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.

Thailand Week 86, 6 April 2015

Best Day Ever!!!!!!
As soon as I get a job I'm going to start saving money to attend the Thailand Temple dedication!!!!!

This week is the last full week of the transfer, and it's already crazy because I'm sitting in Bangkok just having finished Mission Leadership Council.  Elder Watkins and I will get back on a bus to Roi-Et this evening and work as hard as we can!  Saturday and Sunday we watch general conference, and then Monday-Wednesday is the national songran water festival, then Thursday is transfers meeting.  It will be a little hectic this next little bit but the work will move on as always. We have some great investigators we're working with!   Sister Mali got baptized!!  She's the mother of a recent convert who just got the Melchizedek priesthood!  Then we have Mint and Thohm, a mother and daughter who are open to find the truth.   Next is Nah who has a true desire to be baptized, just has been out of town for the last couple weeks, we'll help her prepare for baptism as soon as possible.  Her goal is for this Sunday.  And there are other people we'll be working with to help them prepare! 

I'm so happy right now!  My joy is full!  We've got to get to work!!  People need to know there will be a temple in Thailand!  We've got to find those who have been away from the church and let them know! We have to help members prepare themselves and their families!  We have to find new people and tell them all about the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
As President Senior says, "It's all over but the work."

Love Elder Keller

This is by far the best Easter I've ever had.   Nothing could have been more fulfilling than the temple announcement for Thailand.  As Elder Watkins and I were on a bus overnight to attend mission leadership council today we got a call from the Assistants to the President.  In Thailand we watch conference a week later that the English world to account for the translating work, so we weren't as on top of the news as you, but we got pretty close!  We got that call from the Assistants at 12:05 at night.  I had just stirred from a couple hours or so of restless sleep and Elder Watkins reaches over and tells me the APs have something to tell us together.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but the truth was better than anything I could have hoped for.   They told us that Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of the Lord, had just announced that the Bangkok, Thailand temple was going to be built.  I'll do my best to explain the significance of this glorious occasion. 

Nearly 2 years ago when I first came to Thailand I attended a zone conference up in Chiang Mai. We were told that our vision was a temple for Thailand.  We wanted to help bring the blessings of eternal families, ordinances for the dead, and personal endowments to the Thai saints.  That was our vision. Our methods of work have varied in some ways, but our vision has always been the same.  At first we just tried to get as many people into the church as we could.  We talked to everyone about baptism, we expected miracles and we saw them.  We kept pushing our goals higher and higher, and achieving them for the most part.  Eventually our efforts also turned to preparing the saints for a temple. Without worthy members who hold the Priesthood of God a temple could not function and our vision could not come to pass.  We've lately turned our focuses to families.  Those that are with us and those that have already passed.  We believe that in order to enter into Heaven we must perform sacred ordinances such as baptism for the remission of sins.  Because there are so many of our family who passed away without the blessings of these ordinances and a knowledge of Christ, we seek, gather, and prepare information on our ancestors to perform these ordinances for them vicariously.  It's hard in Thailand because of poor records and several other factors, but we pushed it and are seeing the blessings.  We've been focusing on helping the family members of the saints enter into the church as well.  With all the diligence, perseverance, and faith that accompanied the push for baptisms that I had been apart of at the beginning, we have focused efforts on helping people be united in the church. And now it's all coming to fruition!! There's going to be a temple in Thailand! The Lord has seen the faith of the church here in Thailand, he has poured out his blessings on this amazing country, and the millions of other people in South East Asia who will take part in the blessings of the temple here.  I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church of God on this earth. His work is going forth and we are seeing his hand in Thailand.  I want to share what a missionary from the Book of Mormon, Ammon, said as he saw similar miracles in his ministry.  Alma 26:12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, amen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thailand Week 85, 29 March 2015

Today I'm not writing a ton because we're going to this elephant village about and hour and a half away.  It's going to be awesome! I haven't ridden an elephant yet so this is necessary.

