Monday, August 26, 2013

“He will lead you to them or He will lead them to you.”

สวัสดีค่ะ ครอบครัว!!

Hello family!!

Yeah! I can type in Thai. (It doesn't matter much that it took me 3 minutes to find all of those letters. I can still type in Thai. Haha.)

This week I have two experiences that I want to share. It was a very interesting week; being on a mission is a bit like being on a roller coaster. Especially with language confidence. There were times this week when I thought “Hey! I’m getting this!” and other days when I thought, “What in the world are these people speaking—it’s not English or Thai.” But it’s all a grand adventure here in Saphaan Suung and I love it :)

On Tuesday, Sister Weed had to go to a training meeting in Asoke (where the mission office is), so she and another trainer, Sister Orchard, left very early that morning. That meant I got to be on exchanges with...Sister Slaugh! It was so fun! We got to catch up a little bit and then we took on the streets of Bangkok without any trainers (EEEEEEE scary). Haha. It was crazy.

So before I get into my next stories that I really want to share, here is a quote from “Preach My Gospel” that I’ve been thinking a lot about this past week. I was able to experience it firsthand. It’s so incredible to see how the Lord guides his children. The quote goes “Strengthen your faith that the Lord is preparing people to receive you and the restored gospel. He will lead you to them or He will lead them to you.” All I can say is my faith was definitely strengthened this week in this promise.

So on Monday night when Sister Weed and I found out about her meeting, I was thinking about our Tuesday plans. She had already fallen asleep when I realized that we had a first lesson planned with a new investigator named Top. The Thursday before, he walked into the church while Sister Weed and I were there and told us he wanted to become Christian. It was a really promising lesson and we were super excited about it. So as I was lying in bed, not yet asleep, I realized Sister Weed would be IN A MEETING and that I would have to teach the lesson with Sister Slaugh. And I literally woke up once every hour and freaked out about the lesson. Ooooh I was so stressed. I have never prayed so much for so much heavenly help in my entire life.

Sister Slaugh and I got to the church about a half hour early to set up a room and to prep Sister Ploy, who helped us teach. She is so cute and always so willing to help :) So we told her we were going to talk about prayer, the Godhead, and baptism. And when Top got there, I was so calm. And I was able to teach him without any major language barriers. It was the most amazing lesson ever. He accepted baptism without any hesitation. And I’m going to confess something, but I am one of those missionaries who actually likes to peek at their investigators when they pray, especially the first time they pray. So...yeah. I did that. And Top was smiling so big when he prayed for the first time. It was the most heart-warming, wonderful experience ever.

The Lord led Top to us.

On Saturday, Sister Weed and I were planning on going inviting at our favorite park. To get to said park, we have to ride through a really big housing community called “Perfect Place” (aka America 2.0) to get there. In this housing community, there is a smaller park with a big lake. As we rode past it, Sister Weed suddenly said, “Hey! Let’s go there instead!” So we turned our bikes around and headed to the Lakeside Community Park.

We walked around the lake for a while and talked to people, and it was literally the best weather in the whole world. It was probably one of 4 times that I haven’t been sweaty outside since I’ve gotten here. I was looking around and saw a woman sitting on a bench writing in a journal. I turned to Sister Weed and said “Her.” So we wandered over to her and I asked her what she was writing. It turns out she writes novels in her free time. I sat next to her on the bench while she explained that this particular novel was a romance—a sad romance, so sad she cried while writing it. We continued to have a nice conversation and then she looked at my nametag and said, “Oh, you are Mormon!” Sister Weed and I were SO surprised. That is literally unheard of in Thailand. People don’t know the church. They hardly know Christ. She explained that she was introduced to the church about 40 years ago. She said she remembers learning about Joseph Smith, but didn’t really remember much. Earlier that day, I decided to put a Restoration pamphlet in my bag, just in case. So I was able to pull that out, and Sister Weed and I were able to talk with her about the First Vision. We asked her how she felt about it and she said she felt it was true. She then asked us if she could learn more and come to church with us. We of course told her yes. So we are now teaching Nitaa.

The Lord led us to her.

This week when we talked to Brother Bing, I asked him how he was doing. The conversation went like this.
“Hi, Brother Bing, how are you?”
“You’re welcome! I’m so glad you love it”
“It’s so pretty! And I can finally learn about the priesthood!”
It was such a great moment :)

Yesterday before sacrament meeting, Sister Lek, who is a recent convert of almost a year came up to Sister Weed and I and said, “Sisters, I have something for you.” She then handed us both a pair of real pearl earrings. Not a joke. They are real pearls. Sister Weed and I agreed that we are never going to take them out of our ears. They are perfect. She is such an amazing woman.

I’m so glad to be serving in Saphaan Suung. I love Thailand. I love all of the people and all that I am doing and all that I am learning and just absolutely everything. And that’s the honest to goodness truth.

I love you, family. Thank you for your love and support. I miss you like crazy.

