Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy (Re)Birthday!

Dearest Family, Family Dearest,

It has been both a hard and extremely rewarding week. Sister Packard and I have struggled with many set backs, but God pulled us through and gave us miracles. If there is one thing that I have learned on my mission, it is that you have to sometimes travel through the wilderness to get to the Promised Land. Sometimes, you have to have a hard week to experience and appreciate the miracles God wants to give you. I won't get into the struggles because no one likes to read about those. I'll tell you the good stuff :)

MIRACLE #1. Brother Srithai.

Brother Srithai went missing two weeks ago and we had no idea where he had gone. We had all been given new phones at transfers, so we lost a bunch of phone numbers (including Srithai's number...) and when we got his number again, his phone was off. For days. Then when he didn't come to church, we knew something was wrong, so we took our Monday evening to find him. We had an address and a small map that he had drawn. Turns out the address was non-existent and the map was not very well drawn ... (For anyone who has ever been to Thailand knows at this point, the smart option would probably be to give up because it is almost impossible to find something without a usable map.) So Sister Packard and I just started walking into different apartment buildings and showing people a photo of Srithai. No one knew him. For two hours we were searching until finally, a man said he didn't know him, but wait, maybe he did. He said try the first door on the right. So we tried it and it was Srithai. HOORAY. And he was fine. Just a little under the weather. And it turns out the Zone Leaders had given us the wrong phone number. Whoops. He is now back on his feet, feeling much better, going to every activity and being his giggly self.

MIRACLE #2. Philip.

Last week I mentioned that Philip was struggling. This week we met with him and he opened up about all of his concerns. He did not feel ready to be baptized on his birthday (like he had wanted to do). We had asked him to go home and pray and ask God what he needed to do. He had prayed but felt like he was getting no guidance at all. That is the hardest thing in the world—when you want guidance but aren’t feeling any and you have to make a decision all on your own and trust that it is the right thing to do. We asked him to read in Moroni 7:13–16, and to pray again. He said he would get back to us. Saturday was a day where everything possible went wrong ... it was hard. At the end of the day, Sister Packard and I decided to call Philip one more time. We called and this was how the conversation went:
Us: "Hey Philip, did you pray and read the verses we sent you?"
Philip: "Yep."
Us: "And did you get an answer?"
Philip: "Yep."
Us: "So....what was your answer?"
Philip: "God said it's my choice. He said if something is good, then I should just do it and not be afraid."
Us: "So what are you going to choose?"
Philip: "I'm going to get baptized."
Us: "Awesome! When do you want to get baptized?"
Philip: "Tomorrow. It's my birthday!"
So Philip was baptized on his birthday. Sister Packard and I had nothing to do with his decision. He made it all on his own while trusting God. His baptism was the best baptism ever. When I asked him how he felt afterwards, he said, "When I was under the water, it's like time stopped and I saw all of my past get erased except for the good things. And when I came back up I had goosebumps all over." He is the greatest. He couldn't stop smiling and neither could I. :)

Other adventures this week include trekking through the mud to get to some members houses with Sister Porm. She said we were her little ducklings so we called her Mama Duck. It was good times. 

This week I have thought a lot about the hymn “Jesus Lover of My Soul.” It might just be my favorite hymn (especially when Alex Boye sings it). There is one part where it says:

Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring.
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

My whole mission I have been so fascinated by the analogy of light. I love that Christ is our light. But as I listened to this hymn the other day, I loved the idea that Christ also extends His care with His shadow. Christ is always exactly what we need Him to be. Our guiding light or our comfort and protecting shield and shadow. Whatever we stand in need of, Christ offers to us. I know that is true.

And there was our week. This week will be actually crazy. We are moving houses tomorrow; we have a meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday, and Zone Trainings the rest of the week. Lots of traveling. Lots of work. I'm excited for it all. October is going to be a busy month. Bring It On.

I love you!

Sister Hugh


"Grandma, your smile is so pretty." Sister Porm
"I don't have any teeth." Sister Somrudee

"Sister Hughes, sometimes I feel like you are my only friend in the whole world." —Sister Packard in the park where there were no people. 

