Monday, November 21, 2011

O Happy Day

Happy Thanksgiving

In lieu of Thanksgiving, I am going to count some of my many blessings (and you can do it, too. It's like aloe vera/advil/midol/benadryl/windex....a solution for any woe or sadness or ill-will or heavy heart):-

Sister Maliwan (she got baptized back in September, the day after we got out of the hospital) has a daughter named Nooy who is really shy and scared of people and quiet. Usually when we visit Sister Maliwan, Nooy stays as far away as possible, so we just kind of let her do her thing and smile at her when she makes occasional eye contact (before the hiding).

Anyway, this week we felt like we should make an effort to go to the home just for her, and teach her. It took a few minutes and a few tries and coaxing...and she still didn't really budge, she was hand-washing laundry like a champ. So I pulled out a hymnbook and we started singing to her:). And she smiled and eventually came in. Since then, wonderful things have happened. She is so excited to see us when we come (though she doesn't say too much), and she came to church (!!!!!!) which was a pleasant surprise to us (actually, I was ecstatic, but I couldn't show it because I was playing the opening hymn when I glanced to the audience and saw her hiding behind a hymnbook...but she smiled when she saw me looking at her), and she's let us teach her every day since, and ....the best one....she read a scripture, just one, about Jesus and we could tell she felt so happy that she could read it outloud to us. I'm not sure how much of it she understood, but I know she felt the Spirit and she is thinking about Jesus Christ and hopefully realizing how much He loves her:). I love her so much and am sooo grateful for her. And the way the Spirit and music and the Book of Mormon make miracles happen:).-

A wonderful girl named NamKang got baptized yesterday. Her parents got baptized almost a year ago and have been praying so hard for her to be willing to learn about the gospel and accept it as well. She was living in Bangkok and when the floods hit, she came up to Roi-et (one benefit of the flooding...) and had an open heart:). It was so wonderful and fun to see her family all complete and baptized...and saving money to go the temple!! -We are doing companionship exchanges this week and I get to regroup with Sister Carper, my companion from the MTC. I'm really excited to see her and learn with her! I get to show her around Roi-et, which is the coolest, most colorful, and quaintest (in a Thai way) city ever. -I ate a fish this week. Like a small skinny little fish that was fried...without breading though so you could still see the bones and eyes and scales. I couldn't believe it. Haha.-I realized again this morning that I can benefit from the things I am teaching also. I often tell people that Heavenly Father listens when we pray and that He wants us to pray to Him. And I teach about the Savior a lot, and how He can forgive our sins and lift our burdens. But sometimes I forget that that's true for me, too, not just for the wonderful people I get to teach. Heavenly Father wants to help me, too:). And I'm grateful, so grateful for this experience; I am finding new meaning to Zenos' parable of the olive-tree; "And it came to pass that he pruned it and digged about it and nourished it according to his word" (Jacob 5:5). Sometimes the "pruning" and "digging" hurts and stings. But I know with all my heart and soul and heart that it's always followed by "nourishing" and healing and love from Heavenly Father and the Savior.

Jamie, thank you for the sweet sweet card. I read it over and over again. You are such a great example to me. For everyone else's benefit, I'm going to quote a little bit of it:). Hope that's okay. "The eternal nature of bringing souls to Christ is so much more meaningful and powerful than anything. There is no better, safer, happier place than serving the Lord 24/7."

Thank you all for your love and support and confidence in me. I don't deserve it, but I promise I am trying my hardest every day to serve Heavenly Father with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.

Love love love you all!
Sister Roper

Ooops forgot to send it last week :)

Well family and friends.

This week was colorful and fun and Thai! I feel like I'm becoming a khon Thai through and through (well, at least as close as I can get with pink cheeks and blonde hair), and I am sooo grateful:).
Here's an outline:
1. Loy Gratone
2. Giaw-ing Khaw (Harvesting rice, for reals, I did it)
3. Fish. I ate it....oh my be excited.
4. Patooooons.

