Tuesday, November 14, 2017

11-13-17 Nong Khai Thailand

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

11-8-17 Nong Khai Thailand

Hey hey there Dad!

I'm sorry, this won't be a very detailed email. We have to get back to our area really soon. If I have more time, I'll send a follow up one, but this will have to suffice for now.

So the Lord has been greatly blessing us here in Nong Khai. So many people who are ready. we might not get to all the standards of excellence every week, but we try, and the Lord has blessed us with many people to work with! Definitely, the Lord is working miracles here. I know that through our faith and diligence, the Lord has continually blessed us. I hope to talk more about this later next Monday, but that's how it goes!

This last week, Elder Evans came and totally changed everything for us. This mission has had a culture of "bounce contacting" which is just bouncing from person to person trying to find one who is really interested, which works in some ways, but Elder Evans basically said that that is not how Preach My Gospel says for us to do it. I'm glad though. I feel like we can really show to people that we're servants of the Lord rather than just machines asking if people want their sins to be washed away (which I don't do by the way! Nor have I ever done) or asking if people want to learn about Christ.

Today we helped an investigator in the morning and then went to a museum with the district in Udorn. Again, more on that next week. Don't have very much time at all!

I'll expand more on this next week, as well as pictures the exploring we did this week! Love you lots! Tell everyone, especially Mom and Kaleb and Kai, that I miss them and stay safe with the snow! Make sure we warm up before playing sports/practicing triple jump, ok mai? I love you all! Talk to you next week!

- Elder Collin Decker

Sunday, November 5, 2017

10-29 Nong Khai Thailand

Hey hey there Dad!
Yep, all good, before I got online! I'm actually in Bangkok again today... so that's nice! Have to do work permit stuff... very nitpicky, and very long bus rides here... but we actually took the train this time! I got a decent amount of sleep, but it wasn't all that comfortable...
We actually have found a lot of new investigators! The problem is keeping up with all of them... there is so little time in the week now, that it's quickly becoming very difficult to teach them all. We're trying to help them all progress! It's very difficult for me to keep up with. I'm carrying a lot of the burden out here, I feel like. I try and give opportunities to Elder Smith here and there to help out in planning, but usually responds with that he doesn't have any ideas, which I don't blame him for, since he just came out from the MTC. But we've been able to meet them here and there! Usually it's about a half hour bike ride to get out to that area, so we have to plan well when we're going over there!
Elder Smith is still pretty quiet... It's a little difficult for me to be honest. I want him to talk to members because that's the best way to learn the language: just talking! Members don't bite either, they'll only help, and they won't say that you're a bad missionary because your Thai is bad, they understand if they're new missionaries after all!
I'm feeling fine! Just stressed here and there, mostly trying to help Elder Smith, helping him become a good missionary, while also trying to help the area grow, and keep it up! Nothing less than help from the Lord will get us through this one! Exercise is good, and I'm taking my vitamins! But Thai food is great, and cheap here, so we don't really eat at home often.
Sounds like football is going well as well! And volleyball, so that's exciting!
This last week was also the Late King's funeral, so that was pretty weird! On Thursday, everyone was dressed in black and President told us to avoid inviting that day, so it was pretty somber. They really did love and respect the King. The funeral just got over a couple days ago, and they built some pretty fancy structures the other day to have the funeral done.
We've seen miracles out here though! Last week, we had to go send a form to the mission office, and we ended up finding a new investigator there! He actually contacted us after hearing me read from the Book of Mormon out loud. He said he was really interested, and wanted to meet that day! So we did, taught him about the Restoration of the true Gospel, and then gave him a date to be baptized on the 26th of next month! So we'll see how that goes. We want him to come to church 2 times before then, but he lives pretty far, so we'll see if he can make it happen. Otherwise, we'll be teaching over the phone more likely than not.
Life is good, and I know that the Lord won't let us fail as we trust in him, and let the Spirit guide us! Love you lots! Talk to you soon!
- Elder Collin Decker

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

10-22-17 Nong Khai Thailand

Hey Dad!

50 already? Wow! I hope you had a great birthday as well! "1 year older and wiser too..." right? 

So this last week has been an absolute blur. But I did get a brand-new missionary! His name is Elder Smith, and he's from West Point, Utah. He's pretty nice, and he has a good attitude. A little quiet, but seems to look like he's ready to work hard! But we managed to see a lot of people to teach them last week! We also got one new investigator before transfers happened, but we'll need to see about if when we could meet her, since she said that she wasn't free on the day we appointed. So we're working on that. But we did have opportunities last week to go out and find new investigators! We found about 5 new people to teach, 2 of them should have been new investigators about 3 weeks ago, but we hadn't had an opportunity to sit down with them and teach (these two are about 12 and 9 years old). They come to church regularly though! So we're trying to help out our investigators build more faith, and really teach to their needs! 

