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!
I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU