Sunday, April 30, 2017

Songkran (Water) Festival and Missionary Work in Thailand!

Here are the last couple of month’s of Elder Latimer’s letters from Thailand, but first, here is an inspiring story he wrote to us recently. There truly are miracles in this work!

It was the day before Songkran (sorry for the Romanized) and Elder Manwaring, and I were just about to start studies, when we both had the prompting that we should call investigators. So, we started calling all those who had agreed to meet with us a second time. For the next five minutes, phone call after phone call, we faced, the same discouraging "no answer" screen, which illustrated to us that either our investigators were at sleep, at work, or not interested in talking at the moment. We were discouraged at the moment, but motivated to endure until the task was completed. The last investigator that we called, Brother กมน, was an Investigator who we had met in the past, and we were considering dropping in the not to distant future, seeing as he skipped appointments frequently, and never seemed to pick up. We almost didn't call him, but, we decided that we had gone to far to not give it a chance. So we called him, and miraculously he not only picked up, but wanted to meet with us. 

He informed us that he wanted to meet with us at The Mall Bangkapi, and so we delightedly went on our way out to meet him. Halfway into our venture towards the mall
กมน called us to tell us that he wanted to meet at Tesco Lotus instead (an area about 5 more minutes away). This was a bit of a strange request, because 1. the only time that he ever would call back would be to cancel an appointment, and 2. because I have never in all my days in Bangkapi, taught at Tesco Lotus. Well we met him there, taught him, and the lesson went great. He wants to meet with us again, and has agreed to pray for repentance. 

Now, I know that this seems like a huge build up for such a mundane ending, but, bear with me, there is much more to this story. 

So after the lesson ended, being at Tesco, Elder Manwaring and I decided to buy water guns for our upcoming P-day. So we spent three minutes buying water guns, and quickly headed back to our residence, to continue studies. Well, as our studies ended and as our lunch time began, Elder Manwaring and I decided test out our new, guns, and to our surprise, they were both defective. So irritated (and a little bit hungry) Elder Manwaring and I went back to Tesco to get our money refunded. All went well and we got our money back, but on our way out from the store, a women tapped me on the back. She began speaking in the best Thai that she could (she did not appear to be fluent) and asked us if we were missionaries from the church. We informed her that indeed, we were the missionaries. She was greatly enthralled, and overjoyed, but that was soon over set by feeling of helplessness as she explained that she was a native to Cambodia, and could not communicate with us effectively without someone to translate for her and us. We then informed her that we had a member at the church, Sister
แนน who spoke both Thai and Cambodian fluently. We then exchanged numbers and we promised that we would have sister แนน call her to set up a meeting with us. 

We called Sister
แนน and she graciously gave up some of her free time during songkran, to not only talk with the Cambodian lady who we had met, but to also bring her (and her husband) to the church so that we could meet them. We met them at about 4:00pm, where we had a lovely discussion about the Gospel. But the thing that struck me most was there story on how they met us. They told us, that they had been baptized in Cambodia, and had recently moved to Thailand. Having recently arrived, and little capability in the Thai language, her and her Husband could not locate an LDS church. The day before they met us, they prayed and fasted, that they would meet the missionaries at Tesco lotus. 

Needless to say, I was shocked. Not just because I had been part of a miracle, but because God had given elder Manwaring and I the great privilege of answering the prayer of these two faithful converts. The two are doing well now. We had the opportunity to meet at their humble abode yesterday, and they are both full of faith and willing to come to church next week. 

The thing that continues to shock me, is just how amazing the Lord works in our lives. There are a lot of things that could have happened that could have prevented us from meeting that couple. We could have decided that we didn't need to call our investigators at the moment, and put it aside for a later time. Brother
กมน could have decided not to pick up, he also could of decided to meet with us at the mall (as was the normal) We could have decided to use some time on P-day aside from our lunch time to return our guns to Tesco. Sister แนน could have decided that she was too busy to help us out today and stayed out and played Songkran. But the matter of fact is, all of this did happen, in just the right way that we were able to bless the lives of that Cambodian couple, and to have our eyes open to the beautiful plan that the Lord has made for each of us. 

February 26, 2017

Hey All,

The work is still hard, and at times, it feels like a grind, but all in all, it's still going great. Zone conferences are going on this week, but our area is still the last to have one, so you will see our zone conference around March 18th!

Our investigators are still doing good. We moved two of them back earlier (one to this week and the other still to be determined, since he couldn't meet to be interviewed and also because of something we found out about him, but they are still both planning on being baptized. We have another who is currently working on building his faith, but he still has a desire to be baptized, So that’s great!

