Monday, August 19, 2013

Bang Kapi Letter--August 19, 2013

Dear family,

HELLO! Hi :) I'm really happy right now. Today is a good day. It will be a really long and tiring day but by the end of it, Sister Orchard and I will be moved into our new apartment. So excited for that. It is so much more convenient. 

So let's see, what happened this week? On Monday (after I emailed home), Sister Orchard and I went to Tesco (it's grocery store or shopping center, like a much nicer Walmart). There we met a very interesting farong (white foreigner). Apparently he has been living here (here being right across the street from Tesco) for about 5 years so he has come in contact with the missionaries a lot. He is usually the one to start the conversations. Let's just say, I forgot how mean people could be. He is from New Jersey but lived super close to New York. He was raised Catholic but "studied" the main religions in college and decided to become a Buddhist. "Not a Buddhist like Thai people are but an actual Buddhist" (his words). Very against the idea of God and had no issue saying so. He likes to talk to missionaries because he feels the need to make sure we are okay. He wants to make sure we are safe but "doesn't care about our religion." That actually wasn't a direct quote because he used some cruder words. Luckily he made the connection with me being from New Jersey so I was able to handle his comments. He kept on relating things back to home and experiences there and so on. He said that Sister Orchard couldn't relate as she is from Idaho and mostly Mormons are there. He was just very ... oh I don't know how to describe it. He was saying that the reason we get so much attention is because we are white and can speak Thai. God has nothing to do with it, in his mind, because God doesn't exist. The thing that kept on coming into my head was 2 Nephi 9:28-29 --> "When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, ... wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not... But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." Sister Orchard and I were very calm talking to him and I felt very at ease. Sister Orchard did not feel the same so maybe it's because he felt he could relate to me. He got so worked up talking to us though even though we were very calm. He had good intentions talking with us (wanting to make sure we were okay and safe) but I think he really likes arguing about religion--something Sister Orchard and I will not do. He thinks he is so smart but what will he think when it comes time for him to meet God? "To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." I truly hope he softens his heart before that. He could be so much happier than he currently is. The encounter with him just showed us that Thai people are so much nicer than farongs. :) Every Thai person I have met so far has been super sweet and nice and respectful. Even when they aren't interested, they are very nice about it. I love Thailand. :)

In other news, transfer meeting was last Thursday. Sister Orchard and I are still together and still in Bang Kapi but ... she is now Sister Training Leader. This is a new leadership position that missions around the world are still trying to figure out. It's kinda like Zone Leader but for the Sisters. And Sister Orchard and Sister Wiganda (the other Sister Training Leader) cover all of Bangkok so 3 or 4 zones. Sister Orchard does not feel ready but I'm excited for her. She is an amazing missionary and a great leader. Of course, with this new responsibility, our lives will be effected greatly. She and I will be going on a lot of switch offs with other Sister missionaries in all of Bangkok. Lots of traveling lays ahead. Also because she is now Sister Training Leader, I have relieved her as English leader in our district. English leader just is in charge of English class for our district so it's not a big deal. I'm super excited for Sister Orchard. She will do amazingly. And she will probably be STL until she goes home which isn't till February. She has a lot of time and she will do a lot of good.

Transfer meeting did bring some other changes to our life as well. First off, transfers are now 9 weeks long instead of 6 weeks. This way the mission matches up with how long missionaries are in the MTC. 

Next change: President white-washed Bang Kapi again with our District Leader and his companion. This is actually really nice because apparently our previous district leader was not the most proactive (I didn't realize because he was my first district leader). Things should be really great with Elder Haughton (DL) and Elder Wheeler. 

What else is there? Ooh! Miracles are always fun to talk about. :)

On Tuesday we were low on time but we had to mail something at the post office. When we got to the post office and got our number, there was a long wait as per usual. The tellers were on about 603 and our number was 636. Miracle time. A guy was leaving the post office and gave us his number: 604.

Next miracle was after English class. We were headed to 7-11 to get some drinks and passed one of our students (a quiet old man). He then apparently followed us into English class. There was a lot of lack of communication or understanding because neither Sister Orchard nor I knew what was going on but he bought our stuff for us. And then he just left. He just wanted to buy our stuff for us. He didn't want any thanks or anything like that. He didn't want a big conversation. He just wanted to be really nice. Compare his generosity to the man I told you about at the beginning of this letter.  

