Friday, March 29, 2013

Week 7 - Last Sprinting


Don't have a ton of time, but I'll write as fast as I can. I asked Melissa for prints of the Jared photos she sent-- if somebody who loves me could actually do that, I would be on cloud 9. Of course his best pictures come AFTER I'm gone. I only want the ones she emailed me please!!!!! Whoever gets me those prints before I leave the MTC gets whatever they want from Bangkok. Remember that.

So as for big news: I sang in an MTC choir that will be featured between conference sessions (I believe on the saturday)-- they're doing a big thing about how life at the MTC has escalated, so we're singing a song for it that they had commissioned for us to sing. I'm at the end of a row in my grey striped sweater. If you think you see me, you did! So watch for me on TV!

It got cold again this week and it snowed. So it's time for the warmy-warms of Thailand. Seriously.

Thank Molly and her girls, Grandma Zoma, and Aunt Melanie for all the love I got this week! I will never run out of popcorn now. They are so wonderful!! I cut open a box of peeps and they hardened to perfection.

We got new thai's last week: 2 elders and 3 sisters (one sister dropped out to get married or we would've have 4)-- and they are cute! I sent a pic of the girls. I don't know the thai elders at all.

This week I ran into Parker Rasmussen! Aka, this morning. I'll send the photo in a second. I also saw Blake Randall, Kalisha Walters from BYU, and my friend Adam Sierra who works here. :)

The other district of Thai elders are crazy. Flat out weird. They have a game called: "GAME". (Clever) in which they have cards of dares, and they are all bizarre, and they do them. So this week, all the Elders in the other district removed their mattresses and slept on the metal frames. It was called: "metal bed night" and it was miserable for all of them. But totally totally hilarious. Those Elders have the best stupid stories. Ever. Hahahaha

We played District volleyball (all of us together vs.) and it was SO FUN. Although, I don't have a ton of skill, it was still fun. 4 square is definitely also a favorite here.

I decided that you seriously can't know what a mission is like, or what it entails, until you actually have done it for yourself. I listened to Jared's mission for the entire time, but I never have fully understood until I actually got here and tried it. Its going to get harder in the field, so my respect for missionaries everywhere has escalated by 326 times.
This week I told the Cambodians (in our zone) about dad and how we took a trip to the east coast for the Viper, because Elder Brittain was from Rochester, NY. I successfully earned the respect of the Cambodians.

Bro. Burgess, my teacher, decided it would be amazing if we put a big chair in the middle of the room and put someone in it, called it "the love chair" and told that person everything we sincerely loved about them. I got to be in the love chair this week once, and oh my gosh, I almost cried. Do me a favor, go tell someone what you love about them this week. People need to know that stuff.

We actually got a new elder this week. Sounds crazy, but we did. He got to come back to the MTC from last year and now he's leaving with us-- he is such a kind soul. So glad he made it back. Way proud of him.

I'm itching to get to Thailand now, I think the walls are closing in. But I admit I am very inadequate at the language. But you know what? At this moment that is the least important thing. I will be going in to Thailand able to bear a solid testimony and pray. So with the testimony that I have, and the heart that I've got now, I'm ready to be humbled with the language in an attempt to find somebody willing to try to understand my broken Thai. The most important thing is that the message I will so badly deliver, is true.

Anyway, almost done here. On the last stretch and trying to finish this MTC experience with no regrets! Trying to memorize the first vision in Thai before I go so that I have something to take with me to Thailand that will inspire and uplift. Tones are hard. Haha.


LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! I leave April 8th. You're amazing. Thanks for writing me and helping me feel loved and supporter. I love you all!!!!!

Sister Painter!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Week 6 - Itching to get in the Sun of Thailand!!

