October 27, 2015

10/26/15 - Forget yourself and go to work!

Wow, what a crazy good week! On Tuesday we spent all day teaching children which just happens to be my favorite thing! It was out in Bua Yai which is 2 hours away out in the banog. Four grandchildren of a member want to be baptized so we couldn't turn them down. We struggled to find someone to take us since there is no public transportation but finally found someone. After district meeting we started the long drive, which was so BEAUTIFUL with the rice fields, the shacks, the kways. The kids were waiting to be taught in the middle of a rice field. They listened to the lesson like little angels and were so well behaved. After accepting what we taught they took us out back to go play!

On the way home I was thinking about these people who have no screens, no air conditioning, not even a roof or running water—nothing. They were playing in the fields with the fish and kway all day. I enjoyed watching the mom of the 2 year old just playing with him everywhere he went. Whether it was throwing rocks or running out in the rice fields, she was right there loving and laughing with him. She told me that it is like that every day. I was so impressed because this mom literally has nothing but because of her children she has everything! Furthermore, she actually plays with her children and gives them so much love and attention. I want to be a mom like that—one who enjoys being with her children, one who devotes all her time and attention to raising, teaching, playing with, and most importantly loving her children. I am so grateful for the mothers I have seen in Thailand, my sisters, Caitlin and Rachel, and most influential, my Mom, for teaching and showing me the kind of mother I want to be.

On Wednesday my testimony grew hearing what happened to Maa Daws and her money situation. She said the night she got home after her baptism her daughter who had been fighting with her, called and said, "Mom, I love you, I paid all the rent for you house…you don't need to worry about it." The weird thing is that Daw never told her daughter about how worried she was about the rent payment. Wow. God really does prepare the path ahead if we just SIMPLY keep the commandments. I love seeing this amazing miracle happen over and over again.

On Thursday my companion was very sick. I feel like it’s almost worse to be the companion of the sick person than to be sick. Being productive in the Lords work for 16 hours straight without leaving the scary Thai house is SO HARD! I called 10,000 people, filled out records, studied and watched the district. When Friday came around I was SO excited to get out!!! With the sunshine on my face, the HOT October air, and preaching the good word of God, there is nothing better. Working is SO much better than lounging at home. I feel like I really get the whole meaning of "forget yourself and go to work" quote. When you work you automatically forget yourself which makes the work 10 times more enjoyable! We taught LOTS of lessons plus it was Friday night sports night...my favorite! This week we had a huge missionaries vs. members tournament...I’m afraid my competitive side kicked in, down by 2, came back for the win!!! So fun!

As we taught Brother Bow this week we read in Mosiah 24 and my heart was going to explode!! He kept laughing because after every verse I would jump in and say, "Ahhhh this is my favorite verse! The scriptures are so exciting and just make so much sense! The statement in Preach My Gospel is so true, "The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is your most powerful resource in conversion." I know that I’m converted each time that I read it!

On Saturday it was hard as we went and visited some LAs. I would look into their eyes and I could just see how unhappy they were with their lives. We met with the old branch president who broke a commandment and his wife left him and his life completely fell apart. We finally got to meet with Chaluies granddaughter whose parents are both dead. She was baptized at age 8 and has slowly fallen away. She now sells alcohol and lives with her boyfriend. It literally broke my heart to see these two people who are amazing children of God but were so obviously unhappy. We tried our best to love them and help them feel God’s love. Once again I am reminded that there is only ONE way to true happiness and that is through following the commandments. I also realized how important family is--not just our immediate family but our ward family. There is always someone who has a heartache and just needs a friend and to feel loved. Please look around, pray for guidance to know who is in need as almost everyone has a burden and then go lift it for them, "...when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

Sister May got baptized this Sunday. She seriously was a golden investigator because she was SO prepared!!! We were just calling through a list and she agreed to meet with us without hesitation, even though she lives an hour away and is in the middle of school and boxing season. We found out she had been taught by the missionaries about 5 months ago. After they left no one got back in to contact with her and she has been praying every day since. She’s going to work miracles in this church!

I honestly love Thailand so much, it feels like home. People always say, "A mission is not necessarily the best years OF your life but the best years FOR your life." But I personally feel like they are the best for my life AND of my life! I feel so extremely blessed to be a missionary and wish it could last forever. I am trying to enjoy every second! Have a great week and remember I love you all!

