Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year 2014 (A Proclamation)

Dear Family,

I am beyond excited about the Gilbert temple. I'm dying to see it finished and I wish I could be at the festivities. I can't wait to one day go in there! It's beautiful!
This has been the one and only Christmas season I'll be spending in Thailand, and I can't even tell you how crazy they love New Years. It is way close to how we celebrate Christmas... family-wise, at least. It's really cool how it works, because the New Year falls right in the middle of rice planting seasons so people get to rest, go home, and be with their families. So we've been seeing a ton of people could back into town and little reunions between people is so cute on the side of the street.
For those who I didn't skype last week, we had a Christmas 5-day celebration at our church building, which included a live-action play of the Nativity, a fat Santa (Elder Thomas.... who then was pummeled by children like that Rat thing on the Goofy Movie during 'Lester's Possum Pals' :p) and it was just all around cool. It literally felt like Christmas that night, and guess what? I'M FREEZING! Thailand doesn't have heat, anywhere, so there is literally no escape even in our own house. Showering is painful and tear-provoking.
We also had a Christmas party in Udon with President Senior, who treated us to lunch, a fun cookie decorating activity, and a great set of songs and stories. It was way fun to be with them for Christmas.
Right before Christmas I actually thought I was being transferred! Not so! Turns out I stayed, and brought back my #3 trainee. I was severely humbled at the idea that I've been entrusted with ONE MORE trainee, again, as well as overseeing the Khongaen zone sisters. I always wonder how much more responsibility or what harder task I'll get at transfers.... each time it has been one step higher. :p So I feel like eventually there will be a limit.... right?
I love Sister Embley! She's here from... well, everywhere. China, England, Mexico.... I officially feel under-traveled, despite how many places I already have been. She spent periods of her childhood in each country. I can't say I would have wanted that. But hey, she'll definitely be serving in international before she's through. Haha!
This week was a week of miracles-- we have THREE new people firmly committed to baptismal dates for January. I cannot tell you how prepared and progressing these people are. Buki, Bas, and Party. Here's the thing: I think I decided that the people who are most ready for the message of the restoration are the people who are seeking more than what they have experienced as the traditions of their fathers. People who are looking to expand what they think they already know. Eager learners. These three people are like this: Buki is in a gifted school for english, excelling in the language. Bas has been admitted to the equivalent of Bangkok's Harvard. And Party is a well-paid doctor here in Roi Et. What do these people have in common? A drive for further knowledge. Isn't that what the gospel is about? A life-long progression to do just that?
Party came to all three hours of church despite getting off work after a hospital night shift. Buki was in tears saying how she knew it must be true in our last lesson because she felt the spirit so strong from a member's testimony. And Bas woke up with a dream in the middle of the night that he was supposed to be baptized.
I have no words to describe what I've seen. I feel like some of the prophets in the Book of Mormon that literally are told they cannot share any more because it is too incredible to comprehend. I will leave it at this: I have seen miracles of what the gospel can do for people's lives. I can at least express that it has done just that for mine.
This next bit is a heart-softener. We went Christmas Caroling at a hospital here in Roi Et with two elders. As Sis Embley and I got in there, all Sis Embley could say was, "Sister I think they're being tortured! Do you hear the screams?" I calmed her down and said sometimes that was normal for kids to sound like, but I also knew we were in a hospital, so.... anyway. Comforted her anyway. I took her into the children's building where the screams were coming from. We got there, and it was just one little girl, screaming pretty much for no reason. No poking or prodding or anything. So she sees us, still agitated for some reason. I realize she's not fully "there".
I open my mouth and sing, "Sleighs Bells Ring, are you listenin'...." and the little girl stops. She stare silently. "In the lane, snow is glistenin'.." And a smile formed on her face. But the 3rd song, she was laughing as happy as can be.
We sang some in Thai, some in English. The weary eyes of the stressed parents lit up in that damply lit hospital. And even the tiniest baby turned its head to look in our direction. The spirit of Christmas hit, and those who had fallen in spirit were rising in light. How amazing it was to see.
Right now we've made plans to train two young adult girls to be missionaries- so they're going to go find 2 friends that they can help us teach so we can show them how to be a missionary. They are so excited and had so many questions as to how to prepare.
And you know what? One of those girls was none other than Sister June-- the girl I sat down with 2 months ago and read Joseph Smith's words with her, where she told me she wanted to be as spiritually strong as she once was. If you remember that email I sent that week, you'll know how strong I felt God's love for her on that Sunday afternoon. She has attained what she wanted-- she made it back. She came back and now she's planning on being a missionary herself.
So this is my New Years Message to the world: Family, friends, and all.
Never give up on those you believe won't ever come back or won't ever feel what they once did about the gospel. This girl left for a year, believing she couldn't come back. Prayer changed her mind.
My dear and inspiring Uncle Rod, after 30 years of not being active in the church, this last Sunday was set apart in the bishopric in Nephi, Utah. These things do not just happen for our friends, or just for missionaries-- these things happen to us.
To anyone who may be lacking the faith to know that this is possible-- take it from someone who has seen it with her own eyes. It can happen for you.
2014 will be an amazing year. It will be what we make of it, and what Christ wishes to make of us. I know Christ was that child, born over 2000 years ago, and the Bible says Simeon blessed, saying: "This child is set for the fall and rising again of many."
This year, as we remember what the Christmas season is about, don't forget what the New Year can bring-- change, development of our attributes, and a firm faith that Christ can make this year everything we can't make of it ourselves. Miracles do happen. Seek Him out.
In 2014, Wise Men will Still Seek Him, even after the Christmas season is over.

Sister Painter 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Sis. Monica Painter was unable to email this week because she got to Skype with her family.  We feel so blessed.  It was a wonderful Christmas Eve present.  She did send pictures and descriptions of Christmas though, so enjoy. From, Her  Family
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!Sis. Packard with Sis. Painter before transfers.

Sis. Painter with her three trainees at a Bangkok meeting, Dec. 19th, 2013.

 Sis. Brooke Embley and Sis. Monica Painter phone photo.

The  Ward Christmas party went on for days with a manger and sheep and a lit up Ezekiel.

So for me, none of these things move me and crabs

Dear Family,

We get to skype on Christmas for an hour! :D So I will be getting on on my Christmas day, as in your Christmas Eve. :) I'm pretty stokeddddd! And transfers are this week, so I have no idea whether I'm moving or not. I probably am.

