Monday, July 28, 2014

Illuminated with Sunshine

Our favorite shake lady. We are such frequent customers that she actually dreams about us . . . whoops.
Dearest Family Family Dearest,

This was a crazy week, as it always is. Here are some little snippets of what happened:

- We are working so hard but still struggling to find investigators. It's hard.

- English class was Cowboy themed. I have a video of the students singing "Home On the Range." So great.

- There was lots of rain this week. On Tuesday night, there was the craziest thunder and lightning storm I've ever experienced. It was terrifying. I don't know if I have ever been so scared in my whole life haha. The lightning would strike and the thunder would crack simultaneously. Even when I had my eyes closed and my head hidden under my blankets, when the lightning struck, everything would turn bright, bright white. I thought I would walk out to a charred city the next morning, but we were spared. Haha.

- We visited Brother Noy at his house this week. He sang us a wonderful song that he sings with the kids he teaches. He made it up himself. "Hello, how are you, where are you go..." I have a video of him singing it and dancing. It's the little things : )

- On Wednesday I was told by a member's non-member mother that she could communicate with people on other stars when she meditates. She then asked me if I wanted to try. I politely declined and awkwardly sipped on my glass of water until the topic of conversation changed.

- I ate fish stomach soup.

- Elder Angkham caught a tukkae (I don't know how you spell that in's this in Thai "ตู้แก" if you wanted to look it up) at a member's house. Thais are so afraid of these geckos because if they bite you they lock their jaws and don't let go. I held it. It was cool.

- A less active member that we have been working with came to a branch activity on Saturday. We went to go see if she was home before the activity started. She was. We invited her to go. She said no. We said, "We're going to make cake." She changed her mind. She followed us to the church on her bike :)

- There was a wonderful baptism yesterday; I spoke of little Muay a few weeks ago getting baptized. This week her brother was baptized and her mother was at the baptism. Another girl named Cartoon was baptized. Her boyfriend had threatened to break up with her if she was baptized. She walked into the church yesterday and told us all, "I chose God." :)

This week, for whatever reason, I have been thinking a lot about the missionaries in the MTC who are about to come to Thailand. I am so so excited for them. I wish I could talk to them and tell them about how wonderful and amazing being a missionary in the Thailand Bangkok mission is. This morning I was reading in Alma 26. A classic missionary chapter. I have read this chapter multiple times over the course of my mission, and every time the meaning has changed for me and it just gets better every time. This is what I want to share with all the missionaries coming to Thailand. Here it starts:

1 And now, these are the words of Ammon to his brethren, which say thus: My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?
2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell? 
3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the [Thais], were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.

I can honestly say that I had no foresight of the great blessings that awaited me, my family, or the people of Thailand. I have always known that God is good. But now I know just how good. It is an amazing thing to be an instrument in His hands—to help Him in His work and His glory. Ammon continues and illustrates for us how we are to help others, how we can work miracles, and how the Lord comforts us in our trials. Missions are hard. This is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I have never been so exhausted, physically or emotionally or spiritually. But at the end of every day, I look back and I can say that the Lord has comforted me and I have seen success. I have seen the goodness of God in my life and in the lives of those I have had the blessing to know. I know that He will do anything and everything in His power to help us and bless us. I have seen miracles. Ammon goes on to say,

 35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

I wish the missionaries in the MTC could see what amazing things lie ahead of them. I wish I could tell them just what amazing blessings are waiting—for them, for their families, and for the people they will meet and teach. I remember so clearly my first day in country. I was talking to one of the missionaries who was showing us around Bangkok. His name was Elder Davies. I asked him what he thought I should know as a greenie. He looked at me and said, "Sister Hughes, every single day of your mission in Thailand will be an adventure." And it has been. This is the best adventure I have ever been on, and it is the best adventure anyone could ever have. This —my mission— is what gives me reason to rejoice. God has been so mindful of me in this land. To the missionaries coming to Thailand, or to anyone going on a mission, or to anyone who is spreading the gospel, I want to say this:

This is my life and Christ is my light. The world has never been so illuminated with sunshine as it has been in the Land of Smiles.

I love my mission, and I love you. You are the best, family. <3

Sister Hughes

Me to Elder Hartman: "Each piece of my clothing has a name. For example, this dress is called "Blown flower..."nooooooooooooooooo" (Curse those pesky Ls and Rs...)

Sister Croft and I got put at our own table . . . it was like Thanksgiving at the kids' table . . . except with fish stomach soup.

Caught in a rainstorm.
Muay's brother Mark got baptized! And her mom was there : )  : )  : )
The tukkae