Thursday, June 27, 2013

travel plans and new thai name tag!
 infectious waste! biohazard!

Pinata candy!

 Party Time!

Awesome b-day gift from Katie. Duck Dynasty and choco chips are our tradition. And I love parmesan from the can. haha

Happy Birthday from my district! They're the sweetest!

Birthdays and Broadcasts and bugs, oh my!

Hello Family!
I hope you all are having a wonderful week so far and that Mom is having a great time at Girl's Camp! Wahoo!
Thank you SO MUCH for the amazing birthday package! Our zone had a blast with the pinata and party favors... I even saw some of our teachers sneaking the pinata candy. haha The best, everyone kept saying how awesome our family is. We had so much fun, thank you!!
I love my elephant necklace so much! I've been wearing it and everyone keeps complimenting it and saying how cute it is. And thank you so much for the cute notecards, I've been running out. I love my little red notebook, I think I'm going to make that my church journal/new vocab journal. The elephant bag was adorable, and I love that Ben and Jerry's lipgloss. I am so spoiled! Also, the package with the nuts made my day! I love the pics on it, and those nuts are a perfect snack at night. Thank you also for the NY taxi chocolate, make up, and post-its. Holy Cow, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING! It was such a wonderful birthday! 

My district got me a  birthday card and they all wrote sweet notes in it. I love that card! They also bought me some candy and wrapped it up cute, as well as a Tide pen (I've become infamous for accidentally drawing with pen on my shirt/body almost every day. Weird... I've never had that problem before. haha). Also, at 12:00 am on my birthday, all the sisters in my room jumped out of bed, turned on the light, and popped party poppers on my bed! They are the cutest and so much fun!! I felt so loved by everyone!
What made this birthday even more amazing was, of course, that amazing broadcast! It was so crazy to be sitting right behind 11 of the 12 apostles. They were so close to us, and Elder Nelson kept looking back at us before the broadcast began and would give us thumbs up. He even blew us all a kiss! So cute! It was really cool to experience the whole behind the scenes of this broadcast. We had to really follow the choir director because they were cued to the video and we had to be exactly on with it. I agree, though, that they could have done without the video and just shown the missionaries. If I was a parent I'd be dying for the camera to pan over my kid! After the broadcast we all went back to our classroom and watched all the parts where they videoed us and we found everyone in our districts, even if it was pretty small! So fun... we also decided to watch about 20 minutes of it in Thai. It was surprising how much we could all understand! Encouraging! Anyway, the broadcast was wonderful! It really got me even more excited to get out there and use the members as much as possible! I loved how Elder Perry said that "by virtue of our membership in His church, our calling is to invite others to come unto Christ." So true! I hope when I get back I can still be an effective missionary. I also like how Elder Packer said that "revelation begins to flow when we start." We just need to start teaching/inviting/helping others and Heavenly Father will help us! Anyway, there were so many great things in this fireside, so awesome to be a part of it! Grandma Pat went to it, but I never saw her :( She said she looked for me and asked a whole bunch of missionaries if they knew me, but she never could locate me.
It was an AMAZING birthday! :) Thank you for making it so so so great! I LOVE YOU ALL!
Also, I just made the connection a few days ago that one of the Nccng Thais is the daughter of President Croft in Gma/Gpa's stake. Remember when we met him before I left for the MTC at stake conference? She's super cute!
So, the big day finally arrived last Friday! OUR TRAVEL PLANS CAME! I sent you a letter after I got them, and I'll attach a picture of the schedule. But basically, we're leaving here at 3:15pm or so, taking trax to the airport, and then flying to LA at 8:25pm. From there we'll leave for Hong Kong at 11:55 pm! So, I'm not going to have a ton of time at either SLC or LAX, but I'll call at SL first, and then if there's time at LAX. I have a phone card with 300 minutes, so I'll try to call both phones! CANNOT WAIT TO TALK TO YOU! Yahoooooooooo! I've been practicing cool phrases to tell you in Thai! haha Oh... we're leaving on Monday, July 1st! Also, OUR NAME TAGS came in! Wahoo! I now officially know how to spell my name in Thai. It's a hard name for a Thai speaker to say, so it's pronounced, "Suh-dtii-wen-sun."
