Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Missionary Tales by Elder Sowards

The big news of the week is that I was made the branch president in Ayutthaya this Sunday. The District President, his first counselor, and the 2nd counselor to the mission president came. The 2nd counselor is now my 1st counselor. I don't yet have a 2nd counselor.

We also sustained a man to be ordained an elder and put him in as the 2nd counselor in the elders quorum presidency. He is a good man. I interviewed him for the Melchizedek priesthood and he was so humble. He told how his life had changed since he joined the church. How he once had a quick and bad temper when his wife or children upset him. That has changed now. He told me he didn't know how to read (Thai) very well, but with his wife's help, he has been learning by reading the Book of Mormon. After church, it felt so good to be in on his ordination. I didn't do anything special to help him but felt blessed to be there anyway. I saw tears in his wife's eyes as he was ordained. She is our young women's president and has been very faithful in her calling and supportive of her husband. Next step - get them to the temple.

To be a more effective branch president, Joan and I need to be in Ayutthaya more than weekends. So we are moving to Ayutthaya as soon as we can find a place to lease. We went up on Thursday and again on Sat. looking for a home/apartment to rent. We found some places, but none seems to work. None had a kitchen sink, or kitchen counters, much less a stove/oven. Most did not even have a place to bring water into the kitchen room for a sink. Several owners offered to build a sink, counters and stove in if we leased with them. We're still looking.

We have also decided to lease a car. I never thought I would drive in Thailand and now I feel a car is needed to be able to visit the members in the branch. Many live 30 to 50 kilometers away. Taxies are few in Ayutthaya. They do have an elephant farm where tourists can ride elephants; I don't think that will work for our needs. We pay about $900 for our apartment in Bangkok plus utilities. We are hoping to lease a house and car for about the same amount total in Ayutthaya. We'll see.

While we were looking at a house to rent, I realized we were near the home of the man who plays a home-made violin and guitar. Joan was with us this time so we visited him. We had a good visit and Joan has posted some pictures of him playing on our blog. I invited him to come to church to play his violin. He declined, saying he didn't need to be asked to play to come to church but would come when he could. He did not come this Sunday. We will continue to fellowship him.

I had asked a lady, who was a Rotary Club officer in Ayutthaya that had helped a few weeks ago when the church gave wheelchairs away, if she knew any real estate agents. She said they don't exist in Thailand (or at least in Ayutthaya). Instead, she had her daughters and secretary show us some places. They really tried hard to find some places, so we treated them to lunch. They picked the place – a Thai restaurant by the river that flows around Ayatthaya. They pointed out where the giant flood had reached a few years ago. The marks were about 3 feet above where we stood, about 20 feet above the river. They said the flood wiped out 3 cars they owned. That flood was amazing in terms of the damage and impact it had on people's lives. May it not come again.

While we ate, a monitor lizard swam downriver. 

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