Sunday, January 29, 2017

1-29-2017 Sakon Nakhon Thailand

Hey there Dad!

So we have a little while longer to email now! It's all good fun! But exactly right. We leave a ton earlier, plan in the morning, proselyte, companionship study can be cut in half, we plan when stuff happens. It's just a blur! But it will work out. To be honest, if our investigator needed to meet in the morning, we've already switched our schedule around for that! Not much new, but is more... acceptable now!

Sounds like things are fun at home! Work sounds great! Hope it keeps going well for you, and is enjoyable at the very least!

Food is good! Just getting acclimated. Honestly, I know we say don't drink out of the water they give you but... too late. All of the other missionaries aren't sick, and I suppose my genetics would make me half ok with it... But I'm not sick yet! It just isn't expedient to buy a whole ton of water everytime, and I can't buy a case of water because I would have to carry it on my bike... So we have a couple problems! Oh well. Everything has actually been fine! No stomach problems as far as I know! Last week was worse, but yeah! All better now.

Speaking about food, we ate red ants last P-Day, and red ant eggs (and my tongue almost got bit). But it was fun! We harvested them ourselves! I'll be uploading a lot soon!
As far as last week, both Brother N and P are progressing well! It's harder to meet with Brother P because he doesn't have a phone, but we meet with him pretty often! He is great, and still super accepting!

However, we think we can get Brother N baptized this coming Sunday! We just need to pray with him, and help him overcome his problems with the Word of Wisdom. Patience, time, and faith is the best cure!

Went on Switch-Offs yesterday with Elder Johnson. It was fun! The greenie and him, the junior companion in the other companionship, riding all over Sakon Nakorn. We had 6 lessons planned but... every single one got canceled! Oh well. So yesterday, I got very comfortable with inviting, and realized that I should probably speak a little slower when I'm nervous. Oh well! It's a work in progress, and always have to try!

Thank you Dad! I try, especially here, and now! I want to look back on my mission and think that I tried my hardest, served worthy of my calling, and left no regrets! That's what is compelling me! Diligence and effort are something learned as we exercise diligence and effort. Though, not everything may be easy, there is a quote from President Monson, who quoted a poem.

Good timber does not grow at ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, in rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

I read that in a conference talk called "I Will Not Fail Thee, I Will Not Forsake Thee". By President Thomas S. Monson. It's true! We all have to face our trials.But the harder that life, and the adversary might rage against us, we grow stronger, and soon become unfazed, and stronger than we could imagine possible. We just need to brave the storm, keep moving forward, and keep growing! There is no other way. As in Ether 12:27, we might discover some weaknesses, but those will become strengths in their own due time. Meanwhile, in our afflictions, we can remember 2 Nephi 4:26 to the end, We don't need to be bogged down if something doesn't go our way! Just shake it off, and keep moving forward. So, that is how a mission has been so far for me. Recognizing my weaknesses, gaining strengths, finding more weaknesses, and gaining strength. To be humble and accept these weaknesses is the way of life, and always working to improve despite those weaknesses is a humbling experience.

This has all been realized while I have been trying to learn Thai. Listening and learning is definitely not a strength of mine, but it is necessary! I know I have to keep moving forward, but it is difficult! Like you said, patience and time. I'm very used to actively working, actively memorizing or working somehow, but just listening is a passive sort of learning for me, and much harder for me to do! But, the Lord will provide a way for each of us! Meanwhile, I will try my best to learn this language, so I can more effectively communicate the Gospel, and help people to gain a hope in Christ, to become more converted to the gospel! I really liked this scripture, in Mosiah 3:4:
4 For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.

These are my people (on Mom's side anyways!) So, I just need to simply go preach!
The ants were... sour, and they almost bit my tongue. They bit everyone else, but I was too quick for them! They were vicious little things though. We got them from a tree! I have the pictures uploaded already so you can see! It was a lot of fun!

