Friday, November 29, 2013

Chiang Mai Letter--November 26, 2013

Hello dear family! What's up? Life has been good here in Thailand, really really fun. That's sad to hear about the protests in Bangkok. That's the reason, a couple of months ago, President Senior told us all to have 72 hour kits--in case there was a protest nearby and we couldn't leave our house. 

The mission has been good. Being in a trio is literally so much fun. It was somewhat odd at first and we all had to get adjusted but now it is just fantastic. We laugh all. the. time. We break out into song all the time. We sing a lot of disney songs and often change the lyrics to fit what we are doing. It is so much fun. I love Sister Ng and Sister Norrell so much. It's fun because Sister Ng is the group ahead of me in the MTC and I am the group ahead of Sister Norrell. Teaching is a lot of fun too. We all have different teaching methods but they all fit together so nicely. 

Last Monday we tried going to a parade but it literally poured. We got soooo soaked and we had to run home in the rain. It was soooo much fun! I love rain storms. The native Thais were kinda freaking out because they don't like the rain that much (they get sick easily). They thought it was funny how much fun we were having though. Afterwards we went to 7-11,  bought chocolate milk, went home, and had hot chocolate. It was great. 

Tuesday. We were kinda sick that morning but not too badly. We felt a lot better towards the end of the day. English class was normal. The Ure's are in charge of the English program for Thailand which is cool. Because I'm Chiang Mai's English leader, Sister Ure talks to me a lot about how to improve it and we just talk about the program. It's really great. She used to be a teacher or principal or some kind of educator. It's really helpful. 

Wednesday. Normalish day. We had a lot of appointments set up (due to this new inviting method) but no one showed up. That was kinda hard. Luckily, there is a lot of organization we can do at the church while we wait. In the missionary room, there are tons of binders of member records with little to no organization. We've been going through them with members while we wait for appointments. It's great but I wish the appointments didn't always fall through. Usually appointments are pretty good and don't fall through but this past week. Wow. We were able to visit and get to know a lot of members though which was great. It's super important to search for the 1 but you can't forget the 99. This upcoming week will be more focused on the 1 though. It should be good. 

Thursday. Ummm... honestly don't really remember much. Just another day. Every Thursday we plan for the upcoming week. 

Friday. Friday was interesting. We went to visit Sister Iit (the one baptized in the beginning of November). We usually can just drop in at work because she cuts hair and a lot of time she is just waiting for the next costumer. When we stopped on Friday, she was currently doing someone's hair. The costumer (native Thai)'s friend (farang) was sitting on the coach. We decided to sit down too and just wait for a bit. The friend looked at us and asked if we were Mormon. We were slightly surprised that she recognized that we were Mormon from our badges but it wasn't out of the ordinary. She told us that she was a Jehovah's Witness. I was the main person talking to her so the conversation was always very respectful and polite but still kinda awkward. She asked how the ministry was going and how we learned Thai so quickly. She was really friendly and was honestly just curious. She asked us to clarify what we believed because she didn't know. When we started to explain, Sister Lit finished up the native Thai's hair so the native Thai (Nii) joined in the conversation too (so I never had time to explain). Nii is in her early 30s and the farang in her late 20s. They have apparently known Iit for about a year. Nii was definitely more aggressive of the two. She was talking about the Bible a lot and was asking questions why they are so many churches and all that. She wants to meet with us this upcoming Friday at 2 at Sister Lit's to discuss why there are so many churches. She told us to make sure we brought our Bibles. She understands the Great Apostasy really well (she was telling us about it) but the entire time she was talking, she seemed slightly hostile. Her motivation wasn't simply curiosity. I'm kinda scared to meet with them but I think we will. But before we talk about anything we are going to clarify our purpose. We aren't here to fight. We aren't here to Bible bash. We are here out of politeness and to explain where our church came from. We are going to be very respectful and polite. If we feel like they are just there to Bible bash, we will stop the conversation. At the end of that conversation (when we set up the appointment) there was a somewhat awkward pause, almost as if they were waiting for us to leave. We were not leaving Sister Iit's place before them. After a little, they gave Sister Iit a pamphlet and left. Now this is why I love Sister Iit. Afterwards we and Sister Iit talked about any of her questions from the Book of Mormon or anything else. She had some really good questions. She reads the scriptures every day. She really thinks and ponders about what she reads. She told us that she's read the pamphlets of the other churches. She says that they have a lot of truth but they aren't complete. She said that they were nice but she never felt the Spirit reading them. Sister Iit is so strong and so good. She has such a strong testimony. 

