Wednesday, June 26, 2013

22-13! 22-13!

Sister Phelps, Sister Slaugh, me, Sister Stack and Sister Du.

I will explain the title of this email, I promise. It will come with time :)

But first thing's first.

Happy Anniversary to the most amazing parents in the entire world. I am so blessed to be a part of your family, and I thank Heavenly Father every single day that I am a Hughes. Specifically the daughter of Joleen and Chester. The photo of you two in Yosemite is the cutest thing I have ever seen and it made me tear up. I miss you every day, but I know that Heavenly Father is blessing you so much because I'm out here and it makes all the missing worth it. I love you.

This week has been FANTASTIC!!! AHH!!!!

Friday was the best day of my entire life, and here are the reasons.
1. I ATE SOLID FOOD. For the first time since my surgery. YUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I don't think I can express the joy I felt.
2. WE GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS AND OUR SCRIPT NAME TAGS YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I literally squeaked. I can't scream—still can't—but it's all good. I was jumping up and down with joy. I am attaching a photo of the plans. We leave on MONDAY! I'M SO EXCITED. 

On Saturday for TRC (Teaching Resource Center, we just go and teach lessons to people who have served in Thailand, usually), WE GOT TO SKYPE WITH PEOPLE FROM THAILAND. WHAT WHAT. IT WAS SO COOL. It was so fun. We talked to a super cute girl named Lilly who is studying at BYU Hawaii. She is studying graphic design! Mom and dad, I gave her your emails so she might email you soon :) Just a head's up!

Sunday was also amazing because it was the broadcast. I loved every minute of it. I was able to be in the choir and it was such a cool experience to sit behind most of the apostles and watch them as they spoke. It was so cool because I could read the teleprompter and I knew when they were speaking by the spirit. Also, fun fact, Elder Holland really truly has the crazy vocabulary that he always uses in his talks. He went off of what the teleprompter said a lot, and he sounded just as eloquent as ever. I loved it haha. I felt so sneaky. Singing was one of the most amazing experiences; the apostles would turn around and we got thumbs up and lots of smiles. It was so cute. I love those men. :)

Like I said, I loved reading the teleprompter. I think that for me, the most amazing part was realizing how many times the apostles said, "The Lord." And because I'm in such a grammar-focused state of mind, I also was able to note that every time they referred to the Lord, His name was always followed by a present tense verb. He really is hastening His work, as evidenced by all of the changes in missionary work. It's so amazing. He is real. I just know it. And I love the exceedingly great joy that comes from knowing :)

Also, in case anyone was interested, the article about the broadcast on I'm in the main photo. Nbd. Top left corner, burnt orange sweater. Just sayin.

Monday was typical...mostly.

Except that there is never a dull moment in the MTC, so of course we (and by we I mean both districts of Thai sisters) got emergency evacuated from our residence because...drum roll...BED BUGS. I'm not even kidding. Poor Sister Tilley went to the doctor for some other reason and then the doctor saw bug bites on her arm and flipped out. And so that is how we came to be emergency evacuated. It was actually pretty funny. I was never bit; nobody panic. Haha. But we did have to wash absolutely everything that could be washed, take things to dry cleaning, pack up everything after it had been sprayed by insecticide, and then move to a new room. It was actually crazy. I couldn't help myself; couldn't stop laughing. It was so sudden and random. Of course this would happen, you know? I loved it. Personally, I took up 8 laundry loads. After we had washed everything, we had to get clean clothes, shower, and then wash the clothes we had previously been wearing. We couldn't go back into our room after we had been "sanitized." It was a huge process and we ended up missing class and not getting to bed until 1 am; it was wacky. It's funny how hard it is to stay up late now that I'm used to being in bed by 10:30. I was dying the next day haha.

The entire time the Bed Bug incident was happening, I felt like poor George from Monsters, Inc. You know, the fuzzy orange monster? At the part where he walks out of the door and there is a little sock on his back, and all the monsters start yelling, "22-13!!! 22-13!!!!" And then he gets shaved. THAT was how I felt. Except I didn't get shaved. Haha.

