Friday, January 27, 2012

A new AREA!!

Oh my. I want to read all the emails SOOO much but I gotta focus and write this one first because SOOOO much went down this week.

Remember how I expected Sister Maxwell to move and train? News flash. So we get the call Tuesday and her face goes blank and she looks pretty surprised and when she hangs up she says, "You're moving." And I was sooo shocked bc I totally expected to stay in Roiet. And wanted to a little bc I love it and love the people we are teaching and wanted to be there for their baptisms. But alas. President Smith (and Heavenly Father) had a different idea. So we went down to Bangkok for transfers on Wednesday night, got there Thursday at 5 am. And then road a tuk-tuk on the freeway- oh my goodness. I looked like a crazy after that ride.

Then, in transfers meeting, when President called my name, I stood up, having no idea (and I'm not into the guessing game that some people get obsessive over, lol Itow) where I was going to go....So when he said, "White washing Bangnaa with Sister Monterrosa" my jaw dropped to the floor and I really couldn't believe it:). Haha so great. S. Monterrosa and I were in the MTC together so we both have the same amount of experience, which has been an adventure so far since we don't have an older, better Thai-speaker to lean on anymore. But it's been great. I totallly loved her in the MTC and I still do. She's from Orem, UT, but her parents are from El Salvador and Guatemala (so of course that is another thing I love about her). She's quiet, but sassy and hardworking and funny and adventurous and the best part about her is that her testimony is soooo strong. I learn from her every day. She's been reading and loving the Book of Mormon since she was 6 years old (her parents did an amazing job of raising her and all their kids) so it makes working, teaching, talking, studying, teaching, working, walking, talking, listening, reading, and learning from her such an uplifting, spiritual experience each time. I feel so grateful to have had wonderful companions, each and every one.

Yesterday we were riding our bikes through busy, taxi filled, hot burning, dog-roamed, Thai food aroma-filled, apartments and condos with plants and flowers all over the fronts, hot streets, and we passed this lady putting up her laundry and I was like, "Aah man she looks nice I want to talk to her," but I kept riding because we were on our way somewhere already, but from behind me I hear her slam on her breaks and say, "All right let's do it then.":) It was sweet. So we did! The lady turned out to be very busy and not entirely interested, but we honestly both left smiling and grateful for the chance to represent Jesus Christ and talk about Him for a second. Sometimes it's hard to pass so many people on the street just that...pass them. I want to park my bike and just stop and talk to all of them. Listen to them and ask them questions and bear my testimony of the beautiful gospel message and try my hardest to help them have a spiritual experience. I wish there were more hours in the day. Any chance we get to talk, in taxis, or to our receptionist, or drivers, or whomever...we're always soooo grateful:) because free time to go contacting/inviting doesn't come often, as much as I love it.

So my email subject: This is what Sister Maxwell, whom I looooooove and who goes to U of A and I have her sworn to slay anyone who tries to date Beth when she gets back in June, says to me in transfers meeting when President assigned me to Bangnaa. Then I remembered what my trainer whom I love and miss and love with all my heart Sister Itow said about it: "Seriously, Sister Roper. Oh my gosh. They have a sweet work out room and this nice golf cart that takes them around places and an oven and a wash machine that's inside instead of on the front porch." I'll just add to it: the showers have water pressure. Truth. And if you want it hot you can choose it to be hot. But if you are hot and want a cold one on purpose, you can have it be cold. But if you get cold in that cold shower and want it hot, or want a mix of hot and cold, like a nice warm, you can pick that too. I'm living in luxury haha. Such a difference from Roiet (which I looooved, you know) which we got lucky if the water was even working and we didn't have to take a bucket shower. And if that shower was warm, oh that was gonna be a good day. Haha jk that only really happened like half the time, but still.

So it's true, though. The apt in Bangnaa is so nice and I don't deserve it. Sister Maxwell and I kinda joke that we died and went to heaven. Everyone here is so nice and I can't wait to teach them all (we taught the receptionist last night and it was sooo fun!) and if we want to go to the church or grocery shopping or to get a taxi, they drive us to it in the fancy golf cart. That's free! Haha I really just can't believe it still. It's definitely something I never expected.

But the best part of Bangnaa is that there is soo much work to do. We're white washing so neither of us are familiar with the area or people or ward or members. So we have lots of people to call and meet with and teach and uplift. It's so fun already. And so busy. I chastised myself for not writing in my journal the last four days, and I didn't unpack until this morning, even though we moved in on Thursday. Church yesterday was great. Lots of old old members, as in they've been members longer than I've been alive, which is hard to come by in Thailand. It's a ward, but much smaller than the branch in Roiet. I think there have been some sticky circumstances with missionaries in the past, so they are a little apprehensive, but still loving, and willing to meet with us and talk to us and I can see a few of them softening already. We need lots of help, with Thai, with the area, with teaching, so I think they might feel a little sorry for us. But we'll take it!

