Sunday, March 26, 2017

3-26 Bangkok Thailand

Hey hey there Dad!

So you're right, it's hot season. They only have three seasons here though... Hot, Rain, Cold. Life is simple, no? But yeah. Hot. All. The. Time. At least our apartment is cool! We have air conditioning, and our apartment is actually pretty new, so it's not bad at all. It's small, but that's ok. We're close to the center of our area so it's all good. But today, it's actually raining, so that's pretty sick! I miss rain, and it's not cold, not warm. Just right. So it's pretty good. However, there was thunder yesterday! No lightning... but that's ok! I just want to see a wicked thunderstorm while I'm serving here! No matter if it was in Bangkok, or somewhere else, I just want to see something like that!

No big plans for P-Day today. Just a lot of relaxing, possibly some sports at the church (i.e ping pong). But it's all good! Relaxing is nice. A little bit of studying here and there but it's all fun mostly on P-Days!

Grandpa would need help still... Hahaha. What does he do for the Mission?

Spring huh? I don't even know what Spring is... Just hot. Hahaha.

A Thailand-Washington Missionary Family Gathering? That sounds like it would be fun!

Not started yet? That's sad... I think prayers would help, for sure! Hopefully, she can get a good teacher!

Moving buildings again? That sounds fun!

It looked like Kai did well! Good first steps. It all takes patience and time, patience and time.

Still waiting on the Branch, but that's ok! We have a lot of patience. We're going to be having 3 baptisms next week though! One will be one of our RC's baptizing his daughter, and then the other two are some of our investigators that I've also taught. It should all be pretty could! We're working with the family, the father and the daughter, a lot. There's a lot of potential for us to help that entire family! The family helps us a lot too!

Language is still going good, just learning still, learning to speak better, and I'm going to start trying to expand my vocabulary just a little bit at a time (mostly Nouns). Doing that will help me to make more comparisons and understand the people better as well! Reading also helps me to understand better as well! Just slowly, getting better, listening to how the members here speak, and try and speak like they do! Always trying to learn and improve. Definitely need a lot of help from the Gift of Tongues. But, missionary life is fun! The members are great, the work is difficult, so life is good. Hard work, is good work!

I uploaded some pictures already!

No transfers for me or my companion this time.  He will almost certainly transfer next time as he has been here for four transfers already.

As far as baptisms go, I'm happy for all of them! They all have friends and family in the church already so it will be great for them!

Contacting is mostly just walking down the street and contacting them. Sometimes we'll go to open air markets and contact there, talking with everyone. It's a lot of fun, as hard as it was for me at first! It got a lot better after we had an activity at the church this last saturday when we went out proselyting with members from the church! As in, my companion went with a member one way, and I went another way with another member. We went on switch-offs and it was great. The example this member gave was super great! I also liked the way he spoke, so i learned a lot about contacting and speaking as well!

Contacting can be brutal... but sometimes you just have to accept it and enjoy it! I'm starting to enjoy it, for sure. Members are great to help me learn, and for me to know that at least someone else understands what they're saying!

You did contacting in the library? That's pretty bold. I don't think I would contact in a library... I've listened to a lot of things now, but I'm still working on speaking better! I still have to use patience and time though! That's an eternal principle that can't be overcome! As nice as it would be to go to sleep and be fluent the next day... It doesn't always work that way!

Most people don't have a hard time understanding what I'm saying but I definitely don't sound like a Khon Thai either... Just as long as they can understand me I'm fine!

Memorizing words is 100x more difficult out here. There's just no time to effectively memorize words I feel sometimes, so I just content myself by trying to understand what the scriptures say. Learning that way, as I go along!

I'm trying hard! Just writing/marking words that I don't know, and looking them up! Trying that way anyways, or other church books I can find! I do have a pocket notebook, but It's hard fro me to review... but I try! Sometimes, it's just hard for me to do all of that, mostly just remembering to do it... but that's ok!

That building with all the white roof tiles is was where I had to do all my VISA papers and stuff like that.

Didn't get caught out in that rainstorm, just inside! It is a lot of fun to see though!  It was really raining hard!

Mission life is fun! Not really too tough, but it's great! I just need to take more intiative that's all! I've been pretty passive but now I have the go ok to just go and do stuff, contacting and the whole bit, which is good. Should be fun! DOn't know about the best, but I'm trying!

The work is great. I love the people, and I love Thailand!

Love you lots, hopefully everything is going good for you! sounds like everything is going great! I'll talk to you next week!

Love you! The work is great, the Spirit is great. The church is great. God, and Jesus Christ truly love everyone! The mission life, is a great life! I'm glad to be serving here!

