Monday, September 29, 2014

Jungle Journey

Hello amazing family and friends!

Great things happened this week!

Last Monday was way fun because we got to spend the day together as a zone and go to a really pretty waterfall. It was super tall with many levels. If we weren't missionaries we could have climbed up the waterfall. They have ropes attached to the rock under the waterfall that you can grab onto. So pretty! I kind of felt like I was a Nephite walking through the jungle! 

So, this last week we've really been preparing Brother Suthep for his baptism, which happened yesterday!!! He has a lot of faith and he travels an hour to come meet with us. He is in his late 20's and is from the mountains. Anyway, he was raised Christian, but was never baptized. As he learned more with us he came to develop his own testimony and really wanted to be baptized. However, he's definitely had some times of uncertainty or worry. He understands how important it is to keep the commandments and he was worried about breaking them, such as not being able to make it to church every Sunday because he lives a little ways away. In the end we helped him understand that it is his choice and that if he wants to come to church every Sunday and keep the commandments, then he can. It's up to him, not anything else. He decided that he would make that commitment and he was baptized yesterday! It was such a happy day. He gave a wonderful testimony and later in the evening after we had already returned home he gave us a call to thank us for helping him. He said that if we had not encouraged him he may not have decided to be baptized because he was scared. He said that now that he is baptized he is so happy! What a miracle. Such a happy day! I am so excited for Suthep. He has such strong faith in God and wants to do what's right. He's such a great example to me!

Another one of our investigators, Brother M., is progressing very well. He's in his 80's and has been coming to church and keeping commitments well. He loves to read the profiles on So cute. We'll have to make him one! He takes a little more time to teach, but he's doing so well! So excited for him!

We also have another investigator that has a goal to be baptized this coming week. Her name is F. She's in college right now and she is one that also has great faith. Her mother is very against her investigating the church, but she still comes. The only other big concern she has right now with getting baptized is that she's deathly afraid of water since she almost drowned as a child snorkeling. So, we've been trying to comfort her, and one member at church is a swimming instructor and offered to take her swimming to help her feel better about the water. I'm so grateful for amazing, willing members who are so dedicated to help us and I think that's going to make a big difference with F. She's such a sweet girl. Very quiet and thoughtful. I feel really blessed to be teaching her right now!

A few days ago we met with a recent convert that is now less active because of a temporary job. Her name is Sister I.C. She is absolutely amazing. She is working right now to support her parents and siblings, but is going to be getting Sundays off asap. She has a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. She wants to be a good person so that others that see her will know she loves Christ and is representing him well. I was just blown away by her testimony and I felt the Spirit so strongly when she shared it. 

I think this week I just had so many spiritual experiences learning from the amazing investigators and members here in Chiang Mai. These people have so much faith and are so dedicated to the Gospel. It's so inspiring to me and I just feel so blessed that I was sent here. The members here just radiate with love for one another. They are always serving each other and just have this really special light about them. Truly disciples of Jesus Christ. I am so happy here!

And I just love serving with Sister Ference! She is an absolutely amazing missionary and person. She's so focused and works so hard and is extremely organized. She's an excellent teacher and just so much fun to be around. What a blessing to be serving with her! 

So, for the last week and a half we've been running for thirty minutes every morning and then doing an additional 10 or so minutes of strength training. I feel so good! I've missed running! So glad that Sister Ference is in shape and loves to work out!

Well, these are the main things that happened this week. There's more, but it's in my journal and I’ll tell you when I get home!

Just know that I love you all sooooo much!



 We love corn from 7-11.
 On our way to the waterfall.... I think you probably have 500 pics of us in the songtao.

 Top of the waterfall
 This is by far the clearest water I've ever seen in Thailand!!
 Welcome to the waterfall!

 One of our investigators brought one of their 7 flying squirrels to a lesson.
 Running in the rain! Keeps it nice and cool!
 The lady put whipped cream on the outside of my dipped cone. haha
 Our branch! I love them all!
Brother Suthep!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A whirlwind of wonderful

สวัสดีคะครอบครัวที่รัก! I love you all soooo much! 

So, this last week has been totally crazy and awesome!

