Monday, March 17, 2014

Bangkok - Of midgets and men

Dear Family and Friends,

So as a fair warning, this email's gonna be candid! ...Okayyyy, they all are. Let's be honest with ourselves. When have I left much out?

This week, I got to use a nose-inhaler. We call it, "the menthol-nose-sniffer-jobby". Why? Because I got a COLD in Thailand. Are you kidding me? Do you know how hot it is in Bangkok? Anyway, they're super popular in Thailand, EVERYONE is addicted to using them if they're sick or not. One sniff of that little thing, and it's peppermint vertigo down to your inner trachea!

Anyway.... So let's talk about men.

Everyone we're teaching is a guy. Super weird, because I've literally taught only females since the dawn of time, it would seem. But now we have a range to rock the nations: we are literally teaching a hardrock, Harly-Davidson policeman, down to a socially loud but sincere 14-year old, to a grown-man who is also... a midget.
Let's review.
Our dear friend the cop. His name is Sergeant Airborne, or "Brother Air". He is over 50 years old, and if I were to describe him accurately I would have to say he is a man who literally wears his sunglasses at night while he rides his deep-pipe 'chopper'. He's got tattos, ganster shirt, hat on backwards, and a hard smoker. He introduced me to his motorcycle as his son.
But here's the thing! We found him outside of his house, and he'd seen missionaries before. He wanted something more. He had heard of the Book of Mormon, and he wanted one. We set up an appointment, and he came. 3 days after this first meeting, he had read to 2nd Nephi chapter 28. That is unreal. He had prayed but wasn't sure if he was doing it the best way, so he asked if he could kneel to do it. He cut his cigarette intake from 20 sticks a day to 10. He looked for opportunities to serve. And his biggest concern? Not understanding the strange language when he studies the scriptures because he wants to understand so badly. He said: "And Zion shall say, 'All is well.'" .... then a silence for a second, followed by, "I read that and thought, 'What the crud?'"
As for the other two. Arm is the young boy who now wants to come to every activity the church will ever offer, and while he has lots of questions and needs a lot of attention, he's entirely sincere and ended up asking yesterday, "Hey Sister, how can I be a member here?"
Grarog is our midget with the fear of eating the sacrament bread, because he just doesn't like bread. Hahaha. Oh dear.
These were the stand-outs from the week.
Anyway, Brother Egg had an amazing lesson this week to which he uttered his first sincere prayer for truth. I was beaming at the end to see how much his heart had been expanded in 45 minutes.
This week I had a tender moment out inviting-- an activity specifically hard and hot and not fun for someone who is sick. Usually inviting motorcycle taxi drivers is useless because they are snarky and never want anything to do with us, but this particular time passing them I asked everyone except one man. He had one arm, he was dirty, and he looked particularly ill. Then I thought, "Wait wait wait. Remember the one."
I turned back, sat down next to him where he was blatantly smoking a hand-made cigarette. He looked miserable. I heard myself say, and ONLY these words:

"You can stop smoking. I can show you how."
He turned his head, looked at me baffled and tired, and said, "It's impossible." I shook my head, "I promise you that you can. I will show you how."
He went to take a puff, looked at me, then his miserable cigarette. He turned around a little towards the canal behind him, and tossed it to the water.

I testify, that Christ can give even the hopeless a reason to change. I watched the embers of that cigarette go out with my own eyes. And the next day, that man, having no cell phone or way to remind him of our appointment, rode his motorcycle to the church, with one arm.
I believe in Christ.

Sister Painter

singing at transfers with the violin accompanying me Feb. 18th

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