- Sister Tessa Herrmann

PS They came and cut off our electricity circuit again…so we slept at the church again. This is the third time this has happened while on my mission BUT only one time was my fault!!

Here is a video of Sister Herrmann speaking Thai! Link: https://youtu.be/ffhR4JjZ6zM

October 20, 2015

10/19/15 - "It's a miracle! It's a miracle!"

Ahhhh being a missionary is the best! I love it, I love it, I love it! On Monday for p-day we went to a dairy farm…why, I have no idea. We milked some cows, watched a horse show etc. We also went to some waterfalls and ended up on this muddy river bank having a picnic in little shacks ... oh wait that was after we stopped at the typical Thai market that had a different smell every step you took. I thought I would have gotten used to it by now but I still cringe when I see people selling pig faces and newly killed/skinned chicken and all other sorts of disgusting things, at least they have lots of pretty fruit to make up for it!

There was the most amazing miracle this week!!! There is this woman named Sister Faa who is the sweetest woman ever. She is a single mom of the most adorable twins. Everyday these scary men in black jackets on motorcycles show up at her house to collect the money that she owes them because of her debt. Every day her debt keeps increasing because she couldn’t pay the total amount all at once. She was so scared to get baptized at first, afraid of not being able to keep some commandments like attending church on Sunday and paying tithing. But despite her fears she committed and got baptized with her 2 kids. Now 3 weeks later, still having the burden of the debt, she met a soldier friend from a few years ago and as they were talking the topic of her debt came up. The soldier said that he would pay it off for her. She called us crying at the miracle that just happened and the huge weight that was going to be lifted off her shoulders. She told us that she would usually give her 2 children 40 bat for school so they could eat. But when her kids came home from school she would see them slipping the 40 bat back into her wallet. She also heard her kids pleading out loud in prayer that their mom could be relieved from this debt. When the kids found out that the debt was gone they both burst into tears of joy and the little boy said, “I think we should pray and thank Heavenly Father." It was such a sweet and tender experience and we were all speechless. Such a perfect example of a faithful woman and children trusting the Lord through their fears. Another time we saw her laying on the floor of her home just lifeless looking. She explained that her ex-boyfriend is usually a really nice man until he gets drunk. Because they live close to each other whenever he gets drunk he finds her and beats her. She described in detail how horrible the physical beatings are. But despite this trial she went on to testify that God has eased her burden once and she knows that he will again in his due time. Talk about serious faith.

One day this week we had about 40 minutes between lessons and I really really wanted to get inspiration from the Spirit of what we should do rather than the default of just sitting and making calls. I thought and thought and finally pulled my companion aside and said a prayer. As I was praying a picture perfect image of an apartment came to my mind. As I went on praying I was able to match a name to the apartment. It was an LA named Sister Aom. We found her address from the MLS record about 4 weeks ago. We have tried going to her house 5 times and every time we try to visit her she isn’t there. Finally her dad told us she basically doesn't live there anyone. So I didn't quite want to go there and waste time BUT there is no such thing as a fake prompting from the Lord. So we hopped on our bikes and headed over. We knocked and 19 year old Aom opened the door!!! We had an amazing lesson with her and she committed to come to church on Sunday. She said she had not been in 4 years and was afraid everyone would judge her, but was willing to try!

On Thursday we had a mission tour in Khon Kean. It is weird because I remember our mission tour at the exact same place and time last year...I swear it was just yesterday! We headed down Wednesday night and got to the hotel around 8. It was fun seeing all my friends! The next morning we had our conference with Elder Funk and his wife from the Seventy! From 7:30 to 3:00 I was enlightened and instructed on how to carry out my missionary service from now until the end of my life! We talked a lot about the importance of obedience. This is something I have come to know deeply on my mission. I can truly say that when I am being obedient I am happier. It is so easy to become selectively obedient in our world. I love what Sister Johnson said, "Keeping the commandments is not a buffet!" We are either in or out. We are either exactly obedient or we are not. It is interesting how Satan works within out comfort zone and little by little he pulls us down. I have seen it happen. I remember in high school I would tell myself, "Ok, I’m going to study my scriptures every night." Then night would come around and I would be exhausted and tell myself, "It’s ok if you just recite Nephi 3:7 in your head and that’s good enough…" Satan knew exactly how to work me--because I wasn’t doing something horrible I felt justified. But now I know better. Every time I get that urge to become lax in obedience I think of the scripture, "If you love me keep my commandments." I want nothing more than for my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ to know that I love them. I do love them so much. But my words are not enough. I need to show them each and every day of my life! I loved mission tour!

