Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week 47: Summer in SuRiN, June 19

What's up everyone! I'm still serving in Surin and it's now my third transfer here. It's been quite the adventure. Our whole district stayed the same for this transfer and I'm still companions with Elder Lindley. Overall, the weather's still hot as it usually is and I'm still sweating basically everyday haha. People usually can't get my race right here in Thailand. I've gotten so many different guesses, it's kind of amusing. For example, someone thought I looked like I was from Russia earlier today so there's that.
We've picked up a lot of new investigators since I last wrote. One of them is a guy named Ariel. Ariel's dating one of the members here in Surin named Sister Am. He's from the Caribbean and his dad is Canadian so I'm pretty sure he lived there too. Anyway, the day we met Ariel, we were teaching Sister Am in her front yard. We saw Ariel while we were out there and started to talk to him. It was a little surprising when he talked back to us in fluent English since he looked like a Thai person! Our second time meeting with him, we taught the Restoration in English and it was great! It was the first time I've taught an actual investigator in English and I could feel the Spirit so strongly. He told us that he smokes and that he wants to quit so next time we meet with him, I want to introduce the 12 Step program with him. He's a good guy. We're still working with Brother Thrun. He's the man that I wrote about who has a lot on his mind (the guy who asked whether or not the Restoration was completed). Even though he still doesn't have a baptismal date, we're going to try and keep working with him. We have some investigators that we're working with as well. If I write about all of them you guys might get bored haha.

We also went to the elephant village.... AGAIN! There were missionaries from different areas that came as well this time so that made it more fun. I didn't ride any of them this time but while we were there, a baby elephant rammed right into me and I fell on the ground. People laughed since it was "funny". Now I can say I've been picked on by a baby elephant right? Maybe I shouldn't tell people that. Anyway, Lindley and I had to do switch-offs in Ubon again so I got to see a lot of the members that I knew from there. I love going back to Ubon! It's like my second home haha. 

Anyway, I hope you all have a great week! When times get hard, remember that the Lord loves you. Everyone's gonna have to deal with crappy stuff in their lives, but it's how you react and deal with those crappy things that truly matter. This is something that I still need to work on as a missionary haha.  If you're stressed, pray and read your scriptures. Always remember the Lord!

Elder Rawlinson


Week 44: The village of KoogBang! May 29

What's up everyone! Another week here in Surin has come and gone. I feel like the time here is going by faster and faster! I remember when it was just New Years' Day when I was in Ubon and we saw the first sunrise of 2016 and now we're basically halfway through the year! This week in Surin has been a little different than usual. Elder Lindley and I had a baptism for two of our investigators this past Sunday- there names are Sister Baam and Theh. To prepare them more for their baptisms, we've been traveling out of the city to teach them. Sister Theh learns at a school in a town called Prasaat so we met with her a couple times there to teach her. We've gone to their village a couple times this week and we did a service project for Baam's family there as well. They had us put these like root stem things into the dirt for planting. I'm not really sure what they're called in English but it was a good time. Anyway, Baam's mom and sister and grandma all came to church this past Sunday for the first time and it was awesome. I hope that the family will open their hearts more to the gospel and get baptized in the future. I know that the gospel can bless families and that families can be together forever!

We have some other investigators we're working with right now as well. Some of them are sooo funny. One of them is Brother Thrun. I contacted Brother Thrun a little while ago and he agreed to come to church yesterday. We taught him for the first time after church and let's just say he had a lot on his mind. He told me that I didn't speak Thai very clearly and that he basically thought I was like part Indian. Later on in the lesson after we taught about Joseph Smith, he urgently asked whether or not the Restoration had been completed yet. Elder Lindley and I looked at each other and just started bursting out laughing. I couldn't help it. I reassured him that the Restoration had been completed. We told him to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know whether or not it was true. We'll follow up with him this week to see how he's progressing and if he'll take a baptismal date as well. 

The worth of every soul is great. Elder Lindley and I spent a lot of time this week out of the city for Sister Theh, Baam, and their family members but it was all worth it. Every person is special to the Lord. It's not just about teaching for 30 or 40 minutes and moving on to the next activity or lesson. It's about service and showing that you truly care about others. I know that the church is true. I'm so grateful for my mission. The Lord loves us! 

