Tuesday, August 6, 2013

jellyfish and rice farming

Hello wonderful family!

So, this week was AWESOME!!! I'll start from the beginning!

This is a momentous week: I have now started to have to answer the phone and call people. I don't care much for it because I can't really understand what they are saying, but every phone call will get better, right? haha Actually, it's not that bad, it's just harder when you can't see them actually talking to you. 

This last Monday we had a great FHE at Sister Ud's house where I ate jellyfish for the first time in my life. It was way good! It looked like a vegetable actually, and that's what I thought it was until she told me it was a jelly fish. Tasty!

So, now that it has been a month in the country we finally found out what our area is exactly in Mahasarakham. The town is split in half between us and the elders. So, we have the SE half of town=where nobody lives! haha Not really, the elders just have all the big shopping areas and the university. So, last week we decided to go ride out and explore our area even better. We ended up going on this two hour round-trip bike ride way out to a small rice farming community that is in our area. It was so quaint and beautiful. We rode out on a little dirt road and the whole way out we were surrounded by beautiful rice fields, foliage, chickens and cows. There were huge puffy white clouds and at one point some traditional Asian music started playing from a farmer out on his field. I was in heaven!! The little community had about 8 or 9 streets of houses and a few little shops. They also have a wad and a school. We talked to the kids and parents out on the street. So much fun! On the way back we stopped at a little market and gave out a few pamphlets to people and invited them to church!

I have a question: can someone look up what 30 degrees celcius is in Fahrenheit? When I was on a bus this week there was a thermometer and that felt like a pretty typical day. I want to know what the temperature is here. The humidity level was 60%. The heat does not even bother me anymore! It's so crazy! That is what I dreaded most! haha I just don't know what I'm going to do without any snow/ sweater weather once fall and winter comes. I'm saving my pumpkin hand sanitizer for the seasons. haha

So, switch-offs were sooooo fun! Originally I was going to go to Galasin with Sister Phelps and Sister Greenwood. Somehow they Galasin sisters missed the memo and thought it was next week. So, we met Sister Phelps and Carter in Khon Kaen and I ended up going up to Udon with Sister Phelps. Sister Carter came to Mahasarakham with Sis Mullen. First though, we took a tuk tuk to the mall! Holy cow have I been living in the boonies! This mall had like 7 floors and was so modern and amazing! We met the sisters there and grabbed some food at Sizzlers! haha
Sister Mullen and I got there first so we were waiting inside the restaurant for the other sisters. When I looked out they were coming down the mall with all their duffel bags and Sister Carter was carrying a microwave. She'd brought it for the Galasin sisters, but I think she decided to just give it to us since we don't have one either. Anyway, it was just really funny seeing her walking the mall with her huge microwave in hand. The tuk tuk ride back to the bus station was hilarious- tuk tuks are small and 4 of us with our luggage and microwave was quite a squeeze!

Anyway, Sister Phelps and I headed back to Udon and it was soooo fun to catch up with her! I'd been so excited to see her all week. She's been doing great and loves Udon. She is just so cute! Unfortunately, she was not feeling very well. When we got back to Udon she headed to bed. To my surprise, though, I was met by Sister Narayanan and Sister Painter!!! They share a townhouse with Sis Phelps and Carter! I was soooo excited to see sister Narayanan! She's been doing really well and really likes living in Udon! 

The next morning all 4 of us went to go help a member at her restaurant at Ratchapat University's cafeteria. She was low on help and needed someone for the lunch time rush. When we got there she fed us and then we worked scooping up rice and counting money. Way fun! Afterward we shared a little thought with her. She got emotional because she can't come to church because of work. She can't get anyone to take her Sunday shift, and she really needs this job. She was so sweet and so full of love for us! The cutest lady ever!

Sister Phelps was not feeling better, so she and Sister Painter went home. She called Sister Senior and she told her to just rest for that day. I felt so bad that she was feeling sick, no fun! And I was really excited to spend the day with her. Sister Narayanan and I paired off for the day and it was so much fun! Just like old times. In the MTC we always had talked about how we hoped that we could be companions in the mission field, too. Well, we got at least one day!

She took me to this beautiful park where we went inviting for two hours. It has a lake, bike trails, vendors, and playground equipment and it is really big. It was so fun to go inviting with her! She is fearless and would walk up to everybody and anybody! haha It was such good practice for me and I felt like we had some really good conversations with people. I was able to understand everyone and speak what I wanted pretty well. It really boosted my confidence. It was also fun to catch up with Sister Narayanan. I've missed her a lot!! She is the cutest! We got a whole bunch of numbers from people and hopefully they will contact them all this week and maybe get some new investigators.

