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)
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). :)
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