Sunday, May 12, 2013

Passing from April to May. One Month Out! by Elder Sowards

April 29-May 3 

Mosquito swatter
This has been another exciting week. We worked on the panels for a visitors center we are helping to create. The hopes that it will eventually be part of a temple visitors' center. We teach English every Tuesday night--the mid-level class. We teach about 20 students conversational English (American spoken English). There are 24 lessons developed by some senior missionaries n 2006. It is fun to help these students learn to speak and also to share with them gospel principles. Most Thais have English training starting in 3rd grade, but have had few chances to speak it.

During our first class we had had some mosquitoes in the room so this week we took our trusty mosquitoes swatter (see attached). It looks like a tennis racket but has a battery and when it catches a mosquito it zaps (shocks) it. I zapped 2 just before class started.

Every morning we awake to the hustle of a large city. Attached is a picture of what we see out our window. Many buildings have trees on the roof and upper levels. We are on the 5th floor, and have to remind ourselves that Bangkok (12M) is larger than New York City (8M people) and we live near the city's center. The streets and sidewalks are very crowded every day.  We try to smile at everyone in hope of getting them to smile back – some do.

In our branch, I was made the 1st counselor in the branch presidency. The branch president has not been seen in 4 weeks and the man we thought was the 1st counselor is the 2nd counselor. So I became the acting BP today. I conducted my 1st branch council meeting and did not even understand all that was said. I have invited the young missionaries to the meeting and at one point I looked at one of them and said (in English) "I don't know what was just said." The elder just shrugged his head and said he didn't either! We did identify several inactive members to invite back. I should mention about Thai names.  Most Thais go by their first name even though they have a family name like we do. I would be called Brother Dennis if I were Thai. However many Thais use a nick name so someone may be called Brother Maa (means horse or dog depending on the tone used.) Reviewing a branch membership list is really hard as I nearly read Thai and the nicknames by which people are called are not listed.

I helped do the tithing and FO contributions. These hadn't been done in 4 weeks so we had a lot. The branch clerk is just learning his calling and the 2nd counselor is not that skilled with the computer or the MLS system. The MLS system is almost the same as in any ward only all the text and buttons to click on are in Thai. We had to make the deposit at a bank – no night drops and the only bank branch that was open was at a mall. It felt odd walking through a busy mall on the Sabbath.

Wed. May 1st was a holiday. Tomorrow (Monday) is also a holiday. There is another one later in May. We have been here 4 weeks and there have been 6 holidays but 2 were a Sat. & Sun.

Sat. night in Ayutthaya, we participated with the elders in teaching a couple. They have 2 sons – one is 21 and the other 15. They asked to learn about how the church can help them raise their sons to be responsible. They said the older son is addicted to compute games. It was a first lesson and they were so humble and willing to listen to he message about families and the plan of happiness. It was great to be part of the lesson. They didn't come to church today, but they had said they have to work everyday and can only study at night. We will have to work on their faith.

We stayed overnight in Ayutthaya again, but at a different hotel. This one was only $32 while the one last week was $35. This one had a top sheet – more of a comforter. It also was more old style Thai decor.  The rate is low because most hotels in Thailand are less expensive unless they are American chains like a Hilton. It had an A/C unit so we liked it.

We sometimes forget how low some things are – for instance to ride the shuttle from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, about 60 miles, is only $2 per person. However, to ride the tuk-tuk (small truck like taxi) from the hotel to the church about 5 miles away is $4. Chocolate chips are almost $10 for a small package. We did buy an iPhone this week and it is the same price as in the states. We are learning to use it.

We miss you and pray the Lord's blessing on everyone.

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