Monday, October 27, 2014

Eyewitness to His Majesty

Thailand Isaan misisonaries.
These sweet women gave us six referrals this week.

Dearest Family Family Dearest,

I wish I had the words to describe how I feel at this exact moment. There are too many feelings and thoughts to pinpoint exactly one emotion, but I think there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude to my God for all that He has given me. He has been so good to me in giving me the opportunity to serve in the Thailand Bangkok Mission for 18 months of my life.

This week was such a good week. Sister Packard and I saw many miracles. We found a family. We miraculously happened upon the house of a less active couple who haven't been to church in years and were just waiting for an invitation to come back. We received more referrals this week than I've seen in my entire mission. I've laughed more and loved more than I thought was possible, even when so much of what we worked for kept falling through on us. I have seen the Lord working miracles and teaching me very specific lessons this week, for which I will be always be grateful. 

This week I sat down each night after planning and started listing out some of the things I have learned from my mission. I love this verse of scripture: "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9. I testify that this is true. I have seen and learned so many things I will never forget. I never could have imagined all that has happened to me and my family because of my mission. Here is my list, in no particular order. (I tried to cut it down and keep it short. But I couldn't. I just couldn't do it.)

I have learned how to kill cockroaches. I have learned that Windex will get rid of ants if you don't have any bug spray. I have learned how to eat food I don't like with a smile on my face and say it's good (Did I learn how to lie on my mission? Oops...) I have learned how to use a squatter toilet. I have learned how to ride my bike against traffic. Oops. I have learned how to ride my bike with no hands (sorry, President...I've repented). I have learned how to catch a tuukae. I have learned that I can tan (mission blessings are real). 

I have learned what true faith is from the examples of countless missionaries, members, investigators, and especially President and Sister Senior.

I have seen miracles. Countless miracles in the lives of so many people, in this mission, and in my own life. It is hard for me to wrap my head around how good God is to us.

I have learned how to work hard until I feel like my body is going to give out on me. I wish there were no restrictions on our bodies so I could do all that my soul wants to do without getting tired.

I have seen that everyone will break on their missions. I truly believe that it's a part of our calling—we have to experience a piece of what Christ experienced. We get broken so that we can be shaped into what God needs us to be.

I've learned that God always places us exactly where we need to be. There are no coincidences in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have learned to love myself in spite of and because of my flaws. I've learned how to use the Lord to help me change and become. I am learning how to become the person that God has always intended for me to be.

My will and my desires are not always God's will and desire for me. And when I look back, I always see that God's way is the best way. 

Sometimes the people we are called to serve are simply our fellow missionaries.

I have learned that love heals.

I have learned that love is the most important thing that we can share as missionaries. When we love as the Savior and our Heavenly Father love, those we work with can better understand who their Savior and their Heavenly Father actually are.

I have learned that we are forever family with the people we love and serve, even if we are not actually related.

I learned that I have the ability to choose for myself. Sometimes God won't answer all our questions, because He wants us to learn and grow and exercise our agency. 

I have learned how God works. He is a God of Miracles and a God of Surprise who would do anything for His children.

I have learned how to listen to the Spirit and recognize the many different ways He works with me. I've learned how to help others recognize this as well.

I have learned how to be a good decision maker. (Okay. I'm still working on this one.) But I have started to overcome my indecisiveness.

I have learned how to trust the Lord and how to trust myself.

I have learned that all of the work I have consecrated to the Lord is not for naught. All of my work has resulted in miracles, though they are not necessarily for me or my companionship or my district, zone, or even my mission. Though I feel like sometimes I am seeing no results, God is making miracles happen through my efforts; miracles that He needs the most; miracles that have been years in the making.

I have gained such an appreciation for my family. I have always known that I am so very blessed to have the family that I have. I have always loved them and I have always been grateful. But that appreciation and love has grown infinitely larger on my mission. 

I have seen how immensely my family has been blessed. If I were to talk about these blessings, I might start crying and I'm saving the crying for later. The Lord has been so good to my family.

I have seen that my mission is just as much for me as for the people I am serving. I always thought that the people here needed me, probably because I was a little self-centered. I'm human. And while I did help people, I feel like they helped me more than I did anything for them. Because of my people, my eternities have been changed forever.

I have learned what D&C 18: 15-16 really means. There is joy in bringing souls unto Christ. This is not, however, limited to people who get baptized. This joy is with every single person I have ever worked with, be it an investigator, convert, less active, or active member. My joy is with all of these people. It's with my fellow missionaries. Together we have built eternal friendships and one day we will celebrate together with our Father in Heaven. We will all be in each others' arms, facing all of eternity, knowing nothing but pure joy and love.

I have learned why missionaries are so happy all the time. In our call letter, it states that there is more joy waiting for us in the mission field than we have ever known. That joy is a direct result of testifying of our Savior. I am the happiest I have ever been; these have been the best 18 months of my life because I have spent all of my time and efforts inviting others to come unto Him.

The most important truth I have learned is actually something I already knew. God is our loving Heavenly Father. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. He is the light and the life of the world. Christ's true church was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. We have a living prophet on the earth today. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. As a representative of Jesus Christ I testify and promise that these things are true and will change our lives forever.  

Thank you. Thank you for your love, letters, packages, and especially your prayers. Thailand has been a land of miracles. This is the work of God. It is all truth. If nothing else, I have been an eyewitness to His majesty as I have served in Thailand. I love my mission. I love being a missionary with all of my soul. I love my people. I love my God. I feel like I am the most blessed person in the entire world. I am forever grateful to have been a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Thailand Bangkok Mission. 

I love you, family. I can't wait to hug you on Friday.

Sister Hughes
Brother Broken and Sister Sombat. We miraculously found their house
and the first thing they brought out was the photo of their baptism.
Sister Porn made us fried somtam. That stuff is delicious.
Here is a pomeranian with drawn-on eyebrows.
This is our sweet family. Please pray for Meow, Nan, and Ae.
This is our coordination meeting with the Branch Mission Leader ...
he made us do Thai alphabet worksheets before we could talk about anything else. Hahah.
Last family dinner at the Browns.

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