Thursday, April 13, 2017

Speaking Bluntly

Hello Familia

Sorry for the lack of extending a notice to you all but P-Day for the Thailand Bangkok Mission was moved to Friday due to the biggest water festival in the world taking place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I don't think I will be able to explain the magnitude of how big this event is! It spreads over to Laos and Burma, stopping production of all things related to business because EVERYONE gets out and plays! Stores shut down for the holidays we had to find a new emailing place for the day.

My perspective on P-Days has changed greatly comparatively to my first transfer in Thailand. Doing missionary things is literally what brings me the most joy. Therefore P-Days isn't the most exciting thing anymore. Knocking doors, inviting, an teaching is where my treasures lie. However, Thursday has been a difficult day as nobody is home, inviting is futile(tourists and people not from Asoke, not to mention empty streets as everyone is partying), and time passes slowly when there is no work to be done. However, today we are permitted to take part in this water festival with overpriced waterguns. It sounds like fun by what I have been told by it.
Some Strong Emotions
Yesterday we walked passed(so we did not enter it) a soy on our way over to a mall called Terminal 21. I literally felt all good things depart. The Spirit was gone and a near tangible evil presided over this soy with loud music, dancing mobs, and surely some other bad stuff. As soon as I felt it, I just looked away and bolted, fled, and departed from it. The missionaries I was with later told me that any missionary that is seen on that road is sent home immediately. I'm sure that gets exaggerated but any missionary that feels comfortable in such an atmosphere has no business teaching and inviting others to come unto Christ. To put it bluntly. So contrary was the spirit that presided over that street, there was no room for even temptation to enter. It was pure evil. 

I have some very strong emotions regarding the calling we hold as duly ordained ministers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I speak strongly, because nothing else seems to be enough to clearly demonstrate the emotions I feel when I talk of these things. I truly cannot wrap my head around the concept of disobedient missionaries. You are literaly the face of the church. The investigators first contact with the church, and perhaps even the very idea of Jesus Christ starts with the missionary that invites them!  They must be able to see his light in you. How can you ever expect to do so when his Spirit cannot dwell within you? It may not be a great idea for me to train because I might singe the greenie with my overly enthusiastic flame I have within me regarding this work. I talked with President about training my good old friend Elder McCown(Entering Thailand next transfer) in the MTC. He will be an excellent missionary by what I have seen and know of him. I think he would just add to the flame. No promises by President but I made sure to let him know I would love to serve with him.

I love this work. It is everything to me. Sometimes I do get a little emotional when I talk of these things. But it really is because I love it with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. Everything I am and have become has revolved around these six months. Some life lesson learned within every moment of tribulation. I'm sorry for anyone that is affected negatively by my at times overly enthusiastic self. Maybe a comp or two who thinks I am too focused on inviting or another aspect of the work. I can get a little hard headed sometimes. But I like this flame. Elder Rawlinson my first trainer is the one that got it started. I felt we did too much. Now I say not enough. I am so grateful I had such a hardworking Elder as a trainer who instilled within me a desire to serve with everything I have.
Brother Peach
Elder Nance and I dedicated one two hour block inviting session to inviting straight English. We went to a University to do so and didn't have too great success as I quickly found out most of the students were Dentist and Veterinarian students who had labs the time of English class. However, I sat down with one guy and he didn't seem too interested in this English. However, we just got talking on other things and the opportunity to introduce myself came up. I explained who I was and what I did. That being one who teaches about Jesus Christ. Turns out he was super interested in learning about Jesus Christ. I hit a goldmine. I briefly introduced the Plan of Salvation and set a return appointment with him. New Investigator!(Elder Nance was inviting solo within sight when all of this went down.)

The following week I called him but to no avail as he didn't pick up his phone. The day of our appointment, I called him the final time and by miracle he picks up. He confirms our appointment at 12:30 and I was getting so excited. There's just something about physicaly inviting someone yourself. We arrive and find that he is late. We begin wondering if he is coming at all. He doesn't pick up the two times we called and didn't reply to the text I shot him. As we "gave up" and began leaving I hear a voice. "Elder!" I was so happy to see him! He even brought a friend along! We sat down, we taught, and we testified. We gave him a Book of Mormon and taught them how to pray. It is all the stuff I love most. I think I found another Brother X. By the way, Brother X has plans to get baptized on the 23rd! I got special permission to go and baptize him myself as we promised a transfer ago. Luckily Asoke and Bangkapi are pretty close to each other.

Other Random Stuff
These not yet baptized daughters of God on the MRT this morning thought I was Philipino. I understood what they were saying about us and they didn't know we understood. It was quite entertaining. Anyways, I thought it would be best not to join in on their conversation. Most Thai people can magically tell that I am not one of them without me having to say a word. Most think that I am Korean and very very rarely Japanese.

Tomorrow I met three 5-6 people that were Japanese. That was rough....Rougher than my Thai now. Two were on their honeymoon and they were asking the do's and don'ts of our church. Japanese is so hard. I forgot most of it on my mission. Replaced by Thai. Luckily my Grandpa in Japan is going to the English classes the church offers for free so we will still be able to communicate. Shout out to Elder Call for making sure he gets to church!
Pictures
Pictures taken with a 30year old camera if I'm in the picture. If I am not, it was taken with a 50year old camera. Except for the eternal mirror selfie. Hahhaha Unfortunately, the internet run I am at today doesn't have a slot to read SD cards so modern day camera pictures for next week.
Closing Remarks
I love you all. Thank you for taking time to send me some emails back. It's nice to hear from other people from back home. Letting me know that I'm not alone in this cause against good and evil. Sorry for the perhaps too blunt rant I had regarding obedience. It's just that these two short years are becoming more and more preciouse to me by every passing day. I want to live it with no regrets. I know this to be to be a true gospel that is able to change our lives should we let it. I know that in this cause lies happiness. Of these things I know to be true with all the sincerity of my heart. It has changed me.











Sunday, April 2, 2017

Notes from Zone Conference

​I am so tired. Be it I am tired every single day. However, one thing that I learned is that this "tiredness" goes away as soon as I start working hard. It really is the cure to all things!

Here are some notes from Zone Conference. They are really just goals I set for myself.

Nothing but your best is enough. Teach boldly and simply in every lesson. Testify of the living Christ without any reservations. I need to become more converted myself. Grow in my desire to serve free willingly. Make the sacrament more meaningful to me.

Especially the last one. Too often do I overlook the significance of the sacrament.

This week, I had the opportunity to attend a Bible Study with Seventh Day Adventist's. They were from the Philippines and an hour late to our appointment so I was getting a little frustrated with them. However, I'm glad we exercised patience as they became our really good friends. Initially, it was clearly planned as to how they were trying to "convert" or "persuade" us to the supposed falsehoods of our religion. The spirit of contention was present, and I really just wanted to get out of there. However, I did what I was so called to do. Instead of fighting back, I did what was against my carnal nature. I desperately tried to accept their point of view, stated our point of view, and then testified about something that we could both agree on. That being that Jesus the Christ lives. That we have a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and who wants us to be happy more than anything else. It was like magic. The Spirit was back and present in the heart of every man and woman in the room! With the Spirit present, we closed with a prayer and had a delicious dinner. The chicken was soooooo good.

One thing that has taken me quite a while to understand is that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are not God's only people. Regardless of religion, race, color, and or everything at all, we are all Sons and Daughters of our loving heavenly father. Being a duly ordained minister for the church, I have had my moments of spiritual pride. Speaking honestly, many of them. However, this new outlook has helped me further and better embrace the Thai culture and people. Rejection hurts less and hope wells up within me in great abundance. There is no greater work on the face of this earth. These past 6 months I would not trade for the world.

I  attached a very short video showing a bit of Asoke and Bangkapi. I will actually make a real, half decent video.....in 18 months when I have a little more time on my hands. I'm really going to miss these kids in this video. They were our investigators although they couldn't get baptized due to the lack of parental consent. I really hope they have the chance to get baptized in the near future. The music is from LDS Youth..haha By the way, we had a baptism two days ago! Will have pictures next week.


video


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Asoke


​I have moved from my precious area of Bangkapi. I am going to miss so many people!! I do not have too much to say this week(literally) so it will be kept very short and concise. I have moved to Asoke. It is central Bangkok and I get to work pretty closely with the Office Elders, Assistants to the President, and President Johnson himself. It seems they are keeping an extra close eye on me..Not to mention my companion being the District Leader!

My new companion is Elder Nance. He is from Salt Lake City Utah. He is a very interesting guy in the best way possible. Anyways, I will send a more indepth email next week. With much love and everything else that is good inbetween, Elder Miyagi.

The picture where Elder Libey and I are sitting on a bunch of chairs is one that might require a small explanation. 1 chair signifies 1 month left we have on the mission.















Sunday, March 19, 2017

Home

Ashamedly, I feel that I have been to some degrees holding back. There are moments I should have been more bold. Moments where I should have been more mentally invested in discussions. However, I am determined to do more. I am determined to give more of myself up. By doing so, the Lord showers us with the blessings of Heaven.