Also, in sadder news, in the whirlwind of packing up our room so suddenly, I lost the DearElders I got on Monday without fully reading them. I was only able to read the one from Heather before we were evacuated. I think I had one from Mom and one from Auntie Lisa, and there were a few others, but I can't remember who they were from. I have searched high and low, but alas, I cannot find them. I am so sad. And so sorry. I really wish I knew where they were so I could read them! :(

Today was my last time going to the temple for a year and a half. It was such a sweet experience. I am so grateful to know the blessings of the temple and to understand the importance of the ordinances performed there. I was really sad for a while, but while I was there, I decided that it's a good thing I felt so sad about it. I also decided that as a missionary, I get to sacrifice the things I love for a while so that others can have those blessings as well. It's time for me to go to Thailand to serve and to help the Thai people come to know Christ as their Savior and Redeemer; to help them to understand that through Him and through the blessings of the temple, they can live with God and their families for eternity.

Also, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for their prayers and support after getting my tonsils out. I am now at a point where I am fully functional and I only use a little advil when my ears hurt. (Weird side effect of getting your tonsils out: ear aches.) But I have really felt the Lord blessing me and have felt all of those extra prayers. I feel the love, people. And I am so grateful to have such amazing family and friends who are backing me up. It means the world to me :)

I love you all, so so much. 
And family, I can't wait to talk to you.

Sister Hungry

P.S. Quote of the week:

"You will have angels everywhere. Heavenly Father trusts you so much—sending you to Thailand. Man, I wish I could see all of the angels there."
–Brother Burgess, who substituted for us on Saturday evening

My nametag! 

Bed bugs. infectious Waste. Biohazard.

It was Sister Stevenson's birthday, so we celebrated 
Singing in the 3,000 voice choir

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Exceedingly Great Joy of Knowing

Don't you love that phrase? I found it this week in the Book of Mormon. It's in Alma 7:4. It's just so happy!

Hello! It feels like it's been a million years since I got my tonsils out, but really it's only just barely been a week. Pretty much exactly. Not a whole lot has changed around here, except that I am rapidly losing weight and I no longer have tonsils. Haha. Read on for more info! :)

So the tonsils are gone. I don't really miss them too much, just only a little bit sometimes when my throat hurts real bad. But mostly I'm glad they're gone. The whole procedure took about 10 minutes, total, which was really surprising to me. I had no idea it would be that quick. Let me tell you, getting put under is maybe the weirdest feeling I've ever had because I literally could not control myself. I wanted to stay awake because they were playing a Jason Mraz song in the operating room that I really liked, but I just couldn't stay awake. Haha. Anyway.

When I came to, Sister Phelps was sitting right next to me, recording everything that came out of my mouth. She even had her camera out at some points and has videos of me saying ridiculous things. Here are some of the gems:

"Sister Hughes, do you remember your parents' names?"
"Well yeah, my mom is Joleen and my dad is...Chester."

"All I wanted was a strawberry popsicle but they gave me cherry. I don't even like strawberry." (I then proceeded to stick said cherry popsicle up my nose.)

"I get to eat all the ice cream I want now, right nurse? Hey, nurse, can Steve bring me a chocolate malt?" (Some things never change, I guess.)

This next story takes some explaining and some confessing...while I was in Paris on study abroad, I...may or may not have touched a lot of art. This list may or may not include The School of Athens, The Code of Hammurabi, Jacques-Louis David, countless statues in the Vatican, a statue of Ramses II in the Louvre...and more...what? Oops. Sometimes things are just so old that I can't help but touch them. So now we are moving on to the conversation between my nurse and me:

"This pudding is so beautiful. I can't eat it. It's a work of art."
"Sweetie, eat your pudding."
(Me, reasoning for a minute) "Ok. I guess it'll be like touching art, except that I'm eating it. Did you know I speak French? Did you know I lived in Paris? I went to school there. I touched a lot of art while I was there. I shouldn't have, but I did."
"It's ok sweetie, we don't need to have a confessional right now."
"Ok, but I know I shouldn't have done it. But I'm not going to stop because I like touching art. And it's ok because the Atonement is for everyone."

