Friday, March 7, 2014

Udon Letter--February 24, 2014

How did you guys know!?! I was planning on doing this huge reveal but then Mom's email is all like "how is Udon?" I'm impressed. I mean, I was always told that moms knew everything but I didn't realized how true it was. Good job mommy skills. :)

So yeah. I am now in the Northern part of Eastern Thailand. It's not like the Eastern part where Lorri served - this is much nicer. It's still the east but very clean and very nice. :) Also, our house is super high-so. It's sweet. I'll take a picture for next week. 
I'm companions with Sister Yim - again. We were both so shocked but neither of us are complaining. Those first 3 weeks we were together in Srinkarin were not long enough. Now we have a good nine weeks together...hopefully. There is another mini transfer in three weeks. Dude, if we get separated again I'll be soo sad. If we stay again, I'll probably only be in Udon for nine weeks (a transfer). This is Sister Yim's third area and she stayed in her last two areas for three transfer each. I'm more sporadic with my coming and goings. I'm excited to make these next nine weeks count and very memorable. 
There are two other sisters in the house: Sister Tilley (my MTC group) and Sister Downs (the group after me). The Elders actually live two houses down (super odd). We have Elder Cauhoon (I have no idea how to spell his name. oops) with Elder Terry. They are the zone leaders and this is their last transfer. There is also Elder Watts and Elder Burke. Elder Watts has two transfers left and this is Elder Burke's first transfer. They are all super tall. 
We also have a Senior couple who we love very much. They are the Browns. They live two houses down from the Elders. We used to have the Harts (before I came up here) but then they ended their mission. I think the Harts are the reason we all live near each other. The original missionary houses weren't so great (like normal) and two houses on the Harts' street were up for rent/sale so we moved. Yup. Very nice. The Browns make waffle batter and homemade syrup for us every Sunday. We have to make the waffles ourselves but that's totally okay. The waffles are sooooo good! =D 
So yeah. Sister Slaugh is very spoiled right now but very happy. :) 

From what I can tell, the members are amazing here as well. They are so helpful and and the young adult members love going inviting with us. 
It's interesting. In the states, missionaries rely so much on member referrals for investigators. Here we rely so much on our own efforts. Wait, that sounds weird. Let me explain. Our method of finding people is going to areas with lots of people (parks, malls, main streets) and asking everyone if they want to get baptized. We are looking for low-hanging fruit - can be harvested fast. Thailand needs strong new members and it needs them fast. These new members have been prepared by God - they are the future and soon-to-be current leaders of the church. In America, the first harvests have already happened. The fast fruit has already been gathered. Now the missionaries are trying to find the higher-up fruit but they need members to help them. Sometimes they have can the ripe fruit but often times they are just too many unripe apples too. They need members to help too. Think about it. How much work can two people do in an area that they are not familiar with and where no one knows them? Not a whole lot. How much more work can a whole ward do in an area that they are familiar with and where so many people know them? So much more work. Member referrals are some of the best investigators but they are so hard to get in Thailand. The members here help us with going inviting and with teaching. It is sooooo amazing. When I was in Bangkok for transfers, I saw two members inviting by themselves. They were standing at a street corner asking people to be baptized. No missionaries were there. I'm not sure how much success they had but I was so impressed! This work is not just of the missionaries. It's of the Thai people in Thailand. Yes we missionaries have been called of God to serve here but members are soooooooo sooooo soooooooooo important and needed in missionary work. I'll start praying too for you all have missionary experiences back at home. =D

I LOVE the sacrament topics at church. That is soooo genius! It's just a great way to strengthen everyone's testimony of the building blocks of our faith. The Plan of Salvation is the motivation for all that we do. Because we know that God is our Heavenly Father and loves us more than we can understand, we trust Him. Because we know that God's work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life in heaven with Him, we keep His commandments. He knows what it takes to be clean to return to Heaven. He knows what it takes to become like Him. That's why we trust and have faith in Him. Because we know that God has a perfect plan - a plan that can help every single one of us to return to Heaven if we accept it - that is why we can endure through our trials. The Plan of Salvation gives us the why for everything. Why don't you drink coffee? Because we want to return to live in Heaven again with our loving Heavenly Father. Why don't you...? Because of the Plan of Salvation. Every member - young, old, long-term, new, less active, or active - will be benefited by strengthening their knowledge and faith in these basic topics. 
I'm excited for you to study the atonement next. The Plan of Salvation is why we do what we do but the Atonement is how we do it. The atonement is how we overcome our trials and stumbling blocks. It's how we become stronger than our addictions. Preach My Gospel says that all that is unfair in this life is made right through the atonement. The atonement is how we become clean. The atonement is how we grow faith in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ. The atonement is how we are able to endure through every single trial and challenge through our way. The atonement is how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can understand us perfectly - understand our thoughts, our emotions, our pains, our hardships, our joy, everything. I love the atonement sooooo very much. Everything is made possible through the infinite atonement of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The Plan of Salvation is the why and the Atonement is the how. How do you keep going after having a miscarriage? Because Christ atoned for us, He perfectly understands our pains and sorrows; He can help us overcome and continue moving. How do you stop smoking after being addicted since a teenager. Because Christ atoned for us, He perfectly understands our desires; His atonement is more powerful than our naturally desires and can help us overcome and continue moving. 
Yay amazing sacrament topics! =D

Okay. time to answer questions about transfers and new areas. 
So moving a lot of missionaries at once is difficult. Everyone has two suitcases (and usually one carry-one sized bag), an overnight bag (for during transfers, and a bike. The Elders are very very very helpful. They try their best to make it as easy for the Sisters as possible. Good guys. In Chiang Mai, all missionaries gathered at the church and then we took a red truck together to the bus station. Now, these buses are like charter buses. Members came too to send us off. We load all of our stuff in the bus and then yeah, we take the bus to Bangkok. Then at Bangkok we take taxis. First we have to find a taxi that is willing to take all our stuff - the bike is the hardest thing. Next time I'll try to remember to take a picture of it. If you have two missionaries moving in the same companionship, you have to fit two bikes in one taxi. It's like Tetris. Luckily missionaries get really experienced doing this all.the.time so it's not as difficult as it sounds. But it is still pretty difficult. 
If you aren't moving, you don't need to take your stuff with you. which is always nice. And then you are able to help the missionaries who are taking all their stuff. That's always nice too. 

Delsa asked about dialects. Yes there are dialects. Most people can speak and read basic Thai so it's not usually an issue. Bangkok is normal Thai. Chiang Mai had northern and mountain dialects. I didn't learn much of anything about these dialects except for one word. The east also has a dialect that I want to learn, at least somewhat. Issan (or essan or yisan, or however you spell it in English) language! woohoo! :) There are definitely some people who have a hard time understanding, speaking, and reading normal Thai. It makes lessons interesting but not impossible. :)

Is there anything else I need to tell you?
Oh, I got a hair cut last monday. I'll send a picture of it straight. The members loved my hair cut and straighten. Thai people are very blunt (but loving). Some of my favorite members, when my hair went back to wavy, told me that they preferred it straight. It was super funny because that is so Thai. They are so blunt. It's great. :) 
Also, I sent a package. It may contain future Christmas gifts so open at your own risk. My suitcase was too full so I had to send it home. It should take about a month to get there. 

I can't remember if there is anything else to tell you guys so..... I LOVE YOU!!!!!!! =D

Be safe always! LOVE YOU ALL MUCH!!!! =D
Sister Slaugh

PS: Here's the language lesson for this week: utensils. Maybe google translation will give you better pronunciations.

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