Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week 20: A little bappin' never hurt nobody!!

Another week come and gone. I'm starting to feel like this whole mission thing is moving way faster than I'd like and I'm not sure how I feel about it. This week has been a good one. I know I say that every week, but this week has really, actually been a good week. No strings attached. Just awesome things happening. After going to Bangkok AGAIN to get my visa renewed, I was told on the same day getting back that I'd be baptizing one of our investigators, Brother June. I can't remember if I've talked about him before but let me give you guys a run-down on Brother J. This guy is a stud. He's in his 20's and works here in Ubon. He's had a lot of family issues growing up, so the gospel has blessed his life in more ways than can be described in words.Anyway, he used to have a serious problem with the Word of Wisdom. He just couldn't quit drinking coffee! We would call him almost everyday and see if he had drunken any and he almost always told us that he had. We talked to him over and over again about how he needed to stop if he wanted to get baptized, but he just couldn't get himself to do it. I was about ready to give up on him. And then all of a sudden, after what I'm sure was years and years of relying on coffee, he stopped. He just stopped drinking it. It was a miracle. If there's any answer to how it was made possible, it's though the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the reasons I know I was sent to Ubon is because of Brother J. I feel like I've learned more from him than he's learned from me and I'm so grateful the Lord has placed me in his path.

After the baptism, we had to go to Roi-Et for Stake Conference. Honestly, the main reason I liked being there was because I got to talk to the other missionaries and members that went. I'm convinced that Thailand has some of the best people in the world- members, missionaries, and random strangers on the street. I know this comment doesn't do much for those back home, but it's true! Some of the best jokes and conversations I've been a part of have been here in Thailand. The people here make this mission what it is. Anyway, what stood out to me from this conference wasn't necessarily anything the speakers said, but what I got to see from the members and missionaries there. I saw how strong of a faith these people had in the gospel. There lives were changed through the Savior. I could see it in their overall countenance. They all loved to be happy. So in conclusion, I encourage you all to stay happy during this Christmas season! let others see how happy this gospel makes you! Out of all the things that can bring you down, remember the Savior and what He did for you so that you can be lifted up again. True happiness comes from the gospel. Nothing else. I love you guys and I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Rawlinson

Week 19: Bangkok and Soccer

Sawadiiiii! This week has been another crazy one. On Tuesday, I had to go to Bangkok with my companion since he had a meeting at the mission office there. Since he's dying (going home) next transfer, they trained everyone dying with him about how to "adjust to life back home". Anyway, we had to take a 10 hour train ride to get there and then another 10 hour train ride back to Ubon. Fun stuff. On the train home, we were able to chat with an old lady for about a half hour about our church. We told her about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and about how our church has the fullness of the gospel through the Restoration. She seemed interested in our message. Anyway, when Elder Anderson and I told her that we knew what we shared was true, she said something that really stood out to me. She said (and I'm summarizing) "well, that's great that you know these things to be true, but doesn't mean much to those who don't". When she said that, I was surprised and taken back a little. I felt like I just got slammed. Shut down. This little old lady wasn't afraid of saying what was on her mind. We told her how she could find out for herself that what we shared with her was true by reading the Book of Mormon and asking Heavenly Father in prayer. That was the first time I've experienced something like that on my mission. That lady has made me look at how I bear testimony differently. Am I just telling people what I know to be true because I'm supposed to as a missionary or am I doing so because I want to help others know for themselves the truth? It's one thing to say you know the church is true, but it's another thing to do so in a way that makes others want to find out themselves.

On Saturday, we had a sports activity with the ward in Sisaket. They had soccer and volleyball and a "drama performance" thing for all of us. The entire activity was set up as a competition against Sisaket (another ward in the zone). It got really intense. Me and Elder Finlayson (one of the elders in my district) got to help out the ward play soccer against this other ward..... and we got wrecked. Their team had like 6 short, little 15 year olds play against us and they were all super good. Don't get me wrong, it was way fun, but Finlayon and I underestimated these kids and totally got destroyed. For the rest of the day, we were so exhausted. It made me realize how out-of-shape I've gotten as a missionary and how good Thai people are at soccer lol. It was a good activity because it allowed the members in Ubon and the members in Sisaket to support each other and have a good time. 

Last thing. With Christmas coming up, we've been focusing more on sharing the message of the Savior's birth with others. Not gonna lie, Christmas here is different. Most of the people here are Buddhist and it still feels like summer. I don't get to hear Christmas music in stores or see Christmas lights hung up on houses or go see temple lights with my family, but the message of the holiday is still the same. No matter where missionaries are all over the world, Christmas reminds us of the Savior's birth. It's so different for me this year because instead of focusing on the gifts, the lights, even the music, I get to focus just on the birth of Jesus Christ. That's it. That's all there really is to it. No excessive candy cane, stockings, or presents. Just the birth of the most important person who has ever lived. And I get to share that with others everyday until the 25th. I wouldn't trade this Christmas for anything in the world. I encourage you all to always remember the greatest gift of all- a Savior sent to us from Heaven. He literally died for us guys. He sacrificed his soul, his body, his entire being, so that we could live again. So that we could feel whole and repent of our sins. What more could we ask for? I love you guys. I hope you all have a great Christmas season. Stay safe and have a great week! 

Elder Rawlinson

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Week 18: Where to start.....

This week's been insane! It's honestly been one of the craziest weeks of my life. On Monday, we went to the zoo for P-day. I got to hold this huuuuuge python and this weird looking raccoon thing. I'll attach pics. We took a tour of the zoo on a big golf cart and saw a whole bunch of random animals, lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes etc. For some reason, there were barely fences to keep these animals away from everyone, but it made the whole thing ten times cooler. On Wednesday, Thailand had a national holiday called "Loy Grah Tong". Basically what happens is that people here buy lanterns and float them off in the sky (like In Tangled). Unfortunately, Ubon wasn't allowed to do it this year because of fire hazards and the chance of them hitting planes. They were still able to float lanterns off in lakes and rivers though. Loy Grah Tong is a Buddhist holiday and since 95% of the people here are Buddhist, it was a pretty big event. We tried to contact people there but there were so many things going on that it was hard to find anyone.

On Thursday, our ward had a Thanksgiving meal at the church. It wasn't anything like Thanksgiving back home but the message of gratitude was still the same. It was awesome. We put on a Thanksgiving play with some of the members of what happened when the Pilgrims got to America. I don't even think half of the play was accurate but it was still a good time for sure. The ward here is so crazy. I don't know how to describe it but basically people here aren't afraid of being themselves and just having a good time with everyone. So many people in the ward just have really funny personalities. They aren't afraid of saying what's on their mind. They'll turn insults into good laughs. I've been roasted here almost everyday. For example, since I'm half Chinese half white, a lot of people think I have a "white" nose, which are apparently way bigger than Asian noses. Anyway, they'll turn this into a joke and tell me that I look like I got a nose job because of it. And they always call my companion the leader of North Korea so there's that. I think we're all just used to this kind of stuff now honestly. Sorry if this email is all over the place, I'm just trying to get all my thoughts down. On Saturday, we were able to harvest rice for one of the members again. We also tried to fish our lunch with nets. That was.... interesting. We found a pond on the member's property and just tried to catch some fish by throwing the net in the water. We were horrible. We caught like 6 baby fish. One of the locals eventually came over and helped us out. As missionaries, we weren't allowed to go in the water so our help was very limited. Anyway, it was still good that we were there that day to support the members and help them out with the rice picking. 

