Monday, September 29, 2014

Sapansung Letter--September 29, 2014

First I would like to say I am very impressed with Rachel. (Our niece Rachel broke her arm last week.) I hope her cast is a pretty color. :) Which arm is it?

Second, from all your descriptions of the house, I'm excited to see it. It sounds very different. I am happy that my room is—according to mother—the same. 

Dear mother, when you say the weather is still warm … around what temperature is that? I am slightly worried because during my time as a missionary, I have become very prone to being cold—something I no longer like. My current companion gets warm very easily and I get cold very easily. It's kinda funny. :) 

What did you guys get at the Thai place? Lorri, are the Thai restaurants in New Jersey close to the real stuff?

Mom, I like the talk—really I do. I like how you talked about how we keep the commandments because we love God. I also like how you brought up the commandments given by modern revelation—like food storage. That's a cool thought. Especially how the Liahona (and Ensign I guess) talked about that this month—I wonder what God is trying to prepare us for. 

Thailand has been really good. Sapansung is probably one of the most developed wards here. Yesterday we had 167 people at church, which is the highest I have ever seen. Usually this area has between 120–150 people. Most areas are just trying to get to 100. So Sapansung is doing amazingly. 
Also yesterday, an adorable investigator named Awy got baptized. I think the sisters have been teaching her for about 3 or 4 weeks. She has a two-year-old son. She is soooo sweet and very quiet. 

This week has been an interesting one.
Recently the mission has been trying to become more balanced, more all-rounded. Growing pains but good ones I guess. :)
We are starting to ask for referrals more. We are trying to support more member-missionary work. The method? We ask every new member we teach to think of a friend or family member. We ask them to pray every day for that person’s heart to open and for them (the member) to have an opportunity to share the gospel. We also pray for those people. It's actually been a lot of fun and really cool. Sometimes inviting friends to learn with the missionaries is an intimidating idea so we start with praying. Praying isn't scary. And it unifies us more with the members. We are praying for them and for their friends. They know that we care. We aren't trying to find people to teach, we want to help them feel comfortable and to help their friends and loved ones. I like praying. 

So Sapansung has been an area leading the mission in a lot of things. This also means that this area was hit really hard when the contacting method came out. There are so many people here that know who we are and really don't want anything to do with us, and that's totally okay and up to them. Despite that, we are still meeting a lot of people. This past week we met with six people that have been thinking about changing religions but didn't know how. Four of them are friends and called us. All six are really cool: a 21-year-old boy, 15-year-old girl, and then the group of friends which consists of 17- to 18-year-old girls. Now the only issue is finding time for them to meet with us ... 

What else? 
Today we helped translate for the primary presidency meeting. It was really interesting. The handbook is a very very very good thing. :)
We also learned how to open a coconut. Meat cleavers. Very useful things. I love coconuts. I really love fresh coconuts. It's really quite delicious. Do we have access to coconut water in New Jersey? It's really tasty. 

What else? 
yeah I don't know. 
Being Sister Training Leader is fun. I really like following up with the sisters. They are really great. We don't follow up on numbers like district leaders do, we follow up on how the sisters are doing.  It's fun. I like getting to know them. We have our leadership meeting this week. That will be fun. 

I love you!!! =D

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sapansung Letter--September 22, 2014

Sister Slaugh's subject line was "Area Number 6."

Dear family,

I just watched a puppy and a kitten attempt to fight. The reason I say attempt: the puppy was inside the internet raan and the kitty was outside and there was a huge glass door between them. It was really cute and funny. I have a picture.

So, another transfer has gone by and I have been reminded of how much I dislike packing and unpacking. I am currently in Sapansung. I am still in the Bangkok East Zone. As a reminder, Bangkapi (first area), Srinakarin (second), and Bangna (the area I just left) are also in this zone. Actually, I have been in every area in this zone except for Samut Prakan and that area doesn't have sisters. Technically Srinakarin no longer has sisters as well but that happened a couple transfers after I left. I claim master of this zone. Haha. One of the zone leaders has been my zone leader for the past 5 months. By the time he and I end together, we will have served together/around each other for about 6-7 months. 

