Monday, April 28, 2014

Thailand Week 37, 25 April 2014

Hey family! 
This week was crazy.  Transfers was on Wednesday!  And today is Saturday! So that means I'm in the office for another transfer!  I've been an office elder now for longer than I've had a normal assignment.  My new companion is one transfer younger than me and Elder Wolfley is a way solid missionary.  I've been here for what like 9 months in country?  And I've only had two areas so far haha.  A total of 5 companions though.  It's weird to realize that I'm not actually young in the mission any more.  Sometimes it's really easy to get worried and stress about all the things you think you can't do.  But I look back on who I was and I can see that I've changed so much.  I feel like more than changing me, being a missionary has just opened up all the potential that was there before.  I've learned so much about myself, about other people, and about the gospel.  This is definitely the best decision I've ever made. 
Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
This week we have a baptism coming up! :)  We're super excited for her!  We've been teaching her for about a month now.  She came from a different Christian faith and she has really strong faith in God and Jesus Christ.  In our lesson yesterday she talked about how she believes God will help us but only if it's something we need.  She understands that trials are a part of life and hearing her testimony really brought the spirit.  :) 
Our van is still going strong.  I'm driving in Bangkok traffic like a Thai person now.  I can't tell if it'll make me better in America or not.  I just take over lanes and stuff all the time.  You have a sphere of influence on the roads.  Being in a big van we have a decently sized sphere.  You kinda just edge around and flow with all the traffic. They're going to replace our van and we might get an even bigger one. Like a 16 passenger van.  That would be nuts.  I'll let you know how it goes!
Mom I've eaten so much junk food lately.  Between your package and the package from Amanda I just have candy and stuff all over.  Elder Wolfley and I plowed through the rest of the nutter butters today.  We're going to make the cookie mix Amanda sent this weekend, it's just never going to end. Oh well I don't have to be in shape on a mission right?  I'll just run a ton when I get back. ;)  We're going to clean our house today so maybe we won't have ants in the bathroom.  We don't eat in there so I don't actually know why they're there.  But we'll take care of it. ;)  These missionaries were filling up the baptismal font the other day and a giant deadly centipede came out of the drain and was running around.  I saw a picture of it and it was like 15 inches long.  So freaky.  Luckily we don't have too many bug problems here haha.  
We're so pumped for May to come!  There's a mission wide goal for 3 baptisms per companionship and me and Elder Wolfley are going to work so hard to hit it!  With faith and hard work the miracles will come! :) 
Love Elder Keller

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thailand Week 36, 18 April 2014

Hey mom!

I got the Easter package!!  I'm wearing the tie right now and the Peachie Ohs are in my backpack to snack on today!  :)  I'm trying to save the candy and not eat it all at once.  I was way fat in the MTC and so now I'm slimming down a bit.  It's hard sometimes when you eat 7-11 food for like 5 meals a week. But it's whatever.  My shirts are so big that no one actually knows what my body looks like.  All the members (there's a ton of like 20 year old girls....)  call me the little bear elder and talk about how fat I am all the time.   That's just a normal thing in Thailand.  They talk about stuff like being overweight and diarrhea no problem.  One time this member was like "Elder you've gotten fatter since you've been here (which is false)."  I told her that I had actually gotten skinnier here and she was like "No look at your shoulders.  They've gotten broader and so you're fatter!"  You just can't win in Thailand...

This week is transfers week!  I've been in Asoke in the mission office for about 18 weeks now.  I'm not sure what'll happen now.  Either I or Elder Smith will definitely leave the office.  I'm pretty sure one of us will stay though because white washing the office would be a messy thing.  

I'll be kinda sad to leave if I do because there are like 3 investigators we have lined up for baptism on the 27th!  One of them has been learning with us for like a month and a half or something.  She was always good in lessons and stuff but she just wouldn't accept a date at the beginning.  She finally feels ready and is going to get baptized for sure! :) Lately I've been getting a lot better at just doing what needs to be done and trying to be more direct and aware of the spirit.  I feel like it's been working! Our lessons feel stronger and I'm overall just happier.  The best way to know if you are doing the right thing in life is to look for the influence of the Holy Ghost.  If you can feel the Holy Ghost working in your life, take it as confirmation that you're doing the right thing. 

I'll keep you updated on the transfers! I should know maybe Sunday or Monday when we start putting together the slide show.  I love you guys!

Love Elder Josh Keller

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thailand Week 34, 4 April 2014

Hey Family!

This week was crazy.  Last Sunday they got the total for all the baptisms in the month of March.  We had the theme of March Madness going trying to get every single companionship 2 baptisms for the month of March and a total of 200 people baptized.  Last Sunday was pretty intense with the Assistants and the Zone Leaders going crazy gathering up every one's data. That also meant we had a ton of baptismal records to fingers actually were like worn out.  I can type in Thai pretty dang good now though.  The total came to 212 people baptized in the month of March!!!  We exceeded our goal even!!  It was such a huge accomplishment!  