Last Monday we got the moves call and Sister Bentley, as well as E. Quinn, moved. Sister Bentley is also training! So, since she is training we had to head out to Bangkok on Tuesday night to get there for the trainer’s meeting at 8:00 Wednesday morning. A little chaotic, but we made it! And, since we were in Bangkok we had time to go visit some of our old areas!! First we went to Srinakarin (where Sis. Bentley was born) and met with some of the members and recent converts. Then we went to Bangkapi!!! Best day ever! We stayed the night with the Bangkapi sisters, so we went over to the church and I was able to be there for Book of Mormon class and ward correlation meeting! I got to see so many of the people that I love. It was HEAVEN! Oh, I just love these people so much I can't even describe it. I was so so so happy! They are doing well! Sister Boat and a handful of others are preparing to go to the temple in July!

Thursday was transfers meeting. So much fun. Lots of people moving. Sister Bentley is training in Roi Et. I am now companions with Sister Ference. She just came from Saphan Sung training Sister Peck. She is absolutely amazing. I've only been with her for three days and I am already learning  so much. In Chiang Mai, Elder Sukhan and Luker both stayed. Elder Omer's new companion is Elder Thanawat (he's from BangBuaThong). And Elder Klein is training Elder Paxton here. Elder Paxton is so full of enthusiasm and is so excited to work! This is just an amazing district and I love everyone so much. I am so blessed and excited to be working with these people.

After transfer meeting we had a few other meetings for missionaries and leaders. Lots of good counsel about not relaxing on our purpose, which is to baptize, but also really trying to work through the members better, etc... it was great! After that everyone went to Que Pasa. Yummy.

It was district conference so all of the branches came for Saturday and Sunday meetings. That includes Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Pitsonulog, and Gamphengphet.  So much fun! So, we had all the sisters stay with us. There have been a few switches: in Chiang Rai our sisters are Sister Barber with Sister Sawangwong (!!!), and in Lampang is Sister Maughn with Sister Pavadee! They are all so amazing. It has been so fun spending time with them over the last couple days. And, all the elders are here, too. President Senior gave us permission to have a zone P-day and let everyone stay through Monday! So, the whole zone is still here. We're going to probably go up to some waterfall.

Anyway, the conference was so good. The theme was on self-reliance, both spiritually and temporally. I really got a lot out of it and felt the Spirit. And yes, we got to sing in the choir, too. Way fun! This last week has been a whirlwind, and I can't even remember everything that happened!

But, Brother Md. did not get baptized. I think he needs a little more time. He's good, but just might take a little longer. One of our investigators, Sp., is progressing well and will hopefully be baptized on Sunday! We also had some miraculous new investigators come to church on Sunday! We are being so blessed here and I am just so happy.

I am just blown away by the faith and dedication of the members in our district, as well as everywhere in Thailand. These Saints are so committed and are great examples to me. I love them so much and am learning so much from them all. It was such a boost to me to see all these amazing members come together this weekend and share their testimonies, experiences, etc... There is so much love among everyone and I just feel so honored to serve here.

This is going to be an AWESOME transfer! I love my companion so much! She is from Holladay, Utah and goes to the U.  She's just one transfer behind me and was born in Lampang, so she's happy to be back in the North. She is amazing at Thai and teaching. She's also just so adorable and loving. Love this girl!

So, I am so happy and excited for all that's coming up this transfer! 


 On our way to the Queen's Palace
 At the queen's palace they told us our pants were too short,
so they gave us skirts to wear... 
but the skirts were shorter than our pants.... haha

 Garbage cans

 Amazing view!

 Heading to Bangkok
 lunch in Srinakarin
 Look who came to transfer meeting!
 My comps! 4 out of 8. Love them all.
 MTC district unites!
 On our way to church
 Found a scorpion
 We scrounged together some french toast and macaroni and cheese
 to feed our zone last night! haha
 My new companion, Sister Ference
 Sisters Slaugh, Peck and Ference
 Que Pasa

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hold tight, knuckles white!

Hello amazing family that I love sooooo much!

Okay, well this was a great week! We had some fun experiences and some new things as well!

First, I'll give you the update on our investigators. We've been so blessed to find a lot of really great investigators; however, this week it seemed like half of them left town. The rest of them were really hard to get a hold of. These investigators are really great, but they're not progressing as fast as we'd like, mostly because we're having a hard time meeting with them. We text/call/fb, but in the end we really need to see them in person and they need to come to church. So, hopefully this week will be a little better as far as being able to meet with our investigators. 

However, one of our investigators, Brother Manid, is doing great! He's our 80 year old investigator that is so so so cute! He met with us a couple of days ago for the second time and it was like teaching a new person. The first time we taught he related and compared everything we taught to Buddhism. Which, of course, is normal and makes sense, because that is all he knows! However, this time I feel like he really was more sincere about understanding exactly what we believe. He would repeat back what he understood and share his thoughts. In the end, Brother Manid accepted a baptismal date for the 21st of this month. He's the sweetest thing. So that was an amazing miracle and blessing! So happy!

