Monday, April 28, 2014

Bangna Letter--April 28, 2014

Area 5: Bangna. I am back in the city, in the Bangkok East zone. Bangkapi and Srinkarin were both also in this zone. In the bus ride to transfers, I had a thought that I could return to Bangkok and that kinda scared me. Chiang Mai and Udon are less crazy. But now that I am here, I absolutely LOVE Bangkok again! There are sooo many people to talk too! 

My companion is Sister Embley. She is on transfer #3 but is sooooooo good! She is so diligent and so good at Thai. She works soooo hard. I'm sooo excited for this transfer. We sent goals for this next week and while they are still realistic, they also push us a lot. I'm soooo excited. We are just going to work like crazy, see tons of miracles, and nothing is going to stop us. We've already seen tons of miracles in the past three days. Solely through God's grace and miracle-making-ability, Sister Embley and I got balanced (which is 1 baptism -investigator of the previous sisters, 12 lessons, 3 daters,& 3 at church) in three days. 
We had 8 investigators at church - 5 of which came from our contacting on Friday and Saturday. 
We have 3 daters, two of which are really solid and absolute miracles. One is a Chinese man (Xuo) we met Saturday morning. He told us that he was looking for "เยซุ." เยซุ is Jesus. He can't speak Thai and his English is limited but Sister Embley is really good at teaching via pictures. She also used to speak Chinese (though her Chinese is kinda like my German - shoved in a corner because Thai took over). And, miraculously, a member here had a Chinese Book of Mormon that we could give him on Sunday. He is getting baptized this upcoming Sunday.
The other dater is named Toffee. He has been learning off and on for about 2 years. When we met him Saturday we asked him what was keeping him from being baptized. He said that he wasn't positive he could come to church every day due to work. Yesterday we had a great lesson all due to the Spirit. We had to split so I taught Toffee while Sister Embley taught our other dater Mana (and apparently that lesson had the Spirit really strongly too - it's nice that Spirit can be in more than one place at once). It was SO cool. I know for a fact that none of the words I said were my own. I asked Heavenly Father to tell me what to say because I had literally no idea how to help him as he had already learned everything and was not progressing at all. Heavenly Father totally came through, as per always. 1 Nephi 3:7 and 3 Nephi 13:25-33 (a scripture that Sister Embley and I had talked about during comp study the previous day for a different investigator) came to mind with a question, "How important is this to you?" "How important is God to you?" The Spirit told me to remind him that the purpose of this life is so that he can return to meet God. Nothing should ever get in the way of that - not work, not family, nothing. Toffee is getting baptized this upcoming Sunday. We are fasting with him this Tuesday so that he can know what he has to do to be able to come to church every Sunday. 

So yeah. Bangna is great. I know that we are going to see sooo many miracles this transfer and I am sooo very excited. 

DUDE!!! The twins!! That's sooooo exciting! Send pictures when they are born!!! :)

That is soooo absolutely amazing that the primary children went to go visit the temple. Being on a mission, being soooo far away from a temple, and working so hard to get Thailand a temple has truly taught me so much about the importance of temples. I am soooo happy they are getting a head start of going to at least visit the temple. It will guide them sooo much in their life. 
That is also sooo cool that you are trying to help the youth prepare to go on missions. Literally I will never regret this decision. Never. I couldn't even if I tried. What I have learned here, what I have experienced, what I have felt, what I have seen, the people I have met, is infinitely greater than anything I could have been doing in New Jersey or Utah during May 2013-November 2014. This is more than school. This is more than work. Granted, this is not for everyone. Better put, everyone has a mission and for some people, their mission is not a full-time mission with a name tag. Examples: Delsa. She has an amazing family with two amazing children with two more on the way. Rachel and Audrey have soooo much faith. It is sooooo humbling to hear about them. The church would be a better and stronger place if every member had the same faith that Audrey and Rachel have.
Barbie. She has had sooo many missionary experiences during this year it is astounding. 
Kim. Kim, in a few short months, will be married in the temple for all time and eternity. That is sooo exciting. 
For me, personally, a mission was for me. I needed this. I have grown so much, in knowledge, in faith, in trust, in reliance to God, in testimony, in love, in everything. I will forever be changed and bettered. 
Everyone needs to prepare for a mission. Even if they don't end up on a mission, that preparation will better their life. 

So I'm almost out of time. I have some pictures to send next week about transfers (how we fit two bikes onto a taxi). 

I love you all soooo very much! 
Oh. When is Mother's day?