So the paint is almost off of my arms. There's about 4 more freckles.
As for strange things: here's a story for the books. We were getting a ride back home from Sis Waruni, and all of a sudden we hear a thump inside her quiet car. We're like, "What was that?" and Sis Packard swears something hit her foot. Then she screams and says: "THERE IS SOMETHING IN HERE." And before we know it, huge crawling things are next to us on our seats, and seemingly everywhere! So Sis Waruni goes: "Wait, is it a crab??"


So apparently she didn't have time to move them or put them anywhere, so she threw in like 4 crabs into her car just to wait to be moved, but forgot about them! So we're in this car, like I swear "Snakes on a Plane" or something, and these crabs are coming after us for being on their seats! So we're all screaming because they have nippy claws and they DO bite, so all 3 of us are both screaming and laughing, TRAPPED in this car win the darkness knowing that they're coming for us.
....So we ended up pulling over and eventually said crabs were either removed or put in the car compartment for safe keeping. Totally bizarre.
We also baked a cake on monday, stored it in our refridgerator and ate it consistently for 5 days...
This week was way cool-- we had 6 people come to church! YAY!! And in that group was Nang, the woman we've been working with for weeks and weeks (like 16 weeks, and even before that, other girls went and taught her.) She finally committed to a baptismal date, AND she went to the gospel class, for the first time! Miracle. She has been a tough one for a long time, it we were seriously just so baffled that after all this time, everything we had tried finally worked to help her see what she wanted. And there ya go! She's getting baptized! But I'm convinced, still, it had nothing to do with us, but with the amazing spirit. Had her husband never been bitten by a monkey, I KNOW she would not know what a prompting felt like!
So with the gospel class this sunday, I found out last minute that everyone that would usually be the teacher... was not at church. In fact, there wasn't even bread for the sacrament until someone ran to fetch some! Uh oh! So I'm praying way hard like, "NANG IS HERE FOR CLASS FOR THE FIRST TIME, PLEASE GIVE ME A TEACHER FOR THIS CLASS." We needed a miracle.
And so I go into the room for class, seemingly no teacher. Uh shoot. Pray some more. MIRACLE! Sis Jan, my dearest friend, waltzes in saying she got called to be the teacher. Oh thank goodness. It really was a miracle, because nobody had a clue what was going to happen and how awkward that would be! It turned out to be such a good lesson that Sis Bunlawm had to put her head in the door and stop the class because it has gone over to long. :p
They put up Christmas lights on the church, and it looks legit. They're getting ready for their Christmas WEEK party.... oh dear. It's supposed to bring in a ton of people, but unfortunately us missionaries will be moving part way through so it's really hard to help them with it or know who will be here!
I love the members here. And the Thai's in general. If I'm moved, that will be okay. But I will MISS these people. This area changed my whole mission.
So as a spiritual thought, I've experienced some hard things recently, but has made God's plan for me pretty clear. I'm just supposed to have my full heart in this right now. Life has taken some crazy turns along the way, and trials happen, but I read the words of the Prophet Paul this last week that touched me right to the heart:

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
 I will take the rest of my mission and do whatever God wants me to do with it. I will be whoever he wants me to be. I will say whatever it is I'm supposed to say. I gave up everything to be here right now, and I intend on taking that notion and putting everything I've got into where am I, where-ever I am.
Right now is not about me, and I can figure out school, work, life after the mission, AFTER the mission. Until then, I'm just optimistic about everything. I sure do love the gospel, and the atonement. Christ has taught me some doozies of amazing revelation in the last few weeks. I have been thrown adversity because the work of Thailand is about to TAKE OFF. We have a plan to have 200 baptisms in January. That's gonna happen. So with that, adversity comes. Opposition comes before every miraculous thing. Take for instance Joseph Smith's own experience.
So for me, none of these things move me.
I would not trade my mission for anything, for it has really taught me lessons that are more valuable than I can express. I love God. He is so good.
What an amazing season! Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good week.
Sister Painter
 Sis. Packard and I in a chicken coop.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

clown cars and Bow

My dear Family!!

Hey! This week I picked up your package from the office! :D So tempting! Thank you so much! I'm so excited for it.
This week was chilly! With no house heat or particularly warm showers, I'm dying in the mornings all bundled sometimes! So it goes to show I was not meant for Ukraine, Russia, or Armenia...
The week started off with a good fence painting. We did that and then suddenly realized, well, oops. Kinda got it all over ourselves. No big deal, it's washable. OH WAIT NO IT'S NOT. I still have paint all speckled all over my arms since last Monday evening. A full week. It turns out the paint wasn't even paint-- it was Anti-Rust paint-solution... stuff. So let it be known, I won't be rusty for a while....
And it made for a lot of "Painter" jokes throughout the week.
This is my favorite awkward moment of the whole week: HOW DO YOU ASK A DEAF WOMAN IF SHE IS PREGNANT??
Okay, so our investigator was looking a little plumpy yesterday at church. So what better to do then to try to figure out where this baby could have come from-- seeing as I don't know her family because we struggle in the communicating area. So we try a lot of sneaky ways of asking, none really work. So pretty much... yeah, I'm pretty sure we called her hardcore fat? I still don't even know if she's pregnant..... Note: Do not ask deaf women if they are pregnant if you cannot speak adequate sign language.
This week I took some travels to Bangkok and Kalasin, one for my MLC meeting and the other for an exchange. MLC was way inspiring-- we are so pumped for the future of the mission. And so then later when the meeting was over, President was like, "Oh just kidding, we're not done. We have an activity for the last visual lesson. But we'll need pants, socks, and an ice rink." ...... So we went ice skating for like 30 minutes. Hahahaha. Oh President. I love him and Sister Senior so much.
So the craziest thing. It gets to church time-- there's like 4 minutes until it starts... Uhm, where is everyone? We saw the Elders outside, praying together to find someone to bring into the church. Just as hope was about to be lost at the idea of having investigators there, or even members really, it was like the doors opened and tons of people flooded in! In fact, a member brought 9 KIDS OVER 8 to come learn! I was like, "Are you serious??" And then new investigators just burst in the doors every 3 minutes-- all friends of the youth, who had participated in our now very effective sports night. They ALL came! The church was filled with kids-- almost 11 on the front row, and then the back was filled with teenagers. Just... WHAT! It was nuts.
I even taught some of our investigators violin this week. Hahah, it was so cute. They were freaked out about performing 2 Christmas songs at their school because they just started learning a month ago... and so we taught them the gospel, AND violin. It was so precious. The first sounds were wretched and ear-busting. But by the end it sounded way good! I was like, "Did I just teach some Thai's... in Thai... to play violin? Where am I?"
It was a really cool experience though, because they called me and just told me they wanted to play for us first to show us what they had been working on. Bambi said: "I actually found out God was real through playing violin. I tried playing this so so many times and couldn't get it, but then I prayed that God would help me, and the very next try I got it all right! He must be real." Oh, heart warming. I could just squish her in a big hug.
Kalasin was really busy and fun-- we actually had a miraculous 15 minutes with a girl there named Bow. From what the sisters had heard, she was uninterested and not coming back, so they didn't ever try to go see her. But Sis Broeder was like, "I'll give Sis Painter a go at it while she's here." just to see if it was legit or not. So we get there and we had the most lifting and real sit down with this girl-- I have NO IDEA what everyone was talking about. She is fully ready to come back-- she knows her faith was waning and she so wanted it back. I felt God's love for her so much it was insane. As we were walking away, I could hardly remember what I had said, because it just felt like the words spilt out, not from me, but a direct message from a Heavenly Father that was pleading for that moment to help her come back. He was so invested in THAT MOMENT that I was about in tears telling her that all was not lost, she was not lost. The Holy Ghost was blazing out of us as we testified to her of her worth.
It was in that 15 minutes that I realized how involved God is with the finding of His lost lambs. Her home was in a dark alley outside the city. We came in the night, shined in our bike lights and called for her. She came out, confused but suddenly open with us knowing who we were. I will never forget how I felt when I realized this girl, in a hidden corner alley, was a daughter of a Supreme God, who LOVED HER with all His heart. He was so happy, just so happy, that she was found. It's a miracle that I even got to be a part of it.

