Monday, December 30, 2013

"Sister Hughes, I have a dilemma...I really need to feed the ducklings."

Me, Ree and Sister Woodbury

One of the highlights of this past week was getting a phone call from Elder Wheeler. He was totally desperate. I answered the phone and he goes, "SISTER HUGHES. I have a dilemma. See, there's a loaf of bread in the missionary closet (at the church) and there are ducks outside. Lots of little ducklings. Is this your bread? Because I really need to feed the ducklings." At this point I heard ducklings over the phone. I told him it wasn't my bread and sorry, I didn't know whose it was. But that he could probably use it.

I found out a few hours later that there were no ducklings. It was Elder Wood in the background making duck noises. Elder Wheeler was just really hungry and wanted to eat the bread.

And such is my life in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A life full of working really hard and of occasional pranking and of wearing sweaters all day long (IN THAILAND). It's a pretty good life.  :  )

This week I don't have much to report, since I just talked to you a few days ago. But I will share some of the highlights from this week because there are some pretty good ones.

On Christmas and the day after Christmas, some of the members took us to go Christmas caroling at some less active members' homes. It was really fun, sitting in a truck all together and singing Christmas music and getting to know them. That's what Christmas is really all about—it's about family and it's about Christ and it's about sharing the things that are the most precious to us. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my Christmas in Thailand. 

My favorite part was being on back roads, where the air was perfectly clear. It's nothing like Bangkok out here. You can see the stars at night. I can't remember the last time I saw the stars. It was before the MTC, though. It's the most wonderful feeling in the whole world. I've decided that the North of Thailand is like the West Coast. It's more laid back, more relaxed, cleaner, and it just feels like home up here. The North is my place. I feel more at home up here than I ever did in Bangkok, even though I left my heart in Saphaan Suung. I miss that place and my people! 

Also, a wonderful side note. Les got baptized yesterday. The Sisters who whitewashed into Saphaan Suung called me on Saturday but I didn't answer because we were teaching a lesson. I second guessed myself and thought, "What if they need something? Maybe I should take it really quick..." But I didn't. I wish I had! It was Les calling to tell me he had passed his baptismal interview. I was so sad that I didn't answer :( But it's okay because he got baptized. Elder Delagarza baptized him. I was told that he talked about me and Sister Zaugg in his testimony at his baptism.

Another wonderful moment was sitting in the back of a rot dang (a red song taew) with a group of Australian women. We told them about the church and then a bit about what we were doing in Chiang Mai and somehow we all ended up singing “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers together at the top of our lungs. This is what missions are made of. :) 

This week we also interacted with a very crazy old woman who bowed to me multiple times so that was interesting. 

A final thought before I attach some photos. I have been thinking a lot about Christ this week. I mean, we are supposed to remember Him always, right? But this week, He seemed to be on the forefront of my thoughts, a lot more than usual. And you know what? I am so grateful for Him. I was thinking about how one day I will be able to sit down with Him and just talk to Him. What would I want to ask Him? What would He ask me? How in the world would I ever be able to thank Him for all He has done for me, for my family, for everyone who has ever lived? 

I'm still working on my answers to those questions. I'll leave you to mull them over, too. It's wonderful to think about. 

I love you all to the moon and back times 698485 gagillion,

Sister Hughes

with Pang, Ree's daughter
Elder Delagarza, Les, Les’ uncle.
Thailand. The North is my place!
Dinner / Christmas Caroling 
Caroling and our transportation.

Thai flag Christmas lights.
Post-its were a popular (and great) Christmas gift.
So on Christmas I bought some sweaters . . . but I also thought it would be a good idea to buy myself some new crocs
that didn't have holes in the bottom of them. So here they are! The new and sparkly crocs : )
But literally. They're sparkly.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas in Chiang Mai 2013

Part of my district (missing a set of elders)
This email will be pretty brief, seeing as it is CHRISTMAS! And I just talked to you over SKYPE so you already know what's up.

Here is a brief update:
I got transferred! Leaving Saphaan Suung was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. It was unbelievably heart breaking. On Tuesday there was a great big dinner for the missionaries who were leaving and there were lots of tears (not on my part! I I tried so hard not to cry). And lots of hugs. And lots more hugs. After our dinner, Sister Zaugg and I went to get ice cream with Ploy and Jeep. And when we left them, all four of us cried. We promised we would see each other again and that we would be neighbors in heaven. Sister Zaugg and I cried all the way home.

Wednesday was transfers and I am training! My trainee is named Sister Woodbury. She is from North Carolina and so excited about being a missionary and working! It's great.

We are now in CHIANG MAI can I get a WHOOP WHOOP?! Chiang Mai is a beautiful city here in Thailand. I think I am okay with serving here :  )

The people here are wonderful. It's a slower pace up north than in Bangkok. It's family oriented and relaxed. Oh yeah—that and it's FREEZING COLD. Not a joke, Chaing Mai is cold. But I love it.

For Christmas my parents made me a wonderful wonderful gift. They collected all of their favorite talks and put them in a binder. It is something that means so much to me. I will always treasure it. In it, there is a talk from President Hinckley called "What shall I do with this Christ which is called Jesus?" It is a talk about what Christmas really means.

