Monday, November 25, 2013

Eye patches and spiritual healing.

Smoothie in the cat cafe.
This week was yet another one for the books...I love Thailand and all that happens here. 

For a couple weeks now, Sister Gaew has been asking us to teach her how to make farang food (foreign—in this case American—food). So Sister Zaugg and I, with all our culinary prowess, decided to teach her how to make mashed potatoes and funeral potatoes. Sister Gaew bought all the ingredients from our list, but didn’t buy our funeral potatoes were cheese-less. Sad day haha. Also, we were teaching a lesson when the funeral potatoes came out of the we weren’t there when everything got served up. When we ended our lesson and checked on the novice chefs, Sister Gaew and Sister Pinky had mixed everything together and covered it all in gravy. It was actually pretty good.

This week we also met a new investigator who owns a cat cafe. Yeah, that’s right, a cat cafe. It’s literally a cafe where you go in and play with cats. Sister Zaugg and I happened upon it one lunch hour and we just HAD to go inside and check it out. So we talked to the lady who runs it and she wants to learn more about the gospel. I have never been so entertained while drinking a smoothie in my life; who knew cats were actually lots of fun? I got to hold a month-old kitten and watch all the other cats doing funny things. There were probably about 10 cats running around, and Jigsaw (that’s the owner’s name) said she had 8 more kittens in the back and more at her home. She opened the shop because cats bring her happiness.” That’s a good reason if I ever heard one.

Friday night was THANKSGIVING TACO NIGHT!!!!!!!!! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. It was also Brother Bryan’s birthday. We got to celebrate all sorts of good things with President Suchaad, Sister Aah, Brother Ice, Sister Isrin, Brother Bryan, and their kids. It was super fun. Sister Isrin showed Sister Zaugg and I all of her wedding photos. She got married in Hawaii. So pretty. We also got to eat Sister Aah’s famous carrot cake (it’s so good...I wanted to eat like 7 pieces but I exercised some really good self-control and only ate one), so I was pretty happy.

On Saturday, we had a Christmas Choir practice in Asok (central Bangkok) with everyone. I love going to Asok. We call it The Beast because it’s so busy and crazy with traffic and skyscrapers everywhere. It’s intense. Anyway, after choir practice, we got some dinner really quick on the street and ate it while sitting on some steps. I had one of those moments while sitting on some steps in The Beast, eating some fried chicken, looking at my surroundings and wondering, How in the world did everything in my life culminate to this point? How and why did I end up in Thailand? I love my life.” It was pretty great.

That night there were 3 baptisms, and Brother Bryan did the baptizing. It was so awesome to have him doing the baptizing in Thai with his French accent. He read the baptismal prayers from a piece of paper that Elder Engle held up for him that was in Romanized Thai (basically Elder Engle just wrote out how you would say the Thai words in English). The Young Men and Young Women sang a special musical number of “Nearer My God to Thee” and it was so wonderful. The best part though, was when everyone else started joining in really quietly in the congregation. It was such a good service. 

So now is the time to read about eye patches and spiritual healing. So last week I talked about my investigator named Briaw who agreed to baptism in front of a noodle stand. She got baptized this week! I have never met someone who was so ready for the gospel. But let me tell you. I’m pretty sure all hell combined against this girl before she got baptized. She reminds me a little bit of Eugene—the kid in “Hey Arnold!” who always tries to do good things but bad things always happen to him. You know the kid I’m talking about. So the last two weeks, she has been so eager about keeping every single commitment we have extended to her. When we were talking about tithing, we said, “Everyone at times gets to a point in their life when they wonder whether or not they have enough money to pay tithing. In these situations, we wonder if it is better not to pay.” She interrupted us and said, “But sisters! It’s always better to pay!” So good, right?! She told us so plainly and beautifully that the Book of Mormon was true that I didn’t even know how to respond to her. She is the investigator where I literally feel like I didn’t need to do anything to get her ready for baptism. The Lord had prepared her. Anyway, so she passed her baptismal interview with flying colors. On Saturday night though, Briaw called us and was suddenly having doubts about baptism. She told Sister Zaugg that she knew the gospel was all true, that she wanted to get baptized, but she was afraid that she might go back to Buddhism like one of her friends did. We talked and encouraged her to remember how she felt, and read Alma 7:15-16 together. I love those scriptures about not having fear in being committed to the gospel. It's almost like they were written for our day or something. :) Anyway, we told her to pray about it and that we would call her in the morning.

