Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Video of the missionaries arriving in Thailand!


Sister Painter's mission president just emailed us this. It is from back in April 2013 when they arrived in Thailand.
How fun! Try and spot Monica!

Service in the Congo and 2 Baptisms

May 27, 2013
Sawadiikha family!

This week was fairly hard. In the words of Kid President: "Two words diverged in the [CONGO] and I took the one less traveled by..... AND IT HURT MAN!" (for Kyle: I actually ripped my skirt right in the bum, so.... "my pants broke" actually applies here.)

Not sure why-- my routine was all off and I learned a lot of different things about being a missionary the hard way. I am also very humble at this point of time-- yes, I understand a lot of language sometimes, but did I mention how much I DON'T understand? ALOT. And I speak less than I understand. Haha. Such is life. :)

Anyway, let's talk about the weird and funny:
-We were soooo close to McDonald's because we were taking Sis Weed to the doctor's (she got sicky from food poisoning and bacteria. hahah) and so we get there after my pleas worked and just as I'm about to order, BAM all the lights shut off in the whole shopping center! NOOOOOOOooooo.... Needless to say, God probably saved me from a terrible food poisoning disaster too. But oh how I wanted that burger and fries.

I actually like quite a few things here :) It's just the options are verrryyyy limited.

There was a day this week where I was just so relaxed and happy, eating with the members, understanding a lot of what they were saying, eating food that I've learned to like, all while the rain pleasantly fell while we sat in their backyard gazebo like shelter-fortress. Very cool. I remembered I'm in Udonthani Thailand.

So Thai is almost overly simple-- sometimes it's hard to translate your thoughts because they all come back to the same word. :P So in english you could describe something with 3 different words, like: "It was riveting, exciting, and thrilling." In thai, it'd be all the same word. So until my vocab gets bigger... hoorah for simplicity. Haha

This week we went and served on Sister Jean/(Jiin)'s farm. She grows HUGE sugarcane bushes. So we got in long pants and long sleeves and went through throwing nutrition beads all over through the crops. What a new experience. So cool.

As for new creatures: a giant lizard monster called a "duugae!" Its like a food long and bites. Mean little suckers! Or rather, big suckers... So guess what we found in the baptismal font for our 2 girls getting baptized on saturday? Yeah, a GIANT DUUGAE! It has since disappeared somewhere else in the church. We didnt know how to get it out, so we left it. And now it's gone. Surprise! Maybe it'll show up during sacrament....

I had a cool experience this week with instant prayer answering and what it is capable of. I was riding my bike home at the head of the 3 other sisters, and it was about 10 to 9pm. I found myself praying:

"Let me find someone to help or simply to make a little happier on this ride home. I know I only have about literally 1 min before we get home, but help me meet someone."

I testify this actually happened: not 35 seconds later, on our 'not so busy' street, I felt someone riding closely behind me slowly on a motorscooter. I slow a little, he speeds up to get even with me.

And then he stopped  me! He wanted to talk! I have never (let alone been stopped) had someone try to talk to me on that particular street-- or really anywhere! He was beyond nice and did everything possible to understand me and communicate back. He left afterward with a huge smile on his face... an pamphlets. Haha.

Great experience, God answers prayers! Quickly sometimes!

In other news, every sister in my mission is either training or in training. After this, 11 sisters come in. Is very possible I may or may not have to train way earlier than I'll feel comfortable with. :p Crazy huh!! If I were serving a boy's mission, June 27th will be my 'year mark'. With the 9 week change for transfers, I finish June 27, 2014. How weird-- I really don't have a lot of time here! GOTTA USE IT TO THE FULLEST!

I love you all!!! Congratulations to Makayla on her graduation, and Jared on finishing his mission!! Can't believe either of those things are happening. Also... I'm in Thailand? What?

Sister Painter!

"The Week I Realized I was Fat" - Week 19ish

Sunday, June 16, 2013


So yes, as the title of the email so eloquently describes, I realized this week that I am chubbier than I have ever been. How is that possible? I work 24/7, I bike 24/7... but let's be real. My rice intake is off the charts. Anyway. No, I'm really not that fat. But Thailand is obsessed with their weight, and its not impolite to call someone fat here. It's like how you describe people so you know who you're talking about. So yeah. All our investigators also think I've put on some pounds. I'm not denying it. I have. But its okay because now I'm not super fragile anymore, so when people poke me in the tummy I just make the pillsbury doughboy noise and life is good.

I hope that paragraph entertained someone other than myself. Trying to cut back on the 'Daddy Doughnuts'. It's a hard life.

Speaking of Daddy's: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DAD!!! I love you!!!