1. Okay so there is a Buddhist holiday that, from the outsides, is pretty cool-looking, and from the inside (like the meaning behind it) is pretty ...hmmm-ish. It's called Loy Gratone and people make floating flower arrangements with a candle in the middle, light them, and float them on rivers or lakes or some other accessible body of water. It when they light and release, it represents a remission of sins....not exactly how it works, but still pretty cool to see. People get super dressed up and schools teach their students songs and dances and they perform at the Beng, or this beautiful, huge park in the middle of Roi-et. And they also light those floating lantern things like on "Tangled"! They're real! I thought they were just a Disney fantasy, but you really can light a fire in the middle of paper and it will float away to Neverneverland!! So cool and pretty and cultural.

2.We just got back from harvesting rice! We drove out to a member's field, wore scarves and big hats, got a 26 second training on how to use sickles (kiaws) and then went to work! So fun and hot and scratchy and fun. I kept thinking of Doctrine and Covenants Section 4: "For the field is white, all ready to harvest":) which I finally got all memorized in Thai last week. It was fun doing physical harvesting, instead of just spiritual (though, as fun as it was, spiritual still wins).

3. Yes. It's true. And twice! Sister Itow's birthday was last week so two member families took us out to eat at really elegant restaurants...and they said I didn't like fish because I hadn't tried THIS kind (I've heard that before haha but I still gave it shot). So yes! I've eaten fish. And guess what...I liked it. Surprise surprise surprise. (It really is surprising).

4. Older Thai women wrap big pieces of fabric called "patoons" around their waists when they're cleaning or doing housework. But the fabric is pretty so Sister Itow and I both wanted to buy and wear them as to church and stuff. So we did! And the members loved it and our neighbors laughed. We heard everything from, "You can only get away with that because you're farangs!" to "You are leaders of fashion." Haha. So hopefully it's somewhere in the middle.

We had zone conference yesterday and Elder Gong, a member of the 70 came to speak. It was really wonderful and motivating. I love President and Sister Smith so much. Their love for Thailand is so solid and real and tangible and contagious. I got to do the musical number (thanks for your help sisters!! and Natalie!), and I played a piano arrangement of "Our Savior's Love." It was nice:) and I was grateful to have the chance to play. We traveled to a city called Udon and stayed in a really nice hotel....I felt wayyy too pampered when I saw that the shower was seperate from the toilet (in our house, they're in the same room, or closet, or small compartment....or whatever you want to call it) and when I took a shower that stayed hot the whole time...and last but not least...when our room had carpet in it! The most special part of my week, though (despite all the excitement...and a hot shower) was when a beautiful girl named NamKhang received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. She'd been reading and praying and reading and praying but still wasn't sure. We promised her lots that she would know it was true when she continued to pray and read and have real intent and faith that Heavenly Father would answer her prayer. I prayed so hard, like every part of my soul, like I was tired after praying, that she would receive an answer that she could recognize. And like they always do, her answer came:). And we could tell as soon as we walked into the room that day. She was lighter and her face was beaming and she couldn't wait to learn more and share her testimony. I loooove watching people's testimony grow...You can always tell it's there and that it's growing when they want to share it, simply, sincerely, and powerfully. The Book of Mormon is so true. And it changes lives more than anything or anyone or anyanything else can. I love the Book of Mormon. I trust it more than anything else I can touch with my hands.

And as always, I love love love all of you!

Until next week:)Sister Roper

Monday, November 14, 2011

Even More Pics

they say a picture is worth a thousand words right? Well this is all we got this week so enjoy :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tut Tut looks likes lizards...

Family and friends who I love love so much!!! I hope all is well and that this Halloween is the happiest:).