The next morning while we were on our way to church, I felt like I was going to throw up. But we called Briaw and she said she was coming, not to fear. She wanted to get baptized. It was so great. I felt like I could breathe again. And then I saw her walking up through the parking lot to the doors of the church. From far away, she looked like she had some white make-up on her face. I was really confused. Then I realized that she had on a white band-aid eye patch. It turns out when she was taking off her black nail polish, as per our request, she somehow jabbed a really long fingernail into her eye. That poor girl. She left half way through Sunday School to go get some medicine or something. I’m not really sure. I was super concerned, but she told us she was going to come back...which she did. We told her if her eye hurt too much, she could of course wait. But she was determined to be baptized, so get baptized she did. Somehow we missed when everyone else took photos all together outside in front of the church; I’m not really sure how that happened. So we only have one photo from her baptism...the three of us with her friend Pii, who baptized her. When we asked her how she felt after her baptism, she said that besides her eye hurting, she felt clean and good. After the service, she went to the doctor.

And that is how my investigator was baptized, wearing an eye patch and able to receive the spiritual healing through the Savior that she was looking for when I met her in front of a noodle stand. She’s good. She’ll be ok. :)

So that was my week. Lots of good; lots of wacky, but I wouldn’t expect anything else from Thailand.

I love you, family!

This Thursday I will be having Thanksgiving dinner with Sister Becky and her family. They’re buying a real turkey! What in the world?! You don’t buy turkey in Thailand. I'm pretty excited. It will be a good day. 

This week I’m thankful for my family and for the gospel and for Thailand. And I’m thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love you all.

Sister Hughes

Making mashed potatoes and funeral potatoes

Pii, Briaw, me, Sister Zaugg

Me in Asok

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Case of the Crazies

Andee and me. This girl is the best. She loves to link arms when we are walking and during
Relief Society she breaks out the candy. We were meant to be friends. Ha ha.

Dear the world.

I had the craziest week of my life this week. This is stuff you can't make up; I promise it's all true, every last piece of it. I sure do love this place :)

Crazy things that happened this week. Let's see:

On Tuesday, the sister who normally teaches the children's room at English class wasn't there to teach, so Sister Zaugg and I went on splits with some members and I taught all the little kids how to sing "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I have videos of them singing. There are really only 4 of them who actually sang, but the other kids look cute, so that's fun.

On Wednesday we went to an investigator's house to teach her her second lesson. It turned out she wasn't we taught her little sister (or cousin, I'm not really sure, there are 3 families who all live in the same house and there's really no way of knowing how everyone is related exactly). Her sister loved the lesson we taught. The first time we taught her sister (or cousin), she was too shy to join us, but she listened to the whole lesson from across the room. Anyway, we taught her again and she loved it. 

About halfway through the lesson, I felt like someone was watching me. My back was to the door, so I turned around and standing on the front porch was an interesting guy. He was wearing this pink and black turtle-neck sleeveless top and women's jeans. He had on bright pink lipstick. He was just staring at me. He very slowly and very seriously waiied me and then plopped down on the porch and listened to the rest of the lesson. It was all I could do to maintain my composure; it was so surprising and strange.

