July 24, 2015

Hi All,

We will get better at letter writing. This letter is way to long for you to read, but we will just hit the highlights next week.

We hope you saw our transfer video. https://youtu.be/_7hxzp8bVtA

The pictures are members in Roi Et that remember mom and dad when they were there as missionaries.

Love you all.

Dear Family and friends,
We have been here in Thailand for 12 days although we feel we’ve lived a lifetime already.  The pace here is set at full speed every day all day.  I sometimes glance out the window here at the mission office and try to look for a break in the constant movement of people and taxis, buses and motorcycles but have failed to find one.
Our three new missionaries that we met in the MTC before coming here were due to arrive at 11:40 at night on Tuesday.  We were just leaving for the airport when we got a text message that said that Sister Mon’s visa was stamped wrong and they wouldn’t let her on the plane.  She had to return to the Provo MTC.  She is the sister from Burma that we fell in love with at the MTC.  She is so tiny but stood and bore her testimony to us on behalf of the saints in Burma.  She said at the very end of her testimony, this I know, this I know.  We were heartbroken and so was she that she couldn’t enter back into Thailand on the same Visa.  Everyone is working here to get her a new visa as soon as possible.  Because the other 2 missionaries wouldn’t leave Sister Mon alone they missed their flight to Thailand and were stuck in Los Angeles for 16 hours.
Early the next morning we left for the airport to pick up Sister Yang and Elder Noyce.  They were so tired and frazzled but just smiled from ear to ear.  Sister Yang must have hugged me a hundred times just like she did when we met in the MTC.  I love her.  She is amazing.   Elder Noyce is a great young man.  He is a big football player and looks like the line not just a linebacker.  He told us that he came here to work and he came here to be obedient.  Love him already!
We had to take them to get their bloodwork and work permits completed.  We had to have our own done as well.  Supposedly we can’t get our shipment from home until we have a work permit.  Here is hoping.  I can’t wait for our family pictures.  Right now we have nothing on the walls.  We have a few pictures we show when introducing ourselves.   Everyone here loves the red hair. And also the big blue eyes of the grandkids.
We had the new missionaries making street contacts their first day.  It is amazing to go anywhere with our missionaries here.  It takes an hour to go 5 minutes away because they literally stop and talk to absolutely everyone.  They ask them if they would like to have their sins washed away or if they would like to know about Jesus Christ or if they would like to come to church with them or would you like to be truly happy in life.  Sister Yang, our new sister missionary was incredible.  She would start talking to someone and they would say no and keep walking and she would turn and walk with them and no matter what would give them a pass-a-long card with the directions to the church and the phone number of the missionaries on it.  If they refused to take the card she would set it in their cart or on their books they carried or slide it in the window where they were working.  I was impressed at her “no fear” attitude.  They had a great example to follow on the way home from the airport that morning.  Our AP’s are incredible.  Elder Arne actually rolled down the window when we were at a stoplight (which take F O R E V E R to change) and talked to a motorcyclist and actually got his phone number and gave him a pass-a-long card.  They had 4 more baptisms again yesterday, one of which Dad taught on his first splits with the AP’s.
We finally made it home later that night and had to finish preparing dinner for the new missionaries, AP’s and Office Elders.  I cannot believe how much the Elders can eat.  They are always always hungry.  We had the new missionary training the next day.  I think it went well.  We definitely will do better with each one.
Transfer meeting.  Any return missionary reading this needs only the one word “Transfer” to get their mind to reflect on their mission and what a terrific day this is every 6 weeks. (Please watch the video we posted.)
When Kelly and I walked in it was amazing to feel the energy in the room.  It was like we had to cut a path in the excitement to get through.  It became very contagious.
We started with the new missionaries coming in to roaring applause and a standing ovation.  Called To Serve was the opening song.  I had practiced and practiced that Hymn in Thai and felt pretty confident until the missionaries broke the speed limit with how fast they sang it.  I managed about the last word of a phrase and got a fourth way through the chorus when they began a whole new verse.  ENERGY!!
We had the joping or leaving missionaries recognized next.  Sister Black and a Khon Thai sister named Sister Sumitraa  were recognized by their previous companions and trainers or trainees.  I was amazed at how emotional we were with the tributes after only knowing them for less than a week.  I feel we loved all the missionaries before we even arrived here.  We have prayed for them and prayed to love them since we first received our call.
Next we introduce the new missionaries which included us.  You have to say everything in Thai.  Your name, where you are from, and what you like and then everyone claps and carries on like you said the most amazing thing.  Which if you think about it, anything I can actually say in Thai is amazing.
I spoke first about the difference between sacrifice and consecration, when Ammon was teaching King Lamoni about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I compared King Lamoni being willing to give up all he “possessed” (material things) to him being willing to give up all his sins (his will) to know the one true God.
Dad spoke next.  The missionaries absolutely love him already.  He talked a little about the history of the church in Thailand and the translation of the Book of Mormon by Sister C.  He said was it mere chance that every needful thing fell into place so the Book of Mormon could be translated and the gospel shared in Thailand in their language?  No.  The Savior is hastening the work of Salvation in every nation and every land and every tongue and to every people.
