Monday, December 30, 2013

Chiang Mai Letter--December 30, 2013

Happy New Year's everyone!!! =D

So on Saturday night I got a very nice surprise. Two lovely packages :) THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!! =D I'm currently wearing some of my new jewelry and have much enjoyed the candy. :)  My companion finally got hers as well :)

So this week has been kind of crazy and not necessarily in the best of ways. Normally I wouldn't tell any of the less than pleasant parts of the mission but if I didn't tell you about them this week, I wouldn't really have much to say. So before I go into more depth, I would like to say that I really don't know who is right and who is wrong in this situation. I feel really stuck in the middle of a situation I would have rather avoided (and could have probably avoided if I was on my own). So yeah, please don't judge. :)

The interesting thing about new transfers is learning to work with the new missionaries that join the district. The mission is also changing how we work. Every night every companionship answers 5 questions, 
1. Did you invite a child of God to repent and be baptized today?
2. Did you invite children of God to repent and be baptized for two hours today?
3. Did you pray for specific miracles?
4. Did you ask for referrals?
5. Were you exactly obedient?

President Senior has asked us to try our best to answer yes to all 5 questions every night. Honestly, it's not hard at all. But, different companionships struggle with different things. My current companion doesn't care all that much about obedience. Timeliness isn't all that super important to her. Because of other experiences in her past, obedience is kind of like a four letter word. Let's just say that the elders don't really appreciate when our answer to the last question is, more often than not, no. And my companion doesn't really appreciate them breathing down her neck. And then there's me caught in the middle. But I know I am supposed to be here. I love obedience but I am also very understanding. My companion has said that Heavenly Father has always given her very patient companions. She and I get along soooooooo well. It is always fun and we are super super super open with each other. If there is something that bugs us, we voice that concern. It is an excellent companionship. So yeah, know that. She and I get along so very very well, honestly. But our district isn't exactly unified right now. Our district leader has been getting on our case a lot about exact obedience. And then Friday night was just super awkward with the zone leaders. 

We were at a member's house with the zone leaders and it was getting close to when we had to leave. In all honesty, we two were in no rush to leave because my companion loves these members very very very very very very much and one of the members' time with us is running out. We also thought that a car (it's called a red car--it's kind of like a public taxi) was going to pick us up (because a car dropped us off and that is usually how spending time with members works) so we weren't freaking out. Well, it turns out that there was no car coming but a member was going to take us missionaries home.  The elders were kind of freaking out about the time and I tried to calm them down by saying that yes, we wouldn't make it home by 9 (our curfew) but we would make it home by 9:30 (our curfew if we are teaching a lesson). One of the elders responded (kind of rudely) that this wasn't a lesson. I responded kind of sarcastically (but also kind of truthfully) and told him to start teaching. I realized while I was saying that, that that wasn't a smart idea. So I know me saying that was wrong. But then the elder kind of yelled at me. Well I guess it wasn't yelling, it was more like scolding in a mean way. He told me that I was wrong and to never take that attitude towards obedience ever again. By this time the member came up with the car. Problem: she has only been a member for two months and so doesn't really know all the missionary rules. She didn't realize that the elders need a responsible priesthood-holder with them. Situation: a small car that technically has 5 seats (but that's kind of too cozy) and 6 people that have to go. The elders weren't offering any solutions so my companion and I came up with one. The member would take the elders home and we would find another way home. The elders got in the car. That's the thing that really bugged me. Scolding me, fine. I shouldn't have said that. But elders taking the car home so they wouldn't break the rules while the sisters had to figure out another way to get home and break the rules bugged me so much. The member agreed to take the elders but the other members that were with us weren't very happy with the elders. They were exactly obedient, but at what cost? 

So yeah. But this is why I think it is important for me to be here. I am able to help my companion want to keep the rules. The elders' actions have made her want to keep the rules even less. I guess I make the rules less binding and evil. The elders are trying to chain us to the rules. They judge us based on the rules and against other missionaries. That literally is the worse feeling I have ever felt. I'm able to help my companion not hate obedience. The rules help us and are not binding chains. Every morning we are supposed to wake up at 6:30 sharp. I do. I have three options when it comes to my companion:
1. Let her wake up when she wants to (which is what I was doing for a while)
2. Turn on the light so that she can't sleep (a terrible idea because then we would have no companionship unity)
3. Talk to her in the morning so that she can't fall back asleep but we still have a good relationship (this is what I have been doing for the past couple days)
So even though this situation is really between her and the elders (and I guess me because we come as a packaged deal), I can play a part. So yeah. But the story isn't done yet. 