Sister Hungry

Lookin good in our rain ponchos from Seven. 
We found Amway. 
You know you’re in Thailand find duck heads on the sidewalk.
Life from the perspective of 3-year-old Fang who stole my camera.
Those are the elders and then me and Sister Weed. Fang is in the red shirt with a furby,
and Jacqueline is the daughter of an investigator of the Elders.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oh my gosh look at that dog. Oh my gosh look at that cat. Oh my gosh look at that kid.

This is a park where we go contacting sometimes and I love it.

That was a Sister Painter quote, and she said all of those things in about 30 seconds while she was visiting us in Saphaan Suung. She was just soaking in the life that is Thailand. It was a lot funnier if you had been there.

So yeah! This week!
We had an awesome week :)

Transfers were this week, which meant that Sister Painter and her companion, Sister Naryanan (who was in the MTC with me) came to stay with us for a few days! They left their area in Udon (a 10 hour bus ride away) and got here on Tuesday. Sister Painter had meetings to go to at the mission office and stuff, which is why they were here for so long. They helped us a ton and it was so fun to be around other sisters! We literally had a party. Sister Painter is probably one of the funniest people I have ever met. And hearing her speak Thai somehow helped me realize how to speak in tones. I’m not sure what it was, but after hearing her, something in my brain clicked and I feel like it all makes sense now. 

It’s like at the Bakery—when I first started working there, I felt so awkward about saying things like “corner” and “sharp” and “behind,” but you realize it’s necessary. You start saying words quietly, and then you have an experience where you realize you HAVE to say whatever it is, so you start saying it. So now I've figured out how say things and I’m just doing it better! It’s like I suddenly have no fear, so I’m pretty happy about that. I’m also understanding people more and more, which is also a huge blessing. (That wisdom tooth that’s coming in has helped too, DEFINITELY.) 

On Thursday we had a day of miracles. We had an appointment with the woman named Nung that I contacted last week on the song taw. She was supposed to be at the appointment at 2 pm, but was running super late because of traffic. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, so we thought about closing up the church for a few minutes and running to Seven to get a snack when I just suddenly knew we needed to wait. So we did. And because we did, Sister Suit, one of the elder’s investigators, walked by and came in because the gate to the church was open. She offered to help us teach, so we of course accepted. And it turned out that Nung and Suit know each other! What?! If Sister Weed and I had gone to Seven, we wouldn’t have had that wonderful connection. Nung is so good; we’re excited to teach her again this week.

This week contacting became so much more fun. Because now there is no fear and I just talk to people and it doesn’t matter that I’m not super good at the language or that I don’t understand completely everything people are saying back to me. It’s been awesome!

This week I also gave away my Thai Triple Combination (scriptures). I had two triples—a nice leather one with gold edges and a paperback copy that I use every day and write in and stuff. There is a brother in the branch here who has been a member for over 8 months now and still didn’t have a triple! Last week I happened upon an old post-it note from the sisters who lived in our house before us that said, “Get Brother Bing a triple!” So I asked him if he had one, and he said “Not yet!” We told him we would help him get one, but the next shipment of triples to come to the branch isn’t for like another month or something. Brother Bing is preparing to go to the temple with the branch in December, so I decided to give him one of my triples. You need the Doctrine & Covenants to prepare! On Saturday night I was looking at my books and I realized, “Brother Bing needs the nice one. If anyone is going to treasure that book and be grateful for it, it’s him.” So on Sunday, Sister Weed and I gave it to him. I have never been waiied so many times and so respectfully in all my time in Thailand. There are different levels of waiing, and the highest is reserved for the king, so obviously we didn’t receive that one; it was so awesome. He kept telling us how beautiful the book was. It was the best thing ever :)

Yesterday we also went with Sister Ploy to go meet her family! It was super fun. We went to her mom’s food stand and she made us all kinds of food for dinner. The Thais are so funny; they always ask non-Thai people if they are able to eat Thai food. Like “are you physically capable? Do you know how to eat?” Anyway, we ate SO MUCH FOOD. They think we’ve never tried any of it before. So funny. Also we ate a seafood soup that had squid in it. Sister Ploy ate the head and then spit out this little ball...and she casually goes, “that’s the eye.” It sat on her plate and stared at me for the rest of the meal. : )

So yeah, that was my week! It’s been good, I’m happy, and the work is moving forward as ever! 
I love you!!!!!!!!

Sister Hungry

This is Sister Ploy making us food :)

Sister Painter took this photo of me and Sister Weed; it kills us.
This is where we eat chicken and rice.

Sam from our English class made this for me and Sister Weed...we aren't exactly sure why? 
But we love it. It's hanging up in our house.

Monday, August 12, 2013

“Hey Elders, do you know if Khon Thais go camping?”

Oy and Ay

That was indeed my most intelligent question from this week...

Hi family :) 

This week was equal parts wacky and wonderful, as always. 

