February 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Elder Benjamin

Celebration - getting the most expensive thing on the menu at sunrise tacos.  Free.  Yay for birthday promotions. Next up, doughnuts.

My camera works if I lick the battery, so it's just the electrodes that have a problem.  But a lick and shoot camera is a little weird. And really inconvenient.

Susanna - ASL left my brain while in the MTC.  It was really weird.  I'll figure  out how to speak three languages when I get back. For now, it's mostly gone. (Thai does have it's own sign language though)

We had a Zone sports activity.  Nothing like a bunch of drenched missionaries playing ultimate.  Other people did other things.  I saw people running, doing yoga, some sort of(Chinese) dancing with castanet-like blocks, and (my favorite) Tai Chi, with real swords.  Real swords would not be allowed at a public park in the US.  I love it.

How we travel: walking, biking, taxi, skytrain, subway, tuk tuk, song tao, back of a truck, boat all were featured this week.

I didn't get to teach in a wat.  Appointment fell through.  One day.  Also, I hope for the farang songs, sort of.

Speaking of songs, this morning we were waiting at the BTS station - at 08:00 they play the national anthem.  And everyone stops until it's finished.  It's really cool to see - like someone hits pause for a couple minutes.  More cool is just to think how nations merit such respect.  In spite of all the flaws, governments are really marvelous. Definitely ordained of God.  To see how a whole nation worth of people can be unified, despite all differences is really miraculous.

I've have a goal to read 1 Nephi this week in Thai. I'm doing it with an investigator.  It's been really good so far.

This week I've really felt a huge increase of love for the Thai
people.  One of the most miraculous things in the world is love.  It is the center of why Christ and the Father do what they do.

It's interesting how Thai has been lately.  I've improved leaps and bounds these last five weeks, and can just talk freely with Elder Benjamin.  Not perfect, I have to run things by again, explain a English word, etc.  But, with everyone else it's a lot less.  He's good at understanding me because a lot of my Thai comes from him, and he hears me all the time.  And he expects me to speak Thai.  Some people mentally have a hard time speaking with farangs.  I can say something, perfectly, and they don't get it.  I say it again, and they are still muddled.  I talk on the phone and there is no problem.  Why?  They don't think I can really speak Thai.  Elder Benjamin has me repeat what I say, so they they realize I really said it.  It's really weird, especially since people also complement me on speaking clearly.
Anyways, It's a common issue with having a Thai companion.  You learn tons, but speak lazier, so other people have a harder time
understanding.  Which is ok, but really hard to avoid.

I'm so grateful to have Elder Benjamin.  He's awesome, let alone that he's also khon Thai.  I've been convinced from the start that he'll betraining a new missionary once I leave.  I've been here for almost three (minus a half) transfers, the norm is four transfers.  We'll see what the future has.  I'll hate to lose him.  I learn so much from him, these last weeks have been fantastic.  Coming to the end of our first transfer together.  We'll omit prophecies of the future.

Everyone in the mission can testify of the gifts of tongues (except the native speakers) --  In lessons have been a lot of times when things just flow on out, language isn't an issue.  And the closing prayer comes, and the understanding drops right on down back to where I expect it to be.  Not always, but sometimes.  It's really amazing.

We've had a couple times we sort of had a lunch appointment - One with an investigator, another with a member.  Both times we drank tea (the OK kind).  Really odd.  The Chinese herbs are really different, as are the Thai herbs, can't really describe them.  I got the brilliant idea to have a peanut butter-sesame seed sandwich from the one.  I have a half kilo of sesame seeds to go next to the two kilos of jam.  (Buying in bulk is worth it.  I have no idea how long it'll take to run out though.  Less than my mission.)  Also, Sister Tuay makes this fantastic pineapple curry.  I need to learn how to make it.  And everything else.

The members really are fantastic.  That's the real thing that seems to qualify people as saints.  It's the love that people have for others that is more important than other things - there is a different spirit when people invite you into their homes, give you some water, try to make you comfortable and then listen.  I love it here.  Just love it.

Elder Robert Buss

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