Monday, December 15, 2014

This time I'm ready to run

1. Me, Gato, Sister Ellis and Sister Phraew. Sister Phraew's son Gato is the CUTEST little kid ever (aside from my little brother of course ;)). I love the members here so much.

2. Usually we decorate our planners every transfer...I got a little carried away with my planner this transfer and covered it in a Hobbit picture my older sister sent me. Shoutout to you Belle!

3. Selfie with Yanisa. Love this girl to bits.

Last week started with a spectacular nerf gun fight and transfer calls, which involved Elder Lingard, our district leader, shooting all the missionaries who were leaving the area in an ultra-dramatic "execution." He shot Elder Cutler, our zone leader who has only a transfer left on his mission, then Elder Anderson, Elder Lingard's companion, then Sister Ellis, which we knew because we knew we wouldn't be together more than a transfer...and then he pointed the gun at me.

And I thought: FLIP I CAN'T LEAVE YET I HAVE WORK TO DO--

--and then he shot himself instead.

The good news: I'm still here in Don Muang!!!

The bad news: I lost four people out of a six-person district that I loved to pieces.

The best news: my new companion is Sister Yanisa!!! We have literally been joking about being companions almost every week since we went on a switchoff in Korat together but I never thought it would happen, at least not for a few more months, because we're the same age in the mission (around 6 months). But for whatever reason, Prez felt like we needed to be together. in an International English ward. when I'm sick and can't work like I want to. But you know what? We're gonna tear this place up this transfer. We already are!

Teaching lessons with someone who speaks this language natively...man, it's the best thing ever. We teach SO WELL and ahh it's just the greatest even though sometimes I feel like I'm trying to catch up the whole time. My thai has gotten so much better just in the last four days...I'm excited to see where the next six weeks will take me :)

Just yesterday, we went caroling in Bangkhen, which is the area right next to ours here in Bangkok. It was humid and hot but loads of fun. Thai members of the church know how to help missionaries contact! Nothing attracts more people than a bunch of white people and thai people singing hymns in thai together, and it brings the Spirit like crazy, too. I love, love LOVE working here. We had Stake Conference earlier that day, too...It's so cool that we get to be part of a stake! The Bangkok North Stake is full of incredible Saints who know how to work and know how to share the gospel with everyone around them. When you're truly converted, you don't need to be asked to help teach, you don't need to be asked to share the gospel with your friends. You just do it. It comes naturally.

This work happens one by one. We work one by one just like the Savior.
Life is good. I love being a missionary. This work is baller!
Sister Z.


Monday, December 8, 2014

With His love to guide the way, we will carry on

1. Baptism!

2. Celebrating my 6-month mark with ice cream :)


So...we're on transfer week again! hopefully we'll get a call sooner than later to avoid some of the chaos that was last transfer...but frankly I think it'll be just as chaotic as it always is. I love the culture of this mission and the missionaries...I know Heavenly Father wanted me here, in this mission, with the people I've had a chance to serve with.

Tuesday was Zone Conference! We went caroling at the BTS (Bangkok Transit Service...or something like that) station...which is Thailand's hi-so fancy equivalent of the el train in Chicago...we had people taking pictures and videos of us left and right. I imagine we made quite a stir, but more than that, I hope we brought some of the Spirit with us and that that spirit stayed in the hearts of those who heard us.

At Zone Conference, President Senior shared with us one of their family Christmas traditions: they take Matthew 25: 34-40: "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." And then they cut up the phrases and stick them in a bag and every person in the family takes a slip of paper and that's their Christmas challenge to be like the Savior, to feed the hungry or visit the sick. And President extended that challenge to all of us this season.

So. I've been sick for about two months now. This is a bad thing. But through a lot of the pain and sickness I've had to deal with, I've been able to see the Lord's hand in my life, and I've experience so many acts of selflessness and kindness. I went on a switchoff to Bangkhen last Wednesday with Sister Downs, whom I adore. It was a super fun day, but I was in so much pain that I had to lay on a makeshift-bed for almost three hours at the church building because I was dizzy and nauseous and in pain. And Elder Hill, along with Elder Bush, my nong, bought me food and refused to accept me paying them back. And then they visited with me when they could have been running around contacting like every missionary usually does in this mission. They chose to spend their dinner hour talking to me and helping me get my focus off the pain. These Elders have already fulfilled their challenge to serve others like the Savior, and I am so touched and grateful for the missionaries in this mission. I believe it was President Thomas S. Monson who said that we will never be able to measure or estimate our ability to do good

And then on Sunday, I was freezing cold and so was everyone else, but my district leader, Elder Lingard, gave me his suit-coat to wear, even though he probably needed it more with his thin Arizona blood...and I wore his coat the whole day. He and all the Elders in my district here have been so nice to me in the midst of pain that has been making me feel like a very crappy missionary. And of course I can't forget my companion, Sister Ellis. There isn't much anyone can do to help me feel better, and it's been hard for her to not be able to help, but she's wonderful and supportive and at least helps me feel better about my ability to work (or lack thereof).

And we had a baptism! This time, a nine-year-old boy. He has the attention span of a squirrel but he loves reading the Book of Mormon. He's way cute. He was a miracle investigator and a miracle baptism...his grandma just got baptized last week and he wanted to get baptized so bad..and he's already best friends with all the boys in primary in that ward.