This week was pretty fun! I had some exciting things occur! Like.... BANG GOT BAPTIZED! I'm stoked. I've attached a picture of me and her. She's 11yrs old. She's changed so much. Now we're working with her mom so return to the church (she fell away long ago) and her mom gave us a referral to teach her dad!! So one day we hope to have a full family at church. It's my dream for her.

So as a mini miracle of the week-- we went to go get Bang's baptism dress for the ceremony and... THERE WAS NO DRESS. All the kid dresses disappeared!!!! What the?!? So I got this random thought: "WAIT." And I remembered! The night before, we had JUST bought a white dress for her by total coincidence because that's the one that would fit! The 3 girls didn't have any clothes to wear to church really, so we got some nice things for them as presents. BOOM, made a swap and gave them their new dresses. And so she was baptized in the dress we bought for her. Talk about perfect timing!

I got to play violin at her baptism, and I also got to play in the bustling market street of UD Town to get people's attention as we passed out english cards to learn english free. So I played violin while the members handed out cards and the other missionaries sung the hymns I played. Super sweet!

We have some cool new investigators: a referral from our superstar recent convert (Ruung, my first baptism when I got here). Her name is Ragk, and we also got a referral from the Elders from the day we all went out Dan Jone's-ing. They met a security man who sits in the same spot, bored, for 12 hours a day. They gave him a BOM. Yeah, he's on 1 Ne. Chapter 22 already, like a week later. We stop and see him every couple days as he sits in front of the shop at his post. :) So cool. It'll be hard though to find a way to get Sundays off for him though. But he has a major desire to know if these things are true. Its really neat to see he always has his BOM and our pamphlets beside his chair just sitting outside. They are always there!

As for funny things: The day I bought the dresses for the little girls (like 80 cents for their clothes....), I also saw a little squirrel baby. What the? Oh wait. They're PETS. Oh wait, you can play and hold them. Oh wait, THAT ONE IS IN A DRESS. Yeah, they have squirrels in dresses as  pets. This is real life.

I got to see another 3 day old baby at the hospital. :) His name is Errt (how they pronounce Earth.) They are so tiny!!!!

For service I weeded a rice pad. That was soooo cool. The sand was so soft! And I'd find tiny frogs here and there. Thai's really know what work is. Everyone is up before the sun. They work hard here for what they have, which is not a lot.

Oh, and I'm 21 years old on Wednesday!! Thank you to everyone for the Birthday wishes!!!!!!

I love you all!
Sis Painter

"Things are Evolving" - Thailand Report from Sis. Painter!

June 9, 2013
This is Sister Painter reporting live from Udonthani, Thailand. We have commenced "Projecting Finding Lost Sheep"-- they shall be found!! Though seemingly difficult because addresses are a thing of the... never here. Not even a thing of the past. :p

I'm glad everyone is home safe from who knows where: Disneyworld, North Carolina, Armenia.... :) Welcome home everyone!

Anyway, this week was pretty... evolving? Yes. Evolving. In many aspects. My investigators, my recent converts, our finds, but especially me. I'm finding something is happening to me. I'm not quite just Monica anymore. But it's so hard to describe how this week changed me. I don't know how to say it. But it did, and here I am finding myself smiling, working as hard as I can, and just... enjoying myself. Loving the whacko junk that happens, the opportunities to change something that needs change, and most importantly, watching people I am growing to love change. Watching hearts change is a miracle. A literal miracle.

So with that said, I want to talk about BANG! She's 11 years old. Her 'siblings' of sort already were baptized 2 weeks ago, if you remember: Khayhong and Onn. But she was seemingly uninterested. She dropped us. She avoided us. But after those two girls were baptized, she walked into the room to hear again. And since that day two weeks ago, we've been teaching her again and she (as well as the other 2 girls) have become like different kids. Yesterday we watched the Joseph Smith Resortation DVD with her. Afterwards, we asked if she had any questions  (it was a review). She looked at us, and thought for a long time. We figured, being 11, she wouldn't have a lot to ask.

Not so. She asked with much sincerity, "...How did Joseph know where to find the plates?" Sister Pannida and I looked at each other and said, "WHOA. Great question!" And we knew that she had watched very carefully, because it didn't say anything about that!

Needless to say, she is getting baptized the 15th. She is a different girl than I met her. All 3 are. I think I've changed because I've watched these 3 spaztic unruly kids become resectful, sweet and loving. They live in a house with 17 people, but one doesn't even have parents. All they needed was someone to show them where to find love.

Anyway, I still don't know how to express my feelings. But I love those 3 girls. They started on our first lesson completely afraid of me and refused to talk or look at me. Now it's as if I'm a safe haven to them. The gospel changes lives, and changes people. What a miracle it is.

Anyway, as for the rest of the week, we had the opportunity to give a large group of about 50 people wheelchairs this week. They were so humble and thankful. They thanked us publicly for like 2 hours-- maybe it was a little much (and boring), but wow. So cool.

