The Brethren

The Brethren

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Real First Week

HI EVERYONE!!!!! DANG I'm so happy to be emailing you all!!

I really want to write essays to each of you, but ahh..time is so constraining! I hope you are all doing well, and there's so much to say in so little time, but okay, here it goes.

So I finally got here! It's the real deal! We're dealing with saving the souls of our brothers and sisters!!! I must say, there's no greater work for me than to do this right now!!! We flew through LAX, then Hong Kong. We arrived at Bangkok in the morning, and were greeted by President and Sister Senior, and the Assistants. They took us to the Mission Office, and gave us the new missionary orientation. While our stay here, we happened to meet some kind of important church worker from Salt Lake who is in charge of building Temples in Asia!! Rumor has it that they'll announce the construction of a Temple in Thailand any time now. We were hoping for President Monson to announce it this past conference, but hopefully next conference in October.

The next morning, we attended transfer meeting! Missionaries attending this meeting were to be transferred to a new area, and the 6 Thai District Elders that are like brothers to me were dispersed throughout Thailand. All of the missionaries cheered for us as we met our trainers, and were assigned to our first area! The missionaries here are so pumped to do the Lord's work. I also met a lot of missionaries who I somehow have connections to.. What a small world!

I was called in the Chiang-Rai area with Elder Calderon far up in the north! The bus ride took 13 hours from Bangkok!! Most of the other new elders were sent to the East, Northeast, and one remained in Bangkok. My trainer, Elder Calderon hails from Orlando, Florida. He's also 19 years old, and have been in the field for 11 months. To describe him... he's just simply an awesome guy. He's waaay mellow, so we get along so well. 
He's a wizard when it comes to speaking Thai, and is also fluent in Spanish. The two of us cover four languages!! Chiang-Rai is a decent sized city popular for tourists. We see a lot of ฝรั่ง (Phalang - foreigners) touring the area! I really.. really love the people here. The KhonThais (People of Thai) are so foreigner-tolerant. They welcome foreigners, and are so friendly to us! People will actually stop when we approach them in the streets and a lot of people show interest in what these two Phalangs wearing white shirts and tie have to say.. hahahah

The food... The food is SO GOOD! I really don't know how to say it any other way but that it tastes SOOO GOOD! Sorry, I don't mean to rub it in or anything.. They are spicy. Reeally spicy.. and they will probably destroy my digestive system, but it is so worth it. Oh, and speaking of food.. I had my first cricket a few night ago for dinner! After street contacting for two hours, we picked up dinner at the marketplace, and they had crickets at one vendor.. Elder Calderon said they taste like french fries. I doubted his comment, and was hesitant at first.. but I tried it.. and it indeed tasted like french fries.. I even forgot that I was eating a bug once I ate it. Oh, and another plus is that things are so cheap here! A water bottle can cost about 7-10 baht. Which is about 30 cents. From what I've heard, the missionaries in Thailand rarely cook because it's way more convenient to eat way good food for cheap!

The weather.. It is very hot and humid here. That is it.. It's hot and humid. I remember hitting a wall of humidity on my first step off the plane in Bangkok. But it's a lot better here in the north, and I so much rather be drenched in sweat than to freeze as I was in Utah for college. The Good Lord knows my need because I wouldn't last the winter in cold countries. I am so grateful!

It seems to me that the people here live more simply. That can possibly be the reason why they respond to the simple, yet wonderful message of Christ. While street contacting, most will turn down the invitation to attend church and be baptized. But even those who turn us down will commonly throw out the phrase, "I'm not interested because I'm Buddhist. But all religions teach people to do good." I am so touched by the kindness of the people here. On my first day, I met a less-active couple in their 60s; Sister Daa and Brother Pong. They're so humble in their testimony. They speak some English, so I'm able communicate with them. They told me that they will be my "Poo Mae" during my mission. Poo Mae means father and mother, or parents. We had lunch at their place a few days ago, and we usually stop by their house because they live close to us. 

Oh, and the mission pad is crazy big! I imagined that I'll be living in some small shack with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.. but nope, it's a really nice place.. Even Elder Calderon was surprised when he first got to the mission pad. It is two-stories with two bathrooms. A kitchen we never use, two living rooms, two bedrooms, and a studyroom. As a missionary, I shouldn't be living in such a big place like this. But it is a huge blessing.

