Wednesday, May 29, 2013

MTC letter--May 29, 2013

Hey all!
So on Thursday, while I was teaching a lesson with my companions, I had a rather profound thought and it was as follows: "Dude. I'm speaking Thai. Who does that?" Yup. I'm actually really excited about that. I mean, seriously now, it's Thai. And now I can speak it ... well, sort of. I can't speak it well but there are still these random combinations of sounds and tones exiting my mouth and people are understanding them. And now we are reading from the Book of Mormon. It's is so exciting. I remember when Courtnee bought me the Book of Mormon in Thai during winter semester and I just stared at it, doubtful that I would ever be able to read it. Of course, I knew that eventually I would be able to read it which made it that much more exciting. And now here I am, reading Thai. It's so hard but so rewarding after you sound out a word and it is actually one you recognize. Elder Hill (an Elder in my district) made a very accurate and fun remark: very few people get a second chance to feel the joys of learning to read. But let me tell you why learning to speak and read Thai is difficult:
1) Vowels. There are 36 of them. 36! And they are not always right after the consonant as it is in English. They can be before the consonant, after it, above it, below it, or on both sides of it.
2) Consonants. There are 44 but 8 are uncommon so we haven't learned them. Consonants have different sounds depending whether they are at the beginning or in the middle of the word or if they are the last consonant of the word. Also, multiple letters can make the same sound so spelling is challenging.
3) Thai is a giant hashtag. aka there are no spaces. The scriptures are nice and use commas and periods but besides that, therearenospacesthewordsareallnexttoeachothersoinordertoreadyoujusthavetofigureitout. Just like in English, it is so much easier once you can recognize individual words. So we will improve with time.
4) Tones. Tones are evil, just pure evil. We have been told that because the Thai people have grown up with different tones meaning different things, they don't really understand how someone would mix up "chay" (with a rising tone, meaning to use) or "chay" (with a mountain, meaning yes, that is correct). So yeah, that is why you can say "may" five different ways and say "that new wood doesn't burn". Let me teach you how to figure out the tone of the word. First, what is the consonant of the word? There are three different classes of consonants (high, middle, or low). Once you figure that out, look to see if there is a tone marker above that consonant. There are five markers (including not having one) but luckily two are rarely used. The tone depends on both the first consonant's class and the tone marker. But wait, there's more. If the word ends in a b, d, or g sound, you kind of ignore that tone you just figured out. Now the tone depends on the length of the vowel (long or short) and the class of the first consonant.
And that, my dear loved ones, is why Thai is hard to read/speak. But it is a lot of fun to learn. Wonderfully frustrating. And the challenge is kind of exhilarating.
So some fun stories about Thai before I continue my letter:
  • In the lesson of two of the sisters in the other district, one sister was telling the investigator that during prayers you can ask God for whatever (help, knowledge, etc). The investigator (played by their teacher) seemed really hesitant but the sister was really confident and supportive so the investigator started to pray. This is when it gets funny. After opening, he pretended to shoot a gun upward. Apparently the sister had been saying to kill God instead of to ask God. It gets better. After a good long laugh at this, we all then realized that during our prayers, instead of asking God, we had been saying kill. Yup. Good times. The words are really similar - the only difference is how wide your mouth is when saying "a". Yeah.
  • Now for an interesting time in our lesson. I can't remember exactly what we were teaching Nike but we wanted to have him read Alma 38:9 which talks about Christ being the light and life of the world. Instead we accidentally had him read Alma 39:9 which condemned him for his sexual lusts. Yup. "So Nike, how do you feel about this scripture?" "Well... um...I don't know." We had him read the right scripture when we realized our mistake and he liked the correct one much better. Good times.
  • In Thai, you teach on the floor so we sisters are always doing that sideways-kneel thing where you kneel but then lean to a side. If you don't remember to switch sides during the 30-minute long lesson, your entire leg will fall asleep. This hasn't happened to me because I always switch sides but my companions always forget. Our teachers (still trying to be in investigator mode) always crack up at the end of the lessons because my companions are limping out of the classroom. They think it is the most hilarious thing.
  • So we had a scare while teaching Phii Thom a couple of lessons back. We had a member present (another teacher) and those two were talking a lot so we couldn't really catch everything they were saying. The words we did catch were about the Book of Mormon not being true. And the member was just nodding his head the entire time. My companions and I were just speech-less, looking back and forth between Phii Thom and Brother Gann, totally confused. Finally I interrupted their conversation and said "I don't really understand the words you are saying but did you just say that you didn't believe the Book of Mormon was true?" And this was like our third or fourth lesson with Phii Thom. Then Phii Thom spent ten minutes trying to explain the word "thaa" to us. In case you were curious, it means "if". It turns out, what he was saying was that we would not have given him the book if it were not true so he believes that it is true. We felt much better after that. Not surprisingly, yesterday Brother Shipley (who plays Phii Thom) taught us how to make if-then statements. Yeah. Phii Thom is an interesting investigator. I'm almost out of time so I will tell you more about him and the other investigator later.
So Memorial Day sounded like a lot of fun. :) The only reason we knew it was that weekend was because Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday was all patriotic. It was really, really nice. The fun thing is that on Monday a lot of sisters did their best to wear red, white, and blue.
How is it now that seminary has ended? Our new district goal is to read one of the Book of Mormon scripture mastery each night. Eventually we'll get to memorizing them. One suggestion I have for everyone is to add studying Preach My Gospel to studying the scriptures. There are many pearls of wisdom found in those pages.
How is the yard doing? You should send me pictures of the cicadas and of the new flower bed. I vote 100% yay to getting a fire pit. That would be a lot of fun.
How are the new callings coming along? And the old callings? How was the funeral? How's life? What's been happening out beyond the MTC bubble? Barbie said it's been raining a lot in NJ. How is the lawn handling it?
Oh, and our teachers recently challenged us to no longer bring notes and dictionaries into the lessons. Now all we bring are the scriptures in both languages. Honestly, it is so much better this way. We have to really know what we want to say because we can't just read off of a piece of paper. And now we are building a stronger relationship with the investigator because we are actually talking with them instead of trying to follow a lesson plan. And even though we no longer can look things up in a dictionary, we are saying most everything we want to say. It's so cool. And the spirit has been stronger when we don't use notes.
Remember how I said Brother Shipley is from New Jersey? Another teacher was asking if we knew each other from before hand and Brother Shipley said we didn't (which is correct). Then he (jokingly) said that I was from the uncool and dirty part of New Jersey (the Northern part) and he was from the cool part (the Southern part). I disagreed but thought that it was funny.
Is there anything anyone wants to know about life here in the MTC? I don't know what you want to hear about. Also, I would love some pictures from anyone that is reading this. Just lots of pictures because I did not make time to print many out before coming here. So yup, pictures would be nice.
To your question about me keeping my room clean, yes I have. We have passed all our cleaning checks...expect for the first one because our beds were not made and we didn't know we got random weekly cleaning checks. Now we make our beds every day.
Barbie, that's really exciting about Sheila. (Sheila is a friend of mine who's just gotten engaged.) Tell her congrats for me! :) Also, there are some rooms in the buildings that used to have two-way mirrors (the mirrors have been since taken down). I have been told that they were used by the CIA because the CIA wanted to observe how people in the MTC learned the languages so quickly. I agree that it is really funny. I mean, this method is not one that can be duplicated. You cannot duplicate the Spirit of the Lord and the gift of tongues. Sorry. :) I'll try to write down some more interesting facts about Thai. And I'm going to start a snail letter with a lot of spiritual things that I've learned here. An hour just isn't enough time to write everything.
Dad, ew. Just ew. I don't want to eat bugs. I know I will but ugh. I know they will probably be tasty but still. Ew. And I print out the emails at 11 and read them while doing laundry so feel free to send really long letters. How has work been? And the de-merger? I guess that would be called the splitting but I like de-merger better. :)
Well, I have to go. Write me please :) Love you all very, very, very much. and the MTC is amazing!
~Sister Slaugh

