Monday, July 29, 2013

Planting seeds

Hello Hello! Another week gone already! This week sure went fast!

Mom, I love the picture of the hedgehog sweater! But it would be pretty toasty wearing something like that around here!  Actually it's funny, a few days ago we had a ward function and it had been raining all day. To me it was still super hot and extra humid, but everyone showed up in coats and one lady was even wearing a wool sweater with a jacket over it. My goodness!

So excited for you all to go the cabin this week! That is just going to be so fun! Tell everyone hello and I love them all! And of course, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to Grandma and Grandpa!!

I've officially been in the country one month now. It's gone really fast, but it also feels like I've been here forever! It's weird. 


1- We never really talk with the mission office. We do email President Senior every P-day, though. I think that is one fun thing about being in Bangkok- you see President and Sister Senior more often.
2- We get 6,000 Baht/ month, which is about $200/month. It's more than enough. We should be getting more money in the next few days and I still have more than 1000 Baht left. Everything here is very cheap!
3- Switch-offs are on Wednesday! It's going to be way fun! Wednesday evening we are going to go to Khon Kaen and meet up with Sister Carter and Sister Phelps (from MTC), and Sister Madsen and Sister Greenwood (from MTC). We're going to grab some dinner and then go inviting at this big mall. Then, Sis Phelps, Greenwood and I will head to Kalasin and stay the night there. (Kalasin is where Sis Greenwood is) The next day we three greenies will go to whatever teaching appointments they have and whatever else they have scheduled. Sis Mullen and Sis Madsen will go with Sis Carter (Sister training leader for the Esan) back to Mahasarakham and do whatever we have planned... which makes me nervous because we do not have many investigators (I'll get to that later). Anyway, Friday, Sis M/M/C will come to Kalasin and we'll all go back to our areas. So, it should be really fun! I'm excited to see around Khon Kaen and Kalasin. I'll let you know next week how it all goes.

Thank you so much for looking up fun things to do around Mahasarakham! I would love to go to Phra That Na Dun! That sounds so cool! But, that's definitely out of our area. Our boundary goes right around Mahasarkham. Last week I asked Elder Beuhner what they like to do on P-day/ what fun things there are here. He said, "There is NOTHING to do in Mahasarakham!" Well, I don't know about that. But he's kind of right. This is a small university town. There aren't really any attractions. However, I feel like we know this city pretty well because we are riding around it every day all day long. So, it's just cool being out and part of the city. I'm getting used to riding on the opposite side of the road (did you know people drive on the left side of the street here?), shopping at street markets, dodging dogs, and living with an army of ants at our house! haha It really is fun! We're way more comfortable with directions now, and it's just so cool living here. Apparently this is a tiny town compared to where most missionaries go, according to the Sister Training Leader. So fun! But still waaaay bigger than Whitefish! They do not know small!

As far as the language goes, it really is coming little by little. I'm picking up words and the gist of what people are saying much better. It's exciting! I don't think I'll actually learn Pasa Isan because everyone speaks Thai anyway. But there are definitely phrases that we're learning and people like it when we use them. It would be so funny to actually really learn Isan and then be transferred to Bangkok where no one speaks Isan and thinks it is lower/unrefined language.

This week was interesting for sure! We are really lacking on the investigators and the investigators that we have are not keeping commitments. So, sometime last week we decided to fast to be able to find those people ready to hear our message. I feel like we were immediately blessed with people that were at least happy to talk with us. We had so many good conversations with people on the street and many people invited us into their homes. (One problem here: everyone wants to feed us! ahhh I'm going to have to learn how to say no politely) We would visit and share a short message about the gospel. We would then make a return appointment and they would accept it. This technically qualifies as a new investigator. So, at the beginning of the week we had 4 new investigators.

There was a family we contacted into that invited us over 3 or 4 times. They were so nice. The family consisted of a grandma, her two daughters, and a whole bunch of grandchildren. I think they really enjoyed chatting with us, but when it came to learning about our message they made it clear that they were not interested. The grandma said she was too old and set in her ways to want to change. So, I think we'll continue to stop by occasionally, but that's an investigator that we lost. 