The 3rd and 4th miracles happened yesterday. I know there were a lot of other miracles throughout the week but these are the ones I can remember right now. Don't worry, I wrote the rest down in my journal. But so, on Saturday we kept on trying to get in contact with Sister Ning but she didn't answer any of our phone calls--very unlike her. Sunday she didn't come to church. Sister Orchard felt prompted for us to go visit her with Sister Yoo. Only probably, Sister Yoo didn't have a bike and Sister Ning lived too far away to walk. So we had to take a bus. The miracle was that both there and back, the bus people gave us a free ride. We still didn't have to spend any money on Sunday. The second miracle was that we were an answer to Sister Ning's prayers. She wasn't feeling well and had been praying for us to come visit her. It was really cool. :)

We have to start moving soon so I will close this letter. I love you all very very much and I love hearing from you all even though I don't always have time to respond. Much love from this side of the world!
~Sister Slaugh

P.S I'm glad Mommy and Daddy enjoyed their birthdays. And Jon and Rachel as well. :)

P.S.S: Did you know that I am about 12 hours ahead of you?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pictures--August 12, 2013

 This is Sister Aay (pronounced Eye) and Sister Ploy. Sister Aay is holding the flowers. Sister Slaugh says, "Sister Ploy is headed to BYU-Provo on the 26th of this month to study English for a year. Afterwards she wants to enroll in BYU for her bachelor's. We think it would be a lot of fun to be roommates when I return. Sister Aay is 16 or 17 years old so I think she has another year before she thinks about college."

 Sister Slaugh says, "Sister Orchard and I with Brother Diw and his mom after his baptism"

 "Four of my favorite people. From the left: Sister Eve, Sister Ploy, Sister Jane (member Jane, not investigator Jane), and Sister Aay"

"Sister Ning and her daughter Titie. This is at Titie's Mother's Day celebration at her school. She was really excited that we came."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bang Kapi Letter--August 12, 2013

I am so sorry that these last three letters have been so late. My only excuse is that I've been on vacation and I didn't bring my laptop in an attempt to reduce luggage/weight. But here they all are.
Sister Slaugh gave this email the subject heading "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!"

Hello dear family (and friends)!!

Today is the Queen's birthday and therefore Mother's Day. Yesterday at church we had a Mother's Day celebration. I guess Mother's Day in Thailand is a much bigger deal than it is in America because the celebration was about an hour long (it took place an hour to two hours after church had ended). It was nice though. They had mothers sit up in the front and we gave flowers to them. I was invited (slightly and lovingly forced) into participating as well. So this is what you do: you get this cool flower bracelet and go up to the woman who you feel close to or who you consider like a mother to you (because a lot of the members don't have mothers who were there and a lot of the mothers didn't have children who were there). You kneel in front of them, give the flower-thing, and tell them why you consider them motherly or why you love them. I am describing it very poorly but it was really really sweet. 

After the program we had a baptism!!!! Super exciting if you ask me. He was excited. We were excited. It was just happiness all around. Diw is just a sweet kid. I'm so excited for him to receive the Holy Ghost and then eventually get the Aaronic Priesthood. One of the Elders' investigators (Brother Dat) also got baptized yesterday. Super exciting. 

While I am still thinking of the King and Queen, there is something else that I am going to tell you. Last week, President Senior told all the missionaries to get a 72-hour kit. He later clarified that this is not a food storage but just to make sure we have enough food and water to be good for three days in case we couldn't leave our apartments. One of the Elders in our district had asked President Senior why and this is the gist of the response: apparently the King is currently not in the country and the Prime Minister (who hasn't been in the country for quite a while) is coming back into the country. The 72 hour kits are just in case there are some protests that would stop us from going shopping for a couple of days. The reason I tell you this is twofold: 1) feel free to tell me any news about Thailand as I have no access to it here. 2) if anything happens, know that I will be 100% okay. President Senior is in constant communication with God and will prepare us. Know that I am and will be 100% okay and protected. :) 

In other news, the work has been slow this week. We are trying to juggle finding less actives and finding new investigators. This week will be much better as now we know what we are doing. And...either this week or next week we will be moving! I had no issues with the house (because I came to Thailand expecting the worst) but apparently it is very big and not in the best condition and creepy. I agree on the last point. At night when we are trying to fall asleep I have to remind myself that the sounds of doors opening are coming from the other houses. It's almost comical. :) I think the most valid complaint about the house is that is inconvenient and could be safer. We have to cross a huge road to get to the church and to get home, we have to bike down a long road. The new apartment is much better on all accounts. 

Let's see, fun moments from this week. 