As for the rest of the week...well, it's crazy here. We invited a homeless guy to church and he ended up coming! Shocker. That almost never happens. We ended up giving him to the Elders because we weren't sure if he was being creepy or not. Turns out he's awesome. He wants to get baptized! But...so on Sunday, the Elders walked in on him making his own cigarettes in the bathroom. They had to dispose of the pot themselves. And then they taught him the Word of Wisdom. #classic

I love being a missionary!
Sister Z.


Monday, December 1, 2014

He is the Gift


1. Most of the missionaries in our stake for our Christmas program on Saturday! It was so much fun having hundreds of members together eating and celebrating Christmas with songs and Mormon messages.


2. Our Thanksgiving dinner! We had more people and more food than this, but this is the only group picture from the event. It was lots of fun, and even more fun to be able to share it with some people who needed some extra TLC from the missionaries this week.


3. Companion picture in front of the Christmas tree. :) We may not have pine trees here but Thai people know how to make do with paper and cardboard :)



Man, I feel like I just wrote my weekly letter from last week. Time is flying! This transfer is coming to a close so fast...and Christmas is nearly upon us!

This week I learned a lot of humility. We wouldn't have made balanced [the term used when missionaries reach their weekly/monthly goals for sharing the gospel] had our Elders not given us...a baptism. It's one thing to be on the giving end of something like that...we do it because we care more about unity and helping our fellow missionaries than keeping achievements for ourselves. But to be on the receiving end of that act of selflessness is really, really humbling. The sense of debt and gratitude I feel reminds me of how I feel about the Atonement and everything that Jesus Christ has done for all of us. His sacrifice makes it possible for us to return to live with him and our Heavenly Father after this life. We'd never be able to do any of that without him!

And we had our Christmas party! The wards here have been preparing and decorating for weeks now and it was an event not to be missed. Hundreds of members from our Bangkok North Stake came together to eat and participate in our Christmas program, which featured singing, cheesy acting, and Mormon messages, including the new video "He is the Gift" (http://www.mormon.org/christmas?cid=HPFR112814529) which was also released in Thai! It meant sooo much to me to be able to watch it with Thai subtitles instead of English. I love this video. It brings everything back to Christ. Christ is the reason I'm out here. He's the reason we celebrate these holidays, and He is the reason we can have joy every day of our lives, not just in times of plenty but in times of hardship. This mission has taught me so much about my relationship with my Savior and I'm so grateful for Him, especially this season and especially as a missionary.

Have a week! Happy Thanksgiving!
Sister Z.


Monday, November 24, 2014

He who says he can, and he who says he can't, are both usually right.

1. Our baptism! Elder Smith, Sister Aae (our newest Lao investigator), Sister Khiaw, Sister Ellis and me!

2. The view from Sister Somjit's apartment after our lesson. I love Thailand!

3. Only in Thailand do we find a wild herd of zebra statues on the street.


This week. Well. There were lots of good things happened this week, but the most recent event was at 1:30am this morning when I woke up to violent food poisoning. For almost three hours. Well, I guess I'm a real Thailand missionary now that I've had food poisoning. Fun stuff. ;)

The highlight here in Don Muang this week would have to be our baptism. Let me tell you about Sister Khiaw. She is a beautiful Laotian working here in Thailand with some of her friends. We met her because she was dragged to church by her neighbor Sister Him, an old Cambodian woman who we just love. She came up to us and said "Sisters, I brought you new investigators!" And one of them was Sister Khiaw. While she almost forced to come to church that first day, she had sincere interest in the church and in baptism. She had trouble reading the Thai materials we had for her, but we got a hold of some Laotian scriptures and she started progressing like CRAZY. Being baptized was the natural next step for her, we barely had to ask her if she wanted it...we knew.

The Lord promises that if we are faithful to covenants and obedient, He will open the windows of heaven such that there will not be room to receive the blessings he will pour out upon us. And He did that for us by blessing us with Sister Khiaw. We've also been teaching Sister Somjit, who is best friends with Sister Khiaw, and last week Somjit invited us to her home to teach her husband, too, and asked if missionaries could teach her mom in Laos...and then on Sunday Khiaw brought a new friend to church. All because of this one Cambodian sister in our international ward! We have a ton of Laotian investigators...enough that we're going to start skyping with the Elders in Laos to have them help teach the lessons!

This work happens one by one. One person at a time. When people come to understand the blessings of the gospel and the covenants they can make with our Heavenly Father, it is only natural for them to want to share it with their families and friends. We never had to ask Sister Him to invite her friends to church, and we never had to ask Somjit or Khiaw if their families wanted to learn...it was only natural to them that they all wanted to share the joy the gospel had already brought them with the people they love most.

Missionary work isn't scary. Sometimes, the thought of going out and asking complete strangers if they want to go to church isn't the most appealing thought in the world. This work is hard and it takes everything we have to give to it. But it's not scary, because we're just inviting people to share in the happiness that has changed our lives. That's it.

