Hello amazing family that I love sooooo much!
Okay, well this was a great week! We had some fun experiences and some new things as well!
First, I'll give you the update on our investigators. We've been so blessed to find a lot of really great investigators; however, this week it seemed like half of them left town. The rest of them were really hard to get a hold of. These investigators are really great, but they're not progressing as fast as we'd like, mostly because we're having a hard time meeting with them. We text/call/fb, but in the end we really need to see them in person and they need to come to church. So, hopefully this week will be a little better as far as being able to meet with our investigators.
However, one of our investigators, Brother Manid, is doing great! He's our 80 year old investigator that is so so so cute! He met with us a couple of days ago for the second time and it was like teaching a new person. The first time we taught he related and compared everything we taught to Buddhism. Which, of course, is normal and makes sense, because that is all he knows! However, this time I feel like he really was more sincere about understanding exactly what we believe. He would repeat back what he understood and share his thoughts. In the end, Brother Manid accepted a baptismal date for the 21st of this month. He's the sweetest thing. So that was an amazing miracle and blessing! So happy!
Some very sad news: The Ure's got transferred to Bangkok. :( We all miss them sooooo much. They were like our grandparents here and took care of us and the members. They are now over the humanitarian aid and are living in Asoke. I'm excited to see them at transfer meeting this week! So, since they are gone that also means that our district now has to take over their teaching job. We are now teaching English to the head government officials of Chiang Mai Tuesday through Friday from 1-2:30 at the main government building. So, we taught for the first time this week. I was kind of scared. haha But they are very gracious and kind and participate so well. The governor wants his staff to be able to speak English better before ASEA hits in 2015 so he wants an intensive daily English class for them all. On Thursday we taught the Head of Army, Agriculture, and Livestock of Chiang Mai. It was actually pretty fun! They loved having us come and I am excited to keep teaching. They really want us to focus on pronunciation, listening, and speaking.
Another fun thing this week was our activity for the newly baptized members of the church. Our Branch Mission Leader is so awesome. He truly cares for every one and wants to help all these RC's feel loved and supported. So, a few weeks ago in correlation meeting he asked us to help plan a big activity to welcome in all the new members. It ended up being a blast. What we did was re-create Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life and act it out (I think this may be the third time I've done this on the mission, but this was definitely the biggest production!). So, we set up a Christmas Tree in the cultural hall and Sister Bentley and I made Rice Krispie treat balls to be the fruit. Then we took a rope and zig-zagged it around the gym so that the people holding to the "rod" would have a bit of a journey. After setting up that much, we missionaries left. But the next day when we came to help we had quite the fun surprise. The ward missionaries had made a "mist of darkness" and a "great and spacious building" out of tents/blankets/etc... and turned it into a sort of an obstacle course. Not only that, but they dumped out a huge bin full of branches and Christmas ornaments all over the floor as extra things to trip on. haha We were a little shocked.
Anyway, we had a really great turnout. Before we began the activity, everyone gathered in a classroom and introduced themselves. Then the Branch President, his counselors, the Elders Quorum President, and the Branch Mission Leader introduced themselves and explained to the new members what their own jobs are and how they are here to help them! So gooood! After that we lined up everyone outside of the gym and blindfolded them all and then took them to the "iron rod!" All they were told beforehand was to NOT let go of the rod until someone took off their blindfold, which would signify that they had finished the course. Well, it was a mad house! The ward missionaries really went to town. As the new members were making their way along the course, the ward missionaries would come and try to get them off the course by whispering to them, dumping baby powder on them, throwing ornaments on them, shaking dried palm leaves all over them, giving them other ropes to hold onto, etc... It was the funniest sight. Everyone was screaming! And if someone let go of the rod, we would take them outside the gym to the branch president, he would explain the principle of repentance, and then we would lead them back to the rod. Some people had to go see the branch president a lot... haha. Anyway, when they finally made it to the Tree of Life, the Elders took off their blindfolds, congratulated them, then gave them a rice krispie treat, and then directed them to the chapel. It probably took over 30 minutes for everyone to finally make it to the tree. Once we were in the chapel we were able to explain the significance of that activity, and share from the vision in the scriptures, ask for them to share, etc... We wanted everyone to understand the vision of the Tree of Life, but also the role of the leaders in the branch, and the idea of sharing the "fruit" with friends and family. So, I think it was a successful night. Lots of fun. Everyone was covered in baby powder and Christmas sparkles! Afterwards, we had a delicious green curry dinner. It was so fun! Our investigator Dawaan came and he could not get over the rice krispie treats. He loved them and begged for the recipe. Made us laugh. Anyway, it was a great night, and I just felt extra grateful for the amazing leadership in this branch. They do so much for the members, investigators, and us. They spend so much time helping and uplifting everyone! I want to be like them!!
So, those are a few of the main events this week. Oh! This made me laugh: I have the picture of our family that you sent me for my birthday on my planner cover. Yesterday a few people were looking at the picture, asking who was who. They all thought that Sam was older, at least 20 years old. One girl also asked if Sam has a girlfriend... flashback to Bangkapi... it's starting again! haha I'll be more careful who I show our family to this time around, though.... haha. Anyway, Sam, you're quite the popular man over on this side of the ocean! love ya!
I love you all so much! I am so grateful for your love, your examples, your guidance, EVERYTHING!