Friday, November 29, 2013

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

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