Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Last Week in Thailand, 24 May 2015

I want to start this final email with some of the things I've learned over the past two years. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is how to use faith, faith being hope, and belief in the absence of complete knowledge. Elder Holland said "In this world, everyone is to walk by faith." Nephi was led by the Lord "not knowing beforehand the things he would do." He walked with faith. Knowing that the Lord would provide. I too have a testimony that when we use faith we will see miracles. 

Another lesson I've learned is the joy of obedience. Nothing can compare to the spiritual confidence that accompanies spiritual and obedient preparation. It is always worth the sacrifice of consecration to be able to count on the promises from the Lord.

At some point over the last two years I got the notion and expectation that after my mission was over, I would be a perfect missionary. I would cease to doubt or fear, I would have perfect charity and be perfectly responsible. I have loved my mission and I have grown so much because of it, but I am so far from perfection. I thought that as potentially the most experienced elder in the world (being at the very end of the 2 years) I would have all the answers.

Here we are. And I don't have all the answers, but I know that our Father in Heaven does. I have faith that the path prepared by the Atonement of Jesus Christ can and will guide all repentant people back to our father's kingdom. I have felt his love and have been a witness of it. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

3 Nephi 5:13 Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.

Elder Joshua Keller

Thailand Week 92, 17 May 2015

I don't have much time to email, we spent most of our day riding elephants!!

This week was full of so many successes! Some didn't come until later in the week as well. We had a baptism this last Sunday!! Sister Mint is 16 and has been learning for about a month and a half now. She really takes the things we've taught her and has her own special experiences. We gave her a challenge to fast and seek an answer from Heavenly Father. Then she had a dream and saw Jesus Christ! Her baptismal service was so spiritual and her mom felt the Holy Ghost witness that this was a sacred ordinance too. Her mom is very Buddhist, but she could not deny the significance of her daughter's baptism because of the spirit she felt there.
The next miracle is the family that we're teaching! Brother Lek, Sister Miaw, Brother Game, and Sister Dtong are the closest and most connected family I have ever met in Thailand. We met them a while ago at the park (where they go to exercise together every day) and they didn't pick up their phones, but then we were contacting on our way to an appointment and we found their house just 1 minute away from ours! We pass it every day!! They first sent only the two kids, 16 and 7, to church but then we started teaching them and the whole family wants to be baptized together on the 24th!!!
So that's all great, but they need to attend church twice before their baptism. It was all okay because they were going to come to church yesterday as well. But Sunday morning comes and only the two kids show up.  We knew immediately that we had to go and visit the parents and bring them here. I split with a member who had helped us teach and went as fast as we could. We got their and they had another commitment with a friend, but said they were all ready for the 24th. We shared with them and they just weren't ready to go, not showered, other commitments, things like that. But the Holy Ghost softened their hearts and they both got ready and their whole family came to church and listened to the district president talk about the importance of families and other topics that were just perfect for their needs! It was such a miracle!!! We're going to their house tonight for Family Home Evening and they are so excited to be baptized together!!!
1 Corinthians 2:9 and 1 Nephi 7:12 sum it up well.
9 But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

12 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.

I'm so excited to give everything I have left to this work. There are 11 days left. In those 11 days there is no limit to the amount of miracles that are possible. God is a god of miracles. I hope to be able to put my name down next to Paul and say, " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Thailand Week 91, 10 May 2015


I never really watched the Prince of Egypt movie, but there's this one song in it called "If you Believe" (I think). It's about how if you believe you will see miracles. It was the background for a motivational video that got sent out my 3rd month in Thailand to help us get excited for baptism and to believe in miracles. It definitely worked! We just randomly start singing. "There can be miracles!!!!! If you believe!!!!" whenever we see a miracle. Now we've changed it to Mayracle because this is going to be a month of change! There have already been so many miracles in our companionship, our district, and our zone! Missionaries struggling with depression have completely turned around, investigators have had spiritual experiences to bring them to baptism, and we're finding the Lord's elect!!!