The next day we were back in the same neighborhood to pick up Joy (who we had taught the day before) and take her to the church. We showed up at her house... she wasn't there, but the crazy guy was. Haha. He kept saying "You wait you wait you wait" over and over and OVER again. He sat down on some garbage in the street and crossed himself. I gave him a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation. He stood up really quickly and his plastic cup of iced coffee started veering wildly. It crossed my mind that he was going to throw it on me. Sister Zaugg must have had the same thought because I saw her tense up. I thought, "Bring it on, it's just coffee." Haha. Then he grabbed Sister Zaugg by the arm and kept saying, "madam" over and over again. Then he shook Sister Zaugg's hand and then out of the blue pulled her in for a kiss. She expertly dodged him. I completely lost it. I was laughing so hard I was crying. I felt so bad—all I remember is trying to control myself to comfort Sister Zaugg and then I would lose all self-control and laugh again. We went to 7-11 for some ice cream. 

The story ends well; we found Joy and took her to the church.

Another exciting thing from this week was visiting Sister June, a member in the ward. So Sister Zaugg and I got in a taxi with Sister Gaew and pulled up in front of a dog-grooming salon. Turns out, Sister June owns it. We walked inside and there were about 10 dogs all barking and running and jumping around. I have not seen so many tame dogs since I don't even know when haha. There was a bulldog named Doctor Kit that I pretty much killed me. He reminded me so much of Homer! He was all snuffly and fat and wiggly. BAH. There was a poodle with purple ears and pink feet. There was a little Chihuahua with lazy eyes that were bugging out of his head. He was wearing a little duck onesie thing. There was a little tiny Pomeranian puppy and I got to hold and he was so fluffy I almost died. And then there was a fennec fox in a cage (?!what the heck?!) and a lame husky. Sister Zaugg and I were so overwhelmed that we just giggle/snorted for about 5 minutes before we could even talk to Sister June about the scriptures. Bah. Good day.

This week when we went to Sister Oi’s house, we got super lost on the way and had to take a super sketchy tuktuk ride. That was fun. I took videos of it. I wish I could send videos home...too bad they won't attach. 

Last night there was a festival called Loy Krathong. It's an annual festival where the Thai people put lanterns with candles and incense on the water to ask forgiveness for the dirty water and to make the water beautiful again. We (the missionaries) went with a group of recent converts and got to see the lights all on the water. Sister Zaugg and I had bought a lantern on Saturday that we set off on the water. It was so pretty. There were even a few lanterns that people set off in the sky. We're talking Disney “Tangled” lanterns, people. Sister Zaugg and I have had “Tangled” stuck in our heads for hours and it's killing us. I keep trying to sing "Redeemer of Israel" but it's not working too well. Ha.

Anyway, things are going really well. I feel like I'm changing and becoming more of the missionary that I want to become. And it's so cool to see that change happening. Sometimes in life, you have periods of time where you go about, doing your thing, and then at some point you remember to look back and you see how far you've come. Other times you can see yourself changing at every step of the way. I'm currently experiencing the latter, and it's kind of amazing.

On Monday while contacting at the street market in our neighborhood, Sister Zaugg and I met a 19 year-old girl named Som (or Briaw, if you are a close friend). As I was talking to her, I said, "Do you know what baptism is?" She said she didn't. I told her it was how to wash away sins and feelings of guilt through Jesus Christ. I asked her if she wanted to do that. She said something to the effect of, "Boy, do I ever! I've got a lot of sins I need to get rid of!" And she committed to be baptized in front of a noodle stand. It has been a miracle to watch her grow this last week, and to see the miracle of change in her. It’s been a blessing to see how being bold does work to find people to teach this message of healing and peace. It's incredible how ready she was for the gospel and how willing she is to live it. She's so cute. I love that girl!

This week I found a new favorite scripture. Well, I'd known this scripture before, but this week I just found some new meanings in these verses. Here it is: Romans 8:35-39. 

