I MADE IT! At this point I have no idea where to start. So why don't I just start at the beginning???
Monday (Dec. 8th)
The last day at the MTC was probably the most unmemorable day in a LONG time. It almost feels like it didn't happen. Essentially, we got all our bags packed and just headed out! We left at around 11:30 am and never looked back. The first interaction we had with non-missionaries was on the MAX train thing which took us to the SLC Airport. A group of us were just sitting by our luggage when this man walked onto the train. He took one glance, and all he could say was: "Oh look, it's the God Squad". I literally laughed for like 10 min. After that I realized just how weird I am going to be perceived for the next 16 months! And I love it. It is one of the most amusing things being a missionary and just seeing how people react to you initially. The rest of this day is a blur. We got to LA after a short flight and then hung out in the LA Airport for around 7 hours. Saw Kanye West, no big deal, and then embarked on what would be the LONGEST flight of my entire life.
Tuesday/Wednesday (Dec. 9th/Dec.10th)
The flight to Hong Kong honestly doesn't feel like it even happened. One second I was in America, the next I was in Asia. Except it felt like ALOT more than a second. The only insight I can give is that I was sitting in between Elder Bunker, and Elder Darby the whole flight. And I got to know them very well. Now do I remember anything I got to know about them? No. But I know it happened. I think....Maybe it was all a dream. Who knows. Everything is such a blur!!
Made it to Thailand!!!! Finally. Met President Senior and his wife. They are the coolest people I have ever met. I love them!! You all saw the video I am sure, so you have a good grasp at what happened next. We ate some real Thai food with B. Wisan, which was SO good, then later he brought sticky rice and mango just for the 4 Sisters. ;) He told us not to tell any of the Elders, so make sure you keep the secret. It was amazing though. The food here is THE BEST THING EVER. We had dinner at Pres. Seniors house, and it was so cute. Delaney, you would love their little house. It is the most adorable thing ever. I guess it is technically an apartment, but either way. It is SO CUTE. I wish I got a picture.
Thursday (Dec. 11th)
TRANSFERS! So Wednesday night we slept in a hotel by the mission office, and had Thai food for breakfast. So that was awesome. They don't really have breakfast food here. You just eat whatever, whenever. Which works for me. Then we took the bus to transfers. We had a little meeting with President and Sister Senior and then got our assignments and companions!! Everyone probably already knows where I am going but in case you don't. I am assigned to serve in Phitsanulok. I could try to spell it in Thai, but I would butcher it, so I won't. But anyways, Phitsanulok is a small city about 6 hours north of Bangkok, and it is in the Chiang Mai zone. Everyone calls it the hottest place you could possibly get sent in Thailand. So I got lucky, because it is December, and it actually just feels really great. It's not as humid as Bangkok. I love the weather here. It is so beautiful and NOT COLD!! Utah is just way too cold. Now for my companion and trainer. SISTER ALLEY! She is 24 and already graduated from college. She is from Spokane, WA, and just the most nicest person you will ever meet. She went to the MTC in June. So she was Rina's Phii Thai. Which is insane that she is already a trainer. She has only been in the country for 4 months, and has never served outside of Bangkok, so we are both very lost. All the time. Our first day, we didn't know how to get anywhere, and we had no idea what we were doing. We took a bus after transfers to the area, and arrived at around 3am. So we pretty much woke up, and didn't even know where we lived.
Friday (Dec. 12th)
Our first full day in the area. WEIRD!!! This was the weirdest day of my entire life. Both Sister Alley and I have no idea what we are doing. We could lie, and fake our way through and say we know, but we actually don't. Not even a clue. I speak NO THAI (real Thai that is, I don't know what we learned in the MTC but it's not Thai), and Sister Alley speaks a little. So just the fact that we could call one of the members and have them help us go buy bikes was a miracle. Then once we had bikes, we were able to figure out where the church was and then based our exploration off of how close it was to the church. The church is essentially home base. The rest of the day was just a struggle trying to figure out how things work here. The area was just barely opened back up for Sister's the transfer before this one. So all the records are either very old, or very scarce. There really was not a lot to work with. We were able to figure out there was a Christmas party Friday night at the church, though. So we thought that would be a good use of our time. We needed to start getting to know people. One of the first person we met was Sister Som. She is AWESOME. I still haven't figured out how old she is but I think she is around 18. She is so incredibly nice and I do not know what I would do without her. She doesn't really speak English, but we can communicate okay. Funny thing about the Christmas party though. They were putting on a nativity pageant (really small one because the ward has only about 50 members and only about 20 showed up). But anyways, they didn't have anyone to play the piano, because all the Elders and Sisters that could play left. So guess who the task fell on? Yeah. ME. They threw me straight into sight reading 5 Christmas songs to play in their program. I didn't even understand when they told me to play them. So I just waited until it got all awkward and quiet and took that as my cue to start the next song. And like most of you know, I can't really sight read that well, so I only really played the right hand. It was hilarious. The whole thing was just so cute. Trying to pull off this small Christmas program. After that awkwardness, a bunch of members came up to me and said how great it was, and thanked me for playing. I just stared at them, partially because I didn't really understand anything else they said, and partially because I was dumb founded that anyone would call my pour excuse for sight reading "great". Many mistakes were made, and it honestly was just terrible. But in the end, that's not what at all mattered. I had fun laughing at myself, and no one really cared whether I could play or not. They were just happy they had a chance to see their kids sing in a Christmas program.
