Thursday, February 8, 2018

2-5-18 Ayuthaya Thailand

Hey hey Dad!

You have an application? Wow... well, I've stopped counting at this point 😅 I just tell everyone that I've been in Thailand for about 1 year. To be honest, I'm not that good at counting how long I've been out... I just know that more and more people are finishing their missions. Way fun... Soon I'll be at that point, but it's still pretty far away... hahaha. I'll cross that bridge once someone points it out to me that I'm actually at the bridge already (meaning once I get there and I don't notice it...). Until then, I'm a blind man 😎

This last week was good! P-Day, didn't really do much... bought stuff. Cleaned a little? Ate food. Relaxed all in all. We'll probably try to go somewhere next week, but exploring takes planning... which I'm not super good at yet... hahaha. 

The rest of the week was as it was. We've been blessed with many miracles and a couple more investigators to teach. New investigators are always a blessing and always a miracle. It just takes being at the right place at the right time, and us acting in concert with the Spirit. 

One thing that I have always found funny is what happens when I get sick on my mission. Saturday, I basically got taken out. We still went out to proselyte... probably dangerous in retrospect, but we still did 😀. Can't miss out on any opportunities! So I felt as if we were blessed, wherein we found 2 new investigators that day! We had already found some others earlier in the week, but I was especially glad to find these two more! I know that the Lord will be helping us and we are obedient and diligent. 

I've been smiling more this week, even when I didn't feel like smiling. I've been trying to be happy, and I feel as though I found more happiness. I feel as though I found a better source of happiness rather than success, which is faith in Jesus Christ and the fact that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will help us as we pursue righteousness. 

One thing that I learned over the past week was from a study in one of my favorite chapters in the entire Book of Mormon: Ether 12, in a very well known verse. Verse 27 in the 12th chapter of Ether reads as thus:

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I want to point out the first part: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness." Well that seems a little rough doesn't it? If we come unto Christ we will have all of our weaknesses pointed out to us? But the wise saints know that if we know our weaknesses, we can work on them. Here is what the Lord says later on in the same chapter. the 37th verse in the 12th chapter of Ether reads as thus:

37 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.

Notice the middle part! "And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father." So, in conclusion, I'll share one more scripture, found in Moroni 10:32-33, which reads as thus:

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

I know that while knowing our weaknesses might be difficult, we will be made strong and we will know that, through the grace of Christ, that we will be made strong. The Savior and our Heavenly Father truly love us, love us enough to cut us down, that we might be built up again, even stronger. I know that the Savior lives, and that he loves us. I know that our Heavenly Father is the same, and through our weaknesses, we can be made even greater.

I love you all! Remember to rely on the Savior and our Heavenly Father, and we will achieve our heavenly potential. I hope you all have a great week, and I'll talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Sunday, January 28, 2018

1-28-18 Ayutthaya Thailand


Hey there Dad! 

อาทิตย์นี้ยุ่งมากๆๆๆ!​ มีเยอะแยะที่เราทำในอาทิตย์ที่ผ่านมา.​

P-Day​ ก็สนุก.เรามีกิจกรรมเล่นกีฬาสำหรับโซนกรุงเทพฯเหนือ.​ผมเห็นหลายคนที่นั่นที่เป็นผู้สอนศาสนา, ซึ่งรวมถึง​ Elder​ Allen, ที่อยู่ในกลุ่มเดียวกันกับผมเอง, และ​ Elder​Mickelson, ที่อยู่กุมภาวปีใน​ District อุดร, และเขาอยู่ในเขตเก่าของผม.เราเล่นกีฬาอย่างเช่น​:





It was way fun! I was glad we went. The sports activity was even in my old area too, so it was way fun! 

Went to ลพบุรี​ for District Meeting, which is about a 1.5 hour drive from อยุธยา. Saw some monkeys on the way in. Just as scary as before (don't pet the monkeys!). That was fun.

Then on Wednesday was regular proselyting. Still a little difficult to find new investigators, but there's no worries on that one. The Lord will give us what we need as we work as hard as we can. 