After inviting we had a lesson!! First lesson where I actually did a lot of talking! It was so much fun! The investigator was a college student named Belle who has accepted a baptismal date for the end of this month! She was so sweet and cute. She's done three years at Rachapat University. Anyway, our lesson was on the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. It went so well! I really felt the spirit in the lesson and I understood her and was able to express all my thoughts clearly. She has a lot of faith and loves to read the Book of Mormon. While we were talking about the Holy Ghost I explained a little how the Holy Ghost helps me and when I feel Him most. Then I asked her to tell me when does she feel the Spirit? She said, "Right now!"  It was amazing! It gave me so much hope that there actually are people out there ready and eager to accept Christ and His gospel! I also shared an experience about my first year of college. I told her how my first year was kind of stressful- I didn't feel like I had many friends, school was really hard, and I was lonely. I said how one day I remember reading the Book of Mormon and praying to Heavenly Father to help me feel happy. I told her how I felt the Spirit testify so strongly that Heavenly father loves me and that everything would turn out well for me.  I explained that the Spirit really is the comforter. Then she explained that that very day she had been feeling lonely. She lives away from home and missed her family and she had decided to come to the church that afternoon just to sit in the building and feel the Spirit. She started crying and said that while she'd been sitting there she started reading in the Book of Mormon and she read a verse that really comforted her. This lesson was just amazing! I really felt God's love for her and I am so grateful that she recognizes it too! 

So, I learned a lot on my little switch-off to Udon! I got a huge boost of confidence that I actually can speak this language and that I can give a lesson! haha It was so amazing to be reunited with Sister Phelps and Narayanan. Sister Phelps was feeling much better the next day. Friday morning we headed to Khon Kaen to meet up with our companions and head back home.

Sister Mullen had had a great time with Sister Carter and got some good tips and advice as well. They had a really good lesson with our investigator, Bia, who opened up to them a little bit more and was more willing to try to keep her commitments! So excited to teach her on Thursday! We also got two university students at our English class that are interested in learning from us. We're teaching them on Thursday, as well! Things are looking up and we're being blessed!

Okay, two days ago I finally fulfilled my dream: we got to go harvest rice at a member's rice field! It was actually way fun! They have 4 fields and they are tucked away in the forest. Seriously, it's the most beautiful place ever. The fields are lined with palm trees and all these pretty flowers. There were also a ton of butterflies all over the place. The Garden of Eden for sure! So, we went around 10 am and stayed for a couple of hours. There are several stages to rice farming. We're in the early stages right now. So, we just pluck up the green shoots with the roots, put them into bundles, and then plant them again. When I get home I'm going to have to look up how the whole process works, I don't really get it. But it was so relaxing and fun! And the elders came by and brought us treats from a ward activity that morning. So nice!

So, this week was awesome! I learned so much and I feel like it sort of re-charged my battery. I'm way excited to be here and I am way excited to do all I can to find people here to teach, and to teach the people we do have the very best I can! July of last year the mission had 32 baptisms. This July we had 38. Last August the mission had 70 something baptisms! Wow! This August the goal is to exceed that number. So, the AP's called every companionship in the mission and committed them to having 1 baptism for this month. If that happens we'll exceed our goal! I'm excited but also a little nervous. Our investigators are not progressing fast and do not want to meet more than once a week. We are going to work so hard to accomplish this goal. And let's hope we get new investigators soon as well!

We've taken a new approach on inviting... instead of only just walking up to people and sharing a message with them, we now go to markets and stand in one spot and sing hymns! haha It's way fun! We sing and hold out pamphlets. The people are choosing to come to us and we get to talk to the ones that actually are interested. It's great! I'm going to try and find a cheap guitar and then we can have a little accompaniment! Hoping this approach will maybe yield better results. Yesterday we had a handful of people come up to us and ask about us. We told them about ourselves, our message, and invited them to church. We'll see!  Also, while we were there singing, a little girl about 6 years old kept staring and smiling at us. Whenever we'd look at her she'd just smile and hide her face. We started talking to her and she ran and got her older sister to come take a pic of her with us on her phone! haha The cutest thing! 

So, it was an awesome week and I am so grateful for all the experiences I had! I was reading in Jacob 7 and I just really liked what we can learn from the story of Sherem. Basically he'd been leading people astray and influencing them negatively. Once they were able to get rid of him in v. 23 it says that the "peace and love of God was restored again." I love this- if we can rid the negative worldly influences from our lives we can have the continual peace and love of God! In v 25 it says that they fortified themselves against their enemies, trusting in God, and they came off conquerors. I know that when we trust in God and try to keep out the bad stuff in this world, we can "come off conqueror" and be soooo happy! Anyway, just something I read and liked this week!