Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 21st Updates

Today I read "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" by Gene R Cook, 8 Nov 1981, A BYU devotional address.  I really liked that he said "Challenges and difficulties that many of us resist are the very elements which refine us and make godly men and women" he also added that "the Lord will try you in every attribute possessed by man and at stages of development in your life"  and this will be continually repeated "until you know that you are able and will serve him at all costs" and we should "be sure to receive whatever the Lord gives to you with a thankful heart" ... I think I need to thank Heavenly Father in prayer more for my challenges and tell why I am thankful for them and what I have learned as a result.  It is true what they say about missions- it is the hardest thing we will ever do in our lives thus far and probably ever will do.  Probably because we are always trying to have the spirit with us, to know what people need when we don't even know them to pray that Heavenly Father will give us words to say. 
Answers to prayers.  Fear God not man.  Don't care what other people think or if what you think you should do is not socially acceptable, usually things pertaining to God are not accepted by the world.  When I feel good about what to do in life and set aside other peoples opinions I feel God is happy with me and have a feeling of peace in my heart, like a 7am on a summers morning. 
This week I have been thinking a little about commandments, and how it is a commandment to follow the prophet. and the apostles, and all those who are called of God, (this means me too :D ) And I hope no ever thinks, I like I have "Well, if thats the worse thing I can do than I am pretty good" This is saying, I know I am rebelling against God but I don't care, and is always saying I know better than God does.  Everything God says, through the voice of the servant or through him it is the same (D&C 1:38), is for our benefit.
The three basics,  I promise as you do these things you have more peace in your life, daily strength to concur the everyday stresses and challenges and feel closer relationship with God. 
1. Pray daily, individually and with your family.
2. Study (not read like a novel) the book or mormon.  It feels so good to tip my feet in the cool pool water of this book
3. go to church. 
Yup, that simple, the basics, no perfection, no huge list of dos and don'ts and stress and "I have so much to do!" because as you do these,  I promise, you will have time for everything you need to do.  I am a missionary, called by a prophet of God.  I speak truth. 
Yesterday  I read this months Ensign (see "Teaching the doctrine of the Family" by Julie Beck, whom I actually shook hands with and hugged in the MTC, she came and spoke in Relief Society.  I loved when she said we don't have to be prefect or set insanely high goals just the basics saying "Live in your home so that you're brilliant in the basics, so that you're intentional about your roles and responsibilities in the family.  Think in terms of precision not perfection" as you do this your family "will learn that you pray, study the scriptures, have family home evening, make priority of meal times and speak respectfully of your marriage partner" isn't that an awesome promise! I love this article, also cross reference to "the family, a proclamation to the world"
Yesterday  I had the opportunity to teach in English, as I taught I prayed "please help me listen, I am trying to listen and trying not to think of what I will say next, please give me what to say" My companions, only for a period of 4 hours was a native thai, the person we were teaching was a member for 3 years but stopped going to church, he is from Japan and stayed in the states for a time and now in Thailand.  I asked him, being from Japan and not claiming a religion before and being sort of Buddhist how he knew the restoration and Joseph Smith were true. "At first, I thought it was a very tale and make believe" he said "but I started to pray and read the scriptures and I felt it was true.  As I prayed I could feel it was real"  He also said how he knows God is real because he has receive answers through the Holy Ghost (the spirit of God) through his thoughts and feelings. Which is amazing! this means he is asking questions in prayer.  He seems like a great member who has a testimony of daily scripture study and prayer and the restoration.  I asked what was keeping him for going to church "It is a day we spend as a family"  and how they are busy and that is their family day. He felt he had to choose between church or spend time with his family, and he chose family.  I told him "I prayed really hard before I came here where Heavenly Father wanted us to go today.  He loves you and he has sent us here" he explained he needed to be reminded and was going through some challenges.  I told him "I know you love your family very much and you know you can be together forever but in order for you to be with your family forever you have to keep the promises you made at baptism" I explain baptism like a drivers license and sacrament is renewing it "what if I said 'well I got it once' does it count'" He did not commit to coming to church.  I told Sister Hirschi (my real khuu) and she said next we will teach the atonement, and forgiveness of sins through the baptism/taking the sacrament. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our investigators get Baptized.

This week our family of three was baptized, yay! They have had quite a few challenges but many blessings and miracles too. I wish I could of understood their testimonies spoken in Thai.