 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My favorite favorite favorite part is when it says, "in all these things we are more than conquerors." I've been trying to figure out what it means to be more than a conqueror. I think that it has to do a lot with our attitude—a  lot with how we handle the situations we are in—what we bring to the trial rather than what we let the trial do to us. It's not just conquering the trial, but how we conquer it. Through Him that loves us, we can face our trials with patience, hope, and even joy, because the only thing that can separate us from the love of God is ourselves. If we are centered on Jesus, we will never be lost and we will be more than conquerors. Cool, huh?

So that's my week in a nutshell. Good things are happening! I love you all! You're in my prayers all the time. 


The beautiful boonies of Bangkok

Ice cream at 7-11.
Sketchy tuktuk ride. 

At the festival.
Putting our lantern in the water. 
Little girl with a sparkler.

The water. SO PRETTY.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sister Zaugg's blog

A link to Sister Syd's companion's blog for another perspective of serving in Bangkok:

“Hey, your feet are orange.” —Elder de la Garza

Elder de la Garza sure is tactful, isn’t he? :)

FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! สวัสดี!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This week in Thailand I:
- got my hair stuck in a songtaew
- spilled somtam all over myself
- ripped my skirt on a bus
- was told my feet were orange
- got lost in a wat (Buddhist temple)
- had the most awkward phone conversation of my life (which I will soon detail)


This week in Thailand I also:
- l earned how to make Thai food
- was fed PANCAKES
- held a baby leopard and kissed a baby elephant
- had the most awkward phone conversation of my life, which actually turned out to be the most   
  hilarious phone conversation of my life (details will soon come, I promise)
- was told by an RC all the reasons why she loves me

So all in all, it was a really good week :)

On Monday we went back to the Crocodile Farm with all of the Sisters in my zone. It was super fun, I held a baby leopard. And I wanted to take it home with me. I also got to play with a baby elephant. I was waving at it and he reached out his truck to me so we...held hands?...for a while and then he tried to pull me into his cage. It was pretty entertaining. That night the Special Effects Elders—who are actually the Social Media Elders, I just can never remember what they're called—came to our district and filmed us contacting to make a training video for the whole mission. That was pretty fun. So Sister Zaugg and I are the only sisters in this training/inspirational video about how miracles happen through inviting people to be baptized as soon as you meet them. It's actually a really good video. The elders did a really good job. It should be on Facebook at some point...I'll let you know when and where it is. 

So that being said, everything about how we contact in Thailand is changing. When I first got here, we would just walk up to people and have a nice conversation with them and then invite them to learn more about Jesus Christ. That would leave us with a bunch of people who just wanted to talk to us because we were nice Americans who could speak English. In our District, we started inviting people to be baptized as soon as we made contact with people. So basically, we started just walking up to people and asking them if they knew what baptism was, would give a brief explanation, and then ask them if they would be baptized. A bold question to begin the conversation. Elder Campbell and Elder Creer really started it, and got it going in our district, then in our zone, and now President Senior wants our whole mission to do it. It's kind of intimidating, but it's allowing us to talk more specifically to a lot of people who want to learn because they want to know how to change their lives. Which is awesome. And exactly what we want. I feel like once I decided to just suck it up and fully jump on board with this way of contacting, the work started picking up and I have found that I am becoming more of the missionary that I want to be. In our last zone conference we talked a lot about inflection points—the point where you either shoot up or fall down. And Sister Zaugg and I were saying that we both feel like we hit our inflection points this last week and are starting up the upward journey. We're both so so happy and excited about the work that we're doing.

Other things about this week. We visited Sister Oy again, and then she wanted to paint our nails. This week mine are red and black with some white flowers on them. They're a little more showy than I would have picked, but she was so happy to do someone's nails that I couldn't say no.  :)

We visited Sister Ah, the Relief society president (President Suchaad's wife) at her house to figure out who we she wanted us to go visit. She fed us macaroni and PANCAKES. I'm not the biggest fan of pancakes, but after having been deprived of them for 6 1/2 months, they were the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. 

