Monday, October 28, 2013

Bonogs and a baptism!

Hello Familia that I love!!!

This was a great week! A lot of great things happened and a lot of weird things happened, too.

So, we set our new district goals for the transfer. We are hoping for each companionship to get two baptisms. It's a stretch, but I really think it can be done! We're going to have to work really hard and have a lot of faith, but I can see it happening. Cream is getting baptized next Sunday! She wanted to move up her date and her mom supported it! I am so happy! They both came to church yesterday, and we have now taught Cream everything. We just have one more lesson, she has her baptismal interview on Thursday, and then she will be baptized on Sunday! Happy Day! Mahasarakham is going to have a new member of the branch as well as a returned less active member! For our second baptism, we have a few investigators that are getting close to baptism and we are going to help them progress and ready themselves for baptism the best that we can! It's exciting!

Anyway, I am really enjoying being companions with Sister Crockett! She's so cute and we feel really comfortable teaching together. One thing that is also fun is how she street contacts. We'll start talking with random people we meet and get to know them a bit. Then we show them a baptismal pass-along card and ask if they're familiar with the picture/ baptism. Then we explain baptism to them and how they can become clean from their sins and start again, and then extend a baptismal date to them. I've never done this before, but it is way fun! And I am still always a little surprised at the people's reactions. They generally give it some thought and then either explain that they might not be available on that day, or that they are interested. It definitely helps us find out who is interested in our message and who is not. We've had some great lessons with people this way, and we have some great potential investigators from it. So, it's just way fun to try new methods for teaching and contacting! I LOVE IT!

We've had some awesome days out in the bonogs this week! One day when we were out there we were able to give six mini lessons to people out and about. I love going to bonogs because people are not busy at all and are willing to sit down and talk. So, we got a lot of numbers and have been busy trying to set up second appointments! I feel like Heavenly Father is really blessing us.

 We decided to go out to the bonogs to find some of the people we'd contacted into. We found one lady sitting on the side of the road chopping wood. She invited us to sit down by her and we taught a brief lesson on the restoration. It went well, haha, but as we were teaching her some lady walks out of the woods holding a machete and talking to herself. I do not feel okay being near crazy people with machetes. Anyway, after that we had some great lessons with more bonog people! 

I think this week I learned how much I love having the Spirit with me. I know that when we are in tune with the spirit we are safe and protected. It is such a gift and I am so grateful for it. I know that as missionaries we are so protected and watched out for.

So, we decided to introduce E. to the elders and see if maybe they could connect with him better or help him understand the importance of baptism better than we could. We went together to his house on Friday and taught/ introduced the elders. It was a great lesson and the elders will continue teaching him. 

Every Friday we also have Sports Day. The goal is that members will bring their friends and the English students and their friends will come. We've met a few new people through it. So that's good. But on the 9th of November there is going to be a big stake (district) tournament at Mahasarakham, so the branch members have been practicing like crazy! We play with them, too, and I have to say my nonexistent volleyball skills are actually improving! Volleyball is way more fun than I ever remember it from P.E.! haha Maybe because we're not graded. 

Anyway, Saturday was awesome! We had a lot of great lessons, one specifically with Sister B. She's been previously taught by elders, but could not get baptized because she has to do certain Buddhist rituals for her deceased husband. However, she really wants to be baptized as well as her three children. I am really hopeful that she will be baptized before this transfer ends. She's the sweetest, most sincere lady and I just love her!

Also, for this week’s finding activity with the elders we did a puppet show in the park. Elder Chelson came up with the activity. It was a complete flop, but I think it has some potential. And we ourselves were thoroughly entertained! haha

Yesterday was a great day at church! Yuwi and Cream came and they chose Elder Chelson to be the one to baptize Cream. After church we went inviting and contacting and ended up in the middle of nowhere at this fish sanctuary. It made us laugh, but it was actually pretty cool. There were a whole bunch of catfish that you could feed and they had pavilions set up all over to sit in and feed the fish. Pretty sweet!!

So, we were so close to having balanced key indicators this week. We ended up having more lessons than we needed, we had two new investigators, two investigators with baptismal dates, but only one investigator at church (we need 2)! That is always the problem! It is so hard to get people to church! But, I feel like we worked really hard this week and I still feel satisfied with our efforts. We were definitely blessed this week!

