Monday, June 16, 2014

Bangna Letter--June 9, 2014

Happy anniversary to Delsa and Jon ... right? That's today, right? Or tomorrow? I just remember that it was early June around the next couple of days. Maybe it's the 11th... (It's June 10th, actually.)
How are the youth doing back at home? Are Patty and Ali at college already? Where are they going? I know Sarah and Aza are going to BYU (Sarah told me). Where are Bianca and Chris going? Have Kenzie, Bradley, Sabrina, Javier, and Alex graduated yet or is that next year? You already said that Rob will graduate next year--I just can't remember who is his age. That kid Joe? I feel like I'm going to get home and not know anyone. I guess that's a good thing--change is good. Has Jared gone on a mission yet?

Life is good here in Bangna. This past week has been kinda hard but that's okay. Hard times just help us appreciate the good times more. A lot of people used their agency the wrong way this week. But still, a lot of people used it the right way. Life goes on and the world keeps on turning. All the while we are laboring in the vineyard.

We had zone conference this past week. It was a surprise but I am so grateful for it. We weren't supposed to have it for another transfer but it was great. President Senior says one of the most important things about zone conference is that we get to gather as missionaries and feel of each other's spirits. It's sooo true. I love zone conference so much! I love listening to President and Sister Senior. I love being instructed on what we can do better. I love seeing other missionaries. President and Sister Khanakham talked to us too--about working more with church leaders. It was great.

At zone conference we talked about the importance of understanding the Godhead and about repentance. President Senior brought up a fascinating point that this world is very confused about who God is. He gave many examples of this and because I can't give his words justice, I'll leave it at that. He brought up that the Nicean creed said that God is unknowable. But the truth of the matter is that God wants to be known. We (meaning everyone) have the ability to pray to Him and what better way is there to get to know someone than talking to him everyday? President talked about the purpose of commandments, repentance, and this life--to prepare us to become like God. That's our goal, isn't it? Our goal can't just be to get back to Heaven because, as an apostle has said, why would we have ever left if that was our goal. There must be something more than just getting back. There is. We want--and more importantly God wants--us to become like Him.  God knows what it takes to become like Him. Hence commandments and repentance. President Senior has asked us to make sure we are teaching that--teach the why. The why is the atonement and that we can become like God. President Senior taught that people are more likely to keep the commandments and our commitments if they understand why they are doing them. They aren't just rules. This is the way to become like God.

So what happened this week?
Monday. Like I said, we went to Asoke for interviews. Afterwards we went ice skating. That was fun. It's not super common here to go ice skating which, you know, makes sense. Monday night we taught a new guy named Bird. He brought a friend with him because he was scared to meet with us. This is understandable because he is Buddhist and has never gone to a Christian church before. And we are white and from our 5 second conversation with him outside 7-11 the previous day, he probably didn't know that we can speak pretty good Thai. But yeah, after that lesson he was no longer scared of us. That's good. :)
Tuesday we taught our 17 year-old female investigator named Oom. She's great (or at least she was on Tuesday). We watched Finding Faith in Jesus Christ so she could understand more of who He is. Used facebook. Had district meeting. Contacted. That night we taught some more new investigators, new members, and English. So a good night.
Wednesday. Visited an LA. Taught three new members. Taught Book of Mormon class. Everyday we go contacting for at least 2 hours so we did that too.
Thursday. Oom again. Read in the scriptures with her and emphasized how important it is to read everyday (she has been struggling). At the end of the lesson, she said the closing prayer and said how she now feels like she understands why it is so important to read everyday. She said that while before she was sometimes to lazy to read everyday, she will now read every day. It's so nice when they get it.
oh. 5 minutes left. I'll make the rest short...
Taught some amazing new investigators who have been searching for Christ.
Friday. Accidently taught two drunk guys. We promise to never to do it again. Our RCs helped us teach--the ones that got baptized the previous sunday. They're great. I'll talk more about them next week.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bangna Letter--June 2, 2014