"Sister Muller! I did my family history and I found out I'm only 23, not 24!" —Brother Bew

We love Philip!

Helping Sister Huang make somtam!
Brother Srithai back to his normal, goofy self : )
Mud trekking

Juice boxes during a member visit.
Sparkle crocks; it's been a while.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thailand, September 22, 2014

My MTC District
Dearest Family Family Dearest,

And so begins my last transfer in Thailand.
It's the strangest thing to think about in the whole world.
This week we spent a lot of time in Bangkok for various reasons, which I will shortly explain, and it was wonderful. I am beginning to get used to the overnight bus trips to Bangkok. I don't know if that's a good thing? : ) Anyway. Here are the transfer updates!

Last Monday for p-day we went to Kumpawapi. It's a little tiny town that has park...full of monkeys. It has been Sister Muller's dream since the MTC to go there. And so we did. It was a good day. On our way home, we got the "moose call" (Elder Black used to think that the Moves Call was called a "moose call" when he was a greenie...I'm still cracking up about that one). We found out that Sister Adams, Elder Davis, and Sister Speas were all moving. It was hard. Sister Adams had been here for a long time, and Elder Davis and Sister Speas had both only been here for 6 weeks. 

We traveled to Bangkok Tuesday night; we needed to be there by 8 am Wednesday morning to renew our visas. My MTC group was there. It was so good to see everyone. We were able to just talk for a while we were waiting for all of our paperwork to be processed and I loved it. The rest of Wednesday was spent going to the mission office, and helping with the new missionaries (18 NEW MISSIONARIES THIS WEEK. And next transfer we are getting 21!), traveling around Bangkok, going to Book of Mormon classes, etc. We stayed the night in Pakkret with Sister Packard and Sister Embley. I got to see BookBeak :) So fun. We also got to see Elder Trabing who we now call Hunter. He is back in Bangkok teaching English. 

Transfers came and now I am companions with...SISTER PACKARD AGAIN! And Sister Speas moved to Pakkret with Sister Embley. Sister Muller is training Sister Hatch and Elder Black is training Elder Martindale (who is actually taller than Elder Black, believe it or not...they are a giant companionship ha). Two more sets of elders have been added to our zone—one companionship in Nong Khai and the other companionship in Sakonakhon. We are all super excited about that. Our little zone is growing :)

After our transfers meeting, we had an all-missionary meeting; President Senior talked with us and shared counsel about the direction for our mission. As missionaries, we have worked very hard and diligently to find, teach and baptize. Now it's time to more fully work towards finding, teaching, baptizing, retaining and reactivating. We talked about involving members more in our missionary work. The changes are good changes and inspired changes, and we are all excited about the effect this can have as we serve. We are striving for balance in our work, like I mentioned last week. 

I am so excited for this transfer. Our zone is filled with wonderful missionaries. I can feel that great things are going to happen. 

This week I have been reflecting a lot upon how much I love this country. On our bus trips to and from Bangkok, we get to see so much of Thailand. I love looking out the windows watching the country. I have seen so many miracles and so many wonderful things happen here with so many wonderful people. I feel so blessed to be here.

This morning in my personal studies, I was reading in 1 Nephi 21 and I re-read a verse that I had read in the MTC. It got me then. And it still gets me every time. 

 13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be
established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more; for the 
Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

THE EAST! That is where I am. This is where the church is also being established. The Lord is building and supporting His people in this great country. I am so grateful to be a part of it. :)

Please continue to pray for the people in Udon. We are taking good care of them. And many need some extra help from up above.

I love you, family!

Sister Hughes

Sister Adams, Sister Muller. McDonalds on our songtaew. 
 Kumpawapi. Me and a monkey; he stole a waterbottle.

Me, Philip, Sister Speas.
Transfers meeting.
LOVE me some BookBeak

Monday, September 15, 2014

Q&A from Udon

Udon has my heart.
Dearest Family Family Dearest,

It has been a good week!