How did I come up with these things?? Seriously, I'm a comedic genius when I'm on drugs.

Now on to the recovery:

Recovery has been hard. I am not going to lie; I have been in a lot of pain. I've really never felt anything like it before. Thankfully I have some great pain meds that I use sparingly (I'm very cautious, don't worry mom :) ) and I have wonderful sisters in my district to take care of me. I have been able to get a lot of sleep, which has been good. I have also been able to eat a lot of ice cream, pudding, and Ensures.

OH MY GOODNESS ENSURES. Seriously, I used to think they were just for in old folks' homes...but those things have saved my life. I literally can't eat anything; so drinking those has saved me more than 16 million times this past week. It's a sad day when you wake up in the morning and all you want to drink is an Ensure. I used to be teased about being the grandma here, especially since all of the elders who are coming in have only graduated from HIGH SCHOOL a week ago, but now I really am the grandma hahaha.

I'm so grateful for the sisters in my district who wake up with me at odd hours so I can take all of my medicines at the right times and who sit up with me while I try to eat something before taking them. Some of my favorite moments in the MTC have been those 4 am ice cream feedings when my sisters will talk to me and tell me stories about themselves or about their dreams and I just get to listen while eating something cold. I know it's silly, but I really do love those moments.

Another sweet moment this week was when Elder Hill gave me Duck. Remember how he has stuffed animal mascots? And one of them is a duck? I think I sent home a picture of them. Anyway, one day I tried to go to breakfast and class in the morning, but it was just too much for me but I wouldn't admit it. Sister du Plessis finally sat in front of me and said, "Ok sweetie, lets get you back into bed, ok?" And I kind of broke down crying because I was so frustrated with myself. Elder Hill sent me home with Duck and told me to keep her until I felt better. I think it's just the greatest thing ever :)

I think the hardest part about getting my tonsils out has been that I am no longer the mom. I have always been the mom, especially here, and now I have to be the baby. I'm learning a lot from it, and I'm learning a lot about humility and relying on others, especially the Lord. This week, all I really wanted was a great big hammy (family) hug, but I knew I couldn't have one. Please don't feel sad! Because on Sunday, I got the spiritual hug I needed when I read Alma 34:16—through the Atonement we are all encircled in the arms of safety. I know that Christ understands all that I have been through this past week and He loves me and wants to help me. If I let Him, He will encircle me in the arms of safety and I can feel the peace and calm and love that I am looking for. I know we can ALL feel that way :)

So lets move on because really, things are on the up and up with the tonsils! Today I woke up feeling much better than I have all week, and I even tried eating eggs this morning! Exciting stuff, is it not?

So here is one more story that I really want to tell. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

On Sunday at choir practice, I sat next to Sister Phelps and another sister that I didn't know. She was cute, and we made some small talk, and then choir started. About half way through practice, she glanced over and saw my Paris ring— the opal one I got in the Latin Quarter. She asked me if it was my birthstone. I said it wasn't, that I had seen it in a little store in Paris and liked it, so I bought it. She made some comment about how she liked it, and then kept singing. And I got the impression that I needed to offer her my ring. But I didn't do it. I got scared and made up some lame excuse that it would be too weird to just say, "Hey do you want this ring?" So choir practice ended and we went our separate ways and I figured that was that. But I knew that I still needed to give my ring to her, so I prayed and said, "Heavenly Father, if this sister is supposed to have my ring, please let me run into her again."

Monday afternoon I was walking to class and I saw her all the way across campus. We were late for class so I didn't stop, and I felt like the biggest idiot in the whole world because I knew it wasn't my ring anymore. About a half hour later, my companions decided to take me back to the residence because I was having a rough time with the mouth and such, and as we were walking, there she was sitting on a bench with some sisters from her district. I walked up to her, pulled the ring off my finger and said, "Sister, you commented on my ring yesterday during choir and I feel like you should have it."

