Chiang Mai, Thailand
Week #84 - January 12-18, 1975 - Ayuthaya and Chiang Mai, Thailand
Elder Haslam on the porch of the Elder's residence accross the street from Wat Lam Chang in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Sunday January 12th was my last day in Ayuthaya, Thailand, the ancient capitol of Siam. At Sunday school we had 3 Islam boys, Sister Duangtaa, Sister Hunsa, Brother Bunja and a few other girls from local colleges. Sister Duangtaa the new Sunday School instructor taught her first lesson. She taught of the apostasy and the restoration. After church I gave out two dozen small portraits of myself to my friends with a short message on the back. I wrote, "my time in Ayuthaya has been the most productive time of my entire mission in terms of proselyting.
After our mid-afternoon meal we taught Hasagawa for the final time. We discussed the commandments we keep. The only one he fully agreed with was the law of chastity.
At 8pm our landlady gave Elder Pace and I a big party with cake and ice cream. The landlady and the maid gave us each a necktie.
On Monday January 13th the Elder's apartment at Egamai was "Grand Central Station" in the transfers of the day. That night the Sisters in my district and I took a tour bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. They showed up at the bus terminal looking like a couple of tourists and not missionaries. I wondered, "What am I getting myself into"? We stopped in Nakorn Sawan for a snack at midnight. Half asleep, I picked up a coup of what I thought was water and drank it. Sister Mumford said, "Do you always drink tea"? I hope she was joking. Good think they passed out blankets, since it got rather cold on the bus.
After breakfast we had district meeting. I wrote, "Wow a district of six can sure get out of hand if they start goofing off and it appears that Elder Mahler and Sister Mumford are professional goof offs". The city is pretty with some large hills around it.
The next day was no better. The Sisters came for breakfast and gospel study and again things got out of hand. Water and food was even thrown around the dining area. I felt bad that the maid would have to clean it up. I wrote, "Was I sent here to learn how to goof-off, rather than be in the office doing things that I already knew how to do"? I wrote, "How am I going to get them to stop this behavior, after all Elder Mahler is also a zone leader and has 3 months more experience than I do".
On Thursday we went to Lampang for a Zone Leader visit after breakfast. I wondered if we stayed for breakfast so that Elder Mahler could goof-off some more with the Sisters. That evening I had a good time working with Elder Maw. We actually taught parts of three discussions. The next morning we had a meeting with them to set some goals. Elder Woodard (of my group) took every suggestion as criticism. Ouch, that was not fun.
Friday night we had to escort the Sisters home after a street meeting. It was 20 minutes out to their home and 15 minutes back. The problem was after we got there Elder Mahler insisted on staying for a while. Again this upset me, but I kept quiet. We returned home after midnight. How am I going to deal with this companion?
On Saturday Elder Mahler took me to meet some of his contacts. What a bunch of dead-beats. Elder Mahler was also here early in his mission and even looks up contacts from that time 20 months ago.
Week #85 - January 19-25, 1975 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
After meetings on Sunday my tuunkey companion Elder Mahler said "We should not go out tonight but rather we should have a district gospel study meeting". I didn't feel this was right but I did not feel like challenging him. As it turned out not a word was said about the gospel, but rather Mahler led the group in talking about marriage! I wrote, "I've got to find a way to muzzle Elder Mahler, I've got to try to do it".
In Chiang Mai we had a Chinese member who served as branch president! Together with 7 active members this was perhaps the 5th biggest branch in the country (measured by active members).
On P-day (Monday) Elder Mahler organized district athletics - football Elders vs. Sisters. Now Sister Mumford was a tomboy type and her companion Sister Stokes was an icky sweet gal. Thus you can see that these two Sisters were total opposites. The sisters' won - it was crazy as neither team could tackle the other!
On Tuesday I led district meeting and suggested (in as nice a way as possible) that we needed to get down to missionary work and stop all the goofing around. Everyone seemed to agree that the prior week was not as serious as it should be except Sister Mumford who said, "I thought that last week was the most fun ever!" My opinion of these Sister missionaries at this point was very low. In the evening the branch president who joined the church in Hong Kong took us all out to dinner to celebrate the birth of his first child (a Chinese tradition). We had all kinds of strange food - frog legs and other stuff!