Elder Cooper and I contacted this family a week or so ago. They're so nice! They actually spend quality time together! So far, they sent their 16 year old son and their 7 year old daughter to church. They really liked it! We're going to be following up with them often because they live on the way to the church from our house! So anyways, we tried to see them yesterday but they weren't home. We were with a member so we wanted to make her time worth while and wanted to visit a member who lived in the area. So as we're thinking, this long time member who hasn't come to church for a long time rides past really slowly on his motorcycle. We stop him and then follow him to his house, which was way close. It was a good lesson but it didn't seem to have the biggest effect on him. Now here's the miracle. We decided to make use of our time while we were in the area. We went to one house and walked away laughing a bit with "We're Buddhist" repeating in our heads and decided to try a few more homes. We rode past a guy sitting outside of a big, nicer home and decided to turn around and talk to him. We called from his front gate, telling him we were representatives of Jesus Christ, and we had a special message for him. He warmly welcomed us in and poured a couple glasses of water. We began our message. Telling him of a Father in Heaven who knows and loves us. Of the truth of Jesus Christ and remission of sins. We gave him a Book of Mormon and taught him to pray so he can learn of these things for himself. He told us of how he had been thinking about Christianity lately and how it is spreading everywhere, the Lord has been preparing brother Mai for a long time now. In his prayer he thanked God for sending his representatives and that he may learn the truth of these things. We left him with a commitment to pray and read further, to ask for himself. I have no doubts that Heavenly Father is doing his work and I'm grateful to be a part of it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thailand Week 90, 3 May 2015

It's fun to hear that things are getting green there! That's never really been a problem here in Thailand haha. Although, sometimes the old rice fields look pretty dry in hot season. We're still in hot season I guess, but it's also starting to rain a lot. We've gotten soaked a few times as we bike home at night. The storms here get so strong! There's crazy thunder and lightning. The loudest sound I've ever heard in my life is when lightning touches down near by, it's like a massive gun shot. I'm sure you won't have any crazy lightning or anything at girl's camp. I don't think I've ever seen lightning in Alaska. Is that because the mountains break the storms up?

This last week was kind of odd, but was arguably the most important week of my mission. Elder Tanner and Elder Crump, the APs, came down and trained us on what the focus of the mission needs to be. The center of our focus is not the temple, nor is it families, but it must be the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. Temples and families are eternally important, but someone who has not been baptized cannot go to the temple/be sealed. We've drifted away from the Doctrine of Christ and a focus on baptism which has in turn made us a little less sharp, less efficient as servants of the Lord. With a renewed focus on baptism and renewed faith we are working as hard as we can to let the Lord's work go forth as the stone cut without hands to fill the whole earth.

We need to think more about baptism! So we took a white board marker and wrote baptism on all of our mirrors, the bathroom tiles, all the random stuffs. We taped a ton of old baptism pass along cards on the wall and we are now doing all high-fives with the right arm held at the square. Hopefully that's not going to far...

Right now we have some prospects. One has been progressing for a while, but the first thing we need to help her with is a sure faith in God. Without that there is no foundation for anything else. Another has learned everything and seemingly has no problems, but he does not want to get baptized. Next appointment we have we're just going to tell him that the Lord loves him and wants him in his church. Then we'll dig around for his concerns, they're surely something under the surface. We met a super great family while contacting the other day too! OH!!! and this family walked into the church yesterday!!!! It was such a miracle!!! We were making phone calls after late meetings and some member came and told us there was some white guy with his family on the couch, Elder Cooper and I looked at each other and practically ran around the corner. Sure enough. This old English dude with his Thai wife and a couple
daughters were sitting there. Turns out he was trying to find the catholic church because he was going to teach at the school there, Heavenly Father has different plans for him! We sent them off with a commitment to come to church and English class and a copy of the Family a Proclamation to the world in Thai and English.

We have Mission Leadership Council this week as well, which will be a great chance to build off of what we have learned and they have told us we're going to expound on the training we've just received. I'm super excited!

I've been sick for a few days now but it's not enough to put me down in the house. It might be a slow recovery because we have to travel overnight Tuesday and then back Wednesday but I'll fight through it. With the whole refocus on faith we read "A Challenging and Testifying Missionary" today. It's a talk that I've read many times before but it was a necessary reminder. We need to teach by the Spirit and not hold back at all. We need to let people know that we're representatives of the Lord, he loves them and he wants them in his church. This week we're going to do better at making sure that happens!

Love you all! Have a great week! Baptism!
Here's some pictures from this week!  We rode a kwai!  Water buffalo!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Thailand Week 89, 26 April 2015

We had three baptisms this week!!!!!
Brother Bank is 9 years old.   He was so fun to teach because he wouldn't always talk, but would raise his eyebrows or something to answer us.  He opened up in the end! It was awesome to see his dad baptize him!  He's a 3rd generation member!  There aren't many of those in Thailand yet!

