Friday, February 14, 2014
Chiang Mai Letter--February 3, 2014
This past Saturday was Sister Hughes' and my half-way point mission wise. We are celebrating it today by going to the Tiger Kingdom and tomorrow by doing some more lanterns. It's super weird thinking that I am half-way in my mission. Let's just say Sister Slaugh has had a lot of reflection time over this past week. I read some old journal entries. From the perspective of all of you sitting at home, have I changed at all?
I absolutely love my mission and I am going to tell you some of the reasons why (there are many more reasons than these but I don't have time to list them all):
1. I am serving God. Think about it. Missionaries are representatives of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. We have been called to bear the message of the gospel (the atonement) to all the world. We cry repentance on the streets (literally) and invite all to wash away their sins through the proper authority of God and prepare to return home to heaven. It's a pretty epic calling.
2. I get to see people change their lives. I have seen people addicted to drugs become free, people lost with no direction or hope in life find their Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. I have seen countenances of people change as they listen to us tell about the restoration or about the plan of salvation. This gospel is not just gee wiz information to store away for some future time period. This gospel has the ability to change lives. It has the ability to save lives! We should not be scared in sharing it.
3. I have learned how to pray. Obviously, I've known how to pray since before I can even remember but now I know how to pray with my whole soul. I know how to pour out all my thoughts and feelings to my Heavenly Father who I know hears and answers my prayers. I know that my prayers have power, even if I can't see the results immediately. I have learned how to counsel with the Lord. Admittedly, not all my prayers are super sincere and sometimes I still do my quick prayers before bed but still, I have learned how to receive answers from God. Often times I feel like I have two forces pulling me in different directions (and I can't tell which force is good or bad) but I know that through prayer, the path can be made clear. I am soooooo grateful for the opportunity to counsel with our loving Heavenly Father in all times and in all places. I know He hears and answers our prayers. Every prayer, every word said, is important to Him and He loves us soooo very much.
4. I have learned about Christ's atonement. Christ's atonement is not just when we sin. It is for when we are sad, hurt, confused. It is for when we made a mistake and want to turn back. It is for when we are doing good but want to be doing better. Christ's atonement is for all these things. We just have to start where we are, be it in utter disbelief in the existence of a God, in a sinful state not knowing how to return, in a wounded state because of the actions of others, in a confused state not knowing where the truth is, or in a happy state wanting to continue to improve. Whatever state or situation we are in, the atonement can and will help us if we let it. God and Jesus Christ want to help us sooooo badly. They love us. Why is it that sometimes we don't accept their help?
5.I have learned to love the scriptures. Please, everyone, please read the scriptures. Open them daily. There literally is a power that enters our lives when we read and ponder the scriptures. There is never a good excuse as to why you didn't read the scriptures. You may have to sacrifice 5 minutes of Facebook or 5 minutes of watching TV. No matter what it takes, read the scriptures every day. The Book of Mormon is true. Think about that statement. True. Truth. What is truth? The Book of Mormon is the most true book. This book is how we draw closer to God. The Bible too. How important is our loving Heavenly Father to us? Can we sacrifice 5 minutes for the Being that created us and for His son who sacrificed His life for us? Haha sorry about this rant (this is for everyone but kinda focused on the seminary students because Mom told me they aren't all reading their scriptures every day). :) I have worked with many less-actives during these last 7 months. One of the first questions we ask them (after all those usual pleasantries) is about their scripture reading. (They don't) Then we ask about their prayers. (Sometimes if they need help) Since they are less active, they obviously aren't going to church. If you know this church is true, if you believe this church is true, if you hope this church is true, if you want to know if this church is true, or if you think this church is satanic, please read the Book of Mormon. Anything and everything depends on this book. The Prophet reads the Book of Mormon every day. It doesn't matter how long you have been a member or how long your family has been a member, you individually and personally need to read the Book of Mormon every day. :) Please study and ponder them. Dude, the monk reads the Book of Mormon (not everyday but we are working on that:)).
6. Other reasons include that I am meeting some of my life-time friends, I am learning an amazing language, I am eating delicious food, etc. =D
Um yeah....so that was my week... Oh wait. There is one more thing I probably should tell you but, before I do, I need to tell you a story. :)
So Thursday was Sister Ng's birthday. She doesn't like Thai food so we (we four Sisters) were going to eat fancy for lunch and dinner. Lunch time we ate at the Duke's. I had a burger. It has been 7-9 months since I've last had a good burger. It was heavenly :) For dinner we were going to go a mall. An hour before we were going to go, Sister Ng had a feeling that we shouldn't. Weird, huh? She didn't understand why she would want to eat Thai food on her birthday but she felt very distinctly that if we went to the mall, something bad would happen. Let's just say Sister Slaugh is super grateful that Sister Ng listened to the Spirit. So we went to a nearby place to eat. I was dismounting (my ususal method is what Stu taught me as a kid - have both legs on one side as you are braking) and braking at the same time as I always do. Only problem is that my brake jammed and so my bike stopped short. Without warning, I was given a very quick lesson in flying. Unfortunately I am not a bird and therefore, fly I can not. So, time for the miracles. Because we went nearby, there were no cars. If we went to the mall, there would have been a lot of cars and very very very likely, I would have been hit. Also, only my right knee got scratched up. Nothing else. Well, okay, I broke a nail and my watch got a little scratched up but that's it. Nothing else. No damage to my helmet. No damage to my clothes (except a little blood from my knee). No other damage to my arms or neck or anything. Just my knee. I've replayed the accident in my head many times and tried to figure out the physics of the situation. Nope, it doesn't work. So yeah. God really does protect His missionaries. He knew my brake was going to jam so He had us go to a situation where it would hurt the least. And then He also helped me not get hurt as bad as I should have. I would attach some pictures but the USB drive on this computer is broken. Next week. It's about the size of my palm (fingers not included) and oh so pretty. So it's been a couple days and my knee is getting better. I still can't bike and I can't bend that knee too much. But I still was able to play volleyball for an hour or two the next day. ;) I can still wobble around and do missionary work. So all in all, I'm great. It doesn't hurt too much either except when I try to bend my knee or I accidentally hit it against the desk. :)
Let's see, what else is there?
Yesterday Mana (our investigator of two months) got baptized!!!!!!! Yay! =D
We have a great relationship with the Elders. We haven't pranked them this week because they haven't gotten us back but they (Elder Nirut and Elder Wheeler) tease us (mostly me) all the time. When asked why, these are their reasons: Elder Nirut knows I have the inability to get mad so he feels like it is fair game. Elder Wheeler says he considers me his little sister because we have served together for about 6 months (I have only been in Thailand for about 7). So don't worry Stu, I'm still getting plenty of brotherly teasing here in the mission.
Um....so Delsa asked about the food. Um...it's pretty much the same. Lots of stir-fry. Lots of rice and noodles. Bugs when the members bring it on Sunday (that's another picture I need to send you). I usually only eat chicken and pork here.
Food that is hard to get: burgers and pizza. Good Italian food doesn't really exist. That's very hard for someone from New Jersey. No bagels. Um...yeah. I'll start taking pictures of some of my meals so you can see them. I forget that Thai food isn't common in America.
I LOVE YOU ALL VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =D