Tuesday, November 17, 2015

October 30, 2015

Greetings From Thailand!
Sorry we haven’t sent a letter in a while.  It has been quite the month.  We have traveled all over Thailand, to Laos, and to two District Conferences. We also fit in our mission tour with Elder and Sister Funk.
Our quick trip to Laos was originally scheduled to be with Elder Funk but he needed to remain in Hong Kong to meet with Elder Gong, who was called as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. Elder Funk will replace Elder Gong as the Asia Area President.
We thought about postponing our trip to Laos but couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.  We had Yongtee’s mission call in hand and promised to bring it when we came.  He is the only member in his family.  His parents left him and his siblings and moved to America.  He has taken care of his siblings and is a faithful member of the Church.  He had many young single adults at the church as well as his siblings, and the 6 Laos Elders.  He is very talented and can speak several languages, including English.  He sings beautifully and his smile just lights up the room.  The entire group cheered when we walked in the door, with his call letter in hand. He is very proud and excited to serve in Australia, English speaking.
We also delivered a mission call to a young sister in the Vientiane branch.  (Nickname Sister Pookie)  She had opened her call via skype from our home in Bangkok to the Church in Vientiane. She was anxiously awaiting her actual call so she could read it over and over again.  She will be serving in a different mission in Australia.  The members in Laos are so faithful!  They have 2 branches in Laos.  Members from Vientiane Branch 2 travel 2 ½ hours each way to attend Church.  They put 28 people each van that should only hold 12 comfortably.  They are wonderful member missionaries and continue to find people for the missionaries to teach.
We love the Elders in Laos.  They are amazing and talented missionaries.  They really love the members and serve the people of Laos every day.  They aren’t allowed to openly contact and find but they teach English classes and get many referrals through serving in the community.  They baptize, teach English and Mission Prep, play a little piano for sacrament meeting, have great activities and Family Home Evenings and support the leaders in both branches.  They are great examples and we continue to have young women and men from Laos apply to serve missions because of their examples.
Our mission tour was a wonderful experience. Upon returning from Laos, we immediately picked up Elder and Sister Funk from the airport.  They arrived from Hong Kong where Elder Funk (Of the Seventy) serves in the Asia Area Presidency.  Both Elder Funk and Sister Funk are very personable and served as Mission President and wife in India prior to this call.  They could relate to the traffic jams and travel difficulties we face here and didn’t look too nervous when we used the GPS to travel home from the airport.  We took them to lunch at a Thai restaurant.  They love Thai food and handle spicy Thai food easily after serving in India and eating spicy Indian curry.
We had 12 Young Single Adults from Asoke over on Monday evening for Family Home Evening.  We had the best time ever!  They are amazing!  They have such beautiful testimonies and range from being a member for several years to being baptized 4 months ago.  Some are the only members in their families.  One young man lived in England for a time.  His English is excellent and it is fun to hear a Thai brother speak with a British accent.   One of the brothers is a returned missionary also. We had a lesson and then we played the now famous Cat and Mouse game.  I remember playing that at home with you kids and all your friends.  I loved playing it with Ethan and Aaliyah and Annee and Ellee and Dodge and Linen and Sailor and Scout before we left for our mission.  Dad would say, “I’m a hungry cat and want to eat some mice” then the kids would scream and laugh and always pull their mouse out just in case he rolled a six or a one on the dice.  So fun.  Now we have played it at another Family Home Evening in Lampang.  The adults loved it as much as the young members.  I think the game is going viral.  Ha.  We had dessert and they loved the treats. I was able to continue visiting with the Young Single Adults while Kelly took the Funk’s back to their hotel.  I got my guitar out and they sang I am a Child Of God.  Kelly and I love it when the Thai’s sing Nearer My God To Thee.  It sounds so reverent and amazing in Thai.  Then I made them divide the leftover treats and they were so happy to take them home.  One sister said she “has never been so happy”.  She loved coming for Family Home Evening and being able to talk about the church and to be with members and have fun.  They just don’t get that at home being the only member in their family.  I just love them all.  Their faith is so strong and they want to be so obedient. 
Tuesday we had MLC as part of the mission tour.  That is a new addition to mission tours.  I loved it.  I learned so much from Elder Funk and Kelly and the missionaries.  Our Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders are incredible.  They have the best comments which you know come from their daily personal studies.  I was able to share my conversion story and my testimony on prayer.  I just love my missionaries still.  I will always be grateful to them for teaching me that I have a Heavenly Father that loves me and has always loved me and that I didn’t need to earn that love, He simply loves me and that I could pray and talk with Him and He would listen.
Obviously being taught that and then doing that and believing that changed my life.  So grateful the message is the same today for everyone.
We took our MLC  missionaries and the Funks on the subway to Lumphini Park where Thailand was dedicated for missionary work.  We read the dedicatory prayer together and had personal dedication time and then returned to the mission office for lunch and the second session of MLC.
The following day we started zone conferences with the mission tour.  Kelly and I spoke on Obedience.   I talked about selective obedience using Jess our dog as an example of selective obedience.  I told how Jess was always more obedient to Kelly than any other member of the family or if you had a treat she was very obedient.  Or how when she was on the trail of a bird it was harder for her to be obedient because she was so excited.  Then I asked the missionaries how many of us show unwavering obedience to everything, with the exception of one commandment or rule?   Then we read from the missionary handbook word for word what it said about socks, about music, about what time to get up in the morning and what time to finish Pday and begin to work.  Some of the rules in the handbook may seem insignificant or not make sense but that is not the issue, the issue is that a rule is a rule and if you want to be strictly obedient you need to keep all the rules not pick and choose.  You are either 100 percent obedient or you are not obedient.   I told the story of Arabian horses and how they are trained and selected.  Those that follow the masters call instead of heading for the water after being kept from it for a time are chosen for the most important work and those that pay no heed and head straight to the water are chosen for less important work.  I compared it to If God’s greatest work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man then as missionaries the most important work we can do is to share the gospel with all of Heavenly Father’s children.  How sad it would be that when the Master calls and we have not disciplined ourselves to be exactly and strictly obedient that we are only suitable for a less important work.    I had them read in the missionary handbook the page where it tells what is expected of them when called as a missionary and every time it said  *you*  I had them say *I*  and take ownership of their mission and their accountability to follow the rules with exactness.  The last part reads:  When *I* accepted *My* call, *I* promised to live by these standards.  *I* am accountable to the Lord and to the leaders of the church for how well *I* honor this promise.
Kelly gave the definition of the word Always.  He said Always=Always (leaving zero room for words like unless, or except, or if or but).  He gave a great object lesson.
Kelly: I showed the missionaries a bottle of Iceland Spring Water. This water comes from Iceland and is considered perfectly clean. It is filtered through rocks for thousands of feet, removing all impurities. I called up a missionary and asked if they would drink the water. Of course they would agree to drink the water. I then had a bottle of canal water from Bangkok. The canals here are incredibly dirty. The water is actually black. The water is so polluted that it is black. The water is full of garbage and waste. The APs were able to retrieve a bottle of this filthy water for me. I then told them that the Iceland Spring Water had 500 ml of water in it. I then took 5 ml of the filthy canal water and put it in the bottle of perfectly clean water. I emphasized that it was only one percent imperfect now. I then asked the missionary to drink the water in the bottle. There was no way they would drink the water, with even just 1 % of that filthy water in it. I tied this to obedience. Even 1% disobedience taints the entire effort to be obedient. We have to strive for strict obedience.
We held zone conferences in Bangkok, Khon Kaen, and Chiang Mai.
We ended the mission tour with the Chiang Mai District Conference in Chiang Mai.  (Stake Conference for branches).  Sister Funk and I did an Auxiliary Training Meeting for the Sisters on Saturday evening before the adult session of conference.  We split up and went on visits before we started the training.  I was able to go with the Young Women’s president in Chiang Mai and two young women.  We went to visit some of the young women.  It was a great experience to see them with their personal progress books and know that they are setting personal goals and strengthening their Faith and preparing to be worthy to enter the temple.  They loved my young women’s medallion (Thank you Bishop Vincent) and wanted to earn theirs and said they would wear it all the time like I do.  When I was training in the Young Women’s auxiliary I had the young women there stand and repeat the young women’s theme.  It was moving.  They stood and were holding hands and had arms around each other and said it so beautifully and with heartfelt meaning pausing after each value with big smiles on their faces.  Oh the church is true everywhere!!  We truly are all daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him.  I love that I get to be with so many sister missionaries or I would miss Young Women’s way too much. 
We went with the Funks to visit Northern Chiang Mai University.  They loved that Jeremy had been there to meet them and to do so much good with his humanitarian project from Weber State University.  They talked to us about having our missionaries teach English at the University once a week.  They took us to dinner after the meeting to the most beautiful outdoor restaurant.  They had beautiful orchids everywhere and ponds and waterfalls.  Sunday the faculty member (Wiwat) that knows Jeremy showed up at church in the Chiang Mai branch with his wife.  They are both members and would love to have the missionaries at the university. He is so kind and wanted to have our pictures taken together.  Between the university visit and dinner and church we took close to a million pictures.  Ha
Sunday night we said goodbye to Elder and Sister Funk as they departed for Hong Kong.  We loved the mission tour.  It was a very uplifting and testimony building week.
We love spending time with the missionaries.  That is always the highlight of our time here.
Kelly and I stayed in Chiang Mai so Kelly could interview the missionaries.  We were able to spend part of the day with the missionaries for P-day.  We took two songtows (one for the sister missionaries and me and one for the Elders and Kelly) to Doi Suthep. This is a Buddhist temple on top of a high mountain above Chiang Mai. There are at least a 1,000 steps leading up the mountain to the temple on top. It was a beautiful day and even more enjoyable to have a very wonderful but very busy week and a half behind us.  We came back in time to do Family Home Evening with the Young Single Adults in Chiang Mai.  Kelly even did a few interviews for prospective missionaries and Church leaders in the home we were visiting.  We celebrated birthdays including Sister Morgan’s one of our Chiang Mai missionaries.  We left for the airport the next morning to return to Bangkok.
That same evening we had a banquet for the public opinion leaders.  They were able to take a tour of the Stake Center and the baptismal font and to get a tour of the family history center.  They were very impressed and always comment on how much good the church does for the people in Thailand and the world.  They love all that the church offers for the youth to have high moral standards and values.  A funny note:  The dinner was catered by a Mexican restaurant.  The people seated at our table did not know how to eat it.  It was a soft shell taco that was too big to close and pick up.  Kelly was trying to show one man how to dip the tortilla chips in the salsa and eat it.  Maybe you had to be there.  We had some of our sister missionaries that were the entertainment for the evening.  They played piano and flute to primary songs.  It was really lovely.  We showed a film of the humanitarian work the church does and the purpose of the Bishop’s storehouse and Deseret Industries and Latter-Day Saint Charities that do the water projects, wheelchair, eye surgery, infant resuscitation programs and English Classes. 
On Friday, we drove to Lopburi to interview the missionaries there.  They are wonderful missionaries.  You could tell that they were happy and loved missionary work the minute we walked in.  They are so good to each other also.  Elder Reid is an amazing self taught piano player.  He can play anything with any emotion you choose.  While we waited for Kelly to interview each missionary he was asked to play Once There Was A Snowman by Elder Neal.
Elder Neal said, “Play the absolutely saddest rendition of that song.”  Elder Reid sure did.  It was so melancholy that you almost wanted to cry.  Then I said, “Elder Reid could you please hurry and play the happiest rendition of
that song to cheer us up?”  He played the most lifting and happy version you could imagine.  It was all I could do not to skip around the room.  AMAZING!  He is so good at using his special gift and talent to bless the members in Thailand.  He can play any instrument that you don’t blow into he said.  I believe him.
We also were able to meet and interview Elder Hunt there.  His parents brought him to our farewell at home.  His mom knew Kelly from when he served here as a missionary.  She had a letter in a book from 33 years ago that Kelly had written her thanking her for helping him with street boards and missionary work.  This Elder is so happy to be here serving in Thailand.  He grins constantly and everyone loves him already.  We stayed overnight and then the next morning we drove into downtown Lopburi to be part of monkey city which was like being in the movie “Planet of the Apes”.  Unbelievable hardly  describes it.  The monkeys live in some of the ancient ruins in Lopburi and have overrun any abandoned building near the ruins in the middle of the city. As we walked through the area, monkeys would approach and would jump on us, climbing up to our shoulders and one even perched on top of Kelly’s head. We fed them peanuts. It was an interesting experience to be walking right among the monkeys and interacting with them. The baby monkeys were the cutest.
We then drove to Ayutthaya where we were able to see some beautiful ruins and a really neat Buddha head that had fallen and over the years had become encased in the roots of a tree.  It was quite spectacular really.  We saw Elephants  walking down the road which was like …wow!
On Monday, we flew to Chiang Mai and rented a car and drove to Lampang.  The drive to Lampang was beautiful.  Green mountains and lush fields of trees and grass the whole way.  So different from Bangkok.  We were able to teach some new investigators with the missionaries. 
Kelly: I went to teach with Elder Parker and Elder Lindley. We went to the home of a less active couple. The husband was a former branch president. They were happy to receive us. We taught about Christ and the restoration. This home was out in the jungle. It was classic Thailand. The home had cement floors and walls, no carpet and limited furniture. It was hilarious after we taught. The elders were so nervous about running into a snake as we walked back to the car on the small dirt path.