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pictures--May 22, 2013

 I'm not certain who precisely this is, but I'm guessing she's part of Abbie's district.

Sister Slaugh and her companions! 

Sister Slaugh's nametag!

For those of you who aren't familiar with "Grumpy Cat," he's a cat that shows up all the time in memes. Here are two such. He's pretty cute, if you ask me. For someone who's grumpy all the time, anyway.

MTC letter-May 22, 2013

Dear family that I love,
When Elder Nelson came, he gave us a promise: obedience brings success, exact obedience brings blessings. Because of that my companions and I have been doing our best to be exactly obedient. Let me tell you, you might not thing that there is a huge difference between 6:30 am and 6:31 am but there truly is. When we wake up when we are supposed to our day goes infinitely better. One thing my companion Sister Hughes; friend said is that there is nothing sacred about 6:30 but there is something sacred about obedience. That is completely true. Another benefit of obeying the rules: I didn't open Dad's letter and read about Dot Rice until after I got back to the residence instead of reading it before class. (Dot Rice was a very beloved member of our ward. She died this past Friday.)That would have made for a very awkward beginning of class if I had been crying beforehand. It is good to know that she is in a better place and free of her oxygen tank but it is still sad. She was one of the sweetest ladies I knew and will be greatly missed.
I'm happy to hear that stake conference went well though.
Oh Mom, I no longer need the immunization stuff - I was able to get onto the website and print it off so I'm good now.
I'm glad to hear that seminary is going well and thanks for those verses to read. :) Please tell all those peeps that if they would like me to write them letters, I require their addresses. Actually that goes for everyone. =D Oh, another thing to tell them: get to know the scriptures really well. Know where different scriptures are. When you are mid-lesson you don't really have time to look up keywords in the topical guide. You need to be able to turn to that scripture quickly. So yeah. Those are my words of wisdom. Oh wait! There's more: you cannot teach beyond your own knowledge and you cannot convert more than you are converted. If you want to teach others about the gospel, make sure you know it (D&C 11:21). We watched a video clip of Elder Holland speaking and he said something to the effect of "you want your investigator to pray? The Lord wants you to pray! You want your investigator to feel the Holy Ghost and accept the atonement? He really wants you to feel the Holy Ghost and accept the atonement." I probably got it really wrong but you get the idea. Feast upon the words of Christ. I promise that you will not regret it.
Speaking of things spiritual, WATCH MORMON MESSAGES! They are literally some of the best things. We watch them every Sunday before and after Relief Society. There are some really really good ones. So yeah, I am highly recommending them. :)
Next, I'm fine if you sell the car, just please take a picture of it first. (She's referring to our red Corolla, which she used to drive but which we really don't need anymore.) I want to have a record of what the first car I drove looked like. Speaking of pictures, please take pictures of the house and its insides because I have a feeling that things will change during these next 18 (almost 17 now) months. Oh, and again speaking of pictures, I would love to get pictures of our ancestors! So that covers all the questions I got... I think.
So, the MTC  is still amazing, fear not. It is so amazing to feel the spirit constantly. Honestly, it is so amazing and great and wonderful and just yeah. Oh, good news: NO LONGER SICK! Woohoo! And while I was sick, I developed a new position to sleep in: sitting slightly upright but also slightly slanted. I didn't cough as much that way so I could actually get to sleep. I leaned up against the wall and against the closet. I actually slept really well that way. So if you get sick and can't sleep because of coughing, my method is another thing I highly recommend.
So during one of the devotionals, the speaker (Brother Littlefield) made a really good comment: we need to be like an automobile and recharge our batteries while we are going. Waking up at 6:30 is probably the hardest thing at the MTC but it's getting easier, especially now that I am thinking about this quote more. The speaker from last night (Brother Marcus Nash) said that when you don't think you can do something because it's hard or you're tired, do it anyway. If you don't want to wake up, do it anyway. If you don't wake to study for an hour at 8am, do it anyway. It was very good and motivational.
Ooh, fun things about Thai time! In Thai, to repent literally means to change the heart. To breathe means to heal your heart. To be sad is to lose heart. One day we were trying to say bathroom and we accidentally said the impure room. You know how in English, "a piece of cake" means easy? In Thai, the saying is "Snake snake fish fish". Yup. The phrase for "french fry" is "punishing potato". "I'm sorry" means "punish me". Um... I can't remember anything else that stood out. OH! I'm starting to understand Thai more. Usually in class, our teacher speaks just Thai and no one really knows--or at least I don't really know--what he is saying so he has to repeat himself and then we are able to pick out a couple of words. BUT recently I was able to understand everything he was saying. Yes he was speaking very simply but still. And during our meetings with our investigators, I am actually understanding them quite well. it is super exciting!
Oh sad news, our Phii Thais and Phii Cambodians left Monday and Tuesday. Now is it just our disco and a Sister McQuivey who is leaving for Washington next Tuesday. It was sad to see everyone go though it will be great to just have our disco for three weeks. We are going to get so close and I am excited. And then in mid-June we are getting 48-ish people (Thai, Cambodian, and Hmong). It is super exciting. So then we will become the Phii Thais. That's really weird to think about.
So I'm going to tell you about our teachers and the classes. Well first, I am going to ask everyone to send me questions about what they want to know about. It's hard to write letters when I don't know what the recipients want to know about. So class. We have two teachers: Brother Shipley and Brother Phan. We've had Brother Shipley longer so we know him better. If you want to know what he looks like, just think of the human version of the grumpy cat. I'm completely serious. He does smile but when he has a neutral expression, it is that one. Sister Hughes' friend is friends with him so I'm sure he is really funny but during class he always tries to be serious and focused. We enjoy pushing his buttons though. And we have gotten him to crack up a couple of times. It's kinda our goal. :) Brother Shipley is amazing though. He walks into the room and the Spirit comes in as well. Two days ago we talked for two hours on receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon. It was purely amazing and so good. Oh my goodness. He is amazing at teaching. Brother Phan is amazing as well but we just know Brother Shipley better. Bother Phan stays very focused but jokes with us a bit. He was our first investigator. We have been very blessed teacher-wise. The resource teachers are amazing as well. The MTC did a great job hiring them. They also are really good investigators. Brother Shipley is Phii Thom (Christian, has two children, wants to learn about God's plan for him and about repentance. We are unsure if he is married because "fan" means girlfriend, boyfriend, and spouse) and Brother Phan was Sam (Buddhist, 18 years old) and is now Nike (has two children, is taking english classes with the misisonaries, wants to learn about Christ but has little desire to follow him). I have really grown to love our investigators. The first lesson with Phii Thom went terribly but they have been getting progressively better. It's exciting.
I don't know what else to talk to you about. Um... on Saturdays we have TRC which teaching resource center? Who knows. But it is where people who speak the language come and you teach them. BUT you teach them as them, not as an investigator. It was a lot of fun and really boosted my confidence in Thai. My confidence was also boosted when we spent two hours during class reviewing the grammar we have learned. I was getting frustrated because I could speak better German than I could Thai and whenever I wanted to respond to something, the German word would come to my mind before the Thai one. But it is definitely getting better. Um... what else.
Okay, so I'm going to get off soon so I have time to attach pictures but first, volleyball is one of the best sports and I think you all need to know that. That is what we do every single time for gym because it is something our district can play together. The other sports are not co-ed because those sports have too much contact. But volleyball is totally fine to play with both genders. And it is so much fun. And we get to take off our shoes because it is in the sand. Best thing ever. Oh, advice for anyone entering the MTC. When they say only bring one pair of gym clothes, don't listen to them. Bring multiple. You play gym everyday. So yeah, bring two pairs of shorts and like two or three shirts. You can send them home later when you get to the mission field but while you are in the MTC, I would recommend having two pairs. Um... I'll do pictures really quickly so I'm signing off now. Love you all! :)
~Sister Slaugh

