You are a missionary "...called of God..." and encouraged to "respect the local customs and traditions where you are laboring." (Missionary Handbook, pp. 7, 12-13) Therefore, it is important that you know and understand the customs and traditions of
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. The King and the Queen are highly respected by the people of Thailand. Never criticize the King or any member of the royal family. There are laws against such behavior. Do not disrespectfully treat, step on, or sit on a picture or poster of the King or queen. When the King's anthem is played in a public place, stand up as a measure of respect. Never leave before the anthem starts or until it is finished. In many areas, the national anthem is played over radios and loudspeakers. When the anthem is played, pause and face the flag. Treat the Thai flag respectfully and do not let it touch the ground.
2. About ninety-four percent of all Thais are Buddhists who worship the many Buddha images. These images have been cast in order to preside over their various religious ceremonies. Buddhists of all ages deeply revere and cherish these images. It is, therefore, strictly forbidden to abuse these images in any manner. Do not touch, climb on, sit on, or make negative comments about any Buddhist religious object, image, practice or culture. Do not stand by a Buddhist image and make light of it by striking a pose with arms or fingers uplifted. Do not sit on a Buddhist image, lean against it, substitute your head for its absent head or any similar action. In
Thailand it is a crime to criticize the Buddhist religion, even by implication. In the past, Elders in this mission were imprisoned for such conduct. The utmost caution and respect must be observed whenever you are around any type of Buddhist image, artifact, or idol.
3. When older people sit on the floor, do not sit on chairs or anything else higher than them. It is appropriate to sit on cushions but not on sleeping pillows. When sitting on chairs or couches, do not sit with legs spread widely apart and do not sit cross-legged by placing one ankle on the opposite knee. Do not shake or wriggle your foot. Do not expose the bottom of your foot to anothers view. Do not use your foot to point or open a door.
4. The head should be treated respectfully and the foot should be kept away from the head. Never touch the head or shoulder of another. Do not throw or pass things over anyone's head. The foot should not be pointed at any object or be used to open a door.
5. Avoid stamping your feet on the floor. Those who pass the sacrament should walk quietly and respectfully. Walk quietly up and down stairs during meetings.
6. Fingernails should not be clipped in public. All personal grooming should be taken care of in private. If necessary to pick your teeth in public, always cover the mouth with the opposite hand.
7. When you are served water it would be impolite to refuse. If you are unsure of the quality of the water, pretend to sip a little to acknowledge their graciousness.
8. When eating food offered by members or investigators eat modest amounts of food. Thais sometimes respond to a clean plate by feeling obligated to offer more food, even when they cannot afford it.
9. Personal dress and grooming standards should be in accordance with your calling as a representative of Jesus Christ. Thais are very aware of behavior and appearance. Hair should be neatly combed, shoes should be shined and hands and face clean. Bathe daily and always use deodorant.
10. "Conduct yourself with quiet dignity and avoid loud speaking...." (Missionary Handbook, p.14) Do not whistle or snap your fingers on the street or on buses. Do not spit.
11. Licking stamps in public is not acceptable. Sponge water wells are provided at all post offices.
12. Carry tennis shoes, towels, gym clothes, etc. in a bag.
13. It is improper to wear long-sleeve shirts with the sleeves rolled up.
14. Thais show respect in two areas: people, and things. They are called, puuchaniiyabukkhon (respectable people, such as teachers and monks) and puuchaneeyasathaan (respectable places, such as the King's palace, monasteries, and temples). Thais have a high attitude toward these respectable people because of the good role that they play in their lives. Teachers teach them worldly knowledge and monks teach them spiritual knowledge. These people also set good examples for them. As a messenger of the gospel, you deserve their respect. Respect brings about faith and trust. Your appearance and conduct should be respectable and dignified.
15. When entering a room or an area where there are many age levels of people, the elderly and adults should be acknowledged. Then proceed to talk to the younger people.
16. Thais are brought up differently than people of western societies. One of the most important and visible characteristics of Thai society is the reserved relationship between young men and young women. Do not tease or play with members of the opposite gender. Any business with members of the opposite gender should be conducted quietly and professionally. Always be aware of the impressions you give. Nicknames should never be used. These may carry romantic connotations and are improper. In addition, members should not call you by your first name or by a nickname. They may need to be reminded that your name is Elder or Sister. Avoid relationships that are not dignified or worthy of your call as a missionary. Greet all members and investigators when they come to church and make them feel welcome. However, do not sit by investigators or members of the opposite gender.
17. Unless you are a branch president, don't get involved in the personal lives of the members. Members should be advised to counsel with their priesthood authority. Every effort should be taken to encourage dependence upon on their priesthood leaders and fellow members rather than the missionaries. Never loan money or promise financial assistance from you or the church to members or investigators.
18. Before participating in any activities with members or investigators, missionaries should determine if their actions will strengthen the members testimonies and contribute to the progression of the church.
19. Members should be encouraged to fellowship and take a special interest in investigators.
20. Missionaries should wai people of his own age or older and it is acceptable towai them first. Younger people should be allowed to wai missionaries first. Missionaries should wai investigators and in most cases, members will wai the missionaries first. Waiing is usually done at the level of your mouth.
21. Missionaries should address investigators as brother and sister as soon as is appropriate .
22. Always use proper language and do not use slang or idioms. When speaking to people, look them in the eye and speak very politely.
The Church is growing rapidly in
Thailand because of the tremendous efforts of missionaries. In the sight of the Thai people, missionaries are teachers of religion and are admirable and deserving of respect. It is important to conduct yourself with quiet dignity, to display proper manners and to respect Thai customs.