I stayed with Sister Carrillo and Sister Remington at the church.  We taught a sweet sister that was getting baptized the next week.   We taught Joe and Ken (nick names for two Thai men).  They were so humble and really loved reading in the Book of Mormon .  Then we all met up at the church again and had Family Home Evening with some members of the branch.  This is where we played the cat and mouse game.  It was hilarious watching them anticipate getting caught and trapped under the lid.  Many would pull their mouse out before the dice landed.  It was so much fun.  I met two young sisters Tip and Ten.  They were 13 and 7.  They live with their father and the grandmother takes care of them.  Tip is a member and she brings her little sister to church with her every Monday night and activity night and Sundays.  It was all I could do not to take them home with us.     Kelly and I left the church with Elder Parker and Elder Lindley to teach a sister and her brother in law at his dentist office.
We stayed at a little bed and breakfast that only had two rooms for guests.  It had beautiful Teak Wood furniture and looked like the earlier Thai housing Kelly remembered from his mission.  They made us a special breakfast the next morning and watched us eat hoping to anticipate any little thing we might need.
Kelly: Terri didn’t want to eat some of the breakfast, but was too kind to want the cute cook to feel bad that we didn’t eat all the food. So, she sneakily was able to wrap the undesirable food items in a napkin and get it into her purse.
We met the missionaries at the church for personal study time and companionship study.  I loved learning from Sister Carrillo and Sister Remington.  They are so good at applying what they learn from the scriptures.  They have wonderful testimonies.  We had district meeting after studies.  Elder Parker had everyone prepared and it was an excellent district meeting.  We went to lunch with them after the meeting.  We had Som Tom which is a specialty there.  It was delicious and still one of my favorite things to eat in Thailand. 
We left and drove back to Chiang Mai.  Kelly was able to interview Sister Morgan, the only one he missed after the mission tour in Chiang Mai. Kelly then spent the evening planning and setting goals with the Chiang Mai District Presidency. 
On Sunday, we went to church in Bangbuathon. The church is located upstairs in a car dealership.  Once inside it is a beautiful building and looks very much like the sacrament room in our churches.  The members were so kind and we really enjoyed being there with them.  We both had to speak and then we stayed for the other meetings and then they wanted us to eat lunch with them.  We hurried back after for a missionary fireside we had to both speak at.  It was great to be with President Suchad at the fireside.  He is a great leader and excellent teacher.  We were happy to see Sister Hayes and Sister Burbank and to finally get a picture with Sister Hayes.  Her parents are Mission Presidents in Costa Rica.  We had MLC this week.  It was a great conference. 
I know we did things here in Bangkok but it is starting to blur because we were flying off to Udorn before we knew it.  We are just starting all the District and Stake Conferences.
We love Udorn!!  The people there are some of my favorites.  Sister Gaw and her mother Maa Phon and pretty much about every member there is wonderful.
This District Conference was under the direction of Elder Khunukum, an Area Seventy. Kelly called and set apart a new District Presidency and called the newly released District President, President Wonsegon to be his 2nd Counselor in the Mission Presidency.  He is an amazing teacher.  He teaches seminary and is wonderful with the missionaries.  They love him so they were very happy for his new calling.  The new District President will be great.  He is a very humble man. He is a returned missionary, as is his wife.  They have one son on a mission now and a 17 year old son who is preparing to serve.  His wife bore her testimony and said she had an overwhelming feeling when she met President Johnson weeks ago that a wonderful thing was going to happen in their family.  She will be a great support to her husband and the branch.
We were able to go on visits in the branch on Saturday before the Women’s auxiliary training and Priesthood session started.  I went with Maa Phon and Sister Khunakum and our sister missionary, Sister Hoffman.  She was to be my translator but we soon found out that the women we went to visit spoke Mong.  We did the best we could.  I held all the babies at the homes and shared scriptures on living after the manner of happiness.  All the sisters we visited were alone with their babies because their husbands left them.  This happens way too often here and it is heartbreaking.  The Thai babies are beyond beautiful.  I want to take them all home with me but know it is only a wish.  Two of the homes had the babies sleeping in baskets tied to ropes under porches outside.  The grandmother usually sat nearby pulling on the rope so the baby swung back and forth.  Maa Phon thought it was the funniest joke ever when she taught me a song the moms sing to their babies to get them to sleep as they swing.  It goes like this…Ding, ding, ding, ding.   Ding, ding, ding, ding.  And over and over again.  I learned it very quickly ha.  But the funny part was when Maa Phon said she didn’t have time to sing that song so she would just push the baby and give them a good swing and sing …Dings!  She laughed so hard pushing the baby I thought the baby might do a complete spin right over the top of the porch.  She made me sing it and then laughed even harder.  I’m not sure I still get how funny that seems to her but it was Maa Phon and I always laugh because she is so fun and energetic.  She does more member missionary work than anyone I have ever met.  She does not hold back either but just begs people to come to church and to be her friend.  I was able to teach piano lessons to a couple of wonderful young people in the branch.  The one young man (Brother Daft) can play We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet with intro perfectly now.  I made him learn Joy To The World to get ready for Christmas because it is the easiest one.
He was pretty happy and whenever I walked down the hall I could hear Joy To The World.  The sister was learning hymns from the simplified hymnbook hoping to play in the branch when Sister Gaw leaves for BYU in December.  They are all just terrific.  We really love it here and are so grateful we have this opportunity to serve with the missionaries and with these people that we have come to love.  We are looking forward to having Jalynn and Jace come in December.  Good thing time flies here so you should be here like tomorrow.  Grandkids we love you so much.  Children you are amazing and we are so proud of all you do and who you are.  Parents you are the best.  Thanks for your love and prayers.  Family we are excited for all the wonderful things happening in your lives.  (returning missionaries, marriages, school events, missionary service, and family highlights).  Friends, thanks for your support and for looking out for our children and for your many kind deeds.