This week was normal except for we had conference Monday and then Pday Tuesday instead. This coming week is actually the only normal week of this transfer.  Next Monday we have MLC which will actually make us leave Sunday night. Then after that it's Songran (The nationwide water festival) and Transfers!!!!

We're going to be taking full advantage of our week though! We have 4 investigators on track to be baptized next week on the 5th! Happy Easter! They're all so great and have been progressing for a bit as well.

One investigator is smart.  He takes the things we teach and you can tell he can process them and understand their application.  He smokes, but when we taught the word of wisdom and told him God forbids smoking, he just kind of smiled and said that it's a good thing.  He's not fooling himself.  He has leadership potential for sure! We're also meeting his daughter tomorrow as well!

Another had a date for yesterday actually but had a meeting for work so it was moved. We've met her husband before as well and he's interested!  He works in a different province during the week though so we'll have to work for time to meet him.

Another is an exchange student from Cambodia he came to us from a member in Sisagate that Elder Watkins taught and baptized!  Now we're going to help his friend do the same here in Roi-Et

The last is the mother of an RC who just received the Melchizedek priesthood and just got called as a branch clerk! She's doing great because of all the support she has from her son and his fiance who brought him into the church in the first place.

All this family work has just been coming up on it's own.   As we've stayed true to principles of diligence, faith, miracles, obedience, all those basics, we've seen the family initiative go forth as well! We've been talking about it and teaching towards it more and we're seeing the miracles!

Now the trick is to keep the focus going for the last little bit.  I can pretend I'm not going home, but I don't think that's what "Enduring to the End" implies.  I've put too much into this work to go home on a bad note.  It just can't happen.  So I'm trying to up the focus, energy, and faith.  Trying to purge myself of the things that distract and increase the things that uplift.  I've got a goal to finish the Book of Mormon in Thai before I go home.  I've never had a good habit of just reading it before, so now I'm going through it 10 pages or so a day.  It takes a lot of time but I also feel closer to the Lord.  And now that I'm out of Isaiah I understand a lot more too, haha.  By the way, the Thai book of Mormon is 707 pages long.

Total Consecration!
Love Elder Keller

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thailand Week 84, 23 March 2015

This week was crazy! We spent a lot of time getting things ready for the meetings this last weekend. We had to get food, hotels, transportation, all this kind of stuff for about 45 missionaries. Saturday we were doing personal study and President Senior calls and ask for 20 mini snickers, olive oil for the 20+ Melchizedek holders, a van rental for Monday, and a couple other things. So we threw studies out the window and went to work.

That afternoon I translated for Sister Senior's temple prep activity class and translated for Sister Senior (President was there but he understands Thai really well) at the evening adult session.

Sunday I translated again for the new member session and for the main session. I was so drained...
We got to watch a special version of meet the Mormons that is released for missionaries Sunday night so that was chill.

Then we went to bed at like 11 after helping the Assistants set up for Monday morning, which started at 7. So we were up at 5. It was a really good meeting. The thing I took from it the most was a greater desire to bear testimony of Christ, which we'll be able to do with this upcoming Easter season! The Thai people have no idea who Jesus Christ is, so it's our pleasure tell them!

2Nephi 31: 13
Then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

I know Christ lives. He died, and then he rose. Through him we can all rise. After this life, and in it as we strive to become as he is. In his sacred name, amen.

Elder Josh Keller

Thailand Week 83, 15 March 2015

Hey Mom! 
This week was pretty nuts because we were in Bangkok Wednesday for the meeting and then we went and had the whole zone get together and we trained them. My portion was on Faith, Miracles, and Unity. Those 3 Principles are foundational in missionary work and I've seen then all work! 1 Corin 2:9 We have no idea what God has in store. We need to use faith to find out what's out there!   2 Nephi 27:23 God is a God of miracles.  It's up to us to use our faith and pray so they'll actually happen.  Acts 4:31-32 We pray and shake the world, one heart and one mind!  We're trying to apply/re-institute these principles in the Roi-Et zone and we're already seeing success!

I'm starting to figure out how this branch is. Lots of family oriented people and that gives us a great chance to help them be united in the gospel!!!