Last week while tracting we met a crazy and outspoken Thai lady. She didn't like Sister Orchard's bag or her nail polish color. And she had no issue whatsoever voicing that opinion. This week, on the way to a member's house, we had to take a different bus than the one we are used to. A random lady clarified for us which bus to get on and as it came to a stop at the bus stop, our crazy lady from the previous week looked out the window of the bus. She was bearing this really big and goofy grin. Sister Orchard and I couldn't help but laugh. This lady worked on the bus and collected the fares. Of all the buses in all of Thailand, we walked into her's (10 points to whomever can guess the movie from which I adapted the quote--ask Marissa if you need help). It was hilarious. On the bright side, she let us ride for free. 

Point number two: I am so excited that I will be able to watch Thai soap operas when I get home. Whenever we visit Sister Ning, the soap operas are playing in the background. It'll be nice when I actually get to watch them. They look even more dramatic than American ones because 1, they are in Thai and 2, every TV show or commercial in Thailand seems really overly dramatic. 

Oh, two clarifications I need to make from other weeks:
1) Last week's shopping. Don't worry, I don't go crazy when shopping. I have to exercise a lot of control when we go near the jewelry sections because everything is really cheap. But with last week, we were basically just spending time with a member and an investigator as the member prepared to go to England (for 6 months, not 3 like I previously thought). This isn't something we would usually do but Sister Yoo has helped us out so much lately. It was also good for us to spend more time with Sister Ning.

2) Cooking. When we made cookies (and then again when we made cupcakes for Brother Diw's birthday/baptism) we used the oven at the church. We don't have an oven at our house and we don't having a functioning hot stove either (we are too scared to use it). The cookies and the cupcakes were really good though. I also was reminded that things in Thailand are in Celsius and not in Fahrenheit. Let's just say it's a really good idea that my companion checked the cookies long before the timer was supposed to go off. Luckily that batch only had four cookies on it because it was the tester batch.  :)

I think that's all to really report about Thailand. Looking at the records of less actives and of former investigators makes me really sad. All these people that could be so much happierand better off. I just don't understand why they wouldn't want this in their life. This gospel is 100% good. 

Spiritual thought: I think I better understand why the scriptures say fasting is rejoicing. On Tuesday, Sister Orchard and I fasted for Sister Ning. It wasn't even hard to do so. Wednesday night we were talking to Ning and she said she had read all of Moroni. And she was understanding so much better. On Tuesday night, Sister Orchard and I were sharing a spiritual thought after English class and I felt the spirit so strongly. It didn't make sense because the people we were testifying to weren't even that interested. Sister Orchard said it was because we were fasting. Fasting helps you become so much more in tune with the Spirit. It was soo cool. 

I think that's all for now. Thanks so much for the stories about the family reunion. It sounds like it was a lot of fun! :)

And happy birthday to Jon. and happy early birthday to Mommy, Daddy. Rachel, and Uncle Leslie! And happy belated birthday to Jayson! =D I love you all very much!!!! =D

<3 much love from Thailand,
Sister Slaugh

Bang Kapi Letter--August 5, 2013

Sorry that this may be a short letter but we went apartment hunting beforehand and have a shopping appointment with Sister Ning (investigator) and Sister Yoo (amazing member who we love very very much). Sadly Sister Yoo is going to England this month but we are very excited for her.  

I would like to report that all is well here and that both Sister Orchard and I are of good health. We are of good spirits as well because we may be able to move from a house (creepy and dirty) to a new apartment (smaller and easy to maintain). We are very hopeful and very excited. It will also be closer to the church and to the supermarket and we won't have to cross the very huge street anymore. Three cheers of excitement! We will meet with the owner tonight so hopefully things will go well. 

I should have very exciting news next time I write. It resembles the news about Chris (Barbie's boyfriend, who is getting baptized soon) (which I got really excited about and almost screamed for joy. I didn't though since we are in a public place.) but it has to do with an amazing 13 year old. His mother is a recent covert (like in June) and he is going to get baptized this upcoming Sunday. He has been perfect and is really excited. He's a great kid. 

Sister Yoo is reading over my shoulder and just pointed out that I have used the word "exciting" a lot. Sorry. :)

Sister Ning is doing amazing as well. Miracles have happened with her. The Lord has truly blessed her desire to learn. Before she was having a lot of struggles understanding the scriptures but that is changing. On Friday she was sick and spent that time reading. We had given her a list (6 to 10) of scriptures about Christ and had asked her to read them. She did and then wrote a short summary of what she learned. She said she believed what she wrote down as well. Then she read through three of the pamphlets we had given her (Restoration, Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Plan of Salvation) and answered the questions on the back. She was so excited for us to read her answers because she wanted to know if they were right. I almost started crying I was so happy. And I can feel tears forming behind my eyes right now thinking about it. She has such amazing faith. She has such an amazing desire to learn and understand and the Lord is truly helping her. Titie (in the last letter her name was spelled Ditdii, but it sounds like this are two ways of writing the name through the English alphabet) (her daughter) is a miracle as well. That 7 year-old is amazing. She wanted her own copy of the Book of Mormon so she started writing a copy for herself. When we visited Sister Ning Friday night, Sister Ning asked us to bring a Book of Mormon for Titie. When we gave it to Titie, she promptly wrote her name in it. She was really excited. That family is so truly wonderful. 