Today, we're riding ostriches with some investigators and members! I heard of riding elephants, but never heard of riding ostriches.. so I'm really looking forward for it! Attached are some of the photos of the journey here, and the first few days out in the field!

Before I close this email, I want to express my sincere thanks to you all. I really appreciate you all and for my Heavenly Father. I am so grateful that He allowed us to cross paths. So that I can learn and grow from you. 
Although we are imperfect, I am so thankful that we are brothers and sisters in righteousness. I look so forward to the day that I'll see you again. It is a humbling experience to serve people who come from such a different background. The branch we serve have about 40 members, and the average member has been a member for about 3 years.. For relatively new members, I must say, some really know the Phrakhampii Moormon (The Royal/Sacred Words of Mormon) really well. I had the chance to bear my testimony for a few minutes at sacrament meeting, and I'm pretty sure some parts didn't make sense.. but I'm glad to be here. I never imagined that I can have so much joy in spreading this wonderful message of Christ.

I love you all, and I'll write again next week!

Elder Takeuchi
เอ็ลเดอร์ ทาเคอุขิ

Elder Calderon, me, Sister Senior, and President Senior. (Sorry Sister Senior, I'm totally in front of you)

Outside of the missionary pad
Elder Calderon taking me to eat SonTam!! (SO GOOD!)

The Mission Pad
Thai Vendors! 
Thai "french fries" aka circkets 

Brother Nad, our golden investigator who can't be baptized yet because of parental consent :(

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Last 5 days in the MTC

Hi Everyone!!

So... in five days...five days I'll be on that plane headed to Bangkok, Thailand. I will finally be out of the MTC. Some missionaries who have been here for a while refer to it as "Prison break." Some refer to it as "Finally being born in the mission field." Whatever it may be that people call it, I am so ecstatic to finally go to Thailand. To immerse myself in their culture, language, and in the work of the Lord. To love and serve them with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. 

It will be a bittersweet farewell though... I previously wrote about my teachers, and I have come to love them so much! All of them served their missions in Thailand, and are now continuing their education at BYU. The other day, I even tried to convince Brother Shipley to come to Thailand with us, to relive the glory days of missionary work!! I've also gotten so connected with the Branch Presidency for our zone. Brother Callister and Brother Penrod are simply men of God. They had become my mentors here in the MTC. I am so grateful for the Lord preparing me (because I have much to prepare), by placing the right people.
Today, I want to give a few thoughts I got from a talk given by Sister Kathy Anderson and Elder Neil L. Anderson!! Yes! An Apostle of the Lord finally came to the MTC to talk to us! I have been waiting for this since I entered the MTC! My Thai teacher shared that five Apostles came when she was in the MTC, so I've been anticipating one for weeks! Although I didn't get the chance to hear from multiple Apostles, I'm grateful that Elder and Sister Anderson spoke to us.

I'd like to share a few thoughts that I had during the devotional.

4/15/14 - What is it worth to you?

Sister Kathy Anderson testified the importance of conference talks. Her words echoed in my mind when she said..  "What worth is it to you? To listen, read, and study the words of God given to us through prophets of God?" She shared an experience with then Mission President Anderson asked a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, "You often visit various parts of the world to speak to different congregations. Do the talks you give at these places differ with the talk you give at General Conference?"

The Apostle replied, "The talks I give at various congregations around the world are usually not densely written. I have a few thoughts and inspirations, and I am usually guided by the Spirit as I am talking to meet the needs of the people. However, for General Conference, I prepare a talk much ahead of time. I typically go through about fifteen drafts until it is complete." Sister Anderson paused, then asked.. "If an Apostle of the Lord goes through fifteen drafts to deliver a ten minute message.. How many times should we read these Conference Addresses?"

