Monday, May 19, 2014

Seniors' Conference

We attended a senior couples conference at the beautiful Thames Valley resort that opened a few months ago. We drove through Khao Yai, the largest national park in Thailand, on our way. While we did not see any wild elephants, we did see evidence where the elephants had crossed the road. I did wonder,  “Why does the elephant cross the road?”
Thailand senior missionaries ready to embark
to our conference at Khao Yay

At the conference, we heard reports from the couples serving in Myanmar and Laos. This past year they have helped with several hundred projects such as digging fresh water wells in villages. In Laos they gave out much food when a flood destroyed the rice crops a few months ago, and coats and blankets to many children in northern Laos where it snows. The first full time young missionaries opened Myanmar in February (besides our welfare couples already there) and since have had 12 baptisms.

One of the main quotes at the senior conference was by Elder Richard G. Scott: 

"In order to achieve things we have never done before, 
we need to do things we have never done before.” 

Our missionaries are baptizing like never before and it is because they are teaching the gospel in different ways. They have already had more baptisms than all of last year. They boldly challenge people to be baptized when they first meet them, before even teaching anything. This is different than I did as a young missionary, but they are finding people who want to be cleansed from sin. This new approach is now being
Beautiful 3" spider at Khao Yay.
copied in the Philippines, Taiwan and even Poland. It may not work everywhere but is working here.

The BYU Young Ambassadors gave six performances in Thailand over the past two weeks. One concert helped a charity raise enough money to buy 2 dialysis machines. They had hoped for one; a second is a real bonus.

We did Facetime with Jim Duthie during our English class. The lesson theme was weather so he forecasted the weather for Ayutthaya. The students were to listen for the words they were learning. He did great talking with them and wishing Joan a Happy Birthday. He forecasted hot and rainy. Every weatherman loves to forecast weather in Thailand – it is easy – hot to hotter and wet to wetter. As we were starting the class a great windstorm hit our area. It was like the dust storms in Mesa, so talking about the weather was timely.

A strong rainstorm hit Sunday just as church ended. It turned the roads around our church into mudslides. Driving a car through deep mud is challenging enough. Most of our members, including the sisters, drive motor-scooters, mud and rain are no fun on a scooter. One sister got stuck in it and had to push her scooter through the mud, ruining her nice shoes. Our car made it out, barely.

The district and stake had a joint sports day on Tuesday this past week in Bangkok. It was a Thai holiday so people were able to participate. We took eleven members plus four young missionaries. They played volleyball, ping-pong and badminton plus some games we had not heard of before. Mostly indoor games as it was very hot that day. There are some serious badminton and ping-pong players here. The whole day was fun for the members and many family members came to cheer everyone on. Since it was Joan’s birthday we left to go eat lunch at a Sizzler – what a treat.

The special music number during our Sacrament meeting was a 13 year-old sister playing her violin and another young woman playing the piano. The mother of the violinist had told us the song would be "Love One Another.” But the youth had practiced to play another song. When they saw the printed program they switched to play the announced song not thinking they could change it. They had not practiced it but did well.

Our missionaries now have permission to use Facebook as a proselyting tool. They create a page as a missionary and can only use it to share gospel messages. They can only have friends in the areas they serve. It will be interesting to see how they use it.

We saw the Hobbs from Mesa AZ Maricopa Stake at the Senior Couples’ conference. They have been  humanitarian missionaries in Myanmar and are almost finish their mission next month. They are a fun couple. This is their 2nd mission. The other was in Africa. They have a problem. The couple that came out a month ago to help take over their projects for another couple that finished their mission, decided to go home. There have been two couples serving there. A couple has not been called to replace the Hobbs either. So when the Hobbs go home who will manage the over $700,000 in projects they have contracted to do with the Myanmar government? There are two young elders there but they are not trained to manage projects such as wells or showers for schools. We'll see what happens.
Elder Sowards enjoying the beauty of Khao Yay.

President Uchtdorf said, 

“There is a way for everyone …to participate in this great work, we can each find a way to use our own particular talents and interests in support of the great work of filling the world with light and truth.” 

Do consider what you can do with your talents to help hasten the work.

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