(Also during the mission tour they had 4 missionaries (me) come to the front and Elder Funk wanted to read our planners. Most stressful moment of my life! Good thing I love planning and making my planner look cute and complete! All the missionary got updated, really nice new phones. They are so complicated.)

The past couple weeks we have been teaching this cute little khun yai named Daw. She is the one that was Chaluies friend. She is a curious one and loves hearing us share scriptures about how she can become forgiven. Her life situation is a little difficult right now. She has completely stopped drinking coffee and she always says, "It’s a miracle, it’s a miracle!" She and her cute crippled husband are poor มาก. Her date to get baptized was set for Sunday the 18th. But you can’t have a baptism without Satan intervening. She had to pay the bill for her bathroom size house on that Sunday and she was planning on going to a different area of Thailand to get the money. We both had a strong impressing this was all Satan’s doing. We had a good powerful lesson on using our faith. We explained to her that the witness doesn’t come until after the trial. We read 3 Nephi 12: 31-33 telling her that God knows what she needs and if she would just do what he wants first he will help and guide her. After this lesson she said, "Ok...decision made. I’m getting baptized tomorrow." I walked into church at 8:15am and there she was sitting in the chapel with her friend Chaluie, the only two in the chapel. I felt like I was in a movie. Seeing two 75 year old women sitting a chapel completely silent ready to be born again. It was a sweet tender moment for me as I remembered the road that a less active Chaluie and I took to her present strong faith and her friend getting baptized. AHHHH, the church is true!

I could go on and on about the amazing things that have happened this past week but I’m out of time. God is good!! Have a great week, love you all!!

- Sister Herrmann

PS If any of you have time, watch the “12 steps to change” videos. I watched them for companion study and they are very inspiring...just goes to show that through Jesus Christ anything is possible. After watching them I was talking to my companion about her life before she joined the church. She told me about her drug addiction and how her life has totally changed since surrendering everything to God. It is true, with God anything is possible!

PSS This week, I got to cut down some more trees. Haha. I didn’t know I was going to be cutting down trees so I was still in a skirt which was a REALLY bad idea...I now have over 20 red ant bites on my legs.

PSSS Two of our cute investigators are muay thai fighters, which is like thai fighting/boxing. They are fifteen year old girls. Awesome.

PSSSS Brother Bow called us on Monday EXTREMELY happy. Apparently he interviewed for a new job that is off on Saturday and Sunday! He will know next week if he got it!

PSSSSS We have been teaching Pat a lot this week and I think she finally is starting to understand! Her tiny seed of faith is now a bush!! Seeing someone’s faith grow is the best feeling in the world. Last night we ate dinner at her house and I was about to leave and she said, "Sister! WE NEED TO PRAY!!" I was so proud of her!

PSSSSSS Throughout church Fara and Skii were making mustaches out of my hair... as long as it keeps them quiet!

October 13, 2015

10/12/15 - Feeling the spirit while scrubbing clothes

I AM A REPRESENTATIVE OF JESUS CHRIST AND I LOVE IT! This is what I sang all the way home on my bike yesterday after watching general conference! It was SO amazing! I received so many answers and more importantly felt that fire to live the gospel 100% as the Lord wants me to!!

