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'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, 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, 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. 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

Monday, September 1, 2014

Blame it on the rain (yeah, yeah)

1. Sister Fon, one of the members here, has a little dog and she's 
the cutest thing. So there's me, the dog, and Sister Ladle!

2. Elder Burke and Elder Hunt, the Elders in our district. 
They're an hour away in Maha Sarakham but we get to see 
them every week and they're hilarious. We love them.

3. To help us out, our Elders came up to Kalasin to help us do some finding, 
and then we ate at this Vietnamese place afterwards. Selfies ensued.

4. Me and Sister Ladle with Nate, a 15-year-old member. She and I definitely don't 
sing/dance Kpop songs every time we're together...anyways, she's preparing to go 
on a mission and she helps us out in lessons all the time. She's the bomb diggity.

I've been here for a month now! In Thailand, there are three seasons: the "cold" season ("cold" means about 70F), the hot season, and the rainy season. Sometimes they all happen on the same day...but right now, we're in the height of the rainy season and it's just the greatest thing ever to see these big black clouds rolling in and then the temperature drops dramatically and it just starts dumping buckets. This week's biking challenge was biking through flooded streets. It wasn't really a challenge, actually, it was just really really fun to have an excuse to get wet. Thai people hate the rain so it puts a huge damper (haha...damper) on the work here since the whole town shuts down, but it just makes me the happiest person in Kalasin.

On Monday, we had FHE with one of our favorite members and her family (she has a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son who was just baptized, and her husband who is not a member). It was the first time I've been here in Thailand that I've felt home, just sitting around eating and having a lesson and then playing games together and NOT watching the football match that was on when we walked in... ;)

We were talking to one of our investigators after a lesson, and he was talking about how because missionaries are "born" (start their missions) in certain cities, they are children of that city. So because I was born in Kalasin, I am a dinosaur child because Kalasin is known for its dinosaur statues and museum. So that's pretty cool.

On Thursday, it rained a lot. It started at 7am and didn't let up for about three and a half hours. Just dumped and dumped. It was great...until it started leaking into our house. Through the light switches. Hehe...that was fun. While moving furniture around to keep it from getting wet, we also found a bunch of black mold on the wall. Despite all this, nothing was damaged, and when it stopped raining everything went back to normal.

Most of the time, all we hear around here is random Thai music, but in some stores they play American music. So we were sitting in Kodak because we had to take a picture for my work permit and while we're waiting, The Final Countdown comes on. It was the greatest moment of maybe the whole week. We left the store just super pumped up.

The members here in Kalasin are just amazing. They're all converts, all from part-member families/the only members in their families, and their faith is incredible, but not nearly as incredible as their understanding of the scriptures. They get it. They know how to really read the scriptures and apply them. That's all church classes are here, just reading the scriptures/manuals/resources and then applying them, not talking about them and planning to use them and having menial conversations about the deeper doctrine that doesn't matter. They go in, get everything out that applies to them, and then they go to work and do it! I am so grateful for their example and their understanding of the scriptures.

This Sunday was also the first Sunday I actually understood a large part of what was going on, language-wise. Awesome. Normally that doesn't come for like...months. I feel really really blessed to be able to go to church every week and to be spiritually enriched, even though I couldn't understand everything that was going on.

Also, Saturdays we eat at KFC. Thank the heavens for American food! Even though it's not really American's like...Thai version of American food. Oh well. The ice cream here is legit, at least. #dairyqueenfordays

Shoutout to all the people starting classes this week at BYU! Have a great semester!

Sister Zoller