Thursday, July 31, 2014

Just a small town girl...

This week we were Skyped with people in Thailand for one of our lessons! Sooo crazy to think we were talking to a real person in Thailand...sometimes I think I've been here so long I've forgotten what real life is. The lesson was AWESOME. We met with a member and despite some issues with skype connections, it was a very powerful experience. I learned a lot and I'm so excited to leave for Thailand in...7 DAYS!!!!! That's right folks, we got our flight plans Friday evening and it's official! I'm leaving the United States for 16 months in Thailand. We fly out next Monday evening from Salt Lake City to LAX to Hong Kong and then we arrive in Bangkok on the morning of Wednesday, August 6.

I've been thinking a lot about Thailand lately, obviously...and it's led me to ponder the steps that led me here. I'm just a girl from a tiny town on Lake Michigan! I didn't have any major plans for my life, and I didn't really expect to go anywhere or do anything important. But here I am, doing the most important work that can be done on this earth for God's children on the other side of the world! And the only answer I can come up with for the why is because God has a plan for me and my life that is very individual and is meant to teach me a lot of humility, trust in God, and love for Him and for other people. I can't get over how grateful I am for this opportunity to serve and be a missionary. On that note, I can say with confidence that God has an individual plan for everyone, and that if we are obedient and work hard, the Lord's not gonna let us miss out on the awesome things He has in store for everyone and the amazing ways He wants to help us grow and develop.

This week was way fun! We've become pretty tight with all the Nong-Thais -- they're a great group of missionaries and I'm so pumped to serve with them in Thailand. The cool thing about being here is seeing all the potential in everyone, the incredible maturity and faith and strength. It brings me up every time I feel discouraged or overwhelmed. On a not-so-spiritual note, one of the Nong-Thai Elders this week said a prayer and he said "Khop khun farang" instead of "khop khun prah-ong" and "farang" is the thai word for guava fruit and also a lightly mocking word for white people, the cultural equivalent of being called a "gringo" in spanish-speaking countries. So instead of "We thank thee" he said "Thank you white dude" and that is something we're still laughing about a week after it happened. Maybe that's just funnier because we've been here as long as we have...

Tuesday we had an awesome devotional from a general authority and all nine of his children, who have all served missions (the youngest is still currently serving). The overall message I pulled from the devotional was the importance of hope. Hope is "an abiding trust" that all things will work together for our good. DON'T LOSE HOPE. Because when you do, you stop trying and caring. So even if you do lose hope, don't stop trying! Never stop trying and pushing forward because sometimes you just have to push through and while life never gets easier, it always gets better and it will get better!

Tuesday night, we ate a fresh mango (shoutout to Mama Nethercott for that one!) with Elder Okimoto and Elder Hilton. Elder Okimoto is from Hawaii and I thought he was going to cry tears of joy he was so happy to have a fresh mango. I've learned so much from him and all the elders about appreciating the simple pleasures and being able to laugh about everything and not sweat the small stuff.

Wednesday was Elder Curtis' birthday! He just turned 19, and while he's not the youngest in our district, he is very young and we all loved giving him a hard time all day. jk, jk, we just liked doing that because he didn't want us to make a big deal out of his birthday. We decked out his chair and desk and the other sisters even made him a birthday crown and fan. I also saw Hillary Hughes because she just got here to the MTC! Shoutout to Sister Hughes, she's gonna be an AWESOME missionary (48th ward represent!).

Thursday was service again! I got to put up the flag for Greece...not many people know this, but when I was 16, I went to a youth activity about missionary work and I was "called" to the Greece Athens mission. Before that time, I'd never thought seriously about a mission, nor did I think I would be any good at it. That day, we learned some Greek (all of which I've since forgotten) and went out to teach a lesson with the sister missionaries in that area. It was a super spiritual experience and made a powerful impact on me and made me mentally open to the possibility of serving. It definitely prepared me a lot for this mission, and it's because of that that Greece has always held a special place in my heart here.

Friday was a wonderful day for the sole reason that we got our travel plans!!! We've been here so long it doesn't feel like we're finally leaving, but we ARE and it's gonna be the greatest thing ever!
Saturday was crazy. Sister Herrmann has Strep throat and so we were up super late with her and Sister Brown helping them out and keeping them comfortable. Being sick in the MTC is soo horrible. You're supposed to be relaxing and staying in bed but you want to be productive but you can't mentally focus so you end up just feeling like you have no purpose and you feel like you're slacking off, which isn't true but that's just how you feel when you get sick here, and I'm guessing on the mission in general. Not fun. Sister Herrmann's been so positive though. She's a trooper. :)

On Sunday, we heard from Sheri Dew and had an amazing sacrament meeting with talks by our own Sister Nethercott and Elder Hinkson! We talked about the Book of, that is my favorite book of all time. I want absolutely everyone in the whole world to read it.

This is my last week here...gonna go hard! To quote Elder Curtis, "Let's freaking go!"

Shoutout to my family for being so awesome and for settling in Indianapolis this week! Shoutout to my Dad because it's his birthday this week! I love you guys so much!

(Extra note for anyone who reads these all the way through to the end: because I'm leaving on a Monday, if you send me any dearelders this week, they need to be sent before this Friday at noon because they don't do those on Saturday and on Monday we leave too early to get any mail. Same goes for any mail, if you want me to get it, send it as early as you can! I'll post my Thailand address probably next week.)

1. me and the greece flag!
2. Sister Nethercott, myself and the Nong-thai sisters! Sisters Hatch, Ong, and Grover.
3. Elders Curtis, Elder Hinkley, Elder Pratt, and Elder Hinkson doing a boy band pic.
Sister Zoller

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