Monday, July 22, 2013

Pictures--July 22, 2013

These are the bikes--"Morticia" is the black one in front

I guess this is a picture of the mall they went to, with the indoor pond

 The mall again

Sister Wiganda

Sister Wiganda and her family--Sister Slaugh was hoping Lorri might recognize them

 Sister Slaugh said, "in Thai, people try to get whiter. It's sad. This product is like sunscreen but it makes you whiter."

Bang Kapi Letter--July 22, 2013

I want to add that the subject line for this email was "I really like salads."

Can you believe that it is almost August? I certainly cannot. Where did July go?   Everything here is going well, do not worry. Life has been great and I absolutely love Thailand so much. The people here are amazing. 

So at the beginning of this week, all of us new Thais in Bangkok had to gather so sign our work permits. We were told to gather last Monday morning and to get to the place before 8. I love train of command here in Thailand but sometimes it can be frustrating. Like when we are heading to the place and it is almost 8 (we had to wake up at 5:30) and we get a call that the activity was moved to tomorrow. Someone forgot to tell our district. Yup. Oh well, I didn't mind because it meant I got to see some MTC people (some people were told and others weren't) twice. That was an amazing blessing I didn't know I needed. It was so nice to see the people I had gotten so close to and had spent 9 weeks with. 

Tuesday we taught English. I taught the advanced class by myself. All things considered, it went pretty well. Tomorrow will be easier now that I actually now what I am doing. They like learning slang so if anyone has any good slang or anything like that, I would much appreciate it. All I could think of last time was "What's up?" Pathetic, I know. :) 

On Tuesday I also taught one of my first lessons by myself. Well, not totally by myself, there were two female members there. But yeah, after activities like Sports Night (every Friday), English Class (every Tuesday), or Church, we try to teach all our investigators that came to that activity. This means that we have to split up. It's a good experience and my teaching is improving. It is also forcing me to improve my Thai if I want to understand any of the questions or comments. It was nerve-wracking at first but it's really good. I'm enjoying it. Tuesday night I taught Sister เจน (pronounced Jane) about the Atonement and about who Christ is for us (meaning our Savior). I couldn't teach much due to my limited vocabulary but I could tell her what I knew and what I felt. It was a good experience. 

Speaking of investigators, I absolutely love them. We have one dater and two other progressing investigators. We have other investigators but they are "progressing". Jane (only two years younger than myself) is one of the progressing investigators and whenever she comes to an activity at the church and sees us, she asks, "so when are you going to teach me?" or "Where are you going to teach me?" It's so nice having the investigators wanting to learn and asking us to teach them instead of us having to chase them down. We have been very blessed. :)

Wednesday was a pretty normal day. We taught, we ate, we biked, we walked, we talked to people, we had fun. Actually, now that I think about it, two amazing things happened on Wednesday. First, we went to the mall (to make copies, get dinner, and to tract). They have a pond in the middle of the mall. This pond has huge(!) fishes in it. IT WAS SO COOL! There were also parrots. Parrots! Thailand rocks! The other thing I realized: salads are absolutely divine. We went to Sizzlers and just got the salad bar. Soooooo delicious. When basically all the food here is rice or noodle based, salads are heaven sent. Soooo tastey. Sister Slaugh was soooo happy afterwards. On Monday we were at a market and met a lady that sold salads at that night market every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can guess where Sister Orchard and Sister Slaugh will be on those nights. And the lady made her own fruit dressings. So good. :) That night we had correlation meeting. This ward is really good at its correlation meetings. They know what they are doing and they are great at it. I am so spoiled to be serving at this ward. So spoiled :)