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Onward to Thailand!

Alright. As you can see on the right of the page, I've added a new widget/chart/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. This relates to our family's challenge, entitled "Onward to Thailand." We have challenged ourselves (or, to put it another way, my oldest sister Lorri challenged the family and we accepted) to walk, bike, swim, run, and so forth until we have "walked to Thailand." Lorri tells us that it is 8670 miles from Fanwood, New Jersey to Bangkok, Thailand, give or take about 5 miles. It might take us the whole mission to do it, but we really want to rack up all those miles before Abbie completes her mission.
Anyone who would like to help may do so. The easiest way to do that is to post a comment to any post on the blog telling me how many new miles you've walked/biked/swum/etc. I'll take that amount and add it to whichever row you belong to. You can count your kids' mileage as well unless they're in a stroller.
And now! Onward to Thailand!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pictures--May 15, 2013

 The Thai sisters with their flag. Spot Sister Slaugh!

Some of the Thai language. Don't bother asking me what it says. Maybe Lorri will be good enough to translate for us. It looks cool, though. 

Apparently this is Elder Passey demonstrating his ability to lick his own elbow. I'm not sure if I'm impressed or disturbed. 

This is Sister Slaugh's zone, but minus the new ones like her. Apparently these people were all leaving this week, so they took a picture of them with the flags of their destinations. 

The older Thai sisters, Sister Slaugh, and her companions.  Apparently the "trios" are standing every other. So Sister Slaugh's companions are girls numbers 4 and 6 (starting from the left). And no, I don't know which is Sister Phelps and which is Sister Hughes. I can't see their nametags from this far away.

 All the Thai sisters again. Judging by the way Sister Slaugh is just in this one dress mainly, I'm going to guess they took all these outside pictures on the same day.

 Sister Slaugh's companions. I can make out one nametag now, so the girl in the gray jacket is Sister Phelps, and the one in the red skirt is Sister Hughes.

the Thai district

Sister Slaugh and her cousin Elder McCleary!

MTC letter-May 15, 2013

And here's Sister Slaugh's email of the week. I will post the pictures as a separate post.