We love you all,

Terri and Kelly

Monday, October 5, 2015

September 28, 2015

Greetings from Thailand family and friends.  

Happy Birthday to Grandpa Johnson and Scout and Dodge.  It is hard to believe that September is over already.  It is hard to keep track of time here, especially when the seasons don’t change.  I love Fall at home and all the seasons but here it seems it is just a very long summer.  We actually did see a little wind storm the other day that blew leaves around but they weren’t red, yellow or orange leaves.  I think they were the leaves a bus knocked off a tree as it came through the neighborhood.

It is fun for us to hear about school and sports and work and everything you are involved in.  We especially love skyping the grandkids and seeing how much they have grown and how happy they are.  We love you all and are so grateful Families are Forever.  I am sad here when I see faithful members who are so committed and converted to the gospel but aren’t married and don’t have families.  This is Heavenly Father’s plan for us.  In Thailand, the culture pressures are to finish schooling, get a job, provide a home, pay a large dowry and by then they are in their late 30’s.  If they do marry it is usually too late to have children.  The Thai women aren’t supposed to approach anyone and have to wait for the men to show interest but they are too stressed about fulfilling Thai Culture first.  Any way enough of my rant.  We are having the Asoke Young Single Adults to our home for a Family Home Evening in 2 weeks.  You can guess what the lesson will be on.

We have been busy again.  We finished our MLC meeting.  We had a lot of new Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders so we wanted to do some Leadership activities at the start.  We did the “Float Your Boat” first.  Using one small flat sheet of foil you make a boat using your own idea in order to float in water and hold as many pennies as you can.  The only instructions they were given were to as a team take 7 minutes to accomplish this task.  We didn’t designate a leader in hopes that they would have a challenge or two with agreeing on one design and talking over each other to make their voice heard.  It was funny to watch the different teams.  Then the second activity was “The Egg Drop”.  A leader was designated and only the leader was told the instructions on what their team needed to use and do to accomplish their task.  Then the leaders went back to their teams and led the activity.  Some leaders delegated really well and used their time of 15 minutes effectively.  Other leaders allowed everyone to have a voice in choosing every decision and were scrambling at the end to protect their egg.  All in all only one egg cracked.  Then we had a great MLC conference talking about the characteristics of great leaders and how to lead in their zones and encourage and help the missionaries accomplish the goals they set and how to implement their plan daily, not waiting till just before transfers to scramble and get balanced in their goals.  Kelly has really emphasized Balance in Finding, Teaching for conversion, Baptizing, Retaining and Rescuing Less Actives.  Our goal here is to have 8 stakes at the end of three years.  We have 3 now and there is so much work to be done to grow and establish the church here in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.  Kelly and I actually did a companionship inventory in front of all the missionary leaders.  I think they enjoyed it and I know we benefited from it.  When Kelly asked if there was anything that he could improve on or help with I pulled out a paper scroll I had made and proceeded to drop it and it rolled out across the floor.  They got a good laugh out of that but just so you know I didn’t have anything written on that list. Ha. 
We just finished our first round of Zone Conferences.  That was quite the schedule.   We flew to all but 2 of them.  We met in 5 zones combining 2 zones in 2 of the conferences.  First was Udorn then Chiang Mai, then Ubon and Roi-Et, then Bangkok West and we finished with Bangkok East & Bangkok North.  We met with the zones the evening prior to conference.  Our senior couple over Family History did a presentation to all the missionaries to help them prepare recent converts and members to prepare family names for the temple in Thailand.  While in in Chiang Mai, Kelly had a fabulous experience meeting with a member he knew when he served in Chiang Mai 33 years ago.
(Kelly – When I served my mission 33 years ago, I had the opportunity to serve in Chiang Mai. At that time, the Chiang Mai branch was just a very small branch. I have a picture of this little branch 33 years ago and there are 14 members and 6 missionaries in the picture. We are all standing in front of the house that we met in. The Chiang Mai Branch President was a man named Brayoon. He was very young, having just finished his mission in Thailand just a year earlier. He was full of life and full of love for the gospel. Even with his limited experience he tried so hard to serve faithfully. But over the years, he had periods of activity and periods of inactivity. He went to Germany for a while then came back and was inactive for about 5 years. He came back to Church and was put into the District Presidency. Then, he went inactive again. He has been inactive for many years now. The sister missionaries in Chiang Mai went and visited him. It came up somehow in the conversation that I was the mission president. Brayoon remembered me. Given I was going to be in Chiang Mai I decided to call Brayoon. He answered and I introduced myself. He seemed so happy to hear from me. I invited him to meet me at the Church at 6:30pm that night. At 6:30pm I found him waiting outside the Church. I walked to him and gave him a big hug. We sat and talked for more than an hour. It was so fun. We talked about old times, but mainly talked about his life and the issues that had caused him to go inactive. It was so good to see him, but so sad to learn about his life and his challenges. I encouraged him to come back to Church and to enjoy the blessings of activity in the Church and Gospel. We took some pictures together which I surely cherish.)