Our email time just flies by every week...definitely not enough time to talk about all the miracles and funny and embarrassing things that happen on a daily basis here. The worst is that in Bangkok, there are a ton of Americans and Europeans, and sometimes I accidentally invite them to be baptized in Thai instead of English...I'm so much more comfortable sharing the gospel in Thai, haha. I had to give a short testimony/talk in the international ward this week and it was pretty weird. But way good. The Church is true no matter what language you can express it in.

Love you all! Have a week! :)
Sister Z.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Big City, Big City Nights

1. Our zone after we climbed the mountain and came back down! You can't see, but we were all soaked in sweat. Literally. Soaked. I had sweat dripping off my face and arms the whole hike.

2. Monkeys!


3. A sweet view just over halfway up the mountain.


Sorry I didn't email last week! We took a two-hour trip to Lopburi that ended up taking four hours to get back from...so we didn't really get to emailing. The good news is that we had an insanely awesome adventure in Lopburi! It's known as the Monkey City...and I got some sweet pictures with monkeys. They were only slightly terrifying.

These weeks are just flying by, man! We're already almost halfway through the transfer and I still feel like I just barely got here.

SO the main reason we went to Lopburi, actually, was to do this hike. It's 3,800 stairs up this mountain in the middle of nowhere. At the top of the mountain is an old Buddhist temple. It was SUCH a hard hike. I'm definitely not used to altitude of any kind. But at long last, we made it to the top! And then we had a zone devotional at the top of the mountain about our vision.

Here in Thailand, we have a vision. A vision for a Temple. And everything we do, is to help us in reaching that vision. We do this work one by the one, the way the Savior worked. When the Savior healed, he healed each person individually. He touched the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf...He gave each person what they needed, in the way they needed it. We try to replicate that with every member and every investigator we come in contact with. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, and every day when I come home I'm just so grateful for the privilege I have to take care of God's children.

I love the big city. I love the fresh fruit stands everywhere. I love riding crazy buses and going on adventures in our area to find people. I can't tell you how tired I am and how sore my feet are. I miss biking (never thought I'd say that) and sometimes being a missionary means weird health issues that can't be resolved. But more than everything that happens, I am aware of the Lord's hand in my life and especially the lives of all His children around me.

One thing our zone leaders said is that this Temple that we're working so hard for...it's not OUR vision. It's the Lord's vision. And when we match our will with the Lord's...we can't fail. This isn't our work. It's the Lord's work! And it will never be stopped. It will roll forth as the stone cut from the mountain without hands. I'm just so grateful I get to be a part of this work.

Have a great week everyone! I love you all!

ps. Watch this video. This is our video-theme for the month as a mission as we work harder than ever to be unified and do work! It's so motivating...I love it!

Monday, November 3, 2014

One night in Bangkok makes a hard (girl) humble....

It's November. I've been a missionary for five months. I've finally finished my two months of MTC training and three months of in-field training. And it's been BRUTAL. I can't tell you how many tears I've shed, how badly I've wanted to go home, how much I've prayed and how many times I've asked God why He has forsaken this land and these people.

I remember my first night in Bangkok. I was jet-lagged and in waaaay over my head. I remember trying to write in my journal about everything and just nodding off in the middle of a word. I remember looking out the window of the train we were on and praying for God to bless these people of Thailand because this is my home now. I remember walking the streets the first day inviting just hours after we landed and wondering how the heck I was going to make a difference here.

I've been so humbled here. I thought I was good before the mission. I thought I knew how to work hard and sacrifice everything...and all these last five months as a missionary have taught me is that I don't know how to do any of that. But as much as it hurts to be humbled, it's a good kind of pain. It's a refining process.

So, transfers were this week! And we found out Tuesday night that the three of us were going to white-wash out of Kalasin, and that our four Elders from Maha-Sarakham were going to come to Kalasin! So we were sad to leave, but excited to know that our members would be in such good hands with our elders. We helped them move into Kalasin and then we all seven of us came down to Bangkok for transfer meeting. It was soooo good to see everyone from my district again! We all had to come down to do our Visas, and a lot of us were moving/getting new companions.


1. Me and Sister Herrmann after our temporary switch-off doing visa work!



2. The clouds here are crazy. I love it.

I ended up being called to Don Muang, which is an area in the Bangkok North Zone that services a thai ward (Don Muang) a thai branch (Pakkret) and an international english-speaking ward (Chaengwattana). We serve THREE UNITS here. Talk about different! And now I'm companions with Sister Ellis! She trained Sister Brown, so I've only heard good things about her and since being companions with her I can only say that they're all true. She is one of the sweetest people I've ever met, so caring and loving for me and for the work and we work together so well! I'm excited for the next six weeks.


3. Companionship picture after church on Sunday. Me and Sister Ellis!

We had two baptisms yesterday -- the two sets of elders here each had one. And I felt the Spirit so strongly confirming that this is not a God-forsaken land. God is here, it's just hard to see him sometimes. But He's here. He hasn't abandoned us or these people. And we're going to see miracles here in Don Muang because of Him.

Sorry this email was kinda all over the place again. This week was insane with moving and visas and packing and unpacking. Still doesn't feel real that I'm in Bangkok and not Kalasin anymore! Oh well. Have a great week everyone!

