Hello Family!

P1040288 It has already been 3 weeks! The time has flown! 3 weeks, and 3 baptisms. This week we had 2 more. Sister Ahh and Sister Bop. But lets pickup where I left off last Monday. At FHE last Monday we played “Mafia” with a ton of our investigators and members. It was a ton of fun, and everyone bonded together. The next day we had a service project at 2, so we woke up early to teach a lesson. Afterwards we didn’t have time to go eat, so we rushed to a 7-11 and got milk, and brought it home. Elder Martin made a ton of macaroni he got from home, and mixed it with ramen noodles. It was awesome! All American food is awesome at this point. P1030230We then got dressed and loaded into the back of Jackie’s pickup truck to an older members house. She was an old lady, an also a hoarder. Her house was full of trash, spiders, and cockroaches. We cleared tons of trash out of her house, and piled it on the street. We cleared her garage, and moved her car to the other side. At the end of all of it, she wanted us to put the trash back where it was. She didn’t want to throw any of it away! She wanted to keep it all. So it was a strange project. Later that night we taught English and had a lot of fun! The next day we made the biggest omelet ever, it was 24 eggs. We had so many, and we had to get rid of them somehow. We then went to the mall and did some inviting. The manager lady got mad again and took photos and videos, saying she will show them to the police. We didn’t care, but left anyways to let her calm down. Salvation is at stake! We then rode around the town and did a ton of inviting. We then went to the mall and tore up the parking lot. One of the workers there really likes us, so he gave us cokes! I saw my first fight ever in Thailand. About 12 guys jumped this Thai teen wearing a motorcycle helmet, and started to beat him down and kick him. His helmet saved him, and security rushed in and scattered the assailants. He was all right, and security caught one of the kids. Later that night we had the baptism of Sister Ahh! She was baptized at 6:30, and she is now a super strong member in the ward. The next day was a normal day of inviting until the baptism of Sister Bop. I gave the opening prayer, and also tried to “Conduct” the music. I’m not that good at it! Elder Lodwick baptized her, and she is awesome. She is the one we met by buying messenger bags to be obedient, so she drew on the bag we bought from her. She is amazing. That day I also learned how to play “Leave No Man Behind” from Black-Hawk Down on the piano. The next day we ran to the post office. We then ate at a place called Roma, and Italian place owned by a white guy. While we were eating we saw the Captain America shield guy, this time he was wearing a Daft Punk helmet. He waved and gave us the peace sign. We then taught 3 new girls. The best one was named James. They all accepted baptism. We then taught Amm and Gan. They are being stubborn with changing religions, but they were both sick so we gave them both a blessing. I anointed. We then did some inviting at the mall. On the way there we saw a police blockade. They were stopping all the motorcyclists without helmets and making them pay fines. We had our helmets on so we were good. We then watched “Finding Faith in Christ” with Bop at the church. It is hilarious in Thai! The next day we invited at the mall for almost 4 hours. We specifically prayed for miracles that day, and I got 3 awesome phone numbers, One from a lady handing out flyers, a co-worker of Bop’s, and a stoned guy who gave me a wrong number, and then when I asked him for it again, he gave me his real one. I talked to this super old, white guy, atheist we see a lot, and actually had a good conversation with him. He told me all about how he was alive in Germany during WWII, his life, his travels, and how he is fluent in 5 languages. I cleared up misconceptions about out religion, and almost got him to go to church. When I asked for his number he said, ” You do not need it, we will meet again” and vanished into the crowed of people. Later we taught 2 old ladies, and they are super good! They accepted baptism.

That night we taught a girl named “Duen” she was really good. The next day was church. We had 56 attending, with 10 investigators.. We followed up with the grandmas, and one has already read to Mosiah in one day! Remember that old guy who has a ton of faith, couldn’t walk, and we gave him a blessing? That was Brother Lek. He showed up at church, and he was walking. They made him gain his testimony. He sat at the front and someone held a mic for him. He talked the entire time, about life, temples, and at on point I wasn’t paying attention, and heard him say “…and I crapped myself!” I had to leave the room. They made to make him stop cause we had no time. At the end he said ” You all think this is boring! But I will do it again NEXT WEEK!” it was so funny. We chilled at the church, and I rolled around in a wheel chair that was meant for Lek, but he obviously didn’t need it. That night we had a huge 2 hour discussion with all of the Elders, it was a really good experience, and we all shared strengths and weaknesses. Today was a good day. We woke up and helped the other Elders teach a girl named Nek, P1030198
who has accepted baptism for tomorrow, and Plang which means “song” in Thai. We got Plang to accept. We did some shopping, saw Bop, and went back to the church. We saw The Captain America shield guy again! He buzzed by us on a sick motorbike, and he had a new costume on. He had a handmade suit of armor from the old show “Beetle Borgs” he gave us the peace sign again, he’s awesome. So now we are here, emailing. We figured out the Duay is a hairstylist, so we will be going there to get some trimming down, and then off to FHE for some fun. It has only been weeks, but they have been a blast. I have met awesome people, and cannot wait for two years of this life. It is something that everyone should do.

