Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Home Again. Thai-ing things up.

I’m home! Here’s a quick update of my last few days in country.

So Monday was my last day in Chiang Mai and we were able to email for the last time, as well as visit and teach a few investigators and members. We spent some time with Sister Anne and Sister Mew. They are so amazing and Sister Anne will be baptized this coming Sunday! That same evening our whole district and a few of the members went out to eat and then we hit the road to Bangkok.

On Tuesday we had our interviews with President Senior. I am just so grateful to have had the amazing opportunity to serve under President and Sister Senior. They are truly inspired and understand what Heavenly Father wants for Thailand at this time.They love the missionaries and the Thai people so much and they serve not only tirelessly, but with energy and enthusiasm. They have been such an important influence in my life and I am so thankful for the example they have been to me.

On Wednesday we got a P-day, so we went to the Grand Palace! It is located in Thonburi by the Chao Praya River and is so beautiful! Then we headed back to the Office to take the new missionaries inviting. I got to go with Sister Morgan and she did so well! She is not afraid to speak to people and even got two phone numbers! I think this is an awesome new group of missionaries coming in.

Thursday was transfers. It was wonderful to meet all my amazing missionary friends, but also sad because it was the last time. But, as usual, there was a lot of energy and excitement and happiness! Some big news from transfers: Mahasarakham is open for sisters!! In fact, only for sisters. They moved the elders to Galasin and put in two sister companionships! Sister Peterson and Sister Smith, as well as Sister Sawangwong and her companion. I am so excited!! Can’t wait to hear about what happens in Sarakham! Also P-loog is now open for sisters again! After transfer meeting we had a little meeting with the Seppi’s to help us with finding jobs, etc… and then we went to the office to organize some of our stuff. In the evening we had dinner with the Seniors at a delicious Thai restaurant. It was amazing to just relax and chat with our group and the Seniors. After that we went to the Senior’s house to have a testimony meeting and Tim-Tam slam one last time. It was a really special evening.

The next morning we left the office around 4:00am to head to the airport. President Senior, Elder Meeker, the AP’s and the Office Elders took us. At the airport there was quite a large group of members from Bangkok to send us off, including many from Bangkapi! It was amazing to see these people that I love so much one last time! Brother Somkiat, Sister Boat, Sister Fon, Sister Janti, Brother Pae, Sister Eye, Sister Jane, Sister James, Sister Gratay, and many others were there.  I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH!!

Our flight went from BKK to Tokyo, then to Seattle, and then home. I think taking off out of Bangkok was probably the hardest thing I have ever done as a missionary. I could not stop crying and as I looked around the missionaries on the plane were doing the same. We love Thailand and being missionaries so much. It’s really hard to say goodbye to it all.

However, Friday afternoon was so joyful as I got to meet with my amazing family and friends again at the airport! I have missed them all so much! I got released just about an hour or so later and that was probably the second hardest thing I’ve ever done on my mission.

Now I am home again with my family and am so full of gratitude for the time I spent as a missionary in Thailand. I gained more from that experience than I can even explain and it is something that will guide the rest of my life. I love my mission so much and I love Thailand! If you are able, serve a mission. It will completely change your life.

I'm home!
Last night in Chiang Mai
Last P-day at the Grand Palace

Welcome to the mission, Jane!
Farewell from friends
I'll miss you!
Goodbye, Bangkok

Hello, Montana!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thank you, Thailand

Dear family and friends,

Well, like you said, this is most definitely surreal. I cannot believe this is the last email home! I miss you all so much and cannot wait to see you!

I would LOVE to go to the temple! Yes pleassssse! It's been so so so long!
I'm definitely going to spend a lot of time on the plane writing down my thoughts. I’ve been slowly doing that, but I want to have it all in one place in my journal. Oh, I talked to other people in my group and they are flying into Seattle as well. So, I won't be the only one. Also, Sister Narayanan got accepted to BYU!!! So we'll be rooming together!! Soooooo excited!

Well, this was a great week! We had a lot of great experiences with investigators this week that were meaningful.

So, first of all Brother Md. and Sister A. did not end up getting baptized this week.  Both had an unexpected concern with the Word of Wisdom which came up in their interviews. Our district leader, Elder Klein, did an amazing job at discussing their concerns and helping them understand how to apply repentance and be on course and totally ready to be baptized next week. They both came out of their interviews uplifted and encouraged. I'm so grateful for Elder Klein and the time and care he took to help these two. I think it will only increase their testimonies of repentance and they will be so solid!  Can't wait to hear about their baptisms next week! It has been such a blessing for me to teach these two amazing people and learn from their examples.

This week Sister M. met with us a few times. She has lots of really great questions and loves to not only keep commitments, but go the extra mile to study things out for herself. She is from a town about an hour away, but lives here by herself. In Thailand parents will send their kids away to better schools in different towns when they're in high school. It's not too uncommon. Anyway, her mom was in town to visit on Saturday so she brought her to the church. We were so excited to meet her. She is adorable. So, we gave her Mom a church tour and just explained a little bit about our church, what we do, what we believe, etc... At the end, she started crying because she was so happy that her daughter was going to a safe place with good friends. She really felt the Spirit and peace that's in the church and she knew that her daughter was being taken care of. It was a really special experience. Sister M. is going to be baptized on the 9th of November!

This week we also got to meet with Brother Oat! He has not come to church in a long time because he picked up a job on Sunday. His phone is off a lot of the time, so he's hard to contact. On Saturday he randomly called us, asking if he could come meet us! Yes! He's really got this amazing faith in God and in Christ. It was so uplifting to hear it. I just wish he would try a lot harder to come to church. Praying for him! So happy I got to see him once more before we leave.

Also, Brother Suthep is doing so well! He has this uncontainable testimony that he just has to share with us, whether over the phone or in person! I really loved one thing he shared: he said that he has a lot of friends at work that try to tempt him to do things against the commandments. Whenever this happens he told us that he just gets up, excuses himself, and goes outside to get away from them. He runs from sin! I love it so much! Such a great example!

Yesterday was a wonderful day at church! We had many new investigators come, including a man that had learned with the missionaries 7+ years ago. He was so happy to be back at church! We invited him off the street and he came! Lots of miracles! It was also a little sad to start saying my goodbyes. However, we were so busy that I wasn't too focused on that. That's one thing, you're working like crazy until the day you leave, so that was a blessing!

Later in the evening we had district dinner. The Elders cooked spaghetti, and then we all brought our musical instruments, including my guitar, a ukelele, and a drum, and made some music. haha Afterwards the district all gave some nice parting words to me. I just love this district so much. It has been really extra special working with everybody here. The Elders and Sister Ference are so dedicated and hardworking and full of love for this work. They have been the most amazing examples to me and have helped me end my mission on such a high note! I love every single one of them so much and am really going to miss them. They really feel like family. The missionaries in this mission are simply outstanding and I feel so privileged to work with them! I am going to miss Sister Ference so much!! Luckily, she will be home in about a month! She has been such a  good, good friend and so full of love and support and patience. She's going to do awesome things in the meantime.

I just can't believe that this is the last email. There's so much that I just can't wait to tell you when I get home! You can't capture everything in an email, but I want to just share a few of the many things I've learned over the course of my mission.

*First of all, I know that God is real and that he prepares people to receive the Gospel. He works miracles! I have seen this time and time again to the point that I have no room for doubt. It's been absolutely incredible to meet random people on the street that are completely ready, and longing to change their lives to follow Jesus Christ, despite cultural, family, and tradition opposition. They are amazing examples to me.

*I know that God loves us and hears our prayers. I have had this confirmed to me so many times as I've prayed, heard others pray, and as I read my scriptures!

*I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I've come to understand the importance of His Atonement more clearly than ever before as I've tried to overcome weaknesses and become a better person. I understand better how important personal progression is in this life. That's why we're here! To be happy and to progress so that we can be ready to enter God's presence after we die. It can only happen through the Atonement and I understand that much better than I ever did before.

*I understand how to apply the Gospel principles in my life much better, as well! I love this Gospel so much and I know that by following Christ's teachings and keeping God's commandments we are truly happy. I understand how importance daily repentance is. No one is perfect, and although we may not commit big sins, we do make small errors every day.  Repentance is not just for sinners, but it's for everyone! We all have weaknesses in our personalities that need to be improved and strengthened. We also are all at different stages. Through the Atonement and repentance those necessary changes are made. I know that's true!! I've seen it work in investigators as well as myself! 

*I know the scriptures are true!

*I know that obedience and hard work not only brings miracles, but also peace of mind and true happiness.