On Saturday for TRC we got to skype with members in Thailand! So so so so so so much fun! Sis N and I skyped with a guy named "Ron" who works in the mission office. I think he understood us, at least he responded and acted like he knew what we were saying. And we could understand most of what he said! So awesome! At the end he said (in English), "I'm sorry, I break rule and speak English. You two speak very well, but do not be discouraged if people have a hard time understanding you at first. Just practice hard."  So... we probably have some pretty dang strong English accents, but we'll work on it! And it'll come once we're there a while. Such a fun experience! Can't wait to meet him when we get there.
Lately Brother Booth has been bringing in a lot of pictures from when he was serving there and telling us all sorts of stories and giving us advice. It has been so fun and we cannot stop smiling because we're leaving so soon. I have loved this MTC experience, but I am beyond ready to get there, even if I'm not totally ready language wise. I just CANNOT wait! Good thing we leave in five days!
Okay, one of the best stories yet at the MTC... So, on Monday, one of the sisters in our district had to go to the doctor for something. As she was leaving the doctor noticed some bite marks on her arm and told her she had bed bug bites. Sooooo, as a result, all the girls in our two phii thai districts had to take all of our clothes to the laundry room in big red bags that said "Biohazard- infectious waste," and wash our clothes. We then had to take EVERYTHING out of our rooms and spray it with this killer bug spray that's not suppose to touch your skin.  We then had to all shower and put on our "decontaminated" clothes and move to a new room in our building. They then shut down our two rooms to disinfect them. So, we basically got all of our packing and cleaning done a week early! haha I just loved all the stares as 11 of us carried our "biohazard" bags across campus! Funniest day ever. We missed class and literally spent from 4:00pm until midnight trying to get all the laundry/cleaning/packing done! This should make moving out really easy!
Yesterday Janice Kapp Perry and her husband, Douglas, came to speak at our devotional. They are just wonderful! We're so lucky that we've gotten to hear from them twice now. They spoke a lot of how music brings the spirit and how missions are sanctifying experiences. At a certain point she told us how she just loves the BYU campus because that is where she and her husband met in a music class. She told us her husband’s first line, "Those lips look like they were made for something much better than playing the clarinet..." haha But then her husband promptly got up off the stand, ran to the pulpit and gave her a huge kiss on the lips! Then he went to go sit down, but decided otherwise, turned around, and gave her another huge kiss! That got the missionaries excited! haha So funny. Later in her talk, she was telling us how she decided to make a family song to unite their family. She recorded it with all of her family, and she decided to play it for us all. She sang her part live, and her husband had a little line that he sang. When it was his turn to sing his little part, he got up out of his chair and danced his way to the microphone. It was the cutest/funniest thing ever! Afterward, Sister Perry said, "I know that man like a book, but today I do not know what page he's on! But I do know one thing- he's a keeper!" Most entertaining devotional ever!
Okay, so I think I will be sending some stuff home that I won't need/don't have room for. I' m going to send a few clothing items to the free place where Gma P or someone can pick them up. I'll find out more about that today and send a letter off. I'm also going to send home all my DearElders and some of my letters. They are precious and I don't want them to get lost. I also don't have room!
I'm about out of time, so I'm going to start sending pictures. I love you all so much and am so so so grateful for your support and love. I am so blessed to get so many letters and packages from you! I appreciate it sooooo much!
Next week at this time, you'll be receiving an email from THAILAND, baby!! Wahooooo! (I think pdays are on Mondays there, but we'll see for sure soon.)


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

 I love NY and I love you!