Elder Rawlinson

Week 43: Miracles in Surin! May 22

สวัสดีคับทุกคน พวกคุณเป็นยังไงบ้าง! Sorry everyone, I haven't emailed in a few weeks. I guess I've gotten a little lazy with these emails haha. But yeah, Surin's actually been way good lately. Elder Lindley and I have been seeing a lot of good things going on here in this area. Sometimes I don't always notice the miracles and blessings that we experience, but when I stop and think of the things that I've been a part of and the things that I've seen, I realize that the miracles and blessings really are in this work. But aside from that, let's start with some of this past week's craziness. On Monday night, the power in our house went out. In every district, we have a houseleader who deals with the house money. Our houseleader (it wasn't me) didn't pay the electricity bill so they shut the electricity off. Yay! You guys might be thinking "ok what's the big deal, just deal with it". No. When the power goes out, that also means that the AC goes out and if the AC goes out, then you're most likely in for a rough night. It's HOT here guys, and humid. A night without AC would've been the most miserable thing ever so our district decided to sleep in the church Sacrament room that night instead. Even though I slept on hard ground that night, it was ten times better with AC in the church than without it back home haha (and yes, one of the APs said it was ok). Some of the people we talk to ask us if we live at the church and so the other day one of our new investigators asked us that and I was like "yeah we don't... for the most part" ha.

Last Sunday, Elder Lindley and I had two baptisms for our investigators, Sister Obaw and Brother Mobai . They're grandkids of one of the members here in Surin and they're seriously so awesome. They're a little hard to teach at times and they can be a bit stubborn, but they're memory is amazing and they have faith in the gospel. It's interesting teaching kids because you have to try to teach simply in order to help them understand the message your sharing. For example, when we had to teach tithing, we used candy to explain that we pay ten percent to the church (1 out of the 10 candies haha). This gospel is for them as well and they deserve to know that they have a Father in Heaven that loves them! This past Sunday, we reached a church attendance record of 63! Woohoo! We usually get around 40 members at church, but yesterday was a lot different! We had some of our investigators come as well. Sister Baam and Sister Theh are cousins that we're teaching right now that have baptismal dates for this upcoming Sunday. They live about 70 km away from the city, close by Cambodia. They're so awesome! They stayed at a member's house this past Saturday night so that they could come to church on time the following morning. What a sacrifice. I know that the Lord will bless them as they continue to sacrifice for the Lord. One of my favorite scriptures is 3 Nephi 13:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." I know that when we put the Lord first in our lives, we'll be blessed. Heavenly Father is blessing us every single day. Just look around and think about the good things that have happened to you this past week!! I know that God lives and loves us. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. The church is true. 

Elder Rawlinson

Week 40: Trip to Ubon!

สวัสดีครับ! It's been about a week and a half since transfers and Elder Lindley and I have been able to see a lot of cool things happen here in Surin. We actually had to go to Ubon on Wednesday for switch-offs with the zone leaders there. If you guys remember from earlier in my mission, Ubon was my first area, my home away from home! I was so happy to go back for a little bit and see my RCs there. I was able to see Brother B, Sister D, Sister W, Brother J, and Sister C. I've missed them a lot. Brother B actually just moved to Bangkok and will be going to a military school there for about two years. He has to do some sort of boot camp for like 2 months but after that, he'll be going to church in Bangkhen. Brother J read through the entire Book of Mormon and is currently re-reading it! He's doing great. Sister C and Sister W have been working a lot. They haven't been going to church every week but they still try to go. My RCs are kind of like my kids in the mission. I just want to make sure they're doing well and still going to church and doing what they're supposed to haha. I love Ubon and I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father wanted me to serve there. Even though I was sometimes a pretty stubborn, big-headed missionary there, the Lord still allowed me to see a ton of miracles.

Anyway, Surin has been awesome as well! Elder Lindley and I have three daters for this month right now. Two of them are the grandkids of one of the members here. They're so much fun! They've been the first investigators that I've had that are kids so it's been interesting trying to teach them. We've basically been trying to teach very simply so that they can understand what we're saying. They have this pet squirrel that they let crawl all over them and it's so funny and kinda weird at the same time. But yeah, our other dater is Sister B and she's going to get baptized on the 15th. She's been pretty good but she lives about an hour from the church, which makes things a little hard. I'm so glad that I get to be here in Surin right now. The members here are so funny and even though they make fun of me a lot, I think that means I'm just getting to be closer friends with them haha... Something really important I've learned on my mission is the importance of being happy and having friends. I think happiness is a choice and as you choose to be happy, others will want to be around you and they'll start to trust you and joke around with you and help you out when you need it. Even if you're going through something really hard in your life, decide to be happy and trust that things will be ok. I've been frustrated so many times over things that I can't control here, but one thing I can always try to control is my attitude. Come what may and love it. I hope you all have a great week! I know that God loves us and wants us all to be happy! The church is true!

Elder Rawlinson

Dinner in Ubon with some of the fam and me and my com, Elder Lindley!