Saturday.  I think we had choir practice. Yay Christmas songs. Only probably, the Christmas party here (it's two days long) will be when the missionaries are in Bangkok. We told the choir director and he still wants us to come to practice. I think he is going to see if we can change the date of the Christmas party. 

Sunday. I was at church for 12 hours. Branch 2 starts at 9am and goes till noon. Branch 1 (my branch) starts at 1 and goes till 4. Then afterwards we all eat together and then have meetings. And appointments. And meetings. We were at church from 8:30am till 8:30pm. I was sooo tired by the end of it. I love church but 12 hours? That's a lot. 

Monday was amazing. We had Mission Tour. President and Sister Senior came up to talk to all the missionaries in the North. Elder and Sister Wilson from the Asia Area Presidency came too. It was from 9-5. It was soooooo good. I learned a lot and learned a lot about how to help investigators. It was all about the Book of Mormon. They told us to read more with the investigators from the Book of Mormon. That seems so simple and so obvious but we don't do it that much. They want us to spend a lesson just reading a chapter with them or stuff that like. Help them understand the scriptures and love the scriptures. That's where a testimony comes from - the scriptures. It was soooooo good! The Book of Mormon is literally sooo important. This book is the keystone of our religion. If it is false, everything else in our religion is false. But if it is true, and it is, then everything else is true too. Because it is true, we have prophets today leading this church. We have the restored and complete gospel of Christ. We have the priesthood, the power and authority of God. Everything comes from that little 531 page book. But a testimony doesn't come instantly. It comes from a daily study from its pages. As an apostle or prophet once said, there is a literal power that comes from its pages. That power will accompany us and help us. Elder Wilson shared a story of a stake president and a member of the Seventy [Elder S Dilworth Young] (I think the story is from conference). [Elder Boyd K Packer, "The Key to Spiritual Protection," October 2013 Saturday afternoon session] The stake president was asking the Seventy for advice because the stake was really struggling. The Seventy's response was to tell them to read the scriptures. It didn't matter which scripture. Just read them daily. The stake improved. The Book of Mormon is true and is the word of God. It is ancient writ and was written for our day. Every verse has application in our lives. The writers kept on saying there wasn't a lot of space on the plates so what was recorded must have been of absolute great importance. The church has before been under condemnation because they took the Book of Mormon for granted. We need to study it. We need to read it every day. We need to know it and love it. It is what defines us from other churches or religions. Everything depends on that book. Investigators need to put forth the effort and read the Book. Members, young and elderly, new and old, need to study from the Book of Mormon. Mission Tour was very inspiring and amazing. I love the Book of Mormon soooooo much and I absolutely know, without a shadow of a doubt, it is true. Every single word of it is true. 

Well, that's about it from my week. 
Delsa reminded me that my birthday is coming up. I'm turning 20. This is so weird. I know everyone reading this will scoff at me but I feel so old. I'm turning 20. 20. 20! I'm leaving my teens. I think I'm kinda having a one-fourth-life crisis right now. Haha but seriously. I'm almost 20. And Dec is my 6th month in country. That means I will have been on my mission 8 months. Dude that's scary. I'm already more than a 1/3 done. Where did the time go? It really feels like sand slipping through my fingers and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Wow. Okay. I'm good now. Still kinda freaked out but that's okay. Still got a good while here. 20's not too bad either. I'm one of the youngest sisters in the mission (age wise) so just barely turning 20 is still really young (as my companions like to remind me). 

I love you all very much and hope you have a fantastic week and Thanksgiving! A farang member from Branch 2 invited all us missionaries (in Chiang Mai) over Thursday night. It'll be lots of fun. :)

~Sister Slaugh

Chiang Mai Pictures--November 18, 2013

These are the candles they apparently made and then released. Very pretty, I think.

