Hello family dear!
I have been DYING to write so I could tell you everything that has happened in the last week! It feels like a million years ago that I talked to you at the airport because soooo much has happened!
So, my companion's name is Sister Mullen and she just barely finished her three month in field training. She is awesome, I just love her. She's from California and she is half Thai. She knows Thai pretty well! She is really good at understanding it. She hadn't learned it before she came to the MTC. I love love love love her! I am so excited to serve with her for the next three months!
Aaaaannnnd, I am serving in the ESAN!! It's what I had been really, really hoping for. I'm serving in a town called Mahasarakham which is in the "Esan." The Esan is the Eastern Region of the country and is a little more hill-billy. haha. Mahasarakham is probably about the size of Kalispell. Maybe? I don't really know. In fact I don't really know that much yet at all because Sister Mullen and I are the first sister missionaries in Mahasarakham in about the last five years or so. So, we are white-washing this area. Luckily, there are two elders here as well who have lived here, so they kindly showed us where to go to find computers today!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE THAILAND! This place seriously is heaven! It is absolutely beautiful.
The food, especially the fruit, is amazing, and the people are so amazingly sweet and nice. I figured that an American in Thailand wouldn't really be that big of a deal because it seems like the whole world is so Americanized! Not true, at least not in the Esan. People are always staring at me and will say, "halloooo" when I pass by. People comment constantly on my pale skin and tell me that I need to wear long sleeves so I don't turn dark. Light skin is a sign of beauty here and women often put make- up on to look lighter. So, I attract a lot of attention. Two days ago we were working out at a "health park" nearby and I couldn't even get in a work out because people wanted to talk to me and practice their English. haha They always say, "You so beautiful and white!" haha But, it's a good missionary opportunity because they want to know what on earth I'm doing in Mahasarakham!
Anyway, let's back track a bit! The flight here went so fast, and we were greeted at the airport by Pres. and Sis Senior. They are just absolutely wonderful! So full of energy and really fun. I gave them Mom's huckleberry treat and card. Pres. Senior said, "I LOVE YOUR FAMILY!" haha So, we spent the first two days in Bangkok and got a lot of little stuff out of the way like visas, orientation, etc. We got to go Dan Jonesing which was terrifying. But in the last week we've done it so much that I’m not that nervous going up to people anymore. It helps when they want to come up to you!
So, our district stayed the night at a really nice hotel by the mission home, and went to transfers meeting on Tuesday. So fun!!! There were so many people getting transferred so a lot of people were there. A lot of my MTC zone got called to Bangkok. And to be honest I don't really know where a lot of the places were. Sis N got called to Esan too, but she's further up from me in Udon. So exciting. So, right after we got our companions and assignments we hopped on a bus and rode for 7 hours to Mahasarakham and got here around 1:00 am. The elders helped us get to our new apartment since we don't know where anything is. Our apt is one room with a bathroom attached. It's pretty tiny compared to other missionaries apts, but it's pretty clean and will work great! We definitely have a bug problem, but I am starting to think that's unavoidable in Thailand! Oh, this morning I caught a lizard climbing up our wall!!! Made my day!
So, the first morning we were here we had absolutely no information. We had no area book, no map, nothing! So, we did our studies, but we didn't really know what to do because we are whitewashing. Luckily, the elders came by eventually and gave us the area book. So that gave us somewhere to start. And, when Sis M was showering we had a knock on our door. I was really nervous because I knew I probably wouldn't understand anything they said. But, I answered the door and it was a member coming to see how we were and go get breakfast for us! The sweetest. Her name is Nok and she is a ward mission leader and has helped us A LOT!! She's taken us to show us where people live and is always checking up on us! Love her!
That afternoon another member showed up at our house to take us shopping because we have no cleaning supplies, food, my bike, etc... She helped us find our way around and get settled in. She even was able to get me a lower price on my bike- only $200 ! Sweet! Her name is Mod and she's a mission leader and is 23 and will be putting in her mission papers soon!
The members here are AMAZING! In our branch there are about 60 people. They are mostly women. Priesthood holders are far and few between. From what people say, Thai women are much more receptive to the gospel. So, we definitely need to work on getting more priesthood holders here so that we can eventually get a temple! That seems to be the big focus/vision of the whole mission: Get enough priesthood holders so that we can have enough wards so that we can have enough stakes to get a temple here! It's exciting, but I feel like there's still a lot of work to be done. Exciting time to be here!
Anyway, the members. They are so so so "sabai." Meaning, everything is just great and they are so laid back. Meetings don't really ever start on time, but it doesn't matter because who's in a hurry? haha I love it! On Saturday the Young Women invited us to come to the church to make cupcakes with them! That was fun, and those are not quite what I would call cupcakes, but I had a blast. It was so funny- the leader had bought all the ingredients and we were ready to start cooking. She turned to us and said, “So, how do you make cupcakes?” I have no clue what the proportions are for cupcakes, especially from scratch! I never realized baking should have been part of my pre-missionary training. Since we didn't know we just made a butter cookie recipe that was on the back of the margarine package. They were actually really good, but I don't think the YW got the "cupcake" experience. Maybe we'll have to try that again! haha So fun!
The members here are amazing missionaries. They ask to take us inviting in public places with them. We give them pamphlets with our numbers on them and they go inviting people to learn from us, to come to church, and to come to English class. They love the gospel and are fearless about sharing it. Such a great example to me. I hope when I get back I can be as great of a member missionary and help the missionaries out as well. I honestly don't know how we would have started here without the members. They have helped us so much since we are completely new to the area!
Sunday was awesome! I understood about 1% of what was going on, but I was given lots of hugs and encouragement from the members. They are just so cute! Understanding Thai is so hard! I feel like I can express myself a lot of the time, but I really have no idea what people are saying. They talk so fast! haha It'll come, though! and Sis Mullen is amazing! I love her! She's so sweet, funny, and so good at understanding Thai.
We have one lady named Dting who is getting baptized at the end of July. She was taught by the previous elders and accepted the invitation to baptism from them. We will continue teaching her! We don't have many investigators so we are going to have to do a lot of work finding people!
One fun thing here is that they speak another language. Sort of. They speak "Pasa Esan" which is sort of "country talk" I guess. But it sounds way different than Thai and Sis M doesn't understand it. So, hopefully we'll pick that up soon! I can hardly understand Thai and now people are speaking Esan, too! Will be quite the adventure! I love it!
I feel like there is so much to write, but I just don't have time! Thank you so much for your emails and Dad, I have not gotten letters yet, I need to talk to our DL's. You are the sweetest!
I love you all so much and am so grateful for you! I love being a missionary and I love being in Thailand. The gospel is true and I love it!