Yesterday night, we were inviting at a park on Nawamine. It was about 6:30 to 7:00. It was dark, and I was tired from inviting for the last two hours. However, I wasn't giving it my all. Meaning I wasn't truly seeking to find the one. I wasn't truly seeking to have a meaningful conversation with those I invited. The repetitive words of "Have you ever heard of Jesus Christ?" or "Are you interested in learning about Jesus? came out of my mouth. Without any conviction or pride of who I represented. Moments before going home, I caught on to the terrible sin of omission I was committing. Something changed, as I desperately relied on the Spirit to guide my words and actions. Phrases I never used to invite came out of my mouth. Questions and thoughts I never used for first discussions came into my mind. The difference was like white and black. It was lightning. The difference between a missionary who simply lived in a moment and a missionary who seized it as if he feared the moment would perish as soon as he let go became so apparent to me. Those fears were well warranted. The previous two hours, my half hearted inviting resulted in zero persons of interest. The final fifteen minutes of devoted effort resulted in four persons of interest. I was full of the Spirit, and at the same time I felt guilt. Should I have served how I served at that moment, I could have made much greater of a difference.

Before my mission, I feel that I was wrapped up in the same type of weakness and error. I did not realize the great work I was a part of. In home teaching and with callings within the church, we are a part of a great work that involves the salvation of human souls! Callings to watch and preside over one another, to protect one another against the spiritually destructive dangers of the world! How often I neglected church duties because it wasn't convenient at the moment. I now understand how selfish of an act that was!

I still have mountains to climb. Truly. I just hope that I am moving in the right direction. That is the beauty of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am convinced that the more you come to know of him, the more aware you become of your weaknesses and inadequacies. But he has provided us with a path to become perfected through and in him. A path where as C.S. Lewis(I think) told us that littering is even discouraged. In ridding ourselves of all things that render us unfit to dwell in the presence of God. I know that this church is true. I know that it is a gospel of happiness, hope, and love. I am so blessed to bring this message to all of the world. To get to invest all of my time into the salvation of souls! How blessed I am. How happy I am!

On an off note, I have started eating at home.  Contrary to popular Thai Missionary belief, it is in fact cheaper to eat at home should you know where to buy food. Instead of spending ฿50 a meal, I only have to spend around ฿20 eating at home. By so doing, I consume less grease and "in theory" amp up my vegetable intake. The only con is that the other three Elders wish to do the same and we have a very small kitchen, fridge, and one stove. However, it's worth it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Did You Love Me?

This past week I have been reflecting about faith. In Preach my Gospel, faith is defined as our belief in Jesus Christ. Our belief that he is the Savior of the world. Faith leads to action. This is how faith and simple belief differ. One sparks change and needs action. *I'm sorry this isn't worded as pretty as it could be. I'm used to teaching this segment in thai.

Anyways, lately I have had the thought that faith is not only this(meaning our belief in Jesus Christ)but especially so, our love for Jesus Christ. This real and pure love invokes within us a desire to follow him. What is needed to follow him? To abandon everything that is not of him. To sacrifice the natural mans desire to do evil. And not only evil, but the desire to seek lesser things. Things that are not necessarily evil but things that will have no place in the kingdom of God. Therefore the question that might be phrased in the life to come is this. "Did you Love me?" He will know us by our fruits. Our choices, thoughts, and actions will determine our fruits.

Am I prepared? Well personally, no. I am definitely still learning to surrender my will to him. All of it. So that one day I might stand blameless before him who loves me most. Who has placed me before everything else. He only expects us to "try" to do the same. He has prepared the way as he has won the victory. This isn't some hard unattainable goal. It isn't simple theology or religion. It is the truth. He has prepared a way for us to return to live with him again. For he loves us. I know of this to be an irrevocable truth under heaven. I do so testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

As the Children Are

So I bought a 1 terabyte hard drive a few weeks ago. As I type this letter, I am copying over 45Gbs of photos and videos. About 5 to 6 months of digital documentary. Sweeeet.


For about two weeks, I with my companion have been teaching these three thirteen year old kids. Surprisingly, they are attentive throughout the discussions (Although it is taught more simply to them). They without any exaggeration, pray as if it has been a normal part of their lives since birth. I was blown away as how they could pray. Never have I heard an adult pray like them their first time praying. Anyways, it was made known to us that one of the boys, Brother อิ้ว had a birthday coming up. So Elder Wannasri and I bought a cake, snacks, and of course candles to celebrate our investies birthday! It was so much fun as many other kids came over and celebrated with us. Two Elders who didn't have plans also came with us so it was a night for the books.