I have also been called as Sister Training Leader. So that means I take care of the other sisters in this zone—kinda like zone leaders do for district leaders. I’ve only been doing it for three days and I can already tell how much love and care is put into this work. I follow up with the Zone Leaders and Sister Senior about how the sisters are doing in the zone. "How are they? Are they happy? How can we help them?" It's really cool. I've been reading a lot about leadership in the missionary handbook lately. Christ-like leadership is really different from worldly leadership. It's really amazing to study. :) 

To Dad's comment about autumn: if it makes you feel any better, Thailand is going into the cold season soon. And by that we mean the not-so-hot season. :) The rainy season is ending now. Boy did it rain a lot. :)

Mom, yay seminary! Wait, the Krauses have moved back? Haha it’s like nothing changed. They left after me and came back before. :) What town are they living in now? Sarah Kramer has been keeping me updated on college life with Aza. How are the rest of the seminary people doing? Are Bradley and Owen in college yet? Or is this their senior year? That's sooooo weird. I feel old. How about Kenzie, Patty, Alex, Rob, Ali, Matthew, Chris, and everyone else? Faegan moved, right?

That's interesting about Mom and the phone. (In brief, Mom’s phone broke, so she got a new one.) The mission just got new phones too. Touch-screen. Not iPhone status but closer than anything else I’ve ever used. It's been taking some getting used to. 

Yay inviting people to church! I’ll be praying for you guys! :) Yay missionary work. :)

Dad, thanks for your talk. I really did like it. I like how you were able to tie it all together—Christ's life and commandments. I think being a missionary has really taught me a lot about the importance of commandments. I love teaching others about the commandments—they are soooo good! I love when we get to the promises and blessings. :)

Delsa, (question about which is more logical, Thai or English): Thai grammar is really simple so sometimes it gets confusing when someone tries to say a complex thought using Thai grammar (scripture reading is really hard sometimes). When it comes to vocabulary, Thai all the way. It makes soooooooo much sense. It's so simple. Happiness is a good heart. Sadness is a broken heart. A towel is a cloth that dries and wipes the body. Parents is dadmom. Repentance is turning your heart. Enduring to the end is enduring until you die (technically it is until you can no longer find your life or something like that. It makes sense in Thai). Thai vs Chinese: Thai you can sound out. But there are a ton more vowels in Thai than in English. 

It's been really interesting switching from a Thai companion to a farang (white) companion. I literally keep finding myself wanting to speak Thai with her and then having to stop myself and translate my thoughts in English. Literally my brain is sooo gone. I tried to write Thailand the other day and I wrote thainlad and thought nothing was wrong. My journal is hilarious to read because there are so many mistakes.

Fruits? There are these little gray-brownish ball things ... Haha I’ll take a picture. Mangos are out of season. So are mangkok ... however you spell that in English. The red fruit – ngong—is in season. It’s red with green spiky-looking (but fuzzy-feeling) stuff on it. Pictures. Will do.

Clothes? A lot of it is going to be left here—bike stains, sweat stains, pen stains, rips, etc. Favorite clothes to wear: I like wearing bright colors. Only short-sleeves. I prefer longer skirts (calf-length) because I can sit cross-legged. I’m not really tired of my clothes because I know I can't change them. Haha :) I already left the ones I didn't like anymore and picked up new ones from different sisters. 

Shoes are good. I haven’t used any of the shoes I brought on my mission except for the sneakers ... sorry Mom. 

Side note: Sapansung is not a biking area.

Yup ... I think that's everything ... I’ll give you more of an update on the area and investigators here once I figure it out ... so next week ... sorry :)

Love you all!!! =D

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bangna Letter--September 15, 2014

Well hello family. How is everyone doing? I really like the pictures of the 13 siblings plus spouses. (Dad and his siblings had a sibling-and-spouse reunion this past weekend.) It's great timing that you had the reunion around Grandma's birthday. What an amazing birthday gift for her. Yesterday we talked to our RCs about eternal families. It's sooo cool that we get to be a family forever. Such a huge blessing.

