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 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!