After teaching a bunch of members and investigators who had a whole bunch of problems and extremely sad lives, I came home and said a personal prayer and just burst into tears wondering why it is that I was born into the church in such favorable circumstances? Why is it that these people who I have come to love so much are the ones struggling day to day just to have food to feed their children, praying that the rain won't come and flood their homes and ruin the very few things that they own, giving all they have to just simply live? As I was sitting there a mental picture from our teaching a member who is less active came into my head. Her house is a hut...less than that, I would call it some sticks and mud. She doesn't have a toilet or sink and basically lives like she is camping. She goes out and sells everyday making hardly nothing. She is sick all the time because of her living conditions and every time we go teach her at her house we see the burdens behind her smile. We quickly start teaching and a true smile of hope replaces that of burden. So there we sit with half of us outside and half of us inside her house afraid that it will break and fall down. Meanwhile we have smiles on our faces talking about our Savior, Jesus Christ. And I realize that the gospel does the same thing for her as it does for me. The best or the worst conditions don’t really matter, the gospel can make up for any condition. God has really helped me see that you can be happy in ANY situation if you are truly converted and sincerely living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One thing that I love about going to Sister Shampoo’s home is that we get to live like jungle women for a little while. She lets us get the coconuts down from the tree (almost killed myself as one dropped so close to my head!) and then we cut them open and eat straight out of it. We were also able to teach her mother. At first she told us that she was busy and that we couldn't come in. We saw that she was on the ground scrubbing her clothes. I asked if we could at least help and she said no like most Thai people do, but then I used the good old excuse that I am American and really wanted to learn how to do laundry by hand…we were in!! As we sat there we got a chance to bear witness of Jesus Christ. She wouldn't give us her # or commit to church but I know that she felt the Spirit as were sitting there scrubbing her clothes. One day she will open her heart!

I love these people so much and see their potential. If they would just take that leap of faith and keep the commandments, Heavenly Father will take care of them. When people don't understand this it makes me so sad and then frustrated. The only way I could think to improve was to use the example of Jesus Christ. Every time I felt like I was getting frustrated with an investigator, I would ask myself, "If Christ were in this situation what would he do?" By doing this I really grasped the reason why part of our baptismal covenant is to always remember him. When we remember Christ and think about what he would do in every situation we do the things which are essential to our progression. I still have a LONG way to go but I feel like I have learned a way to be more loving, patient, and full of service--it is simply living our baptismal covenant!

So after the difficulties of cancelled appointments, broken commandments, etc., I started to feel tired and like no one was listening. Then on Wednesday I talked to Sister Miw. She shared the experience of her conversion. She went through all the times that she decided to keep the commandments 100% and then told me all the blessings that came from her efforts. For example, she went to church for all 3 hours one Sunday instead of just one and that day something amazing with her finances happened! (I didn't catch it all but I knew it was something good! haha!) After she decided to keep the commandment of not drinking coffee she said, "I don't know sister…it just wasn't hard to not drink it!" She went on and on about the blessings that she received from keeping the commandments. But the last thing she said was, "Overall, when I keep the commandments, I have extra energy to everything I need to in a day and I know that energy comes from Christ." Moments like that motivate me to never stop testifying of the power and blessings that come from keeping the commandments! Being tired of saying the same things over and over again, or feeling like I am wasting my breathe will NOT stop me--because this woman who laughed at the thought of there being a savior has a brand new glorious life where she now sees the light and her burdens are literally lifted off her shoulders!

Fun facts about this week:
--I tried on normal pants for the first time in 17 months this past week--bad idea--remember that everyone here is Asian and tiny. Oh well!

--We have been getting up at 6AM to play soccer with the Elders and members recently. It has been so much fun! The field we play on is just straight up dirt. I felt like I was in the video game FIFA the other day--on the dirt soccer field, in the jungle with a bunch of Thai people, AND in the pouring rain! SWEET!

--101 things I have learned from experience NOT do in Thailand, don't stand with your hands on your hips, don't step over ANYONE, don't touch anyone's head, don't do ANYTHING with your feet...

--My two favorite investigators of the Elders got baptized this Sunday!!They come to the Church every day because they want to learn and serve. It has been fun helping the Elders teach them and seeing them change.

Have a great week everyone!! We are going to a waterfall or a flower thing for p-day, I am not sure but we are off for an adventure in Thailand! LOVE YOU ALL! "We do not have to be perfect, but we need to be good and getting better", keep trying every day to be more and more like our savior!

- Sister Herrmann
Sister Nethercott and I went on a switch off and visited Shampoo! 
I love riding Duk Duks!
Washing Clothes
Sister Nikki! She painted my nails!

October 6, 2015

10/5/15 - Last Transfer! WHAT?!

