedule decided he would quit coffee. He said for two days he felt like his head was going to explode. Then he prayed and asked for support and now there are no effects from his abstinence from coffee. He is planning to do the same with smoking.

Yesterday I got 8 appointments set up in one day. I think that's a new record!

Elder Osborn


This is us on a bus. On the way back from the training.

This is me eating delicious Japanese food.

This is me eating more delicious Thai food. This dish is supposedly the spiciest. Spicier than spicy papaya salad!

This is the door of the bus open as we flew down the highway. Open all three hours and a guy jumped on while it was moving during one part of the ride.

This was this crazy little cart that we rode back to the bus station. I have no idea how we all fit in that thing. It was like the little pod-racers you see around her, but it had a roof. I'll get a better picture of the pod-racers another day.