I was struck. Sister Anderson wasn't standing firmly and scolding at us.. She is this cute, short lady that humbly shared her fervent, yet powerful testimony with us. I need to study the word of God more than ever... I need to study them.. Remember them... and use them so I can become like Christ, and invite others to come unto Christ. What is it worth to you? To study the message from God? To deliver the message from God to your loved ones, friends, children :)

Elder Anderson began his talk by reading a lot of statistics. He read that one in four Americans now doubt the validity of the Bible. More people are skeptic of the teachings of Jesus Christ than ever before. I was again hit with the realization that we live in a world of skepticism. This time has been prophesied for centuries. So how can we survive through this crazy reality? Elder Anderson counsels to know the Doctrine of Christ! To know that it's true... so much that you'll never ever be skeptic of it. We all believe in it, but to know it so much that you'll never be separated from your testimony of this truth! I was reminded of Alma Chapter 17. At this time, Alma was preaching the word of God. To his astonishment, he met the Sons of Mosiah during his journey from the Land of Manti. They haven't seen each other in a very long time, as they were all busy doing missionary work. In verse 2, it says that "Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren." 

So it's obvious that Alma would rejoice to see the sons of Mosiah again.. but what's more significant is what follows that line: "and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth" Next to this verse, I wrote the names of Elder Isaac Moa, Elder Isaiah Mo'o, Elder Koa Kalamau, Elder Elias McMoore, and soon to be elder, Elder Kuuipo Kanae and Ezra Mo'o.

The rejoicing that Alma felt in verse 2 is how I want to feel when I am reunited with my brothers in Christ. As I am away from home, I have faith that my brothers and sisters in Christ are bringing others unto Christ as well. I yearn for a testimony so deep and unmovable. Elder Anderson closes his talk to by encouraging all to live the doctrine of Christ. He testifies that becoming a witness of the Book of Mormon is an elevating experience. Very little of us will have an almighty experience like Alma the Younger (Though I'd love to see an Angel with my naked eyes) 

Let us work for the Lord until we are welcomed into the Kingdom of God!

I love you all! I leave on Monday morning, so I'll probably be able to write the following Monday!

Elder Lindsey Takeuchi

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Two Weeks Left in the MTC

Hi Everyone!

With less than two weeks left till I fly out to Thailand, we have officially begun counting down the days. We receive our travel plans on Friday, and we're so excited in wrapping up our MTC experience.
Our time perception in the MTC began by the days feeling like an eternity, and the weeks steadily passing by. Now, each individual day and week is flying past us. My district and I think our Thai is so good, but deep down.. we know that we'll be humbled once we get to Thailand and recognize our level of Thai.. 
We have hope that our merciful God will deliver us by granting us the gift of tongues. 

This week, what more can I write about except GENERAL CONFERENCE!!

Just like Nephi, I have been born of goodly parents. Goodly parents that made sure I watched conference every October and April.. 
However, they had limited control over my extraordinary talent (or curse) of being able to sleep in an instant. 
For me, this conference was different from past ones. For one, I don't remember much of past conferences...
Aaaand two, for the first time, I was able to stay up for all sessions. Now this sounds normal for faithful Latter-Day Saints, but for me, it's a pretty darn close to a miracle. Looking at my notes, I feel so left out of the past conferences that I have missed out on.

Today, I want to share just a few things I learned from conference, and just a few points on how I feel about my life on earth.

Having Courage for those few minutes - 4/6/14

In this earthly life I was blessed to be born of goodly parents, parents whom taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ since early childhood. Although it wasn't always sunshine and rainbows, my foundation of faith was built from an early stage in life. Now, I have the opportunity to spread this wonderful message of Christ to the people of Thailand. My Heavenly Father has blessed me by placing me on earth at this time of generation, to the parents that I have. The things I say here, I speak for all whom had the opportunity to hear the gospel since childhood: I am eternally grateful, but I also understand that because we have been given much, the Lord expects more. The hymn, "Because I have been given much" comes to my mind. 

Presiding Bishop Gary E. Stevenson spoke from this past conference that Olympians spend years of preparations to compete for a mere few minutes.Those few minutes will change their lives forever. A mere 1/100th of a second can determine if they are a gold, or silver medalist.

If our time of existence were to be represented in a straight line, our earthly life is merely a dot in that line. As children of God, we have been preparing in Heaven for a very long time for this time on earth. Our life on earth is the few minutes that we must do our best! Our few minutes will pass by very quickly than we can imagine. What we do in these few minutes on earth will change the rest of our life and the lives of others!

We often hear from General Authorities that the Lord is hastening His work. We must sense the urgency.

We are in the midst of an exhilarating journey. Sometimes, we have to stand alone.. And it sucks! I know this feeling very well! But Elder Anderson encourages us, saying  "Remain true to your faith!"