4. Selfie with ZEBRA CAKES aka my favorite treats of all time that don't exist in Thailand. Shoutout to my mom for being the best mom ever and shoutout to Sister Speas' stepmom for bringing them. Thank you soo so so so much!


Monday, October 27, 2014

"I don't always thank You for the rough days and the hard times in my life, even though I should."

1. Me and three of my favorite sisters here in Kalasin. They danced the Korean pop song with us!

2. Dogs here in Thailand are...different. When they lay down, they always do it like this. Looks pretty comfy, actually.

3. Climbed a dinosaur! Hello world!



4. This is Thailand, this is Kalasin! Rice fields for dayzzzz


This week was hard. Which is why I used that line from Supertones' "Jury Duty." I grew up listening to a lot of music that I didn't always think about, but processing the lyrics now makes them really meaningful. The idea that we should be grateful for our trials is not our natural reaction, but something that we are meant to develop in this life. And it comes with the eternal perspective that all things will be "for our good." We had every appointment fall through this week, got zero potential investigators, and met no one who was really interested in the gospel. It feels like we've been up and down every street of this city a dozen times but I just know that somewhere out there in this province there are people who God is preparing! We just have to keep looking!

Well, I can tell I've been here for a while, because the rice is way tall! It's huge now! So cool. It's almost like Wisconsin! Except...it's still WAY hot. Which is not supposed to be happening. It's supposed to be cold season, which is supposed to be temperatures in the 60s...not 90s!!!! It's fine....

The highlight of the week was our branch talent show! It was hilarious. Half of the acts were impromptu. There was a Korean pop dance cover, and the ward members liked it so much that they wanted the act to go again...but with the three of us missionaries, too! So I danced Kpop again...haven't done that since high school. And then the ward found out that in a past life, I was obsessed with Kpop and dancing. So...it was a good show. A great end to ups and downs of this transfer, and a good note for our branch to end on, having fun together.

Transfers are on Thursday! We'll find out sometime today who's moving and staying...stay tuned for the exciting results next week. I can't make any predictions, but I know that I love it here in the Isaan and I'm so grateful to be able to serve out here, out in the rice fields and the heat and the cows and the drunks. Okay, so not so much on the drunks. But I've learned to laugh even at the creepy drunks and it's been fun out here. The mission is an interesting mix of mostly hard, brutal days and short breaks of laughter and, if you're lucky, a few moments of spiritual relief.

After 12 weeks in Kalasin, I finally climbed dinosaurs today! It was actually pretty terrifying going up and down, but also really awe-inspiring and amazing once I got to the top and could see everything. Maybe a metaphor for the mission? life? doing hard things? I promise I'm not trying to be deep, it just kinda happens.

And I suppose another highlight would have to be our Sunday night dinner of french toast and apple cake! So much bread. So good. So fat. Worth every bite. No, we haven't been eating our feelings lately...why do you ask?

Have a good week everyone, go enjoy the Age of Ultron trailer for me!
Sister Z.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's like a symphony: just keep listening, and pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part....

1. Our wonderful district in traditional Thai clothing on Saturday! The Elders were doing a part in the cultural dance that involved a lot of hip-shaking and jumping around. It was hilarious.

2. Elder Walker, me, my companions, Elder Evans and Elder Chamberlain, just a few of my Nong-Thais. I was so happy and grateful to be able to spend the weekend with a bunch of the Elders who I met in the MTC who are just rock-solid missionaries. They're all doing so well!

3. After Zone Conference on Monday, we went home to Kalasin and then to a member's house for FHE. We had chicken, salad and french fries, which all tasted very American and amazing. I was overwhelmed.


Sorry I'm late emailing this week, but we had District Conference this weekend so our P-Day was moved to Tuesday! Ballerrrrrr

This was a crazy week, but gratefully, one of miracles, which were so desperately needed, because I was dying last week in more ways than one. On Wednesday I just felt dead, but I pushed through hours of inviting and contacting at random places with little to no success until about 830. My companions wanted to head home and I did too, but I felt like we needed to go to our local grocery store "Big C" before we went home. So we went to Big C, and waited for 10 minutes...it was 850 and we needed to head home or we were going to be late for our 9pm curfew, so we went to our bikes and started getting our helmets on when suddenly a man and woman on a scooter drove by. My companion was closest and so she asked them if they wanted to go to church, and the woman without hesitation said, "Yes, I'm very interested!" While my companion got her phone number and talked to her more, I bent over my bike and just poured out my heart in gratitude, because I didn't have the energy to do anything else. It was such a huge miracle to meet someone who was so willing to learn about the gospel!

We spent most of the week getting ready for District Conference in KhonKen, a city in our zone where all the members of the church in the Isaan gathered. We were blessed to hear from Elder Gong, a member of the seventy. At the conference, we learned that they're splitting the Isaan districts (Udorn, Ubon, KhonKen) from three to two to increase membership and focus on getting two more stakes in the Isaan within the next 4-5 years! We're so excited about the change and excited for what it means for Thailand. In the next 5-10 years, the goal is to go from 2 stakes (what we currently have in Bangkok) to 7 throughout Thailand. A temple is going to happen here, for sure! And we have the blessing as missionaries to be able to help that come about.

