Sunday, June 25, 2017

6-24-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey Dad!

So this week has been great! My companion and I have been working more together in this week! It's been getting better, but the work is still difficult, as always, trying to get better, trying to get better!

My health is doing great! I've resumed eating cereal for breakfast... my stomach seems fine with the milk now, so it doesn't look like it's going to be a huge problem for me!

Who is the Pouthanvang family? I don't think I've ever met them before. We'll see though. I'm still in Pakkret, Chaengwattana, Nonthaburi area. That's how it goes, but it's still fun! But when will they get here? It will probably be fun if we could meet!

Nothing really interesting happened this week... we've just been going out contacting a lot to help us get our goals for this transfer! It's been a lot of fun teaching, but we're just trying to help our investigators progress and keep going forward! Finally got to meet with one of our investigators who went off the grid for a little bit! She's back now, so we're helping her work out some of her problems. But she has a date for next month, so we'll help her get there! We have another man who we're teaching, but we just need to get him to church...

The ward is doing good! We get fed well here... hahaha. But otherwise, the ward is good. Sometimes, I feel as though we're just on our own out here, proselyting and doing the Lord's work. It's a little bit out there from all of the other areas in this district, but that's ok! We'll keep working hard. Still working on trying to be a more bold missionary, who testifies right on the spot, and also enjoys the work in every aspect of it!

The language is getting a lot better! I'm understanding a good majority of the things I hear, and I feel that I'm able to express my thoughts more clearly, use more analogies, and help our investigators understand more clearly about the Gospel! Truly, the Lord is blessing us, and helping me to grow and communicate with everyone!

One realization that I came to this week was the simple fact that the Book of Mormon is a history. What does that mean for me? It means that Ammon actually did defend a flock of sheep and converted an entire kingdom. He actually knew the thoughts of the heart of King Lamoni. Because he had faith and trusted in the Lord. Nephi, the son of Nephi who was the son of Helaman, in 3 Nephi, actually had angels minister unto him. He preached so boldly that the people who listened to him could not disbelieve on his words. Because he had faith. Even so the Brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord and then Jesus Christ, in whole, because he had faith. These aren't stories simply intended to help us build faith. These are experiences and accounts of real people, intended to help us build faith. I know for a fact, that the Lord is unchanging, the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. The Lord is no respecter of persons as well. So the only answer that is left for me, concerning the matter of faith, is that I yet do not have enough faith. There are still miracles in this world, I witness them everyday! But I still can get better. The works of God do not cease, and so now I'm trying to be a better instrument in the hands of the Lord, and build my faith to be even stronger. One day, I might be able to preach so boldly, that no one would be able to disbelieve on my words. It's a work in progress, but it is a good work indeed!

I love the work, this Gospel, this Church, and the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the restored Church of God. I believe that, whole-heartedly. I'm here on the Lord's errand in this wonderful land of Thailand and I know that the Lord will not let us fail.

Love you! Hope everything keeps going good at home! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

6-18-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey there Dad!

Well this week was pretty rough all in all. That's ok though! Just keep working hard, that's all.

So it was a little harder to send Elder Cherd off than I thought it would be. No crying or anything like that but I feel like I got along with him really well, we worked pretty together, and we were OK with the ideas we both presented. Right now, it's not quite so, but maybe that will work out in a little bit. Just have to wait a little bit, no? But my new companion works differently, so it's going to take a while. Not fun. Lots of stressing. But, the work is good, no matter what this is like!

For transfers we had to wake up at 4:30 to get to the Mission Office at 6. Way early. Still trying to catch up on sleep. No worries though, it should be good! Still working hard, just a little more tired.

Language is going good! I miss having Elder Cherd around and my new companion speaks a lot of English (by habit of course). Not really a problem but I'm still trying to make the transition from thinking in English to thinking in Thai. Really hard. Have to correct myself a lot, but no worries! It's lots of fun! Just going to keep working hard and pray for the Gift of Tongues all the time!

Otherwise yeah, the entire week has followed that feeling. Not much to talk about there. Just some disagreements here and there about little things! We're working hard though!

Just emails for today! Otherwise, not much.