 The Thai alphabet. Every kindergartner in America should be grateful ours only has 26 letters!
Elder Perry...In all our MTC Thai books they explain that we should make the "Elder Perry Smile" to make a certain vowel sound. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.
 Mass exodus from the Marriott Center

 Haley's here! Wahoo!
Cousin Holly! She's back from China and said it was awesome! She's so great!

"The Tribune is Coming! The tribune is coming!"

Hello family!

Thank you so much for the amazing birthday video! Made my day, I think I watched it at least 10 times! haha The best!
And holy cow, thank you for the amazing birthday package!!!!! I decided I am going to wait to open the gifts until Sunday, but I couldn't help but see the awesome elephant pinata! That is amazing- I told my district about it and they are super excited to party with the pinata! And Mom, you are so sweet to make treats for the whole zone! My district is always saying they want to meet my family because of all the cute packages and pictures you send! THANK YOU! I did look at the bag from NY, though! Thank you so much! I wore my new PJ's last night and they fit great! So cute. Those little M&M's were adorable. Thank you so much!!!
To answer questions:
I think they will have devotionals at Marriott center from now on, at least on Sunday, because there are so many missionaries and we should be reaching a peak here soon! It is really nice to leave the MTC, at least a block away. It's kind of fun to see people from the outside world. And it's funny because the people in the cars passing us are always poking their heads out the windows to take pictures! So fun!
Last Wednesday 22 Thais came in, 8 of them are sisters. They are all really cute and really nice! There were about 30 others that came into our zone as well (Laos, Cambos, Viets, Hmongs). So, church is huge now!
Our new teacher is one of the teachers they hired when we first got here who has been training. His name is Brother Booth and he studies linguistics at the Y. He is super smart and I really really like his class because he teaches us a lot! He's awesome! He speaks Japanese, Thai (of course), Arabic, Spanish, and something else that I can't remember. So, even though I am sad to not have Brother Burgess, I really like Brother Booth. A few days ago he showed us some pictures from his mission and it was so much fun! Got us super super excited!
We should get our travel plans tomorrow or the next day! AHHHHHHH!!! Sooooo excited! We got our arrival info from President Senior (I sent it to you, so you can read it). It's hard to believe it's finally here! Week and a half! Holy Cow!
So, this week has been crazy awesome! People always talk about how the MTC/ Mission is so stressful. I would say it is a lot of hard work, but I haven't really felt stressed… up until this point. The MTC is only stressful when the Salt Lake Tribune's top religion writer/editor decides to come interview/photograph your Thai class! Oh my goodness! 
Last Saturday or so, a PR guy for the MTC came into our class to forewarn us that we were selected to be interviewed and photographed for a big article they are publishing on the MTC. He told us how he wanted our room to look and what we should wear. He also had us meet with him and practice answering questions so we could be prepared and know how to answer and what appropriate answers are for this situation. I was soooo nervous! But also excited. So anyway, the reason we got interviewed was because Sister Stack's mom is the top writer/editor for the Salt Lake Tribune's religion section. So, since she couldn't go to her daughter's class, she wanted to come to ours. So, Tuesday morning we were all super nervous and excited. It was so funny because Brother Shipley kept rearranging everything in the classroom and making sure all the pictures/ TV/ computers/ etc... were exactly straight! They were supposed to come at 11, but we got a call for me and Sis N to come to the front office and escort Mrs. Stack to our class. So, we went up to meet her, but instead the PR guy was there. He told us they had gotten permission to come into our dorm room and photograph it. He sent us running back to tell the sisters so we could go clean like crazy. I don't think I've ever been so panicked in my life... our room was a mess. So, we came flying back to the classroom to tell the sisters and we all sprinted to our dorm to clean. They all call it the Midnight Ride of Sister Stevenson now (like unto Paul Revere). "The Tribune is coming, the Tribune is coming!"  So, after we cleaned super fast and shoved everything into our closets we came back to our classroom and they arrived. The interview was very short and they took a few pictures of Bro. Shipley teaching us in class. They asked what was hard about Thai, where we were from, etc... I think I may be quoted because she took down my name. She asked me what was most difficult about Thai and I explained a little bit about tones. We had been forewarned that she was going to pull Sis N and I out to interview, but they didn't have time. Thank heavens! I was so nervous that I was going to say something stupid! So, family, you may just be seeing me in the Salt Lake Tribune in the near future. They didn't say when it would be published, so keep your eye out for it online!
After the interview, we all were completely exhausted from being so stressed about it. It was such a crazy funny morning!
Haley arrived and we have the same meal times so I see her every day! She is loving the MTC and looks great! It is so fun to chat everyday! I love Haley!!!
Last Sunday our two Thai districts sang "Nearer My God to Thee" in Thai for Sacrament meeting to welcome in the new missionaries to our zone. We all sang parts and I think it went really well. It was really fun to prepare for it the week before. As we sang it at church, I looked out and a whole bunch of elders and the Branch presidency wives were teary. So, I think our song touched at least a few people.
This week Sister Hughes got her tonsils out. I feel so bad for her, but she is recovering, and she will be able to head out with us to Thailand.
This next week is going to be awesome because all the mission presidents will be arriving. So, we cannot eat in the cafeteria for the next week or so, because of all the mission presidents. I'm so excited to see them all!
I think that our district is officially going crazy. We've been here long enough to be completely comfortable with each other and for some reason everything anyone says is hilarious. I'm going to miss these people so much when we all split up!
On Sunday when we sing for the worldwide broadcast, I sit in the alto section, so I'm in between the sisters on the far left section and all the other elders on the right. Basically when you're looking at the choir it goes soprano, alto, tenor, base, from left to right.
This week we heard from Elder Gay of the seventy for devotional. He talked about missionary work as a revelatory work. Really good! I'll try and write out some notes!
Oh, what is the plan for when I call from the airport? Is Dad going to the cabin? Just let me know who you want me to call/ where you'll all be!
I love you so much! I can't believe this MTC experience is coming to a close. I have loved every minute here and am so so so grateful for everything I've learned. Advice to Dailen and Sean... use EVERY minute you have to prepare... it goes faster than you think, and when you take real advantage of this time and all the resources you'll feel good going into the mission field, even if you still don't know everything!
Anyway, I LOVE YOU! Have a great week! Picture time!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