My companion is doing good! We're starting to teach more together now, more 50 50, which is nice! We only have 6 in our district, 2 sisters 4 elders, and us 4 elders live in the same house, so it's fun!
Is Mom learning Thai yet? I told her to last week! We had the weird little brown ball fruits which we had in hawaii... Don't know what they're called, but they're good!

We played badminton this week. I haven’t really played that before. Yep! It was fun, and good exercise. They thought I had played before but I just had good spacial awareness, and played only a little at home! We did both! My forearm hurts though... but I just want to play volleyball... :( oh well! One day!

I'm still working out, but the food is so cheap it is hard not to overeat... But good! I bought a jump rope, so that should help! They like la khra instead (its like foot volleyball).
Its about badminton sized with a special kind of ball that they used... but i'm not that skilled at kicking a ball.!

Yep! I bugged mom about learning Thai!

The ants were... interesting! Don't worry, the members bug you as well if you gain weight! She already does! Her Mom too, so... Its all good! Not all the time though! Just poking fun!
I try hard here! There's nothing else to do. Work hard, and we will be blessed. If we work hard and see nothing, its just a test of our faith, to see if we will keep faithful. As we must always! By the way, I've been here for 1 month!

I'm just glad to be here, and to learn Thai, and to help people come unto Christ!
That;s how the mission goes! But adversity must be faced in order to grow! Tough times are alwyas there! So no reason to get down. I really do like those verses in 2 Nephi 4 though. They really speak to me if I'm ever frustrated!

Yep! Faith is everything here! One whole month, and I look at how much I have progressed! Now, i hope to keep it up, and keep learning, and keep helping everyone!

But don't worry, not all has been smooth sailing so far! But, can't get down when things don't go your way! Right now, i'm just frustrated about learning how to speak, and understand correctly!
Otherwise, life is pretty straight forward! Inviting is difficult, just street contacting or waiting outside of Big C to contact people! Its hard to talk to them!

The branch is good! Still friendly. I'm sure you've received pictures from Sister First already, but it is a lot of fun! About 76 came to sacrament? It was pretty good! Need more to be a ward though! And a stake!
All right, that's it from me! Say hi to everyone at Church for me! Love you lots, and talk to you soon! The mission experience is one I wouldn't trade for anything!

- Elder Collin Decker

Sunday, January 22, 2017

1-22-2017 Sakon Nakhon

Too much to say! But I'll go with the answers for right now!

Tell Kai to keep moving along and practicing! Hard Work is the only way to get better!

So language memorization is good! I've experienced a big slow down as far as vocabulary (mostly because I can't study all day) memorization, but that's ok! I'm really focused on listening skills. Conference talks, mission videos, etc etc, all in Thai! Of course, not being afraid to talk to people helps as well! Talking and listening, especially with the Members! Try and talk with them every chance I get, and not be ashamed of asking questions helps!

Brother Peter is doing great! He doesn't use a phone but we manage to contact him anyways. We're going to teach him the Plan of Salvation soon, but we just have to get over to his shop at a good time! He's been helping out with his sister's marriage so he hasn't had a ton of time! But he's great, and really willing to listen.

Brother Nattawat is doing great as well! Lately we have been trying to get him to pray with real intent to find an answer for himself, and know that this Gospel is true. But he's doing good! Not sure about coffee right now, but we will ask!

Both of them have good potential, but we will continue teaching them for sure! Just keep working hard, and always be progressing and becoming better.

As far as day to day life goes we: Wake Up, exercise, eat breakfast, prepare. Then we study for 3 hours till 11 in the morning or so. Then we do training till 12. Have lunch somewhere, and then go teaching/inviting. Typically, there isn't very much door to door here because everyone has these big gates in front of their houses. So, we just do street contacting. Most people we teach come to the Church to be taught. Less-Active work as well! We also have English classes to teach, SPorts Night, Book of Mormon Class, etc. Lots of fun! Good ways to fill the less effective evening hours when it is dark outside. People do smile all the time, and they are all really nice! Nicer than I could believe.