There was also the husband and wife that I talked about last week that are so welcoming and nice and always want us to come over for dinner. Well, we gave them a Book of Mormon and they agreed to start reading it last week. They had started, but since we've met with them a few times it is obvious that they just like having farang (foreigner) company. We explained straightforward what the purpose of our visits are, and they are not wanting to learn. 

We also contacted into an English teacher at a small vocational college. He is Phillipino and has lived here for a year. There are lots of LDS missionaries in the Phillipines so he's familiar with us. Anyway, he was super nice and agreed to meet with us. He said maybe he'd even bring some other faculty to have a "gospel discussion." Sweet! When the time of his appointment came, he wasn't at his house, even though we confirmed the appointment, and when we called him he said he couldn't meet and wasn't interested! What??

However, his roommate, and his cousin were home. They invited us in and we talked for a little while. They are Christian and the roommate said he'd like to hear what we had to say. He had to go, so hopefully we'll get an appointment with him. 

We also contacted into a man who was here for work for a few months. We had a great little chat and introduced our message to him. We asked if we could come teach him. He said yes! We also invited him to come to church and he agreed! So we were way excited. Saturday we reminded him to come to church and he said okay. Sunday he did not show up for church. He also did not show up for our teaching appointment with him. Ahhhh!

So, I'm not trying to be depressing, but we're kind of back at square one now. In Thailand you definitely are not immediately rejected. People are often "grangjai,” which means they feel guilty and therefore obligated to meet with us. We had a whole bunch of grangjais this week. They like to talk to us, but when it comes to actually learning about our message they are not interested and then let us know, after we've started building relationships with them. 

So, looking back on last week this is what I've come up with: even though we do not have any new investigators, I think our confidence in contacting and making better conversation in Thai has improved. We are becoming bolder in finding people and just the fact that we found that many people to share at least a little bit of our message with was a blessing. Planting seeds, planting seeds... It's kind of frustrating, but it was still a good week! I love your advice, Mom and Dad. Heavenly Father is definitely watching over us and wants us to succeed. We've been called on this mission and He's not going to let us fail. It will just take time and patience and a whole lot of talking to people. I know it!

We do have two investigators: B., who is not really progressing, but she's still accepting appointments. We've been doing a lot of pondering about how to best help her understand how important commitments are and help her have a testimony so she'll be motivated to. She doesn't want to come to church because it is too early. This is such a problem here! People like to sleep in! M. is our other investigator. She's only 14 years old and her grandmother will not let her go to church until she gets her grades up in school. I think she's very receptive and she prays every day. So, there's definitely hope there, but her family situation is kind of hard. This week we reviewed the restoration with her and she said she believes our message. I hope we can really help her testimony grow!

On Thursday we have Branch FHE at the church. This week a senior couple came, Elder and Sister Sanakham. They talked about pioneers and did a little activity. It was fun! Sister Yuwee came, too. (She's the Udon Sisters' investigator who is visiting home here) I think she had a good time and I was able to talk and connect with her more. She's way cute! I'll attach pictures.

On Saturday the Young men (well, man, actually haha) and the Young Women went to Khon Kaen to meet up with the youth there and do a missionary day. They paired them up into companionships, gave them all legit nametags, and set them loose on the town as missionaries! I don't know exactly what they did all day, but they came back so excited and happy. It was the cutest thing- one young woman came up to me and Sis Mullen and told us about her awesome day and asked, "Is this what being a missionary is like every day?" So cute! I'm so glad they had a good experience. They would all be such good missionaries. On Sunday they all bore their testimonies about the experience.

I've been trying to think of things to tell about Thailand in general that seemed way different to me at first. One thing is that there are super fancy bridges all over the place. They are bright and Thai style and fun! Another thing is that almost any shop you go into doesn't have a front door. The shops all have garage-style doors that they keep up. It's kind of weird to go to a copy center that is totally exposed to everything outside. I wonder if it's like that in Bangkok. 

Something that's been a bit of an adjustment for me is being on the Thai timetable. People here are so Sabai and laid back. There's never a rush for anything and nothing ever starts on time. That was so weird for me at first and kind of frustrating. If something is supposed to start at 9:00 am, then it should not start at 9:30, right? haha Well, I'm learning to just go with the flow a little better. There's something kind of nice about everyone being so relaxed and calm about things. No worries here, that's for sure! 

