The Newest Branch in the Kingdom

Kamphaengphet just officially became a branch of the church yesterday.  Which means the church trusts that we will be able to progress and grow by ourselves.  We have 5 Melchizedek priesthood holders that are in leadership callings, and 6 people that are potential Melchizedek priesthood holders for this next district conference.  We’re growing!  YAAAY!

I have the new calling of being second counselor in the branch presidency.  It’s al ot of responsibility, but it’s wonderful practice and experience.  I get to play “backseat driver” with my friend, the branch president.  He’s an awesome guy, has a lot of faith in Christ, but he’s still a new member.  We don’t want what’s been happening all over Thailand to happen here.  That is, apostate decisions because the leadership had no training and don’t read their handbooks.  I was pretty miffed when one of my RCs explained some apostate stuff going on with another branch president.

There’s a reason we’re given handbooks.

We met an awesome girl named Ma’am (like, the English word), who actually showed up to our appointment, as well as church!  She became fast friends with another RC named Meow.  Ma’am is way excited to learn more with us, and she’ll be ready for baptism quick!  The river’s always there, I don’t need to fill it!

This week’s unofficial theme of teaching has been of forgiveness and God’s mercy.  One RC has had some problems in their life regarding keeping the commandments, so they asked us if God really does forgive everyone.  We read 2 Nephi 31 together and focused on the grace of God.  He really does forgive us.  I can’t count how many times I’ve messed up, felt awful, asked God if He really would forgive me, and felt the sweet, peaceful confirmation from the spirit that yes, He can and He will.  I am still His son.  He still loves me, and there is nothing to stop that love.  It is not conditional on our performance.  It is given to us as long as we receive it.  God will not force us to love Him back, it is a privilege based on our own will to do it.
This is a wonderful example to us.  We should love all, no matter how weird, creepy, rude, disobedient, rebellious, sinful, etc they are, God will forgive them, and so should we.  Repentant souls are still souls precious to God.

A member talked to us about some concerns she had and wanted us to confirm her beliefs about the subject.  It was about the afterlife and the spirit world.  In the spirit world, will we become emotionless, lifeless things that are essentially nothing?  No thought, no will, no being, nothing!  A friend tried to convince her of this, but she remembered that in the spirit world missionaries would be sent to teach those who didn’t accept, or hear about the gospel.
So we confirmed her beliefs.  We read some scriptures, but what invited the spirit was when this was said, “Why would God make us, give us life, watch us and help us and love us, just to have us turn into nothingness when we die?  It’s a short 60-80 years, maybe not even that!  Why would he do that to us?  Is it a game to Him?”
No, it’s not!  We have this life because we wanted it, because God loves us.  What purpose would God have to make life just to snuff it out again?  There would be no purpose!
Why would He give us commandments to a bunch of people who wouldn’t have any increase from it afterwards?

No one can answer this.  Because there is no reason God would do this if we didn’t have another life afterwards.  We will resurrect and become perfect beings, with the purpose to grow in knowledge and spirit to become like our Heavenly Father.  This is the secret of the universe.
After that, the spirit was super strong and she nodded, saying, “Alright.  I get what your saying.  It makes sense.  I just had to feel the spirit to confirm it.”

Really, no truth may be truly understood by man teaching it or reading out of the bible.  Truth must be felt, by a manifestation of the spirit to be truly understood.  Some people want me to “convince them” that what I’m saying is true, but honestly, there is no other way, no logic loops or explanation that could teach and convince the soul.  Only the Spirit can teach the soul.

Alright, I’m outta here.  See you guys later!  Love you, love you Lord, and I love this work. I hear about you guys all the time, and I’m super happy!
Adios!
-Elder Elliot Mayo

Consecration

I made one of the worst mistakes of my life this week.  I saw the Captain America trailer, AND the Batman Vs Superman trailer.  Do you know what happened when I saw the Star Wars trailer?  I couldn’t focus for four days!  Thankfully, both movies aren’t as cool as Star Wars, so I’m not TOO distracted, but it was still bad for that day!  I’ve learned my lesson of staying consecrated and keeping my mind straight and my course set!

