|Me and Sister Gaew! We were matching so we had to take a photo together, obviously.|
This week I have had some really unique experiences.
This past Thursday, I had Thanksgiving dinner at Sister Becky's house! All the missionaries got together with her family and we ate TURKEY and POTATOES and STUFFING and, wait for it, CRANBERRY SAUCE. WHAT. American food, people. That's where it's at. But this Thanksgiving has really been especially meaningful for me. I have had a lot of experiences recently that made me reflect on all the things I am grateful for.
Before my mission, I always heard people say, "You'll have experiences on your mission that you will never be able to have anywhere else." And I always thought, "Yeah, yeah, I'm sure that's true" but never much more than that. This week, I realized that it's so true. There's a reason that returned missionaries use that phrase all the time when they get home. So here's my story about being grateful.
A few weeks ago, Elder Barfuss met this man from Pakistan who walked into the church. His name is Dawood and he is Christian. He and his family are refugees living here in Bangkok. They come to our English class, and because there are so many people in their family, when they are at church, Sister Zaugg and I translate for the women and the elders translate for the men. This week after English class, the Siddeqeh family invited us over for a Pakistani meal at their home. On Wednesday we went to their little apartment. There are about 3 families who all live together in 3 rooms. Dawood and his brothers and their families all left Pakistan together after the persecution got really intense.
Dawood told us his story about how he was a lawyer who fought for human rights. He would frequently protest against the Muslim extremists for the way they were treating Pakistani Christians. And then he started getting threats from them. Really frequent threats. Until one day his brother got attacked. They broke his leg and demanded to know where Dawood was, but his brother wouldn't tell him. They finally found Dawood and stuffed him in the back of a car. He woke up in some warehouse where they tortured him for three days. He has all kinds of crazy scars on his arms and his forehead. They left him on the side of the road for dead. He miraculously survived after 7 weeks in the hospital. After he was well enough, he got his family out of hiding and they came to Thailand.
They are here because they were persecuted. Because they believe in Jesus Christ, the Living Son of the Living God. They left everything they had and knew for possibly the craziest, loveliest country in the world. And they are still somehow happy. They said they are happy still because they know the Lord will help them and make them strong enough to overcome their challenges. Despite the fact that they now have nothing, they were still trying to give me and Sister Zaugg anything they could. They cooked an amazing meal especially for us on a little propane stove. They offered to get some beautiful Pakistani dresses for us. They all gathered together - all 20 something of them - and listened to us share about the Restoration. They were so excited about having a copy of the Book of Mormon. Dawood told us, "We need to tell everyone about Joseph Smith and the Mormons!"
They can't be baptized though, because they are not here legally. And they are refugees. We aren't allowed to baptize refugees in Thailand and it breaks my heart. They are such good people and I've never met anyone with stronger faith than them. They would literally do anything the Lord asked of them. They already have.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for growing up in a country where I was able to live my faith and not worry about being persecuted for it. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to share my faith and not be afraid of what will happen to me. I'm grateful for the Savior and His promises that He will take care of His Children. I am grateful that His promises are not hollow.
This gospel is so wonderful. It is hard to be a missionary. Really, really hard. Every day is a mental struggle—a battle of thoughts. You're tired, Thailand is always hot and sweaty; people don't want to listen to you. All too often you feel like you're not making a difference and you wonder what the heck you're doing literally half way across the world. And then you have weeks like this week. And then you meet people like the Siddeqeh family and you realize that it doesn't matter how hard it is to be a missionary. You realize that you can work a little bit harder. You can sacrifice a little bit more. Because you're not the only one who needs the blessings of the gospel. Because Jesus' promises weren't saved for just you and your family. Jesus' promise of peace and love and eternal life is for all the earth. It's for all those who will accept Him.
So yeah, you're going to have bad days. But it just makes the good days that much more good and it makes the miracles that much more sparkly.
That's what the gospel is. It's sparkly. And I'm so glad.
I love you, family!
|Som Tam. SO GOOD. It's my favorite Thai food.|
|The saddest cat at the Cat Cafe. He got attacked by a dog, poor thing.|
|Bam and Wii singing. : )|
|This week we also got taken out to dinner at a very nice restaurant by a family in the ward. Their daughter just got home from serving a mission at Temple Square. She's awesome! And we felt so under-dressed. : )|
|The coke bottle says "single." Hahahahahah.|
|All of us with the Bruso family.|
|Me and Ploy. : )|
|Our district in our new biking safety vests. Yeah, we look good.|