Love you Dad! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

Monday, March 20, 2017

3-19-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey there Dad!
It is way too hot out here... Somewhere around 95 degrees everyday... so just a tad warm!
So this week has really picked up. Lots of miracles, lots of baptisms for our district! Our district just about has 1 baptism every week! It's a miracle for sure! We have two baptisms planned for this Sunday, and they've already passed their interviews, so all we need to do is prepare for this Sunday! We'll see about if we have other people in our district baptizing this w...eek!
As far as getting the branch established, we're still waiting on any response from the Asia Area Presidency! We had a goal to get just 20 people to our Family Home Evening activity this last Monday and we actually ended getting 51 people there! So, set the bar a little high, but that's ok! We're definitely going to have to start teaching all of those people soon, in order to form a solid branch!
The cave and monkeys were cool but monkeys are actually pretty scary. Dogs seem less scary than those, to be honest, but I haven't met a crazy dog yet, so... who knows? Most of the dogs here are pretty nice, some aren't, but most of them are pretty nice when you walk by them. Monkeys I just felt like were going to steal my stuff, but nothing got stolen, so... that's good!
Daylight savings doesn't help at all though with syncing between here and there... We don't have that here, so all that switched was your time zone! My area is pretty weird... It's called Soi Rewadee, because that is where we actually are but... the church is nice! I don't think I've taken pictures of the church yet, but I will soon! We don't have keys to unlock the gate so we have to jump the fence pretty often... which is fun!
The heat is fine! Just a lot of sweating and water, that's all! In another two months or so it will be time for lots of rain (but it might be more than that... who knows?)
Monkeys are probably cuter else where, they just looked scary here...
Sounds like you had a fun time up in the mountains! Looked fun, maybe a little sketchy, but fun!
The language is getting better, just need to keep working hard, and keep studying! Use every opportunity I get! The Lord will help always, for sure! I can definitely see the Gift of Tongues working out here, and helping me with the language!
We all have to overcome our weaknesses here and develop the strengths that we already have. As Ether 12:27 says, we have weaknesses to make us humble and in our humility, we can make those weaknesses to become strengths. All I need to do is keep working hard! That's how this works! The Lord will bless us with miracles as we work hard out here!
Love you lots Dad! Hope it's not too cold out there (it's hot season here right now). Hope everything is going great! Talk to you soon!
- Elder Collin Decker