The other two are members of a family, Sister Oy and Fai.  Oy is Fai's stepmother and has been raising her for the past 7 years since she was about 8.  She's 7 months pregnant and has a handicapped almost 2 year old who has suffered from seizures and so her brain hasn't been able to develop normally.  She wanted to find a church and so she walked in a couple months ago and we started teaching!  For the longest time they couldn't come to church, but as we continued to teach them their faith grew and they came to church and have progressed to be baptized!

We have a mission goal of 4 baptisms per companionship for the month of May!  What a way to go out!  This last month we hit this goal, and we have the faith we can do it again!!  There are people who the Lord has prepared that are looking for the church all on their own!  Elder Paxton and Elder Morley found an investigator who in his own words "came as an empty glass waiting to be filled" This next month we'll pray, work, and find others the Lord has prepared!

I know this work is true and it is the Lord's.  The Lord has prepared his elect people and we can do our part to find them.  We're getting new training from the APs on contacting tomorrow and I'm super excited to get it and share it with the zone!

The plans I know for the temple have it being built right where the office building is.  It's at the corner of a massive 4 way intersection with the canal boat, the airport rail link, the subway, and the sky train all super close.  It's the best place they could ever have!  I'm really hoping they buy out the corner lot too, just dominate the four way.  Thousands of people will see it every day.

When do the Clayton's leave?  I have such a big desire now to be a mission president, 25 more years!

Does anyone use the ping pong table anymore?  I was trained by this old Thai guy in Saphaan Sung so I'll take on anyone!!

Love Elder Keller

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thailand Week 88, 19, April 2015

So my new companion is half Maori New Zealand and half Filipino. But he grew up in Australia. He's a brand new zone leader and is super ready to work. I'm excited to learn from him and share what I now as well. We have big goals coming up and we've got to help our zone get back into the mindset of finding the Lord's elect so they can happen. We have a goal for 4 baptisms per companionship next month! It's going to be tough but it's definitely possible! 

Right now we have quite a few investigators. We had 7 people show up to church! The most likely for baptisms this next week are Ooy and Fai. A young mom and her step-daughter who really want to come to church and be baptized! She's 6.5 months pregnant and has an almost 2 year old, who, in some way or another, is under developed and can't even hold her own head up really. They live in a small house near the church while her husband is on duty as a cop, but when they get the chance they go home to a town outside of the city about 30 kilos where they have AC and everything. It makes it kind of hard to come to church but they did it! Last Sunday they came to sacrament meeting and it was such a blessing! Fai is 15 and has come to about every activity at the church for the past 2 weeks or so. She loves being at the church. We're helping them reach their goal of baptisms next Sunday and will be praying hard everyday!
Mom I have one request! When we're down in Utah I would like to take one Sunday and go to church in the Thai-Lao ward in Murray by Salt Lake if we get the chance!
Love you all! Have a great week!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thailand Week 87, 12 April 2015

Hey Dad! This was a good week, if not a little busy with conference and people getting ready for the water festival. That's why we're emailing early. Go online and look up pictures of the water festival in Thailand!! We're playing today so we're just getting this done fast! It's a blast but it also requires us to be cautious. We switched our studies to the evening and will start working at 8:00 AM Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because after it gets dark people will be more drunk and other unfavorable things will come out. Transfers is this week as well. We've known since Saturday because of the complications this holiday brings. Busses are booked, so many people out of Bangkok (like us) will wait in our areas and the APs will call with new assignments. People will travel directly there. We also can't travel at night and they only want those actually moving to be traveling around. We got like 20 phone calls Saturday night and everything was a mess haha. But now it's all figured out for the most part. I'm staying in Roi-Et to die and Elder Watkins is moving to a new area. We were hoping we could die together, MTC companions and then together at the end! We got close and had tons of fun though!! I'm guessing I'll get a younger missionary to come up and be zone leader because a lot of people are going home this transfers and the next so they will start bringing a new generation up.

This is my last transfer and it's made me refocus on diligence and perseverance. I can't stop running now, I can't let the ball drop. This is the time in my mission that I am the most effective. I know the most, I have the most experience, not compared to those around me but to myself. I have all the capability to make this the most effective and work filled transfer ever. I just have to focus. Focus. Focus. That's always been a struggle for me. I'd day dream in class, procrastinate important events, all those random things. And now I'm fighting all those urges. I have to focus on the Lord's work and do what he would have me do, and only that. Nothing else matters. These verses from Jacob chapter 5 help share this vision.

71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.
72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.

If I will be diligent and obey the commandments of the Lord in all things, hopefully I'll hear the cherished words. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord."
In the name of Jesus Christ amen.