Monday, July 7, 2014

dtukae, dtukae, who's got the dtukae

Well, this week was awesome!  I love it here sooo much! I'll just go in order of what happened.

Okay, last Monday we had a really fun FHE at a recent convert's house, named Brother Da. He lives way out there and it was just so Isaan. I loved it. Sister Sawangwong gave a really great lesson about the priesthood, which was interrupted by the appearance of a really huge gecko called a "dtukae" in Thai. Thai people are terrified of these things and it sure sent everyone running. Made me laugh. This was probably one of the biggest ones I’ve ever seen. Apparently, if they bite you they clamp their jaws so you can't get it off. I think that's why they're all scared of them. Good reason. 

On Tuesday we had a great district meeting. There's a lot that we needed to really sit down and organize in this area. We've got all of the recent converts divvied up among our companionships to take care of. We also all took different responsibilities for the different activities that have kind of lost momentum here. We are really trying to revamp sports day, Book of Mormon class, and English class here. Also, I am in charge of the monthly Singles FHE activity. So, there are a lot of fun things coming up and I am just really excited to be serving here. Sister Sawangwong is in charge of Book of Mormon class and on Friday we had our first class. She just decided to start the whole thing over again. She prepared really well and made it super interactive. She's way awesome! Sister Carter is in charge of English class and she's organizing it so we each have a small portion of the lesson to teach. She teaches English really well and makes it interesting and helpful. Anyway, things are off to a good start.

So, this week we've been doing a lot of inviting! We've also been having a lot of fun along the way! One thing that I really like about street contacting out in the Isaan is that people are not really in a rush and love to talk. I feel like we have more short, friendly conversations out here. That sort of makes them more open to our gospel message. It's really funny... last time I was out in the Isaan I was trying to learn Thai and I couldn't really distinguish between Thai and Isaan. Now, it's very clear, and I'm trying to pick it up. I try speaking Isaan with people when we go contacting sometimes and they love it! I think it might be an effective way to help people open up to us. Not only are we trying to speak in Thai, but also in their specific dialect. So, anyway, it's kind of fun! Also, it helps having Sister Sawangwong to teach us!

This week has also been the week of meeting many foreigners! In just a couple of days of contacting we ran into multiple Norwegians, New Zealanders, and a Dutch man. One of the Norwegians has a Thai wife. We talked with them for a few minutes and connected really well. They invited us to come to dinner at their house. The wife even wanted to take us to her farm in Petchabun. haha So, we haven't been able to meet with them yet, but we'll see if that goes anywhere.

Anyway, we've been inviting all over the place trying to get acquainted with the town and meet lots of people. It's been really fun!

On Friday the zone leaders and sister training leaders came to give us training. It was really great. The focus was on becoming a consecrated missionary. Also, the mission has a goal for every companionship to have 4 baptisms for the month of July! For the month of June there were 198 baptisms. As of the end of June there were 1055 baptisms for this year so far! Anyway, the training was awesome and super motivating. We have really amazing missionaries here!
Throughout the week we've been able to meet with a handful of recent converts. Specifically, we have met with a lady named Luug Nam. She was baptized last month. She loves church and she has a goal to go to the temple. She's a spunky little thing and is always so willing to help us. Also, there are two recent converts named Ploy and Botan. They are so cute! They are both 22 and have very strong testimonies. Also, we've met with a mother/daughter named Oo and On. Rather shy, but so cute! We also have another recent convert named Jee that is amazing! She loves the gospel so much and when we met with her, she literally could not stop talking about her testimony and experiences with the gospel. Really amazing! So, we're becoming better acquainted with our recent converts and I love them all! Yesterday was testimony meeting and several of them shared really wonderful testimonies.

Okay, so at zone training we got some good ideas to help our leadership in our branches/wards. Over the last few months there have been a really, really large number of baptisms country wide. The bishops, counselors, etc., are having a bit of a hard time keeping track of everyone. So, on Sunday, Sister Carter and I set up a table at the front of the church. Every recent convert or new investigator that came to church signed their name, and then we gave them a little sticker with their name on it. Blue stickers were for recent converts, and yellow stickers were for investigators. The branch mission leader and branch presidency really loved it. It helped me figure out who people are, too. Also, we're working on getting pictures of all the recent converts to post on a bulletin board with their names for all the members to see so that they know who everyone is. I think all this will really help the branch be more united.

So, anyway, yesterday we had a big miracle! On Saturday Sister Carter contacted into a girl named Nan who wanted to come to church! She's 19 years old. This girl actually came and absolutely loved it! She loved all the meetings and after church ended we got to teach her. She accepted everything readily. She already has been keeping all the commandments that we taught and she excitedly accepted a baptismal date for next Sunday. Not only that, she's free every single day! This girl was extremely prepared and I am so grateful that Sister Carter invited her to church. We were talking today about how we truly are blessed when we are obedient. President Senior asks us to go inviting for 2 hours every day (usually go for more than that anyway), so then God places prepared people in our paths. It's a pattern I’ve noticed my entire mission and I’m just grateful for that testimony. I also know that even if we are having times when it's hard to find investigators, we at least are passing the test of obedience by doing what we're asked. There's not a better feeling than knowing that God is guiding us in our sincere efforts. Anyway, Nan is so cute and so prepared. We are going to teach her again this evening! That was probably the highlight of my week.

So I think that this week we were being guided and led in our finding efforts. Also, we're getting to know our recent converts better, as well as the members and branch leadership. I feel so blessed to be serving here and I just love it! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

Today I was reading in Alma 5 to prepare to go teach Nan. I really like verse 33. It's really simple but it's so clear. "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.” As missionaries we are trying to get people to understand repentance and to come unto Christ. We are human and our mistakes and sins keep us from God. However, because of Jesus Christ's Atonement, God's "arms of mercy" are extended toward us when we repent. We not only repent from sins, but use repentance and the Atonement to progress and become more like Christ so that we get to the point where we can be perfected. It's so necessary for us to always be trying to improve ourselves, and we do this through Christ's Atonement and daily repentance. We should be so happy and have so much hope because of this! I LOVE THIS GOSPEL! 

Well, family, I love you more than I can express! Thank you so much for being so amazingly supportive and full of love and concern always. I hope that Grandpa has a very happy birthday! I love you all soooo much!


Sister Lizzy! :)