Thursday was this crazy day where we went to a school early in the morning, and (with President's permission) we taught and English camp there. So, suffice to say, we handed about 700 English cards over there and taught just about the same. The Sisters got an investigator from that activity which was way sweet! But it was crazy. We tried to plan so hard... And then it all went astray... Hahaha. But that's ok, it was still fun! We taught 6-12 graders. Way crazy. In the end we just made up activities to do on the spot... But hey free breakfast lunch and dinner! So I say it was worth it, hahaha.  

After that had switch-offs on Friday, went up to Lopburi again. Was fun! We worked, but that's about it! 

The rest of the week followed, but its going good right now! It's still hard work, and it's definitely not easy, but I'm  happy when we're working hard. 

Something I liked this past week was something I learned from personal study. I was was reading the account of the older brother of Jared and his family, and how the Lord provided light for the boats/submarines that they were taking to go to the promised land. But then performing this miracle with the light, I appreciated how the Lord asked the Brother of Jared how He (the Lord) should light the ship for the Brother of Jared. Sometimes, there are lots of ways to do the Lord's work and will. But he expects us to use our own faculties, our own will and intelligence to work out a solution, and then bring it before the Lord. I know that we all have a goal to one day become like Him, and so He will provide us with experiences to develop those perfect attributes of Jesus Christ. I know He is a perfect being, and so is our Heavenly Father. As we follow them, we will have everything that we need. 

I love you lots! Hope you have a fantastic week! Talk to you soon! 

1-21-18 Ayutthaya Thailand

Hey hey there Dad! Sorry, the pictures are going to come late. I can't push out the pictures using the signal I have (plus we have to conserve data as well)

So this last week there isn't much to talk about. We're getting to get the area in Ayutthaya rolling a little bit more because there have been just a couple convert baptisms in the past couple of months, for a variety of reasons, probably. However, we're going to help it out and get those whom the Lord has prepared as well!

One thing that did happen was that we had the opportunity to do switch-offs with the Zone Leaders in Don Muang. I went with Elder Flygare and I learned a lot from his example of working and how he works as well. I felt pretty similar to him in a lot of ways, in thought and personality a little bit, so it was way fun! It kind of gave me a vision for what I could be doing even better!

Funny story: Don Muang meets in the old church building I was in when I was in Bangkok so being back there was really strange, and I got to see some old RCs at the Sports Night they had! But we were riding bikes... Way scary! But pretty fun. We saw a lot of miracle that day! 

I had an interesting dream the other day, about how I was at home. It was pretty strange and always scares me when I have dreams like that, but then I feel relief when it all works out in the end as I wake up as a missionary. Right now, there is no where else I would rather be.

Love you all lots! Keep working hard, and have no regrets at the last day! Do everything you can now!

- Elder Collin​ Decker​

Monday, January 15, 2018

1-15-18 Ayutthaya Thailand

Hey Dad!

If I'm speaking honestly, on P-Day I don't really do much of anything... So don't have to worry about that unless there are people who invite us to do stuff hahaha. Like today! We basically are going to explore every place close to us in Ayutthaya today because Elders from other areas have come to explore today, so we're hitching a ride with them. Lots of cool temples but not much time talk today. Sorry! It's kind of a give or take kind of thing. But hey, pictures are worth 1000 words!

So it was pretty sad to leave Nong Khai behind. Honestly, it was really fun to be there! Nowhere is an "easy" area, but if you work hard, you'll have fun as a missionary and see success, because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ​ give us success, it's not us for sure. We just need to show him that we are willing and intend to follow his will.

Sorry I don't have a lot of time today, but I'll really to go get a lot of pictures up! Ayutthaya is a lot of fun. Kind of small, a little hot and I sleep on the ground (because mattresses are sketchy) but lots of fun. We'll help this area keep growing! My companion is fun and has a good personality. All will be well!

Love you all lots! Talk to you when I can!

- Elder Collin Decker (เอ็ลเดอร์เกเคอร์)​

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

1-9-18 Nong Khai Thailand Transfers to Ayuthaya


วันนี้เป็นวัน​"พีเด" หรือวันเตรียม.แน่นอนทุกคนก็รู้แล้วนะ. แต่ว่าผมต้องเตรียมจริงๆเพราะว่าผมจะย้ายไปจากหนองคาย😢.เหมือนกับทุกที่ที่ผมรับใช้ผมจะคิดถึงหนองคายมาก, และอุดรฯด้วย.ผมจะคิดถึงอีสานอน่นอน.​สมาชิกอยู่ที่นี่เป็นคนยอดเยี่ยมจริงๆ.ผมได้รับพรโดยการรับใช้ที่นี่.ผมกตัญญูที่ผมรับใช้ที่นี่.ผมรักหนองคายมาก.