I did end up playing violin for zone conference. I played Joseph Smith's first prayer. :) It actually went really well. We arranged it ourselves. Now guess what I'm doing this week? They've asked me to play out in a public street market while we had out english and gospel cards. That's a good way to get attention. I'll let you know how that goes! Haha. I'll be playing and some missionaries will sing as well as hand out cards. (What is this, like Jared's dream activity?)

We had a Dan Jones day. Meaning we went out and talked to every person ever. It was tiring, inaffective, and we got hard core rejected by everyone. :p Let me testify there is a better way! REFERALS! Find those ready to receive you! Work with members! Ask everyone!

So training is almost at its close in about a month (hey next week's my birthday!!). Sister Pannida has done a wonderful job. And furthermore, somehow... I was entirely and fully trained in the Thai language. Let me testify again: all things are possible.

I've grown to love Sis. Pannida more than I can say! There is a simplistic child-like-ness about many Thai's. Not that their like kids, but they are amused and made happy by the smallest things. I wish more Americans were like Thai's-- they world would smile more!

So, as a closing report: I'm beginning to see the bright morning and I have a feeling the sun hasn't even come up over the hill yet.

Love from Udonthani,
Sister Painter

"The Circle of Life!"

Sunday, June 2, 2013 (Monday her time)

Hello everyone!!

I'm gonna call this week the Circle of Life. Why? One, because I sang it a few times this week: the Thai's love it. It's loud. And also because I saw more dead things and newborn things than ever. But I'll just talk about the newborn things: much cuter!

A member's daughter who isn't a member, just had a tiny tiny baby girl. So Sis Pannida and I went to the hospital to see her. My expectation of the word hospital was drastically off, apparently. When we got there, it was like a World War II cot location, about 30 new moms and tiny soundless babies (WHY DON'T ASIAN BABIES CRY??) all totally calm and relaxed. So we found her and said hello, and I think because of this new baby, she'll open her heart to the gospel more. I told her, "She's so sweet, she just came from Heaven." It's true.

All newborns had little "hand booties" so they don't get them in their mouth or eyes. Weird, because maybe that's the trick to keeping babies calm? Haha. Maybe they're all just scared of their own fingers...

So this week I got a phone call from President Senior and his wife. ...Uhhhh scary! What did I do! So Sis Senior says, "Hey, I want to hear you play the violin." to which I'm totally taken offguard. I'm like, "Wait, what? Who told you that?" Hahaha, yes I said that. She says, "Your missionary application!" to which I promptly hit myself in the forehead. Anyway, the following question was:

"Will you play a musical number at zone conference this Wednesday in Khongaen?" ...... WHATTTT.

But for some reason I said yes! WHY! I don't know. So she says, "Okay, try and find a violin!"

Needless to say, one member in Branch 2 had one! Whoa! ... but it was 20 years old, couldn't hold a tune, and Sis Weed promptly broke a string on it. :p So we had to both fix it and decide that was a bad idea.

So... Happy Birthday early to me? Sorry, but I had to end up buying one? It's okay because it was pretty darn cheap. But anyway, now I have something to both relieve stress and play for baptisms... Now everyone is asking me to prepare a number for their baptisms here in Udon. :p I guess that's what I get. Jared would have his mouth wide open-- he NEVER got to play on his mission! And I get here and my mission president ASKS me to. :p

Anyway, moving on! Yesterday I had a couple small personal successes. First, I walked into Relief Society and felt like I should translate for Sister Hart (couple missionary who can't speak the language). Then, at the same time, a member asked me to actually do it! So I was like, "Yeah, I can do it. No I really can." And Sis Hart was skeptical. I told her, "I can give you a good 60%." She laughed and said, "Okay go for it."

No really. I don't know how it happened, but I translated EVERYTHING that was said during that lesson. It was NOT me. But it was all so clear. So much clearer than any lesson I've ever heard! And it was a great lesson! At the end Sis Hart looks at me and says, "Holy cow-You did really good!"

Let it be known, it wasn't me. There's just no way. All I did was trust, and every time I had no idea, all of a sudden I'd just know and my mouth was already translating. Then the teacher would share something from a Liahona article from Bednar to support what everyone was talking about during activities, etc, and it was exactly as I had just said. Stories and all. Wow. Every time I pointed out where she was reading, I was like, "Wait, did I just do that?"

This is real life.

This morning we went on an adventure about 2 1/2 hours away to hike up to a waterfall. Well, the water was missing, but the hike was awesome! Mom would be floored. This is greener than greener and jungle-y-er than ever.

I LOVE YOU ALL! Enjoy Disneyworld, Car Trips, and, oh, Welcome Home from Armenia Elder Hammer!!!!!!!!!!!! Somebody hug that kid for me.

Sister Painter