Sunday, September 10, 2017

9-10-17 Nong Khai Thailand

Hey there Dad!

Things are going pretty good here! Not much happened this last week since my last email! Just going out, trying to teach the investigators that we already taught before, and helping them to progress in their knowledge of the Gospel! Going out and seeing members, a little bit like Home Teaching to be honest... I'm glad I had an opportunity to go home teaching with Brother Manwaring while I was at home! I see how important home teaching is, how home teaching really does help! In retrospect, I wish I had taken a little more thought in my home teaching, but I'm glad that I did do it! (Pass that on to Kai so he does better than I did... hahaha.)

(Sidenote: My 'V" key doesn't seem to work in the lower case form, so I'm trying to aVoid words with the letter "V"... really sad....)

We're trying hard to keep working here! It seems to me that the branch likes us here more! They're pretty relaxed here in Nong Khai, and the people really are different in the way they act compared to people in Bangkok. But I like it because you can just sit down and talk to just about anyone if you can quickly identify something to talk about. Super friendly, if you are super friendly (for the most part, some people just don't seem to eVer want to talk to anyone...) and if you aren't really friendly, then neither are they. So we be happy, and haVe a good attitude. trying to help the people smile! Then they are more open to the message we bring to them, because they can feel the light of Christ from us!

For example: Yesterday we went contacting (YES! I love contacting by the way, especially here because [see aboVe paragraph]) and I was simply talking to any person that we saw. In their houses, on the street, especially on the street. Not biking too fast at all, and flipping a U-turn each time I saw someone with their gate open. So much fun, and a little funny when the people look confused about why you're there... unfortunately, there are no magic words, and sometimes you might come off as a salesman (which I detest by the way, because what we teach is much better than any worldly product). So we come across 2 people sitting at their table outside of their house, and I start talking to the older lady first, because in general, older ladies appreciate talking to us. I saw they had two dogs: one chihuahua and one Husky (score!) and I just started talking about their dogs. There was a younger man sitting at the table as well, and I wasn't sure how interested he was going to be if we just started to talk about religion right away, so I sat and talked to them about their dogs, and his work, and how he had actually seen us before, and the whole bit! It was a lot of fun, and then we got to teach him a short lesson in the end, about Prayer, and God, and we got to set up a return appointment with him! He said his name is Tom! (Yes, he's Thai as well). So it was sweet, and I love him already. It was a miracle that we found him, and it was so awesome. I LOVE INVITIIIIINGGGGGGG!

Otherwise, we have about 3 people who are starting to progress well, so we're going to extend a date to them very soon! I hope that they will continue to progress and learn!

Everything is going good, and I love the work, and Thailand! This truly is God's work.

Love you lots! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

09-05-2017 Nong Khai Thailand Transfers Elder V

Hey Dad!

Sorry, no title line this time.

So this week is the week of transfers! And so the whole story this time around is... no one is moving from this district. Except one Elder who got sent to Lao. But the two sisters in the district are now training! And the replacement for the now Lao Elder is a greenie. So, we'll have 4 greenies in this district for this transfer! One of them is on his second transfer here, and the others just got here!

Nothing much really happened this week... Last P-Day I actually did get to take a nap, for once, so that was fun! But on Tuesday, after District Meeting, we met with our investigator with a baptismal date, in of which she told us that she would be moving... and she doesn't know where! That was really sad for her and us, but we told her to pray to move close to the church, and that we would pray as well! So no baptism... but we'll keep working hard with the people that we do have!

Outside of that, just working hard and proselyting! Went inviting and visiting members. Members honestly do help a lot! We're hoping to be able to have them help us more, but we'll see about that! 

No plans for today, just relaxing, and lunch with one of my companion's RCs. Should be fun!

Had a cool thunderstorm yesterday, where we saw a bolt of lightning come down from the sky about 200 meters away, so the sound only took about half a second to get to me... and it was loud, and scary. But a lot of fun! We happened to be outside, and thunder like that sounds like a falling tree, which then results in an earthquake... so it was lots of fun!