Then we had an ice cream social and then we played “Minute To Win It”.  It was so much fun participating with the missionaries.  Kelly and I actually won several events for our teams.  The missionaries enjoy being together and getting to know us as well.  The next day we met in Zone conference from 8 to 3.  When conference was over Kelly would interview the missionaries he hadn’t gotten to yet and I would sit out in the foyer with those waiting for interviews or waiting for their companions.  I wish I had a picture.  I sat down on the floor and the missionaries sat around me in a half circle and said Sister Johnson will you tell us some stories.  They wanted to know all about how Kelly and I met and about our family and questions of the soul.  It was wonderful.   Our theme for this conference was Faith and Diligence.  Kelly and I both believe that training is more than teaching it’s instilling a vision in the trainee of what they can become.    Kelly introduced Fractal Geometry.
(Kelly – This is a concept that shows that shapes are really made up of many similar smaller shapes. For example, a triangle can be broken down into many smaller triangles. The large triangle is made up of even thousands of smaller triangles. Then, because the triangle is made up of triangles, it then takes on the shape of a triangle. I used this concept to teach that we become what we are each day. If we are obedient daily, our overall life will take on the characteristic of an obedient person. If we want to baptize during the month, we have to do the things on a daily basis that lead to a baptism, then if we do the daily things, we will be able to baptize.)
We discussed the difference between being converted to the gospel and converted to the church.  The gospel leads us to Christ and the purpose of the church is to help us live the gospel. We cannot teach what we are not.  How do we teach the gospel if we don’t live the gospel?  How can we teach the Book of Mormon is true if we don’t read it and study it and pray about it?  You cannot convert people beyond your own conversion.

“We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.”
Richard G. Scott

Kelly talked about Faith being a commitment to act.

When Joseph Smith went into the grove of trees to pray to Heavenly Father he didn’t pray just to know which church was true he prayed to know which was true so that he might JOIN.  Diligence in prayer is committing to act not just ask.  We showed a segment from our Mission President’s Seminar at the MTC of 2 missionaries teaching Elder and Sister Cook the Restoration and 1st vision in 4 minutes.  It was so moving and the Spirit so strong that Elder and Sister Cook were both crying.  Elder Cook who is an Apostle and has taught the Restoration many times was visibly moved because the missionaries taught by the Spirit.  We had the missionaries do this same role play.  It was surprising how many couldn’t get to the first vision because of too much of an introduction into the reason for the restoration.  They learned the value of knowing for themselves the truth of the message and being prepared to share it, led by the Spirit in order to speak to the hearts of those listening. 
We had missionaries share their favorite scripture stories of faith and diligence.  Kelly had them prepare these before conference not knowing who he might call on.  They were amazing and all chose different people from the scriptures.

Other points of discussion included the following:
·      We discussed motivators for diligence and that missionaries would become more diligent as they felt the magnitude of the trust God has placed in them.
·      We represent Christ and when people see missionaries they should see Him.
·      The application of Faith and Diligence results in the power to achieve.
·      Trust God in His willingness to provide Help no matter how challenging.
·      Strict Obedience.
·      Be sensitive to the Spirit.
·      Be courageous to implement the promptings received.
·      Patience when God lets us struggle in the process.
·      Our motivation should be our Love for God.

·      Romans 8: 38-39. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It was a wonderful Conference and I learned and felt so much.  I learned that in Becoming I need to remember it is not just what Christ saved me from but what he saved me for that should motivate me to be faithfully diligent in becoming who God intends for me to be.  I am so thankful for the gospel, I know it’s true.  Living the gospel leads us to Christ and following Christ will lead us home.  I am grateful for the Savior’s atonement.  I know that God’s grace is what makes it possible to not just return home to Heavenly Father but to be at home and be comfortable there.  Repentance is a gift to be used over and over again as we prepare in this life to change and be perfected in Him.  Stay Faithful! We love you all so much!  We pray for you every day and miss you all but wouldn’t trade this great blessing for anything.  Always make sure your children know you have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they see you live it.  Love you all!!

Mom and Dad

Terri and Kelly

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September 7, 2015

Greetings from Thailand!!
We have had some pretty amazing experiences since our last letter that we want to share.  I apologize again for the “novels” each time but they also serve as our journal entries.   I can’t imagine ever forgetting any of this or any of the missionaries or people we have come to love so much, but just in case.  Hopefully you will enjoy them too.

We were able to attend a talent show at the Asoke Branch here in Bangkok on Saturday, the 29th of August.  We were not disappointed.  We had a front row seat and had the best time watching members we know performing.

We had a group of Thai sisters dancing a Hawaiian dance.  We had a magician, some authentic Thai dancers with the beautiful hand movements and then a group that did a 50’s dance.  We had a wonderful young adult group that came on stage wearing matching shirts that said I Am A Child Of God and the rest of the words to the song.  They sang it together and then a recent convert of one week played the guitar with the same song and they livened it up a bit.  It was really good. We enjoyed it a lot. They had a primary age group of girls do a fun dance number and a little boy jumped on stage and gave one of the girls a flower.  His crush I think.  It was adorable.  We had one Young Adult Sister that can play anything on the piano.  She is truly amazing.  She would accompany people on the spot with only a few chords on her cell phone.  We had 2 Thai sisters start singing a song in Thai and then switched into Phantom Of The Opera.  They had a very strong Thai accent for the Phantom but it was great.  One sister got up and sang “Flashlight”  and she was right on.  You wouldn’t have even know she was Thai.  The highlight of the talent show was watching Dad get up in front of everyone and dance.  There is no refusing when they come to get you, so I ended up taking a turn also.  Pictures of us dancing were all over facebook right away.  Truthfully we are not any better at dancing here than we were at home, but they loves us anyway.

We were able to visit the branch in Bang Khae Sunday.  They have great missionaries there and a really strong branch presidency.  The members are wonderful and get so excited when we show up at their branch.  Dad and I had to speak in sacrament meeting and bear our testimonies.  I used Elder Paxton (who reminds me of Ryan) to translate a little message and then bore my testimony in Thai.  Dad does everything in Thai now.  I am proud of him.  He talks with all the members and they love it.  I have cute members ask me questions that they know I can answer in Thai.  How many children I have and grandchildren.  How long we have been married and if I like Thai Food etc.  I am working on increasing my vocabulary. 