Written Tuesday, MARCH 19, 2013

Sawadiii family!
So I found out this week that Jared's grandparents are moving to St. George! No more Logan apparently. So who knows, maybe they'll be close to Papa Jim & Grandma Zoma. That'd be awesome.
This week I've been on a pursuit to be a better Sister Painter. A mission has a way of magnifying your weaknesses by 326 times. So I've been trying to work on Christ-like attributes-- it's a slow road. The week was filled with up's and down's. My language has hit a perpetual wall of sorts, and my study habits are lacking in the awesome. I'm trying my hardest, but at week 7 (starting tomorrow) you start itching to get out to Thailand. It's rough business. Being cast down to your lowest of lows is the only way to develop progress, apparently.
Although, despite that, I was complimented twice last week. Bro. Burgess had me in an interview and he told me how amazed he was by my memory. He asked if it was photographic-- to which I kind of just shrugged sheepishly like, "I don't really know. Sometimes." If there's one strength I know I do have, it's remembering and memorizing. It can be a gift and a curse. But anyway, now that they only write out vocab and grammar in Thai, my gift of remembering how words looked on paper has since been taken away. So now I am literally on full reliance to the spirit to remember things. That's been my biggest goal-- being able to discern the needs of the person we're talking to. Because Thai is tonal, it's hard to tell what the person is feeling or what they're thinking. Language barriers are rough on making connections. But I will say this-- the spirit speaks ALL languages. Language barriers aside.
Bro. Burgess told me that my accent was really good-- which essentially means I must sound like a bird creature. I am officially Kevin from UP.
At the end of one of our lessons, Bro. B said: "If I could change anything about that lesson---- I wouldn't." He's so great to us. Bro. McConkie is a stiff one and he gave us a "sincere clap" later the day we taught him. So apparently we have the potential to get it right sometimes.
It got warmer here, so a lot of what we do for studying is down outside. Or we'll teach outside-- we'll be teaching on the ground in Thailand, on a river-side porch, or usually in a home with a special rug they use for talking. Very cool. I may or may not be bringing one home with me.
We leave April 8th-- 3 weeks! We get new Thai's here tomorrow. Crazy! We get 2 girls in our room, and 2 in the other. Then 2 Elders. It'll be weird to see them going through what we just did!
Not a lot to report-- most of my news was in Mom's email. Have her share it with you for the blog, any of the news. I'll write a handwritten one too soon.
If you could send me my farewell talk in a dearelder, that'd be awesome.
Funny fact: Thai's essentially don't have addresses. So they just say, "My house is OVER THERE!" and say: "Noon!!" and point. Good luck finding it. :)
Anyway. I love you all! I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of stuff. But anyway, there may or may not be an apostle/Thomas S. Monson or something today, because we're singing a never before sung song for choir that they had commissioned for tonight. Uhhhh... I'll be there, thank you.
Sis. Painter

I got sick this week for a bit. The other sisters sent me a toilet candy..... :p (YEE means crappy)

I found Jared's cereal! haha
I found Spencer Tippetts for a picture finally!

(Me and some other Thai elders in our district-- NOT TOUCHING YOU!)

