My Birthday started at 5am.
My companion and I woke up sleepy, but determined to get the day started because we had a full day lined up. From 6-9:30am, we emailed...
While we emailed, m first surprise came!
Elder Brown tried to lure me outside the internet cafe by telling me that our bikes were stolen, but he was just too smiley and not very believable at all...
But, he kept insisting, so I knew at least something was up.
I gave in and walked outside the cafe to be sill stringed by the Elders!
It was the first time in my life to be silly stringed and it made me feel special that the Elders had planned this event just for me :P
I also got a bow stuck to my head and a balloon helicopter that I am excited to try out, and a string candy necklace from Bank (who apparently passed by too).
From there, we took our bikes across the street to lock up at the church and took a taxi to go pick up Booyi, Aut, Fuk, and Bifern from MEE Gope's (they had arrived in Korat the day before! They came all the way from Sisaket just to see me!^^)
Owen (MEE Gope's son) tagged along too, and I took them all to go visit Ni.
Sister Booyi's family has been struggling with going to church because there has been a lot of drama going on between some of the members. They haven't gone to church in about a month and it has been really worrying me and making me really sad.
I spent a lot of time pondering and praying about a way to best help Sister Booyi and her fmaliy and felt that Sister Ni could help.
I asked for Sister Ni's help during the previous week and gratefully , she accepted...
And without spoiling that she knew the situation, she so magically reached out, befriended and counselled Sister Booyi and Brother Aut in the best way!
She encouraged them without being overbearing.
Words cannot explain just how happy I was to be with the people I truly learned to love, the people I can truly be myself around and talk of Christ and learn about Christ together. It was so wonderfully to be able to help bridge a relationship between two people that I absolutely love and think of as my older sisters (S. Booyi and S. Ni).
There will be situations where due to the actions of others, we may be discouraged from keeping the commandments. But, in the end, it is ultimately our own Salvation that is on the line. Despite what others say or do, we need to stay firm in our belief.
If we truly believe that Christ is our Lord and Savior, we can have the faith to stand strong and overcome any temptation. The gospel is beautiful, the gospel is miraculous, it's most precious above all else! It's not something that we should sacrifice for anything else, especially the mistakes of others. Nobody is perfect. We need to forgive and forget, and love. Allowing our faith to dwindle will lead to devastating consequences.
If life gets hard, get on your knees and plead with the Lord to have the strength to overcome!
Don't give up!
It's not worth it!
At the mall, we all went to Swensen's for some Ice Cream.
And there, came my second surprise!!
I was at a loss for words!!^^
Surrounded by the people I love, and lots of cake and ice cream, I couldn't wish for a better birthday!
There is little else that makes me ecstatic!
The two handsome gentlemen that made it all possible!^^
I felt so spoiled! :P
To add the cherry on top, we went skating!!
It made me feel so at home :)
The cool air (that felt more like freezing air because I got used to the Thailand heat over the past year O.o), skates and Christmas decorations were nostalgic, and made us all miss home just a little.
What a wonderful Christmas season it's turning out to be!!
Fuk, Brother Aut, Sister Booyi and Bifern were all there too!!^^
In the evening, after I said teary goodbyes with Sister Booyi and her family, we went inviting at a market as a district.
We mostly invited off of English Class...
Although we were pretty tired, we also had a lot of fun!
I was so impressed with how awesome Sister Ward is at inviting.
What a great child to have ;)
My Bike, the HULK!
We were joined by Bob this week....
One hungry stepchild...
This past week also consisted of a lot of singing practice in preparation for our musical number at Zone Conference next week!
My singing skills have definitely improved on my mission just because of the sheer number of musical numbers I've had to do, plus singing everyday for companion studies...
I think it's safe to say that I no longer sound like a "dying cow" as my brother used to tell me....
And I think it's also safe to say that I no long have a "talent" for flattening out tones like no one else can (like my mom used to tell me)....
But, still, singing is still not one of my strengths...
Even so, it's been a lot of fun to practice and spend time with my lovely district!
lots and lots of pizza!!
BUT miracles do come about in various ways, the Pizza Hut Delivery Boy is now our investigator!
After delivering our pizza to the chapel, he expressed his interest in learning about our church and has been learning with us ever since!
I love the type of investigator that he is because he will make time to learn!
He is sincere in his search for the truth and is not afraid to ask questions!
I took along my fluffy cat pillow for some comfort on the bus, but barely got the luxury of using it because our Elders and Sister Ward had him kidnapped most of the time...
On Sunday after church, the missionaries led a fireside!
We focused on how we can emanate Christ's love for others by helping them come unto Him through sharing the gospel, praying for them and inviting them to come into His fold. We had unity building activities and real plays to hopefully help stir the members in the right direction.
More singing practice!
This time with the ward in preparation for Stake Conference which will also be next week...
AND.... more singing practice.....
Clearly...TOO much singing practice...we just all kind of....broke...
Thank GOODNESS I finally have a companion who loves to clean!
One of our cupboards was infested with thousands and thousands of ants!! (and a few cockroaches to add some more fun.....argggghhh)
But, the three and a half hours of scrubbing and washing were all worth it!
Our home is now spick and span!
These first couple weeks in this transfer have been engulfed in a lot of personal reflection.
The closer I get to the end of my mission, the more I feel nervous...
Only partially because of the changes that I'll face after, but mainly because I am not sure if this is where I imagined myself to be at this point in my mission.
Have I done all the things Heavenly Father has asked me to do?
Have I learned all things Heavenly Father wanted me to learn up until now?
Have I really given my all to serve the people of Thailand?
How much love and charity have I really developed?
Am I the person that Heavenly Father can be proud of?
Will I have any regrets?
While these questions cause for personal reflection and some soul searching...
This much I do know.
By observing my District Leader, I have come to at least two very important conclusions.
1. I can become better at serving others. Service should know no boundaries. One of the reasons I never wanted to serve a mission is because I felt that I could help others come unto Christ through service and love more than through proselyting. However, the year before my mission, when I realized that Heavenly Father wanted me to serve a mission, I also had the reassurance that I would have endless opportunities for service on my mission. What a comfort it was. But, now, this far along my mission, I have realized that maybe I'm not doing everything I can be doing to serve and love! Watching Elder Stevens's endless persistence in searching for opportunities to serve has made me realize that I have not put in enough effort and have a lot to learn from his example.
2. We were teaching an LA when my DL shared something that resparked something I had learned before my mission. It's one thing to know something in your head, but something a lot more meaningful to know it in your heart. It's easy to have a knowledge in our heads of what the gospel entails, but do we really feel it in our hearts through the experiences that we have? This was such an important lesson that I had almost forgotten.
I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for placing me in specific areas, surrounded by specific people. I know that I am not just randomly assigned to my area, but it is only through revelation from our God. I know that He knows what I need, and what I am capable of. As I put my trust in Him and have faith, I can become an effective instrument in His hands!
I love this work of Salvation so much !
What a grand honour it is to be a part of it!