I love you all. Life is good!!!!! Happy Christmas Season!!

Sister Painter


Monday, December 2, 2013

Mission Tour and the cold

The average of the mission is to get 40 baptisms in a month. This month, there were 109 BAPTISMS. This is a message from our President. Just wow.

Sis Painter
Oh, ps, our mission got those rad safety vests because we're totally awful at riding our bikes that apparently the asia area is enforcing us to wear them at night. It's so funny because people ask us, what the heck does Mormon mean? Oh it's good. These vests are power tools for speed!!!
Dear Family!
IT IS FREEZING OUT HERE. Our house doesn't have anything for "warming" so, this last week, it got way cold and now I'm officially a baby. To all my friends in Utah, just know that I'm gonna die and I'm gonna need a parka when I get back to the Y......

So this week we didn't really have an actual Thanksgiving thing at all except for some turkey and mashed potatoes for mission tour. That was nice! But then we were all fighting to stay away from the next 3 hours of it, so Elder Wilson of the 70 had us get up and stretch and do bizarre workouts to keep us alive.

Our zone actually did have an activity though on PDay, we had a turkey bowl!!!! So, just so it's clear, I don't play football. But hey, I tried. And failed miserably. But it was way hilarious when the sprinklers came on on us at the park and just as Elder Chelson was about to hike the ball as quarterback, the sprinkler would dart him right in the face because he was at a perfectly awkward height. An LOL and a half.

Mission tour was so cool. We're going to begin reading 1 Nephi chapter 1 with pretty much anyone we can find because it is obviously SO meant to be the first chapter of the Book of Mormon. You can all the pieces of the restoration in it. It's so insanely accurate to what happens when a new prophet is called in a new dispensation that we were all mind-blown!

And Elder and Sister Wilson were entirely inspired for us. They were so in tune it was unbelievable. They opened up a question and answer and basically answered any question all our little hearts had in two answers. It was nuts.

And what was way special, especially for me, was that we had a Sisters meeting too. And Sister Wilson laid down one of the most profound "Let's be Realistic" sermons I've ever heard. Like, I just tried to explain it and I couldn't, so I deleted it. It was very much about knowing that we are earthen vessels, made to crack and not be perfect. In this life, we won't be perfect. But through our cracks, the light within us can shine through to be seen. Those who try to cover up what they see as imperfections, using paint or whatever other means to hide, aren't letting themselves bask in the wonderous opportunity to be molded by the master potter.

So with this, let us all be real with ourselves and with God. Sometimes people are afraid of perfect people because they feel they will not be understood. Where-as, someone who has been weathered by the storms of life, will be a warm beacon of light across the rocky shore: that there's hope and peace to be found, because someone else has risen through it before.

Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy-- you may rescue, you may save.

Sister Painter

To everything wunway

Dear Family,

This last week, our whole zone thought it was Thanksgiving for the entire Thursday. Then at 10pm we realized... well, it wasn't. So Happy Thanksgiving, again!

This week was entirely up and down. On Monday we took a 3 hour drive round trip to visit Biw's parents with him to explain to them why Biw wanted to be baptized. With the Branch President and his wife, we traveled there and back with a successful: "I feel really good about him being in such a safe environment with these kind of principles." and his dad said if he could, he'd like to go learn for himself.

So the week goes on and I get a call that there is a funeral for a member's mom. I don't recognize the member's name, nor the mom's name, but I feel very impressed that I need to be there. I go, and I see the photo of the mom. I look to Sis Packard in disbelief. I know that lady. I've seen her picture before. I go through my mind and see the photo in our investigators binder. In that photo, she is sitting next to the one Thai I met in the MTC.

Her daughter.

My heart sunk as I thought to a note that this missionary had written me in the MTC: 'Go find my mom!' with an address and number. Now that I could READ it, I realized all the information was there, in Thai. I hadn't made the connection. I had called this sweet mom before but never knew the sister missionary's nickname.

I ended up playing the violin at her funeral. Kind of came full circle since meeting the daughter til then. But I felt at peace that I HAD called this woman several times, but she had been unavailabley sick the whole time. I could not beat myself up over it, because there really was nothing I could have done to change the circumstances. But I do wish I could have seen her before her passing to lend comfort.

So after that somewhat bizarre reunion, the next day we had a baptism. My brain went from deaths to rebirths.