-Elder Ridings

The Start Of Something Great

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My apartment

P1030038[1]It has been an awesome week! Last Tuesday was the start of an amazing week. We woke up and did some teaching to about 4 different investigators for a couple of hours, and made so good progress. Afterwards Elder Martin found a ton of old Book of Mormons up in the library, about 50 of them, that were not being used anymore. We brainstormed some ideas, and decided to go preaching with them! We went to the mall, and started “soap-boxing.” As soon as we got there, Elder Lodwick walked up to this HUGE dude, and said: “This is the full message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it will benefit your life, would you like to learn?” and the dude said yes, he even said he would go to church, he was on the phone and didn’t even hang up he was so shocked! We preached at the mall for a while, and then went to a huge outdoor market for some more preaching. It was night, so we all went through the market inviting people. Elder Lodwick had a super bright light he would shine to get people’s attention. I got a ton of phone numbers. We also taught 2 of our investigators about the the plan of salvation. One of our good investigators, Dow, has been dropped. She no longer wanted to learn due to peer pressure from her family. Maybe some day she will want to learn again. We then went over to the Walking Street market for some more soap-boxing, and had a good time. Earlier that day we saw a guy at the mall wearing a Predator Helmet on a motorcycle, and that night we saw him again at the market. He was selling movie props like iron Man helmets and Guardians of The Galaxy stuff. It was super cool! He had a Captain America shield that Elder Lodwick cracked by being rough with it. The dude said it was no big deal, but I could tell he was kinda sad (it was hand made). Later I went up to him and asked how mP1030161[1]uch it was, he said 600 Baht. I said I would buy it. He protested and said it was no big deal, but I persisted so he sold it for 300 Baht. I then took the shield, and went preaching P1030026[2]with it on my arm! Later the guy found me and came up to me. He said “Thank you” and was very grateful for what I did. The next day we loaded up with the Peterson’s and went and taught a ton of less active members. The sun was out, so I was super wrapped up to avoid sunburn! It was rice harvesting season so a ton of fields were on fire to kill weeds, so we all smelled like smoke riding in the back P1030060[1]of the pickup truck. That night I gave a blessing to a Buddhist man who was really sick. He seemed so happy afterwards, and even cracked a smile! I also ate an entire Hawaiian pizza. The next day was a normal slow day of inviting and lessons. That night, we went and tore up this huge outdoor market. We invited practically everyone to repentance. We also found the legendary blue Fanta. It tasted amazing. That night on my bike I spanked an elephant on the way home. The next day we did more lessons, and more inviting. We went to the local university where we watched some Muay Thai fighters train. I almost crashed. I got clipped by a moped going about 30 mph towards me, but I avoided it and stayed up on my bike. I have no Idea why that person almost hit me. We then went to the walking street, and almost got wrecked again by a car running a red-light at about 60 mph. I wanted to start walking at that point. There was no market that night, but there were a lot of people running around the lake. We just invited people, and sometimes ran with them while we invited. The next day we went to the mall and taught Bop, but we were told to leave because we were “disrupting the customers” Whatever! We still go into the mall. We fear no man! We then biked up to “Big C” and bought a scale, along with some new razors. Almost got killed on the road by a truck, again. We then taught a friend of our investigator Ahh, Sister Doo. We had amazing lesson about the restoration. She used to be Catholic. She accepted a baptismal date. That night we learned that the big guy we met on the phone at the mall was named “King”. He said his mom was taught by missionaries when he was a kid, and he was ready to join our church! We were supposed to meet that guy! The next day was Sunday, and it was awesome! We had 62 attending church, with 18 investigators! That is a record never before achieved! We also had a family show up, who we just gave an invitational card to, we didn’t even get their numbers or anything. We had awesome lessons with the investigators and we now have 7 baptismal daters.

