The ward in Chiang Mai is amazing! It's actually still a branch because it's not a stake up here yet. But, in Chiang Mai there are two branches. The first meets at 9:00 am and the second meets at 1:00. We are over the second branch with the zone leaders. It's fun having 1:00 church. I really, really like it. It makes it easier to get people to church in the first place, and it gives us time to invite and to make lots of church calls. The branch president is so great. He is so willing to serve and help everybody and he just has this kind, calming presence. I feel like everything just runs smoothly here and there's a lot of love and kindness here. I LOVE it here! And there are definitely a lot of tourists! We have a couple falang families that are here with the military and school. They are cute! In fact for FHE tonight we are going to the Darting's for Hawaiian Haystacks and cheesecake! Wahoo!
Yesterday at church a falang couple in their 60's or so came because they have a fly-fishing company here in ChiangMai and in Burma. They're based out of Logan. Fun to talk with them!
I've been hearing about the Open House in Bangkapi from the members on fb and I wish I was there for it! Sounds like it was quite a big deal!
So, this was such a great, amazing, crazy week! I don't even know where to start, so much happened. I guess I'll start with Tuesday: Training from Pres. Senior and switch-off's with the Chiang Rai sisters! Awesome, awesome day! So, President and Sister Senior have been traveling around the country visiting districts to give more one-on-one training! It was so wonderful. There were so many awesome things that I learned, but I think the take-away message I got from it was that we need to be showing more love to the people we teach. As a mission we have become very good at teaching people for baptism, but maybe we need to be focusing more on teaching people for conversion. Pres. and Sis. Senior really stressed that we need to be showing our love and charity for our investigators by asking "inspired questions" and identifying their real concerns. In this mission we tend to baptize people really fast and that's totally fine. Pres. Senior talked about how we don't need to slow down the time it takes to prepare people for baptism, but we do need to maybe take an extra ten minutes in a lesson, or give them a random call, etc... to just listen and understand them. Help them know we love and care for them and are willing to do whatever we can to help them along their conversion process. It was so wonderful!
We did a few role plays and then went and grabbed lunch together. Afterwards, we switched off with Sister Barber and Holmes. We stayed here in Chiang Mai for it. I spent the day with Sister Barber- she is just the best! Loved working with her! She's a great teacher and I learned a lot. Right after the training we had an appointment with one of our recent converts, Brother Dtong. This guy is so awesome. He and his family moved to Germany about 4 or so years ago. His family wanted him to return to Thailand to be a monk so he came, but with no intention of going to the wat. He came to the church one day looking for work and he met with the missionaries and ended up getting baptized. Anyway, President Senior asked to come help us teach in the lesson. I was a little nervous, but it was such a great experience and a confidence boost! I really tried to apply what we'd just learned from the training. haha Pres. Senior had some great insights and scriptures and Brother Dtong had awesome questions! A really great experience! So those were some of the highlights from Tuesday and switch-offs.
So, we had quite a few investigators this week: First off was Th. from Cameroon! I ran into him while we were inviting at a mall and he agreed to meet with us. He originally was playing soccer for Buri Ram, but had an injury and now he buys clothes/shoes/accessories from Thailand and sells them back to Cameroon. Anyway, he said he is not satisfied with his religion and wants to learn more about our church. He is reading the Book of Mormon in French online!
This week we were able to meet with S. a couple of times! Sis. Tilley contacted into him a week or so before she headed home. He then moved to Bangkok, but then last week we just barely found out that he'd changed his mind and is back in Chiang Mai! He understands what we teach very well and willingly keeps all the commandments! He has a goal to be baptized in September. He couldn't come to church yesterday because of work, but he's working on getting that squared away! So, we have a lot of hope for S. and are so excited and grateful to be working with him!
Another wonderful investigator is Dt. We invited into him a couple weeks ago. He has met with us a couple of times and really likes what we teach. He came to church last week, but did not come yesterday. Hopefully we'll meet with him soon.
Also, we have another investigator named F. She wants to get baptized, but was a little hesitant about it. We were trying to figure out what the problem was and it finally came down to the fact that she was afraid of getting dropped in the water! So, we assured her she'd be fine and now she's way excited to be baptized.
We had quite a few new investigators come to church on Sunday for the first time, but I'll write more about them next week once we have the chance to meet them and teach them more! I really feel like we are being so blessed right now! Exciting time! So grateful!
This week we also had a lot of awesome opportunities just to spread a little light to people. We met with a lot of travelers and foreigners that were very interested in our work. We met with some Chinese tourists, a German couple, and a man from Canada. We had really nice conversations with them all and were able to introduce them to the church and our beliefs. After talking to all these people Sis. Bentley and I just felt so happy! These people are now at least a little closer to Christ and have the information to contact the church in their home countries.
Anyway, we had two Chinese tourists come to the church one morning while we were there. One was a man in his 50's named Zh. and his niece in her 30's or so named L. One of the elders had invited them and they randomly showed up at the church. We were the only ones there so we gave them a tour of the church. It was the neatest thing. When we walked into the Sacrament room both of them just gasped and then paused. They really felt the Spirit, but of course they did not understand it. Zh. asked if he could take a picture so that he could remember how he felt here. They were so receptive and excited to learn. Zh. even told us that if we come to China he will let us stay at his house and cook us food. They are so cute! Anyway, L. came to church on Sunday. Zh. was not able to come. The elders are taking care of them. They'll be here for a month, so they'll be coming on Sundays and meeting with the elders during the week! So amazing! Really spiritual experience!
Okay, lastly, our very exciting news: Sister Bee was baptized! This girl is just so amazing! She had met with elders in the past on the street but was not interested in the message. However when a Christian lady came to the university and prayed with her class she said she felt something different and began researching God online. Well, she remembered the elders and decided to come to our church a few weeks ago. She accepted everything so willingly and happily. One day we met up for a lesson and she had been fasting all day long. Another time we were explaining the baptismal covenant and the Gift of the Holy Ghost and she literally clenched her fists and started shaking because she was so excited! On the day of her baptism she was just beaming! She told us that before she was baptized she never gave much thought to life, but now she has direction and understands her purpose and she feels more like an adult. Sister Bee is so amazing. I love her so much! She was truly prepared to receive the gospel. She's also made a ton of friends. One thing that I just love about Thai people is that they welcome everyone in so happily and quickly. People that enter the church here feel like their part of the family from day one and they all become very close. It's so amazing! I LOVE THAILANDDDDD!!!!
So, this was an awesome week! This email doesn't even cover it all, but I need to get started on pictures.
Oh big news!!! I found a REAL brownie... a real, chocolatey, sweet, dense, chewy brownie. With nuts!! In heaven! I think this may be my first real brownie since I left the MTC.
I love you all so much! Have an amazing first week of school and have safe travels and run fast!