We had four baptisms on Sunday!! Woohoo! We've finally been able to get some baptisms in with the other missionaries here. One of the sisters that got baptized was Sister Gai. I contacted her about a month ago at one of the parks close by and it's been awesome to see her progress. She's 27 and works here in Ubon. She's really quiet and really short, but she's funny and she's always in a good mood haha. When I first met her, I had a strong impression to go up and talk to her. It's crazy to think that if I wasn't where I was at the time I was, she wouldn't have been able to get baptized. I'm so grateful that the Lord was preparing her to hear the gospel. I love this work. The good ALWAYS outweighs the bad. Always. Anyway, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! There's so much to be thankful for this time of the year!

"Happiness is not in obtaining what you want, but in wanting what you have." -Joseph L Bishop

Elder Rawlinson

Week 17: The Field is Yellow Already to Harvest

Hey everyone! It's been another solid week here in Ubon! On Tuesday, my district got to help out some of the members in the ward harvest rice. It was so much fun! We got to their place and they had lunch all set up for us. We ate and went straight to the rice fields to start picking. The harvest season only lasts a short time so they needed all the help they could get. If you guys remember in my email a few weeks ago, I was confused how they were able to harvest rice out of grass/ Anyway, it turns out that the rice just grows of the ends of the grass and when they're ready to be harvested, they start to drop down a little. Basically, their like grapes on a grape branch thing. They gave us knives to cut down the grass and we would stack them in piles on the ground for them to collect later. Not gonna lie, it was hard work in the sun, but worth it for sure. We're going again on Saturday because another one of the members really needs help harvesting. And yes, I basically look like a rice farmer out in the fields so I'd say I blend in pretty nicely.

Other than that, we were able to teach a lot of lessons this week. Our investigators are doing well and the work in general is moving forward. We've been focusing on our recent converts and less-actives lately. They're all great people, they just need a little nudge here and there so they stay on the right path. We want them to all be at church more often, so we do our best to support them and help them feel the Spirit. This, in return, gives them a desire to get to church. I think supporting them, along with all the members here is so important. This week, I've started a new thing where I try to get an investigator, member, less-active, etc to come eat with us. I try to find someone different everyday. It sounds dumb, but I think it actually makes a pretty big difference. It helps us get to know the people better and it allows them to trust us more. We can see how they're doing personally and ask for referrals etc. It also allows me to practice speaking Thai for an extra hour so that's a plus too. I've started an "idea book" as well. Every time I find a scripture I like, I'll write it down in this book. Every time I find a quote I like, I'll write it down. I write down things I need to remember as a missionary and I write down things that help me become a better person. In this sense, I can always go back and read through things I've written down rather than just forgetting what I've learned. I encourage you all to start one. Just find a small notepad and keep it with you everywhere you go. It'll bless your life just as it has for mine. 

One last thing that I found this week that I want to share with you guys. The word for "convert" in Thai is ผู้เปลียนใจเลือมใส (phuuplianncaylxamsay). It's a very long word, that's for sure. Anyway, the direct translation of this word means "someone who changes their heart in a way as to believe in something whole-heartedly, being thoroughly convinced in that belief". I think that's who a convert really is. A convert isn't someone who goes to church every Sunday and does what their supposed to because they grew up in the church, it's someone that truly believes and lives the gospel to the best of their ability. Thai is seriously the coolest language. I learn more about the gospel and I learn more of the language. Hope you all have a great week! Omni 1:26.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Week 16: Romans 8:37

Hello everyone! Hope you all aren't freezing too much in the states lol. First of all, transfers were on Thursday and..... I'm staying in Ubon for another transfer!! Wooohooo!! I love it here! We have everything we need in this little town and so much more. Our investigators right now are some of the coolest people I've ever met. Two of the missionaries in our district left and we now have Elder Parker and Sister T with us. There's six of us all together. We're probably the most interracial district in all of Thailand with Sister Yanisa being Thai, Sister T being Polynesian, Elder Anderson (my trainer) being Korean and me being half Chinese lol. It's awesome though. Anyway, before transfers last week, we were able to visit like 10 different Buddhist temples all over Ubon and take cool pictures in them and stuff. I'll attach some at the bottom of this email. Buddhism is everywhere here. When we would go inside their temples, we had to take our shoes off and be super respectful to everything inside. As long as we weren't being disrespectful, we could take as many pictures as we wanted. One of the monks we met was so chill though. He let us take pictures with him and was super friendly to the missionaries. He was definitely a bro.

I want to talk to you guys about one of our investigators named Brother Bz. I don't think I've talked about him yet but he's been progressing with us for the past month or so. He's 18 and goes to one of the colleges here in Ubon. Brother Bz is one of the most genuine down-to-earth guys I've ever met. He's so awesome. I believe that one of the reasons I've been serving here in Ubon is because of Brother Bz. He already has testimony of this church and has a personal desire to get baptized. The only problem is that his parents don't want to be a member. They actually want him to be a monk for a month or two when he turns 20. This is called buad. A lot of Buddhist families here believe that in order for the parents to get to heaven, their sons need to buad for them. Brother Bz has no desire to do this whatsoever. He just wants to get baptized. We decided to go to his house last night and talk things over with his mom so that she could understand more about baptism. She just couldn't accept the things we taught her. She would smile and laugh here and there when we would say something, but that was about it. Honestly, I was so sad. I prayed over and over again during our visit that her heart would be softened and that Benz would be able to get baptized, but she didn't change her mind. We agreed to meet again so that she could understand more about the gospel. 

To be completely honest though, I was heart broken after our visit with his mom. The fact that Bz's baptism was still uncertain made me so, so, so sad. I started to get frustrated with myself. I thought to myself if I could've just said everything that was on my mind in Thai, I would've been more helpful as a missionary. The language is hard guys. It's already November, and I still have no idea what people are talking saying sometimes. I want nothing more than to see Bz get baptized because I love him. Before coming to Thailand, I already loved the people here so much, but I never knew how much that love could grow to what it is now. I don't mean to say all this to make you all think that I'm a "good" missionary or that I'm super spiritual etc, but I honestly just love the people here so much. So, so, so much and I want nothing more than to see our investigators get baptized. I feel like some 14 year old girl that gets dumped over and over again. I put my whole soul into these investigators and when something doesn't go the way it should, it get heart broken. Again and again and again. It's so dumb and I hate that I'm admitting this but it's true. In Romans 8:37 it says "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us". There is nothing more powerful than love. It gives us a desire to keep on press forward. This week, I'm grateful for the opportunity to feel just a little bit of what I think our Father in Heaven feels about us. I love being a missionary. The people here are literally everything to me. I love you guys. Have a great week! Oh and sorry for making these emails super long, I sometimes forget that people actual read these things lol. 

Elder Rawlinson

Week 15: Sweating in November!