Saturday and Sunday we were exactly obedient. We had a lot of fun and were much happier than we had been for a while. Why? Because we also avoided the church building and the other missionaries. There have been other things that have happened that would take too long to tell you about. But whenever I am near any of the elders I feel super judged. I don't feel like they care or are trying to help us. I literally feel like dirt when I am near them. So my companion and I have avoided the church building (except when we have an appointment or church on Sunday) and just been outside working. 

So yeah, I feel like this situation is already starting to improve. The more obedient we are, the less often the elders can get on our case. The more we avoid the church building and them, the less we have to interact with the elders. I figure as we just give the situation some air, it will resolve itself and we can go back to working well with each other. But yeah, I feel like both parties are at fault. We need to work harder at obedience. The elders need to learn how to be loving and caring leaders who help those they work with and not just slave drivers that judge you. :) Okay, that was exaggerated. And they are still just boys too - 20 or 21 years of age. This is probably one of the biggest leadership positions they have ever been in. They have a lot of pressure on them to help those they work with. But still, they are doing it wrong. :) My last district leader once corrected me on something but he was super nice about it. I actually wanted to do better after that! These elders need to learn how to do that too. 

So yeah, the silver linings of the situation (because every situation, no matter how bad, has some silver linings) are:
  • my companion and I are so much closer because we have had to lean on each other
  • we are out working more
  • I know how to be a better leader in the future
  • I can relate to less actives more. I know how it feels to be offended by someone at church. I understand now. Beforehand the church is a house of love but now it just feels like a house of judgement and scolding. I understand how it feels to be judged and looked down upon by people that were supposed to help you. I understand. Yesterday I honestly didn't want to go to church. I didn't want to see the Elders. But obviously I went anyway because I'm better than that, it's church - you have to go, and church isn't about the people but about renewing your covenants and worshiping God. So yeah. Now I can help less actives more because I understand now. This is excellent because my companion and I want to work with less actives a lot this transfer. 
  • I have figured out more of who God is to me. He loves us very very very much. More than we can know. He doesn't judge us like humans do. He wants us to improve and he wants us to obey. He is sad when we don't but He never stops loving us. He corrects us lovingly. He helps us. He only wants what is best for us. 
So yeah. Don't be angry. I'm fine. I fell down but I'm getting back up again. I'm good. My companion and I are good. We have a lot of really cool plans for this transfer. We are excited to see a lot of miracles and a lot of growth. We have a plan to improve the relationship with the elders (work hard, answer yes to all 5 questions, and avoid them until it's no longer uncomfortable to be near them). Some amazing things are about to happen in Chiang Mai, we know it. It is amazing how right now, my companion and I can just work. Neither of us are training. Neither of us are new to the area. We can just work and we are so excited. :) 

So yeah. Um...that's has basically been my life this past week with normal working thrown in too. The work is moving forward faster than it ever has before. :)

I actually don't know what else to tell you because that has been such a big thing this week. I know God loves us. Very much. I have seen many miracles throughout my mission - some big and some small. God has given us a lot of tender mercies this past week, every day. He is ever mindful of us. We know what we are going through but, like the waves and wind that pushed the Jaredite barges to the promised land (I read about that this morning), He knows our trials will bring us higher and make us stronger. I felt so much peace after I realized that the situation with the elders will help me relate to less actives better. 

So yeah. Wow I say that phrase a lot. Sorry. Um...Yeah...that's all I got for right now. 

I LOVE YOU ALL VERY VERY MUCH!!! =D we (we two and the other two sisters) might be going to the zoo today. Not positive yet. But today will be fun. :) 

~a very peaceful Sister Slaugh

PS: Funny moment from Tuesday English class. The pronunciation section was about F and V. My companion and I were discussing what homework to give. I suggested that we have them watch a youtube video, anyone, and write down at least 5 V and F-words that they hear. And then I realized what I said and quickly rephrased my idea. 

And then...during class... we were discussing the word on and it's different uses. I couldn't figure out a lot of examples so if I could think of one, I said it. Sometimes I didn't think first: "Put your clothes on" yup. That was awkward. Luckily there weren't a lot of people that week (like 2 in our class) and they were both members. But yeah...


PPS: (In answer to Barbie's question regarding Thai New Year's traditions) I actually don't know if there are any traditions. Here in Chiang Mai are a lot of farangs so we are expecting a lot of people drinking that night. So we are returning home early that night =D

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