Oh, so this was sad. This morning around 6:00 I hear someone outside yelling "Sister Stevenson!" and I was still half asleep, not totally there. Anyway, by the time I really woke up and figured out what was going on, the person outside had left. I figured it was Sister Ud so I called her (and it had been her).  She teaches seminary, and when she went to the church this morning to open it up, she realized that someone had broken into the church and damaged alot of things. She asked us to call the branch president and then she asked the elders to go take pictures of all the damage. So, we went over together and it was way sad to see. One of the doors had been left open so the intruder easily got in, but then destroyed a lot of the windows, broke into the branch president’s office, and went through a whole bunch of cupboards. A lot of the doors and windows are completely damaged and there is wood/glass/nails all over the hallway. I don't know what they've done since then, but Sister Ud went to get the police, so hopefully they will be able to help. Awful! 

I feel so blessed to be serving here in Mahasarakham and I just love being a missionary. I feel like my love for this country/people/work is growing more and more every day. I am also feeling a lot more confident in my language. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

I love you all so so so much! Thank you for being the most wonderful, supportive family ever! I miss you all like crazy and think of you all the time!


Liz :)

 squished toad
 craziest cows
 trying to be artsy

 Found the panorama on my camera!

 sports day!
 sock puppets!
 Fish sanctuary

Monday, October 21, 2013

A new transfer, companion and hairdo.

Hello family!!!

So, before I start the email, I am staying in Mahasarakham and my new companion is Sister Crockett! I am waaaay happy with this situation! As transfers were approaching I really was excited to stay or go. Now that I am still here, I am way excited for this next transfer! Sister Mullen is training again in Phitsonulog (over more in the north). And that is way cool because she and her family lived in Thailand when she was in Jr. High for a year in Gampenghphed. The closest branch was in Phitsonulog. So, she already knows the members in that area! So awesome. I think she was excited! It's been great having her as a trainer. She's been so awesome and I am sad to say good bye. But I am also super excited to work with Sister Crockett! Sister Crockett is also in Sister Mullen's MTC group. She trained Sister Speas. She's from Pleasant Grove and is way cute! I am already learning so much from her. She has served only in Bangkok so she's finally getting the Isaan experience! I think it'll be a bit of an adjustment. She's used to busy Bangkok and faster paced missionary work. It's definitely going to be slower going here, but I think she'll grow to love it. She's also not used to biking. In BKK they mostly take public transportation. So I think in the last day or two she's biked more than she has her whole mission. haha Made me laugh. I didn't realize how infrequently BKK missionaries use their bikes. Crazy! We hardly ever get off our bikes out here!
Since we found out on Monday that Sister Mullen would be moving, we had our last district meeting together on Tuesday and it was really nice. We made a huge cookie and ate it, and then had a sort of testimony meeting. The Elders are both staying another transfer, so it's just Sis. Mullen leaving. That night we taught English and it was by far my favorite English lesson so far. We had about six 5-7 year olds come and they all brought their parents! The kids were under control and were way into the lesson. They all participated really well and we made it fun and interactive. To be honest, I don't really care for teaching English. I'm not creative and I don't feel like I'm a good teacher. But for some reason it was so much fun that night. I also ended up talking with one of the moms afterward about the plan of salvation. Hopefully we'll be able to talk tomorrow and she can become a new investigator.

We spent a lot of Wednesday getting Sis. Mullen ready to go to Bangkok. However, we did go teach Sis. Yuwi and Cream.We gave Cream a baptismal date and she accepted. We also explained that in order for her to be baptized, Sister Yuwi needs to be going to church also. They committed to coming to church, and yesterday THEY CAME!!!! So happy! Hopefully Sister Yuwi will become active again and her daughter will be baptized. So awesome!

Wednesday night we went over to the Elders' to light off some lanterns together. It is harder than it looks. The two times that I tried to get the lanterns floating they drifted into the neighbors’ yards. I was so afraid I was going to start a fire! Elder Chambers had to climb the fence and grab the lanterns so they wouldn't catch anything on fire. Next month is the lantern festival. Hopefully those lanterns were just a warm up and I'll be able to successfully set them afloat next time!
That night we caught the bus to Bangkok around 10:30 pm and got into BKK around 5:30 am!

Thursday was way fun because it was transfers meetings. It was soooo great to see everyone! Apparently there weren't a lot of moves out in the Isaan, but there sure were in other areas because there were a ton of missionaries at the transfer meeting. The new group is pretty big. I got to talk with Sister Maughan. Way cute! Sister Sahagan is training her. Also, Sister Phelps and Sister Tilley are training- they are going to do so well. I love those two, they are just the cutest and so with it.