Something that is so different to me is that the members practically live at the church. They come for church at 9:00, and there are still people at the church at 5pm! They just love to be at the church to worship, to eat, to socialize, and they do not leave. In America I feel like once a meeting, activity, etc... is over, people clear out pretty fast. Not so here! So interesting.

Also, I have found something that is almost as good as dark chocolate with almonds: I do not know what it is called. But, it is this green jelly mixture with corn covered in a coconut gel. That sounds nasty, but it is sooooo good! I've got to learn how to make that before I get back because I will most definitely be craving it the rest of my life!

I love you all so much and am so grateful for your love and encouragement! I forgot to bring a scripture to share, but just know that I love being a missionary and sharing the gospel with people! It is such a blessing to be here in Mahasarakham. I love missionary work! I know that Heavenly Father loves everyone so much and that he is very mindful of us all in everything we do!

Have such a fun time at the cabin and give everyone a big hug for me! 


Love, Liz :)

 With Sister Wright. She made us spaghetti.
This is the amazing coconut/corn/green stuff dessert. mmmm.
 So, this is an ice cream sandwich... for real! It was coconut ice cream in a hot dog bun. Not my favorite.
Should not have worn white yesterday. It's been raining like crazy and there is a lot of mud here. My bike always makes a huge streak up my back.
 I accidentally stepped on this monster. How do you accidentally step on something this big? Ick!
Huge spider at the church! ahhhh The size of  my palm!
 This is Yuwee. I look so nasty in this pic...I have a feeling I will for the rest of my mission. haha
When Elder and Sister Sarakham came to FHE.

Monday, July 22, 2013

we all scream for sister Ice cream!

Hello family!

Holy Cow! It feels like I was just barely sitting at this computer last week. This week flew by! I'm glad because the first two weeks here seemed reaaally long!  Things are starting to pick up!

Okay, so, to answer questions:

Zone conference was really great! We took a bus to Roi Et, which is east and a little south of Mahasarakham. Turns out it wasn't the whole zone, just Maha. and Roi Et missionaries. But it was fun to meet them all. We had a little training on street contacting and they did some examples of how to role play teaching situations. It was great! We were only there about two hours then we headed back. Roi Et is only about 35 minutes from Mahasarakham. 

So far we haven't really done anything cultural or especially fun on P-day. I don't think there are really any attractions here. However, Sis อุต wants to take us to a mushroom museum... so, that may be the big exciting P-day adventure in this area. We need to ask around more to find out what there is to see. I feel like we've seen pretty much all the main areas of Maha. because we live on our bikes! Mahasarakham is a university town, so there are lots of students here.

We got a new investigator this week! We happened to stop by this little shop because Sis M needed water. A husband and wife own the store and they were so welcoming and wanted to keep talking to us. They asked about us, who we are, what we do as missionaries, etc... They are really open to learning about religion and wanted us to come by and visit again! I don't think they were particularly interested in changing anything about their beliefs, but they like to learn about religion. So, hey, it's a start! We've stopped by a few times just to visit. Last time we went we gave the wife a Book of Mormon and she agreed to read it! We're going over tonight to talk about what she (hopefully) has read and begin teaching her. Really praying she will like what we teach and be receptive to our message! Her son is also in town and we've visited with him, it would be so amazing to teach this family and actually have them be interested!!! We have two other progressing investigators, but they've been having some family issues/other things that are taking precedence and they are not making time for us to visit them. It's frustrating, but we have appointments scheduled for this week, so let's hope they don't all fall through again! 

