Monday, January 27, 2014

You have to read this -a district conference and pink sins

Dear Family!

This week was all around insane. I feel like I say that every week. This week's title of the email can only be "You have to read this" because you just really do.

Well this week was the week of District Conference for the Khongaen area held in RoiEt. It was so big there were 5 life-size carved swans involved. It was probably the most stressful week of all eternity, seeing as all the head-honcho's from Bangkok and all the branches of Khongaen came in. There were about 340 people involved.

So we tried to get everything done as early as possible, including making programs typed in Thai for our baptism. That took a long time. Thai is a beast to type. But that's not really important.

But anyway, with that said, I have never been so involved in the holding of a big conference-- it is entirely stressful! I'm sure people with high-up callings have to be pulling their hair out over these activities- down to the last catered- bowl of rice!! So it was plenty of duties for me, what with translating, training the relief society on member-missionary work, a roleplay, choir musical numbers... it was enough to feel piled on. But upon passing each thing, fulfilling.

So I'm now at this point trying to describe everything that happened to us. I can't. It was just like everything wanted our baptism to not happen. There was a lot of chaos with time changes, two other people showing up out of nowhere from the dark abyss (aka other branches and even one from our own who I did not know about) that apparently came prepared to be baptized! Oops.

"Thanks for telling the people running the baptism" - said nobody ever.

So then we call Party and we urge her to get her little tush back to the church (she went back to help in the ER, mind you she is a doctor) and eventually she shows up to the church in a red sweater with a big duck on it and a pair of faded jeans.

"Where's your nice dress you had on a few hours ago??" I ask. "Let's get you into your baptism clothes. Sorry, but everything's entirely insane here."
She follows me with probably the most hollow face I've ever seen, like she's seen a ghost or something. I hand her the dress and say, "It's okay, I'll take care of everything. It just got a little insane here, and we're apparently having two separate baptismal services and... what's wrong?"

"I crashed my car!"
"You WHAT?"

So she literally wrecked her car in her hurry to get here in the hospital parking lot. So naturally I've about had it here, and this rodeo of a baptismal service has driven me up the wall, and apparently Party's car into the flagpole.

Pictures attached.

But anyway, more than 10 investigators of ours, the youth, Party's mom, And Gee's friends all came (with the remainder of the congregation willing to stay for 'Baptism, the Sequel.') And even Sister Senior and President got to come. So all worked out.

I admit though, I got way mad and I let one of the poor elders have it. I don't think anyone had ever seen the likes of a mad sister like this before. I'm not proud of it, and later that night, I asked for sincere forgiveness. No matter who's fault everything was, I had no excuse to be a poop. I found though, that the moment I let out the sincere words of apology that any lasting annoyance was gone. It's the reason I can't explain all the things that happened to us yesterday. I'd tell you if I remembered, but I just don't. That Elder held out his hand to shake with a smile, I took it, and I forgot.

It's the Miracle of Forgiveness! I attest to the truth and divinity of the Atonement of Jesus Christ-- we can read about having Christ-like attributes all we want, but when we're put on that stage of our lives to face actual real-life situations, it's in the applying of those principles that counts.

Later that night I got to witness both those girls, Gii and Party, as recent converts in action. I can testify that there was an immediate change. They started over. They were new people. Their desires had changed, they knew where they were going, and they were dedicated to that path. I am so blessed to be here to see miracles happen. Both of those girls told us later that day, at separate times, that if we ever needed them to help teach, they were going to be there.
That morning, Party dyed her hair red. (I have no idea what prompted her to do that.) So when she came up out of the water, her dress was covered in faint left-over dye.

I helped her out of the font and said, "Wow. Who knew? Your sins were pink!"

And they were alllllll washed away. That's better insurance than her car has.

Sister Painter

Monday, January 20, 2014

Planting seeds

Dear Family,

This week was insane. Literally insane! So much that we had adversity at every corner so as to try to stop us, to the point of cutting our power, a dater dropping us and than with a prayed-for-miracle miraculously called us the next day having a spiritual manifestation it was all true. Even our sweet recent convert's mom passed away. Literally anything to try to throw us or get us down, it seemed.