3-13-17 Bangkok Thailand

Hey hey there Dad!
Sorry for getting this email off so late, we went exploring today and we just got back not too long ago! No daylight savings time here, so it is still 3:00 in the afternoon here! So flip the hour and add two, and that will be correct!
As far as waiting at the bus stop during transfer, I actually wasn't worried at all! Either they were going to find me, or I was going to take a taxi. It wasn't too hard of a decision for me to make. I probably would have made a phone call before I took a taxi, but that's fine! Can't give in to worry in those types of situations! Calm decision making will get me through, and knowing the Lord will deliver me helps as well! Just have to have faith, and if they don't find me, I'll just have to act for myself! I was just worried for my stuff when I had to go to the bathroom... Otherwise, it was all good!
I'm feeling a lot better this week! NoPretty normal actually, just as you said. All storms pass, I just didn't really want this one to linger for too long. Luckily, it didn't! Just a lot of decisions on my part, and self-evaluation, thinking "Is this what serving with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength is?" I decided my sadness was getting in the way, so I got rid of it, more or less. Partially, I thought to myself "What would this person do?" Thinking about one Elder I admired in particular, Elder Smith-Driggs (he was my Zone Leader in when I was in Sakon Nakorn). His way of missionary work was so involved, and his attitude was so great, I thought that it would be nice to adopt that kind of attitude especially when I was feeling sad. Contacting become 100% easier. Just thinking outside of myself and really being a servant of the Lord. Less of my will, but instead the will of Heavenly Father, being done here now. I've managed to sustain that feeling even until now, so moving here has helped me to learn a lot. Even as it says in the scriptures, all of our afflictions will be consecrated for our gain. I've been feeling pretty in tune with the Spirit lately so it has been pretty great!
I saw monkeys today, in their natural habitat. They have some issues, kind of scary, not cute at all. But they're afraid of us, to an extent. No stealing occurred but I was definitely careful of them. The theft of my camera would result in much sadness on my part! Or wallet. Or anything else like that. But it was fun! Went to a city called Ratchaburi (don't know how it is spelled in Thai). Went to a cave with bats, no guide. A little sketchy! But it's all good. Saw some cool Buddhist stuff at the end of the tunnel, where there was some sunlight there. Pretty cool! There were also cats (don't know how they got there).
We also went to a floating market! It was pretty cool, didn't buy anything because it was all pretty expensive (=เพง). One day, I'll buy fabric and get a tie made :D that would be pretty fun! They had boats and the whole bit, and we had someone row us around. Almost bought a small jade elephant... maybe one day!
Then we went to see an old palace of a king, which was cool! No pictures allowed, but I have a couple of things that were ok to photograph! The palace grounds were pretty big! Wasn't a big building, but they owned a lot of land! Almost like a little park. Pretty cool!
This last week we had 3 baptisms, all last Saturday! My companion convinced me to actually perform one of the baptisms, so I did! First baptism, actually given! It was good, and there are way too many miracles to count here. The work is good, the people are great! Just need to keep working hard, always! The Lord's hand is in every part of this work, undoubtedly. We just have to be willing, and ready to act on the miracles that we receive here, and keep the work going! Always, we have to be willing to do his will, and work in concert with The Holy Ghost as well! I can definitely feel God's love for everyone, for me, and for these people! He is helping everyone (like with my language as well!)
My companion is pretty cool! It's always a little weird to get along at first, but it's going well now!
There are plenty of things to do, for sure! We just have to work hard. We actually have a lot of people to contact, and teach. Give interviews, the whole bit! We're actually getting ready to try to create a branch where we are, so it might be back to branch missionary life! As far as transfers go, if either of us were to move, it probably would be me, only because Elder Bastian is holding a lot of the cards in this plan of establishing a church where we are, so it would be less complicated for him to move but... who knows? Definitely a lot of people are moving from here this transfer! At least 3, one sister missionary is about to go home this transfer and the other 2 missionaries have been here for 4 transfers already, aka: 6 months. That's a long time!
Working hard is all we have here! If I have time to feel sad, I have time to be working even harder! Have to lose ourselves in the work after all!
I'll make a note about the souvenirs! I'll just try not a buy a whole tone. Just some here and there, definitely make some ties though!
The language is going good here! It's gotten a lot better. People speak different out here than in the Issan for sure, but I've been getting a lot of "you speak clearly" here, so it's all good! Some missionaries told me that some people will think that you're chaht, and others will think you're not, not a big deal! As long as they can understand! I do get a lot of people who just assume I'm native here. It's funny, but at least my accent and way of speaking has improved! It's a lot of fun when that happens, when people speak to me instead of my companion, because they think I'm from Thailand!
Sleep well! Have fun at work tomorrow! Or something like that. I'll keep working hard here, learn the language good, and keep working with a full purpose of heart!
All right, that's it from me! Love you lots! I'll talk to you soon!
- Elder Collin Decker

Sunday, March 5, 2017

3-5-2017 Prakket Bangkok Thailand

Hey Dad!

So I made it! Got on the bus alone (Mom probably had a heart attack) and took the bus, 9 hours (it was fast), all the way to Bangkok. Slept most of the time, with my stuff all under my arms. I took an expensive bus company (ish) but they tag all of your stuff so you need the paper that matches the tag that they gave you in order to retrieve your stuff. They had bathrooms, but I didn't use it so... ok! It was good!

Big city, lots of cars, walking and what not! A little dangerous, but a little fun, I think? Got to the bus station at 5, but I actually ended up getting picked up at 8... I had to ask to borrow someone's phone (completely random person)... It was pretty weird! Not used to that, and I don't particularly want to repeat that... but it was all a fun experience. I actually thought I would need to use a taxi, but luckily, I was patient, and I didn't. I had to take a couple chances and go to the bathroom though... but I tried to make it super inconvenient to steal my bags. Just loop my bike lock through everything, and latch it to my bike, which I had to remove the front tire from. Lots of fun! Made it super hard to steal, so it's all good!

Got to my area, and we were on a ZL switch-off that day. So then I was with Elder Bastian (my companion) and Elder Hunt (the ZL, who is also half Thai). Went contacting at a market, and there were so many people there. It was a different kind of talking/contacting for sure. Lots of walking, no bikes. My bike is locked up at the Mission Office! 40 Minutes away from here. So pretty close to Prathaan Johnson! 

Later that day, went with Elder Hunt to teach a lesson, and it was super good! We planned to teach the Restoration, but it ended up being Prayer + Faith Lesson. Pretty good! Hopefully, those investigators work out for them!

Had a baptism and a lot of meetings on Sunday, kind of weird getting thrown into it! Our investigator received baptism, she's only been taught for 4-5 weeks so far so... hopefully we can get her to stay active!

It's a ward here but... it's not any bigger than Sakon Nakorn. 68 people at church last week, and about 10 Melchezidek Priesthood holders or so. So... we can work it out! Still 9:00 Ward, so that's good! The church is pretty far away, so we can't use it as a center of operations... It's just more than just a little different, but the work is the same!