We also had Zone conference! That was tons of fun, though Prathaan Sxa is crazy! (In a good way). He just has a lot of fun with the Missionaries here (he's the First Counselor in the Mission Presidency). Very different than Prathaan Johnson, but that's ok! It was fun, and I really liked meeting the other people in the Zone! We learned a lot about contacting, and teaching Repentance!

It is a lot of fun for sure!

Talking with everyone and its good to practice! Just being humble and asking... but its all good! Just one big circle! Reading, speaking, and listening!

There are 30 missionaries in my zone and about 170 in the mission.

All right, that's it from me! I'll talk to you soon! Love you!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

1-15-2017 Sakon Nakhon Thailand

Hey there Dad!
Wow! It still seems super cold in Washington... It is "cold season" here but really, it's like summer in Washington. It was a pretty good time for me to come here! Solid 80 degrees doesn't really bother me at this point. So pretty mild!

Hey hey, I'm glad Mom is getting better! Lots of people got sick here too, just last week or so. Must be a Thai people thing... :) And plan good! I can take you only around Sakon Nakhon right now... but that's ok! We'll see about after my mission!

Oi, Kai got his driver's license? That's weird! At least he can drive himself to school now! That should be lots of fun! Just hope he keeps working hard in math, and don't let it get him down! I realize how much I miss the simpleish life of school, but I wouldn't trade it for now! Just a little reminiscing.

As for the SongTao, it's the TukTuk you were talking about! So pretty self-explanatory from there. In reality, it is a little less than a Song Tao, but it almost looks like one!

Otherwise. this week has been a blur. One thing I do know is that inviting is not fun right now... but it might be in the future na? Being rejected isn't my problem, not at all. My problem is what happens if they do want to talk, and then I don't understand what I am hearing... It's tough! It's important to respond to their needs but it is difficult to keep track of the conversation! Such is the nature of learning the language. I don't know if this really counts as a serious affliction, the the Lord said that "[He] will consecrate [our] afflictions for our gain" (somewhere in 2 Nephi 3 or so). I might have paraphrased a little. But its tough! It is not easy by any means, nor did I ever expect it to be easy. But really, the #2 item on my prayer list, constantly, is the ability to understand what people are saying to me. I can get by in a one-sided conversation just fine, but a real conversation? That's tough, but I know that this takes time. The Gospel and learning things here takes time. Teaching, and understanding both take time to develop those skills right. Speaking as well! So, I know that I have to bear my afflictions and be patient, but it isn't the easiest to gauge "How am I doing?" But faith and trusting the Lord, as I have learned, is what is necessary here.

On to the week. Last P-Day? Didn't do very much, because volleyball didn't pan out, but that's OK! Probably won't do much today either, but that's how it goes! There's always next week.
We had to drop one Sister because she said she wasn't "ready" to read the Book of Mormon by herself. Alas, such is the life of missionaries. We tried hard to have her keep it, but she just gave it back to us. Maybe she'll be ready in the future. We're called to harvest, but sowing seeds along the way makes the work far more productive, and good for the people who come after us!
Brother N is doing great. He's come to Church twice now, and he's receiving the lessons well! He says he is going to try to quit drinking coffee! We just need to get him ready and strengthened for a baptismal date!

Otherwise, the big news is... Sister If got baptized! It was all really cool, but very surreal as well. She passed the interview, but she'll be confirmed next week on Sunday. She has a little 11 year old daughter who we gave to the Sister Missionaries to teach because we both feel that they will have more success than we will there. We had our font outside, water kind of cold, but my trainer did the Baptism! My Great-Step-Grandpa (My trainer's, step-trainer's, trainer) helped him along the way with the words. We dunked her three times... but that's OK! It was great for her, and the Spirit was definitely there. We're super happy for her. We just want her to stay active and strong in the church, and keep her testimony.