I'm excited to hear about your talk in the future! It sounds exciting! It's not often that you have the opportunity to teach the basic gospel to people! Be sure to tell me what it's about once you are able to decide!

That kind of blows that your ski trip got cut short, but at least you got to spend some time together with Josh and Jake! I hope that you guys all had fun, even though weather conditions up there where kind of deplorable.

Mom did tell me about the fiasco that happened up at the lake. Between Disassembling the swim dock, and realizing that beavers have chewed up thousands of dollars’ worth of trees, it sounds like a pretty exhausting day (both physically and mentally). 

Unfortunately, nothing too interesting has been happening here this last week, which is why I don't have many pictures to send home, but I have a few others that I might send from my P-day at the crocodile farm. However it is very exciting to hear that Josh and Lettie are planning on getting married! Sadly I won't be there to see it, but nonetheless, I am still glad it's happening! 

It was great to hear from you! Hope life keeps going well!

With great adulation,

Elder Latimer

March 5, 2017

Hey All!

The baptism went well. Our investigator Brother Eggs (The one that was a little bit... different) was extremely excited. When they asked him to stand in sacrament meeting, he stood up, held his fist to the sky, and let out a hearty WOO! It was great, all the other missionaries and I were dying! I had my companion give the baptism, but that was only because I left my pair of baptismal pants in Kumpawapi, and my last companion hasn't been able to stop by the mission office any time soon (It's over 8 hours away by bus). Aside from that however, all of my investigators are doing about the same. But we'll see if something changes in the upcoming week. 

I have started uploading all of my pictures onto my drive, but I have recently bought a 1TB hard drive that I've been using to store and organize all my pictures. I'll be working more today on organizing my one drive, just so that it's easier to navigate, because right now, it's a mess!

I'm a bit jealous to hear that Washington had a ton of snow this year! In the past it's always been just small amounts, but never enough to do anything in. Hopefully, Jonathan and Jace have had a few snow days to help them get a break from school. 

I'm jealous to hear that Jace got to go to the Quad concert! Those were always my favorite! (off topic, but who is Lynnwood’s new choir teacher, I heard the last one got sacked for PDA) Tell him to keep it up with the trumpet, I hope that I'll be able to hear him play when I get back!

I'm hope that I'll be able to watch the f2f during my mission! I caught a glimpse of last year’s f2f while I was going through all the files on the clerk computer at Kumpawapi, and it seemed awesome! Did Jonathan actually go to Palmyra, or did he just watch the live stream?

My companionship is going alright. My comp had some issues, but I had a sit down with him, and things seem alright for now, either way I think I'll just bide my time till transfers...

It's always exciting to hear about Josh and Lettie! Be sure to keep me updated on the details!

It's sad the Lynnwood Girls team lost, but hey, at least they made it to state! And as for your talk, I wish you the best on it, and let me know how it goes!

With great Ardor

- Elder Latimer 

March 12, 2017

Hey Dad, what's good? Iz ya boi.

Don't worry about writing late. We have a fairly high end internet cafe right next to our apartments, and we are usually on for about 3 hours at a time, so you and Mom should never have to worry about writing late.  

I believe that transfers are on the 23rd of this month. I believe that a majority of my district is moving out this transfer, (my comp included since he's been here for four transfers already) since the other two elders in my district have been here for a total of 3 transfers. So while it'll be sad to see some of them go, it'll be interesting to see who will take their place.

It's crazy to think that I've been out for over a fourth of my mission so far. Right now I feel like I do have the basics, there's still moments every now and then when I don't know how to say something, or where I can't understand what someone had just said to me, but aside from that, I feel like the language is coming along fine. Hopefully however, I don't have to worry about being senior companion next transfer, but if I do, it'll be quite an… experience. It wouldn't be too uncommon for me to train a missionary next transfer. The group ahead of me in the MTC had about 5 or 6 missionaries who trained on their 3rd transfer, so it's safe to say that I still might be called to train. 

I'll be sure to update you on our teaching pool in the future, but at the moment, things are still a bit boring right now. I do have a great story for this week, and I'll be sure to send it in a separate email to you and Mom. I have some entertaining videos as well, which I'll try to send if I can find a card reader on anyone in the internet cafe here!

That's crazy to hear that Jonathan's already 15! Has he grown yet, or is he still the same height? I remember that I started actually growing in my sophomore year. It sounds like he had an awesome birthday, and from what I've heard from all the people here, the Nintendo Switch is pretty awesome! Wish him luck for me in drivers ed!

I wish I was there (and in a way, glad that I am not) to see all of the new about Trump’s presidency! Now and then I see headlines in the Thai papers, and it's kind of fun just to get those little snippets of reality every once in a while. 

