Monday, April 18, 2016
Oh my goodness, I can't believe this is my last email as a missionary. As I have reflected over these past 18 months I feel so grateful to have been able to serve God.
This Sunday I was invited to share my testimony in Sacrament meeting, and as I did so I felt so much love for all the people I have had the opportunity to serve (and may have shed a tear or two). I was also able to translate in Sacrament meeting for the new senior couple in Udon, and as I did so I thought to myself, "This is a miracle, I am speaking Thai right now.. and not really even thinking about it." Heavenly Father will work miracles through us for the benefit of his children.
Reflecting over these past 18 months, I can't believe how much I have learned and how far I have come from where I used to be. I remember starting out my mission in the MTC and thinking that there was, "no way I could do this." I remember praying and learning that the atonement of Jesus Christ casts out all fear.
Then I went to Thailand and started out in Chiang Mai. There i learned that missionary work is fun, and that it is so important to have hope. No matter what obstacles we are facing, if we have hope we are guided through.
In Mahasarakham I was amazed to see miracles happen, as my companion and I were new and didn't know Thai perfectly..As such I learned that the Lord works through the weak.We were able to meet Brother Seens family, and see them be baptized as well as others. I learned that life isn't just about enduring, but that we can endure happily.
Then in Lampang a tiny town in the north, we worked hard and had fun. We met some amazing people ready to give up there old lives for a new one in the gospel.. And I learned that the love of God can change anyone and any circumstance.
Then onto Asoke! Oh man Asoke! The Big City! I remember being there and meeting SIster Sa from Cambodia and seeing Heavenly Fathers love change her life. I remember my companion and I learning that all things (even hard ones) work together for your good.
Oh and Udon! A wonderful place, where I realized how important service is.
Writing all of this, I realized I can't even begin to describe all I have learned through the past 18 months so I just want to share my testimony and a few final thoughts:
The first is a poem that I wrote at the beginning of my mission, here is a version that was changed a bit by one of my friends, and I think it is fitting to share on my last week.
There is a mountain not far off
But rather close at hand.
Rocks like spires twist to the sky, and
At its base I stand.
Vast boulders seem to block the way
To the summit...a great height
One step forward and then I climb,
Climb with all my might.
Time drags slowly onward,
As I move along the trail.
I see a storm encroaching, and I think,
"I very well could fail."
The way's not easy, not a bit,
And I trip and fall.
Over and over and over again
Until I hear a call:
"Take courage. This way's not easy,
But worth it in the end-
Stand back up, keep walking...
Go just around the bend."
My heart heavy, faith low,
I start to wish I had not begun.
But I get up, walk forward...
And then I see the Son.
He takes my hand and helps me
Take those final steps.
The smile on his face seems to say,
"My child you did your best."
"The way was not easy,
Your spirits often low.
But you listened and heard my voice-
that led you here you know."
I [will] at glorious vistas,
Once hidden from my view
With gratitude for the savior,
[when] my journey's [fin'lly] through.
The second is the seventh verse of how firm a foundation.. it really struck me as I was watching conference:
I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is his Son..and is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that the perfect love of Jesus Christ casteth out all fear. The atonement isn't just for sins, but it is for us to do and be better, as well as for burdens we carry. Joseph Smith is a prophet,and we have a living prophet on the earth today. This church is true. The Book of Mormon is true, and we can receive answers to all our questions through prayerfully reading and pondering this book. God hears and answers our prayers.I know that in living the gospel we find true peace and happiness.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
Friday, April 15, 2016
I can't believe this email is my second to last one as a missionary. (I will email once more on Monday).
Today is P-day because it is Songkran! The giant water fight!! Songkran is 3 days of a water fight to celebrate the Thai new year, so everywhere you go people will spray water at you! Yesterday when Sister T and I were trying to visit people and teach them, everyone kept owning us with water... Like I would ride my bike down the street, and get sprayed and buckets of water thrown at me by people on each side! It was crazy. People would yell, "Farang, Farang! (foreigner)" and leave Sister T and the other Sisters alone, and get me. The other sisters thought it was hilarious. So all yesterday I was soaking wet. Today we get to play too - i am so excited! I will tell you more about it on Monday! :)
Last night our house totally had a "Songkran" situation too. The water in the bathroom started leaking, so I decided to try and fix it, by putting more tape on the stuff that was already taped, however I ended up breaking the whole pipe! Water started leaking through the ceiling, and it was bad....we also didn't figure out how to turn it off until today... oops.
