Hello Wonderful Family!
Thank you all so much for the emails! Wahoo! I just looooove hearing what is going on. Last P-day, just a few hours after I emailed we met up with the elders and they had our mail! Best mail day ever! At night we have an hour before bed to write in our journals, do whatever... I usually will write in my journal and read a letter or two. Love it!
Thank you so much for the celcius/fahrenheit conversion! 86 degrees is not that bad. But I guess it is the cold season... ugh... just imagine when summer hits! Luckily rainy/cold season lasts a long time! I really love the rain storms here. It makes it hard to do much because everyone runs for cover and we can't really proselyte. But, as far as enjoying some nature, it's awesome.
And yes, I’m way excited about Oct 31st finishing date. I hope it doesn't change, I don't think it will now that this whole 9 week transfer thing is pretty set in stone. And that does mean I'll be in Mahasarakham for another two months, unless President Senior decides to switch things up, which is totally possible. But I have a feeling we'll both be here another transfer. I really hope so! I feel like I'm getting comfortable with this area and I just love it here so much. I feel like I’m finally able to speak enough to actually have meaningful conversations with ward members. This last week I really felt like my language understanding and speaking improved. One member asked me how I'm feeling about the language now that my first transfer is over and I said it is going way better. She told me she agrees because she can understand me better! haha So, slow but sure improvements. Yay!
Oh, big exciting news of this week! We had one reactivation!! Her name is Sister J. and she's been a less active for a while. She's probably about 25-30 and is married. When we got to Mahasarakham Sister Nok took us to visit her and we've been continuing to visit her. She's been coming to church almost every week since we've been here, and yesterday she had her interview with the branch president. She's officially been "rescued" and is an active, participating member! She is way full of joy and a joy to be around. So happy for her! Just as exciting as a baptism to me!
Bad news of the week: at the end of last week Sister Mullen started feeling a little sick. We got a thermometer and her temperature was increasing until it hit 102 degrees, and eventually 103! Holy cow! We called Sister Senior and she told us to go to Khon Kaen to the hospital. The Khon Kaen elders met us at the bus station and got a dtukdtuk to take us there. They waited with us there for a few hours as she got blood tests and everything. They were such a big help, so grateful for them. So, turns out Sister Mullen had contracted Dengue fever! It's pretty bad, and it is the most common really bad illness that missionaries get here. It's from the mosquitoes, so it's not contagious. Usually when people here have Dengue fever they are hospitalized, but the doctor didn't feel that was necessary-- luckily. So, we went back home and she rested. We had to go back to Khon Kaen on Wednesday for another check up. She was doing way better and the doctor felt fine about her recovering. She's totally fine now, but we spent a few days at home so she could rest. Poor thing!! Our elders were great. They taught our English class for us last minute, and they stopped by to see how she was doing. Elder Beuhner also called Sister Nok and asked her to get us food and Snickers. So, for the last week, Sister Nok has been constantly bringing us Snickers! We seriously have like 6 in our fridge right now! We also had multiple ward members call and ask how they could help us. Anyway, Sis Mullen is feeling fine now, and I'm so grateful for all the people who take care of us.
Since Sister Mullen was sleeping and sick for a few days I had complete control of the phone! haha That was fun... I actually understood more than I thought I could. So, good phone practice.
Oh, this was kind of funny. While we were traveling back to Mahasarakham on the bus I was dozing off, but I could hear a group of college students behind me talking about the "falang" (me). Then all of a sudden I felt one of them tap me on the head. I turned around and smiled at them and they all laughed and hopped off the bus! I'm pretty sure they thought I was asleep and were daring each other to touch my head. Funny!
Okay, this was AWESOME!! Two days ago I got a phone call from Suzanne!!! Ahhhhh! I was so excited! We talked for about 10 minutes! I think she was heading back home soon, but she'd been in Chiang Mai. I think she had a great week here in Thailand! It was amazing to hear her voice! She gave me some great advice and totally gave me a huge boost! Love her!