So Elder V and I took a night bus down all the way to Bangkok, get there, and then I have a trainer's meeting where they instruct us on how/what we should be doing as missionaries. Then we have the trainee's meeting where we go over a couple things, together, about what we should be doing as a companionship, what our expectations are, and then meeting our new greenies! So it was pretty exciting.

While we were in Bangkok, we had an opportunity to go visit one of my old areas while we were waiting for our bus (we were scheduled to leave at 10:00 in the night)! So I went and visited Brother จี้(Jii), Sister แกะ(Ga [a - as in apple]), Sister Alisa, Sister Rin, and Sister เบรี้ยว (Briao). It was fun to see all of them again, and then just see how my old area in Rewadee is doing. They're all doing great, and we ate pizza together before we left. Brother Jii helped us by taking us to the Office and then to the Bus Station. He is honestly so nice, and Sister แกะ brought us food as well! They're all way fun to talk too, and one of people I visited has her papers in to be a missionary soon! All she needs to do it get interviewed, and then it will be all good!

Then we took the night bus back up, so there wasn't really any good sleep for us there and back (at least for me) so I'm pretty tired and trying to recover... But we got to go out and teach a lot of people on Saturday, and then on Sunday, my tire went flat on the way to church (really close to the church!) so we couldn't go anywhere after that, so the members drove us to where we needed to get to... so awesome!

I feel as though one of the bigger struggles for me as far as the work goes (for this transfer at least) is to apply all the things I have learned from studies and from the scriptures. I feel like I know, conceptually, how to be a good missionary and how to help other people on the path to conversion, but I'm not exactly sure how to apply in the most true sense. I feel like I can see the target, but I'm not quite sure where the bulls-eye is. So I know what I'm aiming at, and how to draw my bow, but I'm not quite sure how far or where the area I'm specifically aiming for actually is. In other words: the target looks a little blurry. When there are two companions who have experience together, they can bounce ideas off of each other, and try to figure out how to best help our investigators. But it is admittedly a little harder to bounce ideas off of someone who has some ideas, but hasn't yet experienced teaching real investigators in Thailand... so I'm just going for it, and trusting in Heavenly Father! He definitely knows how to be successful in the work, that I don't doubt at all.

Another struggle that I feel like I might have is sharing the work... I readily recognize the fact that we both are able to receive revelation for our investigators, but sometimes I feel as though I might want to take most of the burden in planning, and in teaching and communicating, just based on how I was in school with group projects at times... So I'll need to learn to trust in my companion as well, and also give him opportunities to teach and help our investigators more as well! 

As far as differences go: We get an extra half hour of companionship study time, and language study time as well. So I'm trying to do better about having us do roleplays, and helping him to slowly figure out how to teach with me in Thailand (and in the language as well.) Generally, I study the language on my own, but I might need to change that and help out my companion as well. It's a bit worrisome at times, but I know that as we pray for the gift of tongues, we'll see success in our language abilities as well! After all, if we read the account of the Apostles in the Book of Acts, we can see that as soon as the Apostles received the Holy Ghost in its fullness, they were able to speak in diverse tongues, so.. we know the Lord can help us speak fluently right away if it was his will, and according to our faith, but we also need to have this experience as well, so it's all the Lord's plan!

But honestly, I'm happy right now. I'm learning, I'm seeing my faults and weaknesses, and improving. It might be stressful at times, but I know that as I rely on the Lord, I'm slowly becoming who the Lord wants me to be. I'm trying to be exactly obedient, and trying to love and help the people the best I can, even with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. The Lord won't let us fail, neither I, nor my companion, as we trust in him.

Something I learned this past week in studies was just looking at the account of Ammon and in his teaching to King Lamoni. One thing was very clear to me as I carefully read the account in Alma 18: Ammon clearly demonstrated that he was a servant and messenger sent from a very real Heavenly Father through his discernment and his strength. His way of teaching helped King Lamoni to understand who God is, and then King Lamoni recognized Ammon as a servant of God. Ammon then used scriptures, which are the word of God and full of His Spirit, to explain and expound upon the plan of redemption and salvation, starting from the beginning until the time that Ammon was teaching King Lamoni. Ammon clearly demonstrated who he was representing, which was Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, sent by the Holy Ghost who gave Ammon power and confirmed Ammon's witness, which caused King Lamoni to believe and thus be converted. I know that as we are true and faithful servants of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, having no fear in being such a servant for all to see, then the people that we see will recognize that we are righteous disciples of a very real Heavenly Father and a living Jesus Christ. So we, as missionaries, need to be bold, loving, and be obedient unto God and his laws! Then will that power shine forth from us. We will know exactly what we need to do and say.