Also, randomly this week, my body decided to break down. It's like 44 degrees celcius here, and over the past week I got food poisoning, back pain, and a cold. I kinda laughed and just thought to myself....my body must know I am finishing my mission soon! One day I tried to eat some oatmeal because I was like, "that's food from home, that will make me feel better." ... and as I was finsihing my oatmeal I realized it had ants all in it and I must have eaten like 50-100 ants. I just laughed and thought, "I have gotten to the third stage of eating food here in Thailand where you eat the bugs!" haha (Reminder...stage one is you throw the food away, stage two is you eat around them, stage three is you eat the bugs)
Anyways, I am short on time so I just want to tell you guys what I liked from conference!
I loved that Elder Holland talked about how we get credit just for trying. I also loved the talk where it quotes Sister Senior and her demonstration, "Can you see yourself in the temple?" I loved that because I totally got to help her with that in Chiang Mai last year. I must have held up that temple mirror to like a hundred people, and asked them in Thai, "Can you see yourself in the temple?" I loved that talk, and I thought how cool it was to have been a missionary this past year and a half, and have had the opportunity to, in effect, hold up the temple for others to see. As a missionary I have had the opportunity to teach many people about the temple and as I listened to that talk I felt so grateful for the opportunity.
Okay I will email again Monday!
Love you all!
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
You are probably all wondering why I didn't email yesterday. The reason is... yesterday was zone conference so our P-day was switched until today. Also my next P-day will be on THURSDAY APRIL 14TH as it will be Sonkran, the big Thai water fight next week. So don't forget to email me then :)
Anyways, yesterday was zone conference and it was so good! I was also able to share my testimony, along with all the others finishing their mission. It was a cool experience to just stand and share the things I know to be true. Today, I also finished the Book of Mormon in Thai (finally...) It has been really cool this last little bit to just reflect and to feel peace about my mission.
Okay! Some really funny stories happened this week!
1) Bugs in Thailand
Okay, so this past week I woke up in the middle of the night and my face felt kinda weird. I felt my face and my lip was SUPER swollen.. I immediatley knew that something had bit me. So I went to look in the mirror and half of my lip and eyes were SOOOO swollen. I started laughing I looked so funny. I also laughed because this exact same thing happened to Sister Lam, almost a year ago TO THE DAY. I was worried for a second, but then was like, "well she was fine, so I should be too." I went back to sleep and in the morning called the mission nurse who told me to take some benadryl, which helped...but also made me walk around like a zombie for the rest of the day. My lip was also numb for days after... oh thailand!
2) The Rain Comes Down, and the Floods Came Up.
Okay, so even though it is hot season in Thailand there was a day of crazy torrential rain. A lot of the people here in Thailand don't like the rain (and for good reason) as the streets will always flood. So that day, a lot of our appointments cancelled. Right before we went home Sister T had to go pick up some medicine for this crazy rash she has. This was our 3rd time at the dermatologists as she has lost her medicine twice. We biked to the super fancy office in the pouring rain, and when we got there we felt too bad to go inside, as the office was super nice and we were soaking wet. However, they motioned us in.. and gave us towels and plastic chairs to sit on...in the middle of the office. It was pretty embarrassing, as all these people were looking at us like, "what's up with them?" SO funny. The people at the office also thought it was hilarious that Sister T had lost her medicine again. Anyways, long story short we get the medicine and go back outside to our bikes....AND ON OUR BIKES THERE ARE COCKROACHES EVERYWHERE... I think they were trying to escape the flood by taking refuge on our bikes. We started laughing so hard and then biked home. Once home, we are about to go inside and we see this dead bird on our doorstop... we then lost it we were laughing so hard. oh thailand!
3) April Fools
My joke was a bit lame this year, but I did turn the other missionaries bikes upside down and put some mops on them.. lame but ya know :)
Okay, so this week I got some great news!! Sister Nok from Mahasarakham gets to be a missionary! So happy! One Sister in this mission needed to go to the Philipines MTC, so for the last 3 weeks of the transfer Sister Nok gets to serve as a missionary! This has been her dream for forever.
Well, that's about all for this week but I want to close with some thoughts. Lately, I have been thinking a lot over my service as a missionary and evaluating if I really have served with all my, "heart, might, mind and strength."..and if Heavenly Father is pleased with my service. As I have been thinking, praying, and fasting over this, I received an answer, and it came in such a specific way. I know that Heavenly Father is accepting of my service, and although I am by no means perfect, this mission is not the end, and I will keep striving to do and be better. I know God lives, loves, us and is always leading us a long. I feel such peace.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Hey everyone! This week went by sooo fast!
