Monday, June 30, 2014

Humans are Humans of Surprise

Our last district photo before transfers : )

Dearest Family Family Dearest,

This week was so great. And really long. It was divided into lots of parts—part one: waiting to find out about transfers, part two: transfers, and part three: after transfers. This week was a mini eternity, but it was so great. I have a great story to share. :)

I have written home before about how God is a God of Surprise. I still firmly believe this, and it's confirmed to me every day of my mission. But another principle I am learning is that Humans are Humans of Surprise. It only makes sense, doesn't it? We are children of God, divine beings with godlike qualities. I think one of the qualities that we have all inherited is the quality of *surprise* (those are supposed to be sparkles because surprises are sparkly, of course).

On Monday, after a really full p-day of going to the booming Sisaket Zoo (there were like 5 birds and maybe 15 deer...oh and some really weird cows), we were all on pins and needles waiting for the call about moves. As we were eating dinner at a member's house, Elder Lim got a call from the Zone Leaders. He came back and said, "Elder Bassett is the only one in our district moving." Then the Zone Leaders called again. We all were was a really long phone call...we all were contemplating throwing up?...and then he came into the room and said, "The Zone Leaders called about Prem...she wants to get baptized tomorrow in Ubon." (Background, we were so sad about her not getting baptized because she was moving to Ubon for two months to go to beauty school, I forgot to mention that last by this point, she was in Ubon.) We were all shocked. WHAT?! Then another phone call from the Zone Leaders...and they gave us permission to go to the baptism :)

So on Tuesday, Sister Croft and I skipped our weekly English class and left the elders to organize the class and teach on their own (no, I was not stressed, if you are wondering...haha) and went to Ubon. It's fine, we just go to Ubon every other day. Haha. Prem picked us up at the bus station and told us all about what happened. She got to Ubon and saw her sister, Game, who is a member. They talked for a while and then Prem saw some of her other member friends at a family home evening activity. Something was said by someone—I may never know what happened exactly—but they said what she needed to hear to help her overcome her fears about being baptized. And so she decided to get baptized. On Tuesday. I have never seen someone so happy or excited to get baptized. I asked her before the service how she felt. She said, "In 15 more minutes, I will be born again." :)

Sister Croft and I got to bear our testimonies at her baptism, along with Sister Painter and SIster Jackson. It was such a cool experience. I shared Moroni 10:32 because prophets know how to say what I want to say better than I do. And then I sat back down and Prem and I held hands until it was time for her to get baptized. After her baptism, she said, "Sister Hughes, I am a new person." Oy, she is so good it kills me. I love her so much.

And that was the miracle and surprise of the week. Prem surprise changed her mind and had a surprise baptism and surprise I got permission to be there for it. I love surprises.

Elder Bassett was the only person to leave our district...he moved to Bangkok and is in Rangsit. It is 100% the opposite of Sisaket. He'll like it. And the new member of our district is...Elder Butler! He's a greenie :) Everyone kept saying, "I feel so bad for Elder Butler...being new in country is so tiring." I agreed, but secretly felt worse for Elder Lim because I am the only other person in our district who has trained before and I know how tired he is. Haha. It's going to be a really good transfer. (And yes, only elders came in this transfer, but next transfer there will be 8 sisters coming in. Good thing, too. Sister Weed and Sister Painter are dying (going home) next transfer—there are about 10 sisters in their group total—and Sister Zaugg is dying in the middle of August...SO WEIRD.)

And that was the week. It was pretty darn exciting. My suitcase heart is getting really heavy, but I don't even care. I'm happy as can be :) This coming week is the 4th of can bet we will be celebrating it at the Sisaket waffle house. MERICA! (That also marks my one year in did I get so old in the mission?!)

All my loves,
Sister Hungry

The best water buffalo you'll ever see.

Me. River. 
Prem's baptism. Me, Prem, and Sister Croft.
Me, Prem, Sister Croft and Game.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The week here in Sisaket, Thailand

Ubon District Conference, June 21-22; missionaries and new members
Dearest Family,

This week I would like to present Suzanne Morgan with a golden star for identifying the curious bug from last week as a whip scorpion or ‘‘vinegaroon." Congratulations! And thank you!

