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
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