Mel and I

Week 5 - Vineyard Workers

written MARCH 12, 2013
Sawadiikha Family!
So I am now passed my one month! How crazy. All those feeling so inclined to write me.... follow that prompting! ;) I love and miss mail. As per usual. I've been getting complaints that my blog hasn't been updated since February. ... -cough- :)
So some funny stories to start out:
-Sis. McDermott (in the trio) was giving a spiritual thought-- and now all our thoughts have to be in thai-- so she asked to have us open to Luke 18:27-- unfortunately, the number 18 sounds incredibly close to the #11. So Sis. Steele and I both found ourselves looking up Luke 11:27. We were SO confused, and it was the funniest mix up ever. If you don't understand, go look it up. It's pretty hilarious.
-Elder Steiner: "So when do we use this 'can' in a sentence?' -holds up grammar book- ..... Bro. McConkie: "....may I have a 'can' of tuna?"
As for news:
I've been getting these sweet postcards from Jenn Lee in the mail-- she's on a road trip! So they come in every couple days. Oh man, love that girl. Tell her she is amazing.
I can't express my gratitude that dad was kept safe at the Sand Dunes with that crazy inspiration not to ride the 500. I bet he got home, saw the broken pieces, and was in total gratitude as well. I sure do love my dad, and I can't say how grateful I am that all of you are protected while I'm away. The Lord is keeping all His promises. I can't even describe it.
I am so jealous that you are all going to Sea World and Mopars! I would love to go. I miss animals. And life outside the MTC. Waiting for my Bangkok adventure in 4 weeks or so. We leave April 8th!
The MTC continues to grow and grow and grow. Bangkok may seem spacious when I get there!
Speaking of which, our "Phii Thais" (the older group), flew out yesterday and she get there tomorrow!! I can't even believe it. They were the last group to be on the 12-13 week program. We get new Thai missionaries next week-- so we may get a companionship in our bedroom in our 3rd bunkbed. I can't wait to bring in the new group and try to help them as much as we can, emotionally and language wise. I remember what it was like! So to anyone coming in tomorrow or next week, I'm hosting the new missionaries! So I could see you and bring you and all your luggage in. :)
There is a big bug that is going around our district, as spread by Elder Chambers! That boy needs to cover his mouth. :P :) So my companion got really sick yesterday and I had to figure some splits so I could make sure our cleaning jobs got done... by me. Hahaha. Luckily I have yet to catch the bug once more. Heaven knows a 2-month flu was enough. Oh! Did I mention that my flu shot gave me the flu? Yes. It did. I had the flu for 2 months. Go figure. So life on the mostly healthy side is delightfulllllll.
Script and reading is coming along-- things are sticking much better and the language continues to progress. I finally had a great couple of teaching experiences in the TRC-- (where we teach volunteers who speak Thai), and they actually went really well. I'm suprised by how much I can say. Though, I still have SOOOOO far to go. It's really humbling. But I can tell I'm in an escalated learning environment-- God still knows how to teach Thai best.
Our teacher, Bro. McConkie, got engaged on Saturday! To a girl who went to Mt. View in Mesa. Somebody creep on Sarah Rowley. So happy for him! Especially if he got an Arizona girl. (Let it be known, he left us an hour early to go propose, so it was a good excuse! As he left, he said to another teacher, "khun pen phuuchuayhayrccd!" (and I knew it was a big deal because that means, 'You're a savior!" haha. Well, actually it means literally: "person who helps give salvation". Hahaha! Thai is so great.)
Elder Wheeler is now in a trio, and Elder Bartholomew is our district leader. We actually lost an Elder. That was a hard adjustment for all of us, but it was the right decision for him. He'll be back soon, we know it.
I had a dream this week about preaching the gospel to some teenagers. I can honestly say I have never had a dream where I am bearing testimony. It was bizarre, but realistic. I guess that happens when you live and breathe missionary work.
There's just something about serving a mission that makes all your flaws materialize. It's both really hard on you, and motivating to change. I'm getting massively humbled because of how draining all this can be-- and of course, your companion is just as drained as you, so by the end of the night, you say: "Groodniihh..." (that's not Thai, that's just sleepy talk for goodnight. Life is rough. haha)
I was really inspired all week from reading Jacob 5-- the parable of the vineyard. I just loved it. It made me think of what Grandma Ines used to say: "Grow where you are planted." because in the parable, the servant in the vineyard says: "How comest thou hither to plant this tree [here]? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard." (vs. 21)
Lord of the Vineyard says : "Counsel me not. I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it, this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit."
They continue walking and the Lord sees another tree: "Look hither," he says, "behold I have planted another branch of the tree also, and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first."
"But," And then he stops him and points, saying, ".... behold, the tree."
It just hit me that no matter where we came from, or where we were planted, if we grow up nourished by the Lord and keep our roots dug in Him, we can grow and flourish no matter our background, and no matter how poor our circumstance.
Just call me a vineyard worker.
"Good timber does not grow with ease;
the stronger wind, the stronger trees;
the further the sky, the greater length,
the more the storm, the more the strength,
by sun and cold, by rain and snow,
in trees and men good timber grow."
(Thanks cousin Tyler, for sending that poem to me again! I had lost it since you served!)
It's been nice and warm(er), so we're loving life for the moment! We sat on the temple grounds on our walk on Sunday-- a real treat!
I'm so excited for Brekk to go to Disneyland! HE IS SO CUTE!
Keep working hard, and keep smiling! I love you all SO much and I am so grateful to have each and every one of you. I can't tell you how much you all mean to me! This missionary loves you!
That girl who is currently on Week 6 starting TOMORROW!
Sister Monica Painter!
the usual lunch
Sis. S & I hosting for the first time! Bringing in new missionaries!
Our district had a food fiesta last P-Day! We brought out the 5lb chocolate from Uncle Tom!
(sorry I'm not in it, it's also missing a few people!)
Bro. McConkie (doesn't he look oddly like Jared Hammer? :p Anyway, that's Bruce R's grandson! Teaching us Thai!)
Sis. Steele & I
Sunday sit on the lawn of the temple :) (Elder Quinn and Elder Kelley <-- from Australia)
 me this morning with Sis. McDermott--- we went on splits to go to the temple because Sis. Stewart was sick. :) It was taken this morning

