Monday, August 26, 2013

Riding Elephants

Where to start, I have no idea and I forgot my journal at the house. Um...Last p-day we didn't get to go ride elephants because we didn't quite have enough time, but that is okay. Yeah, it has been a crazy week and I don't remember anything right now for some reason and it is really annoying. Um... I guess I will just tell you all what I can remember.

On Tuesday we had our first English class. We were trying to go teach Sister Mohd, but the rain was insane so we got stuck at the church and just had to hang out there for a while. Then we had English class which is way fun, we just either teach or help the students in the crowd. I mostly helped Brother Now, Naang, and Mapraw. 

On Wednesday we went to Changwatan in Pak Kret which is a part of Bangkok. It takes us around 2 hours to travel there and Elder Unsworth had to receive some training and all that good stuff. So while he was training I went out street contacting with Elder Tanner and Elder Heiner who were in the other district with me in the MTC. It was way fun and we taught about 4 lessons on the street and even got a new investigator named Mooh, which was cool.  

Thursday we had our first district meeting which was really cool. Elder Unsworth led it and shared a lot of insights from what he learned in his training. Something new is, President Senior doesn't want us referring to ourselves as missionaries anymore, so now we just say that we are teachers. We got to go with Brother Naang Home Teaching for a couple lessons which was fun. Brother Naang is convert of like 2 years and my teacher in the MTC converted, which is cool. He is like the strongest member in our branch for sure and is just so willing to do anything. He is currently the Branch Clerk which is pretty cool. So we taught Sister Boo and her daughter and few others. I'd love to tell you names but it is way hard because I only know how to spell them in Thai, which won't do you guys any good!

Friday was pretty easy we just study until 12; since I'm getting trained everyday and so after we had to buy some stuff for the YM/YW activity, then we did weekly planning which takes a long time then we just did some contacting that night. One thing I love is, I literally can just crash when it’s time for bed. I never am laying awake thinking. As soon as I tell myself I want to sleep I'm out, it’s funny, my companion always is impressed with that. 

Saturday we had YM/YW activity and we talked about Spiritual Crocodiles from Boyd K. Packard’s talk, which was good. After we had to go to Pak Kret again for more training for Elder Unsworth. So while we did that we had to buy some food for after, then I went street contacting with a Khon Thai, his name is something like Anntasid, I can't spell it in English very well ha-ha. He is way cool to and he isn't good at English, but he helped my Thai a ton. I would love to have him as my next companion and then I'd get so good at the language really fast. That took forever because we ate dinner at the church and then after we just went to home and it was time to prepare for bed. 

Sunday was pretty fun I actually recognized most words when they are talking, my mind just can't translate them fast enough ha-ha. Because they talk so fast and quiet that I have no idea what they are saying. It's funny though. I didn't really have to do anything at church, but pass the sacrament. After church we just talk and teach lessons. We got a new investigator also named Noob (it's not pronounced how it is spell ha-ha sorry) and we taught her and are teaching her again on Thursday. On Sunday we got to do the rescue, which is equivalent to getting a baptism, that is where they go inactive and then come back and have to fill out the paperwork, so that was awesome. We have quite a few sisters in the branch, just not many priesthood holders, so that is our main focus and bringing back less actives since we have so many.

Then today was just an insanely awesome and fun day!! First after studies and all that we went to the elephant village!! You know what that means. First Ayutthaya is actually the original capital of Thailand, back in the day which is cool. So there are lots of old broken down ruins and all that good stuff. The elephant village is like around it all, which is coo, so they walk you by it all. Man it was literally the funniest 15 minutes of my mission ha-ha! It was so great we were so lucky to have Brother Naang come though and he just followed us snapping pics the whole way, which was cool. It was like 400 baht which is like 15 dollars or so, so worth it. Then after the Elephant village we went to another tourist attraction where you can ride elephants also but we didn't ride them there, but guess what. They had big old tigers!! So I got my pic with the tiger. Then after that I had an elephant pick me up while I got some pics and I got to hold onto its ivory, which was awesome!!! Man so much fun it was unreal and it was 100 baht for the tigers and 100 for the elephant picking me up so pretty cheap, that’s only like 3 dollars or so. So fun! We walked through the Water Market there looking for ties, but couldn't find any. I'm still on the hunt for some elephant ties maybe not this area. I will find them though.