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That afternoon we taught Brother Chode all of the lessons, because he would be baptized that night. It took 2 hours. We then went to visit members to kill time before the baptism. We got to the church at 6, and were both were able to dress in white. Chode tried to change in the chapel,so we had to stop him haha! We then had sister Sun and Elder Martin speak. and then we went to the font. Chode had a super long name! “Chodesongpan Sugsiri Mahapaysan” I got the name right the first time, and the prayer, and I baptize him! Elder Martin called it “ The best baptism dunk he has ever seen” Afterwords Chode went swimming in the pool cause he said he had “Alot of sin to clean” and then came out of the water and yelled “AMEN!”. When we were changing I could hear him in the other room yelling “Amen!”. He was so happy!

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The next day we packed up with the Peterson’s and went to the elephant village! I got to take photos with, pet, and play with elephants all day. They are amazing creatures. We went with a return missionary named “Bartley” he is a professional photographer who makes movies, he filmed the whole experience and will put it on you tube. I will send the link when it gets done! I have gotten super tan from the whole experience. I got an ivory ring, and an ivory elephant necklace for my grandma “Jo” she loves elephants! We then came home, and bought a sofa. So all in all, a pretty good day. This coming week will be amazing. We have Gahn, Amm, Ahh, Bop, Doo, Dan, being baptized in the coming weeks. Our goal is 20 baptisms this transfer. This week I was listening to the “Guardian Suite” music track from the movie “The Guardian”. I looked at the soundtrack cover, and imagined the two Coast-Guardsmen replaced with missionaries. It made me think that we are Guardians, and it is our duty to give all we have to help and save these people. It requires sacrifice from home, family, friends, and all the comforts of your life. But it is all worth the effort. The_Guardian_OST


Love, Elder Ridings

Amazing work happening in Thailand

Hello Family!

P1020258[1]Things are going amazing here in Thailand. This week we have two baptisms lined up, with two more the week after. One of the girls getting baptized is someone I contacted! Before we get to that, let me pick up where I left off last week.