our district on the lawn!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 4 - The Spirit

Hello & Sawadiiiiiiiiiiiiii!
As an official proclaimation: I want mail! I'm eager to hear from everyone!
Also, I am officially 28 days into my mission. That's bizarre. The time continuam here is confusing-- a week is a day and a day is a week. Go figure.
For Melissa--- Elder Pyne not only looks like Winnie the Pooh, but he also is an impeccable resemblence of Josh Peck from Drake and Josh. In fact, when we figured it out, I had him say: "MEAGAN!!" and I basically cried laughing it was so good.
Also, my hat, gloves and scarf finally arrived at Lost & Found after 2 weeks! It's a miracle. I was so bummed that they went missing, and AH! At last! Warm fingers and ears!
M. Russell Ballard came last Tuesday after I emailed! Way cool. We sang "Consider the Lillies" to him in the MTC choir (which I am in) and it reminded me of Grandpa Payne for some reason. Then I realized Grandma Ines's birthday was right after. I can tell they are supporting me out here.
Script continues to beat me to a pulp! It's so hard because of the tones and vowels. The language is getting tough because I can't memorize the vocab as easily when it's in script-- I usually memorize by visualizing the word in my head, but now that I can't read, I also can't memorize as easy! So I have officially turned myself over to the Lord to try to speak Thai-- my semi-photographic memory is not helping me, but I know HE can! :)
I took sinus pressure medicine from the clinic and that helped a little bit, but I'm still getting a a tad bit of the upper jaw bone pain. Not fun, but it hasn't kept me from being productive-- it's just annoying. :) Doing my best to stay positive regardless!
The TRC the most intimidating thing we do here because we teach Thai volunteers-- all of which have already served in Thailand. I have a tough time talking to them because I get so nervous that I have no clue what they're saying-- because I literally DON'T know what they're saying! Haha. We teach them all as members, too, so we can't ask them normal investigator stuff. We just teach them a lesson! It's like church! Haha.
However, we DID teach our 2 Thai investigators this week. In fact, the toughest cookie to crack, Bro. McConkie (grandson of Bruce R. McConkie) was red in the eyes during our lesson last night. I had prayed all day that I would just be able to submit myself to the Lord to teach my how to speak Thai, and when I got to our classroom, we didn't know we would be teaching him right away so we didn't have a solid lesson plan. So Sis. Stewart and I went in faith, not knowing before what we would really say or what "Phii Thii" really needed to hear, and in that lesson, we felt the spirit so strongly as we TESTIFIED IN THAI! I thought of something that needed to be said, and it came out in Thai! Just flowed out like the Dr. Pepper in mom's 48 oz pop! We felt like since Phii Thii knew for a surety that what he had already been learning the last 4 lessons was true, he needed to share it with his family and help them to accept baptism just like He did. Oh, it was crazy just how much love and sincerity was there. Sis. Stewart and I finished and left, and we looked at each other and said, "What just happened?"
The spirit happened.
"Good timber does not grow with ease:
the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees;
The further the sky, the greater the length;
the more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
in trees and men good timbers grow."
We just kids. We're learning a language completely out of our normal spectrum of knowledge, and it's HARD. There's no way that 18-21 year old kids can go WORLD WIDE and tell people that the way they've been living their life is seemingly incorrect, and that they need to change. What 19 year old kid convinced a 50 yr old man to stop drinking and come to church? NO BODY DID.
The spirit taught that man-- the 19 yr old kid was simply the means of setting the environment for the spirit to be there and testify.
"As to my strength, I am weak. I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God. For in his strength I can do all things." --Alma 26 (Just go read that whole chapter in the Book of Mormon. It's my favorite by far.)
I'm weak, but I will testify, in English and in Thai, that Jesus Christ LOVES us. God loves us so much that he sacrificed His Only Begotten Son FOR us, so that one day, when we hurt and we make mistakes, we can return to Him. And when that day comes, I want Christ to be able to tell me He was proud of me for doing all I could to spread His message-- that He will come again. And when He does, I know where I will be. I'll be at His feet, thanking Him for never letting me down. Because I know from now until that time, He won't. And He won't let you down either. I promise you that! Seek Him out, He'll tell you that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is HIS church, restored to the earth again.
With ALL my love, (kab thug khwaamrag kccng sidturr)
Sister Painter
PS: I memorized a fun phrase this week-- "We are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." --> "Row ben phuusaansaasana kccng sadsanacag kccng Phrayeesukhrid hang [sidtichon yudsathay]" <--- they actually just changed Latter-Day Saints' translation, so I'll let you know what that is now. JUST happened recently! Crazy. Time to RE-memorize... Hahah.
PSS: Sorry no pictures this week, we honestly didn't do much at all except learn!