Some very sad news: The Ure's got transferred to Bangkok. :( We all miss them sooooo much. They were like our grandparents here and took care of us and the members. They are now over the humanitarian aid and are living in Asoke. I'm excited to see them at transfer meeting this week! So, since they are gone that also means that our district now has to take over their teaching job. We are now teaching English to the head government officials of Chiang Mai Tuesday through Friday from 1-2:30 at the main government building.  So, we taught for the first time this week. I was kind of scared. haha But they are very gracious and kind and participate so well. The governor wants his staff to be able to speak English better before ASEA hits in 2015 so he wants an intensive daily English class for them all. On Thursday we taught the Head of Army, Agriculture, and Livestock of Chiang Mai. It was actually pretty fun! They loved having us come and I am excited to keep teaching. They really want us to focus on pronunciation, listening, and speaking.

Another fun thing this week was our activity for the newly baptized members of the church. Our Branch Mission Leader is so awesome. He truly cares for every one and wants to help all these RC's feel loved and supported. So, a few weeks ago in correlation meeting he asked us to help plan a big activity to welcome in all the new members. It ended up being a blast. What we did was re-create Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life and act it out (I think this may be the third time I've done this on the mission, but this was definitely the biggest production!). So, we set up a Christmas Tree in the cultural hall and Sister Bentley and I made Rice Krispie treat balls to be the fruit. Then we took a rope and zig-zagged it around the gym so that the people holding to the "rod" would have a bit of a journey. After setting up that much, we missionaries left. But the next day when we came to help we had quite the fun surprise. The ward missionaries had made a "mist of darkness" and a "great and spacious building" out of tents/blankets/etc... and turned it into a sort of an obstacle course. Not only that, but they dumped out a huge bin full of branches and Christmas ornaments all over the floor as extra things to trip on. haha We were a little shocked.

Anyway, we had a really great turnout. Before we began the activity, everyone gathered in a classroom and introduced themselves. Then the Branch President, his counselors, the Elders Quorum President, and the Branch Mission Leader introduced themselves and explained to the new members what their own jobs are and how they are here to help them! So gooood! After that we lined up everyone outside of the gym and blindfolded them all and then took them to the "iron rod!" All they were told beforehand was to NOT let go of the rod until someone took off their blindfold, which would signify that they had finished the course. Well, it was a mad house! The ward missionaries really went to town. As the new members were making their way along the course, the ward missionaries would come and try to get them off the course by whispering to them, dumping baby powder on them, throwing ornaments on them, shaking dried palm leaves all over them, giving them other ropes to hold onto, etc... It was the funniest sight. Everyone was screaming! And if someone let go of the rod, we would take them outside the gym to the branch president, he would explain the principle of repentance, and then we would lead them back to the rod. Some people had to go see the branch president a lot... haha. Anyway, when they finally made it to the Tree of Life, the Elders took off their blindfolds, congratulated them, then gave them a rice krispie treat, and then directed them to the chapel. It probably took over 30 minutes for everyone to finally make it to the tree. Once we were in the chapel we were able to explain the significance of that activity, and share from the vision in the scriptures, ask for them to share, etc... We wanted everyone to understand the vision of the Tree of Life, but also the role of the leaders in the branch, and the idea of sharing the "fruit" with friends and family. So, I think it was a successful night. Lots of fun. Everyone was covered in baby powder and Christmas sparkles! Afterwards, we had a delicious green curry dinner. It was so fun! Our investigator Dawaan came and he could not get over the rice krispie treats. He loved them and begged for the recipe. Made us laugh. Anyway, it was a great night, and I just felt extra grateful for the amazing leadership in this branch. They do so much for the members, investigators, and us. They spend so much time helping and uplifting everyone! I want to be like them!!

So, those are a few of the main events this week. Oh! This made me laugh: I have the picture of our family that you sent me for my birthday on my planner cover. Yesterday a few people were looking at the picture, asking who was who. They all thought that Sam was older, at least 20 years old. One girl also asked if Sam has a girlfriend... flashback to Bangkapi... it's starting again! haha I'll be more careful who I show our family to this time around, though.... haha. Anyway, Sam, you're quite the popular man over on this side of the ocean! love ya!

I love you all so much! I am so grateful for your love, your examples, your guidance, EVERYTHING!