So, this week I bought a guitar! I walked into the only guitar shop I've ever seen here and asked for the cheapest guitar they have. They brought out a sky blue guitar for 1300 Bhat. Done. The owners were excited that a falang bought from their shop and they had me and Sis M pose with the guitar so that they could take a picture for their facebook page. haha I really wish I could tell you what the page is, but it's in Thai.
So, with my fine new guitar we went to market that night. We borrowed a folding table and set up our pamphlets, flyers, copies of The Book of Mormon, etc... I started playing hymns and Sister Mullen sang them (I don't have the words for any hymns memorized in Thai, so I just kind of hummed along). But then, one of the people in charge of the market came over and handed her a microphone. haha I think she was a little mortified because it connects to loudspeakers that broadcast to the entire market! But it was fun! It was not the most successful idea, but I think we're on to something here! The guy also said we could bring music to play over the loudspeakers. A little Friday night market MoTab anyone? haha Way fun!
Today is Mother's Day in Thailand. So, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to Mom, Grandma, Grandma, and all my other mothers! I love you all so much! In celebration of Mother's Day the branch had a big program. It was really really cool! The Young Women did a traditional Thai dance with traditional costumes. There were a few speakers and musical numbers, and then they all "way"ed their mothers. I love this tradition. They had all the mothers sit in front of the room, and then all their children come kneel in front of them and pin flowers to their shirts. Then the mothers give little blessings to their children. It was so sweet! I went and "way"ed Sister ChuanPhid! She got baptized my first Sunday here and is kind of my Thai Grandma! So much fun! And of course, it would not be Thailand if they didn't have enough food to feed five armies. We had some really good soup and sweets afterwards! Super fun event!
A few days before the Mother's Day program we went over to the church so that Sis Mullen could accompany the YW as they were practicing a song for the program. We turned on the AC and a bat flew out of the vent and started circling the room! All the girls started screaming and we all ran for cover! It was super funny. The branch president had to come and get it somehow.
Another fun thing here- I know you already know this, but everyone goes by their nicknames. Real names seem to only be for formal things. So, it's always fun to ask people what their nicknames mean. Every once in a while people have crazy nicknames that are English words, like Omelette, Salad, and Sandwich!
Yesterday we went out to Sister Jiam's house to visit her. She's the lady that we sing to every day. She is not doing well and is not expected to live much longer. Her cancer is really bad and she's in a lot of pain. I feel so sad for her. However, she has the most positive attitude and biggest smile always. We missionaries went with about 40 ward members to her little house and spent some time with her. Sister Mullen and I sang her "I am a Child of God" and then the youth all "way"ed her for Mother's Day, and then they sang her a Thai Mother's Day song. It was so special to be out there with her. I was so sad to see her in such bad condition but I really felt the Spirit as pretty much the whole branch was together there to support her. I just love how the gospel and this church binds people together. I also love the knowledge of the Plan of Happiness and that we can all be together forever. This life is just a short time but we have eternity together! What amazing news!
Last night was one of the YW's 18th birthday, so we went to Sister Wright's house for a dinner and surprise party for her. It was way fun! I had some really good chats with ward members and I understood a lot.Yay! One lady in the ward learned how to make brownies and lemon bars from a previous elder and she makes them for EVERY event that the ward has. Fine by me! Lemon bars always make me think of Mom.
So, as far as teaching this week goes, not the best. Every appointment we had fell through. Sometimes I get a little frustrated because we have these lessons prepared and I feel like our investigators might be making progress. Then the appointments end up falling through for silly reasons. I just feel like we are not teaching well enough for them to feel the spirit enough that they want to make the time for us. I don't know, there's a lot to learn and I just wish we could get in more lessons and that people would actually meet with us when they agree to. It's okay, though, I know we'll be able to meet with them, it just might be at a slower pace than I'd like.
This week I was reading in the Conference Ensign and I loved President Uchtdorf's talk "Your Wonderful Journey Home." He asks us what are we doing on our journey, and are we where we want to be? He explains that we have maps on this journey of life to help us and they are the scriptures, words of the prophets, and revelation through the Holy Ghost. I love that we have this guidance in our life and that we have purpose and direction. What a blessing.
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! Thank you for your love and support and happiness! Have a wonderful week!