Thursday we had a switch-off with Sister Training Leaders (kinda like the Zone Leaders but for Sisters). So much fun! I was with Sister Wiganda (a native Thai with amazing English). She knows Lorri because Lorri served in Sister Wiganda's home branch. Sister Wiganda's nickname is Minney. It was a lot of fun serving with her and learning from her. She only has two transfers left in her mission. She is serving in Sinnakarin so that is where we are. I think that is her home branch too because her sister (like her actual sister) lives the floor above the Sister's apartment. Crazy, right? Can you imagine serving in the same branch as your family? Oh, so I had an interesting experience during that switch-off. I was sitting next to this guy (about 60 or 70 years old) on one of Thailand's modes of transportation (I don't know how to spell it). We started talking and he asked me why I was in Thailand. I said that I was here to teach anyone who was interested about Jesus Christ and I showed the man a picture of Christ. His response? "I'll follow Christ." I was just like..."what?" kinda like how Dad said he was when someone was actually interested after a couple months of no one being interested. So the man and I started talking about Christ. Apparently the man had learned about Christ when he was young. I invited him to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized. He accepted. The Sisters in Sinnakarin are now going to teach him. It's just a strong witness to me that Heavenly Father truly is preparing His children to hear His gospel. These people are ready. It's so cool to see them grow too. I saw Sister Ning (another one of our investigators) pray for the first time. And I see the change in Jane as she truly believes that Christ was her Savior. A mission truly is an amazing experience. I love it--every aspect of it--so very much. 

Friday I returned to Sister Orchard. That night we went to Sports Night after getting a salad for later. Sports Night was a lot of fun. It's nice to still be able to play volleyball. I love the ward members here. Sister Ning came and brought her children. The ward was really welcoming to her and her family. The youth are also amazing here. They are so much fun. 

Saturday was a normal day as well. We had to go the church around 4pm for Sister Orchard to practice the piano. The Bishop asked her to accompany the choir. The song is "I am a Child of God" but the Bishop arranged it himself. Apparently the Bishop used to be in a band or something like that. It's pretty cool. He's a fun guy and is really friendly. It was fun watching her play the piano. Admittedly, I got a little homesick watching and listening to her play some of John Schmidt's songs but that's okay. 

Sunday was good as per usual. Sister Jane came to church and brought two friends - Sister Jeep and ... Kartoon. Sister Jane was introduced to the church by Sister Aye so Jeep and Kartoon are her friends as well. Those four always come to Sports Night so we know Jeep and Kartoon well. One thing I love about the Thai language - the word for her or him is the same thing. So with Kartoon, I don't have to worry about figuring out what to call khaw (Thai word for him/her) because I can just say khaw. Kartoon doesn't know what gender khaw is either. Jeep and Kartoon are great though and I love them. Those four are a lot of fun. :) Sadly Sister Ning did not come to church. She was planning on it (even showed us what she was planning on wearing) but I guess something came up or something like that. Oh well. There is always next week. :) 

I went to Young Women's with Jane, Jeep, Kartoon, and Aye. We learned about the temple. I was able to show my temple recommend and explain why I love the temple. The Thai people really really want a temple. I really really want them to get one too. 

And now we are back to Monday. We are making cookies today because we weren't able to last time. There isn't really much to do here (in this area of Thailand) on P-days besides the mall and baking. We'll keep on looking though. 

Palmyra sounds like so much fun! I really glad you all got to go. When we were teaching Sister Ning about Joseph Smith, we showed her the Restoration video. It's cool having visited those locations. The video was in Thai. Let me tell you, it is so weird watching a movie of white people but hearing the Thai language. So weird. I think that's why people laugh whenever I speak to them in Thai. One, I probably have an accent. Two, it's just so weird. They are always surprised hearing us speak in Thai. Their reactions are funny. :)

Thank you to Mom for the bike name. This week I will send a picture of Morticia to all of you. She's a very good bike. Spray-painting bikes is not mandatory but it is suggested because they are more likely to be stolen if they look new. 

Speaking of family, can someone tell me where Uncle Leslie served? And Lorri too. It would be fun to see if I serve in the same areas. 

The trek dolls look really cute. Hopefully you get them all back and you can use them again. 

To Dad's comment about monks, we see them a lot here (not surprisingly), especially in the morning. I was warned not to touch them. Apparently if you touch them, they are no longer allowed to be monks - or something like that.