It's awesome that Josh is finally going to get married! I wish I could be there, but nonetheless, wish them the best for me, and let me know if there is anything they want from Thailand while I'm here!

I hope Jake and Tyler are still doing well in Idaho (I know that sometimes it can be a drag) and can't wait to see where Tyler is going. I told him to start learning a little bit of Thai, because if you put that you either speak a little Thai or Mandarin it boosts the chance that you'll get called here. Almost everyone that I've met serving here, either has some tie to Thailand, or "speaks" Mandarin. So if all goes well, he'll come here to party with me!

Well that's about all for this week. Mazatlan sounds fun! Keep me informed on how it went and send pictures!


- Ya boi

STORY: So last night, after a long day of work. Everyone in the district had decided that it was about time to head home, eat, study and sleep. I ended up switching companions for the night with the DL because we wanted to go get suits cut, and everyone else wanted to go look for cameras at a second hand shop. Since my house all the way down in Rakhamheng (about a half an hour drive from the church) is closer to the suit place then the other Elders, we decided to leave a little early to travel to our condominium to leave us some time for personal study. To ensure that we got home early enough, we decided to call a taxi, instead of waiting for the bus. This was our first mistake. 
A taxi came, I told him my address, and we got in. Everything seemed fine for the first 20 minutes, until, several seconds later, he begins to apologize. Me thinking that he was mournful because of the few turn offs that he missed, began to tell him that it was alright. What I missed before that however was that he said something along the lines of "My stomach hurts, I've got to go pee". sconds later the sound of liquid filling a water bottle enters our ears, as the cabby has successfully abated the pain in his stomach. Several minutes after the fact, it became clear that this man had no idea where he was going. It also became surprisingly apparent, how many strip clubs and brothels that I live by. As soon as we got far enough away from the Sodom and Gomorrah that is the street about a mile away from our house, we requested to get dropped off as soon as possible, wherever else.

Soon after that, we decided to hail another taxi, to get us the rest of the way home. This is where it gets fun. Now keep in mind it was already past 9:30 and I was tired, bored and incredibly done at the moment. Anyway continuing on. Trying to break the ice we made small talk to the driver, which lead to him asking us where we were from.  To which I quickly responded, "South Africa". confused, but nonetheless accepting of it continued talking to us. Over the next 10 minutes I managed to convince him that I: 1. had an African girlfriend who was a little over 100 Kilos, 2. That I was a fluent speaker in the South African language, which I attempted to prove by, making a series of clicking and groans and 3. that I was actually an actor on a popular TV show "Som Tam, Hamburger" (A show about a Thai man and a White man living together). We managed to convince the driver of all of this and it turned out to be a pretty great ride back. 

I can't really explain the story to well through writing, but it was a pretty great experience.

That's about all in terms of story for this week.

March 19, 2017

Hi all!

That’s great to hear that Josh finally proposed! I saw the pics that you sent me and it looks really exciting! I hope that you'll be able to pair her up in our skype call this Mother's Day (I'm pretty sure there is a way to set up dual skype calls). 

Let them know that I wish them the best! Their wedding sounds amazing! Let me know if you want me to get Josh a Tux cut, There is a guy here who works for some high class suit company, but he'll do freelance if you know where he lives. I'm sure that I could get Josh a pretty great one for only around $70 bucks (fabric and all) just send me his dimensions and I can get it done in the upcoming P-days!

That's great to hear that Jake and Tyler are having fun in BYU I but Jake said that he's a little bit sad because Tyler’s about to go on his mission, which means that he's going to be left all alone in BYU, which kind of sucks for him, but on the bright side, there's a chance that Tyler could come to Thailand and party here with me. I've been teaching him a few words in Thai, and if he puts that he knows "a little Thai" on his papers, it's almost guaranteed he'll come here!

The glasses that I wear now aren't currently prescription, I thought they just looked good with the suit, but I'm currently looking for a place where you can get prescription lenses fitted for about $30, which is probably what I'll do in the not so distant future (It would really help in reading Thai on street signs) Also could you and Mom, send me the pictures from zone conference? me and everyone else in the district want to see them, but none of us can use Facebook!

That's awesome that you got asked to talk on the atonement! It's such a large and important topic, but it's by far one of the most important things that everyone should know about! Tell me how it goes and send me a copy of your talk once it's done!

In Thailand, we have to wait a week after general conference is finished to receive the Thai translated conference session. The missionaries here download both Thai and English sessions and will either watch the Thai session (if they are a Thailand native) or the English session (if they are a foreigner) it's actually super cool, but a lot of the translations are done by return missionaries. My teacher in the MTC was a translator for a couple of talks in the last conference, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to do the same after I'm finished with my mission!

