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!'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. 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 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 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 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!

Sister Zoller

BONUS VIDEO -- a summary of the weekend events!

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."