Dear Everyone,
Well hello there. So I've been debating how to start this email but I have finally made a decision. And my decision is to not make a decision and to start with all my options.
ELDER NELSON CAME AND SPOKE AT THE TUESDAY DEVOTIONAL!!!! (Russell M. Nelson is an Apostle and a member of the Quorum of the 12, which helps lead and guide the Church. First there's  the First Presidency, and then there's the Quorum of the 12. So Elder Nelson speaking is a really big deal.)
SISTER JANICE KAPP PERRY SPOKE DURING RELIEF SOCIETY ON SUNDAY!!! (Sister Perry is a well-known and respected member of the Church. She has written a number of songs that are regularly sung. They're actually very pretty.)
I HAVE A COLD. Being sick is not fun.
yup. those are the highlights of this week. Honestly I cannot believe that I have only been here two weeks. My little missionary daily planner is my life saver. I never know what day it is without it. I am currently looking throught it to see if anything insanely exciting happened this week. Um....
So Thursday first I guess. My district was basically a guinea pig (or pigs but then the subjects would not match up). Some guy taught our class so he could show two new teachers an example of how to teach. It was actually really informative.
On Friday we attempted an SYL (Speak Your Language) Day. It failed miserably. So instead we are just going to speak whatever we know in Thai and say everything we don't know in English. We also laminated our script cards--our alphabet. Our teachers call our script cards our Urim and Thummin because we use it to translate Thai. (The Urim and Thummim is an instrument created by God to help different Prophets through the ages translate by the power of God.) It is color coded by tones. We have started to memorize the letters but we have yet to attempt the tones. It's going to be interesting.
On Saturday...*looks in planner because all the days have totally meshed together* Oh! So something my district and the other district of new Thai's are doing is writing notes to each other. On Wednesday we pick a name of someone in the other district out of a bag and we have to write a note to them by Saturday. It's fun. We have decided to call our two districts the Disco -> district couple.
SUNDAY!!!! Sunday is amazing here. Breakfast is unfortunately 30 minutes earlier but oh well. At 9 we get to watch Music and the Spoken Word. (That's an hour-long devotional done every Sunday morning. It happens in Salt Lake City, but it's also broadcast.) Then we had Relief Society, Janice Kapp Perry spoke! It was really cool. We sang her songs for the prelude and for the opening and closing hymns. We  also sang a medley of some of her songs and an alteration of "As Sisters of Zion." ("As Sisters in Zion" is a hymn) It's called "The Sisters of Zion" and we were the first group to sing it. So cool! Sacrament Meeting is at 12:45. So here is how the talks work: the Branch President tells us the Sunday before what the topic of the next Sunday will be. Then we all prepare a 2-5 minute talk on that topic. And then on Sunday he calls up 2-3 people to give a talk. So we all have to be prepared each Sunday. It's nice though because that means we have all studied up on the topic so we can gain more from the meeting. I did not talk this week. The topic was Enduring to the End. However, after sacrament meeting our district gets together and talks about the topic so you are going to talk somewhere on Sunday.  On Sunday we do not have any class time so we have a lot of study time. It's really nice to relax and take a mental break from Thai for a little. Dinner was... I can't remember. On Sundays and Wednesdays though, there is ice cream from BYU Creamery. Wednesdays there are limited flavors but many toppings and on Sunday there are many flavors but no toppings. Oh, and tell Stuart that him teaching me to speak "boy" has come in handy. I was able to bond with an Elder companionship on Sunday because they used to watch anime and play video games. We got onto that topic because my companionship and the two Elders (they are in my district) were sitting in the class room and someone starting humming a disney song and then we started to talk about our favorite disney and pixar movies. Then one Elder mentioned that he loved the game Kingdom Hearts so much because it combined Disney and Final Fantasy. I commented that I enjoyed that game and that I had played Final Fantasy as well. So yeah. Then Sunday night we had a devotional--Sister and Brother Shane Littlefield spoke. Last week Brother and Sister Chad Lewis spoke. Apparently he played football and works/worked for the NFL. Both of the devotionals were really good. Brother Lewis got us pumped for missionary work by sharing stories and other experiences. Brother Littlefield talked about important characteristics to have while serving a mission. He was a mission president in Mexico. They both shared a lot of funny stories.