Well, I love you all very much and I hope all is well :) Much love!!! =D
~Sister Slaugh (ซิสเฅอร์ ซลอ) 

Bang Kapi Letter--July 15, 2013

Hey fam!

Thailand is amazing and is literally one of the best places on earth. The only thing that would make it better would be understanding the people perfectly. But then I guess trying to understand the people is one of the fun parts of being in a new country. Life is pretty normal and I haven't had a hard time with any culture shock. It's a big city which I am used to. I haven't had anything too crazy here this week though we did have dinner at a member's house this week. She promised us the food wasn't spicy but that was a total lie (she probably didn't think it was spicy but for us foreigners, it was). It was so hard to eat it because my mouth was tingling the entire time. I ate very slowly but she was very happy with the amount I ate so it's all good. I haven't really had many encounters with spicy food here luckily. And farongs (word for white-folk) aren't expected to be able to eat a lot of spicy food. They're happy when you try though. The majority of the food isn't spicy but you can add spices to it. 

This ward is absolutely amazing. The members are really helpful and they enjoy tracting and teaching with us. Sister Yoo (who I mentioned in the last letter) is going to England for 3 months (leaving next month) but afterwards is going to put her papers in to become a missionary. I got so excited and happy I wanted to cry. She will be an absolutely amazing missionary. She loves tracting with us and is really good at it. She has absolutely no fear when it comes to talking about the gospel. She just goes up to people and starts talking to them. It's a lot of fun. And my ability to talk to people has improved also. I love going on buses because that is a great time to talk to people. And the Thai people are so nice because they realize that this farong can't speak Thai but is honestly doing her best. It's so much fun. I can understand the overall topic of conversation but I miss some of the questions they ask. That's why it is always nice that Sister Orchard or Sister Yoo is right there to help me. We taught about the Plan of Salvation a lot this week and I understand basically everything that was said which was super exciting. And I was able to help teach about it. Also, I was amazed at how many people are interested in what we have to say. A lot of people have made it seem that tracting doesn't yield anyone interested in the gospel but when you do it (tracting) for two hours every day, you find a lot of people. I love knowing that no matter who someone is or what they are doing or where they are in life, the gospel can and will help them. It will improve their life and help them become happier. One of our new investigators prayed for the first time two days ago and it was soooo exciting! Think about it. That was the first time in her entire life that she talked with her Heavenly Father. I know how happy I was and I can't even imagine how happy Heavenly Father was. It's so cool! We taught Sister Ning (that investigator) with the help of Sister Yoo (who Sister Ning absolutely adores) and Sister Bua (who is actually an investigator too). They both shared why they knew what we were teaching was true. Sister Bua shared about how she first felt when she prayed and that as she prayed and read her scriptures, she developed a relationship with Heavenly Father. I love taking investigators teaching with us, it's so cool. Because the promise to us that as we share our testimony, as we share our beliefs, they will grow and strengthen applies to them as well. I'm pretty sure Sister Bua wants to be baptized but her parents aren't too supportive of it. We want to try to meet with her parents soon. It's also fun taking investigators tracting with us because it gets them to decide whether what we are teaching is true. 

Another thing that amazed me about being a missionary is that it is so easy to talk about the gospel. When I introduce myself, I say that my name is Sister Slaugh and I am a missionary (translates to people who teach) of Jesus Christ. Just like that, I can ask them about their belief in our Savior. The other day I had a cool experience on the bus. I wasn't sitting with Sister Orchard and no other member was with us so I was on my own with Thai. I started talking to this girl about the gospel. She hadn't really thought about God and whether she believed in Him before and she wants to learn more (I had to get Sister Orchard to translate for me at the end but that's okay). When we were talking with Sister Ning, we asked her what the knowledge that God exists would mean for her. She said that it would mean absolutely everything to her. She isn't learning for us and she isn't learning for Sister Yoo. She is learning for herself because she wants to know who God is and whether he is really our loving Heavenly Father. Every day I recite my purpose as a missionary: "To invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Our purpose as missionaries is to give people agency. They can't act and they can't make a decision if they don't have choices. If they don't know who Christ is, how could they make the choice to follow him? I love this privilege I have to teach people so that they have the ability to come unto Christ, who absolutely loves them and wants them to be happy and return to live with him and have eternal life with their families forever. I love being a missionary. It reminds me of my purpose in life: to follow Jesus Christ and to invite others to do the same. The first verb in our purpose statement, the second word, is "invite". People often have the misconception that missionaries force people to join the Church. We don't. We invite people to come unto Christ and partake of his gospel. 