สวัดีขรับ! I hope you guys had great week! This week, Elder Anderson and I have been biking more than we ever have since I've being here in Ubon. Whenever we go somewhere, I keep thinking how it's already November and I'm still sweating buckets everyday. The sun is brutal here! Whenever we go outside in the sun, I feel like we're slowly being roasted in an oven. It's crazy to think that next month is already Christmas and I still feel like it's the same summer that I left on my mission on. Hopefully I'll realize it's "winter" when the Christmas music kicks in. Anyway, about Brother Bank. We had to drop him earlier this week because he stopped answering our calls. Like I said, he's super busy with everything that's going on in his life. I wish he could just understand how much he would be blessed if he accepted this message, but I think he;s just not ready yet. He's a great kid and an awesome friend and it's sad that he had to drop him, but I believe that some day he'll have the opportunity to learn more. Just not today.

I want to share with you guys an experience I had on Tuesday that I don't think I'll ever forget. A couple weeks ago, Elder Anderson and I went contacting at one of the parks here in Ubon. We ran into a man who owns a skate shop. He gave us his number and told us that he would try to make it to church on Sunday. Did he come? No. We called him over and over again to try to set up a time to meet but he didn't answer. We decided to go to his shop to see if he would be interested in learning more. We found him and we're able to sit down with him for about 20 minutes. He told us that "skate was his life" and that his lifestyle was all about being "chill". He said that religion was the reason for a lot of the chaos and war found in the world. He started to get really defensive with us, feeling as if we were trying to force our beliefs on him. He said a lot of other things I won't repeat but one thing he said that really bothered me was that he didn't like how forceful we were in trying to get a hold of him (calling a lot, showing up at his place. etc). Was I mad inside? Yes, of course I was. I told him that we were just trying to figure out whether or not he was interested in learning more. I told him that I had a responsibility as a missionary to share our message of Jesus Christ with everyone. I told him that God loved him. I think his heart was softened when I said these things to him. Anyway, he told us he wasn't interested in learning more but that we could stop by at his shop whenever we liked. Was I too forceful in trying to get a hold of him? Maybe, but it's my responsibility to do what I can to find those who are ready to receive the gospel. From this experience, I've learned that coming across as a pushy missionary (calling a lot etc) isn't a bad thing. There is eternal salvation at stake here and to do any less than my best effort in helping people receive that would just be the worst. 

Last week, I talked about one of our investigators, Brother xxx, and how he currently lives with his pregnant girlfriend, Sister yyy. We taught both of them the Law of Chastity on Monday and to my surprise, they didn't have any problems with accepting it! What a miracle! Here I was dreading having to teach this lesson to them and when we actually did, the Lord softened their hearts enough for them to want to keep this commandment. Now we just need them to understand that they have to get married before being baptized. xxx told us the other day that he needs to save up a lot money for a dowry he can give to yyy's dad before the wedding. The wedding probably won't happen until sometime next year. Which means their baptism probably won't happen till sometime next year. I just need to be patient and understand the circumstances that they're under. That's something that I've been trying to learn since being here in Thailand. To all those who know me pretty well, you guys probably understand that I'm not a very patient person. When I want something, I want right then without having to wait for it. When I want in-n-out, all I'll think about until I get it is in-n-out. If I want an A in one of my classes, all I'll think about until I get it is that A. This has been a blessing and a curse in my life and I'm sorry to all those that have been affected by my selfish ways in the past. Since being here in Thailand, I've realized that it's no longer just about me. It's about others. I't's about Bank, and it's about xxx, and it's about yyy and it's about all the other people I've been able to meet here in Thailand. I'm nowhere near to the person I want to be yet, but I'm working on it. Day by day. Little by little. I love you guys! Stay safe!

Elder Rawlinson

Went to a buffet with some of the elders in my zone last pday!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week of 14: Halloween and Bronchitis

We were able to meet with quite a few people this week. However, some of the baptismal dates we had for our investigators fell through. Last week, I talked about two of our investigators- Brother Chaw and Brother Bank. Like I said from my last email, Brother Chaw has been working a lot at the hospital so it's been hard to get a hold of him (and his phone broke). We went to the hospital to see how he was doing and he looked really stressed with things. He told us that he wouldn't be able to meet with the missionaries for a couple months until things cooled down at work. His baptism will have to wait. I know it'll come sooner or later; now is just not his time. For Brother Bank, we met with him last Monday and taught him about the Book of Mormon. I'm not sure how interested he really is in learning anymore but we'll have to see how he's doing this week to really find out. It's just that he's always way busy with school and work like Brother Chaw and it's hard to find time to meet with him. I hope this doesn't sound to depressing haha, it's just that people here in Thailand are always so busy (or at least they say they are) and so finding time to meet with them can get pretty hard.

So aside from all of that we had our Halloween party on Friday! It was awesome! We couldn't wear any costumes but a lot of the other members dressed up and it was a great time. For some reason, the theme was on the Plan of Salvation and the members decked out the whole room with clouds and fake birds to make it look like heaven. It was really creative, I just didn't get how it had anything to do with Halloween! This week, I had to go to the doctor to get my cough checked out. It turns out that I have bronchitis again (last time I had it for two months and it sucked). I'm not gonna go into detail since it's not important but yeah, they gave me some medicine and it's been getting better. Mom, no need to worry lol. Hospitals aren't like the ones back home. Here in Thailand, they're almost like refugee camps with people laying on beds in the hallways etc. It's dirty but I think it's pretty cool how third world it is (not sure if that makes sense). 

I want to talk about one other investigator before I sign off. A couple weeks ago, Elder Anderson and I went to Tesco (the local market in Ubon) to go contacting. I got a number from a guy in his 20's named Army. He works at a jewelry shop at Tesco, so we called him up and taught him in front of the parking lot where he worked. Anyway, he told us that he lives and works with his girlfriend, Tengmoo (which literally translates to watermelon in English). People here just have funny nicknames, I don't know. For one of our visits, we were planning on teaching him the Law of Chastity. We met up with him at the market again and saw Tengmoo as well. With a big smile on his face, he told us that his girlfriend was pregnant. I told him congratulations etc, but inside I was just like "ohhhh boy I have no idea how this lesson's gonna go". Seriously, I was freaking out because I didn't know how he would take the Law of Chastity. Anyway, we ended up teaching the Plan of Salvation instead because it was something he still didn't know about. We're going to teach him the Law of Chastity this week. He told me at church on Sunday that he's planning on getting married before the baby comes so that was a bit of a relief. A lot of people in Thailand don't understand that they need to get married first before they should have kids. If the girlfriend gets pregnant, the couple usually gets married sometime afterward. This is a problem all over the world, but I'm starting to see how missionary work can change all of that. Families are so important in the gospel and the knowledge we have of being with our families forever is extremely powerful. It can change a person's complete outlook on how they see their family. Honestly, it can change a person's entire life. So for all of you who are reading this, please never take for granted the knowledge we have of what we know to be true in this gospel. Since I've been a member my entire life, I think it's sometimes easy for me to overlook the power that comes from the teachings of the gospel. However, the Lord has blessed me with a knowledge of families being together forever, of Jesus Christ and his Atonement, and of the Plan of Salvation. I just need to remind myself of the blessing it is know all of those things everyday. Hope you guys all have a great week, love you all! 

