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.