I already sent Mom a list of things that I need for the moment, so that should be covered. And as for the water festival, I am getting pretty pumped! The missionaries have 4 days to participate in it (because it's almost impossible to do work for the first half of the week) so that'll be a ton of fun! I'm going to invest in a knock off go-pro, which is just a little worse off in quality of video, but is water proof, which would be very much needed if I wanted to get footage of the festival for you guys!

Sorry that you have to deal with the current president, and I wish you and Mom the best! And I promise that I'm not skipping you when I send emails, Mom's just appear at the top of my feed for whatever reason!

Best of luck

- Elder Latimer

March 26, 2017

Hey All!

I do have a new companion, and so far, everything is awesome! His name is Elder Manwaring, and was actually in the group ahead of me in the MTC. I've had a chance to serve around him before in the Udon District when I was in Kumpawapi, and he's a way cool dude. So far, I have not had a Thai companion, but, I've had the opportunity to serve around a few Thai missionaries and they're all way cool people. Our district leader right now, Elder Joyem, actually used to be AP and is native to Thailand, so he's helping me out a lot with inviting/language. 

Church today (technically yesterday for me) sounds awesome! I wish I had a chance to go. I love the topic of the Atonement, it's always so great to talk about!

Mazatlan sounds awesome and I am a little jealous, because while Thailand is beautiful, right now it is just hot, which is no fun when you can't swim to cool off! Sorry, but due to transfers this week we've spent a lot of time sorting things out, so I don't really have any good stories to tell this week. Next week though!

I can't wait for General Conference, it is always the most peaceful time in missionary work, because you just sit in an AC'd room and listen to the Prophets and Apostles speak! I got to watch last sessions twice (once in the MTC and once in country) and I still have fond memories of it!

I'm still excited to hear that Josh and Lettie are getting married! Be sure to send me pics when they do! And as for Jake, tell him to wait till I get back haha! Just kidding. But it's cool to hear that your friend went to Thailand! It's an awesome place to serve!

It was great to talk with you, and I think I get to skype you and Mom, in a month or so (right?) so I can't wait till then!

Best of Luck

- Elder Latimer

- P.S. are the Bastians and Smiths people you know from our ward or people you got to know over email? Because we have missionaries by the name of Bastian and Smith here too!

April 2, 2017

Hey, it's great to hear from you!

Mazatlan sounds awesome, but the layovers and early mornings sound like a drag! I'm super jealous that you guys get to hang out on the beach! All of the areas over here that have beaches are off limits, because the south is mostly Islam and there has been some stuff going on there recently.  But, anyway, Mazatlan will be a ton of fun! Send me pictures!

I do have to wait a week until conference shows up for us, but I can't wait, this week’s session sounds really good!

My new companion is really dope, and I can see a lot getting done this transfer in terms of missionary work! I can't wait to see where things will be 6 months from now. In terms of investigators, we are having a bit of trouble finding people who are actually willing to meet with us, so we spend a lot of time contacting, which is effective, but it's ridiculously hot outside and it feels like a huge grind. But I will just power through it!

I'd love to learn more about your religious freedom symposium, it sounds really interesting!

Ryan and Brenna had a baby? That's cool I guess. Just kidding that's awesome! I hope they're doing well! And it's awesome to see that Jess and Teri are probably about to get married!

Have fun on your vacation! Sorry I didn't write you more this week, but for P-day we're going to an amusement park, so we only have a limited time on the computer! I'll write more next week, I promise (which reminds me, because of the giant water festival next week, P-day for me will be on the 14th not the 10th) 

Love you

- Ya boi

P.S Thank you for the package that you and Mom sent and I am working on uploading all of my pictures, BUT, the internet here is moving slow!

April 13, 2017

Hey Mom/Dad,

Today's email will be a little short this week, because today is Songkran (the giant water festival) and things are pretty crazy. There is literally water being sprayed everywhere. Right now I've taken refuge in an internet cafe, but, I'm only going to be able to write a little at this week, since we are all trying to pack as much party as we possibly can in one P-Day. But don't worry, I'll be emailing you again on Monday. The next couple of days are actually going to be pretty laid back. Today is P-Day, tomorrow is zone conference, Sunday is church, and then Monday is P-Day again! Next email I'll have a lot more to write you about, including a few stories that I wanted to write in this email, but couldn't because of the short amount of time that I am left with today. 

Mexico sounds like a lot of fun! Be sure to send me some pictures! I've seen some photos of Mazatland before and it looks absolutely beautiful!