Sidenote: It is terrifying that I hit my year mark soon. Terrifying. Utterly terrifying. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Udon Letter--April 21, 2014

I love you all very much!
Warning, I am currently watching/listening to that new Easter video and the Spirit is strong. So if this email seems off it's because my emotions are askew. 

Side-note, I just found out 2 minutes ago that I'm moving again. Transfers are this Thursday. We will leave Wednesday night. Any predictions for where I am going? I have nooooooo idea. I'm going to really miss these members though. Haha I feel like I say that every time but it's true every time. I have made such good friends. Best friends even. They feel like family. Mom and Dad, I hope you don't mind adding a couple new Thai daughters and sons to our family. Haha. 
I do enjoy moving though. I love the new experiences and the new challenges. I love meeting sooooo many people. I'm sure I would be fine staying in an area for longer than one transfer but my mission seems to be of constant on-the-go-ness. Onward and Upward. Area #5. Transfer #6 :)

This week was really good. Number-wise, it was hard but we saw a lot of miracles so I figure Heavenly Father is pleased with our efforts. Remember that family I told you about two weeks ago - Dam and Dif? The plot has thickened with them. Last lesson Dam brought his mom Dang (yes I know, the names are hilarious) to the lesson. She is SOOOO amazing!!! =D So interested and into the lesson. And then the next day we call her to follow up on her reading and prayers and it turns out that her older brother is an LA Melchizedek Priesthood holder. What? I know.  The next set of missionaries are about to harvest an amazing gold mine. Only problem is that Dam and Dif are not legally married. We've talked to them about it but they keep on putting it off. In Thai culture, legal marriages are not super needed and if the husband and wife divorce, they have to split the money 50-50. We are hoping the idea of divorce isn't the reason why they are putting off getting married. They have an adorable 4 year old daughter -Wiw. By the way, Wiw and I are now best friends. At church I shared my colored pencils with her. Beforehand she was incredibly shy. She still is shy but not as much. It's the small victories that count. :)

Another miracle was that we got four of our RCLAs to come to church. RC (recent convert) means that they have been a member under a year and LA means that they haven't come to church in four weeks. It's really sad when an RC goes LA so we focus a lot of our LA-effort-time on them. 

Another miracle was that our Muslim guy got the Holy Ghost yesterday. Yesterday was the last time he can go to church for 3-6 months. He is super nervous. You know when John the Baptist is in prison and Christ sends angels to go comfort him? That's what I thought of with our guy. He's going to have angels round about him. He needs them so much. But he has the Holy Ghost and has the triple combination and a whole lot of desire. He'll be good. 

Sad thing was that we finally got a hold of Putta. I know, you're thinking, "Why is that a bad thing?" He has moved back to Chiang Mai but is about one day's journey from the church. And when I followed up on his commandment keeping, he told me he was drunk the previous day. Dude. He was a monk for 9 years. You can't even drink as a monk. And we taught him the commandments. What is he doing getting drunk? It was truly upsetting actually. He is out of our area and too far away to meet with missionaries. He's on his own now and the previous day he got drunk. Agency. Sometimes agency is really really really hard. I pray that one day he will run into missionaries or members and want to learn again. Luckily he has the Book of Mormon and all the pamphlets. He has the tools needed to gain a testimony. I was so sad getting off the phone; I literally was about to cry. Sister Orchard once told me that on your mission you have your highest highs and your lowest lows. You care sooo much for your investigators so whenever they make the wrong decision, it hurts SO much. They don't understand as much as we do. It's so hard.  
It hurt a lot when Nid dropped us too last week. You could tell in the lessons that she wanted to be baptized sooooo badly. That's all she wanted to learn about. But her husband was very against her learning and forbade her. So when I called her on the phone last Tuesday, she had to tell us. She tried to pretend that it was her decision but because we knew her, we knew she was lying. We asked her to pray before deciding but she said she wouldn't. I think she was scared to pray because she knew what answer she would receive and that would put her in a really hard spot. She told me that she didn't want to be a "child of Christ." That stung. At the end, she tried to comfort me by saying that she had our number and knew where the church was if she wanted to repent. 

Luckily, we have the atonement. Luckily all of us can repent. The atonement helps us in our trials and our times of happiness. The atonement allows us to try again. I am soo grateful for the atonement. 

