July 4, 2015
Dear family and friends,
How is everyone this 4th of July? Did you end up going camping? We want to hear all about it. Apparently no one in Thailand celebrates the 4th of July, but of course we are in Thailand. Do not worry, Dad and I took turns walking down the street and throwing candy at each other. We love you all and wanted to send a quick email to let you know all is well.
Sorry to disappoint those of you who hoped going on this mission would be a break from Kelly’s crazy Schedule and that he would finally have all kinds of time to sleep.
We arrived in Thailand after a grueling 26 hour flight. We were met at the airport by President and Sister Senior holding up the angel Moroni sign. We got a small glimpse into how the new missionaries must feel when leaving home and going so far, far away and feeling tired and emotional on top of it all. The Seniors drove us to our mission home at about . We tried to unpack but finally quit and tried to sleep at about The Seniors met us at the next morning to go over the details of the mission home. After a quick rundown on the home we left for the service center and mission office. Kelly spent just under 2 hours with President Senior and I spent the same with Sister Senior. Funny but she kept asking me “did you get all that?” and then she would say “of course you’ll forget all that and that is probably for the best, just do it your own way”. The Seniors are just wonderful and have left such an incredible legacy. I’ll admit it was just as hard on us as it was them to see them walk away from the office to catch the subway and not look back.
We put on our Thai missionary badges and became best friends with the Assistants. We are so impressed with them. They dare drive in Bangkok and are actually good at it. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car and you drive in the far left lane not the right. I find myself closing my eyes quite a bit. The speed limits are merely suggestions here, it is pretty much every man, car, truck, motorcycle, scooter, tuk tuk and taxi for himself. The Assistants are so obedient too. One always gets out to help back out the vehicle which is in the handbook of course. They are so respected and loved by the missionaries. We overheard so many phone calls when the Elders were checking in and each time the Assistant on the phone would say I love you, goodbye.
We had to leave for our first meet and greet with missionaries. We did the first one with all the zones in Bangkok. That was an amazing experience! Kelly spoke first about how much he loved and respected President Senior. He had them pause and write a letter to the Seniors right then and sat down and waited. After gathering the letters He talked to the missionaries about his style and his personality and his experience and told them they can have both his and President Senior’s styles and build on that and move forward. He talked to them about change in the church. As an example he talked about when President Hinckley died and President Monson became the prophet. They each had different styles, President Hinkley had a huge focus on temples and President Monson taught about rescuing the one. The church benefited by both prophets. Then we stood up together and began to introduce ourselves with some pictures. We talked about our own backgrounds. Dad even showed the picture of him dunking the basketball. They loved it all most as much as him telling them that some of them would keep their hair and some would not. I shared growing up in a military family and living all over including Japan. Next we showed our temple wedding picture and talked about meeting at Weber State while singing in the institute choir. We introduced the family next. They loved you all but payed particular attention to Jalynn and Jace’s pictures when we mentioned with emphasis that you were both single. Dad said that he would give them your numbers only after their exit interviews should they be interested. Sorry everyone, but next was the HIGHLIGHT…the GRANDkids!!! Emphasis on the GRAND. I am not the only one who thinks they are the cutest ever!! We finished with the things we like to do. Dad showed 2 pictures of him fishing in Alaska, somewhat impressive until the next picture was my whopper of a halibut, all 108 pounds of it. I bow and thank you all. Then we showed a few pictures of the places we’ve traveled to together. Then to finish we shook hands with all the missionaries and I hugged every sister missionary. This took longer than our presentation. It was not surprising but still amazing how much love we had for the missionaries. The sisters were quite tender telling us how much they love us and that they’ve been praying for us. Some of the Elder’s told Dad that they were going to be obedient and work hard and do anything He asked of them. The amazing thing was that each meet and greet we found missionaries that we met their parents already or someone had a tie into them somehow. We were able to make the connection with each of those missionaries like Elder Frodshom, Ryan Davis, Sister Hayes (whose parents are new mission presidents in Costa Rica. We met in the MTC.) and Sister Morgan who was one of Dad’s companion’s nieces and Sister Beckstrand who’s grandparents are in our stake at home. We say this all the time but the church really makes the world a small place.
That night, after the meet and great we traveled forever across Bangkok and had the opportunity to teach with the Elders and Sisters. I taught an investigator with the Elders. It was a great lesson. I was pleased that my Thai is coming back quickly. I was able to understand all of the lesson. The Elders asked me to share some feelings and my testimony. I felt good to break out in Thai and everyone understood what I said. Mom taught with the Sisters. Mom is amazing and actually shared some of her thoughts in Thai. We didn’t get back to our home until , but it was a great day.