Week 3- "Oh, so you have the Urim & Thummim"

HELLO!! Sawat diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.
This week has been super fast and super fun-- Thai is coming and coming. In fact, my teachers are kind of taken offguard how well we are all of a sudden able to read script. I AM TAKEN OFFGUARD. The Lord will hasten His work? Uhm, literally. Somehow we are getting cut to 9 weeks and each we are somehow learning at a faster rate than the 12-week kiddos have. Not bragging, I'm just seriously floored by the promise that we'd be able to do this. The Lord knows how to teach Thai!!
But some REALLY cool stuff we learned this week came from hearing how the Thai Book of Mormon was 1st translated to Thai from English. A little Mormon Thai lady was well-educated and worked for the King, and she was called to translate it, and in doing so, an apostle told my teacher's mission president that she was assisted by the 3 Nephites-- So cool. Also, she didn't know the word for priesthood and really struggled over it. She prayed that she would know what it was, and she woke up one morning, and ON THE CEILING, the name was in Thai, written on the ceiling. Later it was gone! So that's how she did it! I am convinced the people of Thailand are SUPPOSED to have the Book of Mormon, because you learn so much about the gospel by hearing the Thai simple translation.
Nephi's name in Thai is "Nii-fay"--- literal translation? 'This Light'. AMAZING.
As for script-- it is so bizarre, and yet so simple at the same time, and yet so complicated on the other hand. A dilemma, if you will, for the human brain. I have a little card with all my consonants and vowels I've been memorizing, and when a very 'high class' consonant comes along, I have to look it up to know what sound it makes. It's kind of like having the Urim and Thummim. All we need now is a batch of helium balloons-- because reading Thai is like Papa Smurf 'having another piece to the puzzle!!!'
Thai reads like a giant Twitter hashtag. So when you read it, it's kind of like this (you never know when one word ends and another begins:) #andwhenIatethefruitofthetreethanitwasdelicious