This year at Christmas, I am grateful for Christ. For His Atonement. For the Plan of Salvation that enables each person who has lived, is living, and will live, on this earth to live with our families and our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ forever. For the opportunity we have for everlasting happiness.

President Hinckley said this: "Let us live each day knowing we shall live forever."

And that has been what is running through my head this Christmas season. I get to live each day knowing that I have the opportunity to live forever and experience eternal happiness that will never end. So it's time to get out there and share it with everyone I meet. That is the best gift of Christmas.

I love you all and Merry Christmas,

Sister Hughes

- - - - - - - - - - - - 
** Mama Hughes here. Sister Syd looks great and sounds great. She is happy. One of the many fun facts from Sister Hughes during our skype call – a woman (Marie from Africa) who was in Syd’s ward in Paris during her study abroad a year ago is now living Chiang Mai! Sister Syd translated from Thai to French for her during Relief Society. She reports that her French is rusty but passable.
Also, she loves speaking Thai; she thinks and dreams in Thai, and is happy to be at a point where she can have conversations – she loves talking with people. She had to stop to try to remember an English word while we were talking – she could only think of the Thai word. : )
- - - - - - - - -
Jeep, me, Ploy, and Sister Zaugg
Me and Sister Weed!!!!
Sister Weed, me, Sister Woodbury. Generations.
Me on our sleeper train to Chiang Mai. Yes I have an enormous pink bow in my hair, I'm in Thailand. 
Lanterns in Chiang Mai.
The Nativity, as acted out by Thai children
Everything is cute.
Oh, I didn't have a dragon fruit shake. It was a dragon shake. And it was dang good.
The ancient wall around Chiang Mai.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Last Letter from สะพานสูง.

President Suchaad, Ice, me, Isrin and Brian.
Well family,

On Wednesday we've got a transfers meeting. I will be leaving my birthplace (my greenie area) and going somewhere else in Thailand. I have yet to find out where...but you'll find out on CHRISTMAS when we skype! :)

This week was interesting, to say the least. A lot of it was taken up by our performances in Asok of The First Christmas in Bethlehem & The First Christmas in Zarahemla. It was super a lot of fun. We got to get our make up done and our hair did and we wore these really great princess ball gowns that were custom-made. We even get to keep them! I'm not sure when I'll wear it again on my mission...haha...but I will keep it with me just in case. You never know when you'll need a ball gown. 

But really, it was a great experience to testify of Christ at Christmastime.

We also picked up our Christmas packages from the mission office this week. We had to go through over 200 packages to find ours. Haha, it was crazy. We decorated our room for the holidays and we put our presents under our 4-inch, light-up tree that Sister Zaugg's family sent her. Not the usual set-up, but it's definitely just as good. It's fun being a missionary at Christmas. :)

So yeah. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what I have learned this last transfer (and in the last 4.5 months here in สะพานสูง). Here are some of the things I have learned:

+ Faith is a choice you make every morning when you wake up.

+ Faith is trust. When you have faith in the Lord, you trust Him. When you trust Him, you are able to do what He asks of you.

+ I am a good missionary.

+ When I am confident in myself, I am confident in the Lord. He called Sister Hughes to be SISTER HUGHES, not Sister Somebody, not Elder Whoever. He called me to Thailand because I have something to contribute here.

+ I can make a difference.

+ The scriptures are true no matter what language you read them in. And reading them changes lives, no matter what someone's previous scriptural knowledge is. (Just this week we asked one of our investigators if she had read 1 Nephi 7 yet (at the very beginning of the Book of Mormon, for those who don't know) and she was like, "Sisters, I'm almost done with the whole book..." She's almost done with ALMA. Seriously. That book changes people.)

+ There are a lot of problems in Thailand. A whole lot. But one of the things that isn't broken is love. There is a whole lot of love in this country.

+ Being a missionary is the best and I can never be a normal and not-awkward person ever again. Haha.

Yesterday was my last Sunday in this ward. It was heart breaking, to say the least. So many people said so many nice things to me. There were a lot of tender moments with members and Recent Converts that I have loved so much and served and worked so hard with. Our investigator Deer got baptized yesterday after church and after the service, she ran to me crying. I didn't realize what was wrong until she told me she didn't want me to leave. She just sobbed on my shoulder for a little bit. These wonderful people just really know how to love. Stupid I'm going to cry right now thinking about it. I'm so glad for the chance that I have had to spend so long with them. 

Also, here is a good thing. Ploy told me she had a present for me but it hadn't come yet. She got me a new Thai Bible. When I get it, she wants me to give it to someone who needs it in my next area. That girl. She is amazing. 

I'm excited to take all I've learned about missionary work to my new area. I'm sorry this week's letter is short, but I've got to pack and get ready for transfers! Oy!!!! 

I love you all! I will talk to you on CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!! :DDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Over and out,

Sister Hughes

The PAS. They are such good friends.

Sister Zaugg, Deer and me.

THE DISTRICT. Awkward family photos for the win.

After English class.


Sister Zaugg and me in our STITCH pajamas that we bought last week with our Christmas set up.

The First Christmas in Bethlehem & The First Christmas in Zarahemla