 I love my little "chang"--Thanks Dad!
Onward! Three more weeks!

Bro. Burgess with our really cool poster we made him. haha
 All the Thais
It was soooo hot! And the poor Elders had to wear their suits.

All in mourning because Bro. Burgess is leaving ):

Hurrah for Israel!

Sawaddiikha!!! How are you all doing? Thank you so much for all the letters/DearElders/emails! Always one of the best parts of the day!

It sounds like you are having a great boys week full of softball games, fishing, cub scout camp, Farmers Market! So much fun! Whitefish summers are the best! And it sounds like Mom is having a great time in NY!
In answer to questions:
The language is coming along great! I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Thai!!!! I cannot even explain how much I love this language! It is so rewarding to be able to at least somewhat speak it and I feel like we all have a good enough base to get us going in Thailand! I'm sure we'll be completely confused when we get there, but I think it'll come pretty fast once we're immersed in the language and culture! I cannnnnot wait! 3 more weeks!!!!!!!!!

And we are definitely still learning a lot. I love our teachers and everything we learn from them. To be honest, we really have to take our learning into our own hands, though. They teach us basic grammar principles and teaching techniques, but it is up to us to really learn it on our own. If I only studied what the teachers taught I don't think I'd be very far. They really encourage us to study far beyond what they teach. It is AWESOME!
For the missionary training fireside thing we are singing (of course haha) "Called to Serve" and I think we also will sing "Behold a Royal Army" or something like that. We had our first ever devotional in the Marriott Center at the Y last night. It was awesome to sing with 2000 missionaries, and it was even awesome-er to leave the MTC and cross the street! First time I've left the MTC in 6 weeks! Wahooo! They choose the missionaries just based on who will be here June 23rd. So, that is me!!!

