YM/YW have activities for sure! Lots here, I love it. If it is with the district, the church will hire a van to take them and the leaders to Bangkok on the weekend. Although the branch boundaries probably include several provinces, basically everyone is around the city and the surrounding area. People just drive (motorcycle, bike, car, icecream cart) (not kidding about the ice cream cart) or are picked up by a neibour. It's not that hard. So for activities, people gather at the church, then as a whole group head off to the activity.
Today I made the half-way point in the Thai Book of Mormon. Really cool. I now estimate I'll finish on my birthday. I get confused sometimes because I feel like I just read things in the BoM, but I know I didn't study it in personal study. The Thai scripture study is much slower, but still quite rewarding. My reading speed is slowly increasing. I've been complemented on my ability to read, It's so nice to be able to read a scipture in the lesson really quick.
Brother Geng, who was baptised about a month and a half ago, is now the assistant branch mission leader. Funny to meet with him. We'll be helping him finish up his own lessons, then send him out to help the branch mission leader teach on his own. Speaking of our branch mission leader, Brother Boy's two nieces were interviewed yesterday and found worthy and prepared to be baptised. Their service will be this Saturday. I don't know if I'll make it, as we have moves meeting the middle of this week. So crazy. I'd be really nice to know if I'm moving, but we won't find out until sometime tomorrow.
This week we went door to door, at one house we ended up talking to this lady at her gate for about an hour. Not an efficient use of time, but she was really interresting to talk to. She is one of the very few people that I have run into that seem to believe just what Budda taught, without anything else mixed in. Most people don't focus on his teachings, but on the traditions and folk religeon elements that often take over. So, I was alright with talking to her. She had a lot of the truth that I love from Buddism, and almost everything she said was true. I have found two things that Buddism doesn't fulfil at all.
-First, the knowledge of where everything comes from. She confessed that she has no answer. Buddism makes no attempt to explain why things are how they are, while that is the central message of the Plan of Salvation.
-Second, I believe in the redemption of sins. She held the view that sins cannot be redeemed (this is definately become the best word to use here in Thailand, because of Buddism), they are permanantly stuck to us. What we then must do is stop sinning and learn how to control our worldly passions and let go of our attachments. Thus we can fully endure the pain of our sins. To her, that was the only sort of redemtion that can be achieved, a sort of peace with the way things are. Nirvana. Obviously the idea of a Savior is completely foreign and stictly at odds to this view.
We both could happily crouch and talk to each other and tell the other what they must do for their souls without ever getting angry. Obviously there is some good in both religions (or rather, the followers of the religions) for such to occur. People like her are rather rare in my estimation.
We have an investigator who's mother is rather old and sick. We gave her a blessing this last week, she's been doing a lot better. Learning how to give blessings in Thai has proved useful. I've had several opportunities this transfer to do so.
Everything is moving right along. This week I have started preparing sciptures to read in Thai - from the New Testament. The translation is not LDS, so it uses different words - which makes it harder to read. I've been learning the new words from some sciptures that I'd like to be able to share. I won't be using the NT very often, as I want to encourgage people to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. But when members don't even know if the Gideon's New Testament they saw somewhere is scripture or not, it's nice to be abke to teach how the first line of the Book of Mormon's introduction is true. I did just that this week, which is fun. Our investigator was wondering if the New Testament was scripture, pulled out a copy, then asked several questions from things he read. I then took verses from the Book of Mormon to expain, and later on used several scriptures in it to support the lesson we were teaching on the restoration of the Chruch. It worked out really well.
I am so glad to be here and have all these experiences.
Until next week,
Elder Robert Buss
P.S. Either I'll have baptism pictures or a new companion next week. It'll be fun.