This week has been good. 
B. Earth was baptized yesterday. That in and of itself was a miracle. He did a lot of soul searching beforehand. But after he was baptized, he told me he felt so clean. He said that ever since he was a kid, he was scared of punishment. He never knew about forgiveness. He used to think that if he had already made a mistake in life, he was going to hell, and that there was no way to be clean again. If that was the case, he reasoned it was better to be bad all the way and do whatever he wanted because he was going to hell anyway. Then he learned about the Gospel, about Christ, about the Atonement, about God's love. He learned about repentance and forgiveness. He has never felt so clean before. He's like a little brother...or son. He's 17 so...little brother. :) He is sooo good. 

Mom, to answer your question about Julie's friend Yok—we met once but after that I haven't been able to get a hold of her. She wasn't answering the phone or talking to me on Facebook. So... yeah. She lives about an hour away from the church so that might have something to do with it. She has had some amazing experiences in the past though so I definitely know that in the future she will accept it. The question isn't "if?" but "when?". 

We are working a lot more with members now. Before, us missionaries were doing a lot on our own—the majority of our converts came from our own efforts. Recently we have received some training that said it shouldn't be that way—we need to work more with members to find people to teach. We must be balanced in all things. It's going well. 

Delsa, so when I go back to college, can Rachel teach me Chinese? haha :) But seriously. I think learning Thai has made me want to learn a lot of langages—French, Chinese, Russian (?), etc. 

I feel like I had things to talk about but I forgot. Oops. 

Transfers are this Thursday. We find out today or tomorrow if we are moving or staying. I have been here for 5 months so everyone thinks I am moving. I, frankly, am doing my best not to guess because I'm sure God will not tell me. There is literally no reason to guess because 1, I highly doubt God will tell me because I don't need to know, and 2, I can't reason what the answer is because sometimes God likes doing things that most people would think isn't reasonable. haha :)

One of our RCs is leaving for Japan tonight. It will be really really really weird not seeing him all the time like usual. 

what else?
Delsa asked what I'm studying about. This past week I've been studying a lot of B. Earth's questions. Today I studied two of Elder Holland's talks: The First Great Commandment (Oct 2012) and the one from this past conference (April 2014) about discipleship. I would really suggest reading these talks. They are REALLY good. :)
Also, carving fruit? nope. I eat a lot of fruit but no carving. Just eating. :)

Yeah. I got nothing else really. Um...
We are having a lot of fun. Sister Uttamakul and I are having a lot of fun together. Lots of craziness. 


Monday, September 8, 2014

Bangna Letter--September 8, 2014

I am feeling quite excellent today. This week has just been really good. And not good in the sense that you would think—meeting lots of people and that kind of stuff—but good in the sense of just being happy, having fun, seeing little miracles, and getting lots of answers to prayers. 

First, the house looks weird. Not weird in a bad way, just different. It's taller. I like it. I also like how the-car-which-I-drove is still there. I'm looking at the before and after pictures and comparing the two. The front door, meaning the front entryway, has changed. More windows. I am very glad that the trees are still taller than the house. :) Overall, I like it. :) I approve ... not like it matters but still. I like it. :) 

Yay Seminary! That's super exciting. Hmm ... what would I like to say? Oh. So on Saturday Elder Allen (the head of the Missionary department) and Elder Funk (Seventy) came to speak. They kept on asking us if we had certain scriptures memorized—scripture mastery scriptures. I mean, they didn't mention that they were scripture mastery but they were. Also, a ton of the scriptures in Preach My Gospel are scripture mastery scriptures. It is literally so important to know these scriptures. They make being a missionary sooooo much easier. It really really really truly honestly really comes in handy (and is necessary) to know the scripture masteries. God chose these scriptures Himself which means that He thinks they are important. And whatever God thinks is important, I would say is probably pretty important. :)
So yeah. Also, one of my investigators is also attending seminary. He really likes it.
Also, doing your reading ahead of time is sooo important. If you want to get more out of seminary, do the reading beforehand. Mom isn't the only one that needs to prepare for these lessons. Seminary has the ability to change your life, but only if you let it. It gives you an amazing opportunity to feel the Spirit and receive spiritual strength that is utterly necessary for daily life. God won't force you. It's your choice whether you will do the preparation and pay attention. I am so eternally grateful for seminary because it got me though high school. I didn't just "survive" high school but I flourished and loved it ... because of the daily spiritual strength I got from reading my scriptures, praying, and participating in seminary. Try it out. :)

So the fun stuff from this week. 
One, you know the random words I've been learning (cleaning stuff, house terms, family terms, body parts, etc.)? They have been coming in handy. It's cool how literally everything relates back to the Gospel and everything can help you draw closer to the Gospel. 