I like our house here, It's got ants but it's got a lot of space. Oh I got that package by the way!! Thanks! We ate the mac and cheese together the other day and the left overs are in the fridge.  Elder Morley and Elder Sukan are way cool.

We have district conference and zone conference this weekend...It's going to be crazy. We have to organize how to get people around and fed and all this stuff because it's being held in Roi-Et. We've got most of it done though. A member had the perfect number of hotel rooms and the perfect price. All kinds of miracles. Being with Elder Watkins is great.  It's just natural to work now and that makes it way easy to focus. 

Next week we'll email on Tuesday so don't be surprised! I'll let you know how the whole conference weekend was!

Love Josh

Monday, March 9, 2015

Thailand Week 82, 8 March 2015

Hey Mom!

Yeah my companion is pretty familiar, It's Elder Watkins my MTC companion!!!!!! I'm so excited to be serving with him again!!! It's really nice because there's no awkward transition or anything, we're just ready to work and go crazy. Right now I'm trying to stoke a fire and make sure that I don't get tired or anything. We're in Roi-Et as zone leaders. There's so much to do here. We're trying to become a stake by June so we've got to get people motivated and get them focused! We need to get Melchizedek priesthood holders interviewed before the district conference the 21st and 22nd and also need to start working on the Membership Records because our shepherding ratio is too low. We need 1:20 ratio for MP holders who pay tithing and other members. There's almost 700 people in the file and not all of them should be there anymore. We've got our work cut out for us!

Roi-Et is a pretty small area but the branch has 120 or so people so that's a huge blessing. We're only like a 5 minute bike ride away so that's a lot nice than in Toneburi. Oh and by the way, Elder Tanner, my old companion in Toneburi, is the new Assistant!!! So even though we split up I'll still get to follow up with him and stuff so that's a plus. Our house is nice but it hasn't been cleaned super well. Maybe we'll change that....

Elder Watkins is excited and we're both fired up to make something change. Our mission has been pretty dull lately. As we shift over to more family work and trying to seek referrals people have lost direction and a lot of the old, foundation principles like contacting everyone and being bold are dying as well. We're going to try and restart everything. This morning we sent out a study activity with a ton of scriptures on miracles and told everyone to read it and answer some questions. We can't forget that miracles happen everyday.

I'm excited to be here and fulfill what the Lord wants me to do!
Love Elder Keller

Thailand Week 81, 2 March 2015

Sorry I didn't email yesterday, we spent all day moving into a new house over here in Thonburi. This one is way closer to the church and it's massive too! 4 elders could honestly live on just one of the floors in it. We'll see what it turns into because 4 of the 6 elders are moving out this transfer! Including both Elder Tanner and myself!! The word surprised isn't really a thing as far as missionary work is concerned, but this definitely wasn't part of the main plan. I've never whitewashed out of an area (both companions leave) so we'll have to make sure that everything is prepared for the next elders who come in. They've got so many people to help! It's stressful leaving an area with all the people you've loved and served.
This is the letter I sent off to President Senior yesterday, it sums things up pretty well.

Dear President Senior,

Even though I've only been in Thonburi for 6 weeks, I'm not surprised that I'm moving out. Not a whole lot surprises me anymore as a missionary. The incomprehensible will of the Lord has become a normal part of my life now, the trials as well as his tender mercies. This transfer we've seen success that shows how the Lord is in control, not us. Sister ปั๊ป came to English class 8 years ago and in a time of darkness sought the church in college and was baptized. She brought a friend a little bit later too. โป๊ป is her college class mate and has been Christian for a while. He read the Book of Mormon and was struck by the testimony of the witnesses and was baptized. He also brought his parents a little bit later. His mother learned 8 years ago in Pakkret but then they moved. They've seen the light in their son and want to know more. They came to church last Sunday, the week he received the Aaronic Priesthood. And there are many, many, more.