This week we got, what Sister Hirschi says, the closest to a golden investigator. In our intro lesson we found out that she prays everyday and reads the Book of Mormon everyday too. And if she doesn't read it at night she will place it on her pillow so she will read it in the morning. How is it that investigators, or in this case, a lady who only had 3 lessons about one year ago can be more valiant and steadfast in the faith than members?

I have been dreaming about home more and more, like everyday stuff, like baking in the kitchen or seeing my dog, Phillip, in the house, I think I am missing home. 
Sorry for mentioning this again, in the book "Our heritage" one story really stuck out to me this week, about a couple who saved for 7 years to go the temple, to do ordinances for themselves and on behalf of their ancestors who had passed.  While out picking up some necessities, of which the temple gave them some money to purchase they found the wife crying in an aisle holding a bottle of Shampoo, she had not purchased shampoo for 7 years.  I am not asked to make that sacrifice and neither was she.  But she did.  How can you relate this story to your life?  I think I loved this book so much because it was easier to see these people as real people. Sometimes in the scriptures (mainly old testament, basically all time actually) it’s harder to relate to the people or see them as real.
Also I thought this week about when I used to work at the hospital and how one coworker was so surprised "They don't pay you to go?!  ...What? and YOU have to pay to go?"  I just shrugged it off as nothing but this week the scripture came to mind of how paid ministry is a priestcraft, and I am a minster, I have a ministering license actually, signed by the prophet himself. :)  So yeah, in the church, no one is paid.  Including me. 
Also this week I thought about Home and Visiting Teaching, and how this has been such a blessing to my family when we had members visit and befriend us and also when I was in the YSA, how my assigned visiting teacher partner is such a great friend of mine and how those we taught we loved and had great friendships from them.  It was great, and like scripture study, I never thought when I was doing it "I wish I wasn't doing this right now" and afterwards always felt "I was glad I did that, I should do it more" (same with exercising)
Oh, I made a mistake with culture customs, I saved two seats in sacrament, and in front of me in the aisle was my backpack and scriptures and study journal.  I motioned the investigators to sit by me as they came in late, for some reason they wouldn’t step over my backpack, I moved it and they still stepped around my mini quad. I thought it would have been so much easier for them to just step over the little thing but then it hit me "it is disrespectful to step over things" showing the bottom of the foot/shoe is considered dirty, and if you step over anything or show the bottom of your foot to anyone it is like flipping someone off. oops! 

I almost lost my companion this week, we exchanged for a day. I got to be companions with a real Thai person, who spoke as much English as I did Spanish, we both took two years.  So it was tough, she would smile at me and touch my shoulder in lessons when she wanted me to speak or pay attention Lol.   I liked her smile, very warm.  Anyways, back to losing her.  For transportation here you just get the back of a truck by flagging one down (look up picture of song taw, truck bench, Thailand transportation etc). The truck started moving just as I was only half way on, and my companion was not even on yet, but I didn't notice this so half way onto the step, and on this small step, my hands are at perfect waist height, you can already tell where my hands will land, as I was stumbling on I totally get a nice grip on a strangers bottom, yeah, she was surprised, and I was too, with a different stranger grabbing my forearm to pull me up, another person points behind me to my companion, who is running down the road. I quickly buzz the buzzer to stop the moving truck and get off. I am sure it looked like I did not pay for those who did not see me get on. I then thought "for sure thinking of ways to lose your companion and escape Thailand you didn't hesitate that time"  .......
Well, I figured out why a mission is so hard, I probably knew all along but just didn't like the answer.  A mission is hard because you have to depend on the Lord.  You pray harder than you have ever prayed and longer  and more frequently than ever before in all my life, probably all my life prayers calculated to right before my mission versus my mission prayers. I think my prayers within the last 4 months exceed my prayers before my mission.  Tears come close too.   A mission could be the easiest thing I ever do, I thought as I prayed in Thai " I request gratitude to thank thee for the opportunity to be a missionary" and then breaking down in "I don't want to be a missionary, please give me the desire to be a missionary, I don't want to be here" I was then reminded and thought "ok, lets see, I have no friends, no drama, no boys, no family, no school, no work, a mission should be easy," look at all those stresses I don't have to deal with!  then why am I so stressed.  I then realized Heavenly Father just asks that we give our best, then anxiety stuck again, what is my best? How do I know?  I am failing to be a happy missionary!...  I don't even know if that is possible...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Frustrations of Tracting & other thoughts....