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On P-Day we finally got desks! The smallest cheapest things they had, with little stools for chairs. We rode in the back of a truck with them to our house, but then had to carry them because a fallen stone column blocked the entrance of our neighborhood. One of the other problems we had was bedding. We slept on blankets on the tile ground. To fix this problem we went to the mall we like to proselyte in. We bought groceries, and then went mattress hunting. We found picnic mattresses, the type you take to the park, and took them home. We went home with groceries, eggs, and mattresses… into oncoming traffic, on bikes. I almost got hit twice. P1010997[1]One thing you learn about Thai traffic laws is that there are no laws. We regularly shoot between traffic, and dodge cars. We now sleep in comfort finally. That night we hosted FHE, and played a ton of games with the YSA people. We played the game “Ninja” and I dominated. It was the first time for the Thais. The next Morning we had a District Meeting where we discussed some goals. We watched a super inspirational video about bringing people to Christ, and then went to the Mall and tore it up. In total we got 34 phone numbers in just a few hours. We met a ton of people, and I contacted one of the employees, a young girl named “Auh”. We set up an appointment for her that Friday. Tuesday night after our inviting spree, we taught an English class. Every Tuesday we teach English for free, and that night we taught about 28 people. I translated some sort of school brochure for a lady, and we played fun games with our students. We went to bed super tire that night. The next day we biked about 3 miles to “Big C,” the Asian equivalent of Wal-Mart. It is like half mall, hall Wal-mart. I have never seen so much badly translated English in my life. We got a ton of numbers there, and got some awesome work done. I got a lot of people to promise to come to church. When I see people staring, I just hold up a Jesus pass-along card and point at them, and then at Jesus. In Big C we got chased by security. They hunted us through the aisles, and we literally ran and taught people at the same time. It was super fun! We managed to avoid security, and went back to the church. That night we saw another baptism of an investigator named “Bee”. It was awesome, and now she is a super strong member. We have about 9 investigators and, and one of them is very special to my companion. We had our Zone Meeting, where we were told to get messenger bags. Elder Lodwick doesn’t have one, so we went to the mall to get him one. The lady who helped us named “Bop”, with the bags saw our name tags and said “What is it you do, I see you every day in here, what is this?” she said as she looked at a pass-along card with Jesus being baptized on it. We taught her right there in the mall, two days later we met again. I asked her to be baptized and she said yes! P1020018[1]That night we went to the Lantern Festival they have here. It was at a huge park, and tons of people were there. Traffic was bad, I almost got hit again, and we went a-preaching! There were too many people to ask questions, so I just walked through the crowd holding up the Baptism of Jesus on it, and stared into people’s eyes, searching their very souls! If they looked away from me, I kept walking. If they held eye contact, I went up to them and began my inviting. I got so many phone numbers that night, we had to make 43 phone calls before bed. At the festival we saw Dow. She said she is still thinking about baptism, but wants to ‘study more”. She wants to have a vision like Joseph Smith, so we had to explain to her what faith is. We are really worried about her. We haven’t seen her in 2 days, she won’t answer the phone, and she didn’t go to church. Even though we have a ton of investigators, we don’t want to lose anyone, especially Dow. The next day we ate at a restaurant and went to the local university for some preaching. We ran into “Dan” outside of the 7-11 on campus. He is a worker on campus. When I asked if he wants baptism he said yes! I was super surprised, and got his number. We also ran into a man named “Chode”. He was sitting on a bench in the university smoking and when we looked at him, he called us over. As soon as he saw our name tags he started yelling “I love God!” in English over and over! We sat down and taught him right then and there. He wanted to be baptized that night! They have to go to church twice first. He is amazing and funny. He is very hyper, excited, and talks really fast. He is totally into our teachings. When we told him smoking was bad, he chucked his cigarette like a mile! He then gave us his lighter and smokes. He will be getting baptized in 2 weeks. That night we met with a senior couple called the Peterson’s who are here to bring Less Active (LA’s) members back. We ate at an Italian restaurant that night, and made plans. The next day we all split up and went to visit the LA’s. We visited a Brother “Bop” who got offended and stopped coming to church. We talked for 3 hours, and finally got him convinced to come back. We did some more preaching at the mall, lessons, and went out to eat at “Jeffer’s” with all the missionaries. That night the key broke in the lock, so we had to wait for the other Elders to come home. We only have one key now. The next day we visited a new member named Brother “Rod” which translates to “Brother Save” He is an old guy who is super nice, and dresses super classy. We taught him in his house, a shack, by the railroad tracks. He is a super humble and amazing man. The next day was Sunday, and 7 of our investigators showed up! We had 53 people come to church that day. I gave my testimony in Thai, and then we took our investigators to their classes. We had Brothers “Dan” and “Chode” and Sisters “Ying”, “Jane”, “Book”, “Bop”, and “ Auh”. We taught Dan after church, and he was super excited and wants to get baptized on the 30th! Buriram, needs 15 tithe paying, Melchizedek Priesthood holders to become a ward, and we are almost there.

Today we went to a Wat, Buddhist temple. We got amazing photos and videos, and had an awesome experience there, and saw some monks. Tomorrow we are doing a ton of teaching. This place will be a ward before it is over with, and we are on the fast-track to get it there.

Love,

Elder Ridings

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First Email From Thailand

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Hello Family!

So I know you are dying to get this email but before we begin, I am still alive! After I left you in the last blog post, We packed up and headed to the airport. The bus took us to the Front Runner train, which we rode all the way to Salt Lake. In SLC we got on the Tracks train system and headed to the airport. On the way there I walked by a crazy man who said ISIS was in Thailand, and that I would see missiles flying when I got off the plane, and another guy that looked like hippie Jesus. At the airport we ate at Cafe Rio, the first real food since entering the MTC. It was glorious! We chilled for a while, and called our families on the phones. We all loaded up on the planes and headed to LA. In LA we saw Dad and it was awesome! He looks just like I left him, and everyone was so happy to meet him in person. I couldn’t talk too long since we are in a hurry, and I didn’t want Dad to get to upset that I was leaving again. He got to see some Buddhist Monks right before we parted ways. I wish him luck with his business in LA! At the LAX airport we used an airline I have never been on before, but now it is my favorite. It’s called Cathay Airlines. It is A Hong-Kong airline full of Asian workers that is super nice, clean, and they actually serve good food! One funny thing about the planes is the travel map is 3-D you can watch a camera under the plane from the TV on the backs of the seats, and everything is translated into English and Chinese. Whenever they make an announcement, they say it in English, and then in Chinese. All of the workers have an English name, and a Chinese name. The 15 hour flight was a test of endurance. I slept for 3 hours, but couldn’t watch any of the movies. I did give a Book of Mormon away to an Asian lady, but I think she was just too tired to protest. It was early morning when we landed in Hong-Kong. The airport isn’t near the city, but it is near some amazing mountains. It was pretty humid, and we had to go fast for our next flight. I was stopped by security. It was a “Random Check”. They used the metal detectors on me and searched my backpack. After that fiasco we took a 3- hour plane ride to Thailand. We flew over Vietnam, and finally landed in Bangkok. It was hot, Buddha was everywhere, and it was magical. We had to go through security and customs, and we finally found President Senior.