Last week MyLDSMail wasn’t working correctly, so my message didn’t send.  But that’s okay, it was an awfully short message anyway.

We regularly teach English at an elementary school for service, and it’s way fun!  The kids are all crazy and like to laugh at the white guys who try and speak Thai.  I think it’s fun to try and teach them, because it’s hard.  They’ve been learning in the same way (as in, sit down, listen to a lecture for an hour and a half, leave) their whole lives, so learning in a participatory way is a totally new practice.  They actually have to do something to learn!  Crazy, right?  It’s way fun, and the kids are pretty cool.  They love taking our inviting cards at the end of class.

Two of our investigators graduated high school this week, so we went to their graduation.  Kids werew wearing hudnreds of pictures of their friends and classmates around their necks and arms, making a kind of “armor” of pictures and plastic.  Looked kind of cool, honestly.

Anyway, it’s standard culture here to give a large stuffed toy to a girl graduating.  Sometimes we’d see a stufed animals as big as a car being given to a girl.  Quite the show of money.

This week I learned a bit about diligence and thought patterns.  I was wondering why our work was slowing down and I just couldn’t get up the diligence to go and do hard work all day, every day.  I was choosing the least amount of work possible for a while.  Our numbers were dropping drastically from last week.  Why couldn’t I work?
I realized that the easiest way to work hard is just to not think about it too much!  The more I thought about the inrticacies of the work, the more my lazy side would convince me to do something easier.  Instead of thinking about it before I do it, the trick is just to DO IT.

Like Nike says, JUST DO IT.

I’ve seen my effectiveness as a missionary spike because of this change.  My obedience is higher as well.  I have more of a desire to work and be the best I can be.  I see more potential in me and I’m a happier, more hopeful person.  My Heavenly Father has given me so much to work with and He has a plan for me.  I will hopefully allow His hands to shape me into what He wants me to be.

It may not be what I wanted at first, but now I will let The Lord work with me to make me into what He wants.

I know this is Christ’s true church wtih all its bells and whistles it had in the old days.  It has true authority from God, the priesthood, and the organizations.  Modern revelation is real, current, and personal.

I love you guys.  Keep on keepin’ on!

Adios,

-Elder Elliot Mayo

Heading North…

I moved to a small town in the north called Kamphengphet!  I’m with a fantastic Utahn boy named Elder Hixson!  He’s way nice, and he’s on his fourth transfer.  Kamphengphet is way small.  Yesterday at church we had a total of 28 people.  Way fun!  The members are all way close together, and they respect the missionaries like mad.  I hope we can meet up to their expectations!

This week I left Minburi, and I didn’t look back.  That area was hard, but it taught me probnably the most I’ve ever learned on my mission so far.  I must remember these lessons and move on.

Now I’m in one of the most potential ridden areas I’ve ever seen in my life.  This place is a gold mine waiting for someone to come and pick the nuggets up off the ground.

I played ping pong with a monk.
I came to this town by myself with no companion.
I ate tons of bugs and it was delicious.
RIDING A BIKE AGAIN YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!
The coconut milk balls of sticky rice is the WORST HERE AAAAUGH I CAN’T LIVE ANYMORE!
The members are so nice it freaks me out sometimes.  I don’t know what to do when they actually WANT to be nice to me and talk to me.  It’s SCARY!
I’ll update you more next week, but right now we’re late to go with a member ADVENTURING!
ADVENTURE IN THAILAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND!

Adios,
-Elder Elliot Mayo

Brrrrr!

For a long while I thought I wasn’t doing anything in Minburi.  I was stagnating the ward, or making people angry, or being too lazy or something.  I thought it was all my fault that the ward wasn’t changing or getting better.  This Sunday I felt the same, like nothing had changed.  The entire day went by and I still felt kind of useless.  This didn’t change my work, nor my demeanor too much, but at the end of the day I talked with my Zone Leader in a follow up call and just said what was on my mind.  Slowly the conversation found its way to what happened during the day, and Elder Johnson, my zone leader, listed off a bunch of things that he saw were changing and becoming better because of our efforts.  It made me happy, but it also made me think.
I had to reevaluate my worth.  This morning I was thinking about the change that I’ve had from this missionary service, as well as what I was before compared to what I am now.
Now I believe I can do it.  I still don’t see the fruits of my labors, nor the good that I do sometimes, but I believe I can do it.  It is the will of the Lord, as we have found out from our leadership recently that we help our wards change and become better.  In turn it’s only natural that when we have a desire to complete that goal and bring The Lord’s work to pass that He helps us to accomplish it, even if we don’t see it.