We left for The Mission President’s  Seminar on Monday the 1st of September  through the 5thWe met with the Area Presidency and Wives and all the Asia Mission Presidents and wives in Hong Kong, China.  Elder Gong is the President of the Asia Area Presidency.  It was amazing to sit in the sessions with people who understand exactly what you are going through and are dealing with the same pressures and joys of serving as Mission Presidents. 
Hong Kong is pretty amazing.  Tons of people and tons of buildings that reach to the sky, tons of traffic but a lot less of the chaos.  Hong Kong was well planned out for expansion and increase in population.  They also don’t allow street vendors to park carts on the sidewalks.  And the biggest surprise was no motorcycles.  In Thailand we are still trying to figure out where pedestrians are supposed to walk.  The motorcycles drive on the sidewalks, create their own lanes of traffic and choose which direction they want to go regardless of the flow of traffic.  “Flow” is being generous because nothing flows in Thailand it just abruptly merges everywhere.

We loved the seminars we went to every day.  A highlight for me was when Elder Gong shared the talk and video of Elder Eyring’s talk on the Atonement.  He used Handel’s Messiah as a parable.  Handel’s Messiah was supposed to make Handel wealthy enough to pay all his debts and to provide a higher level of living.  No one could believe when he used the proceeds of the composition to pay the debts of those who were locked up in a debtor’s prison.  He knew the people who were imprisoned were good men, who were just down on their luck and owed a debt they could not pay.  He compared it to the Savior paying a debt He did not owe because each of us have a debt we cannot pay therefore showing mercy and settling the demands of justice.  I had actually seen the story on PBS at home before our mission and thought it was wonderful that Handel was so kind to his fellow debtors, he himself owing a debt. The video showed a man released from a long line of debtors who’s debts were paid by Handel.  His name was called out loud from the prison list and then it had to be approved by repeating the name by the jailor.  Most of the men ran upon release into the arms of their waiting families.  One man ran to Handel and embraced him, calling him great Sir and thanking him for his mercy.  Now that I can compare it to what the Savior did for me and for all of us my love for Him has grown.  He knows each of us by name and atoned for each of us individually.  He knows who we are, and is aware of our weaknesses, our sufferings and comes with mercy to our aid.  It was a wonderful experience.

Another highlight for me was attending the Hong Kong Temple.  While the bus was taking us to the temple we were able to listen to the Temple President.  He shared with us why the Hong Kong Temple is the only temple in the world that is open on Sundays.  He said he was so saddened by the number of people that wanted to attend the temple but were never able to fit in a session on the regular schedule.  These people are from the Phillipines.  The Temple President called them indentured servants.  They work so hard for so little and are only allowed a few hours off one Sunday a quarter.  The temple president said he was emailing a letter one day requesting that they would like to open the temple on a Sunday to accommodate these people.  He wasn’t brave enough and couldn’t bring himself to push send.  He had a couple come in to the temple office just then and tell him about several of these indentured servants and how badly they wanted to attend the temple and hadn’t been back to the temple since their first visit.  They had family names just waiting to be done.  The Temple President said he just wept and said, “don’t move, I will be right back,” then he walked over to his computer and pushed the send button.  The answer he received from the First Presidency was open the temple on Sunday once a quarter and tell these saints that the Lord loves them and has brought the covenants of the temple closer to them BECAUSE  He  knows them and loves them.  It was so wonderful to be in the temple.  It was wonderful to know that at least two times a year while we are serving here that we get to attend a temple in Hong Kong or Taiwan and even more exciting to know that we can help prepare for a temple here in Thailand.  Our Heavenly Father really does know and love each of His children and wants them to have every blessing and opportunity to return to Him.

We took a bus up to “The Peak” on Thursday evening.  This is where Hong Kong was dedicated for missionary work in 1949.  We are including pictures of the overlook from there.  It is beautiful during the day and at night it is all lit up.  It was a nail biter riding the bus up the long and narrow (way narrow) road, considering there were busses coming down at the same time.  I could have tapped the shoulder of someone on the other bus it was so close.  But they are amazingly courteous drivers and accommodate space for each other.

The church office building is a beautiful building in the heart of downtown Hong Kong.  They have 3 chapels 3 homes for the Area Presidency to live and a visitor’s center on the bottom floor.  It has other classrooms and offices because it is about 13 stories or more, which is tiny compared to everything around it.  It was interesting that the hotel we stayed in had covered skywalks from the hotel to the church office building.  You weren’t really even outside almost the whole way .  A lot of places are built like that in Hong Kong which is why the foot traffic seems so much calmer than in Thailand.  I am going to take a picture when I walk to our church office building and show you how challenging it is.  The Elders tease and say a sure fire way to get the crowd to split and let you through is to hold up a pass-a-long card and flash your missionary badge.  They scatter everytime they say.  Ha!

We love having the missionaries in our home for dinner.  We asked our Sister Missionaries in our close area to come Sunday night.  The Assistants were trying to invite themselves to join and Sister Alley said, “No way are you crashing our night with President and Sister Johnson, they feed you all the time anyway”.  They kept trying playing the “you realize that we don’t have a dinner appointment tonight right?”  card.  Sister Alley said, “So sorry but we do”.  It was funny.  I saved dessert for the Assistants for our meeting with them later that night.  I honestly caught Elder Arne running his finger around the bowl of the spaghetti sauce I had cleared from the table.  I was starting to feel bad but then the truth came out that they had begged dinner off of the Granges, our office couple.  If I had offered I’m sure they would have turned around and eaten another whole meal.  None of our missionaries are heavy in fact they are so skinny.  Dad has lost a lot of weight.  I went in to have 2 skirts made and they kept hovering over Dad saying your pants are too big, let us fix them or better yet you need a new suit.  They told him they would make it right then and have him pick it up the next day.  (He is going in when zone conferences are over.)  Jace, dad told them he would bring you in when you come to visit and they will make you a suit while you are here.

The sister missionaries came to dinner and brought Sister Htwe (sounds like Tway) with them.  She is from Myanmar and was leaving for the Provo MTC in the morning.  Dad set her apart as a missionary and she just cried after.  She has wanted to serve a mission so badly and she has such a beautiful testimony.  She is the only member of the church in her family.  Some of the missionaries here sacrifice everything to serve a mission.  Some of them are cut off from their family if they join the church and give up Budhism.  We have one missionary that told Dad he didn’t have a home to go to when he was released.  His parents disowned him.  Dad is helping him work through his situation.  They are incredible missionaries because they are so faithful and know that the gospel is true. 

We had the funniest dinner with these sisters.  They loved the spaghetti and breadsticks and ate and ate.  Then Sister Htwe started making faces when we were eating dessert.  I made the “sinfully delicious chocolate cake with score bars on top.  The other sisters were loving it but she looked like she was being forced to eat dirt.  We asked her if she didn’t like it and she said it was too sweet.  The Thai’s and Burmese don’t eat a lot of sweets.  We told her she didn’t have to eat it.  Soon after she whispered to Sister Sattathip.  She told us that she said she was still hungry.  We laughed and got her some fruit and more bread.  She is 89 pounds and is so skinny.  We found that she can eat a ton of food just not dessert.  Sister Sattathip is so funny.  She makes us laugh every time we see her.  She used to refuse to speak any English and now she tries out everything the missionaries teach her on Kelly.  The other day she came up to me and said Sister Johnson I have something to ask President but I don’t think I should.  I said what is it?  She said the Office Elders dared her to say “Hey good lookin what ya got cookin”.  Then she buried her head in my shoulder.  I told her that President Johnson just loved her and that she makes him happy when she jokes with him in English.  So she did it and practically ran away after.  The way she said it was hilarious.  “Hey you good looking, what you have cooking?” The sisters have been teaching her things to get back at the Elders for teasing her all the time.  At our last MLC she put her hand on Elder Arne’s head and said, “What is this?”  He said I don’t know.  She said, “It is a brain sucker and it is so starving.”  It’s funnier if you picture a Thai sister saying it in broken English while laughing the whole time.  She is darling.  We love these missionaries, they make us so happy.  She is a great example to the other Thai sisters.  They are afraid to be companions with the American sisters because of culture and language.  Sister Sattatip is in a trio with two American sisters and she loves them and loves working together.  They are an amazing companionship. 