Elder Rawlinson

PS Congrats to my cousin, June, for getting baptized last week! The journey has just begun my friend ;)

Wigs from the Halloween party (I'm gonna regret sending this lol)

Week 13: And the work continues!

Hey everyone, hope you all had a great week! I didn't get a chance to write you all last Monday so I have a lot to catch you up all on. First of all, we had mission conference two weeks ago with Elder Funk and his wife. Mission Conference is an annual meeting with one of the general authorities from the Quorum of the Seventy. Every year, one of the Seventy comes to Thailand and visits the three main regions (Bangkok, Esan, and Northern Thailand) of the country to counsel with us and help us serve as more effective missionaries. Since I'm in Esan right now, we had to take a 5 hour bus ride to Khon Kaen in order to get to the Conference. I got to see a lot of the elders from my MTC district which was awesome! They told me about how they were still struggling with the language so it was good to know that I wasn't the only one haha. Anyway, after the conference, we had to take another bus overnight back to Ubon. In between cities here in Esan, it's all rice fields, farms, small towns, and more rice fields. The rice fields here just look like grass and everytime I see it I'm just like "how the heck are they able to make rice out of grass??" Seriously, it's so weird. Apparently some of the sisters are trying to organize a service project for us to work in the rice fields in a week or two. My companion doesn't seem to really want to do it because it takes up a lot of time and is physically draining, but I just want to g\figure out how in the world they're able to rice out of grass. If I ever find out, I'll let you all know haha.

Last P day, the elders in my district and I went to a small town called Mogtahaan. Mogtahaan is right by the river that separates the border between Thailand and Lao. By the way, my mission includes Lao and Burma as well. There's 8 missionaries in Lao and I think 8 in Burma as well. They mostly do like service work in the other countries cause they aren't allowed to proselyte the same way we do in Thailand. Anyway, we went to Mogtahaan to find some fabric to make ties out of. Yes, we went all the way to a different town to buy fabric haha. There's just a lot of "Thai style fabric' there and for some reason, a lot of the elders in my mission are obsessed with getting material to make ties out of on their P days. Esan has the best fabric so I guess we're just taking full advatage of it on our P days! 

Food. One of my favorite things to eat here is a dish called ซ็มตำ (Somtaam). It's basically a spicy papaya salad chopped up with peanuts and sugar and hot chili peppers mixed in. It's soooooo good. One of the members, Sister Nid, actually has a papaya tree in her yard so we helped pick out papayas and she let us make some ซ็มำIt's the best thing ever! My salad had ten peppers in it. It was spicy but still so good. If you guys ever go to a Thai restaurant, try it. I'm not guaranteeing you'll like it and it might not taste the same back home, but it's about as Thai as it gets when it comes to that dish. 

Investigators. If you guys remember from my last email, I wrote about a kid named Bank who I said sounded like he made a lot of excuses for not wanting to meet with us. Anyway, I was really upset because I thought for sure Bank would want to meet with us. It turned out that a few days after my last email, we got to teach him the Restoration and how to pray. He even brought two of his friends with him! It wasn't that he didn't want to meet, I think that his excuses were just actually legitimate. He's just always busy since he's a freshman in college and has to worry about school and sports and work. Aside from all that, I knew he would come around sooner or later! So far, we've given him a Book of Mormon and he's been praying on his own. I think the Lord's been preparing Bank to receive this gospel. I don't know how and I don't know why at this time, but I'm glad that Bank's my friend here in Ubon and that I get to play a small part helping him come to know the Savior. Out of all the rejection I get from those who don't want to hear this sweet message, the ones that  do, like Bank, make it all worth it. Right now we have four investigators with baptismal dates. One of them is Brother Chow. He works as a nurse down the  street from our church and is super busy with work. Anyway, he's one of the most humble persons I've ever met. He told us that he insured a lady at a bank but that this lady ran away or something so now he has to pay back the bank for what he insured her. It was a lot of money. He didn't complain or anything but just said that he had to work double shifts at the hospital to make up for all of it. Brother Chow is so awesome. I've learned a lot from his example and I know that the Lord's been preparing him as well to receive the gospel. All of our investigators are awesome people and I could go on and on about each of them but I don't have enough time. I just want you all to know that the Lord is very aware of us each and everyday. The church is true! Hope you guys have a great week! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Week 11 at Ubon

SAWADI KHRAP! I hope you guys all had a great week. Time here in Ubon is flying by as it always does. I'm still the nahng kiaw (greenie) in my area, so I'm still learning a lot from the other elders and members in my area. Sometimes I'll think that I'm getting better with Thai and then I'll realize that I don't even know how to say super simple things. People here talk like a million miles an hour so usually I just end up laughing or saying yes to whatever they're telling to me. It rains here almost everyday! When it does, it pours hard. Thai people here hate the rain. It's the funniest thing. The members will skip church because of it. Coming from AZ, I think it's super cool and it's the dry season so I can't wait to see what the wet season's like. Anyway, we had another baptism on Sunday! This time it was for Sister Boss, and yes, she is a boss. I've come to see a change in Sister Boss that can only be explained through the power of the Atonement and I can't wait to see her, along with many other recent converts, progress and grow in the gospel. Anyway, the members here are some of the best people I've ever met. I think I talked about them a little bit last week, but seriously they're the best. One in particular is Brother Gid. This guy has become one of my best friends. We eat with him almost every night for dinner actually. Anyway, he told me his conversion story and said that he was introduced to the church by missionaries at a time in his life when he was looking for more direction. He met with the missionaries for 8 months before he finally got baptized. He told me that before knowing about the gospel, his life was not very good. He told me "I feel the Spirit in a way that encourages me to become a better person". I think that's so cool! Everyone here has a story and I've loved getting to know the members here personally.

This past weekend I was able to watch General Conference! I think we had to watch it a week later because pf translation etc. Luckily, I got to watch it in English with some of the other missionaries in a separate room haha. One of my favorite talks was by Russell M Nelson. He talked about how it was so hard for him to see his patients die as an operating surgeon. One night, he went home completely defeated and just cried and cried and cried over the loss of one of his patients. He told himself that we would never operate on another person again. Through it all, his wife was right by his side to support him through the night. In the morning she told him "If you quit now, others will have to painfully learn what you already know. Get up and go to work." Elder Nelson's main focus of his talk was on the importance of having strong women in the church. Though I think that's important, I want to focus on what his wife told him that night. Since being on my mission, I've come to realize that missionary work is hard work. Physically and emotionally Everyday, I have to study and teach and find new investigators and it can really hard at times. I'll find people and they'll give me fake numbers. I'll call real numbers and they'll tell me they're too busy to meet. The other day I met an 18 year old named Bank. I got along with him really well. He told me he was learning English at the University here in Ubon and that he was willing to meet with us. I considered him a good friend of mine by the end of our chat. Anyway, I called him up that night and we set up a time to meet. On the day of our appointment, he called me an hour before our lesson and cancelled. He made all these excuses for not being able to meet with us. I was heart-broken. I trusted this man so much and I knew he would be willing to accept our message if he had the opportunity to hear it. That experience was so painful for me. Even though I'm nowhere near to quitting this work, I've thought to myself if my efforts as missionary have even been worth anything. The answer is somehow always a definite "yes. I know there is a purpose for all that we work for on this earth. In school, work, sports, etc. Why would a loving Heavenly Father send us here on earth for us to waste time and mess around? He wouldn't do that. He loves us and knows us and will support us in whatever we righteously pursue. I think I've come to realize that here in Ubon and if I just " get up and go to work", things will all work out. I encourage you all to give your complete effort in whatever you are working for. Don't get discouraged. "If you quit now, others will have to painfully learn what you already know." The Lord will bless us as we keep on fighting on. Stay safe and have a great week!