Thailand got way cold a week ago and throughout half the week, too.  I got sick, along with half of Thailand.  There’s actually a big wave of Dengue fever coming up into Thailand, so we have to be pretty careful around mosquitoes.  The cold killed a bunch of mosquitoes though, so it’s not too big of a problem right now.

Moves are this week.  This is going to be the first transfer where we don’t have a meeting for it in Bangkok.  It’s going to be crazy!  It’s way dangerous to travel by yourself in Thailand, especially when you’re a big white guy who looks like he has a lot of money (wears a white shirt and tie).  I don’t know how long this standard mission moves are going to last until someone gets wrecked, but I hope it never happens.

We went to a referral’s house this week and contacted a Pakistani family of 7 that we are now teaching.  They’re Christian already, and this was the driving force or them to move out of Pakistan and into Thailand.  More details on why in a later email.  They’re way willing to learn with us and they make food for us every time w’ere over there.  Mmmm.  It’s so tasty.
We’re teaching a lot of international people right now.  It kind of makes me weirded out, but seems as how no one in the ward is trying to do missionary work, I’m okay with baptizing for the international ward in Asoke.  I love these people, from many different countries and cultures.  I know people from all over the world!

Anyway, I don’t have much this week to report or tell you about.  Sorry.
Love you!
Adios,
Elder Elliot Mayo

Cold, crazy companions, and cylinders

Hello my people!  Bangkok Thailand has reached an all time (maybe?) low of 63 degrees!  IT’S COLD!  EVERYONE’S WEARING JACKETS AND SWEATERS!  IT’S SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE!  I don’t need to go north anymore!  I’m fine right here!
Reminds me of weather at home!  I love cold weather!  It’s nice to go outside and not have to bring a bucket to catch all my sweat.  Yay!
There is a food I LOVE here called Bua Loi.  It’s made with powdered sticky rice made into a paste with water, rolled into balls, then boiled in water until nice and soft.  They are then thrown into a coconut milk sweet sauce that’s OUT OF THIS WORLD TASTY!  The texture is so ooey gooey and good, and when done right it’s scrumptious as all goodness!  Especially when mixed with pumpkin!
My mission companions so far have been a very nice assortment of people that range from typical Utahn to a crazy Nepalese break-dancer.  I love all of them, and even though we may have had a couple moments of disagreement, they are all extremely special to me and will be my friends for the eternities to come.
 My first companion (my first trainer) and l weren’t the best of friends at that time, but we managed because we both wanted it to work.  I being a selfish, young, impetuous dirtbag didn’t help, though.  From then on I was buddies and bros with everyone pretty much.  I’ve been with… hmm… A half Thai, half white guy tall dude named Black.  He was my second trainer, and he’s been a big influence throughout my mission.
After that was Brockwell, an Englishman who lived in America for half his life.  We’re best bros, although we did some crazy stuff.  Good work got done with him.
And Tamang.  He just went home.  He’s a tall, skinny, half Nepalese boy from Utah who’s insane.  He likes running, but he can’t work out at all because his metabolism is 8 times faster than that of a normal human.  He eats.  A lot.  And does crazy stuff.  A lot.  FUN!
Then was Baldwin.  Oh Baldwin.  2 transfers = 3 months.  Not enough.  Although we had a little bit of a rocky start, in the end we were the best of friends and closest of bosom buddies… Is that even a phrase?  Anyway.  He’s really wry, has dry humor, and loves people.  A lot.  We went hard on the rules and consecrated and changed ourselves.  So we’ll get together for sure afterwards.  He just went home with Tamang, too.
Then was Magill.  I knew Magill from another area when we lived in the same house.  He’s super nice, one of the youngest missionaries we have, and he and I could talk about anything all the time.  Then for two transfers I was with Elder Liaga.  A big Samoan boy from Utah.  We got along okay.  Some ups and downs.  He’s just not the talky type so our problems didn’t really get resolved until the very end.  That’s okay.  We’re bros now.
Then I was with an Aussie.  Elder Saunders!  No complaints!  He’s a hard worker, taught me a lot even though he’s been here for a quarter the time as my group, and he’s way funny!  He also likes to tell stories about Australia.  Crazy stuff, that place!  It has bears that drop on you from trees and murder you!  Search up “Drop bears.”
For a long time I hated the way I was, and I hated how other people could be so much better than me.  I had so much pride and hate towards others for being more effective than I was.  This lasted for a long time until I understood one thing.