I love the work, I love progress, and I love Thailand! I love all of these people, and I hope that I will be good enough in my service to the Lord. All these areas, all these people, members or not, deserve the best missionaries that they can get, who are consecrated and true servants of the Lord. That's my goal, and I'll serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength to do it!

Love you lots Dad! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

10-18-17 Nong Khai Thailand Transfers Elder Smith

Hey hey there Dad!

So this last week we went to Loei! That was a blast. We saw some mountains, and went to a cool Rock Garden (it sounds a little strange but just look at the pictures and you'll know how cool it looked!) in the same province. I know that I have a lot of pictures to upload, and sorry for the quick email last week! The entire trip there and back we played a game called Mafia, so that was fun! It wasn't actually mafia, but it was pretty similar! I found out there that I'm a horrible liar... So I guess I won't be lying for the rest of my life, hahaha. The pictures that I uploaded will probably do more to explain than anything else.

So this last week has been great on getting new investigators! We've been going to one area that we're pretty sure not a ton of missionaries have gone before, except maybe if they were of a different faith... So we've met a ton of people who have been prepared to hear the word of the Gospel! We have a lot of solid investigators now, so we're pretty busy when we make our way over there! 

So as far as transfers go the news is...

I'm staying! I'll be here in Nong Khai for another transfer. However, Elder V. will be moving back to one of his old areas, Bang Khen, so he can have a peaceful passing into the next (phase of) life. I'm glad I'll get to work hard here for another transfer! It will be a ton of fun!

So what does that leave me with? I can't exactly just go and be a solo missionary here in Nong Khai, that's not how this works! So... I will be receiving someone who is younger than me into this area! His name is Elder ------.... I don't actually know. When I got transfer calls they didn't tell me, because usually they don't when you train a missionary coming from the MTC! So that says it all: I'm training this transfer. Honestly, over these last couple of days, I've noticed a lot of things I need to work on, and I will have to do a lot of things without the guidance/experience of a senior companion. I have a fair idea of what to do but... we'll see about that! 

In Preach My Gospel Chapter 4, which talks about the Holy Ghost, there is a quote that I really love which has given me some encouragement and hope in the last 24 hours since transfer calls: 

"As the Lord’s servant, you are to do His work in His way and by His power. Some missionaries feel confident that they know how to be successful. Others lack such confidence. Remember, however, that your confidence and faith should be in Christ, not in yourself. Rely on the Spirit rather than your own talents and abilities. Trust the Spirit to guide you in every aspect of your work."

There are plenty of scriptures in D&C which tell us about how our mouths will be filled, and we will be blessed with "sheaves" as well participate in this great work. I know the Spirit will guide me as I trust in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost to lead and guide me.

The work is great, and life is good! I'm truly happy here, and I know that I'm out here to serve with all of my heart, might, mind and strength. I intend to do just that. I love the work and I love Thailand! The people here are so great, and the Lord is blessing us greatly. I'm grateful to be on a mission, and serve the Lord for these short two years!

Love you! Talk to you soon!


- Elder Collin Decker

Thailand, Bangkok Mission

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

10-8-17 Nong Khai Thailand

General Conference and Exploring in Loei (Nong Khai Week 11)

Hey there Dad!

Wow, that's a scary experience! Cars are pretty scary to be honest, especially when things start going wrong... I'm glad that you're safe!

Sorry, we're actually still in the province of Loei, so I don't actually have any time to send anything other than a big email to you, and probably to Mom, Kaleb, and Kai, maybe. So, this one will be loaded.

This last week has been a good last week! We found lots of new investigators for this last week, and have a lot of good potential investigators that we can go visit later this week. Lots of them are over by a strong member's house (actually two of them). So on this Thursday, we have a dedicated day just to going out and visiting them, and teaching them after we complete our weekly planning session. We have about 4-5 people over there who we have not yet been able to teach, but will the opportunity to teach them based on their interest. So if that is the case, it will be a good way to kick it into gear for next transfer that is coming soon! Some of our older investigators will be receiving dates as soon as we can meet with them again, which will definitely be this week. Well, receiving an invitation to be baptized on a certain date, but its really up to them if they accept.