This email might be kinda short, as I can't really remember too much of what happened, but lets start with funny stories!!
1) Teaching a member
This week we went to go visit a less active member. She is so nice and was speaking to us in Issan and trying to get us to eat clams. It was awesome. Then out of nowhere she's all, "Everyone in this neighborhood knows I will always be Christian, because look at my house!" Sister T and I look at her house and right there in plain view was a giant white cross nailed to the front! We both started laughing as this member said, "ya...missionaries never notice, usually they come like 4-5 times and then I tell them, and then they'll notice."
2) Rats in the Restaurant.
This story just proved to me how long I have been here in Thailand. This week we were eating at this food place by the side of the road, and all of a sudden we see a bunch of rats running around on the ground! Sister T and I just look at each other and keep eating. We laughed later because we realized how much that may have phased us at the beginning of our missions, and it's like nothing now.
3) The Easter Activity
We helped put on an easter activity that everyone came to. When we finally gathered everyone together for the Easter egg hunt, there were a lot of older women there. When we started the hunt it was seriously the funniest thing ever to see them run over each other to grab the eggs! These older ladies were soo competitive! We were all laughing so hard.. I love Thailand.
Anyways, we had some cool miracles happen this week as well. The first being when we had two people yell, "Sister!!" at us as we were going by. Both times we turned around to go back and talk to these people (as a missionary it's not everyday that people know who you are), and we ended up meeting 2 less active members that we will hopefully be able to start working with soon!
Another cool moment happened in this lesson with a less active member. We had given him Ether 12 to read as a commitment the last time we taught him, and he had some questions about it. We went over his questions and it turned out he felt really concerned about going to church, as he doesn't feel he is good at writing and taking notes. I then looked at Ether 12, and as you would have it, there was this scripture:
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Sorry I have been a bit bad at emailing lately. I have been really short on time.
Anyways, last Sunday Sister Deek got baptized (back in Asoke)! It was so awesome to teach her and see her progress! It all started with an RC who introduced her friend, who got baptized, who then introduced Sister Deek. When people share the gospel with their friends, miracles happen. I would seriously encourage you to find friends to share with! Your friends will know you are sharing because you love them, and you never know what could happen!
Udon has been so great!! My new companion is Sister T from Hawaii. She lived in the same house as me when I was in Mahasarakham. Anyways, in order to get here we took a motorcycle taxi, complete with my bike strapped to the back, as well as a 10 hour train ride!! Pulling my luggage and bike on the train, I realized how tired my body has become lately. I think the last year and a half might be catching up! But I am ready to work harder than ever this transfer.
Being in Udon I have had more opportunities for service than ever before on my mission! Just this week we helped a member with her sewing business, helped another member sort through garbage to find clear bags to sell (oh and while we were there, her neighbour lit the trees on fire, so we almost helped put that out too), another member move houses, and another member set up her store. It has been so fun! I love service.
Udon is a fun place, the members are awesome, and it is soooo hot! It was 41 Celsius this week, but I am LOVING riding my bike everywhere!! I miss the Asoke members, but all in all I am happy to be here!
Oh! This week we were eating at a restaurant and this guy from Australia comes up to us and says, "When you are done eating will you come sit by me and my girlfriend and tell me about what you believe." We of course accepted, and it turns out this guy had seen lots of missionaries in Australia, but never had time to learn what they believe. He wasn't interested, but was very respectful and told me that he appreciated our conviction in what we believe.
For P-day today we went on a hike! It was soo pretty! However in order to get there we went in a Songthaw (benches in the back of a truck) for a lot of hours... it was really hot and at the end of it one of the members commented, "เราไม่ได้ไปเที่ยวเราไปทรมาน" which basically means today was a bit hotter than expected, and as such, it was not much of a break to hike the mountain. (It makes more sense in Thai.) Also, on the way there we all played this spelling and word game...it was really fun, but also made me realize how awful my English has become; I was spelling things wrong all over the place. I spelled the word Animal, like "Anamil"....... Granted it was early in the morning... but still. However, it was nice to talk to all the other missionaries and realize they felt the same. haha
Well, that's about all for this week. So I just want to close with a brief thought, which is: being a missionary is really happy. Lately I have been reflecting on some things, and I have come to the realization that although missions are hard, you really do feel more peace and happiness than ever before.
I really like Ephesians 3:17-21
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Love you all!