Okay, there's a lot to cover this week. Let's see if I can get it all in.
Today the new group of Thais come in! So excited to meet them!
Sad news: because the new Thais are coming in, they are changing our teachers. :( They don't usually switch up teachers, but they wanted the more experienced teachers to take the new Thais. I like the teachers that have been training a lot, but we're going to miss Bro. Burgess!!! In fact when he told us the news, all the girls started crying!  It's amazing how attached you become to your teachers. They almost feel like your parents.

Oh, this was funny! This week at the TRC we taught an elder that had just gotten home two weeks ago from Thailand. As Sister N was teaching he started chuckling, then laughing, then belly laughing. Then he couldn't stop. Then he would try to regain composure. Then he would burst out laughing again... Maybe our Thai is not coming along as well as we thought! haha He just could not stop laughing the whole lesson. Made my day! A cool thing about the TRC is seeing how fluently the RM's can read. It's crazy and so awesome.

This week I was waiting in line to get my Japanese Encephalitis shot and an elder from the Dominican Republic was standing in front of me. I started to try to speak to him in Spanish, and I literally could not say anything. Anything I tried to say came out in Thai. I couldn't even remember how to say "no."  No in Spanish= no. Same as English. Maybe when I come back I'll have to take Spanish 101 again! 

Our floor where our classroom is is being infiltrated with Japanese and German speakers. I mean infiltrated in a good way! haha  I can't think of another word.  But, there are a group of elders down the hall that like to sing hymns barbershop-style at the top of their lungs. It is so funny! Sometimes it sounds good... usually not. It is soooo distracting and so funny! It is soooo loud!
This week I got called on to speak in church. I got lucky because this week it was only our two Thai districts. So, I wasn't really nervous because we talk in front of each other all the time and I feel comfortable with everyone here. The topic was repentance. I talked a little bit about Enos and Alma the Elder... I'll send you my thoughts in a letter.

Oh, this is funny, too! This week we decided to be better about getting up exactly at 6:30. So, we all agreed to sit upright when the alarm goes off and shout "Hoorah for Israel!" then hop out of bed. So, on Monday, Sister M set the alarm. When it went off in the morning we did what I described and hopped out of bed. It was so bright that we were all blinded and running into each other when the light turned on. We looked ridiculous. Then, Sis G looked at her clock and realized it was only 6:05. We all groaned, threw our pillows at Sis M and went back to bed. Fail. So funny! She had somehow set her alarm wrong.

On Tuesdays missionaries from out of country come. We now have many Japanese missionaries in our building. So much fun. One truth I learned last night, though: Japanese vending machines must be very different from ours. I walked into the room where the vending machine is and there was a companionship trying to put a $100 bill in the machine! Sis S explained to them that you can only put $1 bills in, but they don't really speak English. So, with some sign language we were able to help them. Then, after they put in the right money, we showed them how to push the button to get the drink they wanted. The sister pushed the button and started squealing because she was so excited!  Made me laugh. Remember, it's the little things in life...

I love you all so much!
Sister Stevenson

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gotta clean the room! We cleaned extra well this week because the cleaning inspectors always find something wrong. We passed this week! Hooray!
 So, Sis. T saw this in one of the buildings. The caption says, "Jesus did his part, are you doing yours?" She thought it was referring to her hair part and was super confused! I laughed so hard! 
Don't worry, I do my part!

Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!
Everything's coming up roses!

 The gym
I'm on the left
 Pep talk from my Halls wrapper
(Can you tell I'm running out of things to take pictures of?)
Remember how you used to read these to me when I was little? Now I get to read them in Thai!

singing for the prophet on my birthday

Hello Family!!!!