After dinner I had to run and get the bus for Bangkok, as I had to make my 7th trip to Cambodia. The bus ride was my first time alone without any companions. The bus was noisy and I got little sleep. After going to Cambodia and buying some stuff there I rode a much nicer bus back to Chiang Mai.
On Thursday we flew to Chiang Rai ($28.50 for two tickets). It's ½ hour by air but 7 hours by bus. In this city I accompanied Elder Ricks to travel a way outside town to visit a member family. Brother Surasit and his family had been members for 2 years now. Prior to joining the church he was a minister for the Church of Christ in Thailand. After joining the church he had no income. He'd tried many things but nothing had worked. Elder Ricks was to tell him that the church could no longer support him and his family. We held family home evening with them and then Elder Ricks shared the news. He responded that he'd return to the work of the ministry and leave our church. This was a tough moment - to see one of the few full active families in the church in Thailand embark on the road to inactivity or more likely apostasy. We also met a Thai who lived in a huge nice home and found that he worked for the U.S. drug enforcement agency. He was working on stopping the opium trade in the area. Much of the world's opium comes from this area of Thailand and nearby Laos and Burma. The long bus ride home was OK because of the scenery and talking to a protestant who told me about his efforts share Christ with the Hill Tribes people. These people are kind of like the American Indians. They are the ancient inhabitants of the area where they now live scattered throughout the hills. Sadly much of their income is derived from opium.
Week #86 - January 26 - February 1, 1975 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
I noted that we had a more traditional meeting schedule in Chiang Mai. We had priesthood and Sunday school in the morning and then had sacrament meeting at 5pm. I continued to let Elder Mahler lead out and generally waste time. We had lunch at a restaurant after Sunday school where I wrote, "We wasted a lot of time". Elder Mahler did commit an investigator to baptism on February 22 - but I wrote "I don't think it will happen - he's really not ready". Mahler just wants a baptism before he goes home. The dumbest thing of the day was an evening visit to have a debate with a protestant guy from the southern United States. He had the invitation and I guess it was Mahler who figured - "sounds like fun". The minister had given us a list of questions to answer. All he really did was insult Joseph Smith and call the Book of Mormon "not worth as much as a Sears catalog".
On P-day we went up in the hills around Chiang Mai to see the Doi Su Theep Buddhist temple and the "Hill Tribes" that live beyond the temple. The temple is one of the most famous and revered in Thailand. There was much gold used in its decoration and it sits on the ridge of a large hill outside of Chiang Mai. You can think of these hill tribes as American Indians. They are the primitive original inhabitants of the area. The American Indian is hooked to alcohol, while the Hill Tribes of Thailand raise opium.
I was District Leader and Branch Clerk so I had lots of reports to do. On Thursday we visited the small city of Lumphoon about 40 miles from Chiang Mai where 2 Elders labored. The city had been open for a year and was so small that Elder's who worked there complained they've all visited every home in the area. The current residents had the same story to tell. We went out tracting with them but found nothing to write home about.
On Friday and Saturday we had to prepare for the north district conference to be held Sunday. We had to get a tent, as we'd meet outside. We also had to rent chairs for the audience. The provincial government loaned us the tent and my journal records that the Buddhist temple next door loaned us the chairs. My companion along with Elder Hanks and Elder Cropper (a green missionary) decided it was also time to throw me in the fishpond, which they did while I was still in my work clothes. Mahler could not quit clowning around.
Week #87, February 2-8, 1975 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
At 6:00 AM Sunday morning the A.P.'s jumped the front gate and conference day was underway. The meeting was held outside on the lawn. At the Buddhist temple next door they were playing rock music as competition. I asked them to turn it down but their response was "we're a religion too". I was about to say "and it's clear what kind of religion you are", but I resisted. We had dinner catered by the restaurant where we ate each night. It was good to eat with the members and take some pictures. While President Morris was in town for conference he interviewed all of us. I had lots of questions for him. The Northern District president was an American who worked at the satellite facility in Lampang.