me & my "khuu" (companion)
Also, Thai makes no Tense. And by that I mean, present tense is all they have-- you just use context clues and sometimes throw in another word like "before" or "after" or "one day" to make it a different tense. But in general, you would say: "Joseph Smith is Prophet." to mean he WAS a prophet. To clarify you'd have to say: "Mxa 1800's, cooseb samid pen saadsada." (When 1800's, Joseph Smith is a prophet.) I actually love caveman english-- so much easier than conjugating verbs-- you never have to! "You read know if true, yes no?" Yep.
Funny stories:
Bro. Burgess, my teacher, was looking at me funny and said, "Have you seen Homeward Bound?"
to which I said, "Literally 300 times as a kid!"
And he said, "If you had an animal doppleganger, I would think you would be 'Sassy' that cat!!"
I looked at him like, "Are you serious?! That's what we still call my sister to this day!!!"
So there you go, I'm Sassy the cat here at the MTC. It could be worse, I could be Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh like Elder Quinn, or Brother Bear like Elder Pyne (he literally looks like a bear.)
Elder Wheeler, our district leader, was translating names in Thai script and asked Bro. McConkie (our other teacher) if his first name was right. McConkie started sounding it out: "Kaley---" to which Elder Wheeler hushed him and said, " NO NO! NOT THAT ONE!!" and McConkie said, "Wait, who is she?!" Hahaha. Oh Elders.
I was translating for 2 Elders speaking to our teacher while they tried to teach how to endure to the end. Our teacher was only allowed to speak English and I had to translate it into Thai to tell the Elders. We got to a point where the Elders didn't know what to teach, so they pulled out a scripture. It was going fine until my teacher read: "And you will have less desire to injure one another...." to which, the Elders asked in Thai: "Did you like that?" ....we literally cried laughing. Worst lesson ever. It was hilarious.
Lastly, we get tired as missionaries so it's hard to tell when we're napping or being productive. So Elder Anderson (or 100% Korean from Sandy, UT), had his head down on his desk. Bro. McConkie (teacher) came and pet his head, after which Elder Anderson raised his head 30 seconds later and said, "I was praying." Bro. McConkie felt so bad but he couldn't not laugh. We still can't tell the difference when Anderson prays.
(Pretending to eat the temple...)
"My milkshake brings... nothing to the yard."
"When a feline dies, it cannot be reincatnated."
(Accidentally matching with Sister Steele)
My District:
Elders: Wheeler, Anderson, Pyne, Steiner, Jensen, Chambers, DeLagarza, Bartholomew
Sisters: Me, Stewart, Steele, McDermott, Yim (Hawaiian convert)
(Me & all the sisters! Me, Stewart, Yim, McDermott, and Steele)
Anyway, I just want to tell you all how much I love being a missionary. Yes, there are hilarious moments where I say: "Can we come and teach again? .... Today? Right now?" (Didn't mean to say that.) but I know the Lord prepares a way for his missionaries to teach somehow. Above all else, I have been studying the Book of Mormon to a capacity that I never have before, and it is full and ripe with SO MUCH to learn about Jesus Christ. I've been marking the places in the scriptures where it tells the characteristics and nature of the Son of God-- and I have never felt more sure than He could love us enough to die for us. The Book of Mormon is the evidence that God cares about ALL His children and the time is NOW that we need to hear what He has to say. Jesus Christ is coming again, and we must be ready to give Him a big hug and thank Him for everything He has ever done for us-- that includes preparing ourselves to be clean and free from the guilt we as humans accumulate by human error. I know that through Jesus Christ, we can be guilt-free, and happier than we have ever been.
There is nowhere I would rather be than learning how I can bring people to know what I do. When we teach the gospel to those that have never heard of a God, we have to explain as simply as we would to a child-- and oddly enough, those messages are the most profound:
"Phraphuubenjaw song ben phrabida kccn raw-- phrabida kccn winyaan kccn raw. le' thaa raw tham samrab phraong phiichay, lxag rab baptidsama, raw klab bon sawan kab phrabida bon sawan day-- khray rag raw maag maag."
God is our literal Father-- the Father of our spirits. And if we become like His Son, Jesus Christ, by repenting and being baptized as Christ did, we can return to our Heavenly Father who loves us so dearly.
I know that Joseph Smith saw Him. I know that one day, so will we. Press forward in faith, nothing wavering, and you will.
I love you all! Write this little missionary!
Sister Painter
Okay I love you all!!!!!
Write me!!!!!!! Dearelders/Handwritten are amazing!