Also, the Gospel is true. Want to know why? Because it helped me learn about English grammar: gerunds. One of my English students asked me to teach about it tomorrow so I've been trying to prepare this past week (like a little in the morning). First, let us all feel bad for people in Thailand learning English because either their teachers are Thai (who can't speak perfect English) or people like me who haven't studied English in a year so yeah ... good luck. But anyway. So one book we have about English talks a little about gerunds (and I faintly remember it from high school) but still, I didn't feel confident enough to explain it or to make my own examples. So what did I do? I started reading the Liahona and found examples so I could figure out how to teach it. Haha. It’s a really silly experiences but it works. :)

Let's see. Oh. Friday. 
Last Monday we were told that we (and the Elders) were going to be teaching a lesson on Friday at 4pm (we had to provide the investigator ourselves) and that Elder and Sister Allen and President and Sister Senior would be assisting (the wives in our lesson and husbands with the Elders). Why? Because the Allens and the Funks were in town and wanted to see how lessons went in Thailand. So Sister Senior and Sister Allen helped us teach an investigator named Earth. It was a really good lesson. I was struck at how much love these two Sisters had for him. They just really really really wanted to help him. It was so amazing to feel of their utterly sincere love. We talked about fasting. At the end of the lesson, both Sister Senior and Sister Allen said that they wanted to fast with Earth this Sunday and that they would have their husbands fast too. Like me tell you, that fast was definitely answered. A mission president and his wife and a general authority and his wife fasting for a 17 year-old boy's family to feel God's love—how could it not be answered? 
Sunday morning Earth runs up to me and tells me—very excitedly—of his experience with prayer—that he knows that God loves him. Also, he had been hinting for a while that when he prayed, he also prayed for a certain "cherry" on a cake. I was pretty sure that it was for love because was worried but I was also pretty certain that he had a crush on one of my male RCs. So yesterday he told me that God gave him the cherry but it was different than what he originally wanted. Originally he wanted a red cherry but what God gave him was a white cherry without a seed—completely good. So ... I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure that he got an answer to his prayer for love but it is now in harmony with the law of chastity. So yeah. Two very obvious miracles that occurred in response to fasting. Also, we also were finally able to meet his mom yesterday and she was very friendly with us so things are looking a lot better on the family end now too. Yay! He is on schedule to be baptized this upcoming Sunday. He is very excited. :)

Saturday (jumping up and down and back and forth and feeling bad for everyone at home trying to make sense of these emails. Hopefully you have your hands on a Urim and Thummin or something like that. Don't use google translate—it is soooooo hilariously bad at Thai-English translations). 
I was asked to attend MLC Saturday morning. MLC means missionary leadership council and is for zone leaders and sister training leaders. So yeah. President Senior hasn't said anything but I think it might be that I will be a STL this upcoming transfer. I'll let you know how it goes. 
But anyway, Elder Funk and Elder Allen lead the MLC this time and it was sooo good. At the beginning Elder Allen asked us if we wanted his message to be straight-forward or sugar-coated. We obviously all said straight-forward. And straight-forward it was. Blunt. so very very blunt but sooooo good too. Like someone stabbing you with a knife but it's okay because they need to cut something bad out. It answered sooooo many questions that had been floating around for quite some time. Like ... you are taking a really nice nap and someone wakes you up with freezing ice water but it's okay because you were driving a car and were about to crash if you didn't. 
After MLC, all the missionaries in Bangkok gathered to hear more words from them. Same. Blunt but soooo good.
And all the time, you could really feel God's love. Haha. Kinda comical and weird but so true. God truly chastises those He loves. If He didn't love you, He wouldn't try to help you become better. God truly loves us and wants to help us. He doesn't tell us to repent because He hates us. He tells us to repent because He wants to bless us and He can only do that if we repent and keep the commandments. On the same topic, He doesn't give us commandments because He wants to restrict us but because He truly utterly absolutely adores us and only wants our happiness and our salvation and He knows that only by following the commandments can we truly be happy and blessed and safe in life. God loves us. 