Week 39: Transfer #2 in SURIN

Hello friends and family! I hope you guys have had a great week. So we had transfers last Thursday and I'm staying here in Surin! Yes! My last companion moved to a different area and I'm now with Elder Lindley. He's from Orem and is about the same age as me in the mish. He went into the MTC like 6 weeks before me. Anyway, we've already been able to meet with a lot of new people and I'm looking forward to seeing tons of MIRACLES this transfer! My RC, Sister G from last transfer, is doing really well. She spake in church for the first time and she did great! It's always nice to know that those we have baptized are still going to church and progressing in the gospel.

So last week, I had a really cool experience with Elder Gremillion and his investigator, Sister O. Sister O has been prepared by the Lord like none other. We went to teach her on Thursday and she told us that she had already been praying to God. I think she prayed to find out which church she should go to and after that happened, she kept on seeing Elder Gremillion around in the city. She never went up to him to talk but eventually, Gremillion invited her to church and she's been meeting with the missionaries since then. She told us about all these way cool things that have happened in her life that have confirmed to me that the Lord has been preparing her to learn and accept the gospel. She told us that one time when she was with her brother, she had an impression that she needed to give him a hug since she had to say goodbye to him. A week later, her brother passed away. On another occasion, she was planning on going to Bangkok but prayed to Heavenly Father and basically said to Him, "ok if I don't go to Bangkok then I'll give this church a chance". Believe it or not, whoever she planned on going with ended up changing their minds and not going as well. She went back to the train station to sell her ticket back, and guess who she ran into there?! The missionaries! Elder Amonthep and Elder Neal were both moving that night so we went to the train station to see them off. I know that Heavenly Father has been preparing this lady to learn about the church and I am so glad that he has been working through us in order to do so. I hope you all have a great week! I know that this church is true and that Christ lives! The Lord is so aware of each and every one of us! Pray for miracles and if you really look for them, you'll find them. 

Elder Rawlinson


SAWADII KHAP EVERYONE! We had P-day switched from Monday to Thursday this week because of a crazy holiday going on called Songkran! Songkran is a HUGE water festival that lasts for about three days where the entire country just goes insane with throwing water on each other and having water fights. Yesterday was the first day of the festival and it was absolute insanity. I've never seen something so crazy go on throughout the whole city like this before. People throw water on those passing by on the streets, dance around and just have a good time. April and May are the hottest months of the year here in Thailand. It's also the dry season right now so having this water festival has been so nice. It's a fun way to cool down for sure. We played at the church first with some of the members and it was a way fun! There were a lot of people that passed the street in front of the church that we tried to soak as well. Songkran gets even crazier at night so our mission came out with a rule that we were to go home in the evening.

I was finally able watch Conference and I loved it! I had a specific question answered again and again. The Spirit was so strong and it made me want to become a better person. One of my favorite talks was by Donald L. Hallstrom called "I Am a Child of God". He said "We live in a world that can cause us to forget who we really are. The more distractions that surround us, the easier it is to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God. I feel like I sometimes overlook what I know to be true and I need to stop doing that. As members of the church, we know that we are children of God, but do we truly believe it? When we bare our testimonies, are we just saying words or do we actually live those words we say? If we're going to call ourselves Christians, then do we truly believe that Christ dies for us? I encourage you all to live what you know to be true and don't overlook the simple stuff. We are children of God who loves us and knows us. The church is true! Christ lives! The more we live what we know, the more meaningful our lives will become. I love you guys and hope you all have a good week!

Elder Rawlinson

Week 36: Baptism!

And it's been another week here in Surin! I hope you guys all loved Conference! We'll be watching it here in Thailand next week! Things have been a little slow lately but we did have a baptism for our investigator, Sister G, yesterday. Sister G has been such a solid investigator and she knows that the church is true. I don't think I've ever seen her angry or upset before, she's just calm and humble and kind.  It was kinda crazy yesterday before the baptismal program since the water in the font wasn't very high when we checked it. We ended up dumping extra water from buckets and water gallon tanks into the font ourselves hahaha! It was a bit sketchy but things worked out and my companion, Elder Amonthep, was able to baptize her.