So, after I got Sister Crockett we headed back to Mahasarakham! Wahoo! We got in around 3 am, so we were pretty tired on Friday. But it was a great first day together. We found a lady named Amnuay that Sister Mullen and I contacted into last week and Sis. C gave her a baptismal date for the 3rd of November! Awesome! Sister Crockett is a great missionary. She's very bold, but she has a really nice way with people. So excited to learn more from her. 

I really love leading this area. It helps me feel more confident in myself. I kind of like being the one who has to coordinate everything, lead lessons, etc... I think this is really going to help me grow as a missionary. And Sister Crockett is way encouraging and so fun to work with. I'm just sooo excited about everything right now!

I don't have a ton to write about our investigators. With the trip to Bangkok/packing/unpacking we didn't get to teach as much as normal. We did get to drop in on Bia on Saturday and she is doing pretty well. However she didn't go to church yesterday and I'm sad about that. I'm way happy about Cream and Yuwi, and  this week we'll be teaching Sister Bung. So, it should be great!

Yesterday was probably the weirdest Sunday I've had on my mission. It was great, but so many weird things happened. So, we showed up with the Elders to church about 40 minutes early to welcome people. But no one ever came... haha we were so confused. Turns out they were having a special Asia area conference that was later in the morning. We were all getting pretty worried when 9:00 came and no one was there! Luckily, we just hadn't gotten the memo. The conference was broadcast to the churches and we got to hear from Elder Holland, Elder Hales, and Sister Stephens! To be honest, I didn't catch a lot of it because it was all in Thai, but the gist of the conference was missionary work, preparing teens to serve missions, being member missionaries, etc... So great!

Afterwards we went to teach Sister Min. However when we got there her Grandma put us to work and we ended up pounding rice out of their sheaves for about an hour. haha Great arm workout for sure!

Then we went to teach Sister O and her hairdresser sister happened to be there. She wanted to do my hair, and I tried to politely refuse, but she insisted and just started to get out her hair supplies. She was way excited and asked me what color I wanted my hair... I DO NOT want my hair dyed! haha So, I suggested a braid, and she settled for that, but then she had to add these huge curls, too. She was pleased and told me I look like a Barbie. She did Sis. Crockett's hair the same. Then she painted our nails. Definitely got the royal treatment there! 
As we rode away from her house we both had these huge curls that definitely attracted attention. It was so funny, everyone kept yelling how beautiful we were. 

Anyway, we had some really good contacting after that, and met some great potentials. Awesome day!

So, basically, it is going to be a great transfer here in Mahasarakham. It's so weird to think that by the time I leave Mahasarakham I'll be getting close to my half way point. Ahh, time is going really fast! I just love being a missionary and I love Thailand!!!!!!

I love you all so much! Thank you for being so amazingly supportive and encouraging always!

Love, Liz

 At Sister Cham's rice field. We'll get to harvest rice soon!
Dinner with Sister Nok, Bro. John and the Elders. At a Korean restaurant!
 This is Cream!
With Bia!
 Trying to light the lantern.
 This is what's supposed to happen.
 But when I light it...
 Elder Chambers has to hop the fence to grab it
from lighting the neighbor's house on fire.
Bye bye Sister Mullen :(
 Sister Maughan (Montana girl!) introducing herself in Thai.
She's way cute!
 Sister Crockett! Our three hour wait at the bus station...I look so nasty and travel worn.
Sister Crockett's first rice field/bonog.
 pounding rice
 Min's grandma. Love this lady!
 At Sister O's sister's hair salon...little did we know
we'd soon be getting makeovers.
 With Ccn and Oh

Monday, October 14, 2013

This way to the Tree of Life!

Hello family that I love!

Well, this was a good week! It felt weird, a lot of things fell through and a lot of interesting problems came up with some of our people, but it was good overall.

I'm just going to go in order of what happened this week.

Monday was a really weird P-day because we ended up helping Sister Wright with a big luncheon she was doing for her 3rd graders at her school. It ended up being a lot more involved than we expected so we were there for quite awhile. But it was good to help her. She was stressed and has been really sick. Those little Thai kids are just sooooo cute! And soooo excited to speak with us falangs!

Also, on Monday, Bia called us to tell us that she had several orders coming in and would be too busy with work to meet for the whole week! She's been keeping commitments, praying, reading her scriptures, etc... and she gets blessed with more work, but those blessings distract her from meeting with us and keeping her commitments. So, we stopped in to visit with her a few times, but she never could actually sit down and have a lesson.  President Senior suggested that we teach "Keep the Sabbath Day Holy" and share a scripture from Matthew with her. We were excited to do that, but she can't meet. So, we're hoping when we drop by tonight she'll let us teach. She's so close to baptism but just gets distracted so easily. It's kind of been a pattern. But, I really think she'll get baptized, it's just probably not going to be when I'm here (unless I stay!). 