Sister Slaugh's candle

the companionship of three

The next are the many, many pictures that Sister Slaugh took of the lantern festival. Judging by the number of pictures, she adores this festival and wants to do it over and over.

Do not be deceived. These are not stars. They are instead the many lanterns in the sky. I think.

Pictures of Sister Slaugh and her companions. I have no idea which is which.

Chiang Mai Letter--November 18, 2013

So you all remember the lantern festival from Tangled, right? Well, I figured out where the film writers got the idea from. Every year around this time, Thailand has a lantern festival. Luckily, the best place to partake of this festival is in Chiang Mai where I am. It's sooooo amazing. I'll attach pictures. It lasts for about three [hours]. Just think Tangled. We released lanterns into the sky and then released candles onto a moat (it was supposed to be a river but we aren't really allowed to go to those). The members had to light the candles and the lanterns for us because we aren't allowed to. I think they were really amused by how excited we were by this festival. They do it every year. It was so amazing. 

What else happened this week? The mountain last Monday was really cool. It's the tallest mountain in Thailand. When the clouds cleared, the view was absolutely breathtaking. Afterwards our driver (a member) wanted to go to a waterfall and took us along. The Elders were able to go closer down to the waterfall but there are just some things you can't do in a skirt. Oh well. 

Tuesday was good. They are changing the English program in Thailand again. It hasn't been changed since Lorri worked on it so I guess it's high time it gets revised again. 

Sister Zatarain left Wednesday for Bangkok. I, oddly enough, did not go down with her. When we were asking President what day he wanted us to come down, he said that she could come down by herself. If I went down as well, the other two sisters would have to as well so that I could have a companion coming up. It was really sad seeing her go. I'm definitely going to miss her a lot.

So currently I am in a trio (again) with Sister Ng and Sister Norrell. Sister Ng was in the group before me in the MTC and Sister Norrell was in the group after me. It's interesting adjusting back to being in a trio. We get to take care of both branches which is interesting. It's a lot of work though because we have twice as many people to take care of. Two companionships are better than one but you can do more in a trio than you could do with just two. Yay for splits. This also means that I attended church for 6 hours yesterday. It will be this way until transfer meeting in mid December (around the 18th or 19th). 

This week we were also taught of a new inviting method that we need to adopt. Let's just say that I am really grateful that President Senior receives revelation for this mission. We are focusing on finding those that are already ready for baptism. The church in Thailand needs to grow larger and faster in order for a temple to be announced next October. We need 4 Stakes (meaning more members), more Melchizedek Priesthood holders, and more full tithing payers. We have goals in order to work on all three of these aspects. We are supposed to review tithing with every member. We are supposed to work with Aaronic Priesthood holders that are old enough to get the Melchizedek and help them get there. And now for more members, we have a new inviting method. We ask everyone to repent and be baptized. We do that for two hours everyday. We ask people if they want to be baptized and be cleansed from sin. If they say no, the conversation ends and we move on. This is such an amazing method. There is an urgency to this work that this method captures. If people aren't interested, we don't take up any more of their time telling them why this church is the true church or anything like that. More importantly, we don't waste our time talking to people that aren't interested. In the scriptures (like D&C 4), we are told that we are called to the harvest. We are called to harvest, not plant seeds. God has prepared His people to receive this gospel. This is evident in how many people walk into the church to learn. 

Sister Dang is one such member. She walked into the church one Sunday and has been a member for about 4 months now. She is one of the strongest members of this branch. This work is truly hastening and the time to work is now. It is such a blessing to be on a mission in Thailand right now. It is sooo amazing truly seeing this work hasten and seeing people rise up to the call. I love how you said that our Stake's theme is about hastening the work too. There is literally so much members can do to help. Missionaries physically cannot do this alone. Members provide a support system for investigators, recent converts, and other members. They also are "examples of the believers." There are too many people in this world for missionaries to find all of them. Members are missionaries via their examples and willingness to share the gospel with friends and family. In some of Sarah K's emails to me, she has been telling me about some of her missionary experiences with friends. It's soooo cool to read about! Also, Barbie with Chris. 