Here are the questions I had for President Morris and the answers he gave me:
(1) How do I get my district to cut down on all the goofing off? "Tell them nicely".
(2) It does not seem right to have breakfast and gospel study with the sisters. What do you think? "Yes don't do that any more".
(3) How do I get my companion to focus on missionary work? "Keep him busy".
All he asked me was "How do you like Chiang Mai"?
President Morris took the 6PM flight back to Bangkok. The A.P.s went with us to a street meeting and then took the 8:30 PM bus back to Bangkok.
On Monday members came to help us plan an open house. I was ready but the only other participants were the members. The other Elders and Sisters were absent (had not ended P-day). Finally after some time they joined in but nothing got done. Elder Mahler and Sister Mumford looked at each other - saying you take charge. We ended up arguing about what to do. We then had to take the chairs back that we had borrowed for District Conference and then tried to hold a street meeting that was worthless!
On Tuesday we had our weekly district meeting. The argument from last night continued. Sister Mumford told me I had a bad attitude when I said we'd not hold the open house as scheduled because there was not enough time. She said that was like telling the members I had no faith in them. I did not realize it at the time but was told later that she called me a "bitch". She was the kind of gal. She could really gross you out if she wanted to! I then instructed the district that we needed to cut down on the goofing off. All agreed except Sister Mumford who thought that we had been doing great!
Elder Haslam on a bridge overlooking the Chao Phraya River in Pitsanuloke, Thailand
I followed this up by personal interviews with the sister missionaries. Sister Stokes said she could not wait to get away from Mumford - they are just too different. AMEN I thought. Sister Mumford criticized my negative attitude and lack of organization. In any case I felt better after these interviews.
On Wednesday we worked in Chiang Mai until 5pm when we got on the train for the trip to the most distant district Pitsanuloke (called the Pit for short). We arrived there at 12:30 AM and went to the Elder's home. We spent the next day working with the 4 Elders in the Pit. I helped teach a sister who was later baptized. The next day after a morning meeting we took several buses home. We stopped in Tak to see if the city looked like we might send Elders there. I was not impressed. The bus ride from Tak to Chiang Mai was reckless; we were glad we arrived alive!
On Saturday the District President Brother Schlap took us to a German restaurant in Chiang Mai to thank us for all the help with district conference last Sunday. Yes Chiang Mai is big and international enough to have a German restaurant. Elder Mahler was trunked out by it!
Week #88 - February 9-15, 1975 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
The meetings in the Chiang Mai branch were good and the participation of the local Thai members was quite good. We taught a young man named Udom and my turnkey companion challenged him to be baptized on February 22nd. I thought to myself there is NO WAY he can be ready by then.
Sunday night the sisters left for Bangkok. Sister Mumford was transferred out and Sister Korani (Sister Srilaksana's daughter) was coming up to be Sister Stokes' companion. I was happy to see Sister Mumford departing!
On P-day we saw 2 movies Airport 1975 (shot in the Rocky Mountains) and James Bond "The Man with the Golden Gun" (shot in Thailand). These were the best movies of my mission seen all in one day. Tuesday was Chinese New Year and many people had the day off. The Sisters had not returned by Wednesday so we called President Morris who informed us that Sister Stokes had a kidney stone removed and thus they would not be coming to Chiang Mai for a while.
Elder Cropper secretly recorded our district meeting and during it changed the subject to the fact that Sister Stokes' setting apart promised she would find her husband on her mission. They started kidding me that I was the one, so to move things along I stood and like President Nixon said "I am the One" (repeated 3 times). As you can see the joking around would just not end!
Later that day we went to a class of Sister Nongpanga's on Christianity at the University of Chiang Mai. The instructor knew basic Christian doctrine pretty well but he did make fun of the idea of Christ as the Savior.
Elder Haslam getting a "sheep brain baed" rabies shot.