There’s something that my old mission president said.  All people are like unto a car when they are brought into the mission.  They each have their of cylinder set of two, four, or six.  Some can only do work as a 2, and some can boss it up and do work as a 4 or 6.  At first I thought this was unfair and didn’t like it.  But the Spirit manifested its truth to me later, much later.  The amount of cylinders at first isn’t important.  All successful missionaries, no matter how much work that can do or how many baptisms they get or how skilled they are should grow.  The main goal is to grow.  It doesn’t matter where you are at at first as long as you grow in the long run and become better.
It’s the same story with the talents.  A servant had one talent, another had 2, and another 5.  The master didn’t care that the one who had 2 had gotten 4 while the one who had 5 had gotten 10 in the end.  What mattered to the master was that they had grown their talents.  They had grown and fulfilled their potential while the one who had one was afraid of growing.  If the servant who had 1 had grown to 2, the master would have been just as pleased as with the others.
No matter where we’re at right now, as long as we’re pressing on and becoming better, the Lord is pleased and we’re doing what’s right.  Other people don’t matter in this regard.

They have their cylinders and we have ours.

We love all no matter how many cylinders they have.

On Sunday it rained pretty hard, and Annie still had work, so she wasn’t going to come, but Suresh took it upon himself to come to church in the rain.  He drove their only vehicle, a small motorbike.  He arrived drenched, and sat in the air conditioned sacrament room during Sunday School to freeze himself.  I noticed he had started to shiver, and took him outside in the hall where it was a little warmer.  We talked for a bit, but in the end we agreed he should probably go home before he gets sick.  He’s a trooper, that one.  He’s reading regularly, and praying as well.  It’s rare to have an investigator here that actually reads and prays regularly.
A Less Active member named Nan (Like the nan in nanny) brought her husband to church yesterday for the morning session.  She didn’t know there were two sessions!  She’s still very knowledgeable in the gospel and helped us to teach him afterwards.  Her husband’s name is None (“one” like in Lone), and he’s interested as to why people believe in Christianity.  We only met with him for a few minutes, so we answered his questions that he had at that moment and set up a time for next week to teach him.  He’s curious, and that curiosity will turn into faith.  He’s awesome!  I’m super excited for this week.  It may be my last one in Minburi!  We have a really good line up of potentials and people to teach.  WOOO!

I love all of you and I love this work.  I love my Savior and I love my family!  See you all next week!
Adios!
-Elder Elliot Mayo

I’m Getting Old

No really!  I have three white hairs in the front!  I’M NOT READY TO BE A GRANDPA!
Is this from working hard, or from external means?  MSG maybe?

Annie and Suresh are progressing well.  They know the gospel is true and the church is the true church of God.  They have accepted every commandment we give them.  Every time we meet I keep getting the impression that they’ve been prepared for so long, even before they came to Thailand.  This preparation shows itself in how they are so willing to do hat The Lord wants them to do.  I love them so much!  Oh yeah, Suresh plays some boss ping pong.  WOO!

We went to go visit an LAs house from a list a member gave us.  We biked and biked and biked for about an hour and a half, when finally we found it and gave a shout of hello.  An older guy came out, who we expected to be the LA’s dad.  The person we were searching for was a girl, probably around my age.  He came to the door and said hello, then welcomed us inside.  I was surprised.  People in Bangkok don’t usually just welcome a stranger (especially a faraang (white guy) like me) into their home and let them converse.  It just doesn’t happen!
He let us in and we talked for a good amount of time about his daughter, about where she was going to school, and a service project he was setting up.  He didn’t seem too interested in the gospel, but I can see him changing soon.  He welcomed us to visit any time, so we’ll go back another day  It was an experience not common in the city, but I felt good, like this is what normal missionary work was like.

