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                                                      


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