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!
I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!!!!!
Love, Liz :)