So​ I wish you all luck in translating that all. But I have learned a lot here and I feel that I have grown a lot since I've come here. I'm truly grateful to have served in Nong Khai. I hope Nong Khai continues to grow and flourish in the time to come. 

So all that I wrote means that...​I'll be moving! Honestly the feelings are a little more bitter than sweet. I would have gone for 5, just another round, if I could. But the Lord has called me elsewhere, and so I must go, back to the old capital of Thailand...

Not​ Bangkok! But close to it, and I really do mean the old capital though. I'm moving to พระนครศรีอยุธยา! Or, just อยุธยา​ for short!​ (Ayutthaya) So the good news I have is that I'll have a bike! No bad news except that I'm moving... But that's all good as well!

As far as this goes, moving is a hard subject, especially for those missionaries who love the people and the areas they serve in. But at least we know that Charity never faileth. If you love the people you serve, you're on the right track. Charity will help you to receive miracles in the mission field and throughout life. Never forget to be charitable.

On another topic: Make sure you read the

Book of Mormon everyday! It was President Monson final challenge before he went to go to help souls beyond the veil. I testify, as he did, that the value and worth of a human soul is its capacity to become as God. The Book of Mormon promises us that as we read and abide by its precepts, we will become closer to God more than any other book can help us do. I know that as we do, we will be guided and we will have happiness, no matter what trials we go through.

I know the Lord provides a way. He always does, and will forever onward. I love Thailand, and I love these people. I more than grateful for this experience. I'm eternally indebted. 

I love you all! I'll talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker​

12-31-18 Nong Khai Thailand

Hey hey there Dad!

So New Years and Christmas have come and gone really fast. It's hard to believe how fast the passage of time goes. Indeed, President Monson probably has said it best, in multiple talks that he has given: "Time certainly marches on. Duty keeps cadence with that march. Duty does not dim nor diminish." I hope that when I near the end of my mission, that I will still work as hard as I can. Of course, we are agents, free to choose, so I just hope that I'll be as smart and dedicated as I feel I should be when I reach that point. But certainly, time marches on. Next Tuesday, I'll know if I'm moving, and if I do move, where I'll be moving to... I've spent over half my mission in just three areas, in of which I was in one area for just two months. Time does fly. I feel like I've changed here and there along the way. Perhaps not changed, but more of the feeling of that I've found out more of who I am, someone I am comfortable being. Not to say before that I was uncomfortable, but I think I understand more about myself, especially as a missionary. The mission has a funny way of making us discard what was artificial about us before, and helping us grow into the person our Heavenly Father wants us to become. We get rid of the excess to start tapping into the divine qualities that Heavenly Father has given us. We grow, and growing is a good thing. Growing and eternal progression is our path and our journey. ความก้าวหน้านิรันดร์

There was a talk, given by President Thomas S. Monson, our beloved Prophet in these days, given in April 2006, titled, "Our Sacred Priesthood Trust" which is one of my favorite talks which I have read thus far (but it's a lot funnier when you listen to it... just listen to it, please do.). In of which, an Elders Quorum President where President Monson was serving (he was a mission president in Canada at the time) was called upon to answer the question "What is the worth of a soul?" for everyone to hear. In response, this Elder Quorum President, after a pause, after what was probably was a little bit of prayer, said: "The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God." For everyone who reads this email, I want everyone to ask themselves, "Am I becoming as God today? What did I do yesterday to become closer to God? To become closer to Jesus Christ? Am I becoming like Jesus Christ? What do I need to do to become like Jesus Christ?" Especially if there are any youth reading this, and most especially, any Aaronic Priesthood holders (such as: Kai). As missionaries, we are to be the Lord's representatives. In Thai, we use the word ตัวแทน, which translates to, give or take, "a person who comes in place of..." All missionaries are here in place of Jesus Christ. We are His hands. We are shepherds, here to gather in his sheep, under the direction of the Shepherd of All. So, for the Aaronic Priesthood holders (and everyone else who reads this letter), I want to ask this "Are you prepared and worthy, to go out into the world, and serve in the place of Jesus Christ, serve as He did, teach as He did, and become as He IS?" However, this pursuit is a pursuit of a lifetime, not something accomplished over just a couple of months, years, or even many years. Perhaps an eternity, but it is our eternal goal to be as The Master is.