It's great to hear that Jake did well for college. It sucks that he had the winter semester though, because there's almost nothing to do there (Towards the end of my august semester, everything was icy and depressing). I hope that he is willing to study abroad, it sounds like a ton of fun!

It's great to hear that Josh and Lettie are still doing well, and is awesome to know that Aunt Teri is engaged! Tell her I'm excited for her!

I'm not sure if I told you already, but, last week for P-day I went to an amusement park and it was a blast. I am no longer afraid of roller coasters, but, they're still not my favorite thing in the world.

Well that's all that I'm going to write for this week. Sorry it's so short, but I promise I'll make up for it in Mondays letter. 

All the best,

- Elder Latimer

April 16, 2017

Hey Dad, iz ya boi,

Easter was pretty relaxed but we did have the chance to meet with a cool Cambodian couple, I'll send you and Mom the story about how I met them (it was awesome!). 

Our zone conference was on Saturday, and it was great. It was focused on sharing the gospel simply as well has helping out less active members. I loved it and learned a lot about it.

I sent a list of things I did at the water festival to Mom and I'll go ahead and copy and paste it here.

·  I crowd surfed over a group of people at one of the party areas
·  Started a mosh pit
·  I climbed on the shoulders of another Elder and sprayed people down with water guns (everyone got way pumped about it and cleared a way for us to walk as we got sprayed from all sides. You can hear cheers from the crowed as we get closer, I'll send the video when it is ready).
·  I pretended to be retarded for 40 minutes during the walk to the bus that would take us home, because it was the only way that no one would spray me.
·  Started a rally at a Foam party that they had near a large mall.

Songkran was a blast! Unfortunately I don't have a lot of pics of my own (my camera wasn't waterproof and would have been destroyed) but I have a ton of awesome videos that my comp is going to send over to me, so I'll attach those once they get uploaded

The work is going pretty good. We have a decent pool of investigators at the moment, but we are not to sure which are going to progress towards baptism. A lot of the people here seem to have the philosophy that you have mentioned before. They all have the view that "every religion teaches people to be good" which is something that the king said which every has seemed to attach themselves too. So we spend a lot of time in our teaching, trying to explain the importance of baptism. 

That's crazy that everyone is getting married! I think Kaitlyn is engaged to a guy named Guido (or something like that, I only met him once) but that's great to hear!

And general conference was great this year! I'm going to go through and download some of the talks and print some out to read later!

That's about all that I have for this week, but I'm going to upload a story and some videos in the not to distant future!

Wish you the best


- Elder Latimer

April 23, 2017

Hey Dad,

The Songkran festival was awesome, but suprisingly, it was a lot less of a party in Bangkok. Mostly because in Bangkok you have a whole bunch of rules and regulations that they don't have in the north or in the more rural areas. The area that we went to party in, was pretty much the go to place for Bangkok, but in the north or in the more rural part in the country that kind of stuff is just happening in the street! As for the meaning behind the Festival itself,

The Songkran Festival is also known as the traditional Thai new year. The Songkran Festival is a time when family and friends gather to pay gratitude to Elders and to visit temples for prayer and offering. Songkran literally means to pass or to move on. The Songkran Festival is also a time when Thai people cleanse and pour water mixed with Thai fragrance on Buddha images. The festival also showcases a bathing ritual where the people pour water on the senior Buddhist monks. The process is believed to bring good luck to them. The young people pay gratitude and also show a sign of respect to elders in a sacred ritual, which involves pouring down scented water on their hands and also giving them new clothes. The Songkran Festival is a time when the Thai people splash water on themselves, which they believe will cause plenty of rainfall in the coming year. Water is also used to cleanse themselves from bad things.

The dancing by the way, is just a joke between the Elders here. There was an Elder in my district in the MTC named Elder Brinkerhoff, and that is how he looked when he played basketball, so we just kind of went along with it and made a dance.

That's sad to hear that people at the house are getting sick! I hope that everyone is healing up all right. Be sure to get well! And that's great that Mom is able to help plan Josh and Letties wedding! Josh sent me on the task to find him a fake Rolex, So I'm going to look for one in the next couple of P-days (hopefully I don't get transferred out of Bangkok otherwise I might have to ask someone else to do it for me! I'll have to wait for MSF to get in first so that I can get it!

Anyway, for reference as to the videos/pictures I am about to send, last P-day happened about 3 days after the water festival P-day, so we were all down to pretty much chill, so we decided to just screw around at the mall, where we found motorized stuffed animal scooters, which we rode as a district. So that might have been something weird that we did.

It was great to hear from you

Wish you the best

- Ya boi

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