I'm trying to think if there is anything else that I think you should know. There aren't any big moments, just small and simple moments everyday that make a mission amazing. I love teaching people. 

Shopping last week was a lot of fun. Everything in Bangkok is super cheap. It's great. :) 

Today Sister Orchard and I want to make cookies to give to people. At the beginning of our street there are security guards. I love our security guards. They're great. They salute us whenever we go past and like to tease us. It's great. We want to give them cookies and are also planning on finding a verse in the Book of Mormon about protection or guards to give them as well. They're fun. We also want to give cookies to some of our neighbors so we can get to know them. 

One thing about speaking a new language--you have to be okay with being wrong all the time and have to be okay with being laughed at. Laugh with the people. I laugh all the time because of that. 

So I kind of had an animal encounter this week. I think it was last Monday or Tuesday night, we came home and I was about to put something on our kitchen table when something on it moved - really fast. It was a gecko. A couple days later I entered the bathroom and something sprinted down from the ceiling to behind our mirror. Another gecko. That's all for animal encounters. No dogs have chased us (knock on wood) though they enjoy barking at us. There are two on our street that bark every time we go past. I am really grateful that that gate is always closed. I have heard the sound effects of a cat fight, though I didn't see it and it was far enough away that it wasn't an issue. Cats don't sound pretty when they are fighting. I think my biggest fear here is waking up with a gecko on me but I highly doubt that will happen. I'll keep you posted though. 

Have I told you about our house yet? It has two floors and actually isn't too bad. One of the outlets is totally broken though. I tried to toast something and the outlet started smoking. We haven't used that outlet since. The washing machine is pretty good and we have hanging racks inside to hang stuff to dry. 

I have a bike! I spray-painted it so it no longer looks new and is less likely to be stolen. It's straight black. Any suggestions for names? 

Speaking of bikes, more about the transportation in Thailand. First, Taxis. The shot-gun sit has a seat belt but the seats in the back row do not. They have the strap but nothing to buckle it into. Odd? I agree. Bus next. They don't usually pull to a completely stop so you have to be quick getting on and off. I think that is all that is new to mention. I love the transportation here. It's a lot of fun and keeps things interesting. All the drivers here are really skilled so I'm not worried. And the Lord protects His missionaries. 

Good luck with Trek! Take pictures for me. And give everyone my love. 

To Dad's comment about baptisms, we are encouraged to invite people to get baptized as soon as the Spirit feels right. I've done it twice so far during the lessons. The first guy didn't say yes but he also didn't say no. He wanted to learn more about what that meant. The second person said yes. Being transparent with people is one of the best things you can do on a mission. It tells people that you take what you have to say seriously. 

Well, I think that is all for now. I love you all! During this week I'll take more photos and will write down funny events that have happened to share with you all.

Have a fantastic week! =D
~Sister Slaugh

I forgot to mention that I was offered solidified blood the other day. Luckily it was not with a member so I didn't have to eat it. not ready to overcome that hurtle yet. 

Much love! =D

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bang Kapi letter--July 8, 2013


So, this is my first letter from Thailand. Historic moment. And moving on now.

First off, let me tell you that 13 hour plane rides without music or being able to watch TV or movies are actually not that bad. I slept on and off for about 10ish hours which was great. The food was pretty good as well. So yeah, travel is pretty good. We talked to a lot of people which was a lot of fun. It is surprisingly really easy to bring up the church. I honestly love this name tag so much because people recognize us as representatives of Christ without us even having to open our mouths. It's great. 