As for the rest of the week here in Sisaket, Thailand: Things have been pretty great. On Monday for our p-day we went to Ubon to celebrate Sister Painter's birthday. We went bowling! It was probably one of the most hilarious things ever...the bowling alley we went to was documenting the whole thing with cameras. We're pretty sure our faces will end up on some sort of billboard for their bowling alley in the not too far future.

That night at Family Home Evening, we were attacked by bugs. There are these bugs in Thailand that will swarm lights when it is about to rain. I don't know what they are, but they're curious to me. Anyway, as we were eating dinner on Sister Bew's front porch, the bugs started coming in normal numbers...and then they kept coming...and kept coming...and kept coming...until we couldn't even see, the air was so thick with bugs. It was actually the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Everyone was screaming with laughter. I'm pretty sure I haven't laughed like that in a really long time.  :)

We spent a lot of time trying to find new investigators this week. That = a sunburned neck. But it's all worth it. 

We taught Prem this week. We had some of the most amazing lessons with her. We taught her on Tuesday and she told us that she felt unsure of being able to keep the commandments completely. We invited her to read 3 Nephi 11 (Christ teaching at the temple about covenants between God and man) and pray about being baptized when she went home. We saw her again on Thursday and she said she still didn't have an answer. We reviewed the baptismal interview questions to help her know that she did understand and was prepared for baptism. And she felt better but was still just not feeling as much confidence in herself as she wanted. We suggested to her that she could interview and see if she felt better after that, so we set up an appointment for Friday. We met with her and had the most spiritual lesson I have ever been in. She was interviewed, was ready, confident and was so so excited! I can't even begin to tell you how amazing she is. I feel so privileged and blessed to have been able to meet her and help her. If I move this week (oh, yeah, transfers are this week, people!), I think it might be one of my most cherished memories of this area—helping Prem grow closer to her Savior. I will keep everyone updated on her progress, of course :)

This week I have thought a lot about three verses in the Book of Mormon. They are verses we found while we were trying to help Prem, and they in turn ended up shaping my entire outlook on my week. Alma 37: 44-46. They are so good. (They are referring to the liahona, or a compass that worked according to faith.)

44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
 45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
 46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us.The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

I have no doubt that the words of Christ point us to eternal happiness. Who wouldn't want that? Who wouldn't want to be carried beyond the vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise? I feel like that is how it is with all that God promises us and the way He has prepared for us. Give up something good for something better. Sacrifice and trust Him. And a far better land of promise is not far away. If we look to Him, we will live. I know that is true. 

I love you all, and I'm sorry my email wasn't the most exciting this's funny, the longer I am out on my mission, the less I have to say. I feel like I have more experiences, but don't have the words to accurately explain them in one short email. I hope you'll forgive me for this week...I'll prepare better for next week :)


Sister Hughes

Happy Birthday, Sister Painter! Me, Sisters Croft, Jackson and Painter
This doesn't even begin to capture the massive quantity of bugs that surrounded us!
Family Home Evening; UNO
Me and Sister Dang. She made me a scarf : ) 

Last Waffle Friday lunch meeting of the transfer . . .  sad day.
Ribbon, Sister Croft, Bew and me.
Me, Sister Senior at Ubon District Conference on Sunday.


Monday, June 16, 2014

“What is going on with this guy?!” —Elder Angkham

UBON ZONE. We're doing work. This zone was once known as the zone that never saw baptisms. : )

Dear Family,

It has been a good week. We had Zone Conference! Which always means it's a good week :) 
We also had a lot of rain. A LOT of rain. I think the rainy season is upon us, folks. 
Well, sit back, listen up, and enjoy the updates of the week.

Tuesday was English class. We played "Do You Love Your Neighbor" which resulted in screams of laughter, oy it is so funny. We contacted in the was wet. And everyone was paranoid that we would get sick. Haha.

