Daniel, did those little cracker things taste good? We gave them to our English students as little prizes. Guess what?? Yesterday I was sitting outside of 7/11 and an elephant walked down the street! Soooo awesome!
Mom, I'm glad you liked the som tam! We just had it two days ago with our new elders. And, of course, every Sunday the members make it. There's a papaya version, a cucumber version, and a Lao version that is super fishy. Love it! Did it come with sticky rice? That's what they always eat it with here.
On Saturday we were at the church so Sis. M could help the ward members practice a musical number for a conference. I was sitting in the back eating a See's sucker and a member came up to me and asked me if I like chocolate. I said, "Yes!!" The next day she showed up at church with an armload of little chocolate candies for me and Sister Mullen! Thank you Sister ChuanPhid! So sweet. She seriously brings us food every Sunday and whenever we visit her she wants to take us to eat. She takes us to get smoothies often. So cute! She's the lady that got baptized by the elders my first Sunday here. She's a very classy lady and a little sassy! haha I just love her. She's the one that I said was my Thai grandma.
So, Sister M and I did not get transferred. I'm really glad, I wanted to stay here longer. But, both of our elders were whitewashed out. E. Beuhner went to Chiang Mai!!!! And Elder Attasit went somewhere in BKK! Way cool! Our new elders are Elder Chelson (he's been out over a year) and Elder Chambers (he came in with S. M's group). They're going to be great! They didn't get here until Saturday, though, because E. Chambers was sick with something in the hospital, and E. Chelson was singing with "Beyond 5."
But... drumroll... this was a breakthrough week!!! Thank you so much for your fasting and prayers. I think they made a big difference! We decided that we wanted to fast, as well, for our investigators. On Wednesday we broke our fast and decided to drop by an investigator's shop. Her name is Sister D. She had a baptismal date from the previous elders but didn't make it because she would never have time to meet with us because she was traveling a lot and having family issues. Eventually, we were hardly even able to get her to answer her phone. So, we decided it was time something changed with her and we just stopped by her house. We were kind of nervous and hoped she'd take it okay. She was totally welcoming and invited us in. She told us that she missed us and just that morning she'd been thinking about calling us. I felt like she really was sincere about what she was saying. Anyway, she still has the desire to be baptized and she wants to get baptized next month! We're going to try to do all we can to get her ready before the end of this month, though! We'll see. It'll be pretty hard because she can't meet often, but we are going to really, really try! I was so encouraged and so beyond happy!!!
But then it got even better! We've been teaching a 28 year old girl. She had not been progressing hardly at all until about two weeks ago when she had a great spiritual experience with prayer. She also has finally started reading the BoM assignments we've given her. Anyway, this was my turn to lead the lesson and we decided to finally extend the baptismal commitment to her. To be honest I was expecting her to reject it. But she said YES!!!! Oh my goodness I am sooooooo happy! She said she would if she was ready by then (we gave her a date for the 15thof next month). We assured her she'd be ready and we'd be here to help her along the way. I am just so happy that she has this goal now and I hope that things progress in the right direction!
Also, here is a great example of the importance of members in missionary work (what the apostles taught at the broadcast is very true!!) We have an investigator that has the desire to go to church and probably be baptized, but her grandma won't allow it. In fact last week she had to cancel her appointment with us because her gma wouldn't let us come over. So, we found out from a church member that the grandma is good friends with another member, Sister Yuen. Sister Yuen agreed to come with us to help us get into this girl's house and keep the grandma happy/occupied. Well, that was the most effective thing I've ever experienced. Normally the grandma is very grumpy and just glares. She doesn't even say hello. With the member there she was a completely different person! She came over to us and each gave us a flower for our hair. Then she brought us some fish concoction she'd made and told us how healthy it was. Then she brought us fruit and then she brought us this pumpkin coconut dessert thing she'd made (which was wayyy good by the way). She then brought us this shampoo/conditioner stuff that she makes from these fruits that are sort of like limes and gave us a bottle. Holy Cow! Where did all this generosity and kindness come from?? haha I told her that she knows how to do everything and she laughed and seemed really pleased! I also told her that her coconut pumpkin stuff was the tastiest thing I'd ever eaten (may be true) and she gave me some to take home! So, this to me proved the importance of having members come to lessons!