This transfer I realize that I haven't really been keeping good track of my investigators for everyone to hear about, so I'll just apologize for that here. Anyways, the reason I say that is because we had a baptism this last Sunday! Her name is Sister Ran, and she was contacted by Elder V. in the very first week we were here in Nong Khai. We've been working with her ever since then, and she lives really close to the Elder's house here, so that's really convenient for us. We've been teaching her for several weeks on end, and in the end, she committed to being baptized after she slowly received a testimony of the Gospel, and of Jesus Christ! We're still helping her, of course, but it was nice to see someone be baptized after 3 months of working hard here in this area. It was especially nice to see someone who changed their lives for the better, and is currently embracing the Gospel more and more. So, that happened!

Otherwise, it was General Conference, so I was glad to have been able to see and hear all of it! I would have to say that my favorite talk from Conference was from Elder Holland, about "Be Ye Therefore Perfect... Eventually". I realize that pride is sometimes, or more often than sometimes, a problem on my part, in lots of little things, and some big things. I've been trying really hard to act humble, but when I get hurt feelings over little things, I realize that it is because I am carrying around a little too much pride. I've been reading President Uchtdorf's talk from last General Conference given in the Priesthood Session, and also "Beware of Pride" which was given by President Ezra Taft Benson. Those have been helping me to pinpoint my weaknesses and work on them but... Pinpointing my own weaknesses is a little hurtful sometimes. Just realizing that I do have those weaknesses (another element of pride?). But, as said in Ether 12:27 - 

"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."

So, sometimes, we need to be humbled in order to see the hand of God. Blessed are those who are humble without being compelled to be so as well. I've been trying really hard to humble myself a lot more. While actions or words may not show it, feelings and thoughts also are a factor, and the Spirit does not work with our pride so long as we try to elevate ourselves. We have to serve for the right reasons and the Lord will grant us success according to our righteous works and desires. I know God's grace is sufficient for me, and sufficient for everyone that humble themselves before him.

So the reason I loved Elder Holland's talk was because I sometimes have the illusion that I need to be perfectly brave and bold, saying everything that the Lord puts into my thoughts, and acting on every impression that comes my way. While that is a worthwhile goal, it is also very hard to attain, so sometimes I become, more or less, stressed and anxious about trying to be "the perfect missionary". Everyone knows there is no such thing as a perfect missionary, and I know that as well. Everyone is progressing, and trying to improve in one way or another. I have my weaknesses, much like everyone else. So Elder Holland's advice in his talk was especially hopeful for me, and helped to refocus on just trying to be better.

On a different note however: The quest for improvement does not allow room for laziness nor does it provide room for saying "that was good enough. I'm good enough now. I'm trying, and I don't need to set my goals that high." I cannot accept that. In Preach My Gospel, it says that our success is measured by our commitment to the work, or so to speak. I believe we show our commitment when we honestly desire to do everything that is within our power to live up to that commitment, to live up to Heavenly Father's expectations, and to help the people that we love (which should be everyone as a missionary!). We do not set our bar for just a "great goal". We set it for the "best goal". And, when we are firmly committed to doing everything in our power to live up to that "best goal", only then do I feel that we can say "I'm trying, and Heavenly Father knows I'm trying. I still have room to improve, but Heavenly Father will forgive me for, and help me with, my own shortcomings." So, as hard as it may be, or possibly unrealistic, I am honestly trying to be a "Consecrated Missionary" who is willing to do anything for the Lord. I know that as I am striving to be so, the Lord will bless me. I honestly desire to help these people escape from the awful clutches of sin, and be able to felt the joy that I have felt numerous times when I have repented. I want them to have the hope that there is a God, who is our Heavenly Father, that has restored the true Church of Jesus Christ through his holy prophets and apostles, and that God can provide anything they need for them, and wants what is absolutely the best for them. That's my desire, and that's why I know that I need to improve, and really try to become a "Consecrated Missionary" who is willing to put everything out for the Lord. Indeed, serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength.

In otherwise, I am in Loei right now! It's been fun, and we went to go see a mountain, which is said to be a sea of fog, so I'll make sure to get those up later! We're still going to go to other places so it will continue to be fun!

All right, looks like that's it! I love you lots Dad! Tell everyone else that I love them as well! I don't actually have time to email everyone... but I'll be sure to email everyone on Wednesday, October 18th! I love the people, I love the Lord, and I love the work! I have never been more happy in my life, and that's a fact! (Except for a couple times at home, but otherwise...) Being a missionary is awesome, and I know that God is looking out for us and loves us all! I'll talk to you next week!