There was so much that happened this weekend. On Sunday evening we had a special sacrament meeting for all the missionaries with a testimony meeting afterwards. I've been feeling really spiritually dead lately, but during the testimony meeting all the missionaries just opened up -- turns out I am not nor have ever been alone in my feelings of inadequacy or my spiritual struggles. As missionary after missionary went up and talked about how hard this mission is, and how much they've learned to turn to the Lord and how they've found ways to keep going when they didn't know how they could...well, it made me very aware that I've been doing the same thing these past 11 weeks in country.

As for my health...well, we don't think it's parasites anymore, although that could be a contributing factor...now they think it's a byproduct of stress, which is weird because I'm waaaay more relaxed than I was last transfer. But it's very common for missionaries here to have physical side-effects from stress. So I'm supposed to relax more. Which is pretty much impossible because we're in the Isaan! Ohhh well.

You know, as hard as it is here -- and believe me when I say it's hard out here -- I love it. At Zone Conference yesterday we watched a video of members of the Church here in Thailand put to the song "Glorious" by David Archuleta (go listen to it!) ...I was just overwhelmed with how much I love the people here, from the kids to the families to the drunk old men and women whose brains are so gone they can barely function. These people are so special to our Heavenly Father. I love our tiny, sometimes dramatic branch even though only 25 people are really active. I love the missionaries here in the Isaan. They're a special brand of missionary...it takes a different kind of strength and character to be able to work out here because the work is brutally hard and largely unfulfilling as far as results in baptisms and retention...but that's not what we see when we invite people to be baptized on a daily basis. We see (or we try to see) people as they really are -- the potential they have to our Heavenly Father, which is infinite. I remember a conversation I had with a good friend of mine last year at BYU about how Heavenly Father sees us, and my friend made the comment that Heavenly Father sees and values us not as we are right now, but as we have the potential to become in the eternities. And that being is of infinite worth and value. And as we serve God's children all around the world, we learn to see them the way God sees us all. And that's a beautiful process.

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and support -- I felt the prayers on my behalf this week, and it kept me going past the point I thought I could go. Have a great week!

Love, 
Sister Zoller

BONUS VIDEO -- a summary of the weekend events!
http://youtu.be/BEScPySnDoY?list=UUvioo8VBAWg12GjXDDLSyKA

Monday, October 13, 2014

"ทุกยังดี, ทุกยังดี" ("All is Well, All is Well")

1. Our baptism, Brother ทอ้ป! He is an incredible guy and so completely prepared to enter the waters of baptism. I've never seen an investigator progress so smoothly and without any problems whatsoever. Such a blessing!

2. A great awkward district picture from general conference!


Another week. I've been here in the field longer than I've been in the MTC now! Man, 9 weeks in the MTC was hard. And 10 weeks in the field is even harder.

I've been sick this week. Being sick in the mission is way hard, because you just feel awful like you can't do anything and your whole purpose is to go out and do stuff! Not really sure what the problem is, although all signs point to parasites! When I was a kid, having parasites was one of my biggest fears. Along with riding a bike. And living in a foreign country. And talking to strangers. And pretty much everything I do on a daily basis here. I've learned to ignore fear for the most part, which is in every sense of the word a miracle because I've always been so afraid of everything.

That said, Satan is a sucker and anytime I'm not trying my hardest I get scared of all of those things again. I've don't know if I'll ever get over some of my fears -- that's part of enduring to the end, fighting onward.

This weekend we got to listen to General Conference in English! Which is such a blessing. I loved it and needed the spiritual strength from it really badly. God always gives us just enough to keep going. On Saturday we went to Maha Sarakham, the province next to Kalasin, to watch conference with our Elders. It was so much fun! And because there are no sister missionaries in Maha Sarakham, the members just doted on us the whole time. I can't complain. ;)

I also finished the Book of Mormon again this weekend! That's by far my favorite book in the whole world. I have such a testimony that all the answers to life's biggest questions are in that book. Any issue that requires divine guidance can be resolved from reading the Book of Mormon. I wish every person in this world had an opportunity to read it and pray and ask God if it's true. Because it is true, and God will always answer that prayer.

In Thai, the hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints" ends with the phrase "ทุกยังดี, ทุกยังดี." (All is well, all is well). When you translate the phrase directly from Thai to English, it translates to "all is still good." It implies that everything is okay, everything is still okay, because "with God behind us, and His arms beneath us, we can face whatever lies before us."

I wish I could say I was happy and joyful working here. That's rarely the case. This whole transfer (and really, since getting into country) has been an uphill battle that I haven't always been winning. It's hard. And most of the time, I've been feeling a void where I normally feel my spirit building in strength. I can't say at this time that I've seen the Lord answering my prayers, or helping me feel like I'm not alone. I feel very, very alone here.

But I know what I once knew and felt. I have felt answers to prayers hit me like a brick wall. I have felt the presence of the Lord and His angels helping me and my family in the past, and so just because I can't see it or feel it right now, doesn't mean I'm going to just give up. I will hold to what I once felt until I have an opportunity to feel it again.

