Hey hey there Dad!
Well, looks like everyone is asleep. Sorry about that! It's a big challenge for us to send out emails in the morning when we go out exploring and on an adventure! We're fully reliant on internet businesses as we send emails, so if we wake up early and head out early in the morning, we aren't able to email because internet businesses are closed. So we only have time after we go out!
Also, Daylight Savings Times doesn't exist here. So when you guys skipped back, it just means you're now 15 hours behind instead of 14 hours behind. So that's fun! Just wanted to let you know. So now the latest I could ever send an email is at 3:00 at the morning instead of 4:00... so hopefully that works out for all of you!
So I suppose I need to explain the last three weeks for everyone tuning in as well.
About two weeks ago, we had to go down to Bangkok. We took a train and it was very uncomfortable. So, I was a little sleep deprived. Then we took a sketchy taxi ride (actually the taxi wasn't sketchy but it was about 4 in the morning) in of which the Taxi didn't take us to where we were supposed to go. But, we were nice about paying what the meter said, but I wasn't feeling too great about it. But we happened to be right next to my old area so I ended up just taking a truck back to my old area and waiting in front of my old House (in Nonthaburi) for 1 or so hours as we waited for the other Elders to get out, because all training companionships needed to go to Bang Bua Thong, but we weren't sure where so we just waited for the other Elders. Then we finally got Elder Smith's Work Permit done and over with so then we just spent the rest of the P-Day around Bangkok. We ended up visiting the late king's funeral site, called Sanaam Luang. They built a pretty fancy and impressive structure for his funeral service, which is still up for right now. So we went and took pictures around there with some of the other training companionships who came down. Lots of fun. Then we had family home evening in my old area... because our bus didn't leave until 10 at night! So that was fun to see all of the people that I taught while I was there in Pakkret! So that was P-Day 2 weeks ago.
I actually have forgotten about what has happened in between so... that's fun! But we did have Mission Tour! Which means a General Authority Seventy comes and visits different areas in our mission in of which he gives us training instead of Zone Conference training. So that was a blast. We also had District Conference (Because I'm not in a stake!) where he was there as well. Unfortunately we made a poor showing by showing up to the meeting 10 minutes late... because our van wouldn't leave on time and sat in the Station for a solid 30 minutes. So, my bad for not getting there earlier, but I was pretty sad too. We were in Udorn for two nights and two days. It was all great, and he talked about how having strong families is the best way to help the church grow. Of course, I'm a missionary, so I'll stick to just finding people to teach repentance, turn them into converts, and baptize them. It was all really great and Elder Evans spoke a lot about missionary work, so I was feeling pretty great after Sunday. Then comes the training just for the missionaries from him. He talked about the assignment that he gave to us to study before we got there, which was to study in the chapters of Alma and other various chapters about the Doctrine of Christ. We talked about that for a little bit, but then he went on to talk about Chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel which is: Finding People to Teach.
He went on to asking about how finding goes on in the mission, and what our method or style is, which would be talking to everyone and asking them if they are interested in learning about Jesus Christ. It worked, to a certain extent, as for my time in the mission, but Elder Evans then went on to say how the missionaries in Hong Kong have a real image problem and the church as a whole because this style of inviting can be pretty annoying and pretty aggressive. So this results in him talking to us about talking with people instead of to them. So I'm glad that was out and done with so that we can now start working more like the Savior with causing me to feel a little bit guilty that I didn't ask EVERY soul I saw if they wanted to learn about Jesus. Elder Evans emphasized really taking an interest in their lives, and really trying to listen to the Spirit, which of course is the only way to do missionary work. I still need to get used to doing this and actually talking to people (because before was really easy) so I have yet to see success, but I know that it will come. Then he talked about how the higher way is to receive referrals instead. So, we're working on that as well!
Last week, we were actually planning to send out emails in the morning, but we got caught helping a couple of potential investigators in of which took up all of our time. At the very least, we were able to send off a quick email, but I'll explain more about what happened. We went down to Udorn and went exploring with the 1st Counselor in the District Presidency, Prathaan Oh, who is awesome. We ended up going to see a "World Heritage Site" meaning that it is something that the world as a whole recognizes as an important site for world history. So it is basically a museum full of ancient (think about 6000-5000 years ago) artifacts that had been excavated within the last couple of decades. So it was really fun to see all of that and get some good random vocabulary to study. Then we went back and ate at a buffet... so that's fun. But I was pretty full, so that's all I could ask for.
Just today, we went exploring waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy out there to a place called "KeeReeWongGot" (คีรีวงกต) which had a nice waterfall as well, and a cool river that we walked through. Pictures, however, are worth a thousand words, and I have over 100 pictures, so I hope you'll enjoy looking through them Dad! But it was fun, and we played Mafia on the way there as well! But then people started to get carsick and so we quit about half way through. Jumped on some rocks and had a good time with the other missionaries in the District as well as some Gigantic Bees who liked to eat our chicken and fish. You'll see how big they were in the picture. But lunch was good as well! It was all pretty great, so I enjoyed going today! We woke up a little early to go, but everything worked out in the end. But just as a note: Remember that they sell toilet paper at every gas station, and you will need it because as soon as you are out of the big city there is only squatters and that's it! So have fun with that one!
As for Elder Smith, he's starting to pick it up more and more! We plan to plan out lessons for our investigators to give them a more meaningful experience each time we teach them, and also to give him more of a role in the teaching process. I'm excited to do this and help the work go forward!
This last week, we also had switch-offs! I was with the District Leader, Elder King, who is awesome, and we were in Nong Khai. We talked for a while at night... but it was great! We had a good day of proselyting that day as well, in of which a shirtless slightly crazy guy invited us to his makeshift coffee shop in of which he gave Elder King hot chocolate (it was we checked) where he gave no sugar and it was just straight cocoa... so that was weird. Not super interested, but we're working with a lot of people still, so it should be fun!
Being a missionary is great, and I know that the Lord is blessing us with miracles in Nong Khai. We're working with a lot of people and I know that the Lord will continue to help us grow and become better! I know that as we follow the Spirit and doubt not, the Lord will help us find those people who we are meant to find. Miracles are waiting for us as we are exactly obedient and willing to follow the Lord, no matter the request. This is the Lord's work, we are His servants and we are Christ's representatives in the places where we serve. I know the we will be blessed with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. That's certainly my intent for the period in which I serve.
I love you lots Dad! Take care of that ankle, and everyone as well! I'll talk to you next week!
- Elder Collin Decker