Monday, May 26, 2014

Safe and Sound

Photos from King's baptism (also baptized: Brother Gang and little Chompuu, Sister Banjaree's daughter.
Sister Banjaree is in the bright green. Her whole family has now been baptized!!)
Dear family,

Apparently there was exciting news from Thailand this week. I just want everyone to know that all the missionaries are safe and sound. There is a countrywide curfew from 10pm to 5pm; we are unaffected by the curfew. There are no problems to report; the work moves on.

All is well. We haven't been able to street contact since Thursday and have been instructed to stay in our apartments or the church if we don't have an appointment, but that was lifted this morning and I think I could hear all the missionaries in Thailand shouting for joy. It's hard to sit in your apartment when you want to be outside working.

This week was fairly quiet because a lot of extra precautions were taken for missionaries, but it was still good...

This week we had an exciting experience. Sister Banjaree, a recent convert, called us and told us she had found 30 new investigators for us. WHAT?! All 6 of the missionaries were given a ride out to her house (she is in a different ampur, or county) by a few members and we piled out of the car to find a group of 30 middle schoolers sitting, waiting, looking at us with big eyes. Then it all clicked in my brain...Sister Banjaree is a middle school teacher...oh. Haha. It was pretty exciting. (and don't worry, we had permission to share with the kids.) We split into three groups and each companionship taught 10 kids. It was a lot of fun, and the kids seemed pretty interested. More on them to come.

This week we had some heart attack moments. Our wonderful investigator King didn't arrive for his baptismal interview and wasn’t answering his phone. We were crushed. That was Friday afternoon. We drank some Milo (sort of like chocolate milk but maybe better? I can't decide) to console ourselves and then prayed for a miracle. Saturday morning King showed up at the church. We called Elder Lim and he ran over to the church and interviewed King. He was baptized yesterday. When he bore his testimony, he said, "I am so excited. I want to testify that everyone can apply the teachings of Jesus Christ in their lives. My life is changed because of it." :) He is so awesome!! 

On Saturday we taught the children again. And I ate a fish. I actually liked it. We also taught a new investigator named Tuie. We taught him some of the commandments to make sure he could start changing his life right away. He would repeat everything we said so he could remember it. "The Word of Wisdom is for our physical and spiritual benefit. Here are 5 things to learn about it and the blessings we can receive when we follow." "Okay. Five things." "We don't drink alcohol." "Right. Alcohol." "Or coffee or tea." "Oh, okay. I'll stop drinking coffee. No coffee or tea." And so it went with the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and the Sabbath Day. He agreed to keep all of these three commandments. He even said he would change his job so he could come to church on Sundays. He wasn't sure if he could come to church on Sunday though because he hadn't requested the day off. We asked him to pray and try to find someone who could switch him shifts.

Church was pretty overwhelming. The Sisaket Branch was standing room only yesterday! While we were waiting for investigators to show up, a truck pulled through the church gates. In the bed of the truck were about 20 of the 30 children that Sister Banjaree invited us to teach. It was one of the best things I have ever seen...all the kids in soccer jerseys and basketball shorts leaping out of the bed of the truck and running into the church. (In Thailand it's legal to ride in the bed of a truck, don't worry.) And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Tuie popped up in front of me and was like, "I switched my shift! Here I am!" Sister Croft and I were so happy. People like that, who are willing to make any change they need to without a second thought, inspire me so much. They make me want to cry. 

So that was our week, it was pretty quiet, but still some good work got done. Oh, we also have a new microwave. On Tuesday, our little heating stove broke...the plug got melted somehow in the socket and the prongs broke off. It was rather tragic. When we were instructed to get a 72 hour supply of food as a precaution with the coup, we got a microwave, too. I rode home with it on the back of my bike. I was pretty proud. Haha. :) I also finally wore a hole through the bottom of my crocs. Noooooooo. Time for new shoes, I guess.

Anyway, it was a good week. All is well in Thailand. Please continue to pray for this wonderful country and for these wonderful people so that this work can move forward! 

I love you!!

Sister Hughes

Monday, May 19, 2014

Look, Mom! No hands!!

That's right, folks. I can now ride my bike with NO HANDS. And for long periods of time, too. I've been working on it ever since I was in Lampang and I am finally gang enough that I can do it now. (Gang = skilled, talented, etc.)

This week involved lots of good things. An FHE dinner at which I literally said a prayer of desperation to have room in my stomach for all the food that was presented to me. Lots of riding Shamuu with no hands. Laughing my head off at the stories the elders in Sisaket tell. Miracle baptisms of grandpas turned children’s soccer coaches (more on this in a bit). Drinking Coco Yen (it's like chocolate milk...only better...maybe it's really hot here and maybe Sister Croft and I drink it all the time. It's fine, okay?) and skipping meals because we are so busy. Having investigators bring their friends to church to learn with us, too. Seeing how much I am changing here in Sisket and how much Sister Croft is helping me to be the best missionary that I can be. Spreading the love that Christ has for each of us with anyone I could talk to. It was a good week.