Monday morning is when we do service. Because I am in a trio, we cleaned the stairs. It's a super easy job and we made it fun. We may or may not have been singing the entire time really loudly. :) Nothing really exciting happened on Monday. Sorry.
Tuesday. We got a new investigator: Phii Thom (Phii means older). He is played by our teacher Brother Shipley. Speaking of investigators, we have stopped teaching Sam. We only taught him four times. The person who played him (Brother Phan) has now become our teacher during the afternoon. Brother Shipley teaches us at night now. Tomorrow we will start teaching Nike who is played by Brother Phan again. So now we have two investigators! Yay! :) It's so much better having investigators because we have people to study for during personal and companion study. Now we have people to care about and think about and to motivate ourselves over. It's cool. Apparently having fake investigators is only a recent thing though. I'm glad we have that. It's really good to have experience and to figure out what works and what doesn't during a lesson. Tuesday night is also devotional night. AND ELDER NELSON CAME. IT WAS SO COOL!!!!!! One thing he and other people spoke on is that people on the other side of the veil are helping us. I never really thought of that before. When they mentioned that, I thought of Grandma Slaugh. She served a mission too, right? He also talked about the importance of being happy and respectful. We are only the messengers of this gospel: the Holy Ghost is the teacher. Our mission is about the people we teach, not about us. I really like.
And now we are on to today, Wednesday. We went to the temple this morning which was amazing. It was so beautiful. OH! Speaking of temples, there are rumors that we could be getting a temple in Thailand soon! Missionaries who are there were told that the next four months are really important in terms of the future of the church in Thailand. And a couple of general authorities are going to Thailand this month. And if they were to build a temple in Southeast Asia, it would be in Bangkok because it is most central. THAILAND COULD BE GETTING A TEMPLE! I AM SO EXCITED! AHHHHHHH!!!!! =D
um... now that I have finished the overview of my week, on to random things I wrote down to tell you all about:
*a joke my companion told me: what is brown and sticky? A stick. I don't know what I expected. I just laughed really hard. As you can tell, late at night (aka 8 or 9pm) we have totally cracked. Brother Shipley is worried for us (jokingly I hope) because it is only the beginning of our third week and we have already cracked.
*speaking of being cracked, one night when Sister Stack was about to pray in Thai, she started laughing. We don't know why. Then we (the district) starting laughing. We couldn't start the prayer for 5 minutes. Yup. Our brains are sleepy by that time at night.
*And another story of manic laughing: Brother Phan was trying to teach us how to pronounce a vowel and he said it was like saying apple with a stereotypical New England accent. Then he said apple with that accent. My companion Sister Hughes lost it for a good 10 minutes. :)
*Throughout this week I have seen
           ~from my BYU ward: Elders Hoyt and Christenson (I have no idea how to spell that (neither do I, since it's a last name)) and Sisters Harman, Price, and Nance.
           ~Sister Thomas :)
           ~Elder Ball from the leadership conference. He is here for 11 weeks because he has to learn two langauge: French and Tahitian.
           ~and.... just this morning, Elder McCleary. We ran into each other at the bookstore. I did not realize it was him at first. and yes, I am attaching a picture of the encounter.
*I have decided that my companions and I have the same brain. Why? Because the other night, we all had the same dream: that we were still in class learning Thai. The best part? Sister Phelps talked in her sleep and said, very loudly, "I don't understand!" Because that fit in my dream, I did not think it odd to response with "What don't you understand?" Our other roommates cracked up at that. Yup. Good times :)
*oooh fun(possibly) fact about Thai: females speak in the third person. Males, however, speak in the first person. There is probably some past negative thing about that but I just think it is really fun. So basically when I am introducing myself I am saying, Sister's name is Sister. If I wasn't on a mission I would say, "Abbie's name is Abbie." Yup. So if I come back only speaking in third person, you understand why.
I am sorry if this letter is shorter BUT I am sending pictures this time. Love you all! I hope to hear from you all soon :) the MTC is fantastic!
~Sister Slaugh

