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