So this past week, I've been able to watch a movie called "Son of God". It's sooooo good! If you guys haven't heard of it, look it up and find a way to watch it. It's a wonderful movie about the Savior- His birth, ministry, betrayal, Atonement, and Resurrection. I could feel the Spirit so strongly from it and the movie made me feel proud to be one of His followers. I started to think to myself, if I'm going to really be a follower of Christ, then I need to know who Christ really was. I need to learn and read and know more of what He did while on the earth.... so I've decided to start reading the New Testament from the beginning! If you're going to be someone, then you might as well put your whole heart and soul into it. If you're going to call yourself a Christian, then you should know who Christ is and truly follow Him. It's more than just going to church on Sunday! While I was reading in Matthew this morning, I came across a verse that I love. In Matt 10:39, Jesus says "He that findeth His life shall lose it: and he that looseth his life for my sake shall find it". What a verse! I promise that as you learn more of Him, as you serve Him and love Him and truly follow Him, you'll find peace and joy in this life. More than that, you will find yourself. I want to bear my testimony to you all that I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior! I know that He lives! He loves us and wants us to turn to Him. I know that true happiness comes from living the gospel and from knowing these truths. I hope you all have a great week! Love you guys!

Elder Rawlinson

Week 35: Elephants and Easter

SAWADII KHAP EVERYONE! Hope you all had a great Easter! It's been my second week in the Land of the Elephants and I love it here! We've been able to see some way cool miracles this past week and there's honestly no where else I'd rather be than here in Surin right now. Our investigator, Sister G, finally has a solid baptismal date for the 4th! She knows that the Gospel is true and now she's ready for the next step, which is baptism. But really though, she's been such an awesome investigator. She even gone with us and some of the RC's in the branch to visit an LA. I know she's going to be a solid member for sure.

There's four of us serving here in Surin. My district includes Elder Amonthep, Elder Gremillion, and Elder Neal. So anyway, on Wednesday, I was able to do a switch-off with Elder Gremillion. He was in the same group as me in the MTC and we came into the country at the same time. Wednesday we got A LOT done. He's a way hard worker so we went ham and invited a whole bunch of people. While we were inviting in front of a shopping center during our switch-off, I was able to talk to two people that agreed to come with us to the church that very same day. Their names were Sister Y and Sister B. We showed them some of the church and then taught them a little bit about our beliefs and about prayer. They both prayed during that lesson and on the following day, they came back to the church and Amonthep and I showed them a video called "Finding Faith in Christ". It was such a cool experience for me and I could feel the Spirit so strongly during that second lesson. Seeing them being introduced to the Savior and seeing them learn about Him was the most rewarding thing that I got to experience all week. Looking back at that lesson, I can't help but think that this is what it's all about. I'm here in Thailand to share the message of the Savior. Conversion centered on Jesus Christ is not only important, but crucial. So Sister B and Sister Y both came to our Easter activity that we had on Saturday and it was way fun. We had an Easter egg hunt and my companion thought it would be cool to wear a duck suit haha (he's crazy sometime). The members read scriptures of the Savior together and we ended the activity by watching a video of Him as well. The reason our Easter activity was so fun was because it was centered on the Savior. I know that it's because of Him that I'm able to find true happiness and peace in this life. Even in a country full of Buddhism, the message of the Savior will still come forth.  I've heard that even Buddha himself prophesied that someone greater than him would come to the earth with holes in his hands and holes in his feet. I hope you all have a great week! The more you think of Jesus Christ and the love He has for you, the more meaningful your week will be. 

Elder Rawlinson

Oh and elephants are the coolest animals ever

Week 34: I'm in Surin now!!

Sorry I didn't write last week guys! There's been some changes since my last email. Transfers was on Monday and I thought for sure that I'd be staying in Nong Khai since I was only there for one transfer but nope! I'm now in an area called Surin which is close to my first area, Ubon! Surin is so different than Nong Khai! The area's known for having elephants which is way cool! Just the other day, there was some sort of activity going on in the city and they had a whole bunch of elephants that strolled through the streets (I'll attach a selfie at the bottom lol). We're actually going to go ride elephants for P-day today! Anyway, I'm now serving with Elder Amonthep! My new companion is a khonthai (a Thai person) from Bangkok and he's way awesome! He was a member for about a year before he became a missionary and he knows Surin pretty well. He seems pretty close with a lot of the members here which has been way helpful for me. And being companions with him has helped with my Thai even though he speaks a lot of slang haha. I learned a lot from being in Nong Khai and now I'm excited to see where the adventure continues!

We have one solid investigator right now. Her name is Sister G and she's pretty good friends with some of the members here in Surin. She's been taught everything already, but she doesn't want to get baptized just yet... which is alright! She'll get baptized when she feels more ready. Most of the time when Elder Amonthep and I go and teach people or invite, we have the same group of people come with us- Sister N, Sister J, and Brother T.  They're new members in the church about my age. Anyway, it's been cool getting to know them and this transfer should be a fun one! Surin has a lot of issues as well but I'm just gonna go with it and see what gets thrown ahead of me. Come what may and love it, right? Hope you guys all have a great week! 

Elder Rawlinson