Monday, March 17, 2014

Thailand Week 31, 14 March 2014


Hi Mom! How are you?
I'm getting pretty good at typing in Thai from inputting baptismal records all the time.  What have you been doing for spring break?  It's weird to think that you guys were just sitting at home haha.  It would feel weird for me to not be doing anything.  That's one thing I've been trying to do lately, fill all my time with something productive.  I'm not always successful, my journal hasn't been written in for a few days haha.  But things like following up with investigators has been getting better.  Hopefully I'll be able to take this skill home and not procrastinate so much.  

One thing I've really learned from working in the office is how to serve people.  People ask us a lot "What do office elders actually do?"  and I don't really have an answer.  Our time is just taken up by helping other people most of the time.  Like today.  Today is our P-day but we are going to take a set of desks to some sisters who don't have them, send Books of Mormons off at the bus station, and a couple other things.  It's changed my attitude about service and sacrifice for others.  There's a talk called "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" that I really like.  Basically the one thing essential to serving the Lord, growing your testimony, being a successful missionary, is a willingness to sacrifice everything.  I'm slowly learning that.  We need to be willing to sacrifice all of our personal desires and put the will of the Lord first.  

The office is totally just like an internship working for a company headed by a multimillionaire. President Senior is filthy rich.  But he told me in an interview the other day as we got on the topic of the Gift of the Holy Ghost that he attributes all his successes in life to this gift.  It made me think about how the Gift of the Holy Ghost really can change us.  All the recent converts say "My life has completely changed since I was baptized."  It's not because there is a bonus check or a new house waiting for baptismal candidates, it's because the Holy Ghost fills our life with a peace that can't be understood before.  Sometimes I feel like I under appreciate how magnificent it really is.

So they just changed our mission rules about music.  Sister Senior apparently won the game of Skip-Bo so now we are allowed to listen to arrangements of the hymns as well as MoTab.  The office computer has a huge Itunes library from times gone by and has a few albums.  My favorite though is one by David Glenn Hatch that is actually the red book we have at home!  And there's a Paul Cardall that I'm listening to right now.  I think we might have this book too?  I don't remember.

So there's this workout book that is getting spread around the mission called Convict Conditioning.  It's from a long time jail bird who learned how to use progressive body weight exercises to turn himself into just a powerful machine.  It starts off really small and gentle.  Like eventually you get to one arm push ups with your elbow straight at your side.  Or a one arm handstand push up, or one arm pull up.  It's intense.  But the first steps are like 3 sets of 50 wall push ups, or like just a headstand.  I try to do some of it but it takes to long sometimes.  It has a whole section about shoulder health and why gym traditions are way bad for it.  It's a cool book.  

Well so here's the spiritual part.  A couple weeks ago we had Bishop and Sister Stevenson come and talk to us while he was touring the Asia area.  He gave us two tips to improve our teaching.  Bear testimony, and promise blessings.  Lately we've been having trouble with some of our investigators who have hit a slow spot and kind of plateaued out.  President Senior suggested I read chapter 10 in PMG-Teaching Skills. And follow Bishop Stevenson's advice.  I'm looking forward to our next lessons!  We really can promise just about anything.  Between the Holy Ghost and the Atonement of Christ there's not a whole lot that gets left out.  Nothing important for sure.

Love Josh

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thailand Week 30, 2014

Hey family!

This week has been hard for us here.  We have so much to work on and so many assignments to get done and then trying to balance it with teaching our investigators and making sure that they progress, it's almost been too much.  We've spent a few nights up way late getting office stuff done and making sure that we meet all of our deadlines.  We had to get baptismal records in by a certain time and there's only 1 computer that can do that so it's hard to be efficient.  That night kept us out until like 1:00.

Right now we're teaching a few investigators and are really happy about it.  But it's hard to get people to keep progressing.  Partly our fault that we don't follow up very well and then they lose momentum.  I think it's something that can happen to everyone, whether they're a life long member or not.  If we get into a good habit we will progress.  We will receive more knowledge and revelations line upon line.  That's one of the reasons being a missionary is so fulfilling.  We get a chance to focus on the gospel and study constantly and just grow so much.  But if there's a week that is just off, it's harder to come back.  If we falter in our conviction and devotion for a while then we end up a few steps back.  

As a teacher, when we let people skip or don't follow up with them then it just gets harder to keep them going.  There needs to be constant goals and progression if someone is going to become converted unto the Gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the fullness of the bountiful blessings associated with it.   

So much about mission life is up to the missionary.  We will see miracles when we use our faith and do the best we can.  I know that the Lord will bless us, he wants to bless us.  Matthew 7:11/3 Nephi 14:11  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

So Gary E. Stevenson the presiding bishop came to Thailand!  He was here in South East Asia doing some kind of tour to see buildings and check up on stuff I think.  He was in Asoke and we got a chance to hear from him! It was way awesome!  As I went up to shake his hand I mentioned Grandpa and Grandma and Sister Stevenson was like "Oh it is Keller!  We'll have to take a picture to send to your grandparents!" It was a way cool experience to get to meet with them.  He gave us a really good lesson about missionary work.  He's been a mission president in Japan so he totally understands.

I know this church is true and that as we put our faith and efforts towards the Lord he will bless us more than we can understand.

Love Elder Keller

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thailand Week 29, 1 March 2014

Hey Everyone,

Right now we're pretty busy in the office.  We have a lot of work to do and all of the stuff we do monthly is catching up to us.  Baptismal records, the monthly newsletter, recent convert letters, and a bunch of other projects that have to be done soon.  Serving in the office is way stressful...but it's also way satisfying and being in the middle of everything is fun. :)  

In Asoke there are 12 missionaries and we all talk to everyone we see about baptism.  Like people we walk past on the streets and stuff.  Usually it's just a second or so in passing, "Do you know what baptism is? Do you want to be cleansed of sin?"  So because people have seen missionaries around so much, especially near the church, office, and our house, there are lots of people that really don't like us.  Some people probably hate us.  But we still have to ask them and everyone else we see.  It's a blessing that I'm reading in the end of Helaman and the beginning of 1 Nephi.  Nephi and Lehi preached until they were put in jail. Samuel the Lamanite got kicked out of the town but still came back, and didn't flinch when they started shooting arrows and stuff at him.  If I let a few glares and some really annoyed Thai people make me second guess my work then I'm not being a very good missionary.  It's a challenge for me, seeing all the people that I know don't like me.  But I know that what I'm doing is right and that if I keep doing it we'll find those prepared to receive the gospel.  That's my tip for missionary work, just talk to people.  Not straight up about baptism probably, haha. But don't be afraid to invite someone to church!  I'm a hypocrite because I never did, but I know it'll help. I heard once that an invitation given out of love will never be taken offensively.  So don't worry and pray about it! :)  And then this other quote- he who finds offense where none is intended in a fool.  So if they get offended it's their own fault haha. :)  

I'm still way happy that I'm on a mission and I know why I'm here. :)
Have a nice week! :)

Love Josh