Sister Alley ended up staying the night with Sister Htwe in our home.  We had to be to the airport at 4:00 a.m.  Sister Alley said they had to be in the same room so we made a bed on the floor for her out of all of our couch cushions and Sister Htwe, all 89 pounds of her, slept in the queen size bed.  I was worried Sister Alley would fall through the middle of the cushions.  She left me a note thanking me for dinner and a “way comfy” bed.  I have never heard her complain about anything.  She is an excellent teacher and I always feel the spirit when we are with investigators.
We were so glad that Bro. Wissan’s daughter, Wiw was also leaving for her mission and was on the same flight as Sister Htwe.  Their whole family hugged and encouraged Sister Htwe.  She has never been out of Myanmar and was really struggling.  It was neat to see everyone wishing her the best.  Bro. Wissan’s daughter was very confident and just took her under her wing.  I am so glad they had each other.  It is really hard sending these missionaries off.  I am glad Sister Htwe will come back and serve here in Thailand.  Wissan’s daughter will serve in Arizona.

We are busily trying to prepare for MLC tomorrow.  We leave for the start of our first round of zone conferences on Thursday.  We are excited to be with all the missionaries.  We have to fly to every area so it will be a little crazy this month to get them all done.  I have been saving all our flight tickets and will be interested to see how many miles we cover while serving here. 
A young sister that was baptized last Sunday came into the office today and was waiting for the missionaries to come back from lunch and teach her.  Dad was in his office and I was sitting in the foyer trying to figure out which missionaries had a birthday to celebrate at zone conference.  When I looked up she was just sitting and looking at a book.  I recognized her from her baptism on Sunday.  I was going to talk to her and I said sister and she jumped up so fast and slid right in next to me on the bench I was sitting on.  She started speaking in Thai lightning fast.  When I could only recognize a little of what she said to answer she slowed down and started speaking in English and Thai.  It was so funny.  She would speak in English and then speed up and get so animated that she would speak Thai and English in whatever order.  Kelly heard the conversation and came out of his office to see who it was.  We all sat in the foyer just laughing and having a great conversation.  She showed me a picture she drew of the Savior.  She kept saying she loved His face because He looked so kind and loving and warm.  Then she grabbed my hand and took me in the back office and started pointing at paintings on the wall and said, “you tell me about this painting”.  The first one was of Abinidi with wicked King Noah. 

We are looking forward to the next few weeks.  It will be wonderful to be will all of the missionaries. 

We love you all.  You are in our prayers and thoughts every day.


Terri and Kelly

Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 25, 2015

Greetings from Thailand!

Hello family and friends.  Well to start off I wanted to

explain about the bomb explosion in Bangkok that was

on the news.  It was actually very close to where we live.

We actually thought we heard thunder but later found

out it was a bomb.  We were so blessed that all the

departing missionaries who were out shopping and

touring that evening were out of that area in time.  Our

assistants were coming back from teaching and were

only 2 stops away from the explosion on the subway.

Fortunately, all were safely gathered in and accounted

for.  The members here were emailing and expressing

how worried they were about all the missionaries.   Kelly

was able to post information to all the families of the

missionaries instantly through IMOS.  Most parents were

relieved and some were wondering what was wrong

because they hadn’t seen the news.

You all know how I am with things like this.  I was so

rattled during 911 that I didn’t even want the kids to go

to school or anything.  Here there is just a calm that the

Lord is in charge of His work and the missionaries will be


Just last week we had 8 departing missionaries including

Elder Wolfley our Assistant.  We received 9 new

missionaries that we had met in the MTC during our

training.   We picked them up at the airport at 11:00pm

on Tuesday. After letting them get some rest, we met

them Wednesday morning at 8am at the Mission Office

for orientation and training. The new missionaries are a

great group.  They are so eager and so willing to get right

to work and to speak the language.  They have a lot of

energy and are really funny.  They will draw a lot of

positive attention.  Kelly thought long and hard on who

to have as their trainers to ensure that they would have a

great experience as missionaries from the very start. The

first thing we did was travel to Lumphini Park, where

President Hinckley dedicated Thailand for missionary

work in November 1966. Refer to the pictures we sent.

We read the dedicatory prayer together and then each

missionary had personal time to ponder and to

rededicate themselves to the work and to becoming the

best missionary they can be.  We taught them to ride the

subway and returned to the office.

After orientation we had authentic Thai Food for lunch.

Some of the food was spicy and they still ate it like

champions.  My lips were numb again after a few bites

but no news there.  I may be adjusting better to the spice

or else I’m usually just so hungry that I will eat it anyway.  

They got their bloodwork to apply for their work permits,

then Kelly did personal interviews with each missionary. I

went home and started making a home cooked meal to

welcome the new missionaries.  It is a pretty huge affair

that includes the new missionaries, the office couple, the

Granges, and the office Elders and the Assistants and me

and Kelly.  It is a ton of food that takes forever to cook

but miraculously disappears in no time.   We finished

dinner and I played the guitar and Elder Smith-Driggs

sang I am a child of God.  He was in the BYU men’s

chorus and has a beautiful voice.  Then Elder Wolfley

played a couple of hymns on the guitar.  He was in a

band at home in Layton and played the electric guitar.

He is very talented.  We played a clip of him at the

transfer meeting and everyone loved it.  The next day

was transfer meeting.  What a fun day for missionaries.

They are so excited to see who their new companions are

and who the new leaders. A highlight is for the

missionaries to meet the new missionaries that just

arrived in Thailand. We keep the new missionaries out of

the cultural hall until their big debut.  It’s really fun.

Everyone stands and cheers as the new missionaries

come into the cultural hall. This time transfers went a lot

smoother.  Our first transfer was a few days after we

arrived here and we were clueless and everything was

different than usual because one missionary had to go

back to the Provo MTC because of problems with her visa

and only 2 came but were delayed a day and then arrived

several hours late.  It all works out though.  

We got a new Assistant at transfers.  Elder Cooper is

from Australia.  He will be wonderful and is already an

amazing missionary and leader.

After transfer meeting we had a farewell dinner with the

departing missionaries. We had Thai food at a restaurant

just down the street from our house called the Local.

The food is wonderful and it gives us a chance to visit

with the missionaries.  It was amazing how many

personal questions they asked us about dating and

getting married and about school and careers.   After

dinner we met at our home and had a testimony

meeting.  It was a great experience, the spirit was so

strong and I was so grateful I was there.  After

testimonies the Elders sang the Hymn, “I need Thee

every hour.”  Wow!!   This group of missionaries are just

outstanding young men.  I am excited to hear about

them changing the world for good in the near future.  We

had to get up at 3:00am to take them to the airport and

say goodbye.  I was thinking how I didn’t like doing this

every 6 weeks.  As wonderful as it is getting new

missionaries every 6 weeks it is sure hard to say goodbye

to missionaries every 6 weeks.  We really love them.

Friday night we went to a banquet to welcome us to

Thailand.  This banquet is held to meet with Public

Opinion Leaders.  We took a lot of pictures with different

Leaders and Leader groups.  They presented us with gifts

from Thailand, and the most beautiful and very large

bouquet of flowers.  I had been missing my flower

gardens a bit so it was very nice.