In talking with members and genuinely caring about their needs, I’ve found a new side of missionary work that I think we’ve been missing for a long time.  I spoke with a member from Lopburi yesterday, and older lady who I used to teach the RC lessons to as a greenie.  She said ever since after one of my friends left that area, missionaries just stopped talking to the older members, and would only have conversations or participation with the kids and young people.  She feels like the missionaries just don’t care about the normal members, nor do they ever talk to them.  I felt the same about the rest of the mission (not as a whole, just as a feeling going around), and assured her things would be changing.
As we learn how to have charity, talking to people becomes easy and natural.  When we genuinely care for another’s problems, conversation topics automatically come up and are easy to talk about.  Nothing is awkward, and you become friends very easily.

I think of a story about Joseph Smith when he was visiting his parents.  A small group of men came to the home to kill Joseph, but when they arrive, the Prophet shook all of their hands and invited them to sit down and talk.  After he explained the story of the mormons, and expressed his desires for the work, the men rethought their actions and decided to help Joseph.  They saw his deep and genuine love for all men, including them.  When he left, two of the men accompanied him for safety and traveled with him for a ways.
When we genuinely love people, we won’t want to hurt them.  We won’t want to fight with them.  We won’t look for reasons why we shouldn’t like them.  Ways to help them are uncountable.  We’ll want to sacrifice what we have to make their lives better.

I love these people now.  The thai people aren’t all bad.  They’re frustrating sometimes because of the hold Satan has on their hearts, but they aren’t inherently bad.  I want to help them become better!

This is all for this week.  I love you.  Keep being awesome!
-Elder Elliot Mayo

Change, restitution, and charity

This week has a lot, LOT of changes.  Changes to the mission culture, to the way we’re working, to how I think about other people, to what we are a district should be doing, to how my relationships with people are, and various other things, but I’ll start off with the investigators.

Annie and Suresh have made some progress this week.  Suresh likes the Book of Mormon, but it’s really hard for him to read in English, so one of our best friend members gave him the Children’s version picture books for now to know the stories, and he can read the actual scripture to understand the doctrine.  We’re working on getting a Book of Mormon in Tamil, his native language in India.
In most lessons I do a lot of the talking with Annie and Suresh.  Mostly because my companion is a native, and he’s not too confident in his English yet, but I give him some chances to speak.  He really does want to bring the gospel to other people, even if it is in English.  As he spoke this last time about repentance, the spirit filled the room.  He turned the metaphorical speaking stick over to me and I re-confirmed their baptismal date for next month.  After that, shenanigans happened.  We taught the gospel of Christ, and as I opened up an avenue to teach another commandment, Suresh just blurts out, “Annie is still drinking tea!”  We stopped, I looked at my companion, then at Annie.  She had a sheepish/guilty face on as she talked about it and we listened for a second.  He husband seemed pretty miffed, as he had quit drinking beer and smoking already, and he’s not even Christian yet. (Yet?)  Eventually, she told us she wouldn’t drink tea anymore, and we re-promised blessings.  They know what’s right, and they know The Lord’s commandments bring blessings.  In the end I couldn’t contain myself and blurted out how much I love them.  They’re awesome.  Suresh is willing to change his life (albeit he’s a little scared) to be a better person.  He’s a little shy about it because I think he has a darker past than most, but he wants to do what’s right.  I love these people and the joy I receive when I am with them.