This week while inviting, and in past weeks we get the brush off from people quite a lot. The excuses for not wanting to listen to us are always interesting but most are common responses.  The main one is "It is not convenient". This saddens me, and also "We are busy" I sometimes get defensive and want to say, but can't, since I can't speak thai "your busy? Really? I am busy, we are all busy, we all have lives and things that take prevalence in them" When people say they are busy or it's not convenient they are really saying "I don't want to learn". Which is a lot easier to ask why to compared to why are you busy.  It is difficult to clearly explain what we teach in 2 minutes and for them to make an educated choice of rejecting us.  Seeing they don't know anything about us other than we teach about Jesus.  I swear the word Jesus Christ creates a bad smell in the air or something because people curl their noses and wave their hands and physically turn their backs to us.  I can't speak so I just give them a really confused look that hopefully communicates whats wrong with saying Jesus?  Inviting is also tough because people say no so quickly.  Even when we only ask for 5 or 10 minutes of their time.  Maybe it's because they know if they listen to us they will feel the spirit of prophecy flowing through us and cannot deny the spirit that is so freely flowing through us.  I do wonder if they see us as what we really are.  Which is servants of God and representatives of Christ and His church.  We have been called by a prophet of God to share what we know, I know our message is true. 
Oh, I figured out why there are white floaty’s in the water.  It is parasites. So exciting... but they are dead. They don't filter the water but use ultra violet lights, so the water doesn’t go through filters, just light kills the bacteria in the water so you still see the bacteria in the water. This still makes me nervous though, how I am I to know if it is alive or dead. I wish they used filters instead of light. 
Scripture study and prayer- a commandment.  Like everything a prophet says is a commandment.  Including going to the temple, and eating healthy (the word of wisdom) etc.  I then got to think "How have  I done things I don't like to do or make time for but need too?"  Such as exercising or making dinner, or doing laundry or reading the scriptures or saying my prayer in the morning not just night etc.  And then I thought, "when I study the scriptures, do I ever think 'man, I wish I wasn't reading the scriptures right now' or after, have I ever thought 'I wish I hadn't read the scriptures today' nope, never" I assume I am not the only one who has felt this way, so when you begin to think and receive the prompting to go to study don't deny it and cover it with something else.  We all have things we can do, we all have a lot of things we 'can' be doing but think what will make you the most satisfied and what will be most satisfying to God.  I know as you do this you will have the blessing poured upon you, including feeling that your Father in heaven is proud of you and you are a good and faithful servant.
Culture- This week I learned in Buddhism you have to be at least 30 to teach religion.  Seeing anything younger is not really an adult or mature.  It seems weird that us 'kids' are coming and speaking to adults about religion, even members have said, when they first started learning with the missionaries "what can these kids teach me?" Respecting elders is a very huge part of this culture, and it is true, we are kids, and teach adults about how to obtain eternal life and how we have a prophet on the earth today, like Moses and Abraham of Old and that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored, meaning our church is the true church of God, and has every single truth of the gospel.  I know whoever takes the time to listen to the missionaries, they will know, through the spirit, that this is true.  I know that may sound bold, or even cocky but take me up on it if you think I am bluffing. 
Yesterday I taught someone, like most people I teach who do not know God is real.  We taught about prayer, and how "you can know if God is real by asking in prayer if he is real. The answer will come though the spirit or the Holy Ghost. You will know you receive an answer through the feeling in your heart.  I know this is true because God loves you.  He is our father in Heaven and we are his children.  I know he will answer your prayer because he loves you" and I said that all in Thai.  She then asked me if I pray.  I thought she was saying something like she couldn't understand me so i quickly answered how long I have been in thailand. 2 months.  then my companion said "she asked if you pray" I pray every day, I pray for the investigators and the members that they will pray and read the scriptures and go to church. I pray for my family at home and I pray to speak the language" I told her at the end of lesson "I have study the Thai language for 4 months, 2 in america and 2 in Thailand.  I do not speak skillfully. I know it is through the Holy Ghost, or the spirt of God, that you understand me.  There is no way you can understand what I am saying if I did this alone" The last sentence my companion had to help me with, the one that started with "there is no" so yeah.  I really felt like Heavenly Father was helping me and really loved this person.  I know that this church is true, for there is no way anyone could understand my Thai, or that anyone could speak fluently after only a few months (that has happened to others but not to me yet). 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thoughts on the Pioneers & other ponderings