Elder Bastian is great! Lots of energy! Should be fun.

Sports sounds fun! Just have to wait now, that's all!

All right, that's it from me! Love you a lot! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker

2-26-17 Sakon Nakhon

Hey hey there Dad!

So, you heard right! I'm sure Sister First already sent you that video (I'm pretty sure that's why she was taking it anyways). So I'm getting E-Transferred all the way to Pakkret! I will be serving there with Elder Bastien! You know, that missionary that Brother and Sister Van Horn were emailing about a couple weeks ago. So that will be fun! I haven't even จบ (finished) being a greenie here in Sakon Nakorn and I'm already getting transferred! I found out shortly after Zone Conference this week when Prathaan Johnson asked me "Hey, can we talk for a couple minutes?" So naturally, I thought "Have I done anything questionable recently?" Thankfully, the answer was no, and I know the answer was no because I make a great effort to not do anything dumb. Anyways, we go into a room and tells me how a missionary is going home, and how he wants to send me to Pakkret. I said of course! Truthfully, I'll miss Sakon Nakorn, and all the members here, but the work goes forward! I'll go anywhere the Lord calls me to go, and I'll serve him with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. That's all that is asked of us, and so I will do, willingly and joyfully! I'll be leaving this Friday, so it's good that I know in advance, but I don't know how I'll be going there. Anyways, it's going to be exciting! Everyone has good things to say about Elder Bastien, so I'm excited to serve with him! No biking in Pakkret though, so I'll be walking a lot! Apparently, he likes volleyball so... P-Day activities? Should be good, and the work continues onward! I do hope I will come back to the Issan one day though!

So we had Zone Conference last week! That was a lot of fun! I learned so much, and I love our Zone Leaders, but I also love Prathaan Johnson too. He's great and I know he cares about each of us, as missionaries. One thing that was a little bad was the fact that I slept on the ground with only a blanket and a pillow but hey, what can you do? It was fun! My back was a little sore, but it was good experience! I learned a ton, and I know a little better how to best serve here, and help further the work the best I can! 

Sounds like things are exciting back home! That's great that Kai made it! Hard work pays off, huh? Hard work is a great thing, even if it is stressful from time to time. It helps us shape our work habits, and sometimes, even who we are! I know the mission is a refiner's fire for me, and is helping me a lot! Sounds poorly organized, as it often is, but that's ok! They put it on for the students so it is nice for them!

Be careful while hiking! Just a couple fallen trees means there could be more... but you already know that, so I know you'll be safe, for the most part! I saw the videos though, looked like it was raining hard! By the river at least! We actually got rain the other day too, so that was cool! It got really cold yesterday (I even felt a little sick). So that was fun! I do love the rain though!

The investigator over there sounds so cool! Sounds like a lot of challenges that are similar to what we face here. "We work on Sunday, but we'll try." That's just how it goes!

No lingering effects! I'm A-OK. For the most part. Just a couple trips to the bathroom here and there more often than before, but nothing like when I actually has food poisoning!

My suit coat fits fine! My weight is about the same, some days more some days less. It just depends on how I eat most of the time. Either way, it's about the same! Exercise is still good. Core every other day out here, and making sure that I'm still stretching as well! Flexibility would be the worst thing to lose out here. It's waaaayyy too hard to get back. So, I'll just maintain it for right now!

This last week, we had 6 investigators at church! It was great! Still dealing with the same problems, Word of Wisdom, for a lot of them, but we'll keep working! We just committed one of our investigators, who is 12, to be baptized! I'm so excited for him, and I hope he continues on this path!

As far as language goes, I don't know how word could spread... But I try my hardest! Prayers everyday, constant refinement. Preach My Gospel says that we should strive to master our mission language, so I'm trying my best everyday. However, I still have a lot to learn, which is great! I love learning, and I love challenges. However, I still have to keep my eye single to the glory of God, and to bring in those people to Zion. These people, all people, deserve nothing less than all of my Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength. We are missionaries. We are representatives of Jesus Christ and we are his instruments here on the Earth, his servants and friends. We are here to preach, and to bring all to the joy of the Gospel. It is a wonderful responsibility, and I am glad to be here in Thailand, to help bring even just a few souls unto repentance and the kingdom of God.

I love Thailand! I love the language, and I love the people. The missionaries, the members, and the people outside the church, are all great. I'm so grateful to be here, to learn, to grow, and to express just a little bit of my gratitude for the Atonement and this church, through serving Heavenly Father, the Best I Can.

Love you lots Dad! Hopefully, you'll keep having good weeks! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Collin Decker