Saturday (Dec. 13th)
We had sports day with the members in the ward! We went to a park and played basketball with the youth and the other Elders in the area. That was a lot of fun. It was nice to get more acquainted with everyone. One of the biggest struggles has been just trying to get to know everyone. And speaking Thai is also another struggle. Inviting is so hard when you don't understand what is going on. But we do it everyday regardless! Saturday is kind of a blur. I can't really remember what happened. All I know is that I am so tired, all the time. The jet lag is real.
Sunday (Dec. 14th)
Another fun day full of confusion, and forced piano playing. Also, to add to the mix I got the great opportunity to bare my testimony in Thai for the Branch. That was interesting. Not only can the members not understand my English, they really can't understand my Thai either. But we both try! haha. Honestly, the first few days here have just been full of humbling experiences. I feel like I got thrown onto a desert island and told to build a ski resort. Where there isn't even snow. I have faced every single one of my fears that I have ever had in my entire life in these short first few days, and I am accomplishing things that I never thought I could ever do. Like ride a bike a long side eight lanes of highway traffic. They don't really have cross walks here either, or rules for that matter. Everyone goes wherever, whenever they want. I am honestly shocked I haven't got hit by a car yet. Anyways, everyday is hard. Waking up is hard. Going to sleep is hard. Thinking is hard. Showering is hard (yes, the water is freezing cold). Inviting in a language you don't know is hard. Playing piano when you can't is hard. Teaching lessons is hard, when neither you or your companion can really speak the language. You make a fool out of yourself so often its routine. You question why in the world you thought you could do this in the first place constantly. But when it is all said and done. None of that matters. Because of one khon Thai by the name of เบิร์ด. For typing sake I will call him Bud. So here's the story about Bud. He is around 18 years old, and he was on a list of potential investigators the other sisters from the area left us. He had not been contacted yet so we gave him a call. He agreed to come to church on Sunday and seemed very excited about it. Church starts at 9 am and when 9 am rolled around. Bud was no where to be seen. We didn't lose faith though, and good thing too because at 9:30 am, he finally showed up. We were busy with our RC though so I actually didn't get a chance to talk to him until after church. We decided to have a small lesson with him and introduce the Book of Mormon and give him a Restoration pamphlet to read. We also taught him how to pray. Then things took an unexpected turn. After we asked him to pray out loud, we somehow got on the topic of Baptism. There isn't a whole lot I can say in Thai, but something I can do is extend the Baptismal invitation so Sister Alley looked at me and asked me to do that. So I looked at Bud and said everything I know how, and to my astonishment, he said yes. In that moment, everything I had felt was hard about a mission flooded out of my body. I looked at this innocent 18 year old khon Thai that just wanted to know the truth. All the heart ache was replaced with love for this one child of God, and I realized why none of the hard things about a mission matter. I realized why I served in the first place. Up until this point of my mission, in theory I knew that I loved all of God's children and I wanted to help them, but something became very real when I put a name and a face to that all encompassing statement of "God's children". It's not just God's children, but that one child. I am here to help the one. Now each and every day, that one person I help will change, but I know that when I individualize each opportunity I have to teach. And when I put my whole heart and soul into every single person I come in contact with; that person will be able to feel the spirit of Christ from me. Suddenly, a person who claims to not know Christ will recognize Him. They will hear the words "will you follow the EXAMPLE of Jesus Christ and be baptized" and accept because it is familiar to them. At no other time in my life will I be able to say I am a full-time representative of Jesus Christ, and I intend to treasure every opportunity I have to say that.
I love my Savior so very much. And I could not do this without His constant support. There have been times in the last few days that I have been on the verge of tears, and I have had to pray it out because that is the only place I know where to turn. I rely so heavily on God that He will bare me up it is exhausting. But I know that the promise we receive in D&C 84:88 is real. "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bare you up."
I have met so many amazing people here. They all have such amazingly strong testimonies and are such amazing examples to me.
I can't wait to see what the rest of my mission has in store for me.
I hope all of you are doing wonderful! I pray for you constantly.
I love you.
P.S. Sorry it's so long. It probably won't be this long every week.