In comment to Mom's talk about commandments, one of my favorite verses in D&C is in 1:17. "Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments." God knows what will help in this life. That's the reason why He gives us commandments. To help us. Because He loves us.

I love you all very very very very very very very very very much and am grateful for your prayers. :)
Stay safe. Pray sincerely. Share the Gospel. Love God.
~Sister Slaugh
(ซิสเตอร์ซลอ in Thai)

Bangna Letter--September 1, 2014

Daddy. I love you but why did you tell me that? [Abbie arrives home October 31 at 7:30 pm; Dad told her that her homecoming talk will be November 23] ... I told my ex-companion Sister Embley and she was very impressed that our ward plans talks that far in advance. I also told my MTC companions and their responses were along of the lines of "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" but for about 20+ more lines.
On the bright side, I don't have to write the talk as a missionary or on the plane but can procrastinate it longer. :) Mom, fun fact about Sister Herrmann. You said she is serving in Sisaket, right? That's where my companion is from. Her family is super involved in missionary work so I can promise you that Sister Herrmann knows my companion's family and talks to them daily or at least often. That's fun. :)

I am very grateful that you guys are very involved in service. Thank you very much for that. As a missionary, I love families that do service and go to activities because it gives my investigators and converts good examples.

As for the baptisms. Rachhai and his son were baptized yesterday. They are so utterly fantastic. Lai was not because he couldn't go to church—work.

Mom, if you had asked me prior to being a missionary, I probably would have agreed with the whole having people wait long to be baptized. Now my opinion is that 1, when I was baptized at 8, I don't know how much I understood—maybe I did, I don't remember. I had faith but knowledge? Either way, doesn't matter. More importantly—2, these people have a much better chance sticking to the church after they have the Holy Ghost then before. Recent converts progress a lot faster than investigators because they have the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Also, fast baptisms aren't for everyone. If they aren't ready, they aren't ready and they will do it when they are ready. One person we taught in Chiang Mai was an investigator for 7 years. One person here was one for 2 years. Then again, one person we taught was baptized within like 8-10days of first meeting us. It's up to how prepared they are.

Last Sunday, our STL (Sister Training Leader) challenged us to get creative with our inviting this week. On Friday, Elder Kris (District leader, Thai) commented how it is really easy for us farangs (foreigners) to contact because it is in a different language. Just image if you had to do this for 2+ hours every day in your own language. That got me and Elder Reed (his companion) thinking so we decided to try it out. "Have you ever gone to church before? Would you like to go to church? Would you like to be cleansed from your sins and mistakes? Do you want to wash away your sins?" Obviously, it still isn't the same because the audience here doesn't speak English but still ... it was fun. We started inviting in English—absolutely hilarious. The key to inviting is getting people to stop and listen/talk to you. I swear half the people that say no have no idea what we are talking about because they just don't listen/care. So, speak in English, they are completely shocked and start listening, so you switch back to Thai. Really fun and worked well.
Saturday we went singing with some members. Also fun. As a missionary, you learn how to not be embarrassed by anything. I'm not sure what I would think/do, pre-mission, if the missionaries asked me to go sing hymns with them outside a mall. Now, yeah it was weird at first but it was fun.

Don't really know what to report.
The companion is doing really well. We are very good friends now and get along very well. Fun fact, she is really ticklish. And no, I will not tell you how I know that. I'm innocent, I swear. :)

Answering Delsa's questions:
What we did for p-day now: Really, just a lot of relaxing. I already did the 'touristy' stuff here and well, yeah. She likes to relax too. Naps are amazing. I love naps. I think I have missed sleep the most out of anything (except family and friends, of course).
Me playing the piano? I am the unofficial RS pianist. The other people who play have callings in YW or primary or are male. So yeah.
Also about he/she. It's the same in Thai. Khaw (cow with a valley tone) means he/she. There is a way to differentiate but khaw is more common.
Mainly the foods are just really really simple. Nothing complex yet. We are going to be doing more this month. Today we are grocery shopping aka hitting the market.
We walk and take public transportation.
Pets? Dogs and cats too.
In some areas we are part of the choir, in some areas no. I could be part of the choir here but it takes up far too much time. If it was just an hour, maybe we'd be willing. The problem is that sometimes choir practice is 2+ hours long. That is too much time to sacrifice from our work, especially on a Sunday.