And a miracle happened! A miracle literally happened. Biw told me, "Sister, my dad is not coming. He's just not. He won't."

As I played my musical number, just before the last speaker and the baptisms would occur, I saw the glass door open. A man came in. At a rest in the music, I recognized him: it was Biw's father, having traveled hours away to come, despite work and other business.

He sat on the front row and saw Biw baptized. What a glorious miracle watching his father's face soften.

And the other miracle? Get this. That night two investigators came: one boy we met at the market who we invited to come, and he brought a friend.

The next day, he walks in to the church with two NEW friends. And then 5 minutes later, one gets up and invites in the next friend. And 4 minutes after that? Two of them get up and lead in one last friend.

I sat on the row in the church, with 5 young souls sitting in between me and Sis Packard, with one more on the end: Jellybean.

The Lord prepares his children, and those who are prepared will lead in their friends, and all will sit down together and be edified.

Despite what happens, no matter what wind or waves, no matter how much we would like things to go a different way sometimes: God is constant. He is so good. Everything good can be found in Christ: everything we need to sustain ourselves can be found in a Christ-centered life. The next time we meet, you'll see me walking on that path towards Him. I want Him at my center. For in Him, there is peace. And for Him, there is promise.

That everything 'wunway' (chaotic and potentially heartaching) can be made "still". And we can see clearer than ever before, and walk on a path that we know is correct, even if we don't know just yet exactly what we're doing. I know it's possible. I've seen miracles, and they don't stop just because we don't see the angels.

In this case, for me, I watched a not-yet-understanding boy of 17 just bring 4 of his friends to feel what he felt, not knowing what it yet was, but he wanted to share it.

For in Him, the Savior, there is peace.

Sister Painter

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rice fields, Sickles, and Loi Gratong (The Lantern Festival) and Picture Palooza

Dearrrrr Family,
This week was nuts. I exchanged into Udon to go train the sisters there for 2 days. With that said, I gotta tell you a story:
Upon coming into Udon, me and Sis Sahagun arrived at the Bus Station, and within those first few moments she said very suddenly: "OH NO. The keys!"
Turns out the keys to unlock the bikes was now in RoiEt.
I looked at her, with her face in total shock and fear, and said, for some reason feeling no worry: "So, lunch?"
So we did indeed get lunch. On the way there, I got a distinct little thought. "Go to the bike shop where you bought your bike. It's right down the road."
We walked into the Central next to the station and got McDonalds. (Yes Melissa, it is safer here than there. Hahaha. .... Maybe. I can't confirm that.) And while we're sitting there, Sis Sahagun is nervous as a horse on a clothesline. (...What kind of analogy was that?) She's calling the other sisters frantically while I'm sitting eating french fries, for some reason still not too concerned. We had important work to do that day, and two bikes locked together wasn't going to stop us from doing it. So I kinda just knew a miracle would occur, we just had to think of what it might be first, and whatever it would be, it would be a learning experience. Either way, I was convinced the Bike Shop would have the answer, not that I had ever seen them with a pair of lock-clippers ever in my life.
She sets the phone down, and we eat. I pull out my recorder and say, "Okay. Today has a theme. It's called: "By way of B."' to which I play the newest Mormon message called 'Wrong Roads' by Elder Holland. We listened to it, two sisters in a jam sitting in a McDonalds, transportation-less.
It ends, we look at each other. "So, prayer?"
We pray. Yep, I still feel the bike shop has the answer. We walk down the road and find ourselves at the front of the shop, and a man that used to fill my bike tires asks, "Where are your bikes? Why are you walking?"
I laugh and sort of explain they're locked together outside a 7-Eleven andwe just so happened to lose the keys. He looks at us and says: "You'll have to cut them loose! .... I'll do it! Are you free right now?"
We just so happened to be free, right then. :p (Haha.)
So we watch him run around asking everyone in the shop for something, he then takes us down the street a little and he emerges with a giant pair of clippers from his friend! He looks way proud of himself and he hops on his bike and says, "Meet you at the 7, let's go!!"
And that's the miracle of how we unlocked our Bikes, and learned what plan B was.
Later in our homeland, we had Loi Gratong. It's a once a year celebration with giant paper lanterns lighting the sky (like Tangled) and sending off leafy lanterns with candles into the water along with a wish as you cast it off. What a cool celebration and an explainable culture.
Then this morning, as you can see in the photos I sent, I biked out 16 kilos to Sister Nit's rice farm fields and used a real-life sickle to separate the rice from the weeds. There were a million different parables and analogies you could use with it as we went along. Suddenly, as I was actually doing the action that the scriptures entail, missionary works symbolism had a whole new meaning.


And hey, I've harvested rice in Thailand. That was so fun. SO fun.
In RoiEt we had an amazing sit down lesson with
a girl who fell away and didn't know
how to come back. She felt she had been gone so long that she could not  and I felt God's love for that little 18 year old girl so much that I could testify that Christ would ever search out his lost sheep until He found them. The world was taking away the thing that had once filled a place in her heart and had since left her confused and empty.
She decided right then and there in that room that she was going to find herself again, that the chaotic scream of the world would not again reach the spiritual strength she once had. My heart ached for her.
As we left that night, she offered the prayer. A kneeling prayer. A prayer to find again what she had lost, which I know she will never again forget she has.
Thrusting in both my metaphorical and literal sickle over here.

Sister Painter                                                      


Sunday, November 10, 2013


We had 14 investigators at church this week in total. The 2 sets of elders had a total 7, and we had 7. That's nuts.

Now that we're going around and using President Senior's inspired methods of finding, we are literally running into people that are completely prepared. We have a goal to only teach people who have an ultimate goal of actually getting baptized. Not people who simply enjoy the company of the missionaries or so on.
Let me tell you, President Senior is so close to the spirit right now. Like, his revelation stream is headed towards a temple. It's wayyyy cool.

So this week was a lot of breaking up. And by that I mean, we broke up with some investigators that had apparently already decided they were breaking up with us, and then we got surprise dumped on Sunday. That was a rough one.
But with that said, we found people WAY more sincere and ready for the gospel then the people who were just letting us in because they felt bad if they didn't. Sis Packard and I decided we wanted to only teach people who were willing to make changes. So we made a list of like 6 people we were going to go see with a "make or break" meeting. Were we going to teach them after that, or not. So in doing that, we prayed and wanted to know who to cut and such, because we're getting super busy and can't afford to waste time. So when we got to the people's houses, oddly enough, some of them saw us, and closed the door. Check. Check. They've never done that before! So hey, that was pretty clear answering.
So we moved on and found some people completely ready for the gospel. So that was miraculous. In fact, let me tell you about Jellybean.

