Yes, I am still exercising. We either go to the park and I run or I jump rope/ do strength training outside our apartment. I'm in such a habit of always exercising, so of course I do it; but to be honest we bike and sweat so much that I feel like we are exercising all day long!
Thank you so much for your wonderful emails and pictures! It sounds like you had an awesome week!
Also, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE LETTERS! It took some effort to finally get them from the elders, but I have them! I got mail from Dad, Grandma, and Katie! So much fun!
This week was awesome! Most things we wanted to do didn't work out, but what did work out was amazing.
We had a lot of lesson appointments planned and confirmed with investigators and less active members and most of them fell through. I am starting to think that it's better to just randomly show up at people's houses because then they can't cancel! Seriously, people cancel/ don't show up to appointments, even when we confirm with them the morning of. So... it makes it hard to teach. But anyway there were two lessons in particular that made me so happy!
The first was Sister D. She's about 50 or so and has been inactive for a very long time. She has a little shop and sells drinks/snacks/cleaning supplies. She does not like to pray and she has forgotten a lot about the gospel. She is very welcoming and always seems happy to have us come over. However, she was not progressing very well. So, instead of reteaching PMG lessons we decided to start reading and teaching stories out of the Book of Mormon, starting with Lehi and his family. The last lesson we had with her was about the Liahona and Nephi breaking his bow. The lesson previous we had asked her to read that chapter in preparation. When we got there, she told us she had read it and she was way excited when she explained the story to us! We didn't have to even retell the story because she understood it and told it so well. We asked her what she thought the Liahona represents in our own lives. And she answered scriptures/prayer/etc... and we pointed out that when we encounter problems in our lives (as represented by Nephi breaking his bow) we have these guides to help us get through them. So, I was so happy that she is actually doing her scripture reading and that she's excited about it. And, to top it off, SHE PRAYED!!!! This is breakthrough for her! So, that was just amazing and we are so excited and hopeful that she'll come back into activity eventually. I still think it will take a lot of time, but just in the last month we've seen so many improvements. So exciting!
The other lesson that was especially awesome was with E! (English teacher from Cameroon)
Yesterday we taught him the third lesson (Gospel of Jesus Christ- we've already taught him the first two) and brought along two members- Sister Ccn and Brother Ny. Brother Ny is really funny. He's the one who told me (and continually tells me) that I look like Lady Gaga. Anyway, he doesn't really speak English at all, and Elvis speaks Thai okay, but those two really hit it off. I think E. really got a kick out of Brother Ny and it set a good, happy tone for the lesson. Once we got to the lesson, things went really well. E. is really open to our message. He grew up Catholic, and is very firm in his faith about God and Jesus Christ. He also prays and reads the Bible every day. When we gave him the Book of Mormon a few weeks ago he read the introduction and now he keeps it in his backpack that he takes to work with him. He hasn't really been reading in it, but we gave him an assignment and he committed to reading it. So, anyway, I'm skipping all over the place! Sorry! As we taught he seemed to like what we were teaching, but he was concerned about baptism and I think he was confused about the age that people should be baptized at. He told us that to him it makes sense that people should be baptized when they are old enough to reason about it. But, he's been taught that we are all born with Adam's "original" sin. So, it bothered him that babies/children would not be saved if they died before baptism. I think this is something that he's thought a lot about. We explained that we are baptized at age 8, the age of accountability. Then I basically recited the 2nd article of faith to explain that children are innocent and free of sin. Therefore, if they die before they are baptized, they are still welcomed by God into Heaven. He thought about it for a second and I'm not totally sure what he thought, but seemed okay with that answer. As we were finishing up the lesson, Elvis told us that he feels like the world is so confusing and evil. He asked us if we ever struggle with our spiritual life and we explained that we do. Everyone does. That's why we have the scriptures, prayer, prophets, church, etc... to keep us on track. He then told us that he looks forward to our visits and that he is happy when we teach him! I think he is really struggling being away from home and he has a lot of questions about his spiritual well-being. I feel like we are bringing some peace into his life and I am hopeful he really is starting to accept what we teach. I love our visits with him. They don't really feel like "lessons." They feel more like discussions about gospel principles. I love that! And it helps a lot that we teach him in English! It makes a huge difference when you can fully express yourself.
