HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! It sounds like it was crazy and fun. I remember last Father's Day I was in the MTC and I told you all to watch a Mormon message. I'm going to suggest it again: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-01-002-earthly-father-heavenly-father?category=mormon-messages/mormon-messages-2013&lang=eng&cid=HPTU061014222
It's great and I feel like it is really true. :)
This week was good. Yesterday was Stake Conference. THAILAND HAS A NEW STAKE!!!!!!!!! They created a Stake (Bangkok North) and a new District (Bangkok West). This is sooooooooo exciting!!!!! The first stake was created around 19 years ago. When Elder Anderson came to Thailand around a year ago, he said that when Thailand had 4 stakes it would catch the attention of the First Presidency so that we can get a temple. Bangkok West District should easily become a stake soon too. And the districts in the East and North of Thailand are doing well so....aka a temple in Thailand is coming soon! =D
Yay baby blessings! =D I feel like family gatherings are always fun but super crazy. Did you guys take a family photo too or just of the grandkids? They look super different. They look soooo much bigger! At first I thought Audrey and Max were Rachel and Jayson. Max looks a ton like Jayson when he was that age. I thought Ben was Max too. Is Rachel turning 6 in two months? I think she is the only birthday I know of the 9 and that's really only because it's Mom's and Dad's birthday. haha oops.
Life is good here in Bangna. We are working really hard on RC retention. We had two new converts that started to slip but they are getting a lot better. What's really nice about RC retention is that they have felt the Spirit recently and they remember what it feels like. One of our RCs was really hard to get a hold of for about a week but then the next week he was super repentant and wanting to meet with us. What happened? He missed the Spirit. One thing I love about the Spirit is that when you have, it can prompt you to do what is right but when you do something wrong, it's absence also prompts you to do what is right - to repent so you can feel the Spirit again. I've had that before in a different area of a shaky RC asking to meet with us because she felt awful and wanted to feel the Spirit again.
I know when I was younger, yes I felt the Spirit but another thing that helped me to know if it was true was when I didn't feel the Spirit. Mom, do you remember that one time you took me to a school activity and then like 5 minutes later I called you, in tears, asking you to come pick me up? I do. I went to some 'battle of the bands' activity and the music they were playing there was so not good for me feeling the spirit. As soon as I entered the room, I felt the Spirit leave me. I felt sooo scared that I started to tear up. Then I called Mom and she picked me up and took me to some church activity.
Another one of my RCs once tried some alcohol (after he was baptized) because he was curious what would happen. He said that the Spirit left instantly and he promised us that he would never do it again. While we were not happy that he did something that silly as drinking when he knew it was wrong (side note - being a missionary has really made me feel like a mom watching over our RCs), we were really grateful that it made him realize how important the commandments and the companionship of the Holy Ghost is.
So yeah. Go Spirit.
Over all, our RCs are doing super well. Yesterday we had a really cool lesson with Nat. We reviewed the gospel - the atonement, faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. We asked him why he had faith and he was kinda taken aback by that question - I don't think he had thought about it. Later I asked him how he felt when he read the scriptures and prayed. It was really cool to then help him remember how he was when he was first investigating. His first week learning, we asked him every day how he felt and it was always "I don't feel anything". During that period we talked about how learning to feel and understand the Spirit is like learning a new language - it takes time. First time you hear it, you don't understand - it doesn't mean anything to you. The more you hear it and study that language (read the scriptures, keep the commandments, pray, go to church. etc), the more you understand. It was really cool to show him the difference from when he first started to where he is now.
I think that is one thing that I absolutely love about the gospel. It changes people and it's a change that you can see.
Another story. Kem is one of our investigators who is getting baptized this upcoming Sunday. When I met him, I didn't really think he was anything special. I frankly don't even remember meeting him but his number was in my planner so I must have. We set up his appointment and confirmed and he actually showed up (remember, in Thailand, we usually teach at the church). We taught him the gospel, word of wisdom, law of chastity, and invited him to get baptized on the 22nd. He accepted everything even though he was really addicted to a few things. He quit everything cold turkey - even though he works a ton and used to drink 5+ cups of coffee a day for the past 10+ years. His body reacted soooo badly to him quitting cold turkey that he actually had to go the doctors and medicine to help him with the massive constant migraines. But still throughout all of this, he doesn't relapse. He hasn't had coffee or the other stuff for about two weeks. He wants it sooo badly. He keeps on telling how much happier he is now and how much more free he feels too.
I can't think of any other stories right now. Oh! We met a farang Christian the other day and he attempted to use the Bible to call us the devil. That was fun. And then the next day we met this Thai Christian lady who said she really wanted to get a Book of Mormon from us because the other Christian churches she has gone to called us the devil but she thinks we seem nice so she wants to know what we believe and why other people call us the devil. So that was good. At stake conference, this long time member shared his conversion story and it started with him checking out another Christian church and the pastor saying that Mormons are the devil and he was really confused. He asked the pastor how he knew Mormons were the devil which made this member curious what Mormons believed. Later he was at the library and saw a Book of Mormon (in English) and started to read (he didn't understand any of it though). Conveniently enough someone saw him and asked if he was Mormon. When he said that he wasn't, the person (Elder Khanakham) asked him if he wanted to be. I may not have the story perfect so don't quote me on it but still, you get the gist. That Thai Christian lady from before asked me if I minded it when people called me the devil and I said I didn't. Why? Look how many missionary opportunities come from it. :)
Um...what else? Everything is doing pretty good. This area is amazing. It truly is the land of prepared men. I promise we invite females too but besides that Thai Christian lady, usually everyone that is interested is male. All of our RCs are male. It's great though. Lots of really great strong priesthood holders. We love it. :)
LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!! =D