Oh, and I also went on a switch-off last week, where I was with the DL's companion, Elder Truman, who is great! He has great fire, and great desires. It was the first time actually being someone who is younger than me in the mission so... that was a first! I realized very quickly that I was expected to understand our investigators, almost all of it, so that was fun! We managed to find 2 new investigators for that area, so I hope that they'll progress well!

That's it for me this week! Love you lots, and hope to talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Friday, September 1, 2017

8-28-17 Nong Khai Thailand

So We Went Running (Oh and it was my birthday).... (Adventuring and Whitewashing pt. 5)

Hey Dad! 

I actually got on before midnight today... so that's a first! We'll actually have time to talk! But we'll move internet cafes soon, to a better one that opens later, so we thought we would just get these big emails off first!

So this morning we went running, and I quickly realized a couple things:
1. I'm out-of-shape, running-wise, so that's sad.
2. My feet like to blister when we run, so that is also sad.
3. For some reason or another, I can still sprint, so that's actually a plus.

I haven't actually gained weight here, but I think it would be good to actually be able to run faster than we did so... that will be a work in progress. But I'm exhausted now... I'm ready to just take a nap, hahaha.

Not much to talk about last week other than the last P-Day, which we talked about already! But we do have one investigator who is getting ready to be baptized this coming Sunday, so we're excited for that! Sister Nam Waan been super great from start to finish, and she doesn't really have any problems at all! Besides the reading thing, but we're working on that. The member who is fellowshippping her was actually a school teacher, so she should be able to help with that, more or less. So we're getting her ready to be interviewed this week!

Last week no Solar Eclipse... I would know because we're out in the sun all day... My arms are pretty tan now! My watch tan is pretty prominent though... But on Friday, we went down to the Finisher's Meeting (because my companion is finishing next transfer) so that was fun to be back in Bangkok again! I didn't realize that I would miss Bangkok until I left it... It seems that it will be that way with almost every area, so I think I'll get used to it now. But I got the opportunity to go see one of my old RC's, Brother Ji! My companion also invited some of his RC's to eat Ice Cream with us, but it was good to see him again for sure. We actually got to go to Sport's Night when we were there, so that was also fun! But we took a night bus there, and back, so I hadn't slept on my own bed for about 2 days.... I think I'm still recovering from that, but that's ok!

Otherwise, just hard work, biking around, and helping people in the Gospel! And then yesterday the Members got me a cake, so that was nice of them, and had some other people I met as a missionary, mostly from my last area, call me and wish me happy birthday, so that was all fun! I have yet to eat the cake because I need to bike back with it somehow... it will get done!

I love serving the Lord, and I love this work! I do miss home from time to time, but I know that this is God's work, and I know that God loves everyone! This is God's truth, and we are his servants, to help bring is Gospel unto everyone.

Love you! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

8-21-17 Nong Khai Thailand

Adventuring and Member Miracles (Whitewashing Pt. 4)

Hey Dad!

Sorry that this last email got off a little late (what is it, like 2 in the morning over there? It's not that late/early... hahaha). Looks like I'm going to have to write a lot to make up for the time that we bought.... oh well! Didn't really have an opportunity to send a warning email off this morning, none of the internet shops were open at 6 in the morning so... we didn't really have a good way to warn you guys in advance, sorry about that!

The other thing: Prepare for the flood of pictures/videos. Hopefully that makes up for the lack of time we had to email. I probably won't take more of those biking videos but... it was fun while I did it!s

So this week has been a blast for sure! It's been a lot of hard work in this area, but we're happy to be serving here for sure! This week has been kind of boring to be honest... so I'll go day by day (more or less) and see what I can come up with to share.

Last Monday we actually did prepare for the week... So we bought food, got haircuts and the whole bit. Then we called a lot of people that night, trying to set up appointments with the people that we wanted to meet with.