Next week we will probably go to the Mortal Combat Temple from that movie, which is probably way sweet. But overall it was a great fun week. I'm having such a blast ha-ha! I know everyone said there mission is the best, but I think mine and Nate's are pretty close to the best you can get! Well I love you guys, so until next week keep it real!!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Week in Thailand

Elder Landon J Watkins Week 10
Thailand Week 1

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hey Everyone!

How are things going!? I finally made it to Thailand! I'll see if I can't go in chronological order from a while back. I can't remember much in the MTC until the day we left, so I'll just cut that out, nothing crazy, cool happened or anything so that’s good. Um... so the day we left was pretty crazy we went to the temple on the east and finished reading the BoM and prayed about it, which was way cool I just felt the spirit so strong after praying; no doubt in my mind knowing it’s true, it is just awesome to reconfirm that even though I already did know. Elder Crump and I went and gave our favorite bookstore worker her birthday gift since we forgot to do that on Saturday, but luckily she didn't work then so we give her gift and she loved it; it was way funny. Brother Olsen came and showed us a bunch of pictures and we had a district testimony meeting which was awesome and made me sad to have to leave Brother Olsen; I love that guy, he is awesome.

The District with Brother Olsen before they headed out.
The bookstore girl with their birthday gift for her...I bet she will miss these two boys!
After that we finished up our packing and then Elder Crump and I had to say goodbye to our Bulgarian friends. We shared our testimonies in Thai and they shared theirs in Bulgarian and then it was off to the travel office.  We got on a shuttle and went to the frontrunner road that to the trax at N. Temple and then road traxs to the airport. I just took charge and led myself ha-ha and got through security first and there was Nate, Josh, and Kris waiting for me there. That was awesome to talk to them and Nate especially. Then called the Mom and Dad for a while, which was awesome. Then flew to LA hung out there for a little and called home again.
He didn't mention the Bulgarian friends were girls...
All packed and ready to go!
Then the flight to Hong Kong is where things got interesting. First, I got an amazing seat in the first row of Economy seats and I had tons of leg room and two little Asian girls by me and they didn't take up any space. I got such good sleep on there too, which was great. Cathay Pacific was a really nice flight, the food was decent and the seats were really comfortable it was way better than our flights to Japan and Singapore and stuff. So after waking up like an hour or so later into our 14 hour flight we got some crazy turbulence and the guy walking back from the bathroom fell on his face and punched Elder Beatty in the chest in the process, which was way funny ha-ha. Then we had to buckle up, because we were like in the Typhoon and stuff; then this one guy was literally complaining and raging the whole flight to the flight attendants from start to finish and it was so annoying, but funny to laugh at ha-ha. Then we go to land and we couldn't so we flew back up and circled around, luckily we got in the second time if not the Flight attendant said we would have gone and landed in Taipei, which would have been cool too.
Hong Kong Airport
Island outside of Hong Kong from my plane window.
Bangkok Airport
After that it was just over 2 hours to Thailand from there we got picked up went to the mission home; blood work done and just met the Mission Pres and all the good stuff. Then we slept in a hotel which was way nice except the bed I had to sleep on was like an elevated floor and it destroyed my back ha-ha; but I'm recovered now. Then we had transfer meetings in the morning! I got Elder Michael Unsworth from West Valley, Utah. He is so awesome we have tons in common both played a lot of the same video games; he loves sports just like me it is so great we always have stuff to talk about.

View from our Hotel room in Bangkok
The Mission Home

My Trainer...Elder Unsworth in the middle
We have been traveling a ton the first few days. He is in the LDS band choir for a concert that was on Friday. So Thursday we just hung around at the church in Pak Kret for his choir practice and I just studied it up; it was fine and way relaxing. Then we got home pretty late because my area is about 2 hours north of Bangkok by train, so we got home pretty late. I'm serving in Ayutthaya which is towards the Middle of Thailand. There are about 35-40 active members at church everything which is definitely one of the smaller branches in the mission. There are tons of less actives so a lot of our work will be with them. My first friend is the branch is Brother Nong who is a convert of 2 years and guess who taught him; Brother Thrap, one of my teachers in the MTC so that's cool. He is way strong in the church and he was also in the band. So Friday morning we just studied, then had to travel back to Pak kret for choir practice and preparing for the concert that night. So I just talked to bunch of people coming to the concert while my comp practiced and I was with Elder Smith who is also in my house along with Elder Ohmer. So the LDS band which is just a bunch of members around Thailand opened for this band from Utah called Beyond 5. I was leading people to the concert when they came in and they had a poster or cardboard pop up of the band and all the people that came in thought I was one of the band members which was pretty funny.

