Facts about Thailand and my mission:
1. It is hot. Like, you can’t even imagine heat. It’s the hottest here than it’s been in over a hundred years so even the kohn thai (thai people) are really hot too. And it’s not like I can walk into a building or a house to escape the heat. Most buildings are pretty hot too, including our apartment. But good news! Hopefully I’ll sweat off all this awesome food I’m getting haha. And a really good conversations starter is always “Rahn maak chay may kha?” (it’s really hot, right?) Before my mission I feared having to take cold showers…I never thought I’d be grateful for them!!
2. Right now I am serving in Srinakarin ศรีนครินทร์ (thanks for typing that in Thai for me, Elder Wager haha) which is in Bangkok! My companion is Sister Hasaya and she is the best “mom” ever:) I love her. She is kohn Thai so her Thai is obviously fluent and she is so good with the people. She has already taught me so much. We also have two elders in our district (Elder Wager and Elder Blad) who are awesome missionaries and sometimes they give us snacks which is also awesome.
3. For transportation we either take taxis or soong taws (I don’t want to use the Thai keyboard because I’m khiikhiet [lazy] and nobody would understand it anyway haha) which are great for inviting (street contacting) because they can’t run away from us (which people will do…one guy I swear was about to run into oncoming traffic when we started talking).
4. Kohn thais are the NICEST at rejecting you! You ask them if they want to know more about Christ and they smile and shake their head and say “may ben aray!” (it doesn’t matter, no thanks). Most of the time they take the cards though to be nice haha.
5. The food is delicious!! Seriously….the fruit, meat, everything. Wish I could share it with all of you but since I can’t, I’ll just keep it for myself.
1. I accidentally called a color “to tempt” (like temptation) instead of yellow….
2. Remember how they used to call me Sister Caper or Sister Caspin in the MTC because my companion and I have similar names? Well Sister Capin and I DIED when I got my new Thai nametag. The nametag is in Thai and english and while the Thai is perfect, in English it says, “Sister Caper” haha the name lives on!!
3. Kohn thai are very familiar with Casper the Friendly Ghost haha. Many a people have already called me phii which means Ghost haha.
4. My Hair EXPLODES in humidity….Like…whoa……Where’d that curl come from….Thai people love it though because they all have straight hair.
Okay, the real point of this email and if you are about to serve a mission, please read:
The mission is not at all what I expected. From how people talk about their missions or from the emails I’ve read, it seems like missionaries despite all their trials swim in miracles, that the Holy Ghost constantly whispers profound words to say at just the right moment, that paths light up to follow and that people leap into your path to hear the gospel. You go from 9 weeks in the MTC, 9 weeks of the MOST spiritually uplifting weeks of your life and expect the whole mission to feel just like that. But instead you get thrown into a new, foreign land where, if you’re like me, you may even have a foreign companion thus creating a bit of a language barrier. (And yes, if you are serving state side or in an english speaking country you will feel the same way). And in total complete honesty, sometimes, actually a lot of, the first week you will feel completely and utterly alone. Every muscle will ache, every emotion will feel drained, you will even feel a bit of a tug on your spirit saying “why are YOU even here. YOU can’t do this. YOU may as well give up now because YOU are wasting time even trying”. Sometimes even your bed (your place you normally go for comfort and to escape) can be a little, scary, rickety, top bunk on a bunk bed where when you breathe the whole thing shakes. But I learned a lot this week. I learned a lot of lessons that I hope I will never forget.
1. The Lord is ALWAYS there for you. When Christ was on the cross, after suffering for all our sins and pains, after faithfully doing the will of the Father when even He asked if He had to, the Father had to briefly withdraw His spirit from His Beloved Son. God knew in our lives we would feel alone (even though we aren’t) thus His Son, who had to suffer everything, had to be completely alone on that cross. I can’t imagine what that would feel like. Doing everything the Father asked and then having the comforting power of the Father’s spirit, the spirit that confirmed everything He was doing was good and true and right, taken away. Yet, that isn’t even the most powerful part of the Atonement. To me, the part that hits me the most, is that even after the Father withdrew His spirit, when Christ was completely alone, Our Savior, always the perfect example of consecration, commended his spirit into the hands of the Father. On the cross He didn’t just give up and die, He essentially said, Father, I know you are still there, accept my spirit (my will), I still give it to thee. In our lives, right now on my mission, we will feel alone. We won’t even always be able to feel Christ’s love envelope us like it does after a really good testimony meeting. But that is when, in those moments of loneliness, we need to give our will to the Savior and the Father most. That is when our real sacrifice and growth starts on this earth: when we give our all to the Father and have faith that He is there, even in the depths of despair.
2. We must take a few steps in darkness. We hear this a lot- about how faith, to be faith, is taking a few steps into the darkness and still trusting in the light, in Christ. I always thought, oh I’ve done that. When I decided to serve a mission, when I moved to New Jersey, etc etc. And I did! But looking back, in those moments it really wasn’t darkness. The lights were just a little dim. And I’m sure in the future I will look back on this moment and say the same thing; that the lights were just a little dim. But for right now, this is the darkest path I have ever walked. I entered a foreign country (and again, those serving in english speaking missions will have very similar experiences- my kohn thai companion experienced this when starting her mission and she knows Thai already) and was told that the most important work was on my shoulders. I was told that I would witness miracles beyond compare. I would change lives. But when I walked the streets of Bangkok this past week and attempted to hand out cards and invite people to come unto Christ, I felt empty. I didn’t know how to help anyone, I couldn’t help anyone if I couldn’t talk to them! And that’s where it was time to take some steps into the darkness. Each hour I had to tell myself the following: “God has ordained me to do this work. God has a plan for me. He has prepared people for me but I must talk to everyone to find them. Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and He has felt like this before. This is the Lord’s work and thus I have the Lord’s assistance.” And then after saying all that, I had to go and do. Words to speak didn’t pour into my mouth but I had to keep speaking and trying. It’s funny how after 9 weeks of hearing apostles speak and constantly feeling the spirit and being around hundreds of other worthy missionaries, my faith didn’t grow exponentially until I was in the field and felt alone. Faith is believing, not seeing. I could see all the benefits of being a missionary in the MTC. In the field it was so much harder and that’s where I took steps into darkness (and still am).
3. I can’t (and shouldn’t) try and control things out of my control. Since I can’t control what I don’t know, all those things that I don’t understand/don’t know, I can’t control! I should focus on what I do understand and do know and step by step try and learn more each day so that I can know more, thus “control” more. This one may not make as much sense but I think those who know my personality well might understand better.
4. LOOK FOR MIRACLES. Even if they’re so much as the Elders gave us a package of oreos. This week the members were my miracles. Two sisters in particular treated me like their own daughter and two sisters treated me like their own sister; even to the point of holding my hand when we crossed the street (because in thailand you just cross right through the HEAVY traffic. Kind of scary haha).
OH yeah…..the email subject line…yep! True true. The nongkiaw (greenie- directly translates to little green) ate a fried frog thing. Mmmm delicious. The ward members all kept joking and teasing me that I should eat it. So I did. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do so the ward members will like you;)
I love you all! Be strong and of a good courage!!