 We've also been doing a lot of less-active work. In Thailand apparently retention in active church members is a problem. A lot of people get baptized but then they stop coming to church. I think one big problem (and this seems silly but it seriously is), is that Thai people like to sleep in. 9:00 am church is not an option for a lot of people! I really wish church was at 1 or something! We've been having some really good lessons with a less-active named Brother B. who is the nicest ever! He's 35 ish and has been a member for a long time, but he hasn't been coming to church for quite a long time. We asked why he's not coming and he basically said that the only reason he didn't go to church yesterday was because he was still sleeping. Ahhhh! haha But he also said that he told God if he gets the teaching job he's applying for then he'll start coming to church. Hmmm. So Sis Mullen explained that God does want to bless us, but sometimes we have to show our faith first. We tried to commit him to come to church this week... we'll see. We're going to visit him this week and call him Saturday night and tell him to go to bed early so that he can wake up for church! We'll see how that goes over... haha. I'm half-way considering calling him Sunday morning and waking him up, too! But, yesterday was great when we taught him because we spent a lot of time just having nice conversation and I think he feels comfortable with us. The elders also happened to stop by and they came in and talked for a while, too. Brother B. has a hedgehog and I think he was pleased that we found it so cute and played with it for a while. So, anyway, I love brother B. and I hope we can help him get back to church!

Okay, so, every week I always have a running list of things I want to write in my emails home so I'll start at the beginning of my list.

First thing, you probably already know, but in Thailand everyone has nicknames. Parents give their children real names, but no one actually uses those names. Everyone is known by their nicknames, which are usually just one or two syllables. So, my name, being English and long, is tough for most Thai people to say. In fact, there's this one lady at church that cannot say my name and always forgets it, even though I see her all the time! But my name sounds really close to a popular ice cream place that is all over Thailand called Swenson's. So, some of the ward members have started calling me Sis. Swenson or Sis. Ice cream! haha I like it!

Also, on this same note, we frequent the 7-11 by our house to get our water and snacks, soap, etc... There are always the same three workers on shift and they probably think the only place we go is 7-11! Anyway, they're fun to talk to and they like to practice their English on us. One of the ladies asked me if I had a nick-name. I told her I did not, and she decided to give me one. So, I now have an official nickname from the 7-11 lady! haha It is "Bua", which means "beautiful pink water-lily" according to her! Sweet! I'm becoming legit Thai! Sis M said I'm also starting to smell legit Thai because I'm always putting this bug bite itch ointment on that Thai people use all the time. The mosquitoes here are pretty bad!
Lately there has been a lot of rain. So one day it was starting to sprinkle. When it starts to sprinkle that means that soon it will be pouring!!! So, we decided to put on our ponchos before we headed out wherever we were going. It never started raining, and we looked like two wimpy farangs riding across town that couldn't handle a few raindrops.  However, a couple days later we went out to proselyte at the university which is pretty far away. When we left it was sunny. After being at the university for about 20 minutes THE biggest rainstorm (for real this time) that I have ever seen began... and never ended! And of course neither of us had any rain gear. So, we tried to bide some time and hand out flyers, talk to students, write some notes, anything... but the rain seriously kept coming down harder. Finally, we just left and had a really fun bike ride home! We were completely soaked from head to foot! The streets were flooded... in some places the water came over my pedals! It was crazy, but way fun. So many kids playing out in the street! I love rainstorms here!

At English class this week we had "showcase" which happens once a transfer and is supposed to be fun and a way for the students to "show" off what they've learned. We pretty much had the students play a whole bunch of language games. They all got into it and seemed like they had a great time! I did, at least! I need to get pics so you can see the English students! They're so cute. Afterward, we served them our brownies. The only pan at the church that even closely resembles a brownie pan is way skiwampy so one side of the pan was really thin and crispy, and the other side of the pan was extra gooey... haha  Whatever, it still tasted good. We put little toothpicks in the brownies with a paper attached with the English class FB page for them to go home and "like."

Last Monday we had FHE at Sister Ud's house. She has a daughter out on a mission right now, and another daughter that served a few years ago. I'm pretty sure that she has 10 callings... she teaches seminary/institute/RS president/she taught Gospel doctrine one time, and she always has FHE at her house. So, thanks to which ever missionaries converted her 10 years ago!  It's interesting here that hardly anyone has been a member of the church their whole life. Pretty much everyone is a convert. So, we are always asking how long people have been members. Something I would hardly ever even think to ask back home! The members here are just amazing! Love them all so much! Anyway, FHE was fun. Sis Ud's house is really awesome. It's on stilts and all made of wood. You can see through the floor to the ground below... kind of worrisome! haha But she served this great noodle dish, and then Sis Mod and Sis Aan brought a whole bunch of Thai desserts that were really good! I love being in members' homes. There are usually about 20 or so people that show up to FHE. They always like to end FHE by playing games. I'm learning some Thai games! Way fun! However, they decided to play some sort of version of "Mafia" where you all close your eyes and someone gets picked to be the killer, someone is the judge, and someone is something else... well, I got picked to be the judge and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I don't get this game in English, and I definitely didn't catch the instructions in Thai. So, pretty sure that was the worst game of Mafia they have ever played in their life.