When members are willing to live the gospel, God can use that to help His other children find the truth. And it may take years of being an example before anyone else becomes interested in the gospel but it opens pathways for God to do His work. One of my favorite members has been a member for about three months. Her son was a member for about 10-15 years but she was never really interested. During all those years he just kept on living the gospel and being the best example he could. He was not afraid to answer her questions about the gospel. One random day she told him that she wanted to learn with the missionaries. 10 years of being an example and now she is such a strong member. It's sooo cool seeing this work progress. So thank you all for being examples of the believers. :) 

Other than that, I don't have much to report. Life here is great. It's weird reading that you all are raking leaves because I feel like nothing really changes much here in Thailand. Technically we are in Thailand's colder season too. I think it really should be called Thailand's less hot season. The seasons of Thailand: rainy, less hot, and really hot. I think really hot is around April or May...

Um...what else? Did you know that you can cook pasta in the microwave? The things you learn as a missionary without a pot to boil water or an oven. Chicken on our hot pan thing and pasta in the microwave. A great Sunday dinner. :) Lately breakfast has been scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and strawberries (a member gave them to us). Lunch and dinner is usually when we are out and about. 
Hm... is there anything else you all are curious about? I keep on forgetting to take a picture of our showers for Delsa. 

I probably won't get any packages until someone goes down to Bangkok or till December but I did get some really cute drawings from Wendy Woll the other day. :) Sister Woll said she was due the 11th and from your letter last week, I guess the baby came right on time. Does he have a name yet? 

Random fun comment: a couple of days ago we called one of our members Peter Pan because he reminds us of him. He really liked that nickname so we have all taken on characters from Peter Pan. Sister Norrell is Tinkerbell. Sister Ng is the Crocodile. I am Captain Hook. I'm good with this. I like pirates. :)

~Sister Slaugh

Chiang Mai Pictures--November 10, 2013

Sister Slaugh writes, "this is our investigator Sister Goy who got baptized last Saturday. She loves Elder and Sister Ure."

 "My companion and I were trying to visit a less active [member] but he wasn't home. We wandered around waiting for him to call us back and we found a huge field."

"This is Sister Zatarain"

All of the following pictures are from a Buddhist temple Sister Slaugh and Sister Zatarain visited and played tourist at.

 "There were these random Buddhist signs there too"

 "The monks are fake"


Friday, November 22, 2013

Chiang Mai Letter--November 10, 2013

I'm not really sure what happened this week. 
On Wednesday we went biking for about 4 hours. The first 1.5 hours was to and from a less active's house. The rest of the time was spent trying to find an investigator's house. Addresses here are absolutely terrible. They are absolutely sooo hard to find. We still never found the investigator. On the bright side, Sister Zatarain and I have more impressive tans now. The watch tan is coming back. 

On Tuesday was Showcase. We made it Thanksgiving theme. Sister Zatarain and I wrote the Thanksgiving story (we may have made up part of it...oops) and the Elders acted it out while we read it. Then everyone made hand turkeys and talked about what they were grateful for. And then we watched a Mormon Message on gratitude. It was fun. 

Monday we had nothing to do for p-day so we went to the Buddhist temple. It's super pretty but I felt absolutely nothing there. It's such a testimony to me about the power of the Holy Ghost. Our temples may not be as decorative but at least I always feel something there. The Buddhist temples are super pretty though and fun to go visit.

Our favorite way to go contacting in Chiang Mai is to go to parks. There may not always be a lot of people but the people that are there aren't in a rush and are okay with talking to us. We've met a lot of families there and one family actually came to church yesterday! We met them about 3 weeks ago but they were never free. They're a cute little family. 

Oh, dear family, I have a problem. I am oh so very directionally challenged. Sister Z is having me lead more to make sure that I know where I'm going and I keep on getting lost. Oops. That's okay. The Lord will bless me, right? Haha. :)

Well, time is almost up. It was really fun talking to you!! =D [note from Linden:  Abbie had her computer time early Monday morning (her time), the same time that we were writing to her (Sunday night our time). Therefore we had a brief back-and-forth email conversation in real time.  A new senior couple, Elder and Sister Ure, just arrived in Chang Mai.  They are the parents of our stake president, John Ure.]