So, those were definitely the most exciting things this week. But, there are just some little other things that happened that I'll share, too.
A couple of nights ago we were trying to decide where to go. Neither of us really knew. Sarakham is small and there are only so many places to go. So, we prayed about it and then I started biking down a road. So, when Sister Stevenson leads inviting we end up getting chased by a pack of angry dogs, through a small herd of cows until we reach a power plant where nobody lives. When Sister Mullen takes over and leads we end up at the bus station and have nine small lessons with random people waiting to go to their destinations. Good thing I'm not training! haha Way funny. You should look up "Thai cows" or something... they are very different from cows in America!
A couple days ago we went to Swensen's to get some ice cream and fill out our correlation sheet for Sunday. Another falang came in and sat a table away from us. We started chatting and turns out he's from England. His name is James and he teaches English somewhere. He was way nice and we invited him to church. Not sure if he'll come, but we have his number and I feel like he'd be open to learning with us. AND it would be in English! He lives out by the monkey farm and he said if we ever go we should call him and he'll come with us and bring his girlfriend.
The other day we were inviting around this little shopping complex. Around 8:30 we went back to our bikes to head on home. I got on my bike and started riding, but I could not for the life of me ride straight and finally I tipped over... I was so confused and I think the people on the sidewalk were a little disturbed and amused! haha Anyway, my front tire had gotten punctured somehow and it was completely deflated! So, we had to take a tuktuk home... 80฿ out the window. But I got it fixed the next day and it's totally fine.
When we picked up the Elders we went and got som tam with them and Sister Nok. Elder Chelson asked about school, etc... I told him I'd been at the Y for three years. He was way excited to get an update on the football team... haha. Wishful thinking on his part! I told him they did well last season. I actually have no idea and that doesn't tell him much anyway. Then he asked about Riley Neilson. I knew something happened with him last season but I could not remember what! I was like, "yeah... I heard his name a lot... I think he did really well, but got hurt or something..." And then Elder Chelson said that I'm apparently not the person to ask! haha Wish Grandma Lynn had been there to set him straight on BYU football!
Two nights ago we were in line at a grocery store and two Indian men started talking to me. I started chatting a little bit in Thai to them, but then they asked if I spoke English. Yes, I do! But after talking for a few minutes I realized it would have been much easier to speak to them in Thai! I have never heard such a thick accent in my life. I seriously probably understood 3 words of what they said. But, we invited them to church and they were nice about it. He kept asking me "what percent of Thai do you know?" How are you supposed to quantify that? um... 2%? haha Sister Mullen said I knew 50%, so that was nice of her and they were impressed! If only that were true!
Last night when we went inviting we decided to just go sit on the curb and see who came by and try to talk to them. So, within just a few minutes a guy walked by. He kind of looked at us, so I said hello and then he came over. Sometimes I think people really want to talk to falangs but are too scared to. So, with a bit of an invitation they totally jump on it. He came over and plopped himself down beside us and talked for at least a half-hour. He showed us pictures of his family... and his car! But, he actually seemed maybe a little interested. We told him about what we teach, invited him to church, gave him a pamphlet on how to pray, etc... and he invited us to come visit him. So, I think in the next little while we're going to go out to his house and hold a family home evening for his family.
I've been trying to think of some cultural things to share... I wish I would have written down things that really stood out to me at first because it’s all starting to seem normal now.
But here are a few things:
People answer their phones no matter what is going on. In the middle of church, in the middle of a conversation, someone's giving a spiritual thought... doesn't matter, they will answer their phones.
Never point your feet toward anyone or do any task with your feet... very disrespectful.
People take off their shoes to enter homes, small buildings/shops, and the church.
Instead of napkins, homes and restaurants will have a little toilet paper dispenser thing. haha
People eat with a fork and a spoon. I have yet to see a butter knife. If you're right handed you hold the spoon with your left hand and the fork with your right and use the fork to scoop food onto the spoon. Interesting. I like it! You should all try eating Thai style next meal.
People do not deal well with the rain here... everyone runs for cover because they think they'll get sick. It's like 90 degrees out.
Public toilets are usually pretty awful and you have to buy toilet paper from a machine if you want it!
Anyway, just a few fun things!
Thank you all so much for your love and support. It makes such a difference! I love you all so much!!!!!! Have a fabulous week! Samuel, please don't die at XC! :)