*I can do things that I don't necessarily want to do (such as street contacting) until I actually enjoy them!

*I have more confidence.

*I trust in God and know that He's guiding me.

*I want to be more like Thai people, full of love, self-sacrificing, never take things too seriously, always ready to share and help others.

*I actually can live in a hot climate, not complain, and even almost like it!

*I LOVE spicy food! The more the better!

*All I need is mascara and I feel beautiful! haha

*I have a clear perspective of my purpose in life. I want to be a devoted and committed servant of the Lord always. The things I've learned on my mission are going to direct the course of my life. I want to be someone that always stands for the right and spreads the Gospel light wherever I go!

There are so many things that I've learned/am learning but it's hard to organize it all, or even put it all into words. All I want to say is that being a missionary has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I have seen miraculous changes in the people that I have worked with that have completely strengthened my testimony. However, I have seen quite a change in myself as well. I have a new view on life and on the Gospel principles. I have new desires and goals and I now have more direction in my life! I just have so much love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ who have allowed me to be a part of this work to learn and grow. I am so grateful for all my amazing family and friends that have given me nothing but love, support and encouragement. I love the Thai people and I'm so, so thankful for all that they have taught me and for this incredible time that I have had to share with them. I love you all so much and cannot wait to see you! I'm running out of time, otherwise I would probably have at least 20 more pages to write!

I love you all so much! See ya in a few days! (what?? Yes, a few days!)


Liz :)

 Flamingos aren't allowed to smoke in Thailand.
 At the zoo

 Last district lunch at the Dukes!
 tiniest banana
 Sister Mew and Sister Anne
 Pretty flower rings from Sister Nim

Monday, October 20, 2014

Live the Gospel + Keep the Commandments= HAPPY!

Hello familia!

Oh, I love you all so much! I can't believe we're going to be together in a week and a half. It is the most bittersweet thing I have ever experienced. We've been so busy lately with travel, training, investigators, conferences, etc... I haven't had much time to think about the next few weeks. I miss you all so much. I know it's time to be back with my family and friends and move on in life, but I just love Thailand and my mission so much and it's going to be so sad and so happy to say goodbye to the amazing people and work that I love, but then so joyful to see the people I love the most!

So, this was a great week!
Last P-day we went to the top of this mountain. Beautiful view overlooking strawberry and tea fields. Way in the hill tribes. It was a bit of a foggy day so it's kind of hard to see how beautiful it was from my pictures. Such a fun experience!

On Wednesday we went on a switch-off. Sister Ference went to Lampang with Sister Pavadee and I stayed here in Chiang Mai with Sister Maughan. It was a really great day. We had so many lessons and got in some good inviting. Sister Maughan is so awesome. She has an amazing testimony and it was so nice to be able to spend some time with her and get to know her even better. It was definitely a boost for me.

On Thursday and Friday we had mission tour! It was pretty crazy getting prepared for it, but so fun. The zone leaders took care of the catering for it, so they did the real work. We just did little errands for them. So, for this mission tour, we were so blessed to have President and Sister Gong (of the Southeast Asia area) come to speak and teach and instruct along with President and Sister Senior. However, Thursday night we really got a bonus. The Church Historian, his assistant historian, and another historian came to speak to us (Brother Snow, Brother Turley, and Brother Neilson). They're here recording a bit of the church history in Thailand and Burma. So, they stopped by to give us a really awesome fireside. They had a powerpoint of some of the displays of church history items that are now housed on the first floor of the Church History Building. They talked about the items and gave us some inspiring messages. I'm way excited to go check out this exhibit when I get back to Utah. It's permanent so it should be there for a few years at least.

The next morning we had a special meeting with President Gong for district leaders, the zone leaders, and sister training leaders. It was really neat to be able to report to him about our zone and get some counsel. Seriously, how often do you get to meet with a member of the first quorum of the seventy and report on your work and your mission. Absolutely amazing! Pres. Gong also knew all our names by the time the mission tour was over. Such a special experience for me! And everyone! Anyway, after the meeting we had the main mission tour conference. We had wonderful messages from Pres. and Sister Gong about applying the Gospel to change our lives and our investigators' lives, as well as the doctrine of families, stakes, and temples. It was so good! Pres. and Sis. Senior talked about the Restoration and then gave an amazing message about the Atonement. They explained it so clearly and I really felt the Spirit and understood the Atonement better than I ever have before. That was such a needed experience for me. So grateful for Pres. and Sis. Senior's sensitivity to the Spirit and our needs.