Tuesday was District Meeting, which is in Udorn. That means that we have to take a van to get to there every single time we go to there, and it takes an hour or so, so it's a little difficult on the time part, but it all works out. Afterwards, we had lunch with President Tiger (He's apart of the mission presidency) who used to be Branch President in Nong Khai, so we had the opportunity to ask him a lot of questions about where/how the missionaries before saw success in the work. Not saying we want to follow them exactly, but it was nice to know! I really think that getting whitewashed in is a good way to find out what really does work and what doesn't in any given area. We have our basic tools and techniques, but we have to build from ground zero as far as finding or anything goes. We're here to infuse new ideas into the area and help the area grow! That's what I think anyways. So, we put out our best effort and try our best. After that we traveled back and studied, invited, and taught English.

Wednesday, we invited, almost the entire day. We met two new investigators! But I'm not sure how interested they really were... but we can still help them through teaching about Jesus Christ and his Gospel so... they don't need to be interested completely. They just need to be willing it learn with us and have a heart open to feeling the Spirit! So that's how that day went...

Thursday... I can't really remember what happened. Needless to say, we invited in the morning, did studies, and then biked about 30 minutes out to our investigator's house. So... that was fun! We got to see some people on the way there that are potential investigators but... none of them really wanted to learn, so that's how it goes! 

Friday, we went and served one of the members early in the morning! It took a little while to get to his house, but we woke up and he picked us up from our house! He actually gave us food to eat in the car on the way over. Then, we helped clean up the street he lived on that had flooded and was now growing grass, everywhere! So we did that, and then he was nice enough to feed us lunch, and we got to know him, and his wife better! Brother Somlak is the 1st Counselor in the Branch Presidency and he's super funny. He can speak English just a little bit, but enough to form some decent sentences. The only thing is that usually they're funny comments about random things. I can't even remember all of the things that he said, but just random bits here and there. Then, somehow, the rest of the day was filled up with other bits and things to do. Had to go buy a mattress for a switch-off that we were doing, and studies, followed by Book of Mormon Class plus Sports Night, so... that's how that goes! We had a fair amount of people there, but not a whole ton...

Saturday, we had a switch-off with the Zone Leaders here in Nong Khai! I got to see the good example of Elder Santeco while we served here. He's so happy all the time, so it's nice to see how he loves the work, and the people! It helped me to remember that I can still enjoy the work and work hard at the same time! No need to stress all of the time!

Sunday we went to church and we didn't have a real opportunity to plan in the morning to plan... but we headed off to church, and then the miracles started to happen! We get to church and find that one of the members brought an investigator along to learn and to be at church! This investigator Nam Waan, had been to church before and had already been keeping the Word of Wisdom! It was really amazing to see someone like her. We still need to help her overcome some other problems, but she had no problem accepting a date to be baptized! We're going to work with her a lot over the next couple of weeks to help her get ready! Then later on, we taught a member family, and tried to help them with inviting their friends though using the Plan of Salvation. That was more of Elder V's idea, but I'm glad we did it! I didn't oppose at all, but we ended also receiving some advice on people they want us to visit (this family is the family of the 2nd Counselor of the Branch Presidency) so we'll be trying to work with those people! The people they identified were RC/LA members, so they definitely are a higher priority! When we baptize, we want to retain, not simply just baptize them and let them fall off the radar! We teach Repentance and Baptize Converts. Later on, we had some members call, and they wanted us to go teach some people that were at their house that day! It was a couple that we met, and they were super ready to hear the message of the Gospel! Now as to whether or not they're golden... I couldn't say. But they're pretty solid! So we'll keep working with them! Miracles, worked through members! Members are a great help to us honestly, and we're glad to have been able to gained their trust to this extent!

Earlier today (Monday) we went adventuring with the District! We went to see a "Skywalk" which was a Wat on top of a mountain, but it was foggy, so we couldn't see anything... Then we went to go see a cave that was super narrow... but super awesome! It was a ton of fun! I have pictures/video, so hopefully you'll be able to see that... Then we went to see the river that divides Lao and Thailand (again... because I see that on a daily basis... hahaha). But it was at a Wat, and it was quiet and pretty peaceful! Then we had an opportunity to go see a waterfall! So got some good pictures there too! Lots of pictures, so hopefully you enjoy them!