Dear Family,

     I have decided. I'm not leaving Bangna. I'm sorry but I can't. It's just too perfect. Sister Embley has to stay too because she too is perfect. I am ridiculous joyful right now. Yesterday Brother Nat and Brother Joe got baptized. They too are perfect - or at least as close to it as possible seeing how they just washed away their sins. They were soooo elect. It's just - it's astounding. It is sooooo humbling to be a part of God's work and to be a part of the miracles. Sister Embley and I have a work policy and it is as follows: get out of God's way. Translation: work as hard as we can, be exactly obedient, and expect miracles (faith) so that God truly can make miracles happen. Let me tell you about the perfection that is Brother Nat and Brother Joe, starting with Brother Nat.
     Brother Nat is a designer and engineer - he works with car or car parts or something like that. He is in his early 20s and met with us because he wanted to know the history of Christ. He got a lot more than that. :) The sisters before us were the ones that first contacted him but we were the ones that first taught him - our first Saturday here in Bangna. During that lesson he accepted a date but he said he couldn't ever come to church because of work so he kinda just disappeared. Honestly I can't remember what happened back then but...anyway. So two Wednesdays ago (21st) we are going through records and I see his number and decide to give him a call. Why? No idea. I just did. The Spirit, man. He's great.
     So anyway, I call Nat and see if he wants to learn again and guess what, he's free that night. We teach him (gospel, word of wisdom, law of chastity, and Sabbath day holy), he's great, accepts a date for the 1st of June (not sure how much he understood what he agreed to :)), and - the icing on the cake - is free on Sunday to come to church. We also invite him to come to Sports Night on Saturday. He does. We teach him beforehand (restoration and follow the prophet) - he's doing good and still good for getting baptized in two Sundays but he says that he doesn't feel anything when he reads or prays. He has a great time at sports and all the members love him. He comes to church the next day - 30 minutes early. Monday we teach him the Plan of Salvation and the 10 commandments. He's great..but still not getting any answer. We commit him to keep the commandments which means can you please stop wearing your buddhist idol necklace. Tuesday. His Japanese class is canceled so he comes to our English class. Guess what he wasn't wearing. I think this made me the happiest person ever because prior to this, I wasn't sure how sincere he was. He's fantastic!
     AND! So we had him say the closing prayer at English class and at the next lesson, he told us that he felt "good" when he was praying because he was thanking God for stuff. Yes feeling the Spirit! I told you, he's perfect. That night we taught him Tithing and Fasting. Wednesday he interviews and passes. Friday we read in the scriptures with him. Sunday he comes AN HOUR early - "I just woke up early and had nothing to do so I came to church early" - and gets baptized. Sunday night (last night) he texts us with a question he has from his scriptures reading - he reads a chapter (or more) every day. Like I said, he's perfect. He is sooo keen and has amazing understanding. At church, he acts like he's been a member for a while - he just picked it up so quickly. And he's not afraid to ask questions - he wants to understand. And his questions are soooo good too. He really took the whole Alma 32 experiment-on-the-word approach to gaining faith.
     Brother Joe's timeline was much the same but his experience was different. He is also in his young 20s. We met him on Wednesday (the 21st) and taught him on Thursday. We asked him why he wanted to meet with us - "I want to change religions." Oh, good. "Ask the missionaries. They can help you" right? He also comes to Sports night but we don't get a chance to teach him. And members love him too. It's great. Comes to church Sunday and we teach him. Agrees to everything. No concerns. Teach him the rest on Wednesday. Review with him on Thursday. Friday, interviews and passes. Sunday baptized. No problems or concerns. Easy. In. Out. Done. He has just childlike faith - completely trusts God even though he doesn't understand everything yet.
     How did these two miracles happen? Don't ask Sister Embley or me - we have no idea. I really think it's the whole "get out of God's way" thing.

K. So we have to go. I LOVE YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!!!! =D I will send pictures...eventually...oops :)
~Sister Slaugh

Bangna Letter--May 26, 2014

The subject line this time was "Did you know this is a Budhhist country?"

That lovely gem is from a farang who had been watching us invite. I love when people (farang or Thai) comment on what we are doing because they just don't understand. Everyone seems to believe that we should only be talking to Christians because "I'm Buddhist" or my favorite - "I Buddha." But honestly, none of the Christians want to talk to us either, because they've already "been" baptized. I'm grateful that our message is for one and all and that we are looking for the elect - the ones that will receive us. For example: Jo is a 20 year-old Buddhist that has been wanting to learn about Christ but didn't know how. Or you have George, a 35 year-old Christian, who has spent his entire life studying the Bible trying to find the church that truly follows it. Or Oom, a 17 year-old girl who had been to church before and really really liked it and wanted to learn more.

This week has been interesting. Obviously you have all heard about what has been happening in Thailand. Don't worry, everything is okay. We are safe and have many precautions in place. On Thursday we were told by the mission that we had to be home by 8pm every night. On Friday we weren't supposed to leave our house unless we had a teaching appointment. On Saturday and Sunday, we were allowed to be out and about but we were not allowed to street contact in order to keep a low profile. This morning the mission texted us saying that we could street contact again and be out till 9pm. We are sooooo very happy. On Friday my companion and I were literally going insane. Having to stay home all day except for a couple of lessons here or there is hard. But, on the bright side, all of our records are completely up-to-date and Sister Embley's and my knowledge of church history has increased because we found some DVDs at the church. Luckily the Elders live in the same building as us so we were able to meet them on the roof for lunch and dinner to get some human interactive in.
Saturday we went LA hunting which is really difficult in Thailand. Thai addresses. They are killer. We found someone though which is super exciting. But I prefer contacting.
Sunday was weird because we spent sooo much time with the members. Usually we are only supposed to spend an hour tops with members but because there was nothing else to do, we spent a lot more time. As a reminder about Thai know how in America after church is done, everyone rushes out of church as soon as they physically can? In Thailand, everyone just stays at the church. They eat together every Sunday and then just spend time together. I love it.
But we are so happy to be able to go contacting again. We have really missed it. I feel so bad for Elder McCleary and every other missionary who is in non-contacting missions. It must be so difficult.

In other news, what are you doing to the house? What? I thought we agreed that doing the 18 months that I was gone, nothing would be allowed to change. Now my neighbor has moved and my house is changing. At least the car-which-I-drive is still there as evidenced by the picture. I do appreciate Dad's comment that you are keeping the house the same color so that I can find home. Thanks. Haha :) Thanks for taking before pictures though. So will all of this be done before I get home then?

From what I remember from pre-mish, I thought I knew a good amount about the scriptures and that I had a strong testimony. Obviously I couldn't have seeing how I have grown so much and now know a lot and have a strong testimony. haha I guess in a couple of years I'll say the same thing. Just reminding you all, this church is so very true. God loves performing miracles. Give Him a reason - prayer, faith, etc - and He will perform as many miracles as He can. You know those memes (parents - if you don't know what a meme is, ask the seminary students) about Oprah - "And you get a car. And you get a car. etc etc" It's kinda the same with God. Show some faith, pray sincerely, and work hard, and God will just pours hundreds and hundreds of blessings. It's great to watch. This truly is God's work. It's not the work of man but of God. Only God can make these many miracles happen.

I love you all so very much!!!

Happy birthday Delsa!!!! =D

~Sister Slaugh