So here we go. This week Sister Croft and I were literally swamped with appointments and with contacting. It's a mission rule that we go contacting for 2 hours every day. It's really hard to make sure it happens when you have a lot of investigators you are trying to help prepare for baptism, but hey. Exact obedience brings miracles, right? And we for sure saw a miracle this week. 

Last week Sister Croft and I went contacting in a little park by the church where people go to exercise. An older gentleman named Noy saw us, but he was running around the park 20 times and he couldn't stop to talk. He had to finish his twenty laps. A few days later, he saw us again and set up an appointment to come to the church on Saturday. "I saw you at the park, but I couldn't stop. I had to finish my twenty laps! I have to be in shape to be a good soccer coach for the children!" Haha. He came, talked at us for 20 minutes, told me he couldn't believe that I ride my bike every day and am still fat, and that I didn't speak Thai very well compared to my companion (that happens a lot because Sister Croft is half Taiwanese so people think they can understand her better...) haha. And then he left. I was like, "Huh. That was strange." He showed up to church the next day and was instantly friends with everyone. We taught him all the lessons this week and he was so prepared to receive everything we taught him. At one point, he told us to stop asking him to live the commandments because he was already willing to keep them. Ha. Yesterday in Priesthood the elders said he was leading all the group discussions. He was baptized yesterday and it was probably one of the happiest baptisms of my life. He was so happy and ready. When he bore his testimony after he was baptized, he started by saying, "My fellow saints..."  : ) He told us that he could clearly see how God had prepared the path for him to find this church, which is God's true church, which is the only church he will ever be a part of. I congratulated him afterwards and he said to me (in English because, remember, I look like I'm from America so I can't speak Thai), " rainbow after rain." :) There is just a lot of joy in my heart about that man joining the church. Oh, he's great.

Another exciting thing that is happening in the world... We recently heard that our contacting approach that we've been using here in Thailand has just begun being used in Poland. POLAND. I can't believe the influence that Thailand is having on the world. The work of the Lord is hastening. Hold on to your seats, folks. The world is about to explode. :)

I love my life here in Sisaket. It's so good. There are prepared people everywhere. You've just got to open your mouth to find them. 

All my love,
Sister Hughes (someone said it right this week, and that's weird...)

Family Home Evening with Sister Banjari and family.
Sister Bew, me, Sister Croft
A fermented egg I ate . . .
Maybe it's really hot here, okay?
Sisaket sunsets never get old.
Brother Noy : )  : )  : )
Sister Bew and Sister Taew who help us every day  : )

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

(family photo )

***  We talked with Sister Hughes for one hour on Mother's Day. She sounds great, looks great, is happy and healthy and loving Sisaket where she is serving. So great to hear her voice, hear her laugh and to listen to stories. Here a few photos of Sister Hughes and Sisaket ***

(wearing her  M <3 M tshirt)

Sisters Hughes and Croft
Rainbows in Sisket


Sister Bew and Sister Hughes. Sister Bew goes to the MTC on the 4th of July

Famly Home Evening

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Cinco de Mayo ... in Thailand!

A birthday package on my birthday! Thank you, Auntie Carrie : )
Hello family! 

So sorry to be emailing so late and that this will be short...but we get to skype next week so that makes up for it, right? :) SO EXCITED.

This week was really great. The work here in Sisaket for me and Sister Croft is speeding up. We have investigators! Yay! (To answer all the questions...opening an area means we are the first sisters in Sisaket after a few months of not having sisters here. It means we started out with nothing—no investigators, no less actives to work with, no recent converts either. So we started from scratch! It's been super fun.) This month is called "Mayhem" and the goal is three baptisms for each companionship in the mission. Sister Croft and I are working for and expecting miracles. Pray for this mission! We are super close to qualifying for a temple :) 

Exciting news—a member here in the Sisaket branch just got her mission call! She is going to....THAILAND! :) She says I will be her trainer haha. I would love that! She goes to the Philippines MTC on July 4th. That was the day I got into country last year. Weird, huh? Time has literally flown by. I can't believe I am past my year mark now. I wish time would slow down a little.