I know that if I keep my focus on the work, everything will work out OK! Jesus Christ understands us and loves us. No one can sink lower than the light of Jesus Christ, as once said by Elder Holland. So, I just have to trust in his will and try to become better and work harder. This is probably going to be a tough one!

Love you lots! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

6-11-17 Bangkok Thailand - Transfers Elder Tuttle

Hey there Dad!

Well it seems like everyone is getting back now, huh? That's just so weird to me. A lot of time has passed since I was home last. Oh well! Just keep working hard, huh?

Right now, things are going well but... just one week off. Tomorrow is transfers! So the verdict is... 

I'm staying for another transfer. I'm just ready to get out there for this next transfer, and get people baptized! I still have a lot of weaknesses and still have a lot to work on, but I know that Heavenly Father chooses to work through the weak and the humble. Just have to remember that Heavenly Father's grace is sufficient for everyone, and will make our weaknesses as strengths.

Before I say who my companion is, I'm just going to say that I am going to miss my companion, Elder Cherdchaiyaphum for sure. It has been a great blessing for me to serve with him in this area, to work together with him and, of course, learn Thai from him as well. I learned a whole ton, for sure! But I learned what it means to work hard, to think through situations and really try to rely upon the Lord, through prayer and the Spirit. I'm going to miss him a ton, but he's got more to do now, and actually take care of his future! (This was his last transfer after all!)

My new companion is Elder Tuttle. I haven't met him yet so I have no idea what he's like but... everyone says he's good! They say he is super tall, and so that will be fun. No more native companion but that's ok. Every companionship is going to be great if we work hard! We'll see how it goes next transfer, but most likely this next transfer will be my last one here. I've been in this area about 2.5 transfers now, but I'm counting it as just about 3 transfers. So, we'll see how that goes! But most likely I'll be moving! However, this month I'll hit my 6 month mark in country. 6 months! Well, that's a long time no? That means I'll have been a missionary for 8 months. It's going by way too quickly, but it's still going well!

Ok. Enough about transfers. This last week was super great! We had a baptism last Saturday for our long awaited investigator... Brother Tiger! He went to church two Sundays ago so he could get baptized on Saturday! This last Sunday following, he received the Holy Ghost, so now he's a member 100%! I thought his testimony was great after the baptism. He said along the lines of: "I'm really happy I got baptized and followed Jesus... I'm happy that I learned with the Elders.... That's it!" Then almost walked off, but then returned to say "in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen" So great! It was a great moment! Also, we had another confirmation last Sunday for Sister Gate who lives about 2 hours away! She even brought her son, so it was a good day!

Yesterday we went to Elder Kannakham's house, who is an Area Seventy here (the only one in Thailand actually) and we got to have our District Meeting there! I loved to see his example, and see how humble he his, and how much love is in his home. He is a great leader and I love seeing his example for everyone!

I know this Church is true. I know that this is God's work on the Earth today and I know that we are just servants to help our Heavenly Father with this great work. I still have a lot of weaknesses, I still need to learn a lot, but we learn, we make mistakes, and we improve. In the language, in our teaching, there always room to improve. But Heavenly Father will bless us and I pray that my companion and I will have enough FIRE to find those people who Heavenly Father has prepared already!

Love you lots! I'll talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Thailand, Bangkok Mission

Friday, June 9, 2017

6-4-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey there Dad!

My week has been pretty good. Lots of good work! We had... a BAPTISM yesterday! So good. The only problem is that she lives far away from the church, about 2 hours, so it is a challenge for her to get to church on a weekly basis. No worries though, she has a strong testimony, in my opinion. Hopefully the foundation will be on Jesus Christ, and keep building on our sure foundation. It will be good, for sure.

The weather though? Pretty good! Hot, but it also rains... a lot! I have pictures from day last week, so I'll get that up for you as well! It was pretty bad, and I was drenched. It rained for about 5 hours straight, so that's how it goes!

Sounds like you had fun at the shooting range! Lots of fun! Can everyone defend the family now? Sounds like it! Mom still might have a little bit of trouble... oh well! Should be good.

Turns out my legs are still going strong, jumping is still going good! As well, sprinting is still ok! Distance? Not really that ok, but I'm working on it... hahaha. I do miss volleyball though... Oh well! One day, indeed!