Wednesday was ZONE CONFERENCE! HOORAY!! We got up super early and took a van out to Ubon where our whole zone met together with the Seniors. They are super. For breakfast they brought us Krispy Kremes from Bangkok. Have I mentioned that it was a really good day? In our training we learned about the importance of teaching and testifying of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost and the importance of teaching and testifying of the blessing of repentance. Teaching about a loving Heavenly Father who is compassionate and who loves each of us, teaching about the majesty of Jesus Christ’s message and mission, and teaching about the role of the Holy Ghost testifying of truth is one of the greatest privileges as a missionary that I can have helping people to understand and to embrace the gospel.  It was so good.

For lunch we had Mexican food. Burritos, people. It's a thing that doesn't really exist in Thailand, so when you have treasure it. In the middle of lunch, President Senior got up and left with Elder Astle and Elder Clarke on some bikes. They came back with Tim Tams and milk for everyone. We took a few minutes and had a Tim Tam Slam as a zone. (Tim Tams are chocolate covered wafer cookies—you can suck milk through them and then they start to disintegrate so you have to slam it in your mouth. Hence the name "Tim Tam Slam." It's kind of a mission tradition.) It was so good to see everyone in our zone. Elder Astle, Elder Passey, and Elder Hill from my MTC district are in this zone, too! It was so exciting to have that mini reunion. 

I think one of the best things I learned from Zone conference, though, was this: Nothing in my life has been more perfectly calculated and planned by God than my mission. This has been confirmed to me over and over again, and I am so grateful to know that God's hand is in every aspect of not only my life, but in the lives of everyone around me. Sister Croft and I, at the beginning of the transfer, started this thing called "Gratitude Minute" before we would do our nightly planning. We changed it this week to "The Hand of God." We spend a minute discussing how we saw the hand of God in our day. It's a wonderful little activity that helps us see the good that God is working in our missions.

We spent a lot of time this week trudging through the rain and mud here in Sisaket. It's rough, in a country where most everyone does not like rain. But here is my favorite thing that happened this week. While visiting a less active church member on Friday night, we were stuck in mud and gunk and we were wet and cold. (I know, who knew you could get cold in Thailand? Maybe I'm cold blooded? I don't know.) Anyway. We took a second to look around at where we were and do you know what we saw? For the very first time in my life, I saw fireflies. FIREFLIES! They were so beautiful! Little sparkles in the air around me. 

This week there were 6 more baptisms in our branch. Hooray! Two more of the little girls got baptized. Two more Cambodians joined the church and bore their testimonies in Cambodian. Sometimes I think I can almost understand it, but other times I am completely lost. : )  A brother with awesome crazy scientist hair got baptized, and a girl named Toffee who was so cute and nervous. It was a good day yesterday.

Well, that was the week! I want to wish all the fathers out there a happy happy Father's Day! I sure do love my daddy :)

I love you, family. So much!!

Sister Hughes

Quotes of the Week

Elder Bassett: "If I had to live in a time period where I had to be an executioner, it'd be the French Revolution."

Elder Angkham (about his umbrella that kept closing on him) : "What is going on with this guy?!" 

The Tim Tam Slams
MTC district reunion with President Senior . . . I love how incredibly awkward this photo is. My heart delights in it.
Me, Elders Hill, Passey and Astle, President Senior.
Me and Sister Petersen and the flowers. Sister Peterson came up to me at Zone Conference and she said,
"Sister Hughes, I've got to get something off my chest. I read your blog before I came into the field.
Ok, I said it. I hope that doesn't creep you out.” Haha. I love that girl.
District Pizza Day for P-Day! It was buy one, get one free . . . maybe we got a lot. It's fine.
A member from America bought them for us. Haha.
Elder Hartman playing badminton in the rain. So good.
THE BUG WE FOUND IN THE CHURCH. WHAT IS IT. Some of us think it's a scorpion. Others think it isn't.
Whoever can find out what it is gets a gold star. When Elder Angkham squished it in a door jamb, it smelled like vinegar. Weird.
Linger Longer after church yesterday.
One of my favorite families! Brother Somsak, Sister Tan, Sister Bew and Sister Ribbon : )
A BATTLE! Elder Lim and Sawwan (in the white shirt. His name means Heaven). I love Sundays.
Me, Gee and Sister Croft.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sometimes a Little Rain is the Best Blessing

My wonderful district

Dearest Family,

OY! I wish I was there so bad! The graduation looked so epic. I can't believe Walker is graduated. I can't believe he is so big. I am so confused about where the time is blows my mind!