Beyond 5 Concert
The food here is so amazing we live pretty close to a mall so we just go there and they have a huge food court for Thai food and then all the American food places are below like McDonalds, KFC and Dairy Queen. We go up to the Thai places usually and everything is sooooo cheap. Then after the concert we road home and got home at like 11. We studied the next morning then had to take Elder Koller who was in the hospital with Elder Chambers to Lopori which is about 2 hours north of us and deliver him to his new area which took like our whole day. That was the city of monkeys too, so there are just monkeys everywhere. After we came back and bought my bike. I got a killer deal my comp said. My bike is way nice and I got rain guards reflector stand and helmet for like free, my bike was 9500 baht and I ended up paying 10100. I think that is about 315 dollars so I still have about 2000 baht left over because I took out 12000. It was way good because my comp said he had to pay about 480 US dollars for his and mine is nicer, so I got a killer deal. After we just got dinner bought food for dinner on Sunday then just hung out of home.

Monkey Village in Lopori
Me on my "killer deal" of a bike!
Our house is way nice. You'll never believe it, we got a ping pong table in it! Lets goooooooo!! How awesome is that! Ha-ha and even better my comp likes Chris Smoove too ha-ha, which is great. Then next was Sunday. I got to meet a bunch of the members, which is crazy! I introduced myself and shared my testimony in sacrament and I did a pretty good job! The members say I'm way good at the that was a little confiidence booster. It is hard to understand. We taught the YM/YW for Sunday school and there is like 2 YM and 1 or 2 YW. So then we taught YM after. It's hard because I can't say everything I want, but I trying to say as much as possible, just practicing you know. Then after that we had our 1 hour mingle and eating of lunch, the members all bring food and you just eat. Then we had a 2 hour family search training thing. Brother McGeorge who used to be in the 70’s who has live in Thailand for 6 years now. He doesn't speak Thai, but he married a Thai women in our branch, so his wife and daughter are both fluent in Thai and English. 

Also, we have a senior couple in our area Elder and Sister Sowards. Elder Sowards is currently the branch president and he served his mission in Thailand years ago, but it is still cool. After that it was just Elder Unsworth, Brother Nong, and I hanging out at the church while Elder Un did some things for an hour. I played a bunch of songs on the piano or tried to ha-ha and talked to Brother Nong a ton, practicing my Thai, he is 25 and way awesome. He is pretty good at English because he learned it from movies, mostly. We have English class every Tuesday to teach people also. After that we just did weekly planning which was cool. Today we are going to be riding elephants, which is way awesome and I'm excited for that! We have my first lesson tonight so we will see how that goes! Brother Nong is going to help us also! That's about it for this week love you all!

Elder Watkins

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Week 9: Journey to Thailand

No, Jeff and I did not go to the airport, but have a dear friend that took Nate to the airport. We were able to talk to him here and then again from LA...he sounded so good and was so ready to go. We found out the next morning that once he would reach Hong Kong after the 14 hour flight his scheduled flight to Thailand had been cancelled due to Typhoon Utor. We thought he would end up spending a day there before he would fly onto Thailand. The airlines got them out on a different flight just a little later than his original one. We received an email saying they had arrived safely and another one with a picture of him with President and Sister Senior...(I still can't figure out how to just get the picture of the document). The group of 22 missionaries looked amazing well after they had been traveling for over 24 hours on planes. 

Typhoon Utor hit Hong Kong shortly after they left, canceling or delaying more than 350 flights. I know that the Lord was watching over this group to get them safely to their mission so they can begin his work. I am sure he will have great stories to tell when we hear from him on his P-day next Monday...

Thanks to Kris for taking the pictures of Landon at the airport...

Looking good!
Landon and Nate
Josh and the boys
He got his Thai name tag just before he left...Is it "Watkins Elder" or "Elder Watkins"
Brotherly Love
See ya in 22 months...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Travel plans...Last P-day in the MTC!!!