This week I have been very very pleased with my district. We are such an eclectic group...but we all get along well and work hard together. It's the best kind of oddball group there could be. We cover just about every background...Utah, California, half Taiwanese, full Korean raised in Utah, and Laotian. Haha. Oh, and on Tuesday, I was telling our district how Heavenly Father blesses me when I am contacting with either bus tickets or puppies to keep me going. (Sometimes people will let me hold their puppies while I am talking to them; it's really great.) So that evening, Sister Croft and I rode up to the church for English class and Elder Angkham yells at me, "SISTER HUGHES! THERE IS A PUPPY! COME AND SEE!" I was skeptical that it was actually a puppy...and rightly was a HUGE, TERRIFYING SPIDER that was easily the size of my hand. Oy. Everyone makes me laugh harder than I have laughed in a really long time. It's the best.

Elder Bassett: "One time, Sister Taew forced me to eat mangoes and sticky rice when I was full."
Elder Lim: "Well...we've all got our crosses to bear."

Sister Croft: "I still can't believe you thought I was a greenie, Elder Angkham..."
Elder Angkham: "It's just my fault." (I love it when Elder Angkham speaks English more than just about anything in the world.)

There's a really long list. Those are some of my favorites. :)


THANK YOU FOR ALL THE BIRTHDAY WISHES!!! :) You are all so fantastic and wonderful!! I loved my birthday. It was such a good day. On Thursday night, Elder Lim asked to borrow my phone. This is pretty standard...using another missionary's phone to call an investigator who hasn't answered in a while (sneaky tactic, I know). I didn't think anything of it until the next morning when our alarm went off at 6:30am and our phone was singing "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU SISTER HUGHES" haha. The elders had all snuck off together at some point and recorded themselves singing Happy Birthday and set it as our alarm. We haven't changed it back haha. Sister Croft had somehow sneakily bought me a little cake from 7-11 and decorated my desk speedy-quick while I was brushing my teeth. So cute :) We also went to Ubon on my birthday for a zone training. I walked down the streets of Ubon and sang 22 by Taylor Swift. It was a good day. I also got packages that day from Auntie Carrie and Momma and Dad— the CDs! It was perfect timing. Everyone was so kind to me on my birthday, even the members were singing to me and giving me presents and such. I haven't even been here that long! Hardly over a week! There is a lot of love in Thailand.

So this morning for p-day we went to an elephant village (I'm not sure what you would call it in English...that's a direct translation from the Thai title for it). It was so much fun! There was a whole show, we got to ride them, and there was lots of photo taking. 

Here's a little list of some of the things I have learned on my mission thus far.
Some are fun; some are really valuable. It is so awesome to see how my mission has changed me. Ready? Here goes:
-How to ride my bike in a skirt
-How to ride my bike against traffic
-How to hop a fence in a skirt
-How to navigate to a median of a big street
-How to use a squatty toilet
-How to kill really big spiders
-How to live with cockroaches (ugh, I still hate that I have learned how to do this)
-How to eat chicken feet (whoops, I did that this week)
-How to use the scriptures as tools
-How to teach people about their Savior, Jesus Christ
-How to show that love in a constructive and uplifting way
-How to make a good decision
-How to be confident in myself
-How to be confident in the Lord and His promised blessings
-How to be obedient
-How to do hard things with a willing heart
-How to serve
-How to give
-How to try to love the way God loves, the best I can

Maybe I'll add more to this list next week. I'll be thinking about it.

I love you, family!! Can't wait to see your faces next week!!! :)

Sister Hughes

Quote of the Week

Oops, sometimes in Thailand, people pronounce their Rs as Ls. I have gotten a little lazy and started doing this, too...and it has crept into my English as well. That's dangerous.

Me to Sister Croft: "And the reward is a clown of eternal righteousness!" 

A terrible picture of me . . . but I'm eating a chicken foot.
Elder Lim pointing at the tear coming out of Elder Hartman's eye . . . he ate Somtam with 20 Thai peppers.
I can only stand 2. He's a boss.
The "puppy." 
Lost in the fields . . . where is the bathroom?
Birthday presents!
Surprise from Sister Croft! She wrapped a snickers bar and chocolate milk in pages from the Friend magazine.
*(fun fact: the Friend illustrations are by none other than Auntie Maryn (left)  and Guy Francis (right), illustrators extraordinaire)
Elder Angkham and Elder Hartman asleep on the way to Ubon. haha
Our oatmeal dinner . . . on our beds . . . mad at the elders who have an OVEN in their house
(for those of you who don't know, NO ONE in Thailand has an oven.)
Oops, an elephant picked me up today.
The missionaries and the members who went to the elephant village.
The missionaries from Surin were there too! I got to see Sister Ng!
Me at some ruins on our way back from the elephant village.
The Awkward District Photo. I love them so much.
So there the elders were, looking at t-shirts. And I walked by and said, "Wow, those shirts would be great at a ward barbeque,
don't you think? Oops, they all bought one. I'm not sorry I said anything at all.