This week we had two really special moments. We have an investigator named Prem who is so wonderful and sassy. I love that lady. Her younger sister has been a church member for about 2 years and she is good friends with another member here in Sisaket. She told her friend that she wanted to learn how to stop drinking and have a better life, so here we are, teaching her. This week we taught her about God’s plan for each of us. I think it was a lot of information for her to process, realizing her true and divine potential and finally beginning to understand who Christ is and what He means to her. We read Mosiah 3 verses 7 through 10 with her. I love these verses of scripture that teach and testify of Christ's great love for each of us. I loved watching the change in Prem as she realized just how much Christ loves her. She said, "I can't believe that He didn't have to do that, but He did. He suffered so much and gave so much...I feel like I want to cry." And then she did. I have never had an investigator cry when learning about the Savior before. It was such a wonderful moment. I wish everyone I talk to could understand the Savior like Prem does. She wants to get baptized, but is so scared of the big change it will be for her. Please say a couple of prayers for her. :)

This week I also realized that I have a really big problem with my Ls and my Rs. Even in English. Sister Croft and I have been in laughing fits all week because we are catching our mistakes more and more frequently. It happens too much for it to just be "an accident." Whoops. We're struggling with The Engrish in these parts.

Speaking of Engrish, while teaching the 30 childrens this week, I got to take all the little kids (6 and under) to the side and teach them the English alphabet and play games. They were so funny, asking me questions like this: Teacher, have you ever eaten a red ant? Teacher, have you ever eaten Somtam? Teacher, have you ever eaten a shrimp? Teacher, why are your eyes blue? (One little girl answered this question and said, "She's from America, of course. Everyone has blue eyes and speaks English over there." I was dying.) Teacher, why are my eyes brown? Teacher, why are you so pretty? Teacher, can I pretend you are my mom? Oy, it killed me. They were so funny. I very much enjoyed myself.

This week we had an investigator get baptized. Her name is Fone (her name means Rain). I love looking back on the change that the Savior brought about in her life, too. Oh, she is so cute. When Sister Croft and I first got to Sisaket, we met and started teaching a man named Kob (pronounced Gope) who was so interested in the gospel. We taught him a lot, but he didn't really progress because he couldn't get baptized. He is amazing, though! Probably one of the saddest moments of my mission was when we had to stop teaching him. Just before we stopped teaching him, though, he brought his girlfriend to a lesson. She had no idea she was coming... They walked in together and she looked like a deer in the headlights. She was so terrified of us. He told her he had an appointment at the church and all she would have to do is sit and wait for him to be done. Little did she know we would fully involve her in the lesson and invite her to pray and read in the scriptures and go to church and be baptized. She was so scared that day, but she said she would come back. And she did, again and again. 

The change in Fone is amazing. A shy and very quiet young woman is now confident and happy. She had so much faith in the Savior that she made every change needed in order to be baptized. She quietly went about and changed her life. She saw what she needed to do and then did it. She was glowing when she passed her baptismal interview. She was all smiles at her baptism. I am so proud of her and I am so impressed by her faith. There is a very special place in my suitcase heart for that girl. 

6 of the 30 childrens got baptized this week, and Elder Hartman and Elder Angkham baptized a third person who is originally from Cambodia this transfer. That brings us to a total of 8 baptisms in Sisaket for the week. That has never happened before. It is a miracle! :)

So all in all, it was a good week. I thought a lot about you this week, family. I told everyone that my brother was graduating high school and that he was the coolest cat around (oops, no wildcat pun intended haha). I love you guys all so much!! <3

All of my love (and there's a whole lot of it),
Sister Hughes

The little kidlets and the alphabet

Family Home Evening—grilling pork! So fun and so delicious
Elder Bassett at English class pretending to be a lost tourist so that everyone could give him directions in English.
He did such a good job; ti was hilarious
The most epic newspaper hat ever
Out in the fields : )
The sunsets here never cease to amaze me