I would encourage all of you to read or listen to Elder Hamula's talk from the recent General Conference, and recommit to take the sacrament at church every week for the rest of the year. I promise that as you commit to do that (even if you do it every week already) and if you sincerely try to focus your thoughts towards the Savior during the sacrament, you will feel an increased desire to follow the Savior, and an increased capability to do good and be better. I've seen it in my life and I know it is possible for everyone.

And for those of my family and friends who are not members of the church, may I please ask that you read Elder David A. Bednar's talk, "Come and See." He explains so well why I'm out here being a missionary in the middle of nowhere in Thailand and why this work is so important.

Love you all. Have a great week!

--
Sister Zoller

Monday, October 6, 2014

"Prove Me Now Herewith"

1. Me and Sister ลิ. I love her to death! She did my hair in really pretty braids on Sunday and helped take care of us when Sister Ladle got sick on Saturday night/Sunday.

2. An "evolution" picture with Elder Chamberlain, me, Visser, and Johnson! We're all exactly a transfer apart, and we're all way tight. I guess as you get older in the mission, you get more evolved? ;)

3. wai-ing in front of a Buddha at the temple!

This week was crazy long and crazy hard. It started on Monday with going to a Buddhist Temple that had Mummies with a bunch of elders from our zone! It was waaaay creepy because they weren't really mummies, they were just really really well-preserved bodies. It was a fun day, just kinda unnerving at parts. Then we had FHE at Sister ลิ's house. She's a member here and has basically adopted all three of us and she makes amazing food, so it was a super relaxing day overall. And it POURED buckets of water right before the sun set so it got way cold (cold=65ish degrees) and I loved every second of it!

Then on Tuesday night, Sister Lam got way sick and was completely physically out all of Wednesday. Seriously, we didn't even leave our apartment (except to get crepes and food at 7-eleven). And Thursday we had training in Roi-Et which was way fun but we were gone more than half the day! and Saturday afternoon Sister Ladle got way sick too, so all of Saturday evening and Sunday we were at home. It feels like we haven't gotten much done work-wise, but we currently have an investigator set to get baptized next weekend! We're way excited to get back into the swing of things.

This weekend was fast Sunday (we don't get to watch general conference until next weekend) and I noticed a ton of blessings that came to me from fasting. I've never really noticed that before. I've never had a testimony of fasting before, but I decided to really take it seriously this weekend and I now believe very strongly that it works! I love that because that's how all the commandments are -- we can try them out, we can literally "prove the Lord!" And that's how we get testimonies, that's how our investigators become converted, and that's how WE become converted!

So that's the challenge for the week. Pick something you have a hard time with and choose to prove the Lord. He will fulfill all his promises that he has made to you. Alma 37:17: "For he will fulfill all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers."


Monday, September 29, 2014

You Gotta Keep On Keepin On...

1. Me, Sister Yanisa and Sister Lam on our switchoff!


2. Me, Sister Lam and Sister Ladle out by the dinosaurs!


Where to begin with this week? It was a crazy one for sure! It started with me and Sister Ladle dyeing our hair! She did black tips and I dyed my hair dark brown, but now it's lightened and it's an insane blend of dark brown/almost black with copper and brown. I don't know how to explain it, but it's waaaay cool.

Then we went to a Buddhist funeral for the father of one of the members in our branch. It was a different experience for sure, but way cool and surprisingly spiritual. We got to go Wai the body (which means to pray in front of the body...it's a way to show respect) and while I was sitting there I prayed for a temple in Thailand and it was an incredibly powerful, spiritual prayer. I'm not the only one praying for a temple in Thailand, and it's going to come soon.

I'd say one of the highlights from the week was going to Korat, a city in our zone about 5 hours away, for our once-a-transfer companion swap with the Sister Training Leader. It was a brutal bus ride at an obscene hour (midnight is an obscene hour when you're a missionary), but it was so fun because I got to be with Sister Yanisa for switchoffs! She's about the same age as I am in the mission, but we came separately because she's from Thailand so she went to the Philippines MTC. We had so much fun and when we taught lessons together everything flowed and the spirit was so strong! we had an incredible day spiritually and it was so fun to be in a real city again (Kalasin does not count as a real city in the least). We both really want to be companions in the future.

And then the morning after we got back from Korat (at another obscene hour...I think it was midnight or 1am) we went to the church at 9am to open it for the members because they were making bread and treats for church. Then we ended up at church for almost the whole day making bread with them. It was a loong day. And then our baptism for the week fell through for a bunch of lame reasons, and it was just a really hard week full of Satan hitting us really hard with everything he's got. But there's no other way to go but forward! We have to keep pushing on because it will get better!

Sorry it's so short this week; we're going to a Buddhist temple that has mummies....so, talk to you all next week!

Love, Sister Zoller

Monday, September 22, 2014

Started from the Bottom Now We're Here

1. Our new companionship! Sister Lam, Sister Ladle, and me!


2. Saturday Lunch in Roi-Et with Sister ฟน, Sister Lam, Sister Ong (my Nong-thai), Sister Bentley, Sister Ladle and me! (And Sister Stoker, but she was the one taking the picture).