We have to go soon so I will end with something I learned/thought about from my morning studies:

I would really like to learn more about Zoram. He must have been such an amazing man with great faith to be willing to leave literally everything behind and follow Nephi. I mean, right then and there, he just followed Nephi. Nephi said that he was commanded of God and Zoram dropped all his concerns and followed Nephi. Amazing.

Point two: the book Jesus the Christ is utterly awesome and I love it. I am currently in chapter 10 (ish). So amazing! Was Talmage writing as himself or as an Apostle when he wrote it? He has some amazing insights about Christ in there

Last but not least: Alma 5:48. This is from Sister Yoo but I totally second it. I have been studying about the Tree of Life the past couple of days and I love the symbolism. I love how this verse talks about being baptized unto repentance. Repentance is not complete without baptism or without the sacrament. Sister Yoo thought of Chris when she showed me this scripture. We are all very very very happy for him ^v^ (smiley from Sister Yoo)

Well, I must depart into the world of shopping. It's great :)

Love you all very very very very very very very very much!!!!! =D


~Sister Slaugh <3

Bang Kapi Letter--July 29, 2013

Hey dear family! All is well here in Thailand. Thanks for the emails, I really enjoy reading them. :) The work is good here. Hard but good. Raining season is about to start but it hasn't hit quite yet. Biking in the rain hasn't been too bad and it's just really funny. I've only biked in actual rain (as opposed to spitting rain) once here. Thai people really do not like being out in the rain so seeing two white girls bike in skirts in the pouring rain must be a peculiar sight to behold. I've also only felt really hot here a couple of times and those have been right before a big rain storm when there is a lot of humidity. Apparently I just missed the hot season of Thailand. Luckily that means that I will be more accustomed to Thailand when I have the honor of dealing with that trial. :) I guess it's just because I am in the city but I haven't had to deal with too many strange things yet. No squatters yet luckily and very happily. This week I did have some strange food but nothing too bad. It'll be nice to be able to tell my kids about the foods I ate here. Monday night was my night of new foods. Any guesses? Chicken feet and pig's blood. Yup. I knew that I was eating chicken's feet because the member whose house we were at warned us about the bones. I did not learn that I was eating pig's blood until after Sister Orchard and I arrived back home. Not too bad in all honesty. Chicken feet was hard to eat though because there just isn't a lot of meat on their feet. The way to eat this delightful dish is just to stick it in your mouth--bone and all--and just suck or eat the meat off the bone. Afterwards you take the bone out. The member kept on giving me some. Oh well. :)

I guess since I already told you about Monday's dinner, I'll tell you about Monday's day. We made cookies which was a very happy process. They tasted quite good. Sister Orchard and I enjoyed eating some cookie dough as well. Sister Moo invited us over for FHE that night with herself, her daughter Ming, and another member Jane. We took half the cookies to that, saved the other half for district meeting the next day, and we still have about half the dough left. After we had made cookies, I had a headache but I accounted it to not drinking enough water. So we went to Sister Moo's house and apparently when missionaries are invited to FHE, they are the ones who are supposed to plan the activity. We wrote numbers on some Jenga pieces and made a list of questions about personal preferences (favorite flavor of ice cream, etc.) and about things of a more religious background (favorite prophet, what does *insert scripture here* mean to you, etc.). It was really fun. Sister Moo is a recent covert and has a really strong testimony. I really like her and her daughter. No idea about Sister Ming's father though. Related side-note about Thailand: single mothers are VERY VERY VERY common here. At this ward, most of the mothers are single mothers. 