We were seated with the President and committee chair

for the Rotary Club in Thailand.  One of the ladies was a

very dignified and highly educated Thai woman.  She

lived in Ireland for a time and went to school.  Her

parents were both doctors and did a lot of good for the

people in Thailand.  When her parents died they left a

charitable fund to be used to further their work.  She

uses the fund to contribute to worthwhile humanitarian

work in Thailand.  She is very wealthy and is a Christian.

We had a very good conversation with her.  We thanked

her for all the good she is doing and she thanked us for

coming all across the world to help in Thailand.  She is

aware of all the good the church is doing here.  We were

served a delicious dinner and the prettiest dessert I have

ever seen.  Presentation is huge in Thailand and I am

convinced the food tastes better because it looks so

pretty.  Funny thing at dinner:  We had a young man that

is a member of the church and from Thailand sing 3

musical numbers.  One of the songs was the Carpenters

(Close to You).  She leaned over while he was singing and

said to me, “I bet you would sound so lovely singing this

song because you met your husband singing in a choir.”  I

truthfully was worried sick that she was going to stand

and request that I sing (to everyone’s soon to be

disappointment), or worse that she would make Dad and

I sing it together.  FUNNY.

After dinner we realized that we had walked to the hotel

for the dinner from our home and had to carry all the

presents home with us.  I had to carry the huge, and I

mean huge, bouquet of flowers home and I considered

just doing the Princess Diaries’ wave and “ thanking

everyone  for being here”  but I refrained.

Saturday we flew to Udorn.  I got excited looking out the

window thinking how green it was but oh was it hot

outside.  It has been really dry here and hasn’t cooled

down at all, meaning high 90’s instead of low 90’s ha.

We checked into our hotel before going to do training at

the Udorn Branch.  We were walking through the lobby

of the hotel towards the elevators and followed a frog

(big frog) just jumping along.  I wanted to get a picture

but didn’t have my camera with me, so Kelly said, “Don’t

worry he will come up to our floor and visit.”  Sure

enough, a few minutes later when got on the elevator to

come back down to leave I noticed our friend the frog

down in the corner of the elevator riding with us. Only in

Thailand I keep saying.

We got to the branch quite early before the meeting so

Kelly could do interviews first.  I went with Sister Forte

and Sister Laoli and the Relief Society President to visit a

less active sister and her husband.  Maa Pon (The Relief

Society President’s name translated is Mother Blessing.

She is a return missionary but is still quite the missionary

in her branch.  The sister we visited hadn’t been coming

to church for 2 months and her husband was over 6

months.  Sister Pon walked in her home waving us in and

grabbed a mat and rolled it out on the floor and plopped

down.  She told all of us to sit and then told the Sister

and her husband to sit.  We did.  She got right down to

business and asked the sister why she hadn’t been

coming to church and that she missed her and needed

her to be her friend at church.  She told her that is why

she brought the missionaries and me along.  She said it is

so important that Sister Johnson the wife of the Mission

President over all of Thailand came to see you.  She sure

knows how to pack a punch with her words.  She is

amazing.  We took pictures of course with the family and

they promised they would be at church.  Then we went

back to the church for the Ward Council training and

Family History Seminar.   I was so proud of Dad for doing

the entire training for an hour in Thai.  He will have this

down in no time.  They asked me to speak at the end of

the training meeting.  I had the cutest translator for most

of the meeting named Sister Gow.  Her mother is the

Relief Society President I talked about.  She is a return

missionary from Salt Lake City, Temple Square.  Again we

took pictures with everyone.  They are so kind to want

pictures with us.  It makes them really happy.  Whenever

Dad introduces us and tells them we have 5 children and

10 grandchildren there is an audible gasp.  It is pretty

funny and I just expect it now.

Kelly was able to interview the cutest couple for baptism.

We have a picture.  They are so tiny and so humble.  We

always look like giants in the pictures.   They had been

taught for years but wanted to be sure it was true so

they could live the gospel 100%. They actually have a

daughter serving a mission in Australia.  Sister Gow said

that they will make the best members because they will

stay true and faithful.

I (Kelly) did several interviews. I need to find a counselor

in the mission presidency so I arranged to interview a

couple of men so I could get to know them and to

consider them as potential counselors. These were

enjoyable interviews. I also set apart a wonderful Sister

as a full-time missionary. She is going to serve in

Australia and is leaving for the MTC in Provo. It is an

honor to set a missionary apart. My service as stake

president has really come in handy as I have 3 districts

here in Thailand that I am effectively the stake president

for. I have to do missionary interviews, missionary setting

aparts, priesthood advancement interviews, disciplinary

councils, etc. Doing this for 3 districts is a bit of a

challenge when I am also looking after 194 missionaries.

The missionaries in Udorn are amazing.  Sister Forte and

Sister Laoli are companions.  I was able to teach 2 times

with them.  They are so kind and patient and are

wonderful teachers.  Sister Laoli is so tiny it is hard to

believe that she is 28 years old.  She has the cutest laugh

and laughs all the time which makes everyone else laugh.

We posted a picture where Dad is still taller than her

even when he is on his knees.

Sister Forte is learning the language so well and works so

hard.  They ride their bikes all over Udorn and never

complain even though it is so hot.  She is so good to her

companion and loves the people in Thailand.

Sister McKnight gave up being a professional ballerina to

serve a mission.  I can tell she doesn’t regret her

decision.  She is the sweetest missionary and everyone

loves her.  She is companions with Sister Hoffman.  Sister

Hoffman is a sister I loved from the first meet and greet.

She is really happy and is a great missionary.

Elder Hancock and Elder Bunker are companions.  Elder

Hancock is Stephanie Adair’s relative.  He is one of our

newest missionaries.  He is amazing with the language

already and reads the script really well.  He was

supposed to buy a bike finally while we were there.  The

Elders joke and ask him why he wants a bike and doesn’t

he like running along side them on their bikes.  He

probably doesn’t mind and is working hard and doing

great in his first area.  We attended Elder Bunker’s first

District Meeting.  He said, “oh no pressure with President

Johnson here”.  He did a good job and really stressed

unity in their district.  He kept saying, “I don’t see any

reason why this district can’t be the very best district in

the mission.”  Then he would just smile.

Elder Sukhan and Elder Curtis are companions.  Elder

Sukhan is from Utah but he has family in Thailand.  He

has been wonderful at seeking out his family and

teaching them the gospel.  Maa Pon the R.S. President

was actually taught by Elder Sukhan’s mother who

served in Thailand.  They are still good friends.  Sister Pon

was so excited when Elder Sukhan arrived in Udorn.  She

has taken it upon herself to introduce him to anyone

remotely related to him so he can teach them the gospel.

Elder Sukhan finishes his mission in October and he

quizzed me with a million questions about life after the

mission while he was waiting for his interview with Kelly.

It was fun.  He wanted to know what kind of dates Kelly

and I went on.  I’d answer one question and he would

fire off another.  He is a great missionary and will

continue to do great things after his mission.  He only has

1 transfer left and is worried about “the real world”.  I

get that.

Elder Curtis has to have been born grinning.  He can’t

help himself.  He loves being a missionary, he loves

everything and everyone.  It is really infectious being

around him.

We rented a car in Udorn and drove to Nong Khai to do

the branch leader training and to attend church.  We

both spoke in sacrament meeting and then I was asked in

Relief Society to bear my testimony on the lesson.  I

luckily had read the conference talk prior and could do it.

(The entire lesson was in Thai and my translator was a

young Thai sister preparing for a mission to Salt Lake City.

I believe she could speak 4 English words really well so

translation was a bit scarce.)  I’m thankful that the spirit

is the real teacher in any situation.  I did ask Sister Grover

to translate part of my testimony for me.  She is the

mother of one of our sister missionaries.  Nong Khai is

her home town.  She was visiting for a funeral and was

able to see her daughter with Kelly’s ok.  She lives in

Idaho Falls.