Elder Rawlinson

From the baptism yesterday!
And a crazy looking fish from dinner last night haha

Week 10: I am finally here!!

What's up everyone! I haven't emailed in a couple of weeks so I have a lot to catch you all up on. After what felt like an eternity in the MTC, my district made it to Bangkok safely last week. We got to meet our mission president, President Johnson, and his wife, Sister Johnson. They're soooo great! They're from Kaysville, Utah and have been here in Thailand since June. I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better these next two years. Anyway, we street contacted in the city the next day. That was interesting.... Most of the people that we ran into seemed like they were in a rush so it was hard to really get in any numbers. Still worth it though. On Thusrday, we had transfer meetings! I found out that I'd be serving in a city called Ubon. Ubon is in the Southeast corner of Thailand. Anyway, my trainer's name is Elder Anderson. He's from Sandy, Utah and he's been in the field since February of last year. Great guy. He knows the language really well and he teaches with the Spirit. He basically knows everything so I just follow him around do whatever he does.

So after transfer meetings, Elder Anderson and I ran around Bangkok all day getting things together etc etc so that we could take a train over night to Ubon. We got to the train station and the first thing that popped it my head was "wow, this place is soooo sketchy". And then it starting raining. Hard. And my bags we're still in the church building that we had transfer meetings in so we had to go back and get them and then come all the way back to the train station. At this point, I'm soaking wet waiting for the train at the station. It was 2 hours late. I was so tired. I literally fell asleep on my suitcase. Anyway, 11 hours on the train and we finally made it to Ubon..... Ubon is the coolest place ever. The members here are so strong and the people here are really nice. They joke around a lot with me cause I don't know the language yet but I just go with it and laugh with them since half the time I don't even know what's going on. The food here is amazing. We usually just eat street food and it's a little sketchy but worth it. The saying here in Thailand is "if it's not spicy, then it's not tasty". I'm not sure if that's true yet but the spicy food so far has lived up to it's name haha. Aside from that, it's pretty easy to just go up to random people and share with them my beliefs because of how understanding they are here. I love it. I live with two other elders. They're actually the zone leaders- Elder Finlayson and Elder Hartung. Both of them are great elders and they're super funny. One night, Finlayson went up to me and said "I think I have a worm" and I was just like "that's kinda creepy" and he then went off and told me about all these reasons for why he thought he had parasites. He's also super skinny and tired a lot so maybe it's true.... It's just been funny getting to know them and it's been nice for a change to actually have people to speak English with, even if it's about parasites etc.

Changing subjects now. Elder Anderson and I actually had a baptism for a girl named Sister Daaw on Sunday. Since Anderson was here last transfer in Ubon, him and his last companion were teaching her before I came in. She's the best. She goes to one of the schools close by and she's just all around a great person. The baptism went really well. One of the members baptized her and it was just a way cool experience to be apart of it. Sister Daaw was soooooo happy to get baptized and I'm excited to see her grow and progress in the gospel. From the baptism and from lessons Anderson and I have taught so far, I have a new appreciation for this work. The fact that this gospel can literally change lives is so powerful and I'm blessed to be a part of it every single day. Anyway, we have a few more investigators that we're currently teaching and it's been great getting know each of them personally. I love the members here like I said earlier. They help with the lessons when we teach. I love being here in Thailand. In all honesty, it's been a little hard for me to get used to life here but I know that as I put my faith in God, as I continue to trust Him with all that goes on in my life, things will work out. The language, the teaching, everything. Please remember that we never have to go through this life alone. Heavenly Father is just a pray away. I love you guys. Have a great week and stay safe!

Elder Rawlinson 

Here's a pic of the baptism for Sister Daaw!
And dinner with my district!

 Another pic from the baptism
And more food haha

This is our church building. We have most of our lessons here. 
And a pic of a passion fruit thing. Seriously the best fruit I've ever had.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 8: Almost there! 9/21/15

Sawadii khap everyone! Only one more week till Thailand! First off, I'm no longer in a trio . Elder Stevens is now companions with a new elder who will be leaving to Thailand with us next week. It's just me and Elder Christiansen again. I loved being in a trio and having Elder Stevens with us to help with the language, but the Lord had other plans for him. Speaking of leaving next week, we got our flight plans on Friday! We're leaving at 3:30 Monday morning and we'll be flying from Salt Lake to Tokyo, Japan. We'll be there for a couple hours and then off to Bangkok. Once we get to Bangkok, we'll be there for a couple days and have our first transfer meeting where we'll meet our trainers for the next three months. I have no idea where I'll be serving from there, but I'm hoping I stay in Bangkok so I can get more familiar with "standard" Thai. They could send us anywhere in the country or even Laos for all I know. I'll be happy to be anywhere in Thailand, but honestly, having to learn a new dialect sounds a little crazy.

Aside from that, not too much happened this week. Elder Christiansen and I have been working harder than we ever have just cause we're out of here in a week. It's a little stressful to think that we'll be going up to random people in a week and teaching them about the gospel. I can't wait, but I know there's still so much more we have to do before that happens. Anyway, our district made some goals to help us stay focused these last few days before we leave. Some of them include reading everyday out of the Book of Mormon in Thai, speaking Thai as often as we can, memorizing D&C 4 in Thai, and basically doing everything we possibly can... in Thai. It's not easy, but definitely doable with the Lord's help. There are 67 million people in Thailand. 15 of us. We literally hold the Salvation of the Thai people on our shoulders and I'm saying that as an exaggeration. This work is real. The power of the gospel to change the lives of others is real. I've seen it here in the MTC and I know it's true. 

One of our teachers, Brother Tirrel, told us that he was having one of the hardest weeks he's ever had since coming back from the mission and that our district helped him so much with getting through it. And I just remember thinking to myself, "wait, we didn't even try to do anything to help him and here he is telling us how much we've fulfilled our purpose as missionaries". I'm not saying this as an "oh look how spiritual my district can be" type of thing, but I just couldn't believe how much we were able to help someone without even trying to. This made me realize the reality of my calling as a disciple of Christ. And not just myself as a missionary, every member of the church has a light about them that sets them apart from the rest or the world. I know it to be true. Sorry if I'm starting to sound "preachy', but there's just no way that the 15 of us have been able to do this work without the Savior. We're not perfect by any means, but one thing we all have in common is that we love our Jesus Christ. In Romans 8; 35, 37, it reads "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." i remember thinking to myself this week, what if there are others out there who love the Savior more than I do? This bothered me a bit. I then thought to myself, "well you know what, at least I can say that I love my Savior with my whole heart, with everything that I have". I know that is enough. I encourage you all to try everything you can to love that man for all your worth. It will bring you happiness beyond anything you've ever felt. Have a great week everyone!