I'll spin it a different way using our purpose as missionaries, found in Preach My Gospel. We are to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, Repentance, Baptism by Immersion, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End." I'll highlight the word "invite". We "invite" others to "come unto Christ." Do we invite others to "go unto Christ"? No! We invite them to "come unto Christ." Meaning they have to coming towards us, at least part of the way. We're not quite to the Celestial Kingdom yet, and most likely aren't perfect (yet) but we had better be standing right at the gates leading to the celestial kingdom, leading celestial lives. If we want our investigators and Recent Converts to lead celestial lives, then we had better be doing the same. The Lord has condemned hypocrisy, and through hypocrisy is a poor way to teach our investigators. Be obedient, be kind, be generous. Indeed, have faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, endurance, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence. The way we develop these attributes is by praying, and constant work. These attributes come as as a gift from our Heavenly Father. I suppose that is one of the reasons why the last verse in the 4th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants ends in "Ask, and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you." If you want to become like Jesus Christ, if you want to prepare well to become a missionary, then we must pray, asking "What do I need to do to become more like Jesus Christ? What must I do to become a better missionary, or to prepare to be a missionary?"

I ask myself that everyday, and if we have real intent, meaning we intend to act on the answer we receive, if and when we receive it, then we will get the answers we need. Thus we have repentance, to help us change, and become better, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, to help us know, and help guide us everyday.

Ok, that's enough on the Spiritual Thought, hahaha. As far as the life of this particular servant of the Lord goes, we currently have a couple of investigators who have a date to be baptized, however, we're having trouble getting them to progress, or seem excited about being baptized., so it's going to be a tough journey for us in these last two weeks of the transfer (actually 1.5), but where there's no resistance, how could we grow? We're going to try to help them the best that we can. With prayers in heart, and guidance from the Spirit, we'll do exactly what the Lord needs us to do. One date for an investigator needs to be moved back because he missed Church this weeks, but probably will have to be moved back 2 - 3 weeks so we have some time to properly teach him and help him be truly converted. We also finally got one investigator there at church today! While it wasn't our goal, we were happy to have at least one investigator after a couple of weeks of some struggling. We're going to keep working with them all, and get them all to church! 

Yesterday, I'm pretty sure I talked to at least 6 drunk guys. Couldn't understand a word they said. Just gave them an inviting card, and biked quickly off (like normal!). The funny thing about drunk guys is that they'll almost anything you tell them to... or at least agree to do it. So we try not to teach them until they're sober, or else we would have a lot of new investigators by going to preach at alcohol-based establishments. They also like to shake our hands... it's pretty weird.

And then the dogs. We figured out the other day that if dogs go to chase you, and you brake really hard, pull a 180 and go chase them, they generally run away. So, the lesson is: Chase dogs and they run away. Way funny.

In other news, I also crashed my bike again. Tried to switch lanes, ran into the partition and crashed into the bushes... I'm thankful there were no strange animals or insects living in the bushes... So that makes crash #7 or 8. Almost one crash for every transfer I've been a missionary, and I haven't been riding a bike for my entire mission... hahaha. 

Truth be told, I've been here a long time. Almost 6 months now. I've seen a lot of missionaries come and go, from and into this mission. It's so strange, to see so many new faces, and I have no idea who they are. I've hit one year in Thailand, one year away from home, one year where everything I've learned so far about life has been put to the test. What a blessing, what an opportunity, and what a privilege. I hope I keep growing, and keep becoming better and better. I feel like I'm finding out who Heavenly Father wants me to be.

I love the Savior, and I testify that he is the Master Healer. He is our Older Brother, who loves us and sacrificed His life for us. May we study onward, pray continually, keep our covenants, and watch, as the arm of the Lord is revealed on our behalf. I hope everyone is searching the scriptures everyday! Search, ponder, and pray. We will receive all the answers we need from from such studies.