How are you all doing? Thank you so much for your pictures! How fun! You all look great! Wish I could go to the Farmer's Market. It is so crazy that it is already June! I can't believe how fast time is flying here! Less than a month! Wahoo!
Samuel, your picture with your friends made me laugh so hard... glad that sweater is getting some good use. So funny!
And Daniel, way to go on your orange belt! So awesome! Thank you so much for your awesome  picture book about the walrus eating kimchee!  I love it!
I sent you both letters yesterday, so you should be getting those soon.

Thank you so much for the package of yummy food, clothes and letters! The best! You can never understand how amazingly exciting it is to get a letter/package when you're a missionary. When the mail comes it is like Christmas x 10 and the whole zone cheers when someone receives a package!

Dad, thank you so much for your note. I think I've read it about fifty times since I got it! I think I wrote you a note back... did I? Dear Elder me and let me know if I responded. I'm pretty sure I did... My mind is all jumbled!
This week has been so great! I feel like we all are improving so much with the language and lessons are going great. I am finally to the point where I am getting antsy to get on that plane and head out. Up until now I've been happy being in the MTC because we have so much to learn. But I now am dying to get to Thailand! haha Less than a  month!!!!!!!!! TxxnTeen!!! (means excited)

This week Sis N and I taught some lessons that really encouraged us. We taught "Maag" on Monday and had planned on discussing Faith in Jesus Christ. However, from the get go he had questions about prayer and we taught a whole lesson on prayer without any specific preparation for that lesson. It felt so good to be able to just sit down and talk/teach/testify about prayer. Last week we had committed him to start reading the Book of Mormon and pray everyday to receive help, etc.. from God to help him through some trials. He was frustrated because he said he had been praying faithfully everyday, but God was not answering his prayers. He said that he had prayed for money and a Ferrari and had not received them! haha We had to explain that God gives us spiritual help, not monetary! haha so funny!

 This week Elder Black had a funny language mishap in his lesson with Saamad. He was teaching about the law of chastity and meant to ask how Saamad's girlfriend was feeling. The word "fan" means girlfriend, dreams, and teeth... just with different tones (basically). So, he first asked Saamad how his dreams were... Saamad was kind of confused, but then started explaining his dreams. Then Elder black asked how his teeth were. Saamad was really confused. Then he finally figured out how to say "girlfriend" correctly. haha

On Sunday I had an interview with President Lindaulgh in our branch presidency. He is good friends with Bishop Taylor! He's heading up to the Flathead next month! He said he was going to call Bishop Taylor and tell him that he knows me! so fun!

Big news! On my birthday, I will be singing in the missionary choir at the Marriot Center at the Y for the twelve apostles and the prophet. It will be broadcast world wide!!! Look it up and see what time it's at and watch it!!  You may be able to see me!!! The choir has over 1000 missionaries, but there's a chance! Also, if you happen to see what the occasion is exactly, could you let me know... they haven't told us yet! I AM SO EXCITED!!!

Also, amazing: yesterday Elder Tad R. Callister came and spoke at devotional! I was so excited because I knew you'd be excited to hear about it!! He talked about how the Church is an exact blueprint of Christ's church when he lived upon the earth. He had a great visual graph thing and backed it all up with Bible scriptures. Soooo cool! I 'll send you the diagram!

Dad, I think you can definitely learn how to read Thai!!! haha It's super confusing but once you get it it is SO FUN!!! I love trying to read! Did you get my package with Korean books? Thought it might be kind of fun!

Oh, "Happy Kream" is like nutella... so funny
 Also, I was reading Moroni 7 yesterday. It is AWESOME! You should read it if you get a chance. I was studying to teach "Khaw" about faith and came upon this chapter. It has such a cool progression of how we should "lay hold upon all good things," and that we do that by having faith in Jesus Christ. If we have faith in Him, He will claim us as His own and be our advocate. If we have faith, we will also have hope because of His atonement, and so on! Such a great chapter!

I love you all so much! I miss you all!