MTC letter--May 2, 2013

Okay, this is the first snail mail letter we have gotten from Sister Slaugh. She wrote it May 2 (thus the title), we received it May 8 (just an hour or two after we got the email), and I kind of kept forgetting to post it until today. Sorry. Anyway, here it is!
As a bit of fun, count all the times she uses the word "great." Seriously, it's funny.

Dear Family (and friends),
Well howdy do. :) The MTC is great. No seriously, this place is amazing and fantastic and great and wonderful and just so cool. It is really overwhelming but the atmosphere is so great. The Spirit is really strong here. I love it.
So the first day. Yes Barbie I know that was a fragment; sorry. The MTC is a very well-oiled machine. When we pulled up to the curb of the MTC, there were missionaries there to help you with your things and guide you to your living area and classroom. I live in building 9 in room 119. The room is small but we are barely in there so it's not an issue.
I have two companions instead of just one. Sister Phelps is from Southern California and Sister Hughes is from Northern California. They are amazing! We've gotten along fantastically so far. We have similar senses of humor, attitudes, and knowledge of the Gospel. There are only two other sister missionaries in our room: Sister DuPlessis and Sister Stack. Sister DuPlessis is the girl from my mission prep class and is from Wisconsin. Sister Stack is from Salt Lake City, Utah. They are also just great. We all eat together and have class together and basically do everything together so we have already gotten very close. I am so excited to get to know them better and to grow with them. I'm excited to be here but their excitement is making mine even greater.
So every companionship is put in a district, but, unlike the Hunger Games, they are not numbered, they are lettered. I am in District A for the Thai missison. (Actually, in the letter it's District A with some tiny little mark as a subscript to the A, but I can't tell what it is. Maybe a smaller A? Or a backwards 4 ... ) The districts are made up of only people going to the same mission. My district is made up of my room and four elders. We have all our classes and meetings together. They are all great.
We started learning Thai the first day here. Our teacher--Brother Shipley from New Jersey--has been speaking to us in only Thai. He is a great teacher and we have already learned a lot. It was somewhat overwhelming the first day but I love it here so much.
Well I have to got to another activity but I wanted to get a letter out. I'll write again soon but I wanted to send this out now.
Love you all!
~Sister Slaugh

