Monday, August 26, 2013

Every Week is an Adventure by Elder Sowards

I asked a sister to speak in sacrament meeting this Sunday. She told me she had prayed to have the opportunity to speak in church, and this invitation was an answer to her prayers.

On Wednesday, we went to visit a less-active member who is a returned missionary. She teaches school 
at a school of about 100 students K – 12, out in the country, and is going to school on weekends to get her teaching certificate. Thailand passed a law that all teachers must be certified. 

Finding her house was not simple--it took 45 minutes to arrive there-- and some of the roads were not wide enough for 2 cars to pass. I would never have found it but the elders quorum president went with us.  We came unannounced, as we didn't have the sister's phone number. She was very busy trying to enter student scores into the Internet for national testing. (Yes, they have Internet out in the sticks.) She tried to be a good host, but was really pressed. We had a short visit. At least now we have her phone number. She is also the sole supporter in her family including her aged mother, two

 sisters, a niece and nephew. She was once the branch relief society president and has great capacity. We need her to come back.

A few days ago, we took the elders and went to the school of one of our members who had given a Book of Mormon to her teacher. It turned out the man only teaches on Mondays, and this was Thursday. The principle was glad to
Our brave member who gave her
 teacher a Book of Mormon
see us, though, and asked if we could come teach English. The elders will teach the member's class for 1 hour each Wednesday. Teaching English is a great way to make friends and introduce the church. An hour in the middle of the day when it is hot and no one is home to teach is a good use of missionaries' time. 
The children at the school loved greeting us. They ran to us, saying a few English words they had learned. This is the same school where we attended the Mother's day program a few weeks ago. 

Sister Sowards and I went back today (Monday) to meet the teacher who has the BofM. He was very excited to meet us and had questions about the Church and how we differed from other Christian churches. I explained the 1st article of faith and gave him a brief Joseph Smith story. It was fun to teach the gospel. We don't have many opportunities like the young elders do. We invited him to our Tuesday English classes and hope he comes. If not, we will follow up, anyway.

We went to another school where a sister teaches English. It is about 70 KM out of town. She rides her motor-scooter to church every Sunday and comes into town on some evenings to do church work and visit members. (She is Joan's age.) Riding a motor-scouter is a challenge here, just like anywhere, big trucks ignore you, and rain and riding do not mix. (We have much rain here.) Yet she still comes. Riding at night is an ever bigger challenge. The roads have lots of potholes. Her school has about 300 students. It has grades 7 to 12. We went to meet the principle and help her teach English. Her principle was ready to sign us up to teach every day. He was hoping for free teachers. Her students read English well, but have little chance to speak it. (They have not had a lot of opportunity to hear native English speakers talk. Even the English teachers do not speak fluently.) We plan to go back. We gained a real appreciation for this sister's commitment to the Church (We have so many members who sacrifice so much to come to church each Sunday).

On Saturday we discovered a tent canopy had been put over our parking area in front of the church. It turned out Sunday was election day and our three parking spaces was the voting place. We worried, but it all turned out very quiet. Though it covered the church's sign, and we who have cars and motorbikes had to park down the road a bit, it was not a big deal..

Sunday had its usual unexpected (now unexpected is the expected) events. My 1st counselor didn't show until 10 minutes before church started. The branch clerk, who was to speak in sacrament meeting, didn't show until half way through sacrament meeting. At least he came, and gave a good talk too. We had no special musical number prepared so we chose a congregational song, "When Faith Endures". The hymn only has one verse. No one knew the song so hardly anyone sang. (Even the elders didn't know it. Too bad we don't have time for practice hymns anymore.-JS)

After church we drove to a church building in North Bangkok. It took about an hour--like driving to west Phoenix. But as we went we hit a huge storm. Once we were in it, we had no choice but to keep going. The rain was coming so hard we could barely see ahead. We couldn't risk stopping. Everyone else slowed down and we made it through. My big fear was that some truck driver would come burrowing through and hit us or hit a car that would hit us. We were very blessed. Sometimes I feel there are about 7 or 8 angles guarding our small car.

Each week brings new opportunities and the unexpected.

-Elder Sowards


  1. This blog is too lonely. Is anyone out there? Leave a comment and you will receive a postcard from Thailand from Elder Sowards and I.

    1. Correct grammar is Elder Sowards and me.

  2. You are on my bookmarks list and I watch it often. I love the stories and experiences and just keep telling Diana our time is coming!

    1. (After I posted this I realized it used my google blogger username: LoveBeingADad…just so you will know it Joe Free!)

  3. I have been reading your blog since you started it and have enjoyed hearing about your mission there! I have not been able to post a comment as I didn't know how to register...