But we wouldn't let it! We literally fought through every last thing-- including "Call Me Maybe" blazing on the speakers in the city as we both got a prompting at the same time to go pass down a neighborhood we'd never been to, both feeling like we'd find a certain family we saw ONE time on a DIFFERENT road. Well, we ignored the prompting until we got down the road leading away from that street, where we both confessed we had promptings to go back.

I said, "Ah mannnn it's uphill! Why didn't we say something up THERE?" to which we turned around and went back, awkwardly passing the people we just taught and going down the street we felt we should go.

In what had to have been the only open 5 second window, we saw the father coming down the road to get into his car, with which held their entire family. ... OUTSIDE THEIR HOUSE. They were about to go to a wedding, and it was the one moment they would have ever been outside their home that day.

We saw miracles beyond description this week. We have 8 people preparing to be baptized in the next 3 weeks, and we had 9 investigators at church. Two interviewed and ready for this weekend. And 6 new people excited to begin learning.

We have so many people to take care of that we are literally only concerned about their welfare-- we know each person by name, their life-story, and where they are on their journey to knowing the purpose they're here. Missionary work is not memorized and handed out in the same form to each person like a ticket. It's a process of understanding, listening, and helping that person see beyond what they currently do.

Everyone who reads this must know, that ANY missionary experience you ever have does not go wasted.

I taught a woman in April of 2013, as a brand new greenie. Her name was Dig. I taught her in her home, and her fluffy white dog. Those are the lessons I continued to remember having had taught as a greenie. As my greenie days were ending, Dig couldn't stop working on Sunday. She eventually decided she didn't have time for us. I kept in contact, or at least tried to, until she convinced me she really was satisfied worshipping at home without being baptized. But I felt like I could not let it end that way. I kept notes for whoever came back to the area once I left, and it read: "Do whatever you can to find her."

I got an email this morning from Sister Sahagun in Udon-- she sent me a picture with one line. "Do you remember Dig?"

It was a photo of her in splendor white.

She had come back to the church building one sunday, unannounced, and was ready now. She was just baptized this last weekend.

I feel the same with an experience I had with a woman named Somaay. One day I and three Relief Society sisters made our way down the street to see our investigator. We had walked. She wasn't free. Sister Suri's idea was the pray right there in the middle of the street. So we did. The next person we talked to, by the Relief Society president's pointed finger, was a massage therapist outside her store. Sitting to talk with her, we found out she had a Book of Mormon already, having already once talked to the sisters shortly before I arrive. But, she was not really open with us. She was completely disinterested in changing anything about her life.

She then spent the last 4 months watching me bike to that investigator's house. She watched the change in that woman's life. I waved to her each day we came. One day she got up from her store, came over and sat down with us as we taught, confessing she needed to know. What was it that she was missing here? We made an appointment last week and came back with her member friend. She knew it was all true. She accepted everything. She was hanging on the edge of every word, and committed to baptism right there. She came to church on sunday for the first time.

We never know what seeds we sow until they are reaped by those that follow us.

This last week an investigator of ours getting baptized on the 31st brought her whole family to church for the first time for all of them. She, her husband, and her two darling daughters wore there Sunday best, and arrived 30 minutes early for sacrament meeting.

The Lord's Work is Hastening beyond what I ever anticipated, expected, or thought I would ever take a part in. Elder Holland is known to say that, "No young man was ever as affected by their mission as I was."

Well, if that's his claim, this is mine: "No young WOMAN was ever as affected by their mission as I have been."

This has been and continues to be the platform on which my testimony firmly lies: a life consistent with gospel truths and study, an open heart and mind, a willingness to change and be changed, and a hunger to share.

May we all go feed the hungry. There are so many of us feasting but not opening doors for others to come and join. This week my parents were ushers at the brand new Gilbert Temple. I can quote from the scriptures my feelings: "And my soul longed to be there."

What I want for my Thai's is a temple. I want them to have a place of refuge. We are so close. With this wave of prepared people, I feel it, it's not far from their reach. The same goes for any region. The Lord said "The field is white." He did not say, "The field is white in Brazil only." This is Asia's time.