Elder Rawlinson

I might not be able to write for a couple weeks since my flight will be next P day, but chances are the next time you all hear from me I'll will be in THAILAND!!!!!

 Me with my companion and Brother Saunders, one of the Lao teachers here in the MTC!
One of the elders in my district, Elder Day being a goofball

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week 7: I Have a SECOND Companion Now!

This week has been insane! First off, I somehow forgot to mention that Dallin H Oaks came to speak to us for one of our devotionals last week. It's great to have general authority come because of how much they have to share with the missionaries. He talked a lot from "Preach My Gospel" and about the importance of teaching the Plan of Salvation to others. Every question we have in life can be answered through the Plan of Salvation and it really is the foundation of our gospel. On another note, last Monday we had our first skype lesson with a guy from Thailand. It was so cool! I can't remember his name but he's from eastern Thailand in a city called Udon. We taught him for about 30 minutes on faith and obedience. In all honesty, I was a little nervous that my Thai wasn't good enough for him to be engaged in the lesson like I would've liked but he was understanding of all of that. Something that I've learned since being here is that the more I try to focus on the person I'm teaching and just try my best to love the heck out of them, the more I'm able to get a certain point across that I want them to understand. If I focus too much on saying things right (grammar, tones, etc), I'm not able to focus as much as I want on who I'm teaching and the Spirit isn't as strong. It's still important for me to make sure what I'm saying makes sense, but I shouldn't focus all my attention on worrying about it.

Aside from that, Elder Christiansen and I got a new companion on Wednesday. We're now in a trio! His name is Elder Stevens and he was in a fast-track program for the past two weeks before he joined us. He's half Thai and is fluent in the language. The mission president didn't want him to fly alone and make another orientation meeting just for him so he'll be heading to Thailand with our district in a couple of weeks. I cannot express in words how much Elder Stevens has been an answer to my prayers. He's helped me with the language more than I could've ever imagined and I've progressed more in this past week than I have in probaly the past month I've been here (I'm not exaggerating when I say this). He's been to Thailand 14 times! His Thai is better than the teachers here!! The Lord has seriously been so good to Elder Christiansen and I for pairing us up with him and I'm so thankful for all that I've been able to learn from Stevens already.

Our new Thai district came in! There's 6 sisters and 1 Elder. I think I might have mentioned them a little bit  in my last email. The one elder in the group goes to class with all the sisters but sticks with one of the other guys in my district for everything else. They're all great missionaries. One of them is actually from Burma (a country right next to Thailand) and came all the way to Provo to be here in the MTC. Seriously though, it's been so great to have more people here going to the same place as us. The elders in my district are offically Phii Thais (the older group) so we've been trying to help them settle in and get used to life here. And yes, we made them watch the "School Bus" video and yes, we made them eat hot peppers as "initiation". As of wednesday, we'll be the oldest district in our zone. It's weird because I feel like I'm still getting the hang of all of this and now I have to be an older example to the other elders in our zone. 

I have a lot more I could write about and not too much time, so I just wanted to share one more thing with you all before I finish. On Saturday, one of our teachers taught us about the Plan of Salvation and he really tried to get us to understand the importance of helping our investigators understand it. Every single person on earth must receive baptism in order to receive eternal life. When he told us this, I was just like "dang that's intense". But really though, it's not that I have to go to Thailand because I want to share the gospel with others, it's because I HAVE to. I've been called as a missionary and my purpose is clear, it is my obligation to bring others to this gospel because of how much is at stake.  One of the elders in my district said something to me that I really liked. He said "why would the Lord make a goal that is unattainable for most of us to reach? He would not do that". I know this to be true with all my heart. Heavenly Father wants nothing more than for us to live with Him again. Please never forget that. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and if anyone of you guys think you're not good enough to live with God again, you are not alone. Perfection is impossible, but your best effort in all you do is manageable. And it's through our best effort in life that allows us to be with Him again. I love you guys. This church is true. Have a great week!

Elder Rawlinson

Game plan for soccer today awhh yeahhh

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Week 6: Teaching over Skype in Thai

The countdown continues!! ONLY 3 MORE WEEKS TILL THAILAND! We've all been moving along in this work. I think we're all ready to leave at this point, but we still have so much more to learn before we can. This week, we've been trying to speaking Thai more than we have before. We've been trying to speak it outside of the classroom because that's really the only way you can learn a new language. Anyway, the younger Thai district is coming in on Wednesday and my district will be the "older" group for the last few weeks before we leave. Apparently the new district will have 6 sisters and 1 elder. I feel so bad for that elder to be honest. The guys in my district are all pretty close now and I have no idea who his companion will be and how he's going to survive with all sisters for 9 weeks (sisters are awesome don't get me wrong). You just can't have a brotherhood with sisters haha.

On another note, tonight is the first time we'll be teaching members in Thailand over Skype! It's going to be so nice to talk to people from Thailand and hear what they have to say to us. We're teaching them a lesson so hopefully everything goes alright. We've been teaching a lot of lessons with our investigators and we've been trying this week to teach from the heart, with confidence. I know we're ready for this next step with Skyping.

A little while ago, Elder Gremillion, one of the guys in my district shared a really cool story what happened to him before he came to the MTC. So before he went in, he had an open house with all his friends and family. He was texting all of his friends and telling them to all stop by and see him before he would get set apart and leave. It turns out that he accidentally typed the wrong digit for one of the phone numbers he was texting and it went to a Thai man who lived somewhere close by. This man got his message and actually went to his going away party! What are the odds of that happening! They talked for a bit and it was a way cool experience for Gremillion to share his beliefs with him and talk about Thailand with him. The Lord was preparing people for Him to meet even before he was set apart as a missionary. He's aware of every single one of us in an individual way and that story was another confirmation to me that the Lord needs me in Thailand. If there's anything I've learned here in the MTC, it's that I need to go to Thailand. Out of the four teachers that teach us Thai, one thing that I've noticed from all of them is that their hearts are still in that country. You guys might not care too much and I might just be rambling on here, but to me, having this opportunity to serve in Thailand has been nothing short of a dream come true. I haven't even gotten there and my love for that country is more than I could've ever imagined. 