Mom has asked me to answer a few questions this week, so here we go! 

What did you learn that you felt really good about during Mission leadership conference?

What I learned that I felt really good about—I think initially, I felt really jarred by our Mission Leadership Conference. It took me a while to determine what I felt really good about because I needed time to digest what was discussed about changes needed. There was so much truth in what we were taught by Elder Allen. We needed a wake up call to have more balance in all that we do. And I think that is the best thing I learned—working for balance in my labors.

What did / do you feel is your greatest challenge right now?
Balance! Working to make sure I am spending equal time and equal effort in all different areas of missionary work. And also making sure that recent converts are getting all of the support they need. There are so many wonderful people, I sometimes worry that there is no time in all the world to help all of them effectively.

What is your greatest joy as a missionary right now? 
My greatest joy is the people that I work with. This week we helped SriThai request ordinance work for his mother, father, and older sister. If you could have seen his face...that was the best moment of my week. More on that in a moment.

Do you still teach English classes?
Yes...........only 6 more .............

Do you have a favorite gospel principle to teach investigators?
My favorite thing right now to teach is actually the After Baptism lessons. Sister Speas and I have been using this fun idea to print out pictures of the First Vision, temples, etc., and teach the corresponding principles and then people write their testimonies on the backs of the photos. Then they always have a reminder of what they know is true with them. We had another activity this week with like 8 or 9 people and everyone got to choose a photo of a temple and then they wrote their goals for getting to the temple on the back. It's fun :)

Are you cooking at home twice a week (the things you learn reading other missionary blogs!)?
We are working on it and making adjustments. We live really far away from the church and the city center so it's really tough to cook at home and only take 1 hour to do we are so busy that Sister Speas and I actually never eat dinner. Whoops. But we're good at making PB&J sandwiches to bring to church on Sunday :)

What miracles have you experienced this week?
This week I have seen an amazing miracle. Brother SriThai was able to request ordinance work for his parents and older sister. I have never in my whole mission seen anyone have success doing family history work. It is a work that is almost impossible because 1) most people don’t keep or have records, and 2) most people don’t know their relatives’ real names (most just go by a nickname). Brother SriThai beat all the odds and had records and knew peoples' names. This coming week, Sister Zaugg and Sister Stewart will be going to the temple in Provo and doing their temple work. We gave SriThai a photo of the Provo temple and he got a little teary as he told us, "I am so happy." He Waiied us all (us all = me, Sister Speas, and the Browns...we couldn't have helped him get things done without them!) and had the best smile on his face. :)

This week Brother SriThai also bought Sister Speas a new backpack because hers was falling apart...the next day he showed up at the church with one for me. He then said, "The inside is prettier! Look!" I looked and inside my backpack was another backpack. He said, "That one is mine," and then giggled for a good 5 minutes about his little joke. We are now in a backpack gang, which makes him the happiest person in the whole wide world. I love that man.

This week was so good because we spent so much time in service to others. We tried our hardest to be balanced and to make sure we were serving our investigators, our recent converts, members, and less active members all equally. I feel like I am a more well-rounded missionary this week, which is what we all should be, right? Calls to repentance are hard. They're never fun at first. But the result is always greater peace, greater love for the Lord, and greater understanding of who the Lord wants me to be, and who I can become. 

This week we shall continue becoming who the Lord wants us to be. 

I love you!!!

Sister Hughes

"We could be home for Superbowl Sunday! We're goin' home, baby!!" 
—Elder Brown to Sister Brown  :  )

Me with Brother Suwaan, Sister Somrudee, and Sister Lam. These sweet people walk a mile through red mud
to get to where they catch an hour long bus ride to the church each week. They get to the church
and then we help them wash their feet and shoes off before we all go inside together.
Lunch in the grass.
Elder Brown and Brother SriThai requesting ordinances for family!
Backpack gang

Switch off with Sister Muller
Eating crickets. Yummmmmmmmmmmm. They are crunchy and salty.