Monday, March 24, 2014

Udon Letter--March 24, 2014

Dear family,

I am sorry if this letter is slightly short or rambling.

Important/interesting things that happened this week:
  • We went to the hospital yesterday to visit our investigators’ mothers (2 different investigators). Everyone was sooo excited to see a white person. My companion is Asian so she had fun doing show-and-tell. Yeah. But hospitals in Thailand are actually quite terrifying. I am so grateful for American hospital: privacy and cleanliness.  
  • I got some adorable letters from the Young Women this week. I am working on responding but I am also still working on writing thank you notes to Amanda and Sister Bristol so yeah … Young Women, don't hold your breath. :) I learned a lot of things from them about Mormon prom and the upcoming priest-laurel conference. They also told me that Mom tells the seminary class that my grammar is shot. Gee, mom. (well, it kinda is) Thanks a lot. Also, one of them said that they hoped I had fun at my yogurt place. I didn't know I had a yogurt place so I'm kinda confused about that. Also. Amber Woll adorably told me in her letter that she recently watched The Best Two Years and her perspective of missionaries is confused. I remember when I was a kid, I always thought missionaries were these perfect people. Now that I am a missionary, wow have my eyes been opened. It's kinda funny. Don't worry, Amber. There are still some amazing missionaries out there that are totally focused and fantastic. One of them happens to be living in Udon, Thailand. Haha. :) 
Question. When you talk about missionaries "contacting" people, what does this mean? Does this mean teaching new investigators or just getting phone numbers? I guess missionary work is really different here from there. We stand outside of 7-11s a lot and ask everyone if they want to be cleansed from their sin. It really hits home for a lot of them because Buddhist culture teaches them that they can't be cleansed from their sin. 

I love how Heavenly Father knows everything that we are doing and uses it all for His good. We were at the mall on a certain day because we had to buy something and we ran into a less active. He was soooo excited to see us and to read the scriptures with us. Unfortunately he hasn't answered his phone since then but that is actually quite normal for Thai people. A lot of them aren't great at the whole answering the phone thing. 

I love how, in life, crazy things happen but then God gives us blessings to remind us that He loves us. Sister Yim and I have been teaching this amazing man that has a wife and four kids. He wants to be baptized here. His wife has felt the Spirit strongly during lessons but had been going to a Protestant church before she met us. We had been trying to help her overcome her feelings of obligations to that church and come to our church on Sunday instead of the other church. Yesterday we called them and the husband said that he was at the other church, supporting his wife as she got baptized there. But then he set up an appointment with us on Tuesday because he knows our church is true. It just hurt hearing that even though we did all we could, it didn't work. But, then we had 5 really good other investigators come to church. Some of them are super humble and so good. God loves us and if we do our best, He will make up for the rest. He is such an amazing Father! :) And, she can always still get baptized here. Yay Priesthood power. :) 

A lot of people have been asking us why we are here trying to teach people about Christianity. "The Thai people already have a religion and they are doing fine. Why are you trying to ruin that?" These people are also really hard-hearted so I don't try to reason with them (I just smile, nod my head, and tell them that they are entitled to their opinion). If they would listen, this is what I would say: Imagine for one second that everything I am saying is actually true. That would answer your concerns in a heartbeat. We believe that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He loves us so much and it wouldn't make sense for Him to make a hundred different religions and say that they are all okay and will help you equally. Yes, every religion teaches you how to be a good person but it is more than that. If God truly is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow, then it would only make sense for Him to have one truth and therefore one religion. We believe that this religion has a fullness of the truth and while every religion teaches some truth, this has all the truth. Why wouldn't we want to share it? We believe that in order to return to live with God, we must be cleansed from our sins. We believe that the only way to be cleansed from our sins is through baptism by immersion through the power and authority of God. We believe that this power and authority is called the Priesthood and was lost when Christ and His apostles were killed but then was restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith. If everything we say is true, then we would be selfish and mean if we didn't share it. And the only way to know if what we say is true is via reading the Book of Mormon with an open heart and real intent and then praying and asking our Maker and Loving Heavenly Father. 

I'm almost out of time. I'm sorry. I was writing my friend that is apparently engaged. I will prepare a longer letter next week. I LOVE YOU ALL SO VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY MUCH!!!!! =D

PS: I sent this to [a friend] when she asked me how my mission is:

I LOVE being a missionary. My first companion put it very well: you feel your highest highs and your lowest lows. It's so true. You feel the Spirit so strongly. Like EFY, times a million. There is a power when you invite others to repent and change their lives to follow Christ. It's exhilarating when you feel the Spirit telling you to make a promise to your investigators that you know is from God. Of course, these are only special instances; it is not like this all the time. You also feel your lowest lows. You get soo invested in the investigators and the members here that when you move or when they make a decision that you know is not the right one, oh my, it is devastating. Your heart just drops. I have learned sooo much more about the gospel and about the atonement as a missionary. Haha I feel like I really didn't know much pre-mission. I mean, I knew stuff but I didn't understand it fully. I understand it so much more now. It's so hard to describe. It's so much more real now.

PPS: In another email, Sister Slaugh sent this.
So I'm adding more to my letter because I felt super bad about it being so short. (She was writing to a friend that recently got engaged.)

This week has been really good and fun. 
Zone Conference was amazing. President Senior focused on looking at the long term goals of missionary work. He even mentioned how his mission blessed his marriage life. That was weird, thinking that marriage is the next chapter. Kinda scary. Anyway, he also taught us a new teaching method: promise and testify of the blessings that are attached to the commandments before teaching the commandments. It's actually a pretty cool method. It's been helping people understand that commandments aren’t just barbed wire to keep us caged in but are the requirements to receive certain blessings. I actually love commandments. Haha :) Sister Senior talked about raising our expectations and redoubling our faith. The book Jesus the Christ talks about how our faith is increased and shown by our obedience and our diligence (not a direct quote, I simplified the language). Obedience. It's great. It's the first law of Heaven and that is how we receive blessings. If we love God, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Also, we played a scripture game. Think seminary jeopardy games. It was all about scripture mastery (without calling it scripture mastery). Yay for paying attention during seminary. Haha. President Senior wants us to become better scriptorians. So yeah, Zone Conference. It was great. 

The Zone Leaders were in charge of the food for zone conference and they bought ice cream cakes. After Zone Conference was over and everyone returned home, there were still two cakes left over. So … we the last 8 missionaries sat around talking and eating the cakes with spoons. It was fun but by the end, we were all like "never again". So much … too much ice cream. But it provided for some nice time to talk to the other missionaries and get to know them more. One of the Elders (from Canada) and I have a mutual friend which was super random but nice. Yay huge colleges where you meet lots of people.

The weather in Udon has been crazy. It has either been super hot or actually pretty chilly. Because of the heat, there have been a lot of wind and lightning storms - not really any rain. Fun to watch but hard and probably slightly not safe to work in. But yeah, fun to watch. :)

Um...yeah. I LOVE YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!! =D

Last P-Day was dressing up in traditional Thai clothing and getting our hair and make-up done. The pictures are so ridiculous. I'll send some next Monday. :) 

I absolutely love my companion. Sister Yim is so much fun and great to talk to. She has been soooo loopy this past week which has been absolutely hilarious. She teases me all the time (which, in all honesty, isn't abnormal. Everyone does) which is fun. She is a convert of three years and has so much faith. It's just a blessing in lessons because she is able to understand the investigators so well.

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