Unfortunately this week I have not had time to write in my journal, so much missionary work to do and all, makes for getting home on time rare this week so writing in my physical journal was sparse and when I did write, I wrote my testimony.
Scripture passage I liked this week:
I think it is impossible that ye should be ignorant of the things which have been said concerning the coming of Christ... He should make it known unto you what ye shall do... Prepare your minds" Alma 34:2-3
 In missionary work there are no callings, since our call is a full time missionary, a representative of Christ and a worthy member to represent the church all combined into one, so whatever other duties are given to us are called "assignments" I have been assigned to be the English Leader, We teach English every Tuesday as a service to the community.  I am in charge of who will teach what class- Beginner, intermediate, and advanced, what the spiritual thought at the end will be and conduct the beginning meeting, and plan a showcase, held every 6 weeks, and order materials such as books and make sure all is set up and taken down in the classrooms (chairs mostly).
This week I hate the language as always and the culture shock increased this week too-- I swear there are more ants in the Kitchen, and my lap, and my hands, and the bathroom insects have begun to inhabit it, again, I know because at one point I cleaned it so good there weren't any, so I know they are new... since I finished the Book of Mormon I decided to start another book
Missionaries are allowed to read only a handful of reading material- the standard works, Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, Preach my Gospel, and the missionary library- which consists of
"Jesus the Christ"- a 700 pg book all about Jesus, loads of references. 
"True to the Faith"- a dictionary pretty much, outlines phrases and words not usually used in every day conversation (such as salvation, atonement, eternal life, holy ghost etc)
"Our search for Happiness"- what the church is for the member and non member basically a book of understanding and
"Our Heritage"- a history of the church, the early saints/ pioneers to present time.
I already read "our search for happiness while reading through the Book of Mormon so began "Our Heritage" and finished it!!!  Wow, I feel better about serving in Thailand. There are many sacrifices I thought I was making that I thought were difficult, after reading some the early church member difficulties I had to say "I don't have it that bad, I am blessed" I will share a few with you 1. I do not have to travel across the plains of the US in winter and have my feet so frost bitten that when they removed my socks all the skin came with and had to get their feet removed and walk on my knees the rest of life.  2. I did not go blind from the sun for serving and working on a railroad that needed to be completed to supply much needed supplies to the saints.  3. I did not have to leave my sick stricken family to a mission that was of unknown duration with myself being ill too.  But they saw so many miracles and were greatly blessed- like all there crops being eaten by grasshoppers and fasting/praying and seagulls coming and eaten them all up thus not starving to death, and 100s of converts coming into the gospel, souls saved through missionary efforts.
3 favorite stories-
1- the prophet, Brigham Young asked a select few to leave the colonized salt lake valley and spread out further, one man already settled, had fruit trees and farm and everything was asked to leave, and he left to colonize 100+ miles away from the salt lake city the winter was so harsh many turned back to SLC but he stayed saying the prophet asked him to go and he wouldn't leave till he was asked to.  He left all his fruit trees! I don't know if I could do that, those take along time to grow, along with other crops.  Seeing his strong faith strengthen mine
2- A daughter of a bishop was given a newspaper from england in may. She was with the two elderly men who gave it to her asked her to give it her father, the paper contained info about his ancestry, which would be used to do work in the temple (see "temples" ) the paper was dated May 15th, the girl received the paper in may, only a few days after it was printed! This was before planes, it takes weeks for things to be shipped, this was a miracle!  People who have passed wanted their ordinances to be done (baptism) and were very anxious for that to happen.
3- During the great depression the church established a welfare program and began buying and farming land and raising cattle etc, worldwide.  In Germany they were asked to share their harvest of potatoes with whom they were against war at the time, switzerland, they freely gave to their fellow brothers and sister one year- 75 tons of potatoes, the next 90 tons! They saw a need a willingly gave.
I then thought- these miracle and hardships seem fictional, but I know they really happened just how I know the stories in the Old and New Testament happened and everyone on the earth today is living in a time when prophets and apostles walk the earth again.  The only time miracles cease is when we don't have faith.  If we have faith, if we know we can be healed or speak thai it will happen.  Miracles cease when our faith ceases.  Do I have the faith to speak this insane Language? Do I believe, when inviting for several hours in the sun, this next person will let us in to share the message? If I believe it, it will happen.