The Lord's work is going by so much faster.  That "Hastening the Work" thing is really unfolding before our eyes.  The key that we've been working on is testifying of the truth and really helping others feel the Spirit. There's an old talk called "The Challenging and Testifying Missionary" that kind of started this whole fire in Thailand.  I've been studying it lately.  There's nothing we can do or say to truly help someone be converted aside from testifying boldly by the Spirit.  I've been trying so hard to get that into my system.  To testify to everyone. If someone gives you more than the half second on the street then bear testimony of baptism and God's love for all of us.  It definitely works miracles.  

So last Sunday we had this other really strange experience.  President Senior had a friend who had a friend who knew a Thai member of the church a while ago.  Like 10 years, and hasn't been able to contact him.  We got an assignment to go out and do our best to find him.  The info we had was like 10 years old so we didn't know how much of it was true.  The phone numbers weren't good, the email wasn't good, figures because they hadn't worked for the other guy.  So all we had left was a 10 year old address that they said was more like his parents business address. The google maps in Thailand is pretty bad at finding stuff so we had to do some work with the address but we found it with street view and everything so we knew exactly where we were going.  We got there in a taxi and showed some pictures to the lady that came to the door.  After talking to her we got permission to go talk to his family inside.  We learned from his dad and his younger brother that he passed away 10 years ago.  It was such a sad story, and the families beliefs didn't give them a reason to expect to see him in the next life.  We shared our message about the plan of salvation and tried to leave a strong feeling of the Spirit.  It made me think about how important this life is and how important the gospel is.  Especially to families.  I'm so grateful that I have the knowledge and testimony about the truth of God's Plan for us.

Oh and a little announcement.  They now have 4 APs here!  Elder Chelson my old ZL got bumped up to traveling AP with Elder Wilson. So now Elder Lucas my 2nd companion is my new zone leader!  I'm in the same district as both of my trainers! It's pretty weird but way fun! :)

Love you all!
Love Josh

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thailand Week 33, 28 March 2014

Hey Everyone!

So the timeline in my head is a little weird because I haven't emailed for a while.  But we have had a pretty good week!

Yay Mom you went visiting teaching!!  Not that that's a surprise for you at all but we're trying to put a big focus on visiting and home teaching in this ward.  Not a lot of it happens.  We're actually doing a skit about it tomorrow for the combined 5th Sunday Sunday school for our ward.  There are so many less active members and stuff that we need to start these programs going to help people.  Haha I really appreciate what a functioning ward is like now.

I'm way excited for general conference!  One thing that's different about being a missionary is that I am so much more focused on spiritual things. It's really nice.  I'm way excited for conference.  We don't get to listen to it until the weekend after because we wait for them to translate it into Thai.  I'm pretty sure we get to watch it in English though.  It's going to be awesome!  

Have you watched many of the bible videos?  Elder Hunsaker just pulled one up now and it was way good.  It's from Matthew 10 (or somewhere around there) and Jesus talks about a house divided against itself, contending statement from the pharisees (?) about using power of the devil.  It's really good. You should go watch it,  It gives the scriptures so much more life and emotion. I've been learning to get a lot more out of scripture study by reading a little deeper than the base meaning and it's really fruitful.

Last week we had a baptism!!  But it wasn't the one that we were planning on.  So the security guard at the church used to work at the office and we had given him a Book of Mormon but have never really been able to talk to him for sure.  When he moved to the church some other Elders started teaching him. He really wanted to be baptized but being a guard he works like 36 hours on and 12 off so it's just hard.  It was Saturday and they said that he wanted to be baptize he just needed to learn. So Elder Smith and I sat down and taught him everything in the missionary lessons and he was interviewed that night and got baptized!  He was so humble and willing to submit to our Father in Heaven.  That's one of the most important traits of a baptismal candidate.

We have another baptism coming up this Sunday!   And we have a few other investigators that are progressing very well too!  One Sister was having trouble with her aunt warning her that she needs to study more before she's ready.  But we had the chance to sit down with her and her mom and it was a way good lesson.  Mom you talked about how it was nice to get into the sun and feel that warmth and happiness again, that's what I felt like after this lesson.  We were able to explain really clearly about the message of the Restoration.  That this isn't some new church Joseph Smith set up, it's the ancient church of Jesus Christ again restored in it's fullness.  
That's such an important message.  This isn't something weird or just some random idea.  This is literally the church of Jesus Christ on this earth.  I know this to be true. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Elder Josh Keller