We got to Thailand around 10 am. Everyone at the MTC tells you to make a good first impression on the mission president and his wife. Well, we made an impression alright. After we got off our flight and went through customs, we passed a baggage claim. Two of our Elders were adamant that that was not where we got our luggage. So when we got to the mission president, his wife, and the assistants, President Senior started cracking up because we didn't have our luggage. Yup. At least when we make a mistake, we are unified in it. Let's just say we are really grateful that the assistants are really good at speaking Thai. Yup. 

So after that hilarious experience, we went to the mission home. First thing you should know about central Bangkok. It is a humid city that doesn't necessarily smell pretty. It also has no traffic laws (okay, that's an exaggeration. Sometimes there are traffic lights but that is only at big intersections.) except for this: you go if you are bigger, can weave through traffic (like a motorcycle), or if you are following the flow of traffic. It's great. It actually is kinda fun because you don't have to wait for a cross light to tell you when to go. And there aren't a lot of accidents because everyone is used to this method. Oh, and motorcycles can go on the sidewalks. 

Anyway, I digress. At the Mission Home, we went through orientation, had interviews, did some Dan Jonesing, and then went somewhere to get blood drawn for our workers' Visa. Dan Jonesing is when you go out on the street and then just talk to everyone about the gospel. When we did it our first day, we were just told to place one Book of Mormon and come. We went in shifts and had someone experienced with us. Now in our actual areas, we are supposed to go Dan Jonesing for two hours every day. It's not too bad. I feel awkward because all the Thai I know had to deal with the gospel. Luckily Sister Orchard (my companion) had been here for 8 months and is really good at Thai. Also, yesterday a member (Sister Yoo) went with us and helped me with the talking. The current method is that I start up a conversation (hi, how are you?, where are you headed, where are you from, etc) and then someone else finishes the conversation because they understand what the other person is saying. Haha yup. I know that my Thai will improve and it will just take some time. 

Wednesday lunch was Thai food and I am sorry but I have no idea what it was called. Wednesday dinner was KFC and hot dogs in honor of the 4th of July. And I have realized that the two times I have been out of the country, I have missed the 4th of July. Yup. We slept in a hotel Wednesday night which was very nice. And then that is also where we had breakfast - toast, yogurt, eggs, and sausage (of sorts). Very nice. Then we went to the transfer meeting--a meeting where we would be told where our area was and who our trainer was. Sister Orchard (from Idaho) is my trainer and our area is Bang Kapi in East Bangkok. Sister Orchard was coming from Chang-Mai so we are both new to the area. 

All of the people who I talked to at the transfer meeting said that Bang Kapi is an amazing area with a great ward. They were totally right. First off, it's a ward and not a branch which is great. Second, they are really high-functioning. They didn't need the missionaries to cover all the callings or anything. I know it might sound weird to comment on how well the ward is functioning but apparently, not all wards or branches in Thailand are that well functioning. I absolutely love the members. The first members we met were a mother and daughter who drove us home from the transfer meeting. Every Friday, the members and missionaries get together for sports night so we met more members there. Apparently the members love getting Greenies which is great for me. The teenagers had fun with trying to talk to me in Thai. It was really fun. I said the polite way of saying "what" in Thai a lot and one girl (Sister Eye) had a lot of fun mocking me by repeating me. She is a really fun girl. 

Side note: One hard thing about serving in Asia--trying to figure out people's ages. Sister Eye looks about 11 or 12 but is 17. One girl we met Dan Jonesing was 19 but looked 10. It will take some time figuring ages out. On the other side, they were really surprised when I said I was only 19. 

