There is a lot to say and not a lot of time to say it. :) This week was insaneeeee. And by insane, I really mean insane. Are you familiar with Rio de Janeiro's Carnival? Thailand has it-- only it is a 4 day water fight. And they never get bored of it. All day. 4 Days. SONKRANG.
Anyway, We flew for a million hours on a plane that was all in cantonese, funny dinners, and good old fashion "non sleepable" areas. It was fine until hour... 14? Yeah. Anyway, it was actually less awful than I make it out to be. :) Just being funny. But when we got in, I had gotten sick from the last hour of flight, so I didn't so much like that part!
Day 1 in Thailand was superrr hot! We got picked up by Pres and Sis Senior (President is a total goof and a nice nice nice person) and they took us back to the mission home. We got our blood drawn for work permits (we teach english) and then we went to do our first Dan Jones experience-- handing out a book of mormon in bangkok. After that semi-discouragement (haha) we had dinner, and I swear I was falling asleep sitting up. I fell asleep like 5 times. Elder Bartholomew and I looked over at each other, did a peace sign, and decided at the same time that we looked like zombies. So after some more info, we all got sent to a nice hotel in Bangkok. Super nice. I stayed in a room with Sis Mullen and that was fun. :) I fell asleep at like 8pm (about 2 seconds after I put my head down) with my book of mormon still in my hand. I didnt even have time to open it I was so tired.
Next morning we all go to the stake center to get our transfers! Traffic IS CRAZYYYY. People should literally crash at every moment, and somehow they don't! I have never seen braver drivers, closer encounters, and zero screaming. Everyone just watches out for everyone else and everything somehow works perfectly. Also, the roads are flip-flopped here. There are a ton of Tuug-tuug's (you ride in the back wagon of a supe'd up motorcycle cart) and motorbikes. People fit up to 4-5 adults on a single tiny motorbike sometimes. Very asian. ;)
Anyway, I got my companion, Sister Pannida! She's training me. Somehow. Because you know what's both funny and impossible? She doesn't speak english. She is a Thai herself, from the area we're currently serving in, and she understands little English, and speaks less. Life is funny. But you know what? I'm emersed in Thai with her, so I'm forced to learn it so I can communicate. So I feel like the Thai is coming faster for me than for other people because thats all I get, but I don't care to compare. I just want to understand. Because if I'm going to learn what we're doing, why we're doing it, etc. I have to be able to communicate and understand. So sometimes she doesn't know how to explain something to me, doesn't know the translation of thai words in english, etc. It's hard.. really hard. But rewarding. I just feel like my training process is so much different than everyone else's at this point simply because... well... a language barrier! But somehow I actually understand about 65% of everything she says. It's incredible. So I think of what Pres Senior said at training meeting. He said that these were the best trainers, but he didn't pick them. In fact, there are some that he wouldn't have be trainers-- but God chose them. So for some reason, I need Sis. Pannida for the next 11 more weeks, and she needs me. I'm trusting. And honestly, I figured out a huge reason the first day we began communicating. What she wants to teach me, I need to learn! It's a miracle how things work. God is in the details.
So I got some questions to answer: So where is your new area? What does Thailand smell like? Is the language just blowing by you or can you catch some of it?
I am currently in Udon, Thailand. (Udonthani) and it's the other half of Thailand I talked about on the phone: the EESON. It's very very very very poor. Like I can't believe the living conditions. Squatty potties are only the beginning. But honestly, I knew I was coming here. Something told me I was coming to the Eeson. And here I am. The other half of my group was put in Bangkok. The rest of us were scattered amongst other locations far out. I spent 15 hours in a bus to get here. #so-fun
There were monkeys all around in one city we passed. Some cute, some scary. Reminds me of Rio.... hardcore. They're sneaks.
So the first real day I was here, we went to a branch activity for Sonkrang. It was so crazy and fun. There's a culture thing here where you get this flowered water and put it in the hands of the elders, and they put it back on you and give you blessings. It was sweet. We (Sis Weed and I, my roommate from MTC) made fast and close friends with some of the teenage girls-- they all speak some English. In fact, one is so good, she's going to Temple Square speaking english for a mission in August! That's Kaaw (Gow) for you. Her mom is basically our mom. They take us everywhere we need to go, because I'm buying my bike today.
I got fried and sunburnt that first activity day, so naturally my best pal has been aloe vera. I apply it religiously. At the party, I was told I looked like a model a few times. That was funny. :p Everyone loves my pastey skin and twiggy legs.
For Sonkrang, everyone gets in the back of trucks, and go down the boulevard to throw water with giant buckets. To make it worse, that buy HUGE HUGE HUGE bricks of ice to make the water burn when it hits you. It's so mean! Haha. So while we walk down the street (we are allowed to play Sonkrang while the festival goes except Sunday) I was douced more than anyone because I'm the "Falang"! (Foreigner) Whenever someone sees a Falang, they freak out and get so excited here. Then they practice whatever English they know-- I get a lot of "Happy Birthday"! and "HALLOOOO!" hahaha. They're so friendly.
We taught our one investigator yesterday. I couldn't say much, but both me and the investigator (Phii Ruung) were in tears. She's GETTING BAPTIZED THIS WEEK! Yeah, can't believe it? First week and I'm having a baptism? What a way to start...
They're very loving and touchy people, so on the way out she had hands all over this missionary. Very kind, but will take getting used to!
I understand more and more each day, but holy cow, trying to understand Thai is hard. Everyone's voices seem to change the words. :p Everyone things I know, if I don't hear them right, I don't understand them! Haha.
So Thai food-- everyone says it is to die for! And you know what? I must literally want to live or something. I actually don't... like Thai food. NOBODY GET OFFENDED. I just don't like it! I feel so bad! I eat all they give me, but I just don't like the taste of most everything! And the appearance of it either. I feel so bad! Some is good, but honestly my livelihood at our apartment is PB&J's. I can't do the too spicy, and some just honestly gross me out. I ate a worm maggot the other day. And also, there are a lot of baskets of cooked crickets going around.... and health codes are unheard of. Raw meat, just chillin' in the 90 degree air. :p I'll learn to like it. I promise. But I refuse to tell a soul I don't! So I pretend I do. ;P Just not a fan.
Thailand has a lot of different smells because of vendors. But not an overarching aroma out here in the Udon. So that's good.
All of the language blows by me, but I pick up more and more. But really it depends on the speaker thus far. I understand a lot of what Sis. Pannida says. :) But yes, Thai is so hard. Tones are insane. Reading is the hardest!
Lots of stray dogs.Weather is warm, but I thought it'd be hotter. Our house is actually very nice. It's like IKEA almost. So nice. I am so pleasantly surprised.
Life is good here. Hard, but good. I learn more every day! Now that Sonkrang is over, it's safe to walk the streets dryly again!
Love you so much!!!!!!!! Writing me here in Thailand is perfectly safe. I get all the mail. :)