This past week was transfers and I cannot believe I am on my last transfer! Time has gone too fast! Sister Jo was moving so we spent most the week cleaning, packing, saying goodbye. Monday was both her birthday and P-day so we rode some elephants through rivers, went to some waterfalls and got really lost in the forest in the pouring rain. I felt like I was on Survivor or Man vs. Wild. Transfer meeting was so much fun as I love going and seeing all my friends! These friends I have made throughout my mission will be my friends forever. I will miss Sister Jo and my new companion is Sister Nittya! She is 25 years old and a member of 2 years from Sisaket, Thailand and very sweet! That was my first area when I first got to Thailand.

We got back to our area on Friday and started working hard right away! We visited almost 20 houses that day, including a lot of the RC's who were baptized last transfer. We are going to work really hard on keeping these 9 who were baptized last transfer really strong! I have LOVED seeing their faith grow. They have completely changed, even the children. Speaking of children, on Sunday I was sitting in between First, Luugii, Kanun, Fara and Skii, I felt like such a mom, leaning over every couple minutes telling them to be quiet. At church I felt an overwhelming peace come over me as I looked out at who was in the congregation. Seven of the LA's that we have been working with were at church and 4 of them received new callings! Also every single person who was baptized last transfer was there. It was just such a tender mercy to see all these people trying to keep their commitment to Him.

It has been stressful these past couple days trying to find new people to teach but in those hard moments God was always there to perform a miracle and lift us. Saturday almost all of our investigators who were promising said they were too busy with life to learn. We decided to go visit some LA's. I had a feeling to go visit Sister Chaluie. When we got to her house I called her and before I could say anything, she said, "Sister, can you come see me?" She said she was back in the city so we went back to the city to find her. We found her in this little dump yard sitting on a stool with her old friend. This friend wanted us to teach her which was so amazing!!! An LA that we have been working with and helping come back to church felt Lehi's desire to share the gospel!! This little miracle really lifted our spirits. It was just another testimony to me that God will never leave us alone without out sending help, love and comfort—when we ask for it. And then we taught her the plan of salvation. I have taught the plan of salvation a 1000 times on my mission but this time while I was testifying to these 2 women, whose family lives are literally falling apart piece by piece, I felt different. Like I was helping put the pieces back together by simply stating what I know to be true!!! I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation! I know without a doubt in my heart that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to come atone for our sins so that we can be with him and our families together forever! I know that these 2 woman, who have lost children and grandchildren and husbands will see their loved ones again. Because I know this I feel SO much stronger and passionate about sharing this gospel. Giving people the hope they need and CAN have. Warning people of what they need to do. It is so important. "O how great the plan of our God! And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day. And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God."
So the house we live in now has major problems and is so gross. It is one of the worst in the mission! Lots of bugs, mold, holes in the ceiling and floors etc. On the upside it is much nicer than most of the Thai people’s homes!! The other day the shower broke, (my companion showers like a Thai person and uses the bucket of water) but…I just can't do that! So as I was trying to fix the shower 10-15 HUGE bugs that happen to be poisonous came out of the floor. At this point I decided to just call someone to come fix it! My companion was just sitting there laughing at me! Ahhh, good times in the Bangkok Thailand mission.

During the transfer meeting, I really LOVED Sister Johnson’s message about happiness. This is one of my favorite topics! We have every reason to be happy! If we are going through trials we should be happy that we are learning something and getting an opportunity to rely on God. When good things come into our lives we should be happy that God is so merciful to us and gives us blessings! There is no reason to not be happy!! "As you seek to be happy, remember that the only way to real happiness is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will find peace and eternal happiness as you strive to keep the commandments." So my advice to all my family and friends is to keep the commandments and BE HAPPPPY!

Have a good week! LOVE YOU ALL I’m excited to watch conference!
- Sister Herrmann

Our P-day was awesome! Elephant riding! 
The rain is ridiculous here! It POURS!
My obsession with cats and ice cream is real!
Staying in Bangkok with Sister Brown and Nethercott- and we got locked out! 
Showed up to transfer meeting wearing the same dress as Sister Alley
My new companion, Sister Nittya.
I love sister Kwan!
Giving Fara and Skii their new Book of Mormon and baptism picture
Making my favorite Thai snack at Sister Pat's hair salon.