Two days ago we had to go out of our area to transfer my money (in order to buy a bike) and we used a lot of different forms of transportation. We went on a normal bus, a bus where you didn't have to pay to ride it, a car-truck-thing that has those truck-bed things of sorts and has seating in it and so you just get on and ride it (hard to explain, i'll try and remember to take a picture of it soon) (According to Lorri, who also served in Thailand, this is a "song taew," and Mom has provided a picture of it from her trip to Thailand.), and a Chong Monster (however you spell it in English (I'm not entirely certain that this is the right way to spell it, but it's close enough. Two pictures of this will also be provided, again from Mom and Dad's time in Thailand at the end of Lorri's mission.)). A Chong is a very dirty river that is kinda a sewage river. A Chong Monster (as dubbed by one of our teachers at the MTC) is a ferry (of sorts) that goes on the Chong. Yup. Good stuff. Sister Yoo and a recent convert (name pronounced Sister S) went with us. It was great getting to know them. Sister Yoo really likes to do stuff with us--exchange money, go tracking, and in a couple of hours she is taking us shopping (because it's P-day). She is 18. 

What else should I tell you about? 

Sister Orchard and I are living in a house by ourselves. It has two floors. It's good. The main floor is kinda sad looking because there are no decorations or anything homey but the bedroom is really nice. It has an air cooler which is probably one of my favorite parts. The house is really nice and the neighborhood is great too. It's really pretty. The houses in Bangkok vary depending on where you are. One time we went tracting we ended up in a not nice looking area. The houses and streets were run down. The houses looked kinda like run-down shacks. There were also wild chickens walking around. I did not realize they were chickens. I had asked Sister Orchard what the very mini ostriches were called. Apparently those are chickens. They look different than what I thought chickens looked like.  Maybe I'm just not used to seeing chickens that are skinny, with feather on, and alive and walking around. 

To Daddy's comment about the squatters - I have actually not had to use one yet. (Squatters are Thai toilets that are on the ground, not raised like American toilets.) The places I have used the bathroom in (the church, our house, the mall) have all had toilet paper. If I have any say in the matter, I won't have to use one. :) 

It's actually not too bad weather wise here (knock on wood). You just have to get used to being constantly wet and covered with sweat. I luckily missed the hottest time of the year and won't have to endure it till I am more used to this weather. Rainy season is coming up so that will be interesting. We had a thunderstorm my first or second day in Bang Kapi. We watched it from our house and I loved it. I haven't had a good thunderstorm in probably about a year. 

To Delsa's question about the animals. I am in the city so there are no elephants or monkeys. Sadly. I have not seen any spiders but we did find a web in our house this morning so maybe that might change. I have seen cockroaches, mini (and annoying) ants, stray dogs, non-stray dogs, cats, and some lizards. Did you know that cockroaches like to enter houses just to die there? The cockroaches that I have found were just laying on their backs, dying. It was weird and gross. 

Oh, did Lorri serve in this area? A man I met at the sports night commented to me that he met a Sister Slaugh about 7-9 years ago. That was fun. I forgot his name though but I have it written down at our house.

Also cool thing, so remember how our teachers at the MTC pretended to be investigators? Well the investigator Brother Thrap pretended to be is Brother Tuk. In our room, we have a picture-wall of the majority of the members. I may have kinda freaked out when I saw Brother Tuk's and Rainbow (his daughter)'s picture. It cool to actually get to know him. He is amazing at English and is self-taught. He learned his English by watching all 10 seasons of Friends. He is really amazing at speaking English. He wants to  go to America next year to go to a temple. Hopefully he can. 

This place is amazing and I absolutely love it here. The people of Thailand are so nice and amazing. I keep on being helped by the Lord here as well. When we were buying the bike, the guy who was selling it to us just kept on lowering the price and adding some things on for free. It was really amazing. 

Much love from the Land of the Smiles! I remember to take pictures during the week to send them to you (sorry I forgot)
~Sister Slaugh

PS:Forgot to mention: weirdest thing I've eaten: fried pig skin. Yup. In a word, crunchy. It was in a rice and fish dish. I need to remember to not ask what the food I am eating is and just to eat it. yeah. It wasn't bad. It just was really really crunchy and hard to chew. The rest of the food here has been amazing and delicious. So don't worry Barbie, I am healthy not crazy food (usually). :)

Much love,
Sister Slaugh
A slightly poor image of a song taew.

This is the Chong monster. The blue tarp-like thing apparently protects the passengers from any splashing sewage. Furthermore, apparently you have to move quickly to get on and off at your stops.

Another image of the Chong monster