Oh, so, our Sister Training leader called and we are going to do switch-offs next month! That means Sister Phelps and Sister Greenwood (from MTC district/zone) and I will be together, and our comps will go with Sis Carter (Sister Training Leader) for training! Way excited to see them! Wahoo!

Okay, this was a crazy experience!  Sister Carter called us last week and asked us to go visit her progressing investigator who was coming to Mahasarakham to visit her family for the weekend and invite her to church with us. Of course we agreed! We gave the directions to Sis Mod and asked her to tell us where she lives. Turns out she lives waaaaaay out in the boonies, so Sis Mod got a member, Brother John, to drive us out there. We went out on Saturday night and this investigator said she wanted to feed us. Her name is Yuwee. The drive out there was so pretty. We passed a million rice fields and palm trees, and when we finally got to her little street it was so tropical and beautiful! This is what I imagined "Esan" country to be like! Her house was extremely nice and her family was super welcoming! She decided to take us to a market nearby to get dinner. She asked us what we like to eat and we said we like anything. Mistake. When we got back to the house and started to dish up what she had bought I was a little surprised! She had bought a huge bag of grasshoppers, mealworms, queen ants, fried chicken feet, chicken cartilage salad, duck spam stuff, and a salad pretty much made from the pond scum on the nearby lake...haha.  I have to admit it was far from appetizing, but I did try everything, except the pond scum... I just couldn't do it! Thank heavens she also had nam dok and a whole bunch of fruit! It was so funny! That was the craziest meal I've ever had. But, Yuwee is way sweet and I'm so glad that she is progressing with the Udon sisters! She accepted the invite to baptism from them. She did come to church with us yesterday. So great!

Okay, another thing, the dogs here are crazy! They are everywhere! Yesterday we were tracting down this lane that we'd never gone before. It was the fanciest street of houses I've seen here. They were more American-style and all gated. I was a little confused because I haven't seen anything like that yet. Anyway, we decided to walk down this street and see if anyone was out. As we started walking down, dogs started running out and barking at us. Most of them were fenced, but a few were skinny enough to slip between the grates and they started following us and  barking... we just kept walking and ignoring them and hoping they'd go away. We wanted to just keep going and catch a connecting street and get away from them all. However, we soon found out it was a dead end and by this time there were about 20 dogs barking at us! If I wasn't so terrified and disgusted by dogs I probably would have started laughing because the people in their  houses were probably wondering what on earth the whole neighborhood was barking about! haha Anyway, we had to turn around because the only other option was to wade through a rice field. So, again, we walked the same street, all the dogs started barking, but none of them got too close. One thing I know for sure, God protects his missionaries from angry dogs! It may have been a blessing, though, because it caused one lady to come out of her house and see what was going on. When she saw us she laughed and commented about the ruckus. We shared a flyer with her and she asked if we were the church that also teaches English. Yes, we are! So, she was interested in having her daughter come! Hope to see here there on Tuesday! Anyway, don't worry, I hate dogs, but they literally will come within 5 feet of us and then turn away... pretty sure there are dog-repelling angels that accompany Thai missionaries! 

Oh, also, in the mornings a lot of times I will just go outside of our apt and jump rope for exercise. Every day without fail this dog that's down the lane and across the street will get up and walk toward me and come within jump rope distance of me and start barking. It makes me so mad... it messes up my workout, and the dog should realize by now that if the jump rope is going to upset it, it should just stay where it is across the street! Anyway, today it did the same thing, so I had to stop jump roping so it wouldn't freak out. But then it came up to me and was actually nice and wanted to be petted. So maybe it does like me. I stopped jump roping, but I was doing sit ups and pushups and it just sat there and watched me for like a half hour!  Enough about the dogs.

Last night sister Wright invited us over for lasagna! She is Thai, but she lived almost all her life in Utah and just recently returned to Thailand. The lasagna was amazing and reminded me of home.

So, that's about it for this week! It was a great week and I'm learning a lot. I'm understanding Thai better... I can kind of gauge it by how much I get out of church. The first week here I hardly understood anything. Yesterday I feel like I caught a lot of what was said! Yay! It's coming a little at a time.

Yesterday I was studying in D&C 11: 12-14. I like these scriptures! We should put our trust in the Spirit, even when things are hard or uncertain. It says that the spirit always leads to do good, and will enlighten our minds, fill our souls with joy, and help us receive answers! It's true!

I love you all so much and miss you all so much! I hope you have an awesome week! Thank you so much for the updates, love and support! I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!

Picture time!


Liz :)

my little workout buddy...haha
 This is called a "thugeeh" It makes a noise that sounds like its name! So cool!
lasagna...and the elders outside the gate
 brother B's hedgehog
the hedgehog got stuck in a sock
going out to visit Yuwee
 yes, my plate of bugs that I did try. They weren't as bad as I expected but I would never go out and buy them.
As they were bringing out dinner...the fried looking stuff is chicken foot.
basketball court at church
cleaning the church
 This is called "lam yaay"...people serve it all the time. They're really good.
Rainy day at the University
 getting dressed out for the rainstorm that never came...
and then not dressing out when it did rain
 Church in Roi Et
failed attempt at pic of part of our zone
 FHE at Sister Ud's

Monday, July 15, 2013

rice paddies and rainstorms

Sawaddii Kha!

Oh my goodness, thank you for the amazing emails and pictures! I am so so so happy to see and hear what is going on with you all! It's kind of an adjustment going from DearElders everyday to only really communicating once a week now!  But, Dad, I got your letters last Tuesday and I've read them each three times! Thank you!!!!!!!

This week was awesome! I don't even know where to start! Let me start by answering your questions!

First off, thanks so much for sending the news article! That's way fun... however, I must say I cannot take credit for calling the language "ramen noodles." That was Sis. Tilley. Can't wait to see pictures!

My apartment is only what you saw in the picture! It's basically a hotel room. There is no kitchen, but we do have a mini fridge. Also, yesterday a member randomly came by and dropped off a toaster oven for us! Blessings! haha We'd just been talking about how we wished we had a microwave! The Lord looks out for his missionaries, even if it's as simple as toaster ovens!

And you're right, I've been prepared well for small spaces! But I must say that our house is a palace compared to every house I've been in so far. Houses here are tiny, old, and sort of run down. I think it's just because anything here is so old. I was kind of shocked at the first house we went into because it had no glass in the windows and was completely exposed to the weather or anything that wanted to go through the window. Sis Mullen said it was actually a pretty nice house. So, it's just a different lifestyle and way of living. I've noticed that Thai people don't seem to put too much value on what they have or how nice their clothes or things are. They are all about meaningful relationships and caring for people. At least that's the case with the members. Lots of people do, however, seem to have nice cars!

I honestly don't really know where my zone covers. I know for sure it covers Khon Kaen, and Roi Et. Tomorrow we're going to Roi Et for a zone training! So excited to see more of Thailand. Roi Et is not very far from us, about an hour bus ride or so! I'll tell you about it next week! Sis N and I are not in the same zone. I am in the same zone as Elder Proctor and Sister Phelps, though! So excited to see them tomorrow! That'll be way fun to follow Sis N's adventure with Sis Painter!

The next time I go to Bangkok is probably in three months. Not this transfer but the next, but since there are 22 new Thais coming in, sometimes they let everyone come to transfer meetings if there's something important or a lot of new people. I really really hope they let us come! I would love to see everyone and it is just so fun for everyone to gather together and hear from President and Sister Senior! I'm sure someone will be coming this way that could bring the Rx. Thank you so much for sending it! I can't think of anything I need. It must be super expensive. Email/ letters are the best thing!!!