Anyway, back to Monday. So you already know about what Sister Moo fed us. Different but not bad. I was a dutiful missionary and ate what I was given. The Thai people are very very happy when you eat their food. Honestly, if you want a Thai person to like you, eat the food they give you and love it. Members really like me because I am willing to eat their food and because I look like a child. I'll tell you more about that later. But so when Sister Orchard and I returned home, we went straight to planning and preparing for bed. I felt totally fine and of great health. Well, I couldn't really sleep that night due to an upset stomach. Around 12:40 I threw up. Unfortunately for my throat and my energy level, I threw up 6 more times between the hours of 1 and 6am. Not fun. On the bright side, I can now add the entry-way to the bathroom to the list of odd places I've slept. :) We aren't really sure why I had food poisoning. as Sister Orchard ate the same exact things that I ate. And I'm pretty positive it wasn't from dinner. Maybe from the cookie dough even though I have eaten cookie dough my entire life with no problem and Sister Orchard ate the same amount as I did. Who knows? Oh, another bright side. Charcoal. Honestly, it's great. It comes in a pill and you swallow it. The charcoal then surrounds all the yucky stuff in your stomach and gets it out. Very helpful. :) And I would like to remind you, I am of great health currently. Fear not, Sister Slaugh is healthy and happy and still willing to try new foods. 

Tuesday was an uneventful day full of meetings, English class, and Sister Slaugh sleeping to try and renew her energy levels. English class was good but in low attendance due to the rain right before English was suppose to start. Thai people really do not like going out in the rain. That's probably because their mode of transportation is walking, motorcycles, or public transportation (which you get to by walking). I am finally getting the hang of how to teach English. It's pretty fun. :)

Wednesday. We finally were able to get in all four hours of studying! yay! Monday we ran out of time and Tuesday I slept during the study time. The day always goes so much better when you get all your studying in. I honestly have a testimony of studying the scriptures before leaving the house for the day. Our days are always so much more productive and fulfilling when we start with studying. Things just work out during the day that you don't expect. For example: Sister Ning was free for us to teach her even though she originally did not think she would be. We were able to teach people at the post office because we had to wait for about an hour for our number to be called up. We ran into two members (Sister Ploy and Sister Jane) upon leaving the post-office who wanted to help us teach Sister Ning which was a blessing because Sister Ning has been scared to go to church because she doesn't know anyone and the member who usually teaches with us (Sister Yoo) was feeling sick. Another blessing was that we had enough time to get ice cream with Sister Ploy, Sister Jane, and another member (Sister Eve - recent covert) afterwards (Sister Ning and her son had to go home and couldn't join us) for Sister Ploy's birthday. So yeah, Wednesday was a really great day. :)

Thursday was also a good day due to getting in all the study hours. We also do our weekly planning on this day. I love weekly planning. It's so nice to be organized and to plan out what we want to teach our investigators (in Thai this word means person who is interested) and our recent converts. Weekly planning makes the week soo much smoother. Sister Gaataay (recent convert) called us and asked if we could teach her. We talked about obedience and how God gives us commandments because He loves us. I really like teaching about this because I love how it's a different way of looking at rules. God gives us commandments to keep us safe and to help us have more agency. Commandments don't restrict us. There is one scripture in the D&C that talks about how commandments prepare us for living us with God again. Oh...speaking of on Monday we were biking and when we got to the church, my scriptures were no longer in my basket. We retraced our steps multiple times and came to the conclusion that my scriptures did not fall out of my basket. Because scripture cases look like purses or bags, there have been previous instances where people have stolen scripture cases from missionaries thinking that they would find money inside. There is no money inside; only the most true and powerful book to have ever exist. But yes, I am now without scriptures. Luckily our house had an English triple from a previous missionary. I know the words inside are the same in every book. It's just sad because now I don't have access to an English Bible and I've had that same set since I was a child. So...parents...if you wouldn't mind too terribly...can you send me a new set of scriptures? Sorry maag (maag means very). I really am. Really really really.

Um... the rest of the week has been pretty good. We went inviting at a mall which was nice. People asked us questions because of our badges. Saturday night we went out to dinner with Sister Ning and her daughter who is 7. This daughter is amazing! There is definitely something to be said about the purity of children under the age of 8. Ditdii has reminded her mom to read and pray during the week. On Wednesday, Ditdii walked into her mom's room and asked her mom if she had read yet. Ning responded that she hadn't yet. Ditdii then reminded her that Sister Slaugh (Sister Orchard was teaching another lesson at the time) had said that it was really important that we read and pray every day. The amazing thing is that Ditdii had kept on walking in and out of that lesson. Miraculously, she was in the room when we were talking about the importance of reading and praying every day. That was super cool for me to hear. :) After dinner, we were going to go tracting and Ditdii really wanted to go with us. So she, Sister Ning, and Sister Yoo joined us. Ditdii is adorable to the highest degree. We are going shopping with her and Sister Ning and Sister Yoo today so I'll get a picture for next week. Tracting with two investigators and a member was a lot of fun. I really loved it. 

Well, we have to go so that means I have to end this letter. I love you much!!!!! Hope all is well in New Jersey! =D

~Sister Slaugh