We met her a few days ago outside of the noodle shop that we eat somewhat often. (Sis Packard once got sick off the food but despite that, its close to the church, so we return often) She tried to speak to us in english a tiny bit. She was so cute and tried so hard! We came back and saw her yesterday after being dropped by our most promising investigator (her foreign boyfriend won't allow her to study anymore and she just doesn't want to have trouble with him. Annoying because she can't even speak french so I don't know how they communicate. That's obnoxious.) So ANYWAY we both feel like we should go talk to Jellybean before she gets off work.
We pray for a miracle. We get there, she asks: "How do I become Christian?"
So I bring up baptism, because well, that's how you become Christian. She says: "I got baptized once! But I didn't understand what I was supposed to do or what it even meant. They just told me to close my eyes and think of Jesus's face." So we went over what a REAL baptism should be, authority and all. Before we know it, we're brought into Jo's noodle shop and she has us sit down. She says she has so many questions that we can probably finally answer for her.

Every question was something in the Restoration. She had such great preparation for us finding her that we had to start all the way from the creation to tie in all the things she knew and wanted to know. We ended with Thomas S. Monson. The whole time, she's making connections, asking great questions, and I'm just like, "This is unbelievable."
She looks up and says, "I need to find someone with this authority to baptize me. This all makes sense. When can I be baptized? You're going to have to teach me so I can be ready and know what I have to do until then. When can we make appointments?"

Boom. She's got a date for November 30th. We tell her about coming to church, she's all willing. She says: "Sunday right? What time? Oh just 3 hours? Okay I can find someone to cover my shift."
JUST 3 hours?
So as we were leaving Jellybean says in cute asian english, "I love Jesus!" and as she passed Jo, the man who owns the noodle shop, she says: "Jo, guess what? I'm Christian!! I'm Christian!!"
Oh man. When all seemed lost, we found a very bright morning. Of all the drops and disappointments, it gave us an hour to go find Jellybean. The rarest jellybean of all!
Jo responded to her: "I'm still Buddhist." to which I said, "That's okay. We'll still come eat here."
But really. Wow. What a miracle. What a miracle. What a miracle to be Christian, in the ONLY church that has the correct authority to baptize.

Sister Painter
                                                  The mission home in Bangkok

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


My dear family and friends!! Let me enlighten you on the craziness of this week.

Learning the word for 'Aquarium': It has a benefit. Because in doing so, you learn the word for 'zoo'. It's a water zoo! Our district visited an aquarium that we found for Pday last week. Oddly enough, each of us had passed it for almost 3 months unknowingly. Anyway, because of that experience, I learned the word for zoo, aquarium, and the like. Later that week, I met a family with a little girl. While we were meeting them, the mom started reading into our pamphlets-- every single page. And to keep the daughter from interrupting her, I sat with her and together we drew Thailand's finest zoo. It was her idea. I found out she liked to draw, I drew her a picture, and in return I asked for her to draw me something (both to keep her attention and to get to know this sweet little 8yr old.) She drew herself; her name is Ice. She then drew some animals. I suggested things with her, she'd excitedly add. Then she turned it into "Ice's Zoo" next to an ocean with one giant fish, a tiny tree to hold massive birds (2 of which she clarified: "these 2 aren't birds. Those are mountains. They just look the same, but they're not.") Tell me that was not a precious experience.

PS, in this internet place, the store owner just called her friend to help her. His name is Uan. ..... His name means "fat". That's terribly unfortunate. .... and I know many people with that name. Note to parents of all ages: Refrain from naming your children names of "playground mockery". They'll thank you when they're 45.

So the mission has a goal for every companionship to experience having a Baptism this month. So at first they had this way long name for it, until it turned to Baptism November Bonzana, and then later became "BOVEMBER". And I just want to say one thing about this month: BOVEMBER IS LEGIT!

God has already shown us three of the most effective and successful days of my entire mission. It has been an "every hour" is a miracle week because literally every hour some miraculous thing occurs and we're like, "What. just. happened."

After what we've already seen, we know that God is not hidden from His work- people are coming out of the shadows-- OUT OF NOWHERE-- and all of a sudden they appear in our path. On Halloween, we went contacting at the park. We were in no rush, we took time for each person we met. It felt kind of like how Christ might walk around. He was never hurried in His ministry, but every action was meaningful. Every person was prepared for us. That's when I met Ice, a photographer of 30 years at that park, and a gardener. All accepted us warmly.

The last man I almost passed. But as he saw us, he smiled in return. The spirit said go, so I went. We sat with him on the bench and he was so excited and astonished that we offered english free and even more-so, a message of hope.

He said he grew up in the time when Thailand experienced that awful tsunami. He never forgot the aid that came to him from a Christian church. He said all his life he wanted to pay back Christ for coming to the rescue. The look in his eyes was more than I can describe-- he was overwhelmed with joy. I have not seen a more joyful smile.

We've been going out with the members to teach even more. AND MORE. And you know what's crazy? They're showing up to church, inviting their friends with them, and bringing those friends TO US! We had so many people that we're working with now, that when we began planning for next week, we had ONE HOUR of un-planned time just in case. Every other hour is full. We are at a point in the Hastening of the Work where we are having to schedule people for NEXT week.

This week, we had a lesson with a woman named Joy. She has a son named Bango, who we met last week and invited to english-- she was ecstatic. Furthermore, she wanted to take part in every possible activity the church had to offer. We took her through the church, we sang a song in the chapel. Miracles.

We watched as a year-long member got her first priesthood blessing, not ever knowing she could get one. At the end of the appointment, she stated firmly: "I'm going to have a Family Home Evening here-- I've never done it, but you are invited." ...That's where we're going tonight.

We taught our little investigator Biw and his member aunts about being a missionary as a member. He said, "Sister, you won't believe this-- today at my buddhist school, we had an hour to study religion. I got out my Book of Mormon, and started reading. My teacher came over and asked to borrow it. He then began reading. He asked how to read it, then where Jesus was born it it. I told him in Mosiah chapter...."