Before starting the actual transfer Kelly projected on the screen the top 5 reasons why he thought his first week in Thailand was successful. This included a keeping a pace so rigorous that he wore the APs out. Dad got a good picture of them sleeping on the plane. The Assistants have vowed, “Game On” and are going to find a way to get President Johnson back.  They have seen the Papa J for Life T-shirts so I am somewhat worried.  Don’t be surprised Jalynn if you get an email from them asking for a file marked Papa J.  (But don’t give it to them).
I will try to have dad send a video clip of the Tim Tam Slam.  Needless to say Dad was a hit.
I will have all of you kids know this though…two sisters bought me a plastic apple and a  plastic strawberry to sit on my counter in the kitchen here.  So fake fruit is a big deal here.  Everyone can hardly wait until our shipment arrives with my ceramic pineapple.   So take that!
We left the transfer meeting with the AP’s and Sister Black.  We had dinner with Sister Black and Sister Lor and Sister Yang.  Dad calls it “Girls night out” and he survived.  He actually loved it.  We laughed so much.  They were so funny.  They would lean across the table and ask questions like “ what do you do to relieve stress?”, and other random questions and then would make us promise to drink Coca yen or coca ban.  A chocolate drink poured over ice or blended ice.  They were positive it was the cure for anything and everything.  I actually had two sisters bring me one today here at the office.  They wanted selfies of me drinking it with them.  Shockingly I don’t care for the drink at all.  I know I am a death by chocolate kind of girl but it didn’t do much for me.  We took Sister Black home with us to sleep for a very short time before her flight home.
We took Sister Black to the airport at 3:30 the next morning.  See why we never sleep here?  It was actually as hard to watch her leave as it was to watch her and her companion say goodbye after dinner.  (that was heart breaking).  And we have to do this every 6 weeks, but we also get to have new missionaries every six weeks.
Saturday dad had a stake Leadership meeting.  He spoke with Elder Woo and Elder Khanakham.
I took the subway for the first time here and went with 2 Sister Training Leaders from the Din Daeng  district.  They made me breakfast and we did companion study together.  I love them.  They helped me with my Thai and helped me get the most out of my own personal study time as well.  The sisters have an awesome approach when it comes to street contacting.  They try to help people first, like pull grocery carts into the elevator for people or one sister held a wheelchair for a girl with broken toes while her friends helped her into the chair, and then they start telling them who they are and what missionaries do and then they ask them if they would like to come to church with them.  Everyone listens to them because they were so nice to help them first.  I was impressed and vowed to always be kind and to always be fearless when sharing the gospel.
Sunday we made it to church at the Thonburi branch.  We both had to speak in sacrament meeting again.  I think this is something we just need to plan on each week.   I spoke in Thai again.  I think they just like the fact that I at least try to speak their language.  I went to Gospel Principles class and then to Relief Society.  I am amazed at how many sisters and obviously men there are that are single.  I pray we can set a good example and teach them how important it is to be married and have a family and to want to be with them forever.  Dad tried to go to Sunday
School but members wanted to do their temple recommend interviews while he was there.  He said I can do it after church but they said oh no that is when we eat, do it during Sunday School.  After church they had a huge spread laid out of Thai food.  We brought a lunch and had no intention of eating their food but they insisted.  Before we knew it we had a bowl of hot rice in our hands and we were eating a little of everything there.  I prayed that if I didn’t offend them that I wouldn’t get sick because of the food.  It worked.  Neither of us got sick.  I did hide a few questionable things under my rice like fish most likely not cooked and some kind of a hot dog thing in the middle of a soft roll.  I finished and thought I was good and then they handed us a huge bowl of coconut milk with fruit in it and huge black beans.  Oh well I ate it all.  We are so busy here that we don’t ever eat on our own so I pretty much try everything that is offered because I am so hungry.  It is funny but it is so hot here that after we walk home we are drenched in sweat and dehydrated and the last thing we want to do is eat dinner.
I was doing dishes after the luncheon while Kelly was helping the Elders with an investigator.  The sisters were so nervous that I was doing dishes and would take turns coming over and trying to get me to stop.  I told them in my broken Thai that I had 4 daughters and 1 son and this is what I always do.  One sister said “you are very good example”.  I will do dishes every time, you can count on it.
Tonight is Family Home Evening with the Senior couples in the office and dinner is Banana Splits.  No complaint!
We had a welcome party here at the office today for lunch.  The Thai people have parties for everything.  I swear we have already had at least four welcome parties here already.  Today we combined with a Birthday.  This sister is Thai and she said she couldn’t believe she was turning 40.  She did not look a day over 22.  I have the hardest time deciding how old the Thai people are.  When they are old they age quickly though and look much older than they are.  Doesn’t seem quite fair but they just work so hard every day and have such hard lives that it takes its toll.
I’ve got to quit writing this novel (Dad Halstead).  I will start doing a condensed version of an email for the faint of heart and a comprehensive version for my journal entries and for family.  There is honestly so much that happens in one day that I find myself asking Kelly all the time, “what day is it?”  Time and days just seem to blend together.
We leave tomorrow to fly to Roi Et.  We will try to visit with some of Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s old friends on Sunday after we meet with several districts and the missionaries serving there.
In short, ha ha, we love it here.  We love our missionaries they are far above any expectations we may have had coming to this mission.  We’re feeling very blessed these days and can’t help but wonder if Heavenly Father has favorites.
Love you all so much!  We love hearing from you!  You are always in our prayers.
Mom and Dad