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They were holding an Angel Moroni sign, so that’s how we found them. He is an amazing guy! He is funny, sincere, and smart. After a train ride and some preaching on the subway, we arrived at the office. We had an orientation, introductions, food, and blood-work. We went to a Thai clinic and got blood drawn. It was actually pretty nice, but I was still worried about medical work in another country. They do it to make sure we don’t have any crazy infections and viruses. That night we went out into Bangkok “Dan Jones-ing” named after the famous missionary in Wales. We went street contacting, and talked to tons of people. Thai people are not mean, but they are very non-committal. They will either say nothing, or make up excuses like “ I work everyday from 9 am to 9 pm” So I’m just like “ So why are you here in the mall? Shouldn’t you be working?” When you cut through their lies they run away! It is so funny!  Afterwards we came back and had dinner at President Senior’s awesome apartment. We then went to the hotel and passed out. The next day we grabbed all of our stuff, loaded up into vans, and braved the crazy Thai traffic to the Asoke Church building. When we were there we had meetings and met our trainers.

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I am paired up with Elder Lodwick from Nashville, Tennessee. We are the only two southerners here, and it’s no mistake President Senior put us together. He is awesome. He is funny, street-smart, and good trainer, and he is super spiritual about lots of things. We were assigned to Buriram on the east side of Thailand. We rode a taxi to a Mexican restaurant with the other missionaries, and then to the bus station. We go there at 9 pm, loaded up, and headed out. We didn’t get to Buriram until 3 am, where we were greeted by Elder Martin and Elder Burke.

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They are awesome dudes we share a house with. We rode Tuk-Tuks, little scooter things, to the house that night. We are staying in a nice two story house 300 yards from the church, and a two minute bike ride from a huge mall we like to proselyte in. We don’t have beds yet, so we sleep on pallets on the floor. I am in in internet cafe with only 30 minutes left so I have to make this brief. It is fun being here. The Thai ladies are funny! They all want to be white, so they wear white makeup and contacts to change their eye color. They always hit on me, and I have been asked to be a boyfriend 2 times already. All the mall workers know us and say hi everyday. We try to convert them, everyday. It is hot, but it is still an awesome place to walk around in. I have no shame now. I can talk to anyone and not feel awkward. People stare at me because we are the only white people around. When I see people staring our laughing at me, normally teenagers, I just hold a pass-along card of Jesus high in the air, and start walking towards them, and start yelling “Repent!” or “Baptism!” in Thai. They know they messed up when they see that! We found a new investigator who might be baptized. She is a college girl from the nearby university. Her name is Dow. We met her at a huge open air market at night with a concert going on. She said she always wanted to know if God is there. So we gave her a book of Mormon. We took her to church, and she got to hear all the testimonies since it was fast Sunday. She loved it! We taught her about prayer, and asked her to pray. When she was done she said she felt amazing, and we told her that’s how she knows this is true. I think she will accept baptism, and I will be baptizing her.

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That night I got to witness my first ever baptism in Thailand. Some random guy who had gone to church twice walked in and said “I want to be baptized because I know this is true” It was awesome! . We will meet with Dow tomorrow, so hopefully it goes well. I have been counting the people I talk to with this little clicker thing. So far I have invited 246 people to church. My companion finally admitted that Buriram is a hard area. They have not had a new missionary start his mission here in over 3 years. I am the first one in a long time. He told me that President Senior pulled him aside and said that we are being sent here to fix Buriram. He had received a witness that Elder Ridings from Georgia, and Elder Lodwick from Tennessee have to go to this hard area. I am here for a reason. We are here to turn this area around. We were meant to be companions. Something big is in store for the city of Buriram.

Love,

Elder Ridings