Monday, January 26, 2015

We Will Embark!

1. Bangkok, baby!

2. P-day adventures are tiring...

3. Our family who got baptized!

4. My planner this transfer!

Well, another transfer week passed, and I'm still in Pakkret with Sister Yanisa! I am so grateful we get another six weeks together...we have a lot of work to do here and our momentum is only building!

A crapton of Elders went home last week...several of whom have made a profound impact on me as a missionary and as person through their examples and their level of consecration. Their work here has made an impact that will be felt for generations to come.

This week was crazy busy, as all transfer weeks are, but this week I noticed a theme about cleanliness. Transfer meeting is always held at our church building and I remembered that for my first transfer meeting, I noticed how clean and well-kept the building was. And when we went to seminary on Tuesday morning, I couldn't help but notice that our building was a little out of shape. So we grabbed some members one afternoon and cleaned the whole church! I didn't know I could get so exhausted cleaning...but the results were so worth it. The idea that you can feel the spirit in a clean atmosphere, whether that be your home or a church building or the temple, is true. And what better way to prepare the Thai saints for the temple than by helping them care for their beautiful church buildings?

On Saturday we went to Asoke (an area in Bangkok) for a special devotional with Sister Gong, the wife of the area-seventy for southern Asia. It was a Sister-missionary-only meeting and it was INCREDIBLE. We talked about fear and how to overcome it. We overcome fear when we have faith in God and love for the people and confidence in ourselves. And those three things increase as we are more obedient and consecrated. And from personal experience, I'm learning that the more consecrated I am, the more fun I have! And this work is all about joy. I've learned if I'm not feeling joyful every day...I'm doing something wrong.

Love you all, I love the Thai saints, and I love being a missionary!
Sister Z.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"This isn't missionary work...this is missionary FUN!"

1. Last P day we went to a place called "Break Away" where they lock you in a room and you have to figure out how to get out

2. Feeding fish!

3. Contacting on a bridge! I flipping LOVE this area.

Well I have very little time this week because we're off to go to a planetarium and go shopping for Elder Kohler's last P day! But this week can be summed up entirely with one word: MIRACLES.

Because how else can you explain a 13-year-old girl who decided she wanted to wake up for 530am seminary every morning this week and begging her mom to get baptized with her next Sunday? Those are our investigators right now, a FAMILY who wants nothing more than to be a part of this great gospel and this great work. GOLDEN.

And we've been getting up for early morning seminary for the last week and a half, too, because how lame are you when your investigator goes to more meetings and classes than you? ;) anyways, I've been getting so much out of seminary. We're reading in the Doctrine and Covenants this year and...the Thai members, they get it. They can read a section of scripture from anywhere and pull out the most basic, central, important doctrines that help build faith and testimonies. I can't say enough about the understanding and testimonies of the saints here.

We've spent practically this entire week hanging out (and eating) with members. And I'm learning so much, about how to just love the members, how to get to know them, how to talk to them. I've learned so much from Sister Yanisa these last six weeks about the Thai language and how to communicate better -- lessons that make me a better missionary than I was before. So grateful that Yanisa and I got to be companions! Literally my whole life has been in Thai for the last month, and it's been awesome. I learn new words and phrases every day and I'm loving every second of it. There's something about learning languages that clicks in my brain. I've been very blessed to be able to understand this language even with limited opportunities to study, but now with the opportunity to speak it 24/7, my brain has exploded! I'm starting to find it easier to speak in thai than english.

And another miracle -- we've been teaching our Laotian members and investigators: Sister K and her sister-in-law Sister B. But Sister B wasn't able to go to church because she works shifts from 2am to 2pm and our last sacrament meeting here ends at 2pm...but we walked into 1pm sacrament meeting and who was there but Sister B! I always feel the spirit so strongly around the Laotian members and investigators...there's something so unique and special about their connection to the Spirit.