So a scripture I've always loved is...any scripture that talks about being "instruments in Heavenly Father's hands." It's what I want to be most in life, and what I'm trying my hardest to be as a missionary, and more than that, just as a person (because as much as I can't imagine life continuing after I leave here, it probably will). So in Mosiah 23, Alma told me how to become an instrument. And I love it. And want to share it with you. He says that we must sorely repent, like sincerely look for things we need to repent of, not just repent when we do something really bad or when we randomly remember, but to actually be looking. Then he prayed mightily and had faith Heavenly Father would answer. And then, the best thing: "After much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has MADE me an instrument in his hands." We do all we can, but in the end it is still ultimately the Lord who MAKES us instruments, through trials, tribulation, answering prayers, giving us guidance and showing us love. I want to live my life so I am worthy to have Him MAKE me an instrument. Right now I don't feel like I'm having much tribulation: I just feel so happy and lucky and blessed and grateful to be in a wonderful place. I loved Bangnaa as soon as I got here, I don't even know why. I love my companion. I love the old man who drives us to the church named Nichay. I love the ward some of whom don't like me yet (but they will, don't worry). I love the heat. I love the busy busy busy-ness. And as always, I love the gospel and I love wearing this black tag and I love being able to serve Heavenly Father. It's the nitty and gritty right now, white washing, and I've never been happier. I'm so blessed!

Okay I love you all so much!!!Sister Roper

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jan 15th

"STOP KILLING WHALE"I'm pretty sure it should be "whales"....but I still saw it on a shirt yesterday hahaha. English translations are sometimes HILARIOUS. Like on birthday cards I see stuff like: "May your live be full with happiness, health that is good, success in all you do, and love for every time." Sensical? Not sure, either haha.Hello!!!! Another fabulous week. We're heading down to Bangkok for transfer meeting on Wed-Thurs. We'll see what happens, but I'm expecting to stay in Roiet with Sister King. Sister Maxwell will probably open a new area and train. She totally rocks and I will miss her. All of the sudden I get along with people who are stubborn and red like me...Weird:)

Oh my goodness okay so little time…

My first favorite part of last week: I did a “gratitude fast” (totally recommend it, it’s super cleansing and powerful and awesome and you realize how many blessings you have) and in the midst of the fast had a sad experience that would have been disappointing but it wasn’t because…okay I will just tell it. That will be easier.

So a family we’re teaching, (Deek and Somsak), who I love and have prayed and studied and thought a lot about, told us honestly why they can’t ever accept Christ as their Savior and forsake Buddhism. They gave us lots of reasons that honestly made lots of sense in the brain area but none in the heart area. And despite as hard we tried or as strong as the Spirit had been at times, they still aren’t ready to accept and live by the truth. I almost cried and I don’t cry that often. And as we were leaving their home, I realized (so remember this is during the fast) how grateful I was for that experience. To represent and testify of Jesus Christ despite the slightly hostile environment. It was an interesting experience, to leave something that WAS disappointing and could have been discouraging, but rather being filled with gratitude for the opportunity to at least try, and to invite others to taste the sweetest and purest thing this life has to offer.

“Blessed be the name of our God; let us SING to His praise; yea, let us give thanks to his holy name; for He doth work righteousness forever” (Alma 26:8). So true. I’m so grateful for this gospel and my Savior. And that I can represent Him and serve Him. We are sooo lucky!!!

I love you all!

Sister Roper

Monday, January 9, 2012

There is such a thing as Needing to Singing Tone Deaf

Yes. It's true. I thought I'd never see the day.So music invites the Spirit better than most things can. So we sing before almost every lesson we teach. This week I was switching off with a member (so Sister King and Sister Maxwell could teach another lesson at the same time), and we chose to sing, "Praise to the Man." And it only took a line or so for me to realize that this member (who is wonderful and so faithful and helpful...and a little tone deaf:) was getting a little of course the music brat in me tried to steady (and sharpen) her pitch a little by sticking to the correct key....But she just kept going, I swallowed my pride and thought, "Either I sing the right key and on pitch, and we have "Praise to the Man in the key of D AND D flat simultaneously, or I try to match her pitch and at least we'll be singin' in unison." So I chose the latter so at least we wouldn't be singing lots of disharmonized (unharmonized?) notes lol. "Praise to the Man" spanned probably like 6 keys in the course of 3 verses. Awesome:). I NEVER thought I'd sing tone deaf ON PURPOSE. But alas, the day has come. Totally worth it. And yes it still brought the Spirit:).T