On Valentines Day we went to visit Lumpang and to work with the Elder's there. A local member gave Elder Mahler and I a rose (in lieu of a kiss). At dusk I got kissed all right! By a DOG! The bite was just a bit above the ankle. The bite didn't seem like much so I didn't grab the dog. I soon learned however that it did puncture the skin and now I was looking at Rabies shots because this area of Northern Thailand is one of the most rabies infected areas of the whole world. Later we visited and taught a whole family. That was neat. Afterwards they told us how to be a good Thai you had to be a good Buddhist. Thus I could tell that they were not listening to know the truth.
Returning to Chiang Mai on Saturday we found the branch family home evening in progress and really well attended with 20-30 people. We showed a movie about the American West, which we got the U.S. information services. It talked about the Mormon trek west. We then talked about the early history of the church and the Book of Mormon. I also received a telegram "Don't eat yellow snow!" This was in reference to the dog bite.
Week #89 - February 16-22, 1975 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
On Sunday we started to look into getting rabies shots. We learned that there are 14 shots each 2cc's. 0.1% of the people that take them get encephalitis. Since I had 10 days to start the treatments we decided to come back to the hospital the next day when the doctor that Elder Mahler was acquainted with would be there. President Morris told us to just get the shots so we decided that I'd start on Monday. I asked the doctor if there were different kinds of vaccines. He said "no just one". I thought for sure that I'd heard of new ones. We got pictures of my first shot of "sheep brain base Rabies vaccine". The shot goes just under the skin in the stomach area. It was quite painless. Tuesday and its shot #2 the nurse says she gives about 8 rabies shots per day. We visited the Protestant ministers again for another debate. This time we pinned them down on salvation for the dead. They had to take the position that those who don't hear the gospel on earth are damned. We talked of our doctrine that this would deny them God's love and thus he provides a way for them. Having won this battle they turned again to disproving Joseph Smith. This was our last debate with them. On Wednesday the APs came from Bangkok. They told us that Lumphoon (the small town about 40 miles distant) was to be closed in March. They told us to plan a zone conference for the 1st week in March and get them plane tickets to another city they would go to check out to open up. We then had to get my 3rd shot and tell the sister's landlord that they'd be moving in the middle of March. Thursday we got shot #4 and then took the plane to Chiang Rai. Elder Ricks and I again had the assignment to go tell Brother Surasit that he'd not get any more assistance from the church - I guess he kept hoping the decision would change. He responded that in God's true church members help each other. He again told us he'd return to work for the Protestants. So this night in a humble home with candle light in far off Chiang Rai Thailand a whole family left the church. After meeting with the Elders in the morning we went tot the Hospital to get shot #5. We had taken vaccine from Chiang Mai with us just in case. Our vaccine was frozen in the refrigerator so they used theirs after a surgeon assumed me it would be OK. The nurse wanted me to pull-up my shirt, back then we had one piece garments and that just doesn't work so I had to explain that I'd have to take off my shirt before she could give us the shot. On the 7-hour bus ride home we were stopped for a drug check. Some hill tribe's ladies were searched for opium and then let back on the bus. Saturday was shot #6 at Suan Dog Hospital - I joked perhaps it is called Suan Dog Hospital because it deals well with lots of dog bites. Saturday evening Elder Mahler took me tracting "tailor's shops". My heart wasn't in it; while his was in Salt Lake City.
Week #90 - February 23- March 1, 1975 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
Sunday meetings with our few stalwart members were great. It was then customary for everyone to go to Dared's café for lunch. They had great fruit drinks. In retrospect it was customary that when the maid's had Sunday off we'd go out for lunch on Sundays. Strange huh?
On Monday P-day we went to the Hospital for my 8th Rabies shot. I told the nurse that I'd had a headache for 24 hours now and it was not going away. She said I should talk to the local Rabies specialist - an American doctor - to see what he thought I should do. The American doctor was not in but we received a 2:30 P.M. appointment. We ran some errands and then came back to the hospital to meet Dr. Nelson. He was in Chiang Mai because his specialty is Rabies and this area has a high occurrence of Rabies! He confirmed that there are 2 Rabies vaccines - one sheep brain based and the other egg based. The newer egg based vaccine is more expensive but has far less side effects. He told me the headaches may be related to the vaccine and maybe not. Reactions usually occur between the 7th and 12th day. He said my next symptom would be blurred vision if I were having a bad reaction to the sheep brain based vaccine. Sometimes the brain damage it causes is reversible; but most of the time it is not. He told me to take it easy and come back in the morning and get the first egg-based shot. He told me not to worry about mixing the two because he was the doctor that proved they could be used together. He said when I was done with all 14 shots that they would do a blood test to make sure the level of anti-bodies was high enough to prevent my coming down with the disease. We returned home to write letters. I told Mom in my letter that day that I had some headaches and that it was a possible reaction to the vaccine.
On Tuesday we returned to see Dr. Nelson, he gave me the first egg-based shot in the arm. He asked how I was doing. I told him that there was little change since yesterday. He said "Good! If you make it through 2-3 more days you will be fine". In the evening we received a call from Sister Korani who said that Sister Stokes had been hit by a motorcycle. She's bleeding so please come quickly. She gave us an address so we ran out for a small taxi to take us to the accident scene. Now I had 2 headaches! As usual an address in Thailand may not help much. When we arrived there was nothing and none of the people said they saw an accident! So we went to the nearby hospital. No one at the hospital knew of an American in an accident. So we went to Suan Dog hospital where I get my shots - my head was pounding at this point. No one there had heard of an accident involving an American. Next we went to the police station. They knew nothing. As we were leaving the police station we found Sister Stokes and Sister Korani coming in. Sister Stokes was bruised and shaken up and the front wheel of her bicycle was all bent up. We filed an accident report and then went to Suan Dog hospital to have her checked out.
On Wednesday we returned again to Suan Dog hospital to see Dr. Nelson. I told him my headaches were not gone but they were no worse. He said, "I think you'll be fine". The police determined that Sister Stokes was in the wrong and would have to pay for the damage to the motorcycle.
On Thursday Dr. Nelson was more confident that even if the headaches were caused by the sheep brain vaccine that I'd suffer no major brain loss. The settlement for the accident amounted to a bit over $100 for Sister Stokes. Best of all no one was seriously hurt.
The brick and plater font at the Elders residence
A father who had been a member of the Catholic church prepares to baptize his daughters.
On Saturday we prepared for a father in the branch to baptize his two children. Outside someone had built a font of bricks above ground level. It was situated under a flowering tree. We cleaned it out. After breakfast we returned to the font to see how the filling was going. There was but ½" of water in it. The hose had stopped running. My headache had continued and now we had yet another headache! Elder Mahler remembered that there was a well in the vacant lot next door. So we proceeded to bucket water from the well to fill the font. We got just enough water for the small children to be baptized. Brother Somchai was a Priest (he should have been an Elder but one thing the mission did poorly was bring the local brethren along in the Priesthood). He was happy in the end for his family. Prior to joining our church he had been Catholic. His daughters still attended the Catholic school even though they told all their friends they were now Mormons.
Week #91 - March 2-8, 1975 - Chiang Mai Thailand
On Sunday my headache seemed to be diminished, not gone, but better. I wrote on my daily planning card - "today ends the worst week of my life". After Priesthood and Sunday school in the morning we went for lunch and then to the hospital for my last rabies shot. Dr. Nelson gave it to me and took a large vial of blood to test it to see if my Rabies anti-body level was high enough that I'd beat the disease if in fact I had contracted it. Then we went to see the Queen of Thailand who was dedicating a new statue in front of the hospital to the father of modern medicine in Thailand. As she departed in her limousine she passed right in front of us. I could tell from her smile that she knew Elder Mahler and I were missionaries for the LDS church. Later on Sunday after sacrament meeting we held a fireside where we played a game of answering questions about the church that went real well.