Including the elders in this zone and in this district. Nothing compares to the opportunity to work personally with so many missionaries. I will now understand more what you and Sister Senior mean by "We're happy because we get to be with the missionaries". Thank you for everything. I think of this verse from 1 Nephi: "But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

I received a calling almost 2 years ago, and I am forever grateful for the work that the Lord has chosen for me to do. I am grateful that he has chosen me to be a tool in his hands; and I'm ready for whatever it is that he, in his providence, has chosen for me next.

Love Elder Keller

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thailand Week 80, 22 Feb 2015

This was a good week for me spiritually and for the missionary work!

It started off normal. We went over to China town to look around and couple other Elders got fabric for a suit. I just got some fabric to cut a pair of pants.

This week we saw a lot of miracles from working with families and friends. Tuesday we had a referral brought to us and she's really energetic and was interested in how members say they "Know" or "Got an answer". We had a really good lesson about the Restoration and she committed to pray and ask! We won't be able to meet with her very soon though because it's testing time for the college kids here. They have an absurd amount of tests in Thailand. Later in the week we also taught other families and friends of the members here! In our focus to work with the members we went and visited the 1st counselor in the Branch Presidency and got to sit down and talk to him and his 13 year old son. They're both doing great and are strong members, but it was still great to bring the Spirit into their home and share with them. We read 1 Peter 3:15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

That's what we're trying to do, help the members be ready to share the Gospel and be involved in bringing people to the church. It takes confidence though. This week I got to go on a switch-off to the office!!!! It was way fun to be in my old area and see the old sights. Elder Osborn and I actually rode our bikes around to get to a member's house! What would've been a 40 minute traffic jam in the van turned into a fun 10 minutes of weaving through cars clear up to the front! One thing that I admire about Elder Osborn is how independent he is. Not that he works without a companion or anything like that, but he has self-contained motivation and diligence. It gave me more fire to be the best I can be no matter what is going on around me! We saw the results of miracles and diligence around the mission this week, especially in our zone! We had a mission goal to help all the companionship achieve the standard of excellence that President Senior established. Here in Bangkok West everyone worked hard up until the last minute to reach the goal and find the miracles Heavenly Father prepared for us, and in the end we had 10/12 companionship balanced!! Elder Tanner and I saw first hand the tender mercies of the Lord as we sat down at 7:00 at night to teach an investigator and her son the restoration. This is definitely Heavenly Father's work!

I did a really cool study the other day from he bible dictionary! Repentance is really the same process as it was when they sacrificed animals, you just see the symbology differently. Go to Sacrifice in the Bible dictionary and then you can put all the pieces of repentance into the steps! I won't tell you what I learned because it was fun to figure it out but Either 12:27 and Mosiah 3:19 helped a lot.

In all the animal sacrifices of the Mosaic law there were six important acts: (1) The presentation of the sacrifice at the sanctuary door by the sacrificer himself, as his personal act. (2) The laying on of hands (Lev. 16:21) dedicated the animal to God and made it the sacrificer’s representative and substitute (Lev. 1:4; Num. 8:10). (3) The slaughtering of the animal. The sacrificer himself slew his sacrifice (at the north side of the altar), and thus carried out actually the dedication to God that he had ceremonially expressed by the laying on of hands. A later custom was for the Levites or priests to slaughter the victims. (4) The pouring out or sprinkling of the blood. The priest collected the blood of the animal in a vessel and applied it in various ways and places to make an atonement (Ex. 30:10; Lev. 8:15; 16:18; 17:11). (5) Burning the sacrifice on the altar. After the priest had properly prepared the sacrificial victim he offered it (the whole or the fat only) upon the altar of burnt offering. This act symbolized the consecration of the worshipper to Jehovah. (6) The sacrificial meal (in the case of the peace offering only). The fat having been burnt and the priests’ pieces removed, the rest of the flesh was eaten by the sacrificer, his household, and the poorer Levites at the tabernacle.

Love Elder Keller

Thailand Week 79, 15 Feb 2015

This week was a new experience for me. The first half of the week was normal, then on Thursday we started doing switch-offs with all the district leaders in the zone. Thursday I went over with Elder Hales. Still here in Thonburi but in his side of things. Then Friday I brought Elder Graham over here while Elder Tanner was in Bangkhae with his companion. Saturday we both went over and worked in Bangbuathong.