Love you all! =D
~Sister Slaugh

Chiang Mai Pictures--November 4, 2013

The only thing Sister Slaugh said to go with these pictures is a silly joke. Specifically, "why was the ocean friendly? It waved!" I don't know ... maybe it's funnier in Thai?
Anyway, I'm pretty sure these are the pictures from the baptism Sister Slaugh mentioned in the accompanying letter.

Chiang Mai Letter--November 4, 2013

Is it seriously November?
I feel like I keep on saying that but it's true. I've been a missionary for 6 months. I cannot believe it. Wow. I feel like part of my disbelief is because it feels like time never changes in Chiang Mai. I mean, the sun sets and rises but the weather never changes. It's not raining anymore which means it's no longer rainy season. Besides that, time is constant. 

So something that you might be interested in is the following. We now have a new senior couple in Chiang Mai. Elder and Sister Ure. President Ure's Dad and Mom. Yup. It's super weird that the dad of the guy who set me apart as a missionary is now serving in the same area as me. 

That is sooo cool that Anita was able to go to the temple! I miss it so much. 

So last Saturday one of our investigators got baptized. Her name is Sister Iit. She's been an investigator for 2 years. And she finally was able to get baptized this Saturday. It was soooo exciting! But...our normal pianist for every activity wasn't able to attend. Guess who got the lovely honor of playing for the baptism. Yup. Me. The other 7 missionaries in Chiang Mai currently do not play so I did. It went ... Well, let's just say that it's really good Sister Bristol asked me to bring a simplified hymn book with me on my mission. I had the tempo and the tune great but sometimes the notes weren't as correct. That's okay. The baptism still went on amazingly. And Sister Iit still got baptized. 

After the baptism something really funny happened. We were cleaning up when Sister Iit walked up to us holding the hand of a crying child. Apparently he was in the corner of the bathroom crying. His grandparents had forgotten him. It was sad but just so adorable and really funny. Poor little 5 year-old having to be stuck at the church with 6 missionaries. We had no idea what to do because we couldn't touch him or hold him. We kept on trying to distract him while two other missionaries tried desperately to get in touch with some of his family members. Eventually they got a hold of the aunt and uncle (the younger siblings of the kid's parent) who then rushed to the church as fast as they could. So yeah, a request to all parents and grandparents, please don't forget your 5 year-olds at the church with a bunch of missionaries. But still, it was really funny. 

Um... I'm not really sure what else to report on for this week. 
I was a missionary for Halloween. Thailand (or at least Chiang Mai) doesn't really celebrate Halloween. No decorations and no one was dressed up. 

I absolutely love my companion so much. We get along sooooo well and she is so funny. She's helped me a lot with teaching and with the language too. Oh my goodness she is sooo amazing. 

Getting around to appointments is a lot easier when you have a bike. I much prefer having a bike though I think I have biked more this week than I have my entire mission so far. It's fun. :) 

I feel like I keep on learning this but oh well. It's so cool to me that when you work your hardest but still fall short, the Lord steps in and makes up the rest. This is true with us trying to reach our goals and this is true with me learning Thai. I've been trying to study the scriptures in Thai and I haven't felt like I've been getting much out of it. Today He really helped me understand that I was really and feel the Spirit while reading. It was cool.
Studying the scriptures is sooo important. Today we will teach at a FHE at using the scriptures as a personal liahona (Alma 37:40-46). It is important that we become familiar with the scriptures and fall in love with them. This religion stands and falls on the truthfulness of those books. The Book of Mormon has the answer to every single question in this life. Every verse has been and every story has an application in our life. This past week we used the story of Lehonti (Alma 47:4,8-19) to help an investigator know about the importance of enduring and keeping the faith. If we falter even in the least, we can fall. We can't come down from the mountain, even half way. Lehonti probably thought he was doing really great when he went along with Amalickiah's plan but I highly doubt he felt that great when he died from being poisoned "by degrees."  Don't falter on any accounts. Lean on the Lord. Keep the faith.

Love you much! 
~Sister Slaugh :)

P.S: How is everyone in seminary doing. I hope you all are staying awake. :)