3. My Nong-thai sisters! Sister Grover, me, Sister Hatch and Sister Ong! 
(featuring Sister Black and a random Elder who are pro photo-bombers)


This week started out pretty rough. We found out we were going to lose one of the Elders in our little 4-person district (he was moving to a different zone at transfers), and we're all way tight, so we were sad about that, and also sad that we weren't going to be able to go to transfer meeting, which is a huge party that all Bangkok missionaries and all missionaries who are moving go to every six weeks. I was especially bummed because I knew my Nong-thais (the MTC group that came in six weeks into our MTC stay) were coming and I wanted to see them again so badly before they all went their separate ways in the country.

Then Tuesday evening, we were sitting there eating dinner, preparing for English class, feeling pretty exhausted overall...and the phone rings. It's President Senior.
Sister Ladle: Hey President!
President: Hey Sister Ladle, question for you. How many people can you fit in your house?
Sister Ladle: We can easily fit another set of Sisters, if that's what you're asking...
President: That wasn't what I was asking...Are you two coming to transfers?
Sister Ladle: No...
President: Well, why not?
Sister Ladle: Because we weren't invited....
President: Well, consider yourselves invited. See you at transfers!
Us: *incoherent screaming*

so, the best way I've heard President Senior described is that he's just like Willy Wonka. It's so accurate. He's whimsical and likes to act mysterious and suspicious, but he's really wonderful and kind-hearted. So we went to transfers, not knowing what was going to happen, although we guessed neither of us were moving. So we're sitting in transfer meeting and he announces our names...and then another Sister. WE'RE A TRIO!

Our third musketeer is Sister Lam. She's way awesome. I can already tell we're gonna have a lot of late night 90s music jam sessions. She is way enthusiastic and I've already laughed so much in the last four days that I'm probably going to live a really long life.

Although we lost Elder Burke in Maha Sarakham, we got...wait for it...THREE MORE ELDERS in our district! So now there are four Elders in Maha Sarakham, and the three of us in Kalasin. Our district almost doubled in one week! f that doesn't testify to how the work here is exploding, I don't know what does. One of the Elders is one of my Nong-thais, Elder Chamberlain, and one of the other Elders is Elder Visser, my Phii-thai (the group that came into the MTC right before us). We'll take a picture this week of the three of us in our age progression. I'm so pumped, because I know them both pretty well and they're seriously awesome missionaries.

Transfer week is usually pretty crazy. I was super happy to get to see all of my Nong-thais! They were so happy to see me, too...it was an insanely joyful reunion. They are so prepared and so enthusiastic about the work and so ready to go!

Then Saturday we were finally trying to have a normal day and get back into the swing of things. A member, Sister ฟน, came by to pick up a washing machine to bring to the missionaries in Roi-Et an hour away, and really wanted us to come. We were going to stay, but then Sister Lam pointed out that we are here to help EVERYONE as missionaries -- people on the street, investigators, yes...but also members! So we went with her to Roi-Et, delivered a washing machine, and were able to have lunch with Sister Stoker (the senior sister missionary there), and Sisters Bentley and Ong who just got there after transfers! It was way good and I knew we made the right decision to go with her even though it was insane and made the rest of our day a little chaotic.

The Lord is preparing the people here in Kalasin like never before. The success we have had lately is not ours, it is the Lord's! But we are allowed to take part in it, and I am so, so grateful for that privilege. Kalasin has come so far in the last six weeks. Sister Ladle and I pretty much started with nothing when we first got here a transfer ago, and now the work here is going crazy and we are all on fire!

I love you all, I love this work, and I love the 8.5 overnight bus rides to Bangkok (okay...not really on the last one...but I do love everything else :))! Have a great week!

--
Sister Zoller

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wake me up when September ends

1. My mission president is AMAZING and sent me a picture of the end scene from The Breakfast Club when I made a reference to it in a letter this week. I died of happiness a little bit.


2.We "adopted" a cat this week...he lives in a parking lot where we go inviting frequently, and he's very affectionate, so...we named him Alma. He's the cutest little guy! :)


3. Saturday selfie (by sister Ladle...I'm always too lazy to take pictures so I steal hers) from when we helped out our Elders in Maha Sarakham! It was a way fun day. 
From right to left: me, Elder Hunt, Elder Burke and Sister Ladle.


Can you believe it's been six weeks here? I can. Haha... #greeniestatus
Time is actually way speeding up now that I'm adjusted.

Well, now I can say I've been sick on the mission. And boy does it suck! I had some kind of bacterial infection, so lots of obnoxious blowing my nose and coughing up stuff all week. On Friday, I was so out of it the whole day -- Sister Ladle took care of me and all our lessons that day! She's such a rockstar.

So in case I haven't mentioned it several times already, we are the only missionaries in Kalasin. Typically, Elders and Sisters are together in areas, but our closest Elders are an hour away in Maha Sarakham, and we only get to see them once a week on Tuesdays for two hours when we have our district meeting and eat frozen yogurt together. But this week was extra special; on Saturday, we got to go to Maha Sarakham to go help them invite people. We ended up in the middle of a meet-and-greet with a Thai celebrity in the middle of a mall and throngs of screaming teenage girls. Oh, Thailand. So we got to go to an impromptu Thai concert. Yeahhh!