President Monson said to have the courage to say "No." Have the courage to say "Yes." Have the courage to do the right thing. Courage comes in many forms... Not all acts of courage brings immediate results. "Needed is the courage of Daniel, of Abinadi, of Joseph Smith. They had the courage to do not that which was easy, but that which was right."

Perhaps the phrase that hit me the most is to Be the same person you are in the dark, as you are in the light.

A lot of my non-LDS friends see that serving a mission is a respectable act to do. Though they might not know the full extent of missionary work, they see my priorities and the values that I cherish. I am so grateful for the LDS friends, and the non-LDS friends that I have. 

I have a friend that is in the midst of deciding whether to go on a mission or not. Though I don't know his challenges in life, I can say that I was in familiar shoes. I had the fear of losing two years of my prime. Two whole years that I'd lose. 

Not that I know what missionary work is all about, but I've learned enough to testify that this work is not something we do for our own gain. It is selfless service. If we're caught up counting the pros and cons of serving a mission, it will be so easy to be blinded them. It is not for us, but for others. And for our God.

I am happy and grateful to be a missionary. I look forward for my final weeks in the MTC.
What do we have to fear? The Lord is on our side.

Have an amazing week!

Elder Takeuchi

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Teachers, Prophets, and Famous People

Hi everyone,

I hope this week was great for you all. My blog entry from last week was kind of weak, sooo I'm working on writing more interesting articles! It's been pretty cold lately, having been coughing, sneezing, getting chills.. but somehow still managing each day. It has to be the prayers that are directed towards missionaries!

I leave to Thailand on the 21st of this month.. and quite honestly, I just want to fly to Thailand already!! Below are the entries for this week!!

3/20/14 - The Khruu Crew

Today, I want to introduce my teachers!
Before entering the MTC, I had this vision that they would be Thai people that would drill the language into my head. To my surprise, they were all in their 20s and attend BYU. (The MTC is right next to BYU) 
All of them previously served in Thailand, and teach Thai part-time as they continue their education at BYU. Despite their young age for a foreign language teacher, they're some of the finest I've ever had.

I'll start with Brother Brigham Shipley. This guys is buff, and has magnificent hair. He makes us repeat vocab words until we get the correct pronunciation. There are five tones in Thai, and using the wrong tone can completely change the word. For example, saying "dii" with a flat tone means "good", but saying "dii" with a rising tone means "lesbian." So yes, Brother Shipley is a great teacher for making sure that our tones are accurate. Whenever we do something wrong, Brother Shipley gives the nod of his head in disapproval from left to right. Sometimes accompanied by a wag of his finger, and the words: "Klabcay!", a call for repentance.  We call this phenomenon the "Shipley Shake."

Sister Erin Stolworthy, she's the newest teacher, but teaches just as good as the others. She loooooves to do planning. During class, she often shares personal experiences that makes us so excited to go to Thailand. 

I've learned so much from her lessons, and little does she know that I appreciate her so much! We think she recently got engaged, but she hasn't come clean with us yet..

Update - 3/23 - She finally announced that she got engaged. She has a fat engagement ring

Sister Hirschi - Without sounding rude, I'd say that when it's time for her to teach, she means business. There's no such thing as getting off task or sneaking in a nap during her teaching time. If any of this at all makes sense, she's like the female version of the military captain from the Disney movie, Mulan. She means business, and will make a missionary out of us.

One characteristic of Siste Hirchi that I absolutely respect and appreciate is her teaching style. I preciously said as if she is strict, but truth is... that I need this kind of teacher. For example, I once... actually many times doctrine questions or "How to say this phrase in Thai" type of questions in Thai. As much it is easy for her to blurt out the answer, she'll take the time to solve the question together by referring to the Scriptures, the Thai Dictionary, and the Preach my Gospel

She allowed me to study and figure out the answer with her support. At first, I didn't appreciate her method much... but after a few times I started to see her righteous intentions in trying to make me the best missionary I can ever be. I truly am thankful for her service in being my teacher.

Brother Stephen Thrap - Now this guy.. this guy is the man! I don't think he realizes any of this, but he is one of the humblest people I've ever met. The amount of effort and heart he puts in teaching the lessons are clearly visible. He is just so down to earth.. My district of seven elders came to the conclusion that when Brother Thrap cries... we will all cry.. Again, all of this might not make any sense at all, but it means a lot to us.

