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