Our Elders are so awesome. Our district meetings are always filled with productive discussions about how we can better serve the people here, how we can be better missionaries, and how we can work harder. I feel SO blessed to serve with people who get the point of why we're here and are always seeking ways to improve.

So I'm serving in the Isaan, the eastern area of Thailand. And it's pretty sketch up here sometimes. Like, we have moldy cabinets and flooded apartments and stuff. Really, the Isaan is perfect for me because it's so chill and laid-back. You just get used to all the things that go wrong and you learn to laugh them off. For example, this week: a member had been cleaning the church and didn't have the keys to lock the church when she was done, so she used a random bike lock from a shop across the street. So we show up to the church building Sunday morning to open it up, and there's a random bike lock on the doors. So we call the member, and she calls the man who owns the bike lock shop, and it turns out he's out of town for the day, but his sister-in-law is a member so the sister-in-law sends her sons to break into his shop and get the key for us. It was hilarious. We finally got the church opened and we started on time! (well, in the Isaan, nothing starts on time...but it was basically on time ;))

Sunday night was the high. We made spaghetti again, and we made Apple cake in our microwave and ate it all with ice cream while we watched The Testaments. Best. Night. Ever. It was so awesome. If we're still together next transfer we're doing it again on the last Sunday of the transfer but we're gonna watch Legacy instead.

We're so blessed to be here in Thailand. It's so beautiful, and I've only just started to realize it. The sky at night biking home is always insane, sometimes clear and starry, sometimes intense and rainy, and sometimes, like this week, we have CRAZY awesome lightning storms. They're so beautiful.

One of my favorite things about the mission is our purpose; to invite others to come unto Christ. And that means EVERYONE. Not just the people in our areas, but our companions, the missionaries we serve with, the people we write home...EVERYONE. I love it. And we can all do it, wherever we live, whatever we're doing with our lives...everyone can serve and everyone has the ability to make a difference for good. That's my challenge for the week: go out and do good. Smile at someone in the grocery store, strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you in class. Pay attention to the world around you and you'll see countless opportunities to serve others and to share your testimony of Jesus Christ.

Have a supercalifragalisticexpialidocious week :)
Sister Zoller


Monday, September 8, 2014

Cue the end scene from The Breakfast Club, when Judd Nelson puts his fist in the air, and the opening chords of "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds


1. Flooded parking lot. So. Happy.



2. They have ice cream on hot dog buns here. With rice. And peanuts. And condensed milk. 
It is so very Thai and it's really good :)



3. Highlight (or lowlight...): We moved a bookshelf out of our apartment (the one that had black mold on it) and we found mushrooms growing out of the side of it. #baller


4. The actual highlight: two baptisms!!!!!!!


This week was my first two baptisms in Thailand!!!!!!! and icing on the cake: it was a family, a single mother and daughter, แนน and น้ำ. AMAZING. Just awesome. The two of them have been so spiritually prepared and they have so much faith and they love the gospel. They just fell into our laps, literally they just walked up to the church building a month ago because they were new in the area and wanted to go to church. And now they're our newest members here in Kalasin.

Well...it didn't rain as much this week, but it poured on Friday, enough that a few streets and a parking lot flooded! So. Cool. I loved it. My companion did not. Shoutout to her for putting up with my ecstatic response to biking through pouring rain and six inches of water!

This week beat me to my knees in a lot of ways, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Tuesday I woke up just feeling awful (I don't think it was food poisoning, but it was pretty intense and painful, almost puking...all that good stuff). Then most of the week was hot and the sun just beat down and I really don't think I'm going to like the hot season at all haha...we worked our butts off this week and by a series of miracles we made all of our goals, which hasn't happened once yet this transfer. And then Sunday we had baptisms! So it was all worth it...I suppose. I've really been looking at this mission, and every day, and every week, with a long term perspective -- in the long run, all the work that I put in is making a difference. Our work here is worth it, in the long run, even if it doesn't feel like it. I come home every night knowing that I gave it my all and I know that when I can come home I can do so with my head held high, knowing I did it! I served God with all my heart, might, mind and strength. And it feels good.

Don't really know if that made much sense...

In personal study this week I was reading in 3 Nephi, when Christ is expounding the words of Isaiah and other prophets to them, and I thought, "how cool would it be if I could sit down with Christ and listen to Him expound the scriptures with me?" And then I stopped. WAIT. He expounds the scriptures to me every time I read them! When I'm reading and a thought hits me that I haven't had before, or I get a new insight, or get an answer to a question by reading, that is God helping me to understand the scriptures! How cool is that? We all have the ability to ask for that and have that greater understanding.

Also, for Sunday night dinner we made french toast. It was amazing and so, so American. aka...perfect.

Well, I feel like this weekly letter was a little lacking and a lot all over the place. Oh well. This week can really be summed up in a single moment from yesterday, when we were coming back from meeting with our final investigator and we'd met all of our goals for the week, we'd just had two baptisms, and I put my fist in the air, Judd Nelson style, as the end of "The Breakfast Club" played in my mind, knowing that we did it! We did everything we wanted to do. We couldn't have done any of it without God's help, but we believed and we worked and we saw miracles!

Thanks for all the support and all the emails. I love hearing updates from everyone! Have a great week!
-- 

Sister Zoller