When we were trying to get ahold of the list of less active members that Sister Ah asked us to visit, we just only had people's real names. (In Thailand, people have their true, given names and then a nickname that everyone knows them by. It makes activation work really hard because members don't really even know each other's true names so when you go through records you have no idea who you're dealing with...) So I called this one number looking for a woman named Pasirii. In Thailand, it's really common for people to have ringback tones, like a song plays instead of hearing the usual "ring, ring, ring." So I'm listening to the song, thinking "Hey! This is the same song as Pa Samran's phone!" And then a man answered the phone. I told him I was looking for Pasirii. He was confused and said, "What are you looking for?" I told him I was looking for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He asked for the name again. I spelled it. Then the man on the other end said, "Loog, are you looking for Ka-Ning?" (Loog = child, it's a term of endearment that adults use with younger people they are close to.) At that moment, I realized it WAS Pa Samran, because Ka-Ning is his niece who lives with him. I said, "Is this Pa Samran?!" He said, "Yes, Sister Hugh, it is." BAH. How awkward that he knew it was me the whole time...but also soooooooooo hilarious. I was laughing so hard I was crying, and I could hear Pa Samran laughing, too. The next day he told me how happy that phone call made him. 

Sister Na, the woman with the Chihuahua, called us on Wednesday morning and said "Sisters, I'm going to teach you how to make somtam at noon at the church." And then she hung up the phone. There was no arguing with that. So we met up at the church at noon and she taught us how to make somtam—a classic Thai papaya salad. It's one of my favorite foods here. So that was fun. I also spilled it all over my skirt...which was embarrassing...but it's all good. 

I have a video of Pa Gua singing during a conversation and then Sister Benny telling him in English to "Pleash be quiet" so that's another highlight of the week that I get to keep with me forever and ever.

While trying to find new places to contact, Sister Zaugg and I somehow got lost in a wat when we tried to cut across it to see what was on the other side, and while trying to get out of said wat, were approached by a monk who wanted to talk to us for like 10 minutes in English and it was such a unique experience. No prostelyting at religious locations, so we just talked, and the wat was really pretty, so that was cool.

We also met Mala, from Myanmar, this week. She speaks a some English and some Thai. She told us that she's always believed that there is a God and that He loves her. She prays to Him every day. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and it was so good. She said one time her husband got thrown into jail (in Myanmar) through no fault of his own.She had no way to contact him; she didn't know would happen. He was in jail for a long time, and one day she went in her room and cried and prayed. Her phone rang when she finished her prayer. It was her husband saying he was coming home. She said, "So I know that there is a God."

We visited a sister for Sister Ah on Saturday evening. It turns out she is someone that Sister Weed and I had been trying to get a hold of for two transfers. This week when we called her, she said it wasn't convenient for her, but then changed her mind. She had us come over and it was so fun. She is the cutest woman named Meow. She previously had been working from 8 am to 11 pm every single day, but literally just days before we called her, she quit her job. God is preparing people to receive the gospel—whether they are investigators or members who have stepped away from the church. It was no coincidence that we called her the week she left her job, I mean am I right? She was even able to come to church on Sunday with her mom, who isn't a member. We taught her mom after church. She's such a sweet woman. She needs a little Gospel light in her life :)

Well, I think that's about it for this week. It was a good week. :) I LOVE YOU ALL!!

Sister Hughes / Hungry / Choo / Q


Me complaining to Sister Zaugg : "Elder de la Garza told me my feet were orange. . . uh, cause they are." (Man, I don't even eat carrots all the time or anything! What is going on?!)

Fun at the Crocodile Farm
A sad and fluffy bear

Holding a baby leopard!
Playing with the baby elephant and getting pulled into the cage
We were both laughing

Pinata at English class

The kids LOVED it 
Making Somtam

Stuck at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere with no one to talk to

The wat we got lost in