All right, that's it for this week for me! I really do enjoy the work, and I'm glad that I have an opportunity to be a missionary here in Thailand! I know that this is God's truth, and I know that I am doing the Lord's will here! The Lord will bless us for our diligence and continued dedication to this work! 

Love you lots Dad! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

08-15-17 Nong Khai Thailand

Zone Conference! (Whitewashing Part 3)

Hey there Dad!

I feel like I forgot to update a couple weeks ago that... I finished the Book of Mormon in Thai! July 27th, 2017. It's been a couple weeks since then... but I thought that would be worth telling! I got it finished in the last week of last transfer, so right now, I'm back in 2 Nephi 22, all the way since then. The reason I've been trying to read the Book of Mormon so much was because of some wise words that I received from a missionary in my first switch-off while I was in Pakkret: "The best times you will learn are when you feel the Spirit, because the Spirit is the best teacher for us. That includes the language! So the best ways and times to learn the language is when you read from the Book of Mormon, and when you are teaching." So I've spent a great majority of my time trying to read and understand the Book of Mormon and undoubtedly I've seen blessings from doing that. As well as trying to learning the language whenever I can... but it's been fun! But the dialect/accent here is just a little different... So back to square 2-3 (not quite square 1, hahaha).

As for exploring adventures: We went to Udorn last week to do some activity with the District! Udorn is about 1 hour away, so it's not all that far from here at all. So we all went to a member's shop who is a physical therapist, of some sort or some odd like that, but she had a fancy "scale" that would measure your body fat, your bone density, and the whole bit... So that was interesting! Told me I was 80.4 kg (about 175 pounds, give or take, so that's pretty normal). But the funny part was: It told me I has 60.4 kg of muscle and 3.3 kg of bones. So... the rest goes to fat/water/organs(?). But I thought that it was funny because my companion weighs about 67 kg, give or take, so I almost have as much weight/density in muscle as he does altogether... so maybe working out in the morning has payed off! Have to try to keep my legs strong at least... hahaha. Then we went ice skating that day, and my feet cramped, as usual. And I almost fell several times, but it was fun! 

So last week was Zone Conference! It's always a great blessing to see the leaders here in the mission, especially President Johnson, and the Assistants to the President. I can feel how much love they have for the work, and how much they love Thailand. In other words, how much FIRE they have. They're great examples for all the missionaries. Plus, all the missionaries in the Zone are great people, and hard-working missionaries, so I enjoy learning from all of them as well. I still have a lot to learn, so I'm glad to be able to learn from them, and the Zone Leaders here too. (on a side-note: I've been with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Lovelock, since he first became a Zone Leader and have been with him in the same district for 4 transfers now, so that's been pretty fun!) Just being at Zone Conference helps me to have more motivation for the work and to try harder to be better for the people here in Thailand. It's also a great privilege to be able to interview with President Johnson every Zone Conference and just discuss how things are going for me and the area as well!

We actually live in a house, and we rent it for, about 150 dollars a month or so? So I think that's pretty fair. The kitchen is kind of outside, kind of not, meaning that air from the outside comes in, but nothing else (besides tiny tiny bugs).  Yep, the entire kitchen! And that's actually true! If I set something on fire or burn something, it doesn't destroy the house as well... :)  Tiny flies come in, and that whole bit, sometimes a tiny gecko might wander in, but we let those stay because they eat the bugs and they're cute.  Generally the bill for water and electricity is about another 70ish dollars or so, so all in all it's about 200 dollars, plus some, I think, to rent that place out! Not that big though, that's for sure!

The area is still trying to grow! The trouble that we're finding here is that it's a little more difficult to find new investigators. We're looking for good places to try and invite people to learn about the Restored Gospel, but no one really has wanted to listen to us as for as that has been going... but as we try to follow the Spirit, we'll be blessed for sure! We're getting this area back on its feet and helping it grow again! I know that as we're obedient, and try to be successful missionaries (as said in PMG), we'll be blessed for our efforts, and our desire to serve God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. We will receive exactly what we need from Heavenly Father, and the people around us will receive exactly what they need, because God loves us!  The branch might take a little while to grow, but we're working on it! It seems like the members like us so far, so i'm glad about that one!