Okayyyy.....subject line, for starters: We're sitting on a patio teaching about how the gospel blessed families, and then out of now where we heard a shuffle on the tin roof above our heads and before we knew it, two lizards fell from the ceiling....onto Sister Itow's head, then lap, then feet:). So moral of the story is that Thailand rains things other than...rain.Sing got baptized yesterday:). He's the man who drives the Sam Law and who is missing a tooth and who couldn't read very well until he started reading the Book of Mormon and he got it three weeks ago and is already through Mosiah and loves reading it because of all the happiness and love he feels. Yep, I'd say the Book is pretty consistent about bringing those feelings:). Anyway. In a manner of days, he gave up drinking whiskey every night, smoking, coffee, tea, a few girlfriends (even though he has a wife in Bangkok and two kids), and working 7 days a week...oh yes, and Buddha. It was so cool. It's like Heavenly Father gave me tickets to a really good show.. and I just got to watch it and love it and feel sooo humbled and grateful for it.

So Sing loves sharing the gospel. He's made drastic changes to his life since accepting to learn about the gospel..and then accepting to accept it. He's brought us to lots of his friends to teach and it's soo fun. So we had just begun teaching a few of them last week, a mom, son, and daughter on their patio, and Sing rolls up with a Sam Law (3 wheeled open air taxi thing that he drives for employment) full of more people--three khon thais and one farang (foreigner). When I counted heads, at first I was really excited. But as they got out and approached us, I started getting pretty nervous and uneasy-feeling. I was hoping they'd just politely pull up chairs and listen, but instead the farang stepped onto the patio kinda boisterously and said, "Mormon?" I paused, turned my attention away from this family and to him, and said, "Yes." "Speak English, do ya?" said the man."Yes. And you do too, apparently.""And you're Mormon? You here to talk about Jesus? That's good. But if you're here to talk about Joseph Smith? That's not good. You don't try to teach anyone here about Joseph Smith. That stuff's not good. He's not good." He was pompous and tall and thought he was the...something....But I didn't haha....

I guess in my head I reached a crossroad, with three options (is that possible in a crossroad?). One- I could smile and slacken my posture and turn the time over to my trainer because I trust her and I'm still new at Thai and being a missionary and that would just be easier. But I was sitting closest in proximity to him and since I'd been speaking the moment he approached, he addressed his comments toward me. Plus....I already felt pretty itchy toward him and it's hard for me to feel itchy without doing something about the naturally option one was out.

Two-I could let the fear slash anger he was trying to plant in my heart fill up the rest of my body-including my face-and say something snide back to him. But I knew this fear would show and the investigators (who--THANK GOODNESS--didn't understand English) would know I was concerned and then this man would be in control of the situation and the Spirit might leave. or three. I what eventually happened...I remembered somewhere in the 2.1 seconds that I was a representative of Christ, that there is power and strentgh and truth and safety in that calling. I remembered Whose side I was on, and that I already knew the end result:).So I decided to make it seem like he was saying good things and that I was happy to make his acquaintance (thought both were far from the truth...oops) because, unfortunately for this man, no one but Sister Itow and I could understand what he was saying. So the only indicator of what he was saying was our response...I smiled and him, pretty big, and said, "Oh! Great. What is your name?" I don't remember it...but he answered willingly and tried to spit out more fire. Then I asked him, with a smile mind you, where he was from."Holland..... And you can speak about Jesus all you want but khon thais shouldn't know anything about Joseph Smith...." But before he could finish (oops again) I asked, and the answer to this question was the best thing I heard all day. " you understand Thai?"".....No."

Then I smiled even bigger but this smile was sincere haha. "Okay. Well we are in the middle of a lesson, and I am now going to proceed with it. So do your best to understand, okay? Okay. Great." He kinda kept talking, trying to prevent us from teaching. But I just faced the fam again and kept going. The Spirit stayed and the lesson ended up being a peaceful one. It was so rad though because I learned just so clearly how much Satan wants to thwart everything I am doing, everything we are doing as missionaries....but also how weak he is. And how wonderful and victorious Heavenly Father is. This man crawled away like a little cockroach after 5-6 minutes (after saying coldly, "I'll be back to clear this up with you.") I think the Spirit just made it clear that he was very unwelcome. Say a prayer for him! (And a prayer of thanks that he can't speak Thai:).

It was awesome.Okay....things are great. You are all all so great and I love you all, I'm sure of it.

Love, Sister Roper