On P-day I made out the district report, February was a bad month for proselyting given my dog bite, Elder Mahler's trunkiness and Sister Stokes' bicycle accident. After that I had to do the branch monthly financial report. Branches have much more paperwork than groups. I wrote, "I've really been glad that I had my patriarchal blessing which stated that I'd have abundant good health throughout my life. I've really had to rely on and have faith in it to pull me through this difficult period. This ordeal has made me much more appreciative of my patriarchal blessing". On Tuesday I wrote, "My headaches finally went away - yes they gave up and were gone!" On Thursday I wrote "today was the day for Elder Mahler to completely trunk out. He had no ambition for anything." While Elder Mahler slept in the afternoon I played an LDS game with a couple of the members. I got to know them much better. [Note: After returning home I even dated Sister Nongphanga. She was staying with the Beard family who lived in Midvale (not far from the home Mom and I eventually purchased in Midvale). On one date we played tennis at Hillcrest High school].
We visited Dr. Nelson at Suan Dog hospital he told me that my rabies antibodies look fine and so the Rabies chapter in my life is now over! He added that the King had pneumonia and that they needed blood tests from the University of Utah. Elder Mahler was to take a vile of the King's blood home to Utah for testing! He was going to Germany on the way home so someone else in his group would have to take it to Utah. He was to leave Sunday. Saturday we tried to tract but it was a joke, Mahler wanted to shop instead. Elder Mahler did take us all out to dinner that night. We had banana splits.
Week # 92 - March 9-15, 1975 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
We had good meetings on Sunday and then at 8PM we were off for Bangkok - Elder Mahler to return home and I to pick up my new companion. Earlier we picked up a vile of the King's blood from Dr. Nelson at the Hospital. He had prepared a letter for the doctors at the U Med center in Salt Lake. The blood was dried so that it would not spoil. I carried the blood on the bus in my shirt pocket. We arrived in the big city at 6am. We ran over to the Morris' for Elder Mahler's going home interview. There I learned that Elder Mongkol a native Thai (the 4th to serve as a missionary) would be my companion. That was exciting - he was a language teacher in Hawaii. Elder Mongkol had been serving as zone leader in the Central zone. Elder Mahler and some other Elders went home one week prior to the standard transfers. In the evening President Morris picked up Mongkol and my self to travel to Sumut Bragan (Bangkok suburb) to visit a family that was taught by Mongkol who had joined the church. President Morris wanted to issue a call to this brother - probably to be a member of the central district presidency.
Elder Mongkol and Elder Haslam
On Tuesday morning we returned to Chiang Mai and held district meeting. Elder Mongkol had not slept well on the bus ride to the north. I was now district leader (as well as zone leader) of a district with 2 Thai missionaries Elder Mongkol and Sister Korani. It was a delight to take the sisters home without goofing off! I got excited as Mongkol told me how he looks for families to teach. I also became self-conscious about the quality of my Thai language - after all I was now companions with my teacher!
Wednesday night we traveled to Pitsanuloke for a ZL visit. The train ride through the mountains was just beautiful. On this visit I worked with Elder Slater (who year later served as Mission President in Bangkok (2000-2003). We visited a nurse at the hospital who told me I looked pale. So she gave me a blood test and yes my red count was low. We also had some good teaching experiences. One was with Euphin who as on the 4th discussion (she was baptized in June).
On Friday the transfer letter arrived. I was sure I'd finish my mission with Mongkol as Zone Leaders in the North. I was getting excited about what he and I might be able to do in 3 months. Then my plans were changed. I was going back to the dirty big city to work on the translation committee. I'd miss Mongkol, the water festival in the country (where its fun) and the Zone conference that Elder Mahler and I had planned. I was rather distraught as I hate unexpected changes. I was so excited to have Mongkol to be my new companion; I had a lot of respect for him. At that moment I could not see anything great about going back to Bangkok. Years later I came to realize what a wonderful and truly special experience I was about to have working with Sister Srilaksana on finishing the translation of the Book of Mormon and doing other translation work.
During the week Elder Mongkol and I were walking down the street in Chiang Mai when he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into a store. Elder Mongkol "What do you need to buy"? He responded, "Nothing Elder Haslam. I saw my cousin down the street walking toward us and I didn't want to speak with her and explain what I'm doing here". We'll now that's pretty strange I thought.