On Friday, we were about to leave the church to head home and finish our studies when a member from the morning ward came in.  I don’t usually talk to morning ward members, so I decided to sit down and talk to him.  I asked him how old he was (17), where he works, where he goes to school, and generalities about his life.  At first he was a little wary of me, but after a bit he started talking to me like a friend.  I asked him how the missionary work in his ward was going, and what they could do to make it better, and he answered with, “I think the missionaries should just talk to us more.”  That hit me hard.  Memories and ideas came flooding into my mind, a layout of what would happen if we followed this boy’s advice was put before my brain. the truth was revealed that we don’t actually talk to members.  It was genius, and it was inspiration.
I’ll give some background.
Ever since I came into the mission, our culture has been an “Invite, Teach, Baptize” mentality.  Not really involving the members much, just going outside, inviting random people off the street (which works, by the way), teaching them the lessons, and getting them baptized in two to three weeks.  Then they fall away quickly.  The members don’t help us at all.  We have maybe 2-3 people willing to help every now and then.  We’ve been trying to set up workshops, firesides, meetings, training, chastising, and many other ideas to get the members to work for the Lord, but to no avail.  We had no idea what to do.  The bishop was just as confused as we were.  Then the second counselor admonished us to have relationships with members, something that I thought we were already doing, but it was unsuccessful.  The bishop then agreed with him and I thought is was stupid.  I pridefully rejected my leadership’s counsel and left it behind.  It took a boy, with no calling in the church, no standing or rapport in the eyes of men to bring the spirit into my mind and convince me of the error of my ways.
So I agreed.  Then set up plans to study it further.  What I discovered was that in missionary work, I must have charity.  I must love all men no matter who they are, how nice they are to me, how much work they do for the church, or anything else, I must love all proactively.  Meaning that I must search out ways to serve and talk with them.  I can’t just stand by and expect them to flock to me because I’m so cool and I’m a faraang (white guy) and stuff.  I have to work.

So I tried it out.  This Sunday I sat down with some members before and after church and just talked.  I got to know a couple more people, helped out a bunch of members with small things, and gained the trust of a few people.  I felt loved as I did it, too.  That’s something I rarely feel in this ward is love from members.
I figure I have to do it first.

I love you guys.  This is all I have for this week.  I love the work.  I love my Savior.  I love my family.
Adios,
-Elder Elliot Mayo

Stardate 9552.4.1

Reporting from the SS Starship Minburi.  Our course was set for a region we haven’t been to for a long time, but used to be in every day.
We’ve encountered multiple unidentified craft enclosing on our position for some time now, but just recently we’ve figured out what they were.  They were potential investigators in the place where we least expected to get them.  They were friendly, and even send a transmission to us first while we were distracted.  They wanted to learn about our life support systems and communication arrays.  We set up another correspondence meeting on Wednesday.  They were very excited.
Another unidentified craft turned out to be one of our old ships that we lost contact with about a year ago from the Bangkapi station.  She was looking for respite because her fuel sources were low, so we gave it to her by telling her where our nearest space station was for Sunday.  She didn’t know Station Minburi existed.
There was also another old acquaintance we met while poking around.  His ship was broken, life support was failing, so we gave him directions to Station Minburi and he came yesterday.  He is receiving assistance from the Saphaan Sung engineers.

Diligence is key in this effort.  We decided to go searching in the normal places purely because our own support from Station Minburi is rebelling at the moment.  We must do the work to get the work done.  So we left our Station and went out to search.  We found success.

Not much more to report.  It was a short 4 days.
Over and out.

Christmas, New Years, and Indians oh my!

Christmas was WAY fun!  We pretty much just hung out with members and played ping pong all day until a WONDERFUL Mexican dinner at the bishop’s house.  Uno was played, teams were made, fights broke out, it moved me, Bob!  (insert link for Veggie Tales quote here)
The Christmas Skype call went well.  I got to talk to my people plus one!  The newest member of my family, JASMINE!  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
I love having a sister.