The common thread is willing and diligent missionaries who are wandering a bit as we try to apply the new training on teaching families. I've been kinda stressed trying to understand what my role is. I need to make sure our area is doing good. Which it is by the way, we had a baptism on Sunday! In his testimony he shared how he knew he needed to change his life and he prayed for a new family, or new people to meet who could help him. He's found it now.
So we're seeing success, but that success isn't wide spread in the zone yet. That's something we need to take care of. Then there's the branch. The members here are great. But there's always things to fix and things we can help the, with. I also need to make sure that I'm doing all the right things. Writing in my journal, following the schedule, being diligent in my work. There's so much to take care of sometimes it can be overwhelming. But spiritual change is a process. Just like in the physical world, spiritual progression needs momentum. We need to start off with a small push and from there we can keep it going. The little decisions every day make the difference in our success. That's the trick, starting every morning with good choices. Maintaining the spiritual momentum is how we can grow.

Today I read in John 11 and it's really cool how much you can see the emotions of Christ. "Jesus wept" Christ of course was pained that those he loved had to go through so much suffering, but it was so he could perform the miracle of raising Lazarus. I feel like I can connect with Christ even more as I learn about his life and see the way he worked.

Sorry Mom, here are the answers to some of your questions...

So my companion is Elder Tanner. We're the same age in the mission and he's from Orem Utah. He has red hair and a blue tooth.

We live in a pink house. The outside and inside are all completely pink. We have a new addition to our kitchen. Last night there was a big gecko outside and Elder Baldwin and Elder Hales beat it to death with brooms. It's now living in our freezer. We're still debating whether or not to eat it.... ;)

We live in a nutsy part of Bangkok where they're trying to build the sky train and extend it over here but that's going to take like 5 more years. So right now we're stuck with narrower roads and a lot of traffic. It took us like an hour to get to church the other day. Bus rides and taxi rides get boring. I've actually fallen asleep a couple times despite the noise. That's the main reason we're looking for a new house. We think we might've found one that's pretty close to the church! Like a 15 minute walk they said! I haven't been there yet but Elder Hales and Elder Frodsham are excited about it.

This branch is good. There's a lot of willing members. Many of whom have family in the church and/or are recent converts too! There's the usual smattering of people who aren't all the way there mentally like Thailand typically is, but they all contribute this funny atmosphere to the branch haha. I like working here and I'm excited for all the things that are going to happen here!
Love you mom! I hope this is better haha. :)

Thailand Week 78, 8 Feb 2015

Family History pretty much sums it up! So we had a special training on Tuesday with President and Sister Senior. They talked about Personal Conversion, Diligence in obedience, testifying with power and authority, and working with families, particularly using family history as a tool. So that was great and super spiritual. 

Wednesday Elder Tanner and I were back in Asoke and got to be a part of Mission Leadership Counsel with the other zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders. It was so inspired and I can feel the confirmation from the Holy Ghost that this is the right path for Thailand. Last year there were nearly 2000 convert baptisms, and now we're going to utilize the growth in the church as a spring board for even more growth. The MLC training emphasized the doctrines taught in the district trainings as well as the power of the scriptures, D&C 127:4 which requires us to double our diligence, perseverance, patience, and works, and then they changed our missions key indicators. They added a new indicator being lessons taught to a part member family. In order to meet the mission's standard you need 2 of those new lessons, 2 referrals, 2 investigators with a baptismal date, 2 new investigators, 2 investigators at church, and a combined 10 lessons with a member or recent convert/ less active lesson.

One of the things I took away from the training is that we need to be testifying missionaries. Teaching doctrine and principles doesn't change someone. There's a quote by someone that says something like when people feel the Spirit they will want to change and they will grow those righteous desires. We did a little activity where we picked a scripture that has meaning to us. Not a verse about the Great Apostasy or about the 3 Kingdoms of Glory, but something that really had meaning to us. We shared it and then testified of the truthfulness and shared our experiences. Testifying is different than teaching. I read in Acts 17 or 18 today about Apollos. He had only entered into the Baptisms of John. He didn't have the Holy Ghost but he could still teach. He later was given the Holy Ghost by Paul. I wonder how it changed him. I'll have to read more.