I was able to slip into the Young Women’s class at the

end.  I took a picture with them.  I’m the tall one on the

left. Ha ha.  They were so cute and very tiny.  One cute

girl snuck into the picture right beside me and put her

head into my shoulder for the picture.  I just love them


I (Kelly) interviewed a fine young man from the Nong

Khai branch that wants to serve a mission. He was

baptized several years ago but had been inactive. He has

come back strong and now wants to serve as a


We had one baptism after church.  This sister had to be

baptized 3 times because her hands didn’t go under the

water.  She was so worried about holding her nose that

she held her arms straight out.  It reminded me of my

sister Rhonda’s baptism.  She was baptized 3 or more

times because her big toe kept coming out of the water.

I remember being so jealous because I only got to be

baptized once.  They sang Away In A Manger for one of

the hymns at the baptism.  It was just the sweetest thing

and in August too.

I made good friends with a little Thai girl.  She would

draw in my journal.  I traced her hand in my book and

she just lit right up.  Then she wanted to decorate all the

pages in my journal.  I satisfied her with 4 pages.  She

was so little that it was adorable when she would Wai

and say hello.  I showed her herself in my little mirror I

keep in my purse.  She loved it so I gave it to her and she

ran off to show everyone her treasure.

The missionaries in Nong Khai are great too!  Elder

Morley who had only been there a couple of days did the

Baptism.  Elder Merrill, Elder Nelson and Elder

Greenwood also serve there.  They brag about how

wonderful the branch is at being member missionaries.

After Kelly did training and we had a family history

session we left for Laos.  We had our senior couple over

family history meet us in Udorn to train both branches.

They are the Moleffs.  They are finished with their

mission in just a few short weeks.  If anyone reading this

letter feels prompted to take their place please let us

know right away.  We are preparing for a Temple in


Crossing the border between Thailand and Laos is quite a

process.  We couldn’t drive a rented car across so we had

to park on the Thailand side and take a tuk tuk to the bus

station, go through immigration and catch a bus to the

Laos side and then have a taxi take us to the church.

Kelly needed to interview a few prospective missionaries

and the new missionaries called to serve in Laos.  I got to

visit with the missionaries while Kelly did interviews one

at a time.  They ended up around the piano singing

Christmas songs one after the other.  It was a great night.

I (Kelly) am constantly amazed at the faith of the young

people that want to go serve missions. Both of these two

amazing young members are the only members in their

families. They deal with tremendous opposition to join

the Church and then the opposition gets even more

intense when they announce they want to serve

missions. The dear sister told me about her family and

broke down in tears telling me that she could not get her

mom to accept the gospel and that she felt it was too

late now. I assured her that her example would work

miracles for her mom and family.

The next morning, P-day the Elders invited us to

breakfast.  They rode their bikes ahead of the tuk tuk

that drove us to the small soi where the breakfast was.  It

was a really fun little place with hanging plants and vines

everywhere.  We ate sticky rice and mango pancakes.

We loved it.  After breakfast we had to drive back to

Udorn to meet up with the missionaries to go touring

with them for their P-day.     It was actually the first P-day

we have had since arriving. Sister Pon was one of the

drivers so amazingly we stopped on the way to our

destination to visit 2 less active members.  This sister and

her son were the kindest people.  Their living conditions

were quite sad.  They really didn’t have anything and

their home was open to the outside night and day with

only a thin mat on the floor and a mosquito net for

protection while they slept.  This sister would just hold

my hand the whole time and pat it.  Her one hand was

crippled and she couldn’t unfold it or move it at all.

Whenever Kelly said anything she would just nod her

head and say amen.  When we were leaving she asked

Kelly for a blessing and kept pulling on her crippled hand.

She wanted him to bless her to be healed.  When we

were back in the car Kelly discussed the experience with

the Elders and asked why he and the Elders couldn’t heal

like Peter and the other apostles right on the spot.  They

were worried that their faith wasn’t sufficient.  I learned

a lot with that discussion, mostly that it is God’s will and

our faith that heals, not one without the other.

We drove to a beautiful overlook and for a moment it

didn’t seem like we were in Thailand.  Sister Pon said

they held girl’s camp there.  We could hear a monkey out

in the trees.  I saw a lizard and beautiful butterflies.  Then

we thought we were headed to a waterfall but we were

with Sister Pon remember.  We stopped at a roadside to

meet two young people who were Elder Sukhan’s distant

cousins.  Sister Pon put Elder Sukhan in the middle of

them and said take pictures, take pictures.  She never

stops and is just an amazing member missionary.  We

could use many more of her in every branch.

The next day we participated in the missionary’s district

meeting.  I was able to teach an investigator again and be

interviewed by some local students.  They would just

giggle and say Hello. What is your name? Where do you

come from? What is your favorite Thai food? What do

you like most about Thailand? Do you want to ever come

back to visit?  They would do the interview in English and

film it on a cell phone for a school assignment.  They did

the same interview over and over until all of them had a

chance.  Sister Forte was interviewed also because she is

from America.  She would hold up a card with a picture

of the Savior during each interview so I did too.  At the

end Sister Forte gave each girl a card with the Savior on it

and told them that she was a missionary and that Jesus

Christ loved them and if they wanted to know more they

could contact the missionaries or come back for the free

English classes.

I forgot to mention that Kelly played basketball with the

missionaries that morning at 6:00.  It was a lot cooler he

said only in the low 90’s.  When he walked in from

playing he looked like he had showered in his clothes.

The basketball court is outside in the church parking lot.

The missionaries loved it.  Word gets around really fast

so I think he will be playing again soon.

A funny thing happened when we first picked up our

rental car at the airport.  We walk out to inspect the car

and I just about died.  The license plate front and back

had Playboy on it in big letters and the Playboy symbol.  I

kept saying no way, what should we do?  We can’t show

up at the church in this car.  We had no other options for

a vehicle so I took paper from my journal and folded it

around the license plate holders in front and back and

tried to secure it under the plate.  It was a blessing that

with all our driving the paper stayed in place the whole

time and no one ever saw the plates.  Kind of funny now

but definitely not then.  It was another Only In Thailand


Well we love hearing from all of you.  Ethan I hope you

love school this year and your new teacher and friends.

Aaliyah I am excited for you to go to school and to dance.

Corbin I love you happy boy.  I can’t wait for baby girl

Squire in December.  Jalynn I want details on all of your

dates this week.  Jaden please go to the doctor so you

can be healthy and I can have peace of mind, love my

baby.  Jace good luck on the job search and everything

else we talked about and don’t forget how amazing you

are.  Jami, we are praying for you and Jeremy.  You are

great parents and everything will work out.  Tell all your

sweet children we love them and miss them.  Thanks for

letting Ellie Jayne skype with us.  Devin we miss you and

your many talents and think of you every single time we

drive in Thailand.  Jared sorry about the hunt, better luck

next time, thanks for taking such good care of Jaden.

Momma and Dad Halstead, we love you.  Hope you feel

better soon momma.  Thanks for being so good to the

grandkids.  Mom and Dad Johnson, we love you and wish

you could visit your fan club here again.  Thanks friends

and family we love you.  Thank you Spackman family for

the package.  We will use it this Sunday and send you a

picture.  Thanks for your love and support it means a lot.

We leave Monday for our Mission President’s seminar in

Hong Kong.  It will be a great experience and we will get

to go to the temple.   We love our missionaries and the

people in Thailand and wouldn’t trade these experiences

for anything.

Love you all,

Terri and Kelly (Mom and Dad) (Gwandma and Papa J)