As far as exercise goes we go to "suan sughaphaab"= "health park" really close to our house. It has a whole bunch of paved paths and playground equipment that is actually for working out. We go from 6:30-7:00 and I usually run and jump rope! It's great! There are a lot of people out at that time and it's a lot of fun to talk to people... or try to ! haha

We mainly eat from vendors on the street! I can tell you one thing, my germaphobe tendencies have completely gone out the window! We usually will get fruit, or whatever dish they are serving. I honestly don't really know what I'm ordering half the time because neither of us knows what it is. I usually ask for curry or vegetables and then they concoct it somehow!  Also, 7/11's are more of a mini grocery store here than back in the states. So, lots of times I will just get dried fruit, yogurt, seaweed, nuts, etc... at 7/11.

On Sundays the members all bring food and have a big potluck after church. Best potluck I've ever been to! Masaman, pad thai, noodle dishes, baked squid, mango, som tam, oh my goodness! So delicious! I'm glad they do this every Sunday! 

I agree completely: Sis Mullen is beautiful and wonderful! She is so sweet and so much fun! I just love that we are working together and that she's my trainer. She is really wise and has a good sense about things. Love her! She understands Thai super well! Her parents were in Thailand when I got here, so on my first day here she was able to meet up with her parents for part of the day! Awesome!

I love our little church building. It's so small and cute, and full of lizards! Seriously, they climb around all over the place here! Good thing I like reptiles! haha

I honestly have no idea what my address is... it's right close to the church and the health park... maybe you could google for those places?

Dad, there are different ethnic groups, but as far as I can tell here, people are very much just Thai. I think the closer I get to the border the more Laotians there would be. I haven't met any yet. I do know a lady at church that speaks Lao, though. Pasa Isan is really close to Lao, if you can understand Isan you can understand Lao, or so they say! So, we've been trying to pick up a few Isan phrases here and there... but one good thing is that everyone speaks and understands Thai. Thank heavens! As far as I can tell, Isan is way different than Thai. For example: To comment on how tasty the food is you would say, "Aroi maag" in Thai, and "Saab lay duh" in Isan! haha

This week has been encouraging! I feel like I'm slowly but surely understanding more and more. Last week at church I was completely lost. This week I feel like I understood the speakers better. And just in general conversation I am picking out more. I recognize a lot of words when people are speaking, but they talk so fast that I don't have enough time to string them together into something coherent before they are talking about something else! haha It's an interesting experience, but it's coming along! Thank heavens for trainers!

Last Sunday I just gave a testimony and introduced myself. I have not had to give a talk yet... I think the members are sympathetic toward greenies and they probably won't ask me for a while! But, it would be a good experience!

There are "internet rans" or internet stores all over the place here. There's one close to our apartment that costs 15 baht/ hour (50 cents/hour). You just come and pay and they set a computer to stay up for however long you pay for. Pretty smooth!

I had some really good green curry a few times at a vendor down the street from us. They have these awesome little round zucchinis here that they put in it that I really like. Last night a member brought us masaman curry and we ate it for lunch today! So, so good! I'm still trying to find that coconut soup! I am not totally sure about special regional curries, but the members are way into making som tam. It's this papaya/tomato/peanut spicy salad. They like to make the Thai version and the Lao version, which is fishy I guess. They're both really good!

So far my favorite thing to eat is still probably the curry. I just love curry! And I have eaten some pretty dang spicy, unsanitary stuff and have still not gotten sick! haha I was made for Thailand!

I'm glad work is going well and that you'll get a little break soon! That'll be super nice!

Samuel, have so much fun on Trek! That seriously was one of my very favorite youth activities. I made such good friends and had a BLAST!! Take some pics! I can't wait to see you sporting a Joseph Smith shirt!

Daniel, thank you so much, I am loving Thailand. We have taught people, and we are looking for more people to teach! I love the picture of you with the bunny! So cute, and such a great name! haha I'll attach a picture of my bike!

So, on Tuesdays we teach English class. Here it consists mostly of teenage girls and a few kids. Apparently in other places there tend to be more adults. But it is way fun! Sister Mullen and I teach it. There is a manual that we follow and we are working to make it a fun learning experience. Tonight we are going to go to the church to make brownies for it tomorrow!

We had our first district meeting last Tuesday, also. Elder Beuhner and Elder Attasit (Thai native) and Sis M and I make up our district. Elder B is the district leader and he gave some great advice. I love our little district!