Sister Tracie Thompson (Yeo)  - She lifts. That is that needs to be said. Oh, and she just got married.

Brother Sanchez and Brother Booth are resource teachers that we go to for help during our study time. Brother Sanchez is fluent in the order of English, Spanish, Hmong, Laotian, Kamay (Cambodian), and Thai. He's currently learning Russian, Hebrew, and Mandarin.. 
What a crazy guy he is. 

Brother Booth is fluent in English, Laotian, Thai, Japanese, and Kamay (maybe).

Elder Anderson, our zone-renowned artist

3/23/14 - A Cheap Experience

I had the opportunity to watch a past mission conference talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called "Missions are Forever." In one part of the talk, he asks, "If missionary works is truly the Lord's work, how could it be so hard?", "If God wants us to spread the gospel, wouldn't God deliver us to make it so easy?" As a missionary, I definitely side with the question. How exciting will it be to have investigators flock to the baptismal font to to be baptized! How wonderful it will be to NOT be rejected a few hundred times a day! 

Elder Holland answers, "Why should it be easy for us, when it wasn't easy for Christ? The experience of salvation is NOT CHEAP! Often times, missionaries would open their call, and someone will comment that serving in that country will be tough.. 

"Your mission call is amazing! But darn.. that it will be a hard mission to serve." 

Elder Holland shuts down the above claim saying, "If done right, all missions are hard! They are supposed to be hard so missionaries can learn to rely on the Lord, and recognize His divine influence!"

He is right. It is only through the power of Christ that we can bring them to the truth. We are sent NOT to convince people with our intellects, but to touch their hearts through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. 

3/30/14 - David Archuleta

Every Tuesday and Sunday night, the MTC holds devotionals with special speakers each time. The speakers are usually a member of the Quorum of the Seventy or a MTC director. We haven't had an Apostle in the past few weeks, but we're expecting one for Easter Sunday

So tonight turned out to be a unique devotional as we had special speakers and singers, Brother David Archuleta and Brother Richard Elliott. As most of you might know, Brother Archuleta is a well-known name in the Mormon community and music industry. He just finished serving a honorable full-time mission in Chile. Brother Elliott is the organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and, often plays for General Conference and The Spoken Word. Together, they provided for us a musical devotional along with their fervent testimonies.

Oh how crazy the sister missionaries went when the conducting speaker announced Brother Archuleta's name.

I've never met him in person till tonight, but I have to say he's a pretty cool guy. His humble testimony touched the hearts of many tonight. He shared an experience when he was still a new missionary in Chile. 

He was riding the bus to attend a meeting, and noticed a girl about his age standing across from him. She had multiple piercings on her face, and he honestly felt quite intimidated by her presence.

That's when the prompting of the Spirit came to him. He had a flyer for a single adults activity, and he was impressed by the Spirit to invite her. Elder Archuleta tried to talk himself out of it saying, "There's no way she would be interested... She's going to think I'm a creep."  

The impression of the Spirit came back again. "Invite her." Elder Archuleta said to himself again, "I'm getting off in just three stops.. there's not enough time to talk to her and be able to invite her.. maybe next time.."

The impression came again...Defeated, Elder Archuleta approached the girl, conversed in small talk, then gave her the flyer for the activity. He had barely just enough time to invite her before his stop came. He was convinced that he would never see her again.

A month later at a zone conference, missionaries from a different district approached Elder Archuleta if he knew a girl by the name of Ingrid. Ingrid was that same girl whom he invited to the activity. To his surprise, she actually attended the activity, enjoyed it, and is now taking the discussions from those missionaries. Elder Archuleta was exclaimed by the news. He would have never thought that a simple invitation can lead to her being interested in the gospel. As Elder Archuleta was transferred to a different area, he kept contact with her.

She was soon baptized. Her family was later baptized, and were sealed for time and all eternity. She recently submitted her mission papers, and is currently preparing to serve the Lord. 

The Lord knows His children better than we do. Who are we to judge? Trust Him. Trust that He will direct you.

The days are long, but the weeks are flying by. Talk to you all next week.

Elder Takeuchi

Elder Jeng filled with the Word of God

Meatball Mondays!! 
The district with James, our Boss for service hours