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

MTC letter--May 8, 2013

Sister Slaugh has posted her first letter! Apparently Wednesdays are her preparation day (a sort of free day to be spent on laundry, letter-writing, and other such things) so she'll be writing every Wednesday. Which means I'll be updating every Wednesday as well.
Anyway, here is her letter! We got it via email and her subject line was "guten tag (but really spoken in Thai)". I will stick occasional notes of clarification in it.
Hi Everyone!
So my p-day is on Wednesday so I will be writing around this time each Wednesday.
The MTC is AMAZING! It is really great here and the spirit is just always here. I love it so much. Someone--I can't remember who--said that the days here are like weeks and the weeks are like days. That is soo true. Each day is insanely long which is probably because for the 16 hours we are awake, we are constantly learning or working or trying to remember Thai. The weeks however, are super short. I feel like I just got here yesterday. I have no sense of time here. The only reason I know the day is because of our planners. At lunch and dinner, I sometimes forget whether it is lunch or dinner. Luckily my watch always saves me when I get confused. I also have no sense of the outside world. Someone mentioned how Iron Man 3 came out last week and I got rather confused at first until I realized (like 5 seconds later) that that was a movie and people watch movies. Yup, my brain is functioning rather well. Haha :)
I really like my companions--yes, I am in a trio. My companions are Sister Phelps (from Southern California) and Sister Hughes (from Northern California--Napa Valley, think Parent Trap). They are both amazing and so much fun. We all are very similar: optimistic, sarcastic, excited to be here but a little nervous. We get along great! The other two sisters in our room are Sister Du Pleses (Wisconsin and the girl from my mission prep class (a class she took last semester at BYU)) and Sister Stack (Salt Lake City). They are also great. We decided that the reason we get along so well is because we are all here for the right reason and are all high on the spirit.
There are four guys in our district--yes, us sisters outnumber the elders. In the other district of new Thai's there are three Elders and 6 Sisters. Kinda scary, right? It's exciting though. The Elders in my district are Elder Astle (District Leader--Las Vegas), Elder Passey (Utah), Elder Hill (Utah), and Elder Winsor (Utah). Even though we have only been together a week, we have already gotten really close and become good friends. I'm really excited to see where we are in 8 more weeks when we head to Thailand. Our closeness is probably due to our long hours in the classroom. We may sleep in the residence halls but we live in our class room.
We wake up at 6:30 and then have breakfast at 7:30. Then at 8 we ususally have personal study time for an hour but two days ago we had class instead. Personal study time, companion study time, and language study are all done in the classroom, or at least a classroom. We are allowed to work in an empty classroom if we wish. Each of those is at least an hour long. Class is three hours. At the beginning our teacher only spoke Thai to us but now he will speak to us in english for at least an hour so he can talk to us about the mission and gospel doctrine. Our teacher is fantastic! His name is Brother Shipley and he is from the Cherry Hill Stake in New Jersey. He got back around a year ago. Remember how I mentioned there was a guy in my dance class who went to Thailand on his mission? In June, when the next group of Thai's come, he will be their teacher. He comes in like every other day to help out and to observe how to be a teacher. It is really weird calling him Brother Thrap instead of his first name.
Lunch is around 12:20 and dinner is around 5:20. Somewhere during the day we have another 3-hour class period but this time it is without a teacher. During this time we teach our fake-investigator Sam and then prepare for our next lesson. Tonight will be our fourth time teaching him. I think the lessons have been going really well. Our langauge is really simple but we get our point across and he understands us. He is another teacher here and our pi-thai's (the older thai's--pi means older in Thai) say that eventually he will also be our teacher. He is the one who is engaged to the girl from my math class last semester. Our first lesson was messy because we didn't really know what we were doing. The next two lessons went really really well. We are getting the hang of this. :) The pi-thai's say that they currently have about five investigators so sooner or later we will be getting more.
Let's see, what else is there to talk about? Oh, also in our daily schedule is gym. So fantastic; I'm not even joking. I love gym. So far my companions and I have played soccer and volleyball. We are going to start going on the bikes soon so that it won't be a hard transition when we get to Thailand.
Um, so the food here is not terrible but... well.... It is quite edible and can even be tasty. Haha :) There are sooo many options though so you can always find something good. We went to the Temple this morning (so good!) and we got breakfast there. It was so delicious and a nice break. :) In answer to Barbie's question, it is normal food that would be available here. (I asked her whether she was eating American food or Thai food) This morning I had a waffle. Last night I had an interesting pasta and meat dish. The salads are really good here as well, probably because you can customize them. :)
What else would you like to know? I will send pictures soon. I need to find a way to get them on the computer first. But I have taken some already.
Oh, so on each Sunday and Tuesday night there is a devotional. The MTC really knows what they are doing. These devotionals give us just great pick-me ups and motivation. Um... life here is good. We are learning a lot. We have learned a lot of Thai already even though it is frustrating because we still have so much to learn. "Wonderfully frustrating" as Sister Hughes would say. We can pray, teach, share our testimony. We learning the Thai characters as well so we can transition away from Romanized Thai to actual Thai.
I am really glad to hear about seminary. Please tell everyone that it is really useful and I'm glad I attended. You really have to have a firm grasp on the Gospel before you get here. Oh, interesting note about Thailand. The Bible they use was translated from a German Bible so it's oddly translating so barely any one uses it. So basically we have to teach almost completely out the Book of Mormon. On one hand, easy because I know the Book of Mormon better. On the other hand, so difficult because there are so many good verses in the Bible and I love all the stories about faith and Christ in it. So we'll figure it out.
Your "Walk to Thailand" sounds like an excellent idea! (Our sister Lorri suggested that during the next 18 months, our family walk, bike, and swim "to Thailand." We'll record the miles we walk/bike/swim and add them all together so that hopefully by the time Abbie's mission is over we will have "walked to Thailand.") I wish you much luck on it. I have no way to record how many miles I will bike in Thailand but I wonder if I would reach 50 a month like you guys are planning to. And you should send me a picture of the cicadas when it gets really bad. Good luck on the garden! The cicadas won't affect them, right?
In answer to the questions about whether I would prefer email or snail mail, I have an answer which is a compromise. Dear Elder. (You can find it at I was reminded about it here. You can type a letter out to me (like an email) but the MTC will print out the letter and delivered to me that day or the next day (like snail mail). And it's free. It's only for when I am in the MTC but yeah. Emails are great but I would prefer snail mail or Dear Elder because that means I can respond during any free time I have (aka before breakfast and right before I go to sleep).
So I have to get off soon because we only have a limited time on the computer. I'll see if I can borrow my companion's usb cord thing and see if I can attach pictures. If not, I'll send some next week definitely. Love you all soooo much! I hope all is going really well at home. How is the weather? It's been pretty nice here and has even drizzled a couple of times.