Here are some pics from last week:
These are the first Sister Missionaries that were in Thailand.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Its so weird it is P-day today!! There is soo much to do, so this email may be a little short...
So the big news.......................I AM MOVING TO UDON ON MONDAY. So for my last transfer I get a new area in the Essan so I get to ride my bike!! I am so stoked! But I will miss the members in Asoke so much .. But I am ready to work hard out in the Essan!!
These last few days have been good! I ate frog with a member, taught some investigators, and ate a lot of fro-yo because it is SO HOT.
This week I read this scripture that sums up my feelings about my mission thus far.
It is in Alma 29:13:
"Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my joy is full."
As I read this I reflected on my mission and this calling as a missionary, there have been good times and hard times, but all in all, as I have preached His word, a lot of amazing things have happened and my joy has been full. All those people who tell you before your mission that they were happier than ever before on their missions really mean it. You just come to love the people so much, and you learn so much about the gospel. Its hard to describe.
Anyways, this week I had one of those happy experiences with an RC who Sister Coates and I met on the street and taught. She is from Cambodia and is possibly one of the best people ever. She wants to read the Book of Mormon in Thai (she has lived her for over 25 years), but sometimes doesn't quite understand... but that doesn't stop her! She told me she has been dedicating over 3 hours a night to reading and re-reading so she can understand. She loves the story of Nephi and Laban. I asked to see her scriptures, and to my pleasant surprise, they were highlighted and colored with notes, sticky notes and pen. She would write notes about who was who, and next to the scriptures she really likes she adds a sticky note with the word, "like" written on it. I asked her what it meant and she looked at me and said, "Like, Sister Rem,... it's same-same as Facebook you know?" She is the best.
She also told us her ultimate goal is to go back to Heavenly Father, and she will do and sacrifice all she needs to in order for this to happen. Her faith is amazing and I felt so happy to have been able to teach her. The gospel changes lives.
Well that's about all I have time for this week!! I love you guys!! Talk to you not this monday but next monday!!
Monday, March 7, 2016
Oh man, it is finally kinda hitting me that this is my last transfer! I have 6 weeks left... where did all the time go??
Also before I forget, transfers are next Monday, so our next P-day will be this
Saturday. So don't forget to write me friday night ;)
So in other words by the end of this week, I will know where I will be my last 6 weeks, and who I will be with!
This week I had some amazing experiences...so I will get to explaining them:
At the beginning of the week we went to visit this member, of around 10 years, who lived in the slums. At first we were going to see her at night, but then she told us it is too dangerous at night so we needed to come during the day. During the visit she told us of her becoming a member of the church, her children falling away, and how she came to take care of her grandchildren etc. But then something she said really hit me. She was talking about how when she was first a member, she was always reading in the scriptures about how God is only in clean and holy places etc., and as such she didn't think that God would ever be with her in her tiny wooden house in the slums. But then one of her friends at church told her, "God knows you...he knows you are trying to follow Christ, and he knows your heart, so of course he will be with you." After this she then told us that she believed the scripture in Samuel that, "Man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart." As she said this I felt how true that was....here she is a wonderful, faithful lady, doing her best in her calling, and trying to help others....and always, always sharing her gratitude for her blessings. She kept saying how blessed she had been since she had become a member. One of the things she mentioned was how before she was a member she had a dirt floor, and now she has like plastic covering over the dirt! She was so grateful for that simple thing like the plastic covering on the floor.
Then the very next day we went to dinner with a member from the International Ward, where we dipped our fingers in rose petals and lemon before we ate... I can't believe the experiences I am having.
Circumstances 100% don't determine happiness....attitude does.
-Me getting some salad for dinner, and this girl asking me if I was a missionary and where she could go to church. She wrote down and asked for OUR number....that doesn't happen everyday.
-Sister Deek is getting Baptized next week!! (if all goes well)
This week I really learned the power of fasting too. In the International ward they shared this quote that when you fast, "You give the Lord a crust of bread and he gives you a loaf." I saw this happen this week with regards to the things I had fasted for the week before. Without going into too many details, this older member shared her testimony this week in which she quoted from my talk and told everyone how much my talk and the Spirit had touched her. She said she had never before really written anything down without her daughters help, but as I was speaking she was able to get it all down. So that was a cool answer to prayers.
The last thing was we had an amazing lesson where our American investigator was really touched by this scripture. Romans 8:16-18
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
This week I really feel like I learned that, "The Lord can do his own work." As missionaries we are simply the tools in his hands. It is a great joy to be a missionary to be able to feel of God's love in his service. There is nothing like it.