My 14-yr old investigator knew the chapter, the one chapter that I know of, that talks about Jesus Christ's birth in the Book of Mormon. I myself would have to look it up. But he knew! And he told his teacher! Then he told us. So we gave him a Book of Mormon for that man, his Thai teacher.

Just this morning, Biw called me all excited. He said, "Sister! He wants to learn more!"

Tell me miracles have ceased. I will deny it, because it's not true. God is the same forever: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The work of salvation has truly been "Hastened in His Time" (Doctrine + Covenants 88.)

We prayed for miracles-- and oh, did miracles come. If a young, formerly Buddhist boy of 14 years old can be a "not-yet-a-member-missionary", surely you, whoever you may be, however long you've been a member, can be a member missionary.

I love you all,

Sister Painter


Monday, October 28, 2013

running and is my mission already half over?

Dear Family,
I had a bunch of times this week where I would have JUST been studying something that morning and out of the blue someone would ask a question I literally just studied about. That was really crazy. Especially one day where I just randomly wondered the exact definition of the word Zion. Found out. Then that night, Sister Mary (my recent convert) had JUST finished the Book of Mormon!!! Then she asked me, "Sister, I have to know. What does the word Zion mean?"
Thank you to all who wished me a Happy Hump Day-- what's kinda funny is that, well, I didn't know it was my Hump Day. That's so crazy!

This week I remembered that I needed a diet. So Sis Packard and I sat down and made some goals together of how we'd make a daily routine in the morning a whole lot more clearly with our exercise habits. She's always been way in shape since she got here. I've slowly worked myself up to her level. So now that I can keep up with her, we've set running distances (which we now run faster and faster and need a longer distance route...) and pushing ourselves with other workout stuff.
Compared to the first time we went running, I think we tacked off like at least 10 minutes! That's saying something. And I get way less tired throughout the day now that we do them so consistently. The first stretch is a wakeup call like "Uhhhegghh" but then it's no sweat!
Let me be a witness: in order to be spiritually and mentally happy-- Your body MUST be in good PHYSICAL shape too! It changes everything. I highly suggest watching the new Mormon Message by Elder Nelson about the miracle of our bodies. We have these eyes that can see literally all the beauty around us in a 3D form, ears that can hear.... everything! It reminds me of the children's song  "My Heavenly Father Loves Me".
Speaking of which, I got to go into primary this week at church to help the kids with their primary sacrament meeting. They've never done it before! So I went in and helped teach some songs because, well, sometimes people can be a little tone-deaf here. It's so cute. So there's like, ONE little boy who knows the song "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" and he tries so hard to sing along. The rest are really quite and not confident. But this little boy keeps leading the gang! It was so cute. Primary here needs a little help in our branch, despite having 5 teachers for like 6 kids-- it's just something they've never done! It made me smile though. All these new experiences for all the members. And sacrament meeting will be so cute when they sing "Follow the Prophet"!
Our mute investigator has a baptismal date!
As for profound thoughts, I had another one this week about the Atonement.
If anyone reading this has ever felt like me, as in "What does the Atonement even mean?" then I understand where you're coming from. We understand, but then again, yeah, we really don't at the same time. No matter how long you've been a member. But my most favorite thing about it is that God knew that we'd be imperfect, thus we'd sin. If we sinned, there has to be punishment, because right and wrong exists. So God was willing to give his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come down, pay for all the wrong-doings, slip-ups and imperfections of man because He was the only one who could. When you haven't done sin, you don't need to pay back justice!
But what if we had a debtor? Someone who we could pay back instead? And with that, He would teach you how to keep out of debt? It's like when your mom pays for your piano lessons and wants you to practice. If you didn't practice the piano to get better, your mom paid for no reason. You didn't change, you didn't learn.
Justice must be paid, but you know what? Christ is a gentle and loving debtor. A Redeemer. Go to Him with your troubles, he will ease the burden because He already paid for it. We aren't just paying him back either. But as a mom would proudly see her child learn the piano, He so simply just wants to see us learn for ourselves. Learning the piano doesn't pay back the mom's money, and so it is with the Savior.
But He loves us so much that he wants to see us in the recital of our lives.
Love you all. Let it be known, I know Christ is the Master Teacher.
Sister Monica Painter


Monday, October 21, 2013

Thai sign language and a new sister training leader

Dear Family,

This week I officially needed a heart-monitor because I had a HEART ATTACK! ..... Well, almost. But seriously. This week was probably the craziest since... I don't even know when. I am staying in Roi Et for another 9 weeks with Sister Packard though! Didn't move.

So I may as well start with the incident that caused it. So on Monday, Elder Yuen got a call that he would be training and needed to be in Bangkok the next morning by 9am-- it was already 4:30pm! So.... needless to say we all went for our very last Swenson's ice cream, had a tearful FHE , he got packed in 20 minutes, and we had a quick last photo and said goodbye. It was so fast and so hard that we were way sad.

My District in Roi Et
Next day, we're at district meeting. Sigh, 4 chairs. The other two have already left. It was raining in Roi Et. We began the meeting saying it felt weird without the other two. BOOM the door bursts open! Elder YUEN says frantically, "Have you seen my backpack?" and ran to the closet in the classroom. The second he bursts open the door, me and Sis Packard are SO SURPRISED that we SCREAM. Like, the loudest and most sincere of my whole life. :p WE COULD NOT BELIEVE OUR EYES! He was dead to us! Then he grabbed out his backpack (which he has a history of losing) and ran out the door with, "Okay bye love you all!" ......... WHAT JUST HAPPENED. He was gone as fast as he was back!

Then I realize, "We just got punked!!" and we run back after the door. Elder Cahoon and Yuen come in cracking up. Turns out the night before, their bus was full and they couldn't go. So they stayed until transfers because they would miss the meeting anyway, it being the last bus. SO MEAN. But then we all got to be together 2 more days, and then we ALL had to go to transfer meeting together! Road trip! It was so fun. And so we're all on the bus and Elder Yuen is getting all his important zone leader phone calls so we all know what's going down when we get there. We all got invited to come back Sis Packard and Elder Thomas had to renew visas.