I am convinced there are so many people in Asia because God loves Asians. The field is bright white here, as bright as the future. Because "Faith is always pointed towards the future." -Holland

The future for Thailand is a temple. 
Sister Painter

Monday, January 13, 2014

"The Closet"

Dear Family!!
I don't even know what to title my email for this week. I'm struggling for adequate words here. This week was literally so.... okay. Let me make my first attempts at an explanation here.
First things first. My neck is fried... and my very white companion Sister Embley, blonde as she is, is fried like a lobster, as dad would say. When being sunburned is so "NOOOO" in Thailand for the locals, when they saw our faces they almost sent us to the hospital. :p
But the events that led us to be sunburned were soooo worth it. We (with the Elders) decided to go serve at the "Children's Day" festival at the park. Yes, they have a countrywide holiday for children. Moms and dads get it, and so kids 1-15 get to have a giant party where everything is free to show their appreciation for them.
So funny story-- they forgot we were helping them, so that didn't work out, but it made for a great reason to be inside inviting people! So we first gave out every english pamphlet we had to every nice looking family we could. ... And also to strange families, mind you. But then I opened up my violin case and we got to the more important message-- coming unto Christ! So I raged some strolling strings music to get people to look over at us while the Elders and Sis Embley did their thing with the grand message we have. Elder Angkham, the Lao elder was relentless with a picture of Joseph Smith's vision-- it was probably the bravest thing I've ever seen! Haha. He is an 18 year old, right out of highschool, from the country of Lao, sharing the gospel in a crowded crowded children's festival just trying to find the eyes of a good family who needs something more in their life. So cool to see.
But then came the real miracle-- within 15 minutes of each other, all of our investigators that have baptismal dates came and found us there! They called me and asked where we were, knowing what we'd be doing. And they came, asked us how we did shared the message, and REQUESTED TO HELP. They asked for materials and then they went out and did it! I was inviting there with 3 other missionaries, an RC that showed up unexpectedly, and 3 investigators! I'd look over and Sister Embley would find someone who was interested and an investigator would run to her side and they'd both explain. It was the best unity I've ever seen, members, missionaries, and investigators.
Our investigators are so solid, going around asking every other investigator when THEIR date is, how excited they are for them, etc etc. Everyone is so close- investigators are introducing themselves to other investigators, and members, etc etc until everyone is friends with just us bringing them to the situations for it to happen. It's how missionary work is supposed to be! And members as WELL as investigators, are bringing their OWN friends and helping us teach them!

In fact, we had a day where Bas called us and knowing he was so busy, found a slot where we could meet him- he said, "Is right now okay?" so we requested 15 minutes to get there, and we prayed in that instant together to prepare a member to help us teach him that could get there that fast from where-ever they were. So we felt like we should call Sister Jan. We did. She said: "Whoa! Oddly enough I'm sitting at home with a good friend of mine and we've been talking about God and religion for a while here!" then I hear her ask her friend, "Do you want to go to the church right now?" and so the both of them immediately get on their motorcycles and high-tail it to the church. Me and Sister Embley emerge from a room in the back of the church with some things and are met by 5 people! Wait, FIVE?
Apparently Bas showed up with two more friends and says: "They have a lot of questions! Can we actually teach them from the beginning?" Sister Jan's friend is beyond ready for this. She left the church saying, "I'm going to get myself ready for this baptism thing."
So the lesson goes great. But then I remember, "I was not expecting this many people. Uh Oh. I don't have enough Book of Mormons!" so I prayed in my heart explaining the situation to Heavenly Father. And I told him, "I need you to put two Book of Mormons in the closet behind us. I was not expecting this many people!"
I turned to Sister Embley, "Could you go get the Book of Mormons in the closet please?" ...... Words of Faith.
She opens the closet. Pulls them out.
So I feel today kind of like Moroni, being unable to explain what I've seen happen and unable to explain fully because of "stumbling over the placing of my words".
The Restoration did not just include restoring gospel knowledge: but the power to turn faith into real-life miracles.

I certainly did not put those books in the closet.
Sister Painter