I like the commandment stuff. I love commandments. I think of the Scripture Mastery in John: if you love me, keep my commandments. They aren't rules to restrict us but blessings to help us grow and be happy.
Fun fact. I feel like pre-misssion I never wore sun glasses. Now, they are literally always on top of my head. All hours of the day too. [Mom went on the mission Facebook page and watched a video of the transfer meeting August 7. We could 'see' Abbie at 2.35 minutes into the video. She is wearing sun glasses on top of her head and we commented to her on this]

that's really interesting about the letters from President [telling us that she is a trainer and the other one telling us about her release date]. I've been a trainer for about 1.5 months now. She's doing really great.

Report on language,
I am now working on increasing my vocab to not just be 'mission vocabulary'. I am working on body parts (fun fact: throat and neck are the same word and toes are foot fingers), family terms (thai is very specific when it comes to aunts, uncles, and grandparents - which side of the family are they on and are they older or younger than your parents, etc), house terms (attic = ceiling room), cleaning terms (a broom is a sweeping stick), etc. I'll keep you posted.


Bangna Letter--August 25, 2014

Sorry this is late. I really thought I had this up 2 weeks ago.

I swear August just started. Where did it go?
Happy birthday Sam!!

This week has been good. Miracles. Fun stuff. 
Lai—the Taiwan guy—is really good. He didn't get baptized yesterday because he wasn't feeling well (and no time) but he passed his interview and good to go for this upcoming Sunday. I tried teaching via text but it was hard, man. haha. So I kept everything really simple and taught it all Sunday morning. A member named News helped me teach. She can speak Thai (obviously) and pretty decent English too. So the lesson was a mix of English, Thai, and Chinese (when we had him pray and read in the scriptures). 
THE OTHER MIRACLE is really exciting! So do you guys remember Rachhai? He has been an investigator for about 4 months now (soooo long) because he didn't have the proper documents to be baptized. BUT he and his son are now going to be baptized this upcoming Sunday. He is sooo excited because he has waited so long. 
You know, telling you guys about it, 4 months doesn't seem like too long but you think about how investigators can usually be baptized within 2-3 weeks, 4 months is a lifetime.
RCs are good. Still problems. Our plan is the same: do not get involved and just strengthen everyone's faith in Christ. No need to worry though—our RCs call us and let us know what the issues are. They trust us and know that we are safe ground. I remember Mom's guidance in middle and high school when my friends had issues—don't pick sides and stay in the middle. Love everyone. 

I don't really know what to tell you guys because I don't really know what you want to hear. Life is good? 
Cooking has been interesting. Tastey too. My only concern is whether America has all the ingredients we need ...

So for Monday nights, we have started our own visiting/home teaching kinda thing. We are splitting the RCs into groups and we are visiting LAs, RCs, and part-member families. It's going good. We got someone to come back to church already. It's really fun. It's great for the RCs because they want to help and get involved. They have strong testimonies and this will help them grow outside of a lesson setting. We have also given RCs assignments to watch over other RCs and share spiritual thoughts with them, get to know them, be friends, etc. Going good. 

I'm glad the house is almost (?) done. So... you said Stu is moving into the parent's room? What is Stu's room going to become? Is my room the same? 

Congratulations to Chris for making it past the one-year mark. (He did on September 1) Woo hoo! That's sooo weird that it has been a whole year already. 
What else happened in September last year? Is Benjamin's birthday coming up? (It's on August 28) All I remember is that a lot happen September 1st last year but I can't remember what. haha. :)

Everything is good. My Thai is improving because I have a native as a companion. It's fun. 
Life is good.

Oh! I went on a switch-off last week with a sister named Sister Peck from Idaho. We found out that she took a class from Uncle Bill (Uncle Bill, right?) last semester. She said it was one of her favorite classes. Yay Uncle Bill. :)

So who is the daughter of the friend of Uncle Matt? 

I don't know what else to report on. My frisbee skills are improving because we play every Saturday? We never ride our bikes here in Bangna?