At the end, Elder Clarke and I gave our testimonies since we're the ones heading home this transfer. It was not the most smooth thing I have ever given... kinda all over the place. Oh well! haha Anyway, this was such an amazing mission tour! Afterwards we had a brief meeting with just the sisters and Sister Gong and Sister Senior. Sis. Gong had us all write our own "psalms." It was a really neat exercise. I'll share it with you when I get back!

So, that was a huge spiritual boost! AMAZING!

Now I want to tell you about a few investigators that are doing so well!

First is Brother Manid. He's out of town for a wedding, but he is on track to be baptized this weekend! He threw away his monk necklace (people wear monk necklaces as a way to show their faith in Buddhism), and he is faithfully praying, reading his scriptures, and watching Mormon messages. haha 

Secondly, Sister A. is doing awesome! I am not sure if I wrote about her last week or not. So, a couple weeks ago we were contacting at a market and Sister A. came up to Sister Ference wanting to know what we were doing. She was so impressed that we were spending hours outside in the sun just trying to get people to go to church when, according to her, it wouldn't have any benefit to us. Therefore, we must surely have had something important to say. Yes! We do! So, she came to church last week for the first time to see General Conference and we taught her about 4 or 5 times this week, and she came to church yesterday. A. is in her mid- 30's and lives by herself. She sells milk and wine. She has had a really strained relationship with her parents her whole life and she feels bad that she has quite a bit of a temper. Anyway, in our first lesson with her she must have really felt the Spirit because that night she went home and called her parents and apologized to them for everything that she had ever said or done that was hurtful. They forgave her and she felt like a huge burden had been eased. She was basically dancing when she told us about this experience. She felt like God had forgiven her and she felt peace. The next day she was mindfully keeping the word of wisdom and other commandments we had introduced and saw a few small miracles happen that day, which she attributes to God. The next day when she came to meet with us she told us that on the way to the lesson a motorcycle sped by her, splashing water all over her. She said normally she would have been so angry, but she didn't even care one bit. She feels like living the Gospel is helping her control her temper. Can you see what the Gospel is doing for Sister A? She has so many little weaknesses that have upset her her whole life. In the course of just one week she has been able to resolve these problems, and begin to improve herself. That is what following Jesus Christ and applying his Atonement does for people. I can't even describe how happy I am and how much this experience has affected me and strengthened my testimony. Live the gospel + keep the commandments= HAPPY! She will be baptized on this coming Sunday!

This week we also had a 17 year old girl randomly show up to church wanting to learn. Her name is M. She is from Lamphun, but lives her by herself, studying at a pre-college. She absolutely loves our message, church, the members, everything! She is probably the most enthusiastic investigator I have ever taught. Literally every single day this week we have come to the church and she's been there waiting to be taught, even when we haven't set up an appointment! She also brought along a friend named N., who is the same age. They are both learning and preparing to be baptized next month. Since they're under age they have to wait a month to be baptized, otherwise M. probably would have jumped in the font already! Amazing miracles happening here!

On Sunday, Sister Fanta got confirmed a member of the church. She was so happy. I love Fanta so much. Also, Brother Suthep was ordained to the Aaronic priesthood!
Brother Suthep is doing awesome. He said lately he's been experiencing a lot of temptations but he knows that keeping the commandments is the most important thing. So he's choosing to be faithful to God before anything else. What an amazing example.

I just can't get over how truly incredible these people are. Over the course of my mission I have been so blessed to meet so many people that totally, completely change their lives to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have to sacrifice so many things culturally, in their families, with their friends, etc... However, they know that it's worth it because they have testimonies and see the blessings in their lives. I want to always be like these people! 

Also, yesterday Sister Fay, a less active that wasn't even on the records, was officially "saved." Sister Ference ran into her about a month ago and yesterday she interviewed with the Branch President and we got her records taken care of. She was so happy and said she's here to stay! Cannot even describe the kind of joy and happiness that brings!

God is blessing us so much and I am just so grateful! I love Sister Ference so much. She is such an amazing example to me and am I loving working with her and learning from her. I love my life!

I love you all so much! I hope you have a wonderful week and know that I'm thinking of you!