Oh! I forgot to tell you about Songkran (the nationwide water fight). SO. MUCH. FUN. Oh my goodness, sooooo soaked! We started out at the church and played with the members for an hour or two. Then we all went to some other street and played. And then we went to another street which was crazy. At the first street we were stationary and near a member's truck. We had buckets and were throwing it at other trucks and people. So cold. They have bags of ice that they put in the water. Wait. Let me explain. There is this huge box-container. It is full with unopened bags of ice. These bags are kinda like cloth so that water can come out. You then pour water into said box-container. The ice melts so the water is super cold. We then throw said super cold water. Said super cold water does not contain ice but contains melted ice. Think of those little kid buckets that kids bring to the beach. That's what we used to throw water. At the second street, we just walked up and down. It reminded me of a college town - it was crazy. Fun though. And completely safe because we had 10 missionaries and about that many members too. Safety in numbers. Though I did almost get hugged twice. Almost being the key word. Those were the second and third times I was almost hugged on my mission. People also throw bang. Bang means flour or icy-hot powder. I'll attach a picture of me after being attacked by members at the church. The Elders got it a lot worse. Songkran is sooooooooo much fun. This would be a great holiday to come back for. It's three days long. Luckily I hear the Thai branch in Utah celebrates it. 

Well, I am almost out of time. 
I love you all very very very very very very very very very much! 
I'll talk to you next week in my new area with my new companion!

P.S: the sister in this picture is Sister Tilley, not my companion. The man is Elder Brown. Their blog is (I think) The Browns in Thailand at Google search it? We love them very much and will miss them greatly. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Udon Letter--April 14, 2014


Our adorable 15 year-old investigator—Yii—stayed for all 5 sessions (they showed the General Women's Conference the same time as the Priesthood session). Granted she and Toey (a member; they are now best friends) both fell asleep during parts of it but hey, at least she was there. Also, I know when I was younger I fell asleep during Conference too, so it's okay. Yii has such an amazing understanding. She is soooo cute! :)

What I loved in Conference is thinking about everything they repeated. The hen gathering under the wing story was in there twice. So was Martin losing the 116 pages. There were a ton of scripture masteries thrown in as well. I don't have my notes with me but I'm pretty sure there were other repeating things too.

One thing that my companion and I do every day that I love is that we study a Conference talk every day in companionship study. I love making Conference a year-round thing and not just a one-weekend thing.

I loved Holland's talk. He is always sooo good.
I also loved Oak's talk in the Priesthood session. SOOO GOOD! It's cool to hear that I have priesthood authority. I approve. haha =D

Yesterday was the official start of the nation-wide water fight. As it was Sunday and because we are missionaries, we obviously did not participate yesterday. Well, we tried to not participate. But... on the bike ride from the church to our home, we got drenched. People just stand on the side of the streets and throw buckets and buckets of water at you. They also have hoses. Luckily water balloons are not allowed on the streets. They also put flour or baby-powder on your face. It was actually really funny yesterday as we were trying to get home: some people would throw water on us but other people would actually get in front of us and tell us to stop so that they could drench us. Soooo funny. "Happy Thailand New Year." Dude. I think for the 4th of July we should start doing this. So much fun.
I was going to bring my old camera with me to take pictures get sooo soaked so fast. Sister Yim and I bought water-proof bags like a month ago but the zippers aren't actually water-proof. The phone was in Sister Yim's bag and is now no longer working. Oops. We'll have to get a new one tomorrow maybe...or Wednesday because we don't know where would be open during the water-fight. So maybe we will just take before and after photos.
This is definitely a holiday that would be fun to come back for.

I don't know what else to report. Conference. Water fight. Most of our investigators have not been answering their phones. The really good investigators are probably not answering because of the water fight. That's understandable. Gavin and Putta have not been answering for like 1.5-2 weeks. It's really sad. They were both soooo good but I mean, if they don't answer their phones or call us back, we can't do anything. It's disappointing. Oh well. New weeks are always good fresh starts.

All of our mission leaders here are really focusing on us being happy. We answer 5 questions every night (they've changed the questions) and the last one is "Did you find joy in the work?" This past week the two traveling-assistants to the president (we have four APs - two stay in Bangkok and two got called two weeks ago to be the travelling APs) came around the mission just to train us about finding joy while contacting. I guess it's a serious issue. I know of a lot of missionaries that are just sooo stressed. This is hard work and we work long hours. We work and work and don't always have a lot of success. And going around asking everyone if they want to be cleansed from sin and having person after person reject us isn't always fun either. But, I don't know. I guess I am insanely grateful to have a naturally happy disposition. I always try to smile because if I don't, I don't feel happy and I don't like not feeling happy. It's actually really that simple for me (this obviously probably does not apply to other people). I don't like frowning. I just don't. I've done it and I much prefer smiling. It's more enjoyable. Smiling, even when I am not happy, makes me happy. I remember in high school, someone once told me that I was being fake or "denying my emotions." I'm not denying my other emotions. I'm just choosing which ones I want to focus on. Happiness is best, in my opinion. But I definitely understand the feeling when you just get sooo stressed that it is hard to smile and all you want to do is cry. That's why President Senior has asked us to check ourselves - to make sure we are finding joy in each and every day. President Senior is an amazing and inspired man. I am so very grateful that he is my mission president. :)