She started crying and she told me that her mother had passed away recently. Just before she passed away, she gave her a ring very similar to the one I was wearing, and she had since lost it. She said she missed it every single day. And that was why she commented on my ring. We both cried and hugged. I'm so glad I listened to that impression and gave Hermana Pass my Paris ring. This is going to sound cheesy, but that ring has traveled the world looking for a home and now it has finally found it. And in case you were wondering, Yes. The ring fit her perfectly. :) I love seeing her around campus now, and we always hug. She's the cutest. She said she is never going to take the ring off. I'm glad.

Also regarding choir—on the 23rd there is a worldwide broadcast from the Marriott Center on Missionary Work with the First Presidency and the entire Quorum of the Twelve. And guess who is going to be in the missionary choir?! THAT'S RIGHT! ME!! So look for me!! :) I'm not sure what time it's check It's going to be great. :)  
(note: 3pm PST)

And speaking of broadcasting—this Saturday we get to do language practice over Skype with people in Thailand! It's our first time ever doing it and we're all super excited.

12 days left before we leave for Pratayd Thai!!!!! WAHOO!! We're all so ready to go! Well, not language-wise, but we're ready to go serve our people. It's time. :)

I love you all!!!

Sister Hungry

Quotes of the Week:
"Seriously, I just want to take my missionaries down to the Thai rooms in the basement when they start complaining. Spanish isn't that hard." -A Spanish teacher to Sister du Plessis

"All I'm saying is: it doesn't make any sense to put a baby up in a treetop and then rock it." —Elder Hen, one of the new Hmong speaking elders. I heard that one across the table at dinner the other night.

"I feel like a Chinese woman. ...that...was a weird thing to say." -Elder Hill, I have no idea what this was in regards to, but it made me laugh, all the same.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Well folks, after today I shall indeed be tonsil-less!

Sawadii khaa!!

Family, it was sooooo good to be able to hear your voices TWICE this week!! Am I a lucky girl or what? I think so—except for  the fact that I'm getting my tonsils out...hahahaha. I kinda think it's hilarious because if I were to think of it any other way, I would just be so sad. So hilarious it is :)

This last week was the fastest week in the history of all time. I mean seriously, where does the week go? We've all decided that the days feel like weeks, but the weeks feel like days. The MTC is an odd time warp, if you ask me.

On Friday, I went to the health center because i had been having some annoying stuff going on with my throat for a while (try six weeks ha). It got to the point where I thought to myself, "Just go in, what's the worst that can happen?" The doctor I saw was not a very talkative person, and everything he said sounded so serious. He told me I would have to see a Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, and that I would most likely have to get my tonsils removed. I was ok with that, until he started explaining what all would happen. Like: "Recovery takes 3 weeks or longer, so you probably won't be able to go to Thailand on your scheduled date. You will most likely have to go home for the surgery, and I would recommend you going as soon as possible." He then proceeded to ask me about my crocs, as if he hadn't just told me it was the end of the world or anything. He left me in the room and to go get the nurse.

It was in that moment that I kinda broke down. I realized what I really want—and that is to get to Thailand as fast as possible. I want to go serve the people. I want to go teach them about Jesus Christ. I want them to know that they can live with their families forever. It was a stressful moment when I thought I would have to come home. (Not that I don't love you, family :) )

Then to make Friday better, we found out that Brother Shipley is LEAVING US. BAH. We all love that man to pieces, and we somehow got it out of him that he is going to teach our nong Thais (who come in today!! so happy!!) He wasn't planning on telling us for a few more days, and was surprised that we were able to get it out of him. He said, "Man, you missionaries are getting really good at asking inspired questions." Definitely had to laugh at that one. Elder Astle said after a really long silence, "I feel like I just got broken up with." haha. Ching nan, Elder Astle. Ching nan. (Ching nan = true that.) but here's the thing, as sad as I am about Brother Shipley leaving, I am so happy for the nong Thais to have him as teacher. He really helped me to set the attitude for my time in the MTC and I think my whole mission. I have learned so much from him, and I'm really glad the nong Thais get to have that experience, too. I just hope they appreciate him as much as we all do. And if they don't, we will happily steal him back. Haha. Our new teacher is brother Thrap, who has been sitting in on our classes for the last 6 weeks. We all love him and are so excited to have him! He has big puppy dog eyes and I totally nailed it when I realized that he looks like Lizzie McGuire's little brother.