A moment that left an impression on my heart was when a cute little girl just watched and stared at the last piece of cake. It took time, but she eventually found the courage to grab it. She ran off and then slowly rejoined us. She found joy simply holding onto it. She explained how she didn't get a birthday cake her last birthday (Or a very long time. Thai can be tricky). A little child, perhaps 7 to 9 years of age didn't get a birthday cake? It was something I always took for granted. But to her, it was something most precious. I took a candle and lit it for her. We sang happy birthday to her, she singing the loudest out of us all.

Brother Mighty, a member who lives in the same general area explained to me how her dad passed away. I can only imagine the financial strain that is upon that family. For this is the neighborhood where the kids wear second hand T-shirts donated from the States and this being no small exaggeration! I was wracked with sorrow and thanksgiving for all that I have been blessed with. I have been spoiled rotten. So blind to the great many blessings that I have already been given. How funny, how those that have the littlest of all find the greatest joy. How those that are seemingly shunned from the world sing the loudest.

The Savior teaches us to be as the children are. He has taught us to believe without doubt and to love God with all of our might, mind, and strength. One of the greatest truths under Heaven, is that God loves us with all of his might, mind, and strength. He only wishes that we learn to love as he does. Why? For this love is what will bring us the greatest joy in all of the world! In the Book of Moroni Chapter 9, we are taught to rid ourselves of all ungodliness. I believe that he is only asking us to put him first. Not out of selfish desires but because the things of the world cannot dwell in Heaven. It will literally hold us back from returning to him. In a meager 5 months, I have learned the blessings that come of ridding myself of ungodliness. I by no means do so perfectly, but by the Missionary's set of rules I am allowed to do so more fully than I have done in the past. I am more receptive to the love of God. I feel that I have grown more tolerant. And more than anything else, I am sorrowful for some of the actions in my past that were not in line with the will of the Father. But there must be opposition in all things. That we might learn and grow! That was God's plan for us. Let us not be discouraged by our mistakes but let us continue moving forward with renewed convictions to do our best. That is all the Lord has expected from us. That we do our best and learn to love him more fully.
I am a believer of second chances. I am a believer of hope, love, and charity. Most importantly, I am a believer of our Savior Jesus Christ. As His representative and disciple I do so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Swallowed Up in His Will

A second group of members are “honorable” but not “valiant.” They are not really aware of the gap nor of the importance of closing it (see D&C 76:75, 79). These “honorable” individuals are certainly not miserable nor wicked, nor are they unrighteous and unhappy. It is not what they have done but what they have left undone that is amiss. For example, if valiant, they could touch others deeply instead of merely being remembered pleasantly.

This morning, we had plans to go to an amusement park for P-Day. Elder Wannasri my companion opted not to go as he doesn't like roller coasters. The two other companions living near the mall Bangkapi didn't want to go either as it was about 400 baht. About$14. That's a lot in Thailand. Anyways, it would have resulted in 3 Elders going and 3 Elders staying and doing something different for P-Day.

Early in the morning however, I felt that I shouldn't go. For what reason I don't know. Perhaps the feeling of irreverence. Or perhaps and more importantly, because it was contrary to the will of Him that sent me. Early in that morning I brushed away the feeling. During my morning studies that day, I again felt impressed that I ought not to go as I was praying. This time, it wasn't just a thought, as it somehow and indescribably pierced my soul. Though I may not know the exact reasons I ought not to go, I am happy to say that I heeded to the still small voice of the Holy Ghost. By so doing, I walk with peace and a firm determination to complete His work.

Neal A. Maxwell has a talk entitled "Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father." This talk has been one that has again, left an indelible impression upon my soul. He describes three groups of people. More often than not, I think I might fall into the second or third category. The quote above describes the second group of individuals. Those that are honorable but not valiant. I feel that missionaries especially myself must exert a great amount of effort in seeking humility and trust in Jesus Christ and in giving the glory unto our Father in Heaven. It is very east to take the glory of many miracles that we have seen here in Thailand. However, this ought not be confused with having great joy, confidence, and pride not in ourselves but in the most high God. Confidence in Him is where true power, miracles, and even love is born.

I testify of the living Christ. I know that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us perfectly. Who knows our struggles, burdens, pains, and afflictions. I know that he has a plan for each and everyone of us. I know that should we accept His plan, or accept His will, we will have the strength to overcome these trials. Though our burdens may be great, compared to the glory of God it is nothing. Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.