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
BONUS VIDEO -- a summary of the weekend events!
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!
BONUS VIDEO -- a summary of the weekend events!