I was thinking about Sister K, the Laotian member who got baptized two months ago, and as I was doing so I was overwhelmed with an impression that she will help build the stakes of Zion in Laos. Pretty cool, huh? I'm just so grateful I get to be a tiny, tiny piece in this huge picture the Lord is building here in this little corner of paradise.

A temple is coming to this country.

Love you all!
Sister Z.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Can't stop won't stop

1. Ice skating!

2. We were in the library when an investigator of the Elders called and they were busy, so we taught their investigator on speakerphone on the floor of the library with three members who happened to be right there. I flipping love being a missionary.

3. BAPTISM! Four more INCREDIBLE people who love the Lord and truly want to follow Him. We are growing so fast!

Well...I think my blood has gotten thinner, because this morning it was a brisk 20 degrees Celsius (about 68 degrees fahrenheit) and I was FREEZING.

Speaking of freezing...last week we went ice skating on P day! It was Sister Yanisa's first time and she's been begging to go the whole transfer so of course I couldn't say no. She only fell...I think about 12 times. Actually, she was way good by the end of it, too! I was very impressed. I of course had fun skating. I'm proud to say I didn't fall once and didn't hold onto anyone or anything for the whole time (Except when Sister Yanisa was hanging onto me for dear life, haha).

We had Zone Training this week...and our zone leaders asked us if the work we were doing in our area was helping the work in Chiang Mai, on the other end of the country. At first, I thought, no, how could my work in Bangkok be helping Chiang Mai? But then I thought about Sister Ellis, my last companion, who's serving there right now...and when I send her pictures of investigators getting baptized here, she gets way pumped up. Which makes her a better missionary. Which means that the work I'm doing IS helping the work in Chiang Mai.

And then our zone leaders asked us to think bigger. What about the work in Idaho? One of our Elders, Elder Web, is from Idaho, and I'm sure him sending letters home every week is helping his family there -- and therefore the work in Idaho. And I have friends all over the world, and when I hear about how well they're doing, it makes me a better missionary, so they're impacting my mission!

...See how missionary work is a worldwide effort?

This week I went on a switchoff to Bangkhen (I think you'd pronounce that Bahng-Cane), and I love doing those because you get to be with a different companion in a different area for 24 hours and I always learn so much/get a new perspective on missionary work. I got to switch off with Sister Adams and she is awesome. I'm so grateful I got to serve with her, even for just one day! She's a crazy good/efficient missionary and I appreciate what I learned with her.

Aaaand we've started going to early-morning seminary! At first, we started going because one of our investigators ตา (Daa) was interested in going...but now we go because we love it so much. We're studying the Doctrine & Covenants! Sister Yanisa never had the chance to go because she only joined the church a year and a half ago, and I have to say...I get so much more out of it now than I did when I was in the young women program. It's such a great start to the day that I don't even mind that we have to get up at 5am to go.

Sometimes I think I love members too much...yesterday I agreed to memorize the Young Womens theme in Thai to help a 12-year-old girl who just got baptized last month. And yesterday my favorite family agreed to adopt me because they're always feeding me extra food and their sons (12 and 6 years old) and I are way close. My conversations in Thai are getting faster and faster and I think the members have started forgetting that I don't speak thai natively...

I think I'm turning Thai? And I love it.

Go do some good today. We're all capable of it.
Sister Z.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Win some, lost someone

[photos down below]

Woo, another P day! Didn't we just have one? Oh yeah, we did.

Well, this time I have stories, so it's okay. We went to visit one of our RC's (Recent Converts), a Laotian sister named Khiaw who was baptized about a month ago -- she's incredible, but she has a hard time because she has an insane work schedule that pretty much only gives her enough time to come home, read her scriptures, and sleep before she does it again. So we went to visit her and read scriptures with her, and then she told us that her older brother and sister-in-law had just moved here from Laos, and that they were interested in learning with us. So she invited her sister-in-law Boonmee over...and Boonmee brought a Laotian Bible and a Hymnal! The Church hasn't translated an official version of the LDS Hymnal in Laotian yet, but the Hymnal she had contained hymns like How Great Thou Art and Come Thou Fount and all these Christmas was AWESOME. and just because we were curious, we asked Boonmee to sing Come Thou Fount because we wanted to hear how it differed from the Thai and so Sister Boonmee sang it and it was incredible how strong the spirit was in that tiny little one-room apartment. Sister Boonmee has genuine desires to learn the truth for herself. Those are the investigators we go crazy over! It all starts with the open heart and willingness to search and learn.