So Elder Tanner and I got to spend pretty much the rest of our week going around with the Sister Training Leaders to train in the districts on this new work!! It feels so right.  I can feel so clearly that Heavenly Father is pleased with the progress and direction that this is all taking.  

This mission is changing again and I'm so glad to be a part of it!
Love Elder Keller

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thailand Week 77, 1 Feb 2015

Hey Family,

How was the trip to the cabin? Was there a decent amount of snow up there? Elder Hales and I were talking about snowmobiles and he's beaten my 112 mph record on the viper. He said he got up to 126 on a 2013 Polaris Dragon...that's insane.

This Wednesday we have our first mission leadership council! I'm excited to go and get to be apart of it! I've been to one where I had to help translate (President Senior talked about light particles...it was silent on the mic for a few seconds) and have heard all about them because I was around the office for so long.

Today I read John chapter 8 and I had to stop half way through and read it all over again. There's so much doctrine in it! You could read that chapter 100 times and I might have to before I understand it. I really like the part where Christ is telling the Pharisees about how Abraham saw his day, and he was glad. Nothing he did was ever not questioned, and no questions could deter his teachings and his holy sonship. We are members of the true church, we can have that same kind of confidence!

So this week was our first full week working with the zone here in Bangkok West. We decided to set a goal to have all companionships in the zone achieve balanced key indicators. That's 2 investigators at sacrament meeting, 2 new investigators, and 10 combined recent convert/less active member lessons and lessons taught to investigators with a member present. We knew that if we set our sights on these goals it would set all the companionships up for further success. In the end we had 9/12 companionships with balanced key indicators! It was a huge success! Even those who fell short saw miracles and had great success. It helped us set up a sure foundation.

This last Sunday we also had a baptism!! A girl came to English class once with her mom 8 years ago when she was about 12. Now she's about 20 and she had faith in Christ. She was doing good things with her life but she faced opposition and she said that it was like she fell into darkness. She needed some help so she turned outwards. Some of her Christian friends invited her to another church. She liked it there but her heart was pulling her back to this church she went into once 8 years ago. She came in and started learning with the missionaries. In her testimony after her baptisms she said that after she started praying and doing other things to follow Christ her problems seemed smaller. A light had been lit in the darkness. As we helped her prepare for baptism she said she had some concerns about how her family life would be being the only Christian or if she could keep such a commitment.

The thing that made her sure was the sure foundation of faith she had developed. She didn't let go of the feelings in her heart that brought her here in the first place. She didn't let the doubt or concerns overgrow the light that she had found. She is an example to me of holding fast. I know that she will grow in the Gospel and that this foundation will continue to strengthen even further.

In Thailand we had a pretty solid foundation in the church. Almost 2000 baptisms last year have helped the church grow and prepare for a temple. Now that we have this foundation we have to keep growing! That next step is families and to use the foundation that is here already to build up! We're going to focus on getting in homes to teach and other things like that! I know the Lord is preparing the hearts of the saints and their friends and families to receive the gospel and then the temple ordinances! It's a great time to be here in the Lord's work!

Love Elder Keller

Behind the church in Bangkok

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thailand Week 76, 25 Jan 2015

So I got moved again! Now I'm back in busy, dirty, incredible Bangkok! I got called as a zone leader over here in Tone buri. We're in the Bangkok West zone! Which is actually where the office is so I'll be doing switch-offs in my old area! They mentioned (and I understand) how nice it will be to have someone who knows how to do the office work to help on switch-offs haha.

Elder Tanner is my new companion. We came to Thailand at the same time but were in different districts in the MTC. He's been in Tone buri for a transfer all ready but was district leader. We're learning how to do all of this zone leader stuff together!