Turns out that wasn't all! I overheard Elder Yuen say my name. I would have to be at a meeting at 9am. ..... What. Well, then he told me I had a calling! And so the next morning I attended my first meeting with Sister Senior, the Mission President's wife. I'm now a Sister Training Leader (STL) -- and I cover the Eesan! I follow-up with 4 companionships in Udon, Mahasarakham, and Kalasin. So like I told mom: Basically I now go to the Mission Council Meetings (Just Assistants to the President, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders with President and his wife) each month in Bangkok. It's kind of way humbling because now I have a direct line to President's office with the needs of the sisters in my areas. It's really been rewarding so far because I get to think of all the other sisters' well-being, not just me and Sis Packard, as well as exchange, followup with language milestones, etc. with them. It lets me look outward rather than inward. I'm way excited.

This week we built a fence the morning after we got home from Bangkok at 2am. We were like zombies chopping down trees. We literally chopped down the trees to make the fence. That's no joke. Hacked down the trees, lifted them across the jungle, and built a fence around their "cricket farm". Oh yes. This is real life.

We adopted Elder Wilson (my old district leader in Udon)-- he's way funny. He's quite an addition!

We had some set-backs with Est, but we will not give up on this amazing boy!

Oh, and hey. We taught a mute person. We literally have a mute investigator that can hear some words but not all, but cannot speak a single word, just scratchy sounds. Her name is Pumsii. We taught her who God was and how to pray with Sister Jampii, who knows Thai sign language. Pumsii prayed for her first time. Needless to say, I am learning Thai sign language now. ...Wait, is this real life?

I love you all,

Sister Painter
Rode by an elephant family. Way cool!

Sis. Pannida, my first companion is going home tomorrow.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Heavenly Father Can Fix This

Dear Family,

I had the weirdest thing happen to me this week-- my left eye went like 50% red. It was very attractive (said nobody ever.) More like totally weird. I woke up one night in the middle of the night and my eyes were watering. Weird. Woke up in the morning and BOOM "What is this?"

But it's fine, went to the doctor (the hospital. Same thing.) and he met with me for 36 seconds, told me "It's red. But not too red." and gave me some eyedrops. Thanks doc. Well, the eyedrops worked! But unfortunately that required Sis Packard's assistance every 4 hours.... And she didnt so much enjoy my "AHHH GET THAT AWAY FROM ME" when she'd come prodding near my eye. It was like putting on mascara for the first time all over again. It went something like this:

"Open your eye!"

"I am!"

"No you're not. Open it! And put your arms down."

Then she would proceed to practically sit on me so that I couldn't move my hands and drop it into my eye. The end. She's such a good nurse.

As for some funny things that happened:
-We had an FHE at Bro. Bah's house. For the activity, we played a game that was supposed to symbolize listening closely to the spirit. So one person stands in the middle and then when they finally touch someone (with their eyes closed) they say an animal name, and the person touched has to make the sound that animal would make and the person who's it guesses who it was that made the sound.
So Elder Tatton gets tapped on the shoulder by the sweet as honey Sis Jan. She is so tender and kind. And she says chicken. So, in all fun, in the total silence, Elder Tatton makes the LOUDEST chicken "baGAWK!!" I've ever heard. Sis Jan went SAILING away in terror!! Oh, it was so hilarious. So now whenever she passes Elder Tatton she laughs.

Also, we finally got that giant trunk out of Sis Jan's house!

Sis Suri is a tiny lady who is our primary president, and the Branch President's wife's housekeeper. She is TINY and is a firm believer that if you prayer for it, it'll happen. Her faith is unstoppable. She always suggests praying and her reason is: "Heavenly Father can fix this!!" so we were 'stumped' so to speak with the tree trunk. And after we prayed, BOOP out it came. She was like, "Ya see?!?"

So we ended up taking Sis Suri, Sis Bunlawm and Sis Jan with us out to find an investigator. The investigator was busy. So Sis Suri says "We need to pray right now to know where to go now!" So we did, all 5 of us, right on that street, cars driving passed us. We get done, and we all kind of just walk the same direction. And see this lady. We all verge on her! We sit down with her, and it turns out, she HAS a Book of Mormon, she knows how to pray, and she believes all of it! I wish you could have seen the look of victory on tiny Sis Suri's face. "Ya see?!?"

And I did see. We sometimes don't recognize the power of a prayer of faith. But tiny little Suri does. And when she prays with God's will in mind, she expects things to happen because she trusts in the power of the Almighty.

This week was harder for us. Nothing came 'easy', that's for sure, as well as a major heartcrunch when we got a text from BiiMay telling us that he could not be baptized. We were shocked. What happened? We couldn't contact him for days. Then he finally picked up the phone. His parents want him to be a monk in two years. Sigh. That is so hard. I asked him what he wanted to do. He didn't know. That was a real drop. A real sudden drop.

But in the midst of a dark night, we arised to a bright dawn. Est, our other dater, called me for our 'over the phone' teaching appointment while he was away in Khongaen. We had gotten a few minutes behind, so he had called first. "Are you going to teach me today?" he had not forgotten, and he was anxious to learn more. He has learned everything he needs to to qualify for his baptism on the 26th, but we wanted to set his vision passed that day, for when he would receive the Priesthood as a worthy male.

We opened with a prayer over the phone, taught him and so on. I asked him what he understood and how he felt about it-- he relayed every piece of information perfectly. He had to have taken notes or something! Then he said, "Sister, I feel.. I feel proud." In that moment I felt my eyes tear up. I felt impressed to tell him how proud God was of him, and how I could not describe how proud I was of him. I have watched him change his life. He walked up to the church gates willingly with his sister. He did not have to come. He accepted 2 different dates. He danced in a talent show he was not even a member for. And when his sister left for Bangkok and he went to Khongaen, he read his scriptures in a hospital bed. He was bedridden for a week, but he never forgot who he was, or what he was preparing for.

We stumbled upon a house in the back of the middle of nowheres-ville. We saw a tiny little girl in the arms of a mom. We felt impressed to stop there. The daughter was almost 1, her name was Daengmo (watermelon). The mom's name was Doom. They had an old grandma as well. They welcomed us in to say hello. We got to know each other a second, gave them the Family Proclaimation, said a few things, and asked if we could come back and see them sometime. Doom warmly agreed.
Yesterday we didn't know where to go for one open hour. Everyone had fallen through, even backup plans. I suggested, "Doom?" and Sis Packard readily agreed, saying she was just thinking about her. We went. She, the grandma, the grandpa, the daugher, and the nephew, all welcomed us. I asked her if she had read the Proclaimation. She indeed had. She said, "I want to come to your church on Sunday. It starts at 9am, right?" ..... Whoa. We sat down and shared a message of who they were, and how to speak with God. We prayed with Doom. When we were done, she said, "That was so sacred. We really ARE His children, aren't we?"