We got a new investigator called Peter! Cool experience. We were just street contacting (as usual) and we came across this guy in his shop. He invited us to sit down when we started talking to him, and we ended up teaching a pretty simply Restoration lesson! At the end, we said (I said) "Joseph Smith received a record of past prophets, a Book from God, called the Book of Mormon. We know it will help us in our life, and yours, and we would like you to have it." At first he denied it, and I couldn't understand what he was saying so I thought "shoot, too early!" But Elder Bjarnson understood that he was saying, "I can't take this! It's too important!" That was pretty sweet to hear. He pointed out his goosebumps and everything. So we'll see how that goes!
Alright, that's it from me! Missionary life is difficult, and the language as well, but all these things take time and faith! I love you lots, and talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Sunday, January 8, 2017

1-8-2017 Sakon Nakhon Thailand

Hey hey Dad!

One full week In-Field done! It went by pretty quick, but also pretty slow if that makes any sense.
So after we sent emails last P-Day, we went to a Wat over on a mountain! I can't remember exactly what it was called, but it was great, and I took a lot of pictures there, so I'll be uploading those shortly! Some cool spiders, lots of cool carving and buildings though! The culture here is pretty amazing, and cool!

As far as the language is going, it is getting a lot better! I went from last week, not understanding the Gospel Principles class at all, to understanding a lot, a good majority of the words being used! At this point, I'm trying to "think in Thai" as one of my MTC teachers (Brother Staten) advised us to do. It is difficult, at times, but I feel as though it is really helping! It is just a strange concept to "fundamentally" know a word, and not its translation in to English, but that's how it goes! If learning a new language was easy, why would we have spent 2 months in the MTC? Reading is still somewhat slow though... but I'm working on it! It has been a lot better as of late, but I can always improve. Everyday, when I wake up, I feel like I understand more and more, even though I might not know what the people may be saying word for word, that's OK! Just have to rely on the Spirit after that. Well, always, but really rely on the Spirit after that!

We got two really cool investigators last week! We were contacting in this little neighborhood (kind of creepy because there is this one lady who smells like alcohol and chews Betelnut, which is a highly addictive nut with Nicotine that turns your mouth blood-red...) but there were a lot of cool people there! One guy said he really liked to study religions, so we gave him a quick lessons, talked about the Book of Mormon, and set up a return appointment later! His name is Brother N, and he even came to church with us yesterday! During Gospel Principles, Prathaan Jack (our Branch President) was talking about the temple, and then he was saying we can prepare, and then proceeded to list all the commandments we teach about as missionaries in their entirety... So Elder Bjarnson and I were just thinking "Well, shoot, we really hope this doesn't scare him!" It turned out great though, and we taught a lesson just after church, and clarified any questions he had, as well as teaching the Plan of Salvation. It was great!

We also have another investigator called Sister N. She can read the Book of Mormon so fast! In our lesson with her yesterday, she read 5 Chapters from the Book of Mormon in about half an hour or so! It was pretty insane, and she seems really interested! We'll see how our future lessons will go!
Our baptism didn't follow through this last Sunday! Our District Leader, when interviewing he said that she didn't quite understand Repentance all the way, so we should re-teach her that principle. Which is fine! Just teach her, and help her clarify and concerns she might have about Baptism! She has a strong testimony already, but we just need to clarify, that's all!

The members are so great here! They're really friendly, and are always willing to talk with us! I like talking to them because I don't feel particularly weird about asking them to speak slower so I can write what they're saying down... That would be a bit weirder in a lesson! Just always asking me questions has been helping me grow, and learn more quickly! I'm glad to be serving here, and to be here with Elder Bjarnson! Missionary life is difficult, but always rewarding!

Talk to you soon! Take care, love you!
- Elder Collin Decker
Thailand, Bangkok Mission