Sister Khiaw has been a member for barely a month and through her we've taught approximately five other people -- her family, friends, etc. She wants so badly for everyone in her life to have the joy that comes from the gospel. I've learned so much from her example! She's amazing.
1. the aforementioned Laotian hymnal -- so cool!

Something that Sister Yanisa and I are really good at doing is having fun, even when we're doing things that we're not a fan of doing, like contacting for hours a day. Whenever that happens, we find ways to make it fun! Like last week, we turned down an alley and suddenly we were in a huge Buddhist Temple! We're not allowed to contact in temples, obviously, so we wandered around and I asked Sister Yanisa a hundred and one questions about Buddhism while we explored and looked at awesome murals. I learned a ton of things I didn't know before and took some really sweet pictures.

And on a random note...when you have eight baptisms in a month, sometimes doing confirmations in sacrament meeting takes up...almost the whole meeting, which is what happened yesterday. I love being a Thailand Bangkok missionary!

Well...on a personal note, one of my friends committed suicide last week. He was like an older brother to me in many ways -- a happy guy, a wonderful missionary, a kind man, energetic student...and an awesome friend. He will be missed. Tell those around you what they mean to you and that you love them...because, bleak as it sounds, you don't always know when it'll be your last chance. Live life with no regrets...worry less about the things that don't matter, that you can't control, and smile. Life is good.

Sister Z.


3. Sister Yanisa being as adorable as ever!

4. "Inviting" water buffalo to be baptized.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's a new world, it's a new start!

1. just some of the awesome people who have gotten baptized here recently.

2. we found Dr. Pepper!

3. we went to an aquarium a few p days ago...super fun!

สวัสดีปีใหม่! Hello, 2015 world!

So, a lot has happened since I last sent a weekly email...most significantly being eight baptisms, including a family that is so insanely prepared that they have even been gathering their family's names for years...when they found out that they can take their family names to the temple, they flipped. They're not actually our investigators, but the 11-year-old girl has adopted me as her older sister and we teach them too sometimes. They are sooo wonderful. This is why I'm here, to help teach and baptize families!

And of course, on Christmas I got to Skype my family! So good to see them all, and my kitty! I love my family and I'm so grateful for them and the sacrifices they have made and continue to make to enable me to be here serving a mission.

I also got an endoscopy two weeks ago, which was a scary but good experience which revealed that the stress I've been dealing with has caused some inflammation in my stomach and intestines which is what's been causing me all this pain. There isn't much that can be done while I'm living this lifestyle because it seems that the stress isn't going to go away, but if I regulate my diet I can decrease and even eliminate the pain.

President Senior gave me the choice, whether to stay or go home to recover. And after a ton of studying and praying and feeling unsure I finally just decided to stay. Because, really, I only have about 10 months left. That's not a lot of time! I can sleep when I get home. And since I've made that decision, my life has gotten easier. Not a lot easier, but I can feel divine help and prayers and love so much easier now. Which means, of course, that I've once again made the right decision.

I wish I had more time to tell some of the funnier stories that have happened this week. Maybe next week. We're off to go shopping and then we're having a snowball/nerf-gun fight at the church, and Sister Yanisa and I have no plans to lose. :)

Don't forget, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you infinitely more than you can imagine. He loves you just like you're His favorite kid in a billion. Don't give up. Don't stop moving forward. and don't forget that life is short...make it sweet.

Sister Z.