Again, Happy New Years! Love you lots! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

12-25-17 Nong Khai Thailand

Hey there Dad!

First and foremost... MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!! 🐏🐑🐏🌲🌨⛄🎉🎍🎁

So it's Christmas here today! I hope that you know that P-Day is today... because it hasn't changed! We'll still be Skyping tomorrow though, probably about 7:00 P.M. your time.

So this last week has been... interesting! It was a great week though, but I felt a little off at the beginning of the week. I don't know if anyone has, and I'm not sure if anyone thinks like this, but I will be the first to say that missionary work isn't easy. I remember thinking "If I can just follow the Spirit, everything will be A-OK and it will all fly smoothly!" But to be honest, it hasn't been like that so far. The Spirit isn't something that is easy to follow at every moment, and the Lord constantly expects us to take thought to those things which we are going to teach, to discern the needs of our investigators, and to figure out solutions to the problems our investigators have. We struggle, even to the utmost of our abilities. Then, we see miracles come more frequently. That being said, the Lord will always give us miracles, such as:

We were riding our bikes to go study at the church after an appointment had fallen through. That day, I had been feeling particularly stressed, about all aspects of missionary work. Preach My Gospel tells us about what a successful missionary does, what their attributes are, but the most outstanding thing in the first paragraph talking about being a successful missionary says that our success is measured primarily by our commitment to do those things listed. For example, be exactly obedient, to find and baptize investigators, etc. Well I had been feeling that the new investigators pool was a little lacking, not that we didn't have any, but we hadn't got close to our goals that we set, that I felt was realistic, so I was feeling pretty stressed about what to do. Commitment is one thing, but I was feeling that commitment should lead to results at some point (for it had been several weeks I felt like, that we hadn't reached our goals).

Then an old guy, along the way to the Church, called out to us, asking in English "Where you go?" And the funny thing that us, as missionaries here, will always reply in the language they ask us questions in. So, naturally, we replied "We go to church!" (exactly like that!). (Sidenote: I hope I don't send my English down the drain by speaking like that...) Then, his eyes lit up, and he waved for us to come onto his property (his yard?). He brought out two chairs and then proceeded to ask us, in Thai, ว่า "What do you have to share with me today, missionaries?" (just about that as far as translation goes.) Turns out he was a former investigator from when the Lao Elders were working in Nong Khai! We didn't know that until he brought out a Book of Mormon from inside his house. We weren't even going to invite him, but he invited us. At that point, I knew exactly that the Lord loves us, and he is preparing people for us to meet and teach. 

After that Elder King and I had a super great switch-off that was full of fire! We met a lot of potential investigators and visited an L.A. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I have a lot of respect for Elder King and how he works. This mission is just full of great missionaries, as I'm sure all missions are. There's nowhere I'd rather be than in Thailand right now!

Later last week, we went to the Ward Christmas Party. It was a lot of fun! Got to bond with the members, and eat food together! They made Elder Smith be Santa... way funny! I had the opportunity to read the Nativity story for everyone there in the very first part (and play the piano as always). I had an opportunity to bear my testimony as well. I'll share one of my favorite scriptures I read in a little bit.

Yesterday, we only had one hour of church meetings (just the sacrament portion, which is the most important one after all!) and then we went off to go teach investigators after doing some Ward Clerk work... Later on that day, we went to carol with the members! I got to map out some way far out members! It was really fun! And that ended our Christmas Eve!

This season truly is a season of great happiness. I hope everyone remembers and thinks to Jesus Christ in the season. He truly is the light and life of the world. 

I believe I've already shared this scripture before, but it's one of the scriptures I read the other day as well, which reads as thus: 

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6, 2 Nephi 19:6)

I know and testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Our older brother, and the Master Healer. Jesus Christ truly is Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. I love Christmas, I love the Church. I'm thankful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I'm thankful and eternally indebted for the ones who gave us this Gospel, Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I love them, and am privileged to be a missionary in these latter days.

Love you all! Talk to you soon! Have fun on Christmas Eve over there!

- Elder Collin Decker

Thailand, Bangkok Mission