So we went to the Government Center last P-Day and I actually got a lot of information from there! I found out a lot about where Grandma in Thailand died, where she lived, the year she was born, and the current address of my uncle here, I suppose! Cool stuff! Nothing on Grandpa though... I might need to go to a Wat over there, and see what they have. Apparently they keep good records there, so we'll see!

This week, we're going to an Island though! Should be fun! Called Gokret. I have no idea what we'll do there, but it should be fun!

Sounds like things are fun back home! Life here in the mission is good. Just working hard and always progressing! That's what this Gospel is all about. Keep the train, and the fire going! Love you lots! 

- Elder Collin Decker

Friday, May 26, 2017

5-26-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey hey!

Sounds like a week, no? Sounds like you had a ton of stuff to do! Believe me, you probably know already, that is a blessing in disguise as well. There's nothing more I despise than wasted time. I'm ok with time for travel and stuff like that, but it worries me when I have a little bit of blank space. Usually that gets filled with inviting, but then we have to decide to go somewhere and... it becomes just a tad more stressful than I would prefer. Not really stressful, but not really that sabaay either. The days when we have to jet from appointment to appointment are often the best days for me. Lots of fun, just the feeling that you are on the Lord's errand, and he is helping you.

So, as for this last week, which I didn't get to cover: It was fairly normal. Pretty good and such but then Friday: switch-off day. Well... it was fun to say the least. I went on switch-offs with my companion from the MTC, Elder Pfleuger! My companion, who is the district leader, went with the other companion to their area, so I was working in my area. Needless to say, we went exploring a bit. Not too far, but we then proceeded to encounter a lady with all black teeth (which the older people think is cool). Invited her, but she didn't want to learn, which is fairly common. Went back to teach an older lady that Elder Cherd and I had taught before. Found out her daughter was there (who is like almost 30) and she had been Christian before, but just did Buddhist stuff because of her family! Pretty cool. She's become a pretty solid investigator of ours. She and her mom have a baptismal date now, so that puts us at a potential of 6 people for this transfer... we can do it! Just need to have faith.

Later that day, Elder Cherd had told me "OK, for this investigator, you are going to be the one to get the signature so Brother Tiger can get baptized." Well, I was still on switch-offs, so it really was up to me. Anyways, it was really good! I taught Brother Tiger a little bit, and then went to talk to his grandma, who is the one that really takes care of him. I felt the Spirit work through me so much, because I know that I can't negotiate at all, but the Spirit was working through me for sure. So, it ended up that I got the signature from her! Now, all we need to do is get him to church a little bit more... but that's ok! He's not that old, almost 12, so we'll keep working with him.

Other than that for this week, we had a lesson with an atheist, who believes in science. It's a little hard to teach to people who have beliefs such as that. He questioned our faith a little, which is normal, so I went back home and started studying. In that moment, I felt the Holy Ghost speak to me, and help me to confirm what I knew already, and then added even more to it. I realized that it just isn't possible for me to lose faith. I can think to myself in questions, but to doubt, even after track season, even after weird lessons like that, I came to the realization that I just can't doubt. It doesn't really work that way. So thank you, Mom and Dad, Kaleb and Kai, for helping me have a good like at home where we were raised with faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. To have good examples gave me a solid foundation, and gave me a good seed, which has now taken root strongly in my spirit.

By the way a general authority is coming to visit Thailand today so that should be fun!

I know without a shadow of a doubt that Heavenly Father is real. He watches over us, and he loves us. Jesus Christ lives. This is his true church. Just read the Book of Mormon if you ever have doubts, for the book leads us to faith. This is God's church, and I am in his vineyard. The work is great, the language is great, the country is great and God's love is great, as well as real.

Love you! Don't get too stressed Dad! Kaleb's home, he'll help with all of that!

- Elder Collin Decker

Monday, May 15, 2017

5-14-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey hey!

Even though we skyped, I thought I would send another email for today! It will great though, seeing you guys and skyping! Lifted my spirits for sure! 

The performance sounded great! I'm glad to hear that it is doing well! I hope that everyone over there is doing great. Sounded fun too!

The weather here is bipolar as well! Rain and sun, sometimes both! Thunderstorms as well!

My companion is doing great! We had a rough week as far as the work goes, but it's good! We're trying hard, so I hope the Lord will bless us for our work!