A week or so ago we were talking with a pharmacist at his shop and a man walked in to buy something. He saw us and said that he'd learned from elders years ago! We went to find him at the market on Tuesday. His name is Brother Nai. He sells treats at the market and has a small family. He has a Book of Mormon. We basically just introduced ourselves and gave him a scripture to read and reminded him about prayer. We'll meet with him again and maybe he'll start learning again!

Also, while we were at the market people kept randomly giving us samples of things! We left the market with a huge bag of treats that had been given to us. People are so generous and love to make falangs happy! In fact, the other day we were out contacting and we were talking with a lady selling a sticky rice banana thing at her house. A man bought some and then motorcycled away. But then a few minutes later he returned and handed us a few of his sticky rice things. He said, "We must take care of the falangs and let them experience things," or something along those lines. Anyway, people are just so friendly all the time. So grateful!

On Wednesday we went to teach Sister Du. When we got there she had prepared lunch for us without telling us. How sweet and kind! She'd made this really good bean sprout dish and was excited to serve us. I love her! And then we had a great discussion about President Monson's Conference talk from last conference about obedience.

Also, yesterday we went to visit sweet Sister O. She's way cute and has been inactive for quite a while, ever since her dad passed away years ago. Yesterday when we were at her house she kept asking us if she could go buy us treats because she would receive a lot of "boon" especially since we are teachers/ missionaries. Basically, in Buddhism you keep yourself in balance if you do more good than bad. So, to make up for the bad you receive "boon" by doing good acts... such as buying falang missionaries candy, or giving sandwiches to dogs on the street, or giving soda to statues. She prays to Buddha a lot to get over some health issues she has. Yesterday we taught that it is God that we pray to to receive blessings, help, etc... And it is only God that we must worship.

On Wednesday we went out to a bonog to find a lady that we'd contacted into last week. We found her as well as her younger sister! We introduced prayer and the Book of Mormon to them both. The original lady was not too interested, but her sister was! Once we handed her a Book of Mormon she would not put it down. She just kept reading it and saying, "good reading!" (that doesn't really translate well! haha) Anyway, we're hopeful that she'll become a new investigator!

On Thursday the Zone Leaders came to share with us what they'd learned from their training with President Senior about goal setting. It was really great! As we set goals they encouraged us to start with the end in mind and work backwards to really assess what we need to do to make those goals. 

This week we taught Y. and Cream. We committed them to reading the scriptures and praying together. We also committed them to come to church. They didn't, but hopefully they've been reading and praying. We'll see them in the next few days to teach again.

Okay, so here's my small miracle of the week: We, along with the elders, planned a finding activity to replicate Lehi's vision in a nearby park. We were in charge of making popcorn balls to hang from the tree to look like the fruit from his vision. Popcorn here is hard to come by and very expensive. We weren't really sure what to do because we didn't want to spend too much money or time on the popcorn. So, Friday morning we were finishing our studies and Sister Chuanphid randomly showed up at the church with a HUGE bag of popcorn. Not sure if she planned on giving it to us, but when she saw us she excitedly handed us the bag! Wow! Thank you Heavenly Father. We are so blessed, even if it's just small things that help us not waste time and money!

And that finding activity turned out really well. We hung the popcorn balls from the tree, made an iron rod, and a sign that said, "This way to the tree of life." haha Then we invited people to follow the rod to the tree. It was way fun and a whole bunch of members came with us to help. We got to talk to alot of people and get alot of phone numbers. 

General Conference was awesome! And we got to see it all, except for the last session, in English! So great to hear from our leaders. There are so many I could talk about, but I loved Elder Ballard's challenge to reach out and share the gospel with just one friend before Christmas. How awesome if everyone does that!

We watched the last session in Thai because one of our investigators came to it. It was cool to hear it in Thai, and one of the translators was Brother Goodman (my mission prep teacher at the Y!) So cool!

Also, this made me laugh. We were out biking past a wat and two 12- 13 year old monks saw us and started yelling about how cute we were. That is sooo against monk rules! haha

Okay, that is the bulk of this week. We shall know tomorrow probably who is going to stay and who is going to move. Wahoo! Can't wait to find out.

I love you all sooooooo much!