Fast Sunday sounded really good. Ours was as well. Our church is made up of our zone which is the Thai's, the Cambodians, the Hmongs, and the Laotions (Laos - but they are currently not here). There are no Hmong Sisters. But I have gotten close to the Thai Sisters and the Cambodian Sisters. The Elders in both groups are great as well. They're fun. Our zone has the same schedule so we always see each other. We all sit together during meals and have gym together. It's a lot of fun.
So far I have seen three people from my Provo Ward and two from the Leadership Conference from before Fall Semester. If I see them again, I'll try to get pictures with them. Um... I'll look for Jordan...Elder McCleary but the MTC is a big place so I make no promises.
Oh, and thanks for the package! And I really like the stories about Eliza and Clara :)
Oh, and being cellphone-less is interesting. I don't really miss it and am not having withdrawals but it is really weird not having it. I often want to check the weather and realize, "oh, I have no way to do that but to go outside." Yeah, well my hour on the computer is up so bye for reals now! :)
Love you all!
~Sister Slaugh

Friday, May 3, 2013

Picture--May 1, 2013

I was sent this picture a few days ago. This is Abbie and our cousin D Jordan McCleary. He will be entering the MTC on Wednesday, and he'll be serving in the Indonesia Jakarta mission. I'm really happy that they'll be in the MTC together, even though they might not be spending too much time together (I'm not actually sure--we'll find out.) Yay for cousins!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

MTC mailing address

Sister Slaugh entered the MTC (Missionary Training Center) today. It's in Provo, Utah. She will spend about 9 weeks there, learning to speak Thai and how to preach/teach the Gospel. After that she flies to Thailand.
Abbie wants lots of letters! If you only want to email her (which is cheaper, faster, and easier), her email address is If you want to snail-mail her a letter (more fun for her and a bit more thoughtful), this is her mailing address while she's at the MTC:
Sister Abigail Lee Slaugh
MTC Mailbox #59
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

I'll post her Thai address after she gets to Thailand.