Well my last p-day here at the MTC. Getting close to leaving! I'm pretty excited! We got a change in our travel plans today and instead of meeting at the travel office at 6:00 PM we will now be meeting there at 5:15 PM and be taking the frontrunner. So that's pretty wild, has to be a new change, I think?

As for this week it was pretty awesome. It is our last one… I'll start with what we did last Wednesday. So Bro. Olsen had a deadline for the revising of our grammar book so we spent like half of our class helping him find mistakes and add new things, which was pretty cool. Then we had Bro. Sanchez teach us the rest of the time so he could finish working on the grammar book. Bro. Sanchez is way awesome and so funny! He is a way good teacher too though and we get to have him again on Friday after our infield orientation that we have all day on Friday, pretty much. One awesome thing he taught us is that we need to realize why we are learning this language. It's not because we think it is cool to learn the language, but in our hearts we need to have the reason is, so that we can teach the gospel to the Thai people, which I thought was cool so I've been praying for that help and I've definitely seen it working!

Still been playing a lot of volleyball. I'm starting to get good, I can't wait to get back and tear it up on the volleyball courts at the Sports Mall, that’ll be fun. Thanks for the hops I've been blessed with I can spike it pretty good and get tons of blocks I love it. We got Nate’s spicy hot sauce the next day which was pretty awesome we put it in our fry sauce and we were just eating it and we could definitely feel the heat, it was so funny though. Also, we may not get our translated name tags before we leave which kind of stinks, but oh well... Friday we got our travel plans which was way exciting we fly out at 10 PM to LAX then to Hong Kong then to Thailand and get their Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM which kind of stinks that will be a long day.
Soon to be leaving the MTC in Provo, Utah and heading to the city of Bangkok, Thailand...just a little bit different :)

We got another new teacher now Brother Todd who helps Bro. Thrap. Oh and I kind of got sick for the first time this week, it was more of an annoying sickness, but nothing I couldn't handle. I'm almost over it; it should be gone tomorrow, hopefully.

Also, we had TRC Saturday which was another great experience. We taught Sister Rosa a RM from Thailand and she was way cool and she said we helped her feel the spirit a lot and felt our lesson was a revelation we received for her, which was cool. Then later that night we were on a five minute break and walking around and Ely Hansgen teacher stopped us and asked if we could help her class for a minute. I got to talk to Ely and we had a way awesome spiritual experience together and I saw a side of him I had never seen before, which was cool. He left on Monday along with Clay I think which is pretty crazy. It hasn't hit me quite yet we are leaving. 

Sunday was way relaxing, we had a mission conference which was cool and after we watched some videos in the classroom. Johnny Lingo, The Phone Call, and a movie on Joseph Smith which was way cool. The speaker we had at the devotional was amazing. It was Dallin H Oak’s daughter, Jenny Baker who is like one of the best violinist in the world, she played like 6 songs and she was just incredible.

Monday I go to go with Elder Crump to get his glasses fixed, so I got to leave the MTC which was way awesome ha-ha and then they ended up cracking his lenses, which was not good so I went back with him yesterday to get them fixed again. We had such a funny van driver and he wasn't even supposed to take us, which was funny. Also, it was Bro. Olsen’s half birthday on Sunday, so we bought him a Thailand shirt and all signed our names on the back which was cool, he loved it. Bro. Olsen is the man!

Today we got to clean the temple for 3 and 1/2 hours, it was so awesome! We got to clean a ton of the windows and I had the funniest old lady talking to me the whole time, she was so awesome! Then after she took us on a tour of the temple and we got to go into the celestial room and pray and she took us to sealing rooms and we got to see the new stuff they remodeled. Also, she took us into the Brides room, which was pretty crazy. It was so beautiful in there. I doubt I'll ever get to do something like that again it was so cool! We may get to go to the temple one last session on Monday morning, our Branch President was asking President Nally the MTC president if he would make an exception, so we will see how that goes.

Well that really is all for this week it was really a great week and I'm doing super well and am happy! Love you all, thanks for your support in the MTC. Make sure if anyone wants to write me… Mom just give them my email I guess, unless they want it to take a month to get there ha-ha.

Love, Elder Watkins