Sister Ding now has a baptismal date on Dad's birthday! Very excited and happy for her!
B. has been really hard to meet with. She has a lot of orders from her clothing shop and she's been sewing like crazy. So, we haven't been able to meet with her. We've tried to just stop by her shop multiple times, but she's never there. We're going to just keep trying to meet with her. We will have to move her baptismal date back for sure now. But, she has been reading in the Book of Mormon, so that's really good!
On Friday the Zone Leaders came to Mahasarakham to have a little training with us and tell us what they learned from their recent training with President Senior. As you know, our mission vision/goal is to get a temple in Thailand. For that to happen we need to have 4 stakes. I'm not totally sure where we're at, but that basically means that our branches need to turn into wards. We're close in a lot of places out here in the Esan. For branches to turn into wards we need more active Melchizedek priesthood holders. There are many many active women in the church in Thailand, but there is a serious lack of worthy priesthood holders. So, President Senior has asked us to really focus on the Melchizedek priesthood holders to help them become and stay active. He really wants us to focus on the law of tithing with them. He said that when we pay our tithing we are building temples and churches. But not only that- when we pay our tithing, we are worthy to enter the temple. We need members that are worthy to enter the temple. So, we are focusing on the law of tithing and how that helps us be worthy and how we receive more blessings that we can imagine when we pay it. (see 3 Nephi 24:10)
Okay, so for some fun(ny) things that happened this week!
Sister Mullen's brake pads (or whatever they are) on her bike were pretty much nonexistent and she's been having to stop her bike by dragging her feet on the ground... haha. So, a few days ago we were out in the banog contacting. I noticed a man just sitting on his motorcycle staring at us, so I rode over to him to talk to him. I introduced myself and started to introduce Sister Mullen, but then I realized that Sister Mullen was not there... she was still riding down the hill trying to stop herself. She went around the corner and out of sight So, I told the man, "Well, that's my companion..." and then I started laughing and couldn't stop as I explained to him that her brakes don't work. I think I just confused the guy. A minute or two later, Sister Mullen showed up again! haha You had to be there, but it was super funny. But this guy we were talking to was also a bit funny and awkward himself. We asked him where he lives, what he does for work, about his family, etc... he answered, "Well, I live with my mom, my dad, and my older sister. And I do not have a girlfriend." haha This guy is like 30. Sorry buddy. Not interested. However, we did invite him to church. But he didn't come.
So, one of our Elders is particularly hairy... and all the YW/ females at church are scared of him. At FHE we were playing a game where we each have a different sign. His was making a punching motion while yelling at the top of his lungs. Totally freaked them out! Every time he did his sign in the game, all the girls would scream and start laughing and mess up the game. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen!
The other day we were out biking down a little road and I wanted to stop to look at a cool fence. As I was stopping I heard Sister Mullen say something and then start laughing. I looked back and she was barefoot on her bike... her shoes had fallen off a little ways back down the road. We're just having problems with our shoes lately...
Yesterday before church we went to the morning market at 6am to sing and invite people to church. It was way fun, but not as effective as we'd hoped. And I really don't care for this market very much because it smells awful from all the meat/fish/and who knows what! But, one man did come up to us and asked us if we sell our hymnals. We explained that they are from our church building and invited him to come. He couldn't because he was selling, but he asked if we had any scriptures. What? I couldn't believe he was actually asking that! Yes, we do! We gave him a Book of Mormon and he said he'd start reading it. I feel like he actually might, too! We'll be returning to the morning market soon to check up with him. So awesome!
Yesterday was crazy! We had quite a few appointments with members/less actives/investigators. Literally every single place we went, we were given food. I think we're set for the week! People are so generous. Thai people love their food, and they love to share it, too. Very grateful!
Okay, those are some of the main things that happened this week. Right now I'm reading in 3rd Nephi... it's building up to Christ's visit to the Americas and I cannot wait to finally get to those chapters!
I love you all so much! Thank you for being the most amazing family ever! Thank you for your love and encouragement.