On Christmas I used my Christmas funds from THE BEST GRANDPARENTS IN THE UNIVERSE #GRANDMA WILSON AND GRANDMA AND GRANDPA ELAM ARE THE BEEEEEEST to buy something I DIDN’T NEED.  On PDay and Fridays when we hold a sports activity to get people into the church, I play ping pong up the whazoo.  I’ve gotten pretty good!  I challenge Michael Tremain, Daniel Pope-Pangelina, and Stuart Mayo to a Ping Pong duel, WITH THIS BLADE OF POWER:
Inline image 1
Customized ping pong paddle, 85g heavy, made for larger hands, medium speed, and maximum control.  The black side is my front side/spin side and it’s made to spin.  Meaning when the ball hits the black side it will squish in more and stick to the paddle, so when I slice or spin, it will spin A LOT.  The red side is made for slamming, meaning hitting really hard.  It’s made of a harder rubber to send the ball flying, but still sticky enough to spin it down to hit the table.
Say hello to my new pastime in America.  Video games pssssh.  Ping Pong is where it’s at.
Last night was New Years for us.  We had to be inside by 6:00, but even before then people were partying.  We went down a street to find a member’s house and at the end we just saw a huge mass of people jumping and “dancing” towards us.  The music was LOUD, and the people were LOUDER.  They were obviously already drunk, and it was only 3:00 in the afternoon.
When Thailand parties, it parties hard.
At midnight, fireworks went off from every house in Bangkok.  They sell the big ones on the streets, too.  So it gets dangerous.  It may be illegal, bit when everyone’s doing it, what are the police going to do?  Party hard with them, duh!

We have two investigators from last week named Annie and Suresh.  They’re an Indian couple who came in to the church and asked about our Sunday services, then agreed to be taught about the church.  During the lesson on this Tuesday, Suresh opened up about his concerns and thoughts about the Book of Mormon and God.  He said they the Book of Mormon is amazing, maybe a bit too amazing.  It’s hard for him to believe.  The story of Joseph Smith, the plates, the angels, Nephi and his family, visions, and the power of God is hard for him to believe.  The easiest option for him to know is to pray about it.  He says that he prays and asks for answers to some things, but he doesn’t know what the “answer” is.  Our friend, brother Dominic (who I will talk about in a bit) gave him an explanation of how God responds to us through the Holy Ghost.
Annie’s family is Seventh Day Adventist, so she likes to compare things and tell us how she loves our church.  They should really come on Sunday, that would help them the most!
It seems that through my service as a missionary I’ve been of most use when talking to people not from Thailand.  About half the people I’ve personally started teaching have been foreigners.  I don’t know if there’s a correlation to something in there, but if there is that’d be nice to know.

Dominic Bruso is a member from America that came for work.  He has a family of 5, him, his wife Becky (WHO’S A TOTAL BOSS AT EVERYTHING), and their three daughters.  Each of which are adorable to the max adorable level possible.  We got to go to their house last week and talk with them and play with their kids for a while.  It made me miss my little cousins when they were little, but in a good way.  They told us that they’d be willing to help us out whenever we needed help teaching or going somewhere.  I nodded and accepted, thinking that this was the same thing we get from every other member who will then tell us when we ask, “Oh, sorry, I’m busy right then!”
So I tried it out.  I asked Dominic to help us teach Annie and Suresh, when to my surprise, they said yes instantly.  He came at exactly the time appointed, and waited for an extra 45 minutes.  I pried a little bit and figured out that Dominic and Becky had a date planned for that time and that they canceled at the last second to have Dominic help us teach.  That took me completely off guard.  He actually changed his schedule to help teach investigators?  He sacrificed his own interest to do the Lord’s work?  He what?
I have gotten to used to the way people here work, I never expected anyone to actually sacrifice their own time to help us.  Usually if someone has something else they’ve already planned, they will tell us they’re busy and can’t help us, because no one wants to.  They only do it because they feel they have to, but the second they have an excuse is when they deny us.  They’re not bad people, but this is possibly the biggest roadblock to progressing the work in Thailand.  I’m not sure how to rectify it.
But Dominic and Becky reminded what it was like to talk to strong, converted members willing to sacrifice their own will to do God’s will.  It reminded me of our goals in Thailand, to help everyone become like that.  I could actually see where we wanted to go.  We had an example that was tangible, that we could see.