Sister Weed and I started out our week by visiting Sister Tia in the branch who just had a baby! We met her when the baby, Ay, was just two days old. She is so sweet. Now she’s about a month old and has absolutely theeeee most hair of any baby ever. Sister Tia is amazing. She is actually from Cambodia but learned Thai when she came to Thailand. She and her family of four (she has one older daughter named Oy who is CRAZY) live in a one-room cement home with a tin roof. They have one bed that they all share and a refrigerator. And that’s pretty much it. It is so humbling to go to their home. But they live like the happiest people ever. She has such great faith. She has had a hard time getting to church because she was pregnant and she is still recovering from giving birth. When Sister Weed and I first met them, Sister Tia asked me to take a picture of her daughters for her. We agreed and got it printed out and framed for her. When we visited this week, they had hung it up on one of the wood beams in their house. I wanted to cry it made me so happy. I love that lady. We took so many pictures for her and we’re getting them all printed out today :)

The Pa Gua antic of the week happened in the English class we substituted for on Wednesday night. We were learning about the days of the week when suddenly Pa stood up and announced, “Sisters, I am going to sing a song now.” So we let him. It was a song he made up for remembering the days of the week. Priceless. I wish you could have heard it. He and the other pas also proceeded to have a very loud discussion about Marylin Monroe and the 7 Year Itch, which was pretty funny.

This week my life was changed for good when Sister Weed and I were at Sister Becky’s house. We go there twice a week now, once to teach Sister Becky Thai, and once to translate for the Primary Presidency meetings. (Ok, Sister Weed translates while I play with the daughters Giada and Lizzy, but you know, it all works out in the end.) Anyway, she has a coconut tree in her backyard and she offered me one. And I drank the milk and then ate the insides and I think I was the happiest person who ever lived. For some reason I thought I didn’t like coconut? But that is so untrue. I love it.

Other exciting landmarks of the week include me making my first street contact ALL BY MYSELF THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Sister Weed and I were on a Song Taw (those pick up trucks with seats in the bed of the truck, remember? The super sketchy ones that are my favorite mode of public transportation? haha) and Sister Weed was on the other side of the truck so I talked to this woman all by myself and set up an appointment and everything. The blessing of being able to speak and understand is real. I ALSO MADE MY FIRST THAI PHONE CALL which doesn't sound that exciting, but trust me, understanding people over the phone is ridiculously hard. I was pretty excited when I had a successful phone call all by myself without handing the phone off to Sister Weed. :)

On Saturday afternoon we taught Nong Bam how to make brownies with some of her friends. It was so much fun! We forgot to buy eggs, though, so I told everyone, “We need to go to Seven real quick to go buy some buffaloes.” Oops. 

We also began teaching a church member’s parents this week! On Saturday afternoon we went to their house for dinner and it was SO MUCH FUN. The dad showed us his garden. I kept thinking of Grandpa! Grandpa would have loved it. There was every fruit tree imaginable. Jeem, the mom, has learned with the missionaries before but it was about a year ago, so it was cool to reteach her about the restoration and teach her husband for the first time. During dinner, Jet, the member son, played lots of American music and I didn’t even feel mad about it haha. However, the new hit song in Thailand is called “Take Me to Your Heart”— it is SO BAD and I love it haha. When Jeem drove us back to the church, she made us all sing it in the car together at the top of our lungs and I was so happy :) She and her husband were so happy to learn about the restoration and we are going back next Saturday to teach them again. :)

Last night we had dinner with the Thai/French family in our Branch. The grandma and grandpa lived in America for about four years so they knew all of the American recipes. They made us TACOS. Sister Weed, Elder Creer, Elder Campbell and I stuffed ourselves happily. They also had rootbeer so that was a majorly awesome thing. (The grandpa, Suchat Chaichana’s conversion story is in the Ensign, actually, from July 2002. The story is called Underneath the Shelf or something like that. It’s very cool! Also, I can’t exactly remember his name, so I may have spelled it wrong...oops. Thai names are so hard to remember.) It was so fun and also so confusing because people were switching back and forth between English and Thai and French all over the place. Oy. Headache. 

This week one of the members asked to see a photo of my family. So I showed them. I told him that Walker was my son on accident, then corrected myself and said he was my little brother. And then the member, Brother An, told me that WALKER LOOKS LIKE A VAMPIRE FROM TWILIGHT. It killed me! I have never heard that before Walker went to EFY and now I’m hearing it in Thailand?! What the heck?! Hahaha it killed me.

Other exciting news includes the discovery of one of my wisdom teeth growing in. It is not painful. I’m hoping I pick up on Thai much more quickly with that little guy. Also, I have discovered that my hair is curly. Not like the wavy it does in the US but straight up CURLY in Thailand. Crazy stuff.

Well, I love you family!!

Happy Wan Meh! (Thai Mother’s Day!)


Sister Hungry

Sister Weed and me. She's the best mom ever! Haha.

The phtoto of the girls hanging up in their house.

Sister Weed, Sister Dang and I being afraid of the monsoon outside the church.
Sister Dang is an RC who loves helping us teach! She’s so great.

Me and Nong Bam: )
Also note my curly hair.

Mother's Day.
Yesterday after sacrament meeting, all of the mothers sat up front and the Young Women sang the Thai Mother's Day song.
 It was so beautiful. And then all the children gave their mothers strands of flowers and waiied them. They got down on their knees and did the traditional and very respectful bow. It was such a beautiful thing to see. It made me tear up!
Me and the terrifying snail. OH I hate that thing.

Me and Navame, my little French buddy.