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