One last thing before I finish here. If you guys haven't seen the video "Because of Him", you need to go watch it! Even if you've seen it, go watch it again. It's soooo good. My district's been watching this video almost every night these past couple weeks. The focus of this video is on the Savior. Personally, I've come to love this video because it reminds me of my purpose here as a missionary and it reminds me of my purpose of why I'm even here on earth. What a blessing it is to know Jesus Christ. Because of Him, every problem we have and every question we want answered can be solved through His gospel. I know that He lives and that He loves us. I'm only a missionary for two years and I will testify of Him every chance that I get. I don't expect you all to read all of my emails because I know they can get pretty long, but I will not apologize because of it. This gospel is too good not to express my feelings I have for it. I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Rawlinson

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 5: Over Halfway Done Till Thailand

Another week down here in the MTC!! I'm over half way done until I get to Thailand! Elder Christiansen and I just realized that we only have 3 more P-days before we get out to the field. The time seriously flies by in here. Anyway, remember how I said that last week we all tried hot chili peppers and how my companion almost died when he ate one? Yeah, so apparently one of the guys in my district's mom sent us like 3 more bags full of them. We made our teacher, Brother Gao (a native Thai) eat one of them and he didn't freak out or anything. He just ate it like it was nothing. And then we gave some of the peppers to the Cantonese elders and they were fine. So either my district just can't handle spicy food or the ones that were just sent to us weren't that spicy. I really hope we're ready by next month...

The language is going really well. This week, our district's been working hard on reading and understanding the First vision in Thai. We've been working on memorizing it too. It's not easy. It took like two days just to get all the words figured out and to find it's literal translation into English. When you read in Thai, you have to make sure that the tone of the word is right or it could mean a completely different thing. In Thai, depending on what class a certain consonant is with a specific tone marker will determine the actual tone of the word. Not only that, but if a word ends in a "g", "b", or "d", it follows a different rule for the tone. Last Saturday, we taught a volunteer member and apparently when I tried to say faith (sadthaa with a down tone), it sounded like I was saying Satan (saataan with a flat tone). And I'm pretty sure I said this like five times and I had no idea I was saying it wrong. And it's been my fifth week here. Fail. It's hard but there's nothing I'd rather be learning than this language. 

Speaking of the language, one of our teachers taught us some of the literal translations of the words "understand" an "repent". In Thai, the word "understand" is "khaw cay" which translates to "enter heart". The word "repent" in Thai is "klab cay" which translates to "return heart". There's so many words like that in Thai and it's awesome! I've come to see the gospel in a new light as I've learned the meaning of words in Thai and I love it!! Repentance really is a return of your heart. It's about finding out who you really are under all the mistake made in life. Just wanted to share that with you all.

This past week, one of the elders in my residence was insanely sick. Almost every night, he would cough his lungs out. He had to go the clinic close to the MTC and get some antibiotics. We were all really worried about him so some of the guys in his district gave him a blessing. I was able to be a part of that for the first time in my life and the Spirit in that room was amazing. I could feel it so strongly. He's been getting better since then and I learned that as missionaries for the Lord, we've been given so much power to do the Lord's work. One of my teachers told us something that really stood out to me this week, "Every word you say is justifies by God. Choose to walk with Him." He said that the blessings we promise our investigators will be backed up by Heavenly Father. It made me realize how real this work is and how much our Heavenly Father has confidence in me to be an instrument in His hands. 

One more thing I want to share. My companion has a copy of a passage called the "Creed of the Unashamed". I want to share with you guys some of what it says. "My mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I will not give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go until He comes, give until I drop, preach until all I know and work until He stops me. And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear." This work is real and I'm so blessed to be a part of it every single day. I never thought it could be possible to love this gospel so much but I do. I love everything it stands for and I love my Savior. "We talk about the Second Coming, half the world hasn't even heard the first". In 4 weeks, I'll do my best to fix that. Have a great week everyone!

Elder Rawlinson

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Week 4: Elder Echosmith and the "School Bus"

Hey everyone!! This week has gone by soooo fast. It feels like just yesterday I was writing you all in my last email. I'm almost half way done here so my whole district is getting super excited to get to Thailand. Anyway, ever since the older Thai district left last week, we've been able to have all the Thai teachers focus on just us. It's super nice because now we have more teachers to help us out. We'll have two more weeks of just the 13 of us before the new Thais come in beginning of September. One of my teachers, Sister Painter, is actually from Gilbert and she went to Highland. She has sooo many funny stories from her mission. Seriously hearing all of their crazy stories out in the field makes us so much more excited to get out there. One of our other teachers, Brother Kao, gave of us these chili peppers to try after class. Since Thailand is known for having really spicy food (and cause my district's crazy), all of us each ate an entire pepper in one bite. It was so funny because my companion, Elder Christiansen, acted like he was having an allergic reaction. His lips turned really red and got all puffed up. He was fine but it was just hilarious.

On Tuesday, we had a devotional by Elder Echosmith. He's in the Quorum of the Seventy. One thing that he said that really stood out to me was that we will "serve and love the people of our missions for the rest of our lives". Our entire district absolutely loves everything about the Thai people. We haven't even gotten there and all we can think about is how much we want to go teach them. Already from knowing our native teacher and another missionary here from Thailand, we can already tell that they're some of the friendliest, nicest people on earth. When Elder Echosmith said that we'll be serving them and loving them for the rest of our lives, it kinda just hit me that all that I'm learning here in the MTC, the language, learning how to teach, etc aren't just for these next two years. It's for my entire life. Heavenly Father shapes us into the people He would have us become everyday, a lot of times without us even realizing it.

On another note, our zone got two new Cantonese districts on Wednesday. There's 27 of them all together. Not even kidding, it's like a Cantonese invasion here. When they all stood up in Sacrament, it was basically our entire congregation that got up. Anyway, whenever a new district comes in, we show them a video called the "School bus" (if you haven't seen it go on lds.org and watch it). We all went into their classrooms and showed them this video and told them it was super good and that they should take notes etc. Little did they know that this video has absolutely no point to it. "School bus" is one of those low budget videos that just ends with a cliffhanger. It was just so funny because everyone was waiting for a spiritual message and then it just ended. It's hard to explain but it was sooooo funny. It's just the little things like that that keeps us going. I don't know, or our zone just has a weird sense of humor. 

I just have a couple more experiences that I wanted to share with you all. Our lessons are getting better and better and the language is starting to flow a little more. Saturday, we were able to teach a couple of sister missionaries who came back from Thailand and were volunteering in the MTC. Their names were Karly and Heather. Anyway, they shared something that really meant a lot to me. Obedience brings miracles. Since being here, I've been trying to see the hand of the Lord more and more each day and it's hard when you get into the same routine of the day and you get busy with learning new words and how to teach. Anyway, she told us that as we strive to be obedient, we'll see so many miracles. The more we recognize the Lord in our lives and put our faith and trust in Him, doing all that He asks of us, the more we'll be able to look back on our day and think about how much the Lord helped us out. Sorry I have so much to write, just skim through if you want but one last thing. After Sunday devo last night, our district went and watched the Joseph Smith Restoration video. The Spirit was so strong. Most of you guys know the story, but I want to remind you all of how hard it was for Joseph Smith and the first members of our church to establish what we have today. One of the saddest parts of the video was when Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered for being our Prophet. I can't tell you guys how sad it made me feel. As Emma was cleaning him up and brushing the tar and feathers off of him, Joseph said "Perhaps I was meant to swim in deep waters. Better deep than shallow." Those words meant so much to me. I'd rather live a life of challenges trusting God than an easy life of mediocracy. It's no doubt that what Joseph had to go through was hard and it's no doubt that our lives are hard just as well but I promise that there's nothing greater than putting our faith in God, knowing that things will all work out. Have a good week everyone! Can't wait to hear from you guys.