I hope all is well with you. I love you all so very very very very much!!! =D

Monday, April 7, 2014

Udon Letter--April 7, 2014

Howdy howdy!

I hope General Conference was amazing! I heard that President Khanakham entered the Area 70ty, right? That's soooo cool! He is from the mission presidency here. He is the first area Seventy from Thailand! 
We'll get to watch General Conference this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. There will be a room in the church where we missionaries can watch it in English. I am so grateful that English is my first language so that I can hear the Prophet's and Apostles' and other speakers' words with their own voices and feeling. I mean, I've listened to some talks in Thai and, it just isn't the same. You don't feel the same power as when the actual people say their own words. The testimonies are stronger from the actual person and not from the translator. Also, just hearing their voices brings such a peace to me. I feel bad for everyone that has to listen to a translation. 

This past week has been pretty good. The district meeting on Tuesday was on the Atonement. As missionaries right now, we are really focusing on preparing people for baptism. Elder Watts taught us that we need to focus on the Atonement more in order to prepare people for baptism. The Atonement is the reason why we can be cleansed from our sin. People cannot be saved and enter into God's kingdom if they do not come unto Christ. Christ's Atonement made it possible for everyone to return home to God's presence again. Elder Watts shared examples from the scriptures in which teachers first teach about the Atonement and Plan of Salvation, and then invite people to have faith in Christ, repent of all their sins, and be cleansed through the waters of baptism. Some examples are Alma 7:11-16; 2 Nephi 9:21-26; and 3 Nephi 11:21-23, 33-39. He reminded us that the reason we are here is to invite others to come unto Christ; everything we teach and everything we do should be about Christ. This district meeting was Elder Watts' best district meeting, in my opinion, despite the fact that Monday night he told us that he still had no idea what district meeting would be on. I guess doing things last minute is okay as long as you follow the Spirit. 

I guess this relates to everything we do, not just teaching as missionaries. Every talk, every lesson in church, every seminary lesson, every visiting teaching or home teaching visit should be focused on helping others come unto Christ. See 2 Ne 25:26. I love this scripture.

So I guess I should give you all an update on our investigators. 

  • Our Muslim investigator was baptized yesterday. I'm not including his name or the picture just because, well you know, it's super dangerous for him. This guy is soooo amazing. He has heard stories about Christ since he was a child and always wanted to know more. He's read the Bible before and has spent a lot of time studying at different churches. The missionaries before us had been teaching him. He has such a strong testimony! It's kinda funny actually because we dropped him twice already. By dropped I mean we stopped teaching him because he wasn't progressing. He kept on not showing up for appointments or keeping commitments. We literally just couldn't meet or teach with him ever. But then twice, out of the blue, he called us, said he was finally free, and asked to meet with us. He had to sneak out of his house to meet with us. He literally lives right next to the mosque and everyone in that area is Muslim. After he was baptized, he shared his testimony and it was amazing. He is becoming a soldier at the end of this month (navy). He said that no matter what happens to him, he is assured that his soul is safe with God. Whether he dies in battle or if he dies because people find out he is Christian, it doesn't matter. He has such amazing faith. He is soooooooo amazing. He loves his Savior and Redeemer sooo much. He had to work so hard to be baptized. He reminds me of Alma the younger in the sense that he had done some really bad stuff in his past but he truly repented and felt forgiven and free. He is sooo cool. 

  • Pootta (that looks really weird in English). He's interesting. He's hit a kinda rough spot. Deep down, he knows this is true. He's keeping all the commandments and still coming to church but he just won't allow himself to admit it's true. He was a monk for 9 years and his family traditions deal with a lot of spirits and ghosts. He is so confusing. He keeps all the commandments. He bought a protective case for his scriptures and he reads them. He prays. And yet he still has no idea if any of this is true. We are trying to help him feel the Spirit but we fear that his heart is too closed because of his past beliefs. Most of our lessons with him are over the phone.

