Some logistics since I know you’re very curious:
1. My address (since so many have asked) is Sister Casper APR20 THAI-BAN 2005 N 900 E Unit 145 Provo, UT 84602.
2. Do NOT be afraid to send long emails:) I can print them all off and then read them while I do laundry without wasting email time. I loved all your emails.
3. My companion (companee as we affectionately call each other) is the BEST person I have ever met. Well…there is one issue. She’s Australian so I have to explain the ways of America to her;) Her name is Sister Capin and because people keep combining our names we now go by our couples name Sister Caspin or Sister Caper.
4. Our district is made up of the Malay Elders, a solo Indonesian sister, 3 Thai sisters, and 6 Thai Elders. Our zone is made up of all of that as well as the Hmong Elders, Cambodian missionaries, and Laotian missionaries. I think there may be another language in there but I’m not sure. Since the solo Indonesian sister (Sister Davis: an awesome girl from Layton, Utah) is companions with one of the Thai sisters (Sister Dhakal who speaks Thai and is from Nepal and New Zealand) when she’s not in class, Sister Capin, sister Dhakal, Sister Davis and I are always together. It’s awesome. I hope that made sense. I love my district so much. We set and follow through on our goals and I have not felt the spirit more nor laughed more than when I am with them. In the Thai group of Elders whom we have class with are TWO more Australians, a Hawaiian, two Californians (one who is a convert and has an amazing testimony) and one North Carolinan. I swear I am learning more “Australian” than I am Thai sometimes.
5. My teachers (Brother Sugihara and Brother Merkley) are the best. They only speak in Thai (yikes) but I still feel the Spirit as they teach and they push us so much. Brother Sugihara knows my friend Zach Bellows from BYU which is cool! the first time he told me that though, he said it in Thai so I had no idea what he said…
6. My P-day is Tuesday (obviously…)
I’m excited to tell you about the most important things I’ve learned this week but first I’ll give you a little update on the Thai language! (I like lists; it’s easier to organize my thoughts)
I’m kidding, but in all seriousness if angels didn’t walk these halls and if the Spirit wasn’t as prevalent as it is, I would NEVER be able to learn this language. I know everything I’ve learned and understood is only because of my Savior’s guidance and love for me and the Thai people (Khon Thai). The real update on the language:
1. We use romanized Thai at the moment but by week 3 they are kicking the crutch out and we HAVE to use script. Our goal is to memorize all 88 characters by Monday. I’m excited to learn script because romanized almost makes it more confusing since EVERY book uses a different form of the romanized version.
2. Tones and vowels are so vital. This week we learned “chuay” means “believe” but “chxay” (with just a slightly (almost unrecognizable) different vowel) means “evil”. So instead of asking “khun chuay aray?” you believe what? I could accidentally ask “khun chxay aray?” What evil are you? yeah…very different connotation.
3. Sometimes I feel like a small child. We practiced counting by walking around the hall as a class and counting our steps. And we trace the script characters like we traced our ABCs in elementary school. Christ did say become like little children though…I definitely see what that scripture means now. I have been humbled as I’ve worked to understand this language and do all I’ve been asked and my weaknesses, like a small child’s, allow me to call on my Savior for strength at all times.
4. I can officially pray in Thai without my book! Happy day:)
5. So there are no conjugations of verbs in Thai or pluralization of nouns. And when asking a question you just add the question word at the end. And nouns are made by adding words together rather than making up new words. So the word for missionary (phoosaansadsana) literally translates to “one who teaches religion”. It makes so much more sense than English
6. My ABSOLUTELY FAVORITE and most used phrase is “Phood iig day may?” (can you repeat that?) and “Phood cha cha day may?” (can you slow down?) I use it 100 times a day. At least.
While the language and the logistics and all of that is well and good, that’s not why I’m here and I’ve certainly come to realize that the past few days. Our second full day in the MTC we taught an investigator (for those of you who don’t know, they are employees but we treat them as real investigators because to us they are) in Thai. His name is….well…uh I can’t really spell it but it sounds like Phii Baw. He is so interested in knowing who God is. Sister Dhakal, Sister Capin and I teach as a trio and our first day teaching was the most humbling experience of my life. I didn’t know any Thai, I barely understood the investigator, and we couldn’t get him to understand what the Holy Ghost was. Although we did have some “great” moments in that lesson that I will forever remember, like Phii Baw saying “It’s a ghost?? Ghosts are scary”, I left crying. The second time we taught him, we realized we weren’t teaching a lesson, we were teaching a person and we felt so good about that lesson and left jubilantly. The third time we taught him, I left crying again because nothing had gone right. We literally had a whole lesson planned and written out in english and in Thai and then had sat in there for almost 10 minutes in silence, not being able to say anything or understand him. I felt the spirit so strongly at the end though when I beared my testimony on the power of prayer, of just talking with your father in Heaven. I was reading a script but I poured my whole heart and soul into those 10 words of broken Thai. The next day Brother Sugihara (who must have been inspired by God) shared D&C 84:85 with us. By writing out our whole lesson plan that time, we had not shown our faith. We had brought a back up plan with us in case the Spirit didn’t guide us!! My heart just broke when I read that scripture. We teach him again tomorrow and we are taking that scripture to heart.
The language is NOT important because if I am focusing on the core principles of the gospel, the investigator as a person and my own personal conversion, then it will come. There’s so much more to say but no time to say it
Pictures to come next week. The older Thais (Phii Thais) were going to show us how but didn’t get the chance.
My love for this gospel and God’s plan for me grows every moment of every day.
My advice for everyone: don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. I have to do it daily…no…hourly haha. i mess up a lot. The other day I spent 5 minutes telling Phii Baw God has a prepare for us instead of PLAN. My companion had to correct me and now every time we say the word plan in Thai we can’t stop laughing.
Chan rag khun (I love you),
Sister Casper (pronounced kind of like sidtuh but not really haha)