I love Thailand, and these people! It truly is a privilege to serve the Lord. Love you, and talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

08-06-17 Nong Khai Thailand

Apparently my Left Hand Doesn't Do Very Much... Ever. (Whitewash Week 2)

Hey hey Dad!

So this week we only are emailing for one hour... again. I'm not particularly happy about that but, it is what it is. Anyways, onto the email!

So, as I turns out, we don't have anyone to help us play the piano at church, and no one can read music... except for me. So, as it goes, I have the wonderful opportunity of playing the piano! So now I'm learning how to play the piano... I can at least make it through a couple hymns! Thank goodness we had a keyboard at home! Now we have a fancier one that you got... but still! Also have a keyboard at the house here in Thailand, which I can play, so I'm sure learning the piano will take most of my evenings. The hardest part is using my left hand, because I don't think I've used my left hand for anything other than playing games, driving a car, and possibly picking up stuff if my right hand isn't available or enough. So that will be fun!

Right now we're in Udorn, which is about 1 hour away from Nong Khai. I'm going to go find a camera to use, but also we're going to have a district activity, so that will be fun! Not quite sure what's going to happen! I'll try and get more time possibly later on today, but probably not. I'll definitely try to get more time next week though!

The week has been good! Just trying to work hard and teach. We're consistently getting new investigators! But also losing some along the way as well. it's a little difficult, but that's the way it goes! We have one person getting ready to be baptized in about two weeks, so we're getting him ready for that, but we're going to need to work hard to find other people to teach as well, because this guy is progressing way fast, and understands a fair amount already! It's great!

All right, that's it for me this week! Love you, and talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

7-31-17 Nong Khai Tailand

Whitewashing and Exploring (Back in the Issan - Udorn)

Hey there Dad!

Sorry, for real this time, I don't have a whole ton of time because whitewashing an area = you go find your own internet place to email from. Which means... We biked for an hour or so looking for one. But, that's ok!

I understand how that feels when you enter into something/someplace new and... it's not quite organized the way you expected. But, that's ok! We're getting things in order here. Getting the area book filled out, and getting food for ourselves in the house, as well as establishing good relations with the members here! From what I heard, there have been a few Elders who served here who were in the last little bit of their missions, so the members may or may not have been feeling that... but we're working on it. The first step for us when we whitewash in is to establish good member relations! Member work brings friends, and friends become investigators. Investigators, in the end, lead to more souls brought unto Christ through baptism!

Speaking of which, we had a baptism on Sunday! Her name is Sister Pim (my camera is still broken so I don't have any pictures to upload...). She had a great understanding of the concepts in the Gospel, and the Commandments, so I appreciate the service of the Elders who came before us and helped her to be a solid convert. 

Went to Church on Sunday, and turns out there are only 35ish or so people who attend church regularly... we'll work on it, but it's good so far! We've talked with a lot of leaders here, and we're trying to bring some energy into this branch, and otherwise, just working hard and inviting!

Miracle from Sunday (other than baptism): We were biking around in the rain on Saturday (by the way it rains all day some days here... Good thing I have a rain jacket!) and we met a guy, invited him, set up an appointment for Sunday evening, and off we went in the rain. We go back, and he brings 4 of his friends to learn with us, so they all had a chance to learn as well! We'll be going back today, so it should be great!

In other news... the house we're in is a new house that the Elders have only been in for about 3 months so it's pretty clean! We also had an opportunity to work with the First Counselor in the Mission Presidency yesterday! President Tiger, lots of fun! We taught a Christian lady, and he helped us out a lot! But it was hard to teach her, because, as said in 2 Nephi 29... She already has a Bible. So, we'll keep working on that one!

All right, that's it from me! We'll get to another internet place faster next time.... love you lots! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

P.S. We have to go at 10:30

P.P.S. I'm getting along with my companion great! He's a little quiet, but he works hard (and works out hard as well...)