So yeah. I had a whole weekend to wonder if I would have to come home or not. I wasn't able to get an appointment with an ENT until Monday morning, so I just kinda laid in bed at night trying to figure out what would happen, which was impossible, since I didn't even know if I needed to get my tonsils out in the first place. But it ultimately came down to me trusting in Heavenly Father's will for me. I wasn't super keen on the idea at first, but as soon as I told my Heavenly Father my fears and my worries, I felt the most amazing peace in the whole world. I knew that whatever happened, I would be just fine. I'm so grateful for that peace.

On Sunday, I was able to talk to some sisters at choir who are going to PARIS!! Annie Barton, look for a Sister Francis, she is so cute. I was able to write her a list of all the places she should see, where she should eat (I told her to eat all the poire chocolat in the world), and places that I thought might be good for contacting. Who knows if I am right about that or not, but I thought it couldn't hurt. It was so fun. Every Sunday night, we get to watch a movie or a general conference talk. This Sunday, Sister Greenwood and I went to go see the Joseph Smith movie in French. Her family is from Montreal; it is such good fortune to have a fellow French-speaker here :) Hearing French for a hour and a half straight and being able to actually understand everything felt like home. It made me so homesick for France! I hope those sisters know how blessed they are to be going there :)

So Monday morning. I went to the ENT at Intermountain Health Care in Provo, who, obviously, told me I needed to get my tonsils out. He said that the recovery is actually only TWO weeks and that I WOULD be able to go to Thailand on my scheduled date, no problem. I feel so happy about that. As soon as he told me I needed to get them out, I knew it was the right thing to do. I was able to get a surgery date for...well, TODAY haha. And I should be ship-shape in time for July 1st :) I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

In regards to my surgery—I am not nervous at all. I feel so much love! Haha. But really. Everyone has been so wonderful to me, making sure I feel ok about it. And that's the best part—I really do! I was able to get a blessing from the elders last night and it was one of the coolest experiences ever. I'm pretty sure most of them have never given blessings before, or if they have, they're very new to it. I love watching them grow up so instantly and seeing how highly they honor their priesthood. I'm so grateful for the priesthood in my life. :)

Cool realization of the week. On Sunday we learned about repentance. Sister Stack asked me what I thought about weakness vs sin, and do we have to repent of our weaknesses, too? And how to do you know when you have to? So that night as I was in the shower (because that is where I have all of my brilliant thoughts) I was thinking about the word for repentance in Thai. It is kaanklabchay, which literally means "returning heart." I love how Thai is made up of so many compound words—it is so cool. And it dawned on me that repentance doesn't just mean asking forgiveness for sins. Repentance is the process in which we change ourselves to become more Christlike. It is changing our hearts— or returning our hearts— to Him, and asking him for help with our weaknesses. Repentance can be asking him for help to change and become better. Cool, right?! :)

Alrighty, well I'm off....I love you all! Have a splendid week! Thank you for your continued letters and support. It really means the world to know that I have so many people backing me up :)

gab khwaamrag, (with love,)

Sister Hungry

PS this week is the first week that we have all felt really comfortable with Thai! We're reading like pros and we can pretty much say whatever we want, as long as it's gospel related... :)

Quote of the Week:
"Sister Hughes, you better stop telling all these cool stories about your family or one of the elders might hear you and want to marry you on the spot." —Elder Black. (So I guess I like talking about my awesome family. What of it? Haha, I really do have the best family in the world!!!!!)

PS. Elder Black and I would love Kirsten Skabelund's address! A big congrats to her and to Maddy Cope on their mission calls—Sister Missionaries whoop whoop!! :)

the whole fam :) THAILAND!!! 
tried to have a companion hug...we all fell down. elder winsor had my camera and somehow managed to capture this moment exactly. best photo ever. it also describes us so very well. 
the glasses crew. elder proctor, elder astle, sister phelps, me, and sister greenwood 
we wore black on saturday to mourn the loss of brother shipley... 
we love TALL! (technology assisted language learning) . . .hahaha
MADDIE GRANT IS HERE. (Thailand and Russia)