Monday, September 1, 2014

Life After Being Branch President

This week's English Class topic was families and we sang "I am a Child of God” and "We Are A Happy Family." The Thais will sing these childrens' songs because we are the teachers and they want to learn. They even love doing "Once there was a Snowman" and "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" with the actions. 
Elder and Sister Sowards standing by the Chao Phraya River

Joan made biscuits for a treat after District meeting – the 6 young elders ate it up, literally.

Pre-cremation ceremony
Last Monday, I mentioned that we attained the first day of a three-day funeral for the sister that died last Sunday. Then, on Thursday we attended the final ceremony. It consisted of people presenting monk’s robes to monks as gifted from the deceased. (A vicarious action!)  Everyone then placed flowers in the casket area and people shot off firecrackers. I think that is to scare off evil spirits. It does scare off dogs. Afterwards they cremated her body. We were not there to watch that part.

On Saturday the youth activity was Thai boxing. No one was hurt so it was a success. Joan made Uncle Vaughn’s fudge. She concluded that he was right – you cannot double the recipe. I thought it tasted great. 

That evening we dedicated a home for a single sister. This is not something Thai members usually do so it was a special opportunity. Afterwards she fed us Thai food. Her house is very old (she was born there) and sits on the bank of the Chao Phraya River.
Thai boxing day

S. Sowards and I both independently finished reading the B of Mormon on the same day. We had started again this year as challenged by the stake. It is a powerful testimony of Christ that is reinforced each time I read it.

Spent several hours for several days this week training the new Branch President. He told me he is being bombarded with phone calls, mostly from a few members. (Welcome to the club.) He has a super attitude in working out problems. He makes the decisions and I only offer advice when asked. He has started working with a M. Priesthood holder who has a drinking problem. I had suggested that he give support by giving a priesthood blessing. He and the man’s father, also a M. Priesthood holder, have now done that. The man is really trying to quit this time. (He has only made token attempts before now.) We were sent copies of the recently translated Church Addiction Recovery book and I explained to the branch president how it can help. Hopefully he will share it.

Joan is preparing some of the youth she has taught piano lessons to teach others piano. She taught the theory class Friday night on how to teach others, and on Saturday some of her students were teaching a primary age member to play the piano. She also played her flute, with a member she is teach to play the flute, as part of the special number in Sacrament meeting.

I don’t have a calling in the branch right now but was able to be a greeter and then to sit with Joan during sacrament meeting. That hasn’t happened for over a year.
The Seppi’s, a senior missionary couple, came on Sunday and took the 3rd hour of the block to teach our members about the new and improved Perpetual Education Fund. They did a great job explaining how it works and many members are interested.

Sunday evening, we visited the deceased sister's 12 year-old daughter. The new branch president asked permission of the grandfather if members could bring the granddaughter to the weekly youth activity and church. He explained how the church teaches the youth good morals and making good life decisions. The grandfather consented. I think the daughter is excited to be able to come to church again. The branch president did a better job in asking the grandfather than I could have.

Monday was our 17th month anniversary on our mission. We drove to Bangkok to find a flute music book for one of Joan’s students. We also had Family Home Evening with a wonderful family in the branch, a grandmother and her 3 grandchildren. They are great members and have been so kind to us.
Elders Larsen and Angkham, Pres. Chenowat,
Bro. Jalay, Bro. Phon with Ganjanee
at her house when it was dedicated.

We will miss Ayutthaya when it is time to leave. We love the members here!

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