  • Gawin. Perfect little 16 year-old. He's great. Only problem? He has school every single day from morning to night. We teach him over the phone as well. He really wants to come to church but there is currently no way. But, luckily, God has all power. The whole if-you-say-unto-this-mountain-move-it-shall-be-moved stuff. Faith, it's a great thing. We three are praying every day that somehow he will be able to get off from school at least one hour every Sunday so he can take the sacrament. I am so grateful to come from a country that was founded on Christian beliefs and therefore most jobs and schools give you Sunday off. Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is literally one of the hardest commandments for people in Thailand because they either have work or school or both on Sunday. School on Sunday just sounds gross to me (excluding Sunday school from this of course :)). 

  • Nid. She is super cute. She had surgery on her brain in the past so we have to talk very slowly and clearly and then give her extra time to get her thoughts together so she can respond. Her husband of 8ish years is a farang from Australia. He is also Buddhist which is a slight problem because he doesn't want her learning about Christianity. He is not happy that she is learning with us. We've met with her three times already and she has SO much faith. She has agreed to keep every commandment that we have so far because they come from God and therefore she can do it. She's adorable! She was drinking coffee every day but then we taught her the Word of Wisdom (first lesson) and then she quit cold turkey. She's great! But... she is worried that her husband will ban her learning with us. He goes back to Australia today so we'll call her and see if we can meet tomorrow. 

  • Yii. Perfect little 15 year-old. The first time we met her went like this: 
                        Sister Yim: "Do you want to be cleansed from sin?"
Yii: "When?"
See? Perfect. Utterly perfect. We watched Finding Faith in Jesus Christ with her and she cried during the Crucifixion scene. "Why did they kill Him? He didn't do anything wrong." She's perfect.
She helps her mom at her mom's food shop and literally tells her mom everything she learns. We eat there every day or every other day and her mom is perfect too. She gives us free fruit all. the. time. We asked her if she wants to learn too and she said she didn't have time. She'll get there one day.
Yii also already has friends at church. Her new best friend is Toey. One night we set up an appointment with Yii and the next morning called Toey to see if she could help us teach. The conversation went as follows:
                        Sister Slaugh: Hey Toey.
                        Toey: You want me to help you teach tonight at 6, right?
                        Sister Slaugh: Yeah. How did you know?
                        Toey: Yii already called me and asked if I was coming. I said yes.
They are both perfect and I adore them both so much. Yii has to wait till June to get baptized though because she is under 16. 18+ year olds can be baptized after two weeks of coming to church. 16-18 year olds can after one month of coming to church. Under-16-year-olds can after three months of coming to church. 
  • Sugan. This was our amazing family that we were teaching but he too has hit a rough spot. Ever since his wife was baptized in a different church, he hasn't been able to come to this church even though he really really wants to. He has to take his wife to her church and then he also has 4 children to take care of. But he loves the Book of Mormon and has the desire. The wife also LOVES this church but feels like she has to go to the other one.
  • Dam and Dif. New family! They have a 4 year-old daughter named Wiw. We met them last Thursday so we've only met with them once for a lesson. They came to church yesterday though.
These are our current investigators. They all came from the new contacting method of asking people if they want to be cleansed from sin. I am very grateful that President Senior is an inspired man and that he listens to and obeys the Spirit. Hence the 218 baptisms last month. The best Thailand has ever had (I think). 

I don't really know what else to talk about. I love being a missionary. I love the people I am serving with even if sometimes the Elders are annoying. :) The whole inability to be mad at someone has really come in handy because sometimes the Elders just do some really annoying or stupid things. But I'm sure they probably think the same thing about us Sisters so it all works out. No one is perfect and we are all really grateful for the Atonement. :)
I'm excited to watch General Conference this Saturday and Sunday. We invite all of our investigators and members to prayerfully write down 5 questions that they have before Conference. They always get answers from watching Conference. It's so amazing that we get to hear the words of our church leaders. 

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!! I hope everything is going well. 
What is this month's theme in Sacrament meeting?
Is the church still doing that service thing with that other church? (obviously I remember so much about it)
What are you currently learning in seminary?
Dad, has worked gotten easier after that thing got sent in?
Has worked picked up for Stu?

Fun fact: We also now have a sort of guardian-angel dog thing. When my companion and I were contacting in the evening, a drunk guy started talking to us. The dog chased him away. The drunk guy came back two other times and, without fail, as soon as the dog saw him, she chased him away. Good dog. Very different from the dogs that bark at us. :)