A true miracle. A woman in a wooden home on the side of the canal just found her Father.

I don't think I could have ever known what I was being prepared for when I first put on my missionary name tag. These things are not easy. But when they are led by a loving Heavenly Father? You awake to the light of a beautiful dawn, every morning, even if you are wiped. Even if you are totally out of energy. You overcome your physical boo-hoo's and feed your spirit. We're spiritual beings having a human experience. If only we could remember that, all the time. 

Conference was wonderful, we got to watch it in English! I highly suggest reviewing those words again. Especially, remember who you are. Remember your role that you play on this earth. Play it well, to the best of your ability. Play it right. And love it.


Sister Painter

Monday, October 7, 2013

Getting Trunky   Oct. 7 2013

Dear Family,

As for the title, I suppose I should explain. No, I'm not particularly trunky. BUT! We definitely hacked down a GIANT TREE that fell down in Sis Jan's yard this week. We had machete's, axes, giant Thai knifes, and the like. As for me, I wielded the large clippers. But we vastly underestimated the blister, ant, and scratch benefits of chopping out and PULLING OUT a giant trunk. Once we got the whole thing hacked up, we went for the doozy. The trunk. Which just so happened to have roots one foot thick. It was ridiculous! And with 7-8 of us, we still didn't get it out! So that's this friday's adventure again. So great.

Other than that, this week was graced with a nice cold. Both in weather and in health. But didn't stop us from getting our goals we had made! Everyone in our district made balanced this week. You know what that means?? We're making legit "The District 101" sport jerseys finally. It was what we planned to do. 101 stands for Roi Et, because, well, thats what the name means!

I don't even know what week this is, if I were to count. BUT, this week makes 6 months for me in country. I got here for conference weekend, and now it's conference again! We watch it this weekend. I'm super excited!

We also threw a surprise birthday party for Elder Tatton this week. And then the next day, a mix up occurred and somehow we were having another birthday party for him and Brother Bah, who just got baptized like last week. So we planned a surprise party, cancelled it, and then in the end surprisingly had one anyway and it was legit!! So that was the time I surprised myself with a surprise party by accident. Enough miscommunication turned into a great party! Tell me someone else you know that can surprise themself with an unexpected surprise party that they planned themselves. HA. ..... ("Tell me someone who bought more cookies than me!!!" -Despicable Me "Take that tiny toilet!!")

One day this week we went and ate a real Eesan lunch at Sis Duanjan (Moon) 's house with her family and her sister. Turns out her sister and her daughter are less-active! That sunday they both came back and are making preparations to be ready for the temple next year. Yesssss. I love when people recapture their vision.

I have mixed feelings about transfers. Everyone here is kind of getting a little nervous about it because nobody wants to leave here. It almost feels like getting voted off the island. Either way, if a single person moves (which they will no doubt) the district will automatically change around. Just kinda how morphing works. But then again, with change comes more opportunities to progress. So I'm mixed. If it were up to me, I'd want to stay here. I really feel like there's a ton more I could do for 9 more weeks. Whatever happens will be what's meant to happen. I definitely learned that 1. From my parents 2. From last transfer. I had no idea I would be leaving Bangkok after 24 hours and BAM here I am in the greatest place in the most rewarding point of my mission so far.

Either way, there's always stuff to improve. I'm happy to go where I'm needed. But until then, I will be finding, teaching, and baptizing those who are so ready here in Roi Et! And I will be doing it with a marshmallow sling! .... That may be our pday activity today.

As some funny things that have happened this week:

We taught a lesson to our family we're helping to go the temple altogether, (the same man who wants to be named Fernando Sancho) and while I was teaching, Sis Packard had her little eyes on a mouse running around the kitchen behind them. Then, a cricket was on my shoulder for 5 minutes straight. THEN, a lizard came right next to my face, ate a bug, and ran away. THEN as we left, that cricket had somehow returned to my back AGAIN, and I rode my bike across the street for another 5 minutes going about 20mph before Sis Packard rides up, smacks it off my back, and we realize we had crossed the highway street with a lucky cricket. Needless to say, I felt .1% less safe after my Mulan creature was gone! :p Hahaha.

We held our very first sports night at the Roi Et church this saturday-- HUGE SUCCESS! Tons of people! And it even got one of our member's nephews to come, who then came to church and primary the next day! YES! His name is Okie. And he is a porker. Soooo cute. He doesn't say much, but he loved primary. And he wants a kid's picture book of mormon like his cousin Biw!

Oh yeah, two more daters this week!! Biw and Yuuy! We took Sis Faa out on a bike ride out to find Yuuy and the lesson went great, regardless of it being in her relative's hair salon with hair dryers blowing. So it was kinda like this (talking loud over the sound): "THE HOLY GHOST SPEAKS WITH A VERY SOFT VOICE AND CAN WITNESS... etc etc." It was kinda ironic, but in the end she just wanted to be baptized.

Talk about ready. She was a miracle in herself! We lost track of her because her number changed, then as luck would have it, she saw us riding by on the street where she was tending her cousin! The same little boy doing the superhero poses for us, if you remember Doon. Anyway, she just so happened to see us at the perfect time, RAN AFTER US down the street, and we finally got back in contact. Oh man. It was a miracle. Then we had KFC with a little member who is 11 and afraid of going to primary with the other kids to try to get to be friends better. We knew she loved fried chicken. So we brought it, and by the end, she burped in front of us. So I'd say we're friends.

Unfortunately this week was also school-term's end, so basically a huge pool of our investigators, including our 2 daters, went home until the end of the month! BAH! This is like BYU during December!! 

As a last note, a very very very very old member stood up in Relief Society yesterday to bear her testimony. She got up, with her no teeth, grasping the whiteboard, and said: "Thanks to the Lord! Thanks to the Lord! HALLELUJIAH! HALLELUJIAH! Amen." like.... probably 7 or 8 times until she sat back down. It was priceless. No teeth, all gums, but 110% sincere.

I love this.


Sister Painter