The next morning we left at to catch a 70 minute plane flight to another meet and greet in Chiang Mai. This is in Northern Thailand. This was another great experience. We walked in and they stood and sang called to serve in Thai. (Thank you study buddy that sang called to serve with me over skype so I could learn it.) When I served as a missionary in Chiang Mai 33 years ago the small branch met in the living room of a home. They now have a beautiful church building on a beautiful piece of land and have progressed from 10 members and investigators to 2 branches of 200 active members. The missionaries were wonderful and so excited to experience “Many More Miracles”.
In Chiang Mai, Kelly and I split up and he taught with the zone leaders and I taught with the Sister Trainers. We had the sweetest sister who was ready for baptism. The Sister Trainer would talk to her about how important it was to have faith in Jesus Christ and then ask inspired questions of the investigator. Every time the investigator would turn to me and say in Thai, “I want her (meaning me) to answer that. I actually was able to bear my testimony in Thai about how faith in Jesus Christ leads us to act and that leads us to know Him and trust in Him. She must have deflected 3 questions to me. She hugged me after and wouldn’t let go. She would just look up at me and smile shyly. I (dad) had the opportunity to teach a recent convert with the Elders that is getting ready to receive the priesthood. I actually taught with Ryan Davis, one of our Zone Leaders who is from Kaysville. It was exciting.
We had lunch with the Chiang Mai district missionaries after. I have had some hot Thai food already. (well hot to me). We have been starving with our schedule so I just eat it. My lips were numb for some time but it was actually delicious. The Thai people turn everything into an event that has Thai Food.
We caught another plane to Khon Kaen for another meet and greet. This was a 90 minute flight. We met with all of the missionaries in north eastern Thailand. We also met the Elders and Senior couple serving in Laos. They absolutely love serving there all alone and have smiles from ear to ear and couldn’t say enough times how much they love their missions and the people there. The people in Laos are so faithful and strong in the church. It is the same in Burma. They have sent out 20 or so missionaries from their branch of 100. We had dinner with the Senior Couples and the District Presidency and Assistants and then had to hurry off to catch our plane back home to Bangkok. We got a great picture of our Assistants out for the count on the plane. They vow to get us back when we least expect it. Crazy side note….we are so tired but don’t sleep much. We wake up and check the time and say its only 2 and then do the same thing at 4 and then get up by 5. We do exercise at the gym downstairs in the morning so that is good. Kelly and I wear fitbits and will start a healthy competition soon. Winner gets mango and sticky rice. I will win!!!
This week we will have transfers and a meeting and training to do for the trainers and a big dinner by yours truly and more missionary training and lots more. We did go to church today after getting lost trying to find a district branch. Long story short, we trusted the GPS in the mission car and shouldn’t have. We were 2 ½ hours lost and then had to rush back to make it to the Asoke branch for the block and 4 baptisms. The meeting started and it was fast but they invited us to speak first. I went first and a cute little Thai gal ran up to the pulpit to bring a microphone to translate for me and Dad waved her off and she just smiled real big. I bore my testimony in Thai. I was shaking all over but did it and they loved it. Then Dad spoke and he sure had the gift of tongues. Everyone said he speaks Thai perfectly. It really gave Dad confidence in himself and the Lord that He can do this because it is the Lord’s work and of course He will help us to accomplish His work.
We attended a baptism after Church. The Assistants had four baptisms. The service was nice. Many members came out to support the new members. I met two sister members that are still members in the Asoke branch that I served in 33 years ago. They have been faithful all these years. They were both so excited to see me. They remember me well, mainly because of my red hair and because I am so tall.
The Assistants came over to report. They gave us a book of miracles from May. This book was a collection of the miracles the missionaries experienced in the month of May. Then they gave us another book of miracles but every page was empty. They promised to fill it for July. They are incredible at encouraging and setting the pace with the missionaries and they love serving. They told me that the country was going to love me because I try to speak Thai and that they will help me study and continue to learn.
Dad is asleep sittiing up next to me and it is . We need to be to the office by 8 so I need to get him to bed. (I (dad) am up at working on everything that has to be done.)
This is long but there is so much to tell. Suffice it to say WE LOVE IT HERE!! Love the missionaries, love the members, love the leaders, love the investigators, love each other love you all and Love to serve the Lord!!
To illustrate the change of scenery, picture img0103 attached is the view from the window in the shower in our bathroom. We are in the big city.
We want to hear from you all so may I remind you that when you were on your missions we didn’t miss writing to you ever!!
We love you all so much. Please take care of each other and Grandmas and Grandpas.
We will write again soon. Email us and we will set up skype time with you all.
I will have Dad send a few pictures. Love you Jami, Jenica, Jalynn, Jace and Jaden. Love you Devin, Jeremy and Jared. Love you Annie, Ellie, Dodge, Linen, Sailor, Scout and Ellie Jayne. Love you Ethan, Aaliyah, Corbin and baby Squire. Love you mom and dad Halstead and mom and dad Johnson and love you siblings and family and friends.
Mom and Dad