Elder Rawlinson

Here's a few pics I attached. I got to see my cousin who just got here Wednesday! He'll be leaving to the Philippines in 6 weeks! Same time I leave!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 3: New Investigators!

Hey everyone! Another crazy week in the books! First off, I forgot to mention last week that Russel M Nelson came and spoke to us in our Tuesday devotional. It was such a cool experience to have a general authority with us! Our district sat in the second row and we were basically the only ones without suits so we felt a little out of place but no worries (our mission doesn't require us to bring suits). Anyway, we could feel the Spirit so strong and it was an experience that I forget. This morning, the older Thai district left to Thailand! They're first headed to LA, Hong Kong, then Bangkok. They've been such a great help to us (the younger Thais) and we've really looked up to them. We all had a group prayer last night and Elder Krebs, their district leader, gave a flawless, perfect prayer in Thai. The Spirit was there for sure. I just hope to be able to get to that point  by the time we leave- which is in six more weeks! The time is flying by for sure.

So last week I mentioned how we now have three new investigators. Their names are Phii Paa, Phii Boy, and Phii Chay (the word "Phii" in Thai is used in front of someone's name out of repect to those older than you). Anyway, Elder Christiansen and I have been working hard at planning our lessons to teach them. It's such a cool experience because each of them have their own stories and personalities and it's been awesome getting to know them personally. One of them, Phii Paa, asked us if we pray to a Buddhist relic and we told him that we don't pray to an object, it's more of something you do that's in you heart. We were able to teach him how to pray. It took him a couple of times for us to teach him to get the hang of it. Seeing the people we teach pray is something so powerful. you can literally see the Spirit work in them as they bring themselves to prayer. Saturday, Elder Christiansen and I were able to teach a member from Bangkok and we taught her about faith- something that I've really been focusing on this week. At the end of that lesson, I bore my testimony in broken Thai and told her how much I know this church to be true. I told her that the reason I'm a missionary is because I love my Savior and i could feel the Spirit so strongly and I knew that my companion felt it and the lady we were teaching as well. I wasn't able to say much in the lesson, but I was able to tell her how I felt about this gospel and it makes me want to tell everyone about great this gospel is!!

One last thing that I thought was super cool is that the words "to obey" in Thai is "chxafang" which are literally the words "believe" and "listen" put together. When a lot of people think of obedience, I feel like they think it's a condescending thing. It's so much more than that. When we honestly believe that obedience will help us live happier and fuller lives, and we seriously just listen to our Father in Heaven, doing all the things He would have us do, obedience becomes enjoyable. It makes the gospel so much easier to live. I hope you guys all have a great week! Write me if you have time!

Elder Rawlinson

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 2: Things Here are Picking Up

I hope you guys have all been having a great week! Things in the MTC are finally starting to pick up and I think I'm getting the hang of it more or less haha. Anyway,our district has been learning a lot more Thai now that we've been here for a little bit. We started memorizing the characters already and it's actually pretty cool! They said by the time we leave we should be able to read pretty well. My district is a blast. It's funny cause there are so many different districts here and it's almost like every Asian district learning a certain language has "district pride" in a sense. There's the Mandoes (Mandarins), Cantoes (Cantonese), the Hmnogos, the Camboes (Cambodians) etc. Apparantly we're the Thai fighters (kind of a lame name but we still have the most fun). The Mandoes are super good at spike ball apparently so you don't want to mess with them. The older Thai district and the Camboes have a rivalry soccer game they play every p day so we're gonna go see that after I'm done writing. So far, our district plays volleyball almost every morning and it's great! Something funny that happened the other day was that one of the Elders in my district ripped his pants while we were in the cafeteria. The cafeteria only serves ice cream on certain days so when he saw that they had ice cream, he kinda jumped up in excitement and ripped his pants!!! Little things like that keep us going cause we have class all the time and we still try to keep a sense of humor in here.

So the investigator that we were teaching last week, Phii Bon, committed to baptism. Only we were told that he was gonna have to go back to Thailand!! Our whole district was sooo sad because we all got to know him so well with all of the lessons we were teaching him. Anyway, get this. We're all in class, and all of a sudden Phii Bon came walking in as our NEW TEACHER. He wasn't a real investigator at all and we all freaked out. Even though he wasn't an actual investigator, the experience was so real to all of us.

This upcoming week, our district will be teaching three new investigators and Elder Christiansen and I have been busy trying to figure out what we want to teach all of them. One of our lessons last week didn't go as well as we planned so we've been relying more on the Lord to help us be successful. It's so great how much can be done with His help. Anyway, a scripture that has really meant a lot to me while I've been here is Alma 26:30. It reads "And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some". I've been focusing on reading Joseph Smith History lately and something that I thought a lot about is that the Book of Mormon is living evidence of the hardships and challenges Joseph Smith and the pioneers had to go through. It wasn't easy for them. They had so many challenges they had to go through so we need to remember all that they sacrificed for us. No matter how hard this work is, the reward of bringing others to this gospel far outweighs any challenge or hardship on the mission. I've learned so much in these past two weeks and I'm excited to see where the lord will lead me next. Getting everyone's emails is the best part of my week! Remember to continue doing all the things the Lord would want you to do in order to become more like Christ. Love you guys!

Elder Rawlinson

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 1: I'm Finally Here!

Hey everyone! This week was insane. I went to the MTC on Wednesday and went straight into my Thai class where we only heard our teacher speak Thai. Honestly, it really wasn't as crazy as everyone made it sound, but definitely overwhelming. My companion is Elder Christiansen. He's from Kaysville, Utah and just graduated from high school in June. He works hard and doesn't waste time. I've looked up to him a lot since I've been here and it's only been like 5 days. Anyway, there are 13 elders in my district including me (no sisters haha) and we're all going to be here until the end of September. They're all such amazing people! I've really looked up to them a lot. Age means nothing here. Most of the guys in my district just graduated from high school and we all try so hard with the language. Sometimes, as a district we'll just say random words in the hallway over and over again until they stick in our heads. For example, the word for God in Thai is "Phraphupencaw" so the only way to really memorize a word as crazy as that is by saying it literally over and over again. I love learning Thai so much. It's such a crazy language but I've already seen the Lord bless our district so much. We've learned to pray and bear our testimonies in Thai. Also, along with that, Elder Christiansen and I have taught our investigator in Thai a couple times already. Our investigator's name is Bon and we've taught him about Joseph Smith and our Savior Jesus Christ. We can't understand a whole lot about what he tells us and we can't really tell him exactly what we want, but we do enough to get the message across. I love love love being a missionary. Thai is a super hard language, but our district has loved it so much. I don't know how to quite describe other than it brings me so much happiness. There are people in Thailand who I know I need to teach and who are waiting for me to bring them to the gospel. I can't learn this language for myself, it's for the people of Thailand.

I love you guys and hope you all are doing well! I know that our Savior lives and loves us. I've had to rely on Him more than I thought possible these past few days. I know He loves us all. If He had to die just for you and atone for just your sins alone, I know He would've done it because He loves you that much. Email me when you guys get the chance! Sorry, I couldn't get the pics to upload for some reason but I'll definitely add them next week!