October 21, 2014

10/20/14 - Riding Elephants & Khon Kean

So much has happened this week so I will just summarize. It was such a great week and I learned and grew a lot! Last Monday we went to Surin for pday where they have an awesome elephant farm. You don't see those everyday, right? Well, it was a load of fun. Some wonderful members (they are literally angels) took us and it took about an hour and a half to get there. Sister Carter and I rode on this HUGE elephant. The guy who led us around was so impressed that we could speak Thai. He even let us scoot off of the seat on the top of the elephant’s back and let us ride bareback on its neck! It was an experience of a lifetime and I loved it! After my mission I want to be the person who takes people on elephant rides! SO COOL!!!

There was also this cute elephant show after our ride. Lots of elephants, big and small, came out and did cool tricks. They stood on two feet, played hoola-hoop around their trunks, danced a cute little dance, and all sorts of stuff. They asked for volunteers at one point and Sister Carter and I, along with another Elder, of course, immediately volunteered. We had no idea what they wanted us to do or what was going to happen. They told us to lie down on these mats on our stomachs. I was confused but I did as I was asked. The elephants came out and the first one came up to the Elder and was sniffing him with his trunk and then sneezed in his face. It was so gross, I felt kind of bad. Then it walked over the Elder and came up to me. I was thinking, "Please don't sneeze in my face!" But then it lifted up its foot and started patting my bum! I was so mortified! I look over to my companion and screamed, "The elephant is spanking me!!!!" Everyone in the audience was laughing so hard. It walked over me and did the same thing to my companion. I wanted to disappear at that point. I thought it was over but, no, three other elephants came and did the same thing. Afterwards, Sister Carter and I said, "I don't think that was missionary appropriate.” It was so embarrassing, especially with the Elders looking on!!!" We laughed about it later though. After that, the elephants just carried us around by their trunks which I liked much better.

There were a lot of lessons and miracles during the week. One night my companion and I were eating dinner and this drunk guys came up to us. He said, "Hey, you are so beautiful. Where you come from?" We answered him hesitantly and then he was like, "Woah! You speak so well, how do you speak that well?" We told him it was because we were missionaries and that it was a gift from God. He laughed at that but he surprisingly said, "Really? Well, I want to learn about your church then." He agreed to meet with us the next day and we thought there was no way he would actually show up, BUT he did!!! In the lesson he was just telling us how he had done so many bad things and he felt like there was nothing he could do to take that away. I BURST OUT WITH JOY! I was so happy to declare to him that there is a way, and that way is Jesus Christ! It was such a great lesson. Being able to tell him that he could be clean from his sins and have a happy life and then seeing his reaction to that declaration was priceless!

We are really encouraging our recent convert to baptize his children but he is scared and feels that they aren't ready. But it really has been amazing to see his little girls change. I could definitely see a difference when the gospel of Jesus Christ entered their lives. Their whole countenance changed! I am just praying that their dad will let them get baptized!

We have this one investigator who when we first met her was very sassy and didn't care about anything we told her. Finally she started praying and reading her scriptures and that is when she started changing. Now, she is the most awesome investigator! Seeing her change from where she was is incredible! She came with us to Khon Kean and was helping the WHOLE time! I am so proud of her. It shows that nothing will happen until you act. She wouldn't have changed if she hadn't started reading and praying. It is the key to personal conversion! I love her so much! We continue to work with our other investigators. They are ready for baptism but have some complicated family issues that need to be worked out first.

On Friday we changed our regular routine by exercising at the park! It was so much fun! I think I have never enjoyed running and working out that much! We were asked to make a bunch of brownies for the Khon Kean meeting, so all the relief society sisters got together. We had a recipe and all the ingredients but we didn't have any measuring cups. Thank goodness my second mother took over and said, "I got this!" and just went to town! We practiced a lot for our dance and the next morning at 6AM we loaded a bus and were on our way to Khon Kean 4 hours away!! The bus ride was crazy because the members were singing karaoke--SO LOUD! It was just so great seeing all the other missionaries and having a day to spend with the members! We then went to get our hair and make up done for the performance, and wow, they put my hair up so tight with a huge fake bun on top. It was ridiculous looking!! We then had interviews with President Senior looking like native Thai women! We did our dance which was really fun even though we messed up a lot! The next day we got to the convention center early and Sister Stoker was freaking out because the 2000 brownies were not frosted. So all the missionaries got together and frosted 2000 brownies in 30 minutes!!

That night was very, very special. All the members went home and all the missionaries met in a tiny little church building. Elder Gong told us that he got special permission from Elder Holland to have a special sacrament meeting that night! I’ve never ever had a sacrament meeting where I felt the Spirit that strong in my whole life. I just felt so immensely grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice! He took upon himself every one of our sins individually. I just had the most overwhelming feeling that he loves everyone so much! During the sacrament I was reading Mosiah 2:21-24: 21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. 
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

I want to give 10,000% to Christ! I am forever indebted to him. When there are days when I want to give up or my desire is weakened, Christ is who helps me through it. Knowing that he died for me so that I could live again is the greatest blessing and helps me though every trial! I am so grateful for his church! After the sacrament we had a testimony meeting that brought everyone to tears! I am so grateful for the other missionaries’ great examples! I feel so blessed to be serving in this mission!

On Monday we had a mission tour which is where Elder Gong and President Senior had a conference with the missionaries. It was so awesome! He really focused on how the family is so essential! He went though all the lessons we teach as missionaries and talked about how each commandment helps strengthen the family. I suddenly thought about my family. I can't even imagine my family without with commandments of scripture study, prayer, word of wisdom, or law of chastity. The gospel blesses families. It made me so grateful for my family and my parents. It made me so excited to go and teach all of our recent converts and our investigator families! It really was so awesome! That night we got back really late because of bus schedules! Then we had to take a taxi for an hour. No one wanted to sit up in the front and talk to the taxi driver so I did and they all fell asleep! I was happy though because he was really nice!

Overall it was a great week! I am so grateful for the conference because I learned and experienced so much! I am so grateful for my Mission President and his wife. They are so awesome and have helped me become a better missionary! I love this church so much and am so grateful for it. Have a great week everyone and congratulations to Chelsea and Spencer for giving me a new cousin. Welcome to the family, baby Christian!

- Sister Herrmann
Sister Yoo and I are like cheerleaders!
Sister Sann
I love the YW! 
I love Sister Hughes and Sister Packer

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