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