- Elder Collin Decker

Thursday, October 5, 2017

10-05-2017 Nong Khai Thailand

Lots and Lots of Pig... (Transfer 7: Nong Khai Week 4)

Hey there Dad!

So this last week has been pretty good!

Last week, on P-Day, we went to go see a market! Usually at markets you can buy fabric to make ties and stuff out of, and there was definitely some cool fabric there but... I didn't buy any. One day I might, but for right now, I think I'll hold off... Then we had dinner with our branch mission leader, so that was fun! I had spaghetti, but unfortunately it was a pretty small plate... I was very sad, but it tasted pretty good!

Tuesday, we went to District Meeting in Udorn, as normal! We take a van over there every Tuesday and it usually take about 1 hour to get there and 1 hour to get back. We also ate lunch with President Tiger, so that was nice! We ate at Burger King... Burger King! I didn't even know Burger King existed here, but apparently it does. I had a double cheese burger, and it was pretty good! I didn't realize that I missed beef, but I do, and it was good. It was a tad expensive though... but that's ok! We taught English later on that day after studies, and actually had a dad and his two kids come! They said they would be coming next week (which is this week now) so that's pretty cool! I hope we can get this going better now! I know English is a great way to find people who are potential investigators, but it is also just a great opportunity to serve the people as well!

On a sidenote. Some people get really confused when I first start a conversation with them. A lot of people seem to think I was born here... which isn't true! I then go on to explain about my Mom being from Thailand and then saying I didn't grow up speaking Thai... and then they ask why I came here, and so then I can explain what I am doing here as a missionary. It's a lot of fun, and it's really easy for me to talk about being a missionary from there! 

Wednesday was just straight proselyting/inviting. Lots of fun, just going around neighborhoods, visiting some RCs as well! 

Thursday, we had some long weekly planning, and it was LONG for sure! Planning is very important for missionaries so it was good to try and cover all the steps!

Friday we had sports night at the park! Got a nice picture of a rainbow there! A couple people came, but for the most part we were waiting around for them, partially because the members were scared of the rain... so I ended up talking to a lot of people, inviting them, and also talking to a police officer! He was nice, and I invited him to go to our English class. We also got to see a New Investigator from last week, Brother Fuu, who had learned with the missionaries before! He has a great understanding of the story of Jesus, and he even said that "This book [the Book of Mormon] is an answer to my prayers and I've been looking for something like this for a long time." So that was pretty sweet! We'll be meeting with him more and more often for sure!

Saturday was good! Again, lots of proselyting/inviting. We got to see one of our New Investigators, Brother Gampaeng (Brother Wall). He is just all around nice, so I enjoy talking to him! He was already Christian before, so it fairly easy to explain lots of concepts to him, not super deep, but pretty solid! We also got to teach a Book of Mormon class as well as the Missionary Preparation class, so that was a lot of fun!

Sunday was fast Sunday here, as they show conference one week later than America, for translation purposes. I got to see one of the old APs who finished his mission about two transfers ago! He was one of the people who picked me up from the airport, so that was really nice! We also ate a ton of pork at a member's house for a member get-together kind of thing on Sunday night! It was fun, but I think I got bit by mosquitoes at least 5 times... so it's kind of ichy.

And of course, I can't forget about this morning at 2 AM when the sky decided to dump buckets of water on everything in Nong Khai and then shoot lightning out every 2 seconds so a constant rumble of thunder was present... It was pretty fun! I could only see the flashes, but I heard all of it! I tried to go back to sleep, but it was actually pretty loud... But yeah!

As I come closer to the beginning of next transfer, I realize that I am almost at my 1 year mark. One year! The time has flown by way quick. I hope things just keep getting better and better from here! I remember when I could barely understand any Thai, but now I feel like I'm understanding pretty well, and speaking reasonably well as well! I'm glad that I have the opportunity to serve in this mission! The members here are awesome, and I'm glad that I'm serving in Nong Khai as well! I'm glad I've served in all of my areas! I know the Lord is always blessing us, and will always help us, and as long as we are faithful, obedient, and have the right DESIRE. As we desire to serve God, to love God, and let that desire motivate us, then will we see the Hand of the Lord in our lives!

I love the mission and I am honored to wear this name badge everyday! I'm glad to be a representative of the Lord here in Thailand!

Love you lots Dad! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker