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!