This week we went out twice to visit a recent convert, Sister Jiam, who is completely on fire with the gospel but has terminal cancer and is not expected to live long. She lives way out in who-knows-where, so some member drove us out. The members shared some thoughts, and then Sister Jiam asked Sis M and I to sing her a song! Surprise! haha Neither of us had a Thai hymnbook and we don't have any Thai hymns memorized, so we just sang in English. She loved it, and asked us to call her every day all 11:00 and sing her a hymn, so we've been doing that for the last week and I love it! The Thai people think we have beautiful voices and want us to sing!

Also, I was showing some pictures of our family to another recent convert named Sister ChuanPhid. She said, "Ohh, your parents are so young looking!" I agree! 

On Mondays we go to FHE at members' houses. Last Monday we went to Sister Mod's house. She's a convert who is going on a mission soon! She is the sweetest. She's the one that helped us go shopping on the first day. I just love her! Anyway, a whole bunch of members came. We gave a spiritual thought and a little activity, and then they brought out a whole bunch of Thai dishes that were delicious. Then we played games! Way fun! I love the members. They are so supportive of us and way into missionary work.

On Thursdays the members also have FHE at the church. This Thai lady who's married and actually raised her family in America, but has recently returned with her two youngest and her husband, asked me to help her make a fruit salad. I was so excited to eat all this fresh fruit that I'd been cutting up, but then she came over and started mixing mayo in it! what?? haha But this lady is awesome! And she speaks Spanish, so she always speaks to me in Spanish. Good way to keep up on the language. Never thought I'd be using Spanish in Thailand! haha It's way fun!

A few days ago I went on the never-ending road trip through the rice paddies in a song tow to visit some members! haha It was quite the adventure way out in true Isan country. There was field after field after field after field of rice paddies with a hut every now and then. Way cool to see the country and rice farmers. We visited a lady who lives at a rest home. She's way sweet! I think she was almost 90.

A few days ago we were teaching an investigator at her little clothing shop, which is on one of the main streets here, a bit of a distance from our house. All of a sudden this HUGE rain storm set in out of nowhere. It seriously sounded like a herd of elephants were on the roof. I've never seen such a rain storm. The streets suddenly turned into a flash flood! We waited a while for it to die down, but we were pretty darn soaked by the time we got back to the church. Also, every Saturday the members have sports night at the church, so they had to cancel because of the rain. haha We had mud streaked all up our backs, and rain was dripping through our helmets. We were a sight, but it was so fun! haha

Oh, I finally found a vegetable market!!! Wahoo! Food here is so cheap! I got a whole bunch of big carrots and cucumber for less than a dollar! 

There is a Talad (market) close by our house, so we like to go inviting there. They have the best coconut smoothies that are so refreshing! Yuuum!

In Mahasarakham there are about 10 Buddhist temples (called "Wads" in Thai). They are really helpful as far as getting around, great landmarks! We see monks in their orange robes walking around all the time. It's pretty cool!

Since Sis M and I are both completely new here we've spent a good amount of time getting lost and ending up in super random places... it's way fun because we've come across some great markets and stores and parks. There's something fun about not really knowing anything and just having to figure it all out yourself.

People are constantly commenting on how beautiful and white I am... not for long!  I WILL BE TAN!

Anyway, the heat is crazy, but for some reason it doesn't  bother me. I'm always sweating, but I'm definitely getting used to it.

Missionary work here is challenging. We only have two investigators right now, and another potential one that is pretty set in her Buddhist ways. Inviting has not been super successful yet, but I think just getting ourselves out and seen among the public is a good thing. We're both pretty new to this so it's definitely a learning process, but I am confident that if we give it our very best we'll be blessed and we'll find people to teach. I also think we're going to do reactivation work, which is so important. This morning I was reading in the D&C 123: 17. I love this verse. I know that if we "cheerfully do all things that lie in our power" then we will be blessed. At the MTC a devotional speaker told us that we should "resolve to give it our best and then regardless of results we will be satisfied." So, we're going to work like crazy to find these people that need the gospel here! What an amazing work to be a part of. I feel so blessed!


Liz :)