We've got a district of 6 elders here. I know a few of them, haven't served with any. Elder Anudson is from Sagon Nakon where I just moved from! It's fun to talk with him about all the members there. It's nice that we get to start off this transfer with a new month as well. It's a good time to start over and set new goals.

Right now my focus is to put everything up to the Lord. I know that is when he will bring to pass miracles. That is when he will show me what I need to do. That's when I will really be able to magnify my calling. Ammon is such a perfect example of this principle.

11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

I know the Lord has his hand in our lives and we can see it if we look hard enough!

Love Elder Keller

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thailand Week 75, 18 Jan 2015

Hey Family,

Something we see a lot with less active members here is "I still love God, I haven't forgotten him."  Yet they haven't been to church for months or even years.  They often have a problem with an old member or they started work that took them away form the church.  Many people had worldly needs that came first.  Our job would be so much easier if loving God was enough to qualify for salvation.   

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.  Can we truly love God if we don't put him first in our lives?  James 2: 17-18 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

So often something gets in the way of our relationship with God.  It's a problem that plagues everyone in one way or another.  Being shy might keep us from opening our mouths.  Being tired might make us quit an important job early, or walk past a precious opportunity.  For me, fear has been one of the biggest obstacles.  Fear is a part of my "natural man" that I haven't mastered.  One of the many parts that still plague me, but I'm growing.  Christ will heal us of all weaknesses.  His love and mercy is sufficient to save, if and only if we apply it in our lives to follow him and overcome the natural man.  This verse has helped me learn how to over come fear.   1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  19 We love him, because he first loved us.  

It's still hard, it's still scary.  But when we love God and have a testimony that he loves us.  What could possibly go wrong?  It's not an all at once perfect cure, but I think it's an important ingredient.  Before I doubt myself or try to excuse myself, I have to remember that God loves me with a perfect love.  And if I love him, I must keep his commandments. That doesn't make it easy, but it makes it possible.  Sometimes I think about all the precious truths we learn as a child.  I am a child of God.  I want to try and make this my anchor.  That God loves me and I need not fear.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Joshua Keller 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thailand Week 74, 11 Jan 2015

Hey Family!

This week we were able to focus on families and member missionary work in just about everything we did!  And we saw the results from it!  This last Sunday there were 86 people in church!  That's a 22 person jump from last weeks 64! ( it was a holiday but still!)  

All four of us missionaries got to speak in sacrament meeting and we hit hard on member missionary work and families.  That's the new focus of our mission.  Well the new angle to our focus of faith, baptism, and diligence, and all those good things.  We're excited to see how many family members get brought next week too!  

Dad, have you read "It's a Miracle" lately?  It's a talk by Elder Anderson about missionary work and it's perfect!   Hope you have an awesome week!

Love Elder Keller

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thailand Week 73, 4 Jan 2015

Hey Family,

So some kind of disappointing news, the lady and her daughters we've been working with didn't show up to church or pick up the phone.  We'll go and track them down and figure out what happened.  Right now our biggest goal is to instill a new culture in the saints here.  We need to help them grow and prepare themselves for becoming a ward.  We're trying to get them to start working with their friends and family more.  We're helping them get involved so they can help the branch grow.  There's a lot that we can do, but it doesn't compare to what 90 saints who are determined to help can accomplish.  I definitely didn't understand the significance of the McManus' coming into the church.  I now know what eternal significance that has.

Dad you're 48 now.  Pretty soon I'll be 20.  That means your 28 eight years older than me.  Coincidence?  I don't have an answer for that.  Elder Evans has an altoid can that says "Altoids were created in 18 something, 168 years before man walked on the moon.  Coincidence?"  That's all it says, it gives no answer.  It left me with a small gap in my soul...... I know for a fact it's not a coincidence that you're my dad.  I know that this is part of Heavenly Father's great plan.  Thank you so much for your example and how much you loved me these 2 decades.

That's exciting about the ward changes!!  Mt. Baldy....definitely not the classiest name in the world but I see how it fits. 

I hope you all had a great week! 
Love Elder Keller