Hope everything is still going well back home! I love you lots Dad! Keep it going strong!

- Elder Collin Decker

Sunday, May 14, 2017

5-7-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey Dad!
So this week has been a little weird huh? With the email in the middle of the week last week it was a little different, but that's ok. It's been a good week for me though!
The lightning was cool! Made some cool sounds as well. Elder Cherd told me that thunderstorms aren't all that uncommon here. Sounds like it should be fun! Rainy season is just about here, no matter if it is hot or not, so we will get some periodic rainstorms here and there. Should be lots of fun!
I was sitting there just the other day, thinking to myself "Wow, Kaleb is going to be home soon. Isn't that weird?" In reality, I was only thinking about this because I found out the other day that my companion, Elder Cherdchaiyaphum เชิดชัยภูมิ is actually on his last transfer. He's going to จบ here. Weird huh? So, it looks like I'll be here for another little while, probably this transfer and next transfer as well. So, in another 6 weeks, you can probably say I'm going to stay here, which will be good. I'm glad to help, wherever I am. But I've learned a lot in the short time that he's been here. It sure has been lots of fun! I can just speak in Thai all the time, and at times, don't really have to speak in English, at all. Think in Thai, speak in Thai, try and improve my accent, and the whole bit. Lots of fun!
Funny story though. The day of transfers, Elder Bastian had to leave way early in the morning, about 4 or so in the morning, and the other companionship in the ward met us at our house here in Pakkret. So Elder Bastian and Elder Knudsen headed down to the office with each other while Elder Whitaker and I just slept until our new companions arrived. Well, as it turns out, the Sisters from our district had told my companion to go to Central Plaza at Chaengwattana (which is a mall) because they didn't know how to get to our apartment. So, Elder Whitaker's companion makes it safe (who happens to be Elder Pflueger, my MTC companion), and we go to Central, which is also right across the street from their apartment. Convenient as well. So, I go with them to go and try to retrieve my companion because he would be waiting there, probably, on the street or some odd like that. Well, it turns out that he had talked with Elder Bastian before leaving, so he ended up going straight to the apartment. Now I was at Chaengwattana with the other companionship, while my companion was at the condo. This meant there was only one solution: I take a taxi to go over to the apartment. But, by myself. Again. It wasn't bad at all. I pretty much understood 85 percent of what he was saying and the whole bit. Just some words here and there that I didn't understand but understood what he meant. It was good, and I managed to get home by myself (yay!). Then the rest of that day was as normal, proselyte and teach, find some people. It was a lot of fun!
Yesterday, some students from BYU performed in a fireside at the church building, which we had the opportunity to see because we were there all day. Lots to do that day. Teach at the church, help with choir, actually have church, go to the Ward Council Meeting, it was all good fun. And, at the end of it all, we had been there since 9 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon, or evening, depending on how you see it. The fireside started at 6, so, what was the logical thing to do? Stay and watch the fireside with one of our investigators, and count it as our Personal Study time, so we don't have to feel bad about going. It was pretty good! They're all here to perform around Thailand and Southeast Asia and the Fireside was good, for all the members, and for us as well. Fun! Speaking of firesides, we are actually going to have one of the Apostles come to Thailand on the 25th of this month, so it should be lots of fun for us! He's going to have a special meeting just for missionaries, and then for members later that day. It's going to be such a cool opportunity! I'm excited for sure.
Right now, the work is great. Lots of people to work with, lots of people we are trying to help. Right now we have 7 people who have a baptismal date. It's going to be hard work, but we're going to help them reach their goal for sure! Just need to work hard with them.
The Lord helps every one of his servants for sure. He loves everyone, every single sheep, every single child of God. I just pray, always, that I, and the other missionaries who are around me, can be effective instruments in the hand of the Lord, and try to follow his will always, and overcome the world. It seems like I have had to overcome a lot while I have been here on my mission. Fears, lack of skill, language, a whole lot! But, I know the Lord guides us, and we just have to have the humility to accept his will, be exactly obedient, and we will have everything we need, and help those around us.
Love you lots! I love the country, the work, the language, and the people! This is definitely the true church, and this is God's truth on the Earth. Talk to you soon!
- Elder Collin Decker