Sacrificing our own will for God’s will isn’t actually a sacrifice in my eyes.  We honestly get more out of it than we left behind.  Through our own efforts we can only get so much.  Through God’s mercy and grace He can give us more than we would by ourselves.  The Bruso’s understood this, and I think that’s why they helped us.  I invite all members of the church and others alike to remove their own will and replace it with God’s will.  This involves making sacrifices to do what He wants.  This means giving up those things we think we want to do to see The Lord’s work done.  This means maybe helping those we don’t like further even when it doesn’t work at first.  Maybe it means not going to that party on the weekend to prepare a good lesson for Sunday.  Maybe it means using the time you have to visit someone instead of play video games.  It means a lot of things, I cannot list them all.  I’ll leave that to your own conscience.
I know that when we sacrifice for The Lord, He rewards us with more than we gave up.  He loves us more than we could imagine.  He wants us to grow and succeed.

Love you guys.  Have a wonderful new year!
-Elder Elliot Mayo

My Friends Are Dead

When a missionary ends his or her service and returns home, it is called death.  Not a physical or spiritual death, but rather a metaphorical death of the fun and craziness of being a missionary.  When one leaves the field, they must go through the boring mundane throes of life once again.  Work, school, thinking about what movie to watch later, or what friends to talk to, all that jazz.
It is the death of the most awesomestically awesome time of your life.

Elder Baldwin, and Elder Tamang, two of my companions “Died” this transfer.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them off, but I still got a message or two.

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My best friend bro Elder Baldwin!  Look at his adorable little face:
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Uuuuuuh.
Never mind.

During this time in Thailand I’ve met some of the people that will be friends for the rest of the eternities.  People that are now my friends had no idea what I was like as a kid, so they had no pre-judgement about me.  They took me for who I am now, and not what I was.  I love these people a lot.  There’s a love between brothers in the church that you could find nowhere else.  They genuinely care about you and want to be your friend no matter the circumstance.  Even when you fall, they reach down with a helping hand for you to grab and pick yourself back up again.  These friends will last a lifetime, and an eternity time too!

On Sunday, I made a black man cry.  It was a touching experience, and the guy is a boss.
The sisters in Minburi here have two investigators names Tierri and Robbet, two friends from Cameroon.  Tierri likes everything the sisters teach him, and Robbet is always skeptical.  This Sunday I sat down with both of them after Sunday School and we talked about his concerns.  In short, he didn’t know if this church was Christ’s church or not yet, he didn’t want to be baptized twice, and he didn’t not want to use the bible.  After Sunday School (which was a reading of Luke, and the birth of Christ), he saw that we did use the bible, and he had a feeling that this was the true church of God.  I explained that if this is the true church of God, that means that it has the authority directly from God to do His ordinances and works.  If that is true, then that means that the other churches don’t have that authority and the baptism was not performed under the correct authority.  It may have been a good intention, but it was not following God’s order.  He agreed after some thought, and I pointed him to the Book of Mormon.  He still hadn’t read it yet.  I asked why not and he said he doesn’t want to replace the bible with anything.  The bible changed his life.  I answered with telling him that The Book of Mormon is not a replacement, nor does it make the bible moot or void.  It is a companion to the bible, and they work together in tandem to teach us of God’s will.  He nodded his head and promised to read it.  He said he understands now and will read it immediately.
He started talking about his past and how he felt so lost and confused in the world.  Like he was being blown in the wind and how everything was falling around him.  He felt like sin was so easy to do, and that there was no hope.  I gave him 2 Nephi 4 to read, and told him that through Christ everything can be overcome.  He was on the path to a new life.  There is so much new for him to experience, he just had to get to it.  His eyes were welled up with tears as he thanked me.  We said our goodbye as I entered a meeting.
The spirit performs miracles through us when we are worthy.  He tells us what to say and how to say it.  He gives us hope when we think all is lost.  He tells us to just stay happy and not worry so much.  Do our best and don’t get frustrated.  Keep your chin up and serve.  Forget yourself and go to work.
The spirit is strong with the people from Africa.  I’ve seen that in every Cameroon, Zimbabwean, Nigerian, and every other countries people from Africa.  They have a special spirit that connect with God easily.

Anyway, I have so much more to say, but I don’t have the time.  Time is cut in half this week.  I’ll write more next week.  I love you guys.  Merry Christmas, and think of Christ.
Adios,
-Elder Elliot Mayo

A 2 year LDS Mission Blog