Monday, February 24, 2014

Where in the world? Burma Too!

Dear Family and Friends,

I'd like to announce that I have LEFT the farmfields of Thailand and got thrown into the fryer of BANGKOK. Just so everyone is caught back up to speed, I have been in the Eesan for over one year. As I am rolling into my 5 months left mark, I have stumbled into what is probably one of the most populated and traffic congested places this side of Asia!

I serve in the Don Muang branch. On a map, you could probably look up the name Pakkret and there it is. That's where I am.

I literally switched places with Sister McDermott. Hahaha! Crazy! So now she is in RoiEt, where we joked she would go, and I am here in her apartment in the middle of Bangkok. I definitely cleaned out the apartment before I walked in the door, though. (Sister Mac, if you ever read this, you have to throw away empty peanut butter jars!!)

Anyway, so I'm now with Sister Croft! She is what Thai's call a "Half Child" haha. Meaning her mom is from Taiwan and so she's 1/2 foreign and 1/2 not. She is a hard worker and a diligent one too. Which is good because I only have 5 months left and that's not a lot of time! She is really funny and, weirdly enough, the first companion I've ever NOT trained. So she works entirely individually and functionally! It's full-on 50-50%! It's like a huge stress relief in that way, knowing she's got my back and we just bounce off teaching between the two of us. She came in with Sister Packard's group. She's a total boss, and a Salt Lake City girl.

Working in Bangkok is Aladdin's "Whole New World". People have aspirations and there are a whole lot less crazies. They are a busy bunch, that's for sure. Definitely not the "boonies" over here. Our apartment is nice and safe, and quiet too! Who knew "sound proofing" was a thing. My bed and the couch are probably tear-forming topics for me, as they are so comfortable and not a box spring. I bought a little plant for my desk which we affectionately named the thai word for "cobweb"... our methodology being opening the dictionary and choosing the first word. And we have a washing machine that I don't have to manually wind myself!!!

To be honest, I feel like I just landed back into country again because I am so unfamiliar with this side of Thailand. Traffic is insane: my first experience was 8 lanes across going both ways at night, with 1000's of cars, U-turning, all while having EGGS on my handlebars from the grocery store. Tried not to get hit by anything. Only one egg get a chip.

Inviting people is a brand new experience. You actually get rejected pretty straight-forwardly! It's nice cause it saves time, but it's kinda like, "Oh. Wow, okay." Which is funny. I honestly take no offense at all, in fact, I start laughing with every person that's a flat out no. I make inviting a good game, where I make the rules. Haha. So I always win.

I'm still the Sister Training Leader, but now I'm over North Bangkok: Rangsit, Pakkret, Don Muang, and Bangkaen. My MTC companion is now in our zone, and apparently only like 20 minutes away, so we're getting lunch today! It's super weird to be anywhere where I see OTHER areas so closely.

Yesterday at church I got a good share of really nice compliments. Apparently my language is impressive at this point. It's kinda really nice to understand 99% of what everyone is saying. So I am having a greenie experience but with the ability to understand everything. It's definitely strange. Everyone has been super kind to me in my branch, and hopefully they've like me! Little girl in big city here!

We had a "Sisters Conference" which was entirely inspiring and wonderful. The spirit was so strong that I was fighting tears and hoping nobody was watching me struggle with them. I was asked to prepare a talk, my topic being "The power of faith as a missionary". From all the miraculous things I've seen, it was a topic I could testify of confidently. The theme of the meeting was "Faith is the Power, Obedience the Price, Love is the Motive, Spirit is the Key, and Christ is the Reason." I was so powerfully touched by that meeting and it was a real lucky thing that we could have one! All the sisters from the mission got to go, and we met in the Asok building near the mission office.

Our branch building is actually the biggest church building in Thailand. It's where we have transfers each time. So it's been quite the adjustment to be actually going to church in it, because I've always associated it with transfers. So now everybody leaves from transfers and I'm like, "Oh. I actually live here."

Before I get ahead of myself, let's talk about transfers. President Senior does a good job of keeping poker-faces, making boldly hilarious comments, and keeping transfers move like an unexpected TV show where the "Ooo's and Ahh's" are most plentiful.

But this time was a little different. After what was the usual, I came across a sight I'd never seen! I have never sat in a more quiet transfer meeting, as President Senior announced the baffling and emotional news that the country of Burma, in particular, Myanmar, had been opened for the building of a branch and missionaries had been sent there for over two months now. Elder Steiner, who you will no doubt recognize through my early mission photos as a dear friend of mine from my MTC district classroom, and Elder Fronberg, from my very first in-field district in Udon, were called last transfer on a secret assignment to serve in Myanmar, where they had been the very first missionaries in history to go to spread the gospel. In November, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland had personally given the okay for the word of God to move to the last country in our mission's boundaries.

The work is hastening, my friends! I never thought I would be here in Thailand when such news made it to reality. One of the tiniest asian cultures in the world now has the opportunity to be blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I really love it here. After one year I have left the Eesan and entered the borders of Bangkok. I've only got a little bit of time, so it's time to get busy. Something I've really wanted to work on for the remainder of my time is ensuring that I turn out to be the person Heavenly Father would like me to be by the end. So my like 6 months here will be a move from not just changing behavior, but changing nature. It's time for consecration of thought, will and motive!

With the thought of my dear friends Elder Tatton and Yuen just barely leaving, it reminds me that my time is limited. When my sweet and cherished time is through, I hope to hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

So here I go! Stepping out onto the street, opening my mouth, and trying not to get hit by a bus. I love Bangkok so far. The pro's outweigh all the con's. And the best part? There are people here waiting for me to find them.

Little girl in the Big City  Sis. Painter

 They are sending me to the big city.

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