his week I realized another reason I lovvvve being a missionary: because I have the privilege and responsibility and opportunity to talk to ANYONE and EVERYONE about the gospel. It's so refreshing to be a full time representative of the Savior. We had another Nok-like experience, where we started teaching a family who at first was pretty sassy and tried to get rid of us, but it was weird, I just had this drive in the center of my soul that we still needed to teach them and try hard. I LOOOVE doing that: convincing people that this message is worth listening to, and then having a spiritual experience with them so they know it's worth for themselves. Teaching them (Deek and Somsak) was soo awesome. It felt so familiar, like the message and just them. And when we left I felt so high in the clouds, just soooo filled with joy. Something I never could have experienced without serving a mission. I'm so grateful to be here. Heavenly Father blesses us sooo much every day.

"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." He is so powerful and so full of love. I'm so grateful I can be on His side and do His work. I love you all!Love, Sister Roper

Another Baptism!

Buugii 's Baptism

A few months ago there were a bunch of high school kids playing basketball at the church's outside court. They came every day for a few days. Usually we don't target high school kids or younger, but I decided to anyway. Sister Itow and I went over and said, "So if you're gonna play basketball here, then you also have to let us share a message with you." So they smiled and accepted. Oh my goodness. We've been teaching a few of them ever since and we've experience a few of the most spirit-filled lessons together. Last week the first on of the group got baptized. Her name is Buugii and she is so wonderful and strong. She prayed and asked if she could get baptized and then told Heavenly Father she was going to open the Book of Mormon and find her answer, and she opened right up to a scripture that talks about the Book of Mormon....not even on purpose (well ON HER purpose at least). From that she concluded that the Book of Mormon must be the word of God. And that Joseph Smith must be a prophet. And that this church is Christ's true church:). And then she couldn't wait to get baptized, her answer was so clear and strong. This last week we've been talking lots about missions and she already wants to serve one:). Her best friend, Waan, came to the same answer last week also. OH MY GOODNESS. THE BEST PART OF A MISSION is seeing and feeling the Spirit confirm to someone that the gospel is true. It's amazing and so amazingly powerful. Better than anything I've ever felt. So much joy and burning in the bossom. I feel like my whole body is on fire in those moments. And moments like those make all the other moments (the heavy, hard ones) totally totally entirely worth it.

Jan 1, 2012

Remember how Sister Itow, my wonderful trainer who recently retired, said that there is a reason people live close to the church? It's still true:). There is a neighborhood behind the church that is pretty out of view and not highly frequented. But a faithful member from the Roiet Branch who wants everyone in Roiet to know the happiness that comes from the gospel walked us back there a few months ago....and now we are privileged to teach one of the sweetest women I've ever met. She's old, and so so small, and her name is Bye, and she is deaf:). It's a pretty interesting experience because we don't really speak sign language, or Thai sign language, or her family's own dialect of sign language, but through the Spirit, we've found lots of ways to communicate with her and gauge her understanding. President Smith said that the "language of the Spirit is more powerful and pure than any other." And it's so true. Sometimes she will just be sooo excited after we explain something, or sometimes she'll make it clear to us that this is familiar, like she's dreamt about it previously or something like that. Like every time we show her a picture of Joseph Smith:) and Jesus Christ. She just seems to know some things, like they are familiar from before this life, when she could hear and talk and when she knew the pure truths of the gospel perfectly. And when we make those little connections and the Spirit is so strong and confirms to us that she is understanding, it's the best feeling ever! So so fun. It is the best example I can think of of how we all already know the Savior and Heavenly Father and the way to get back to Them, we just need some reminding. And as missionaries, we are full time servants and teachers and missionaries, but also full time "reminders." I love it:). Bye is sooo sweet and it's such a pleasure teaching someone so pure and close to the Spirit

Such a great week...a tricky one...but a great one. Gallevanting around Roiet with Sister Itow, I heard people say "farang!!! farang!!!" pretty often. But Sister Itow was pretty brown so she blended in and we weren't too much of an irregular sight with only one blonde. But with three blonde's together now, whooo, we're a sight. We stick out pretty good:). Hahaha I feel tall compared to Thais and so short compared to Sister King and Sister Maxwell, who are both close to 6 feet. I still love being in a threesome. This week more than ever I've tasted how rewarding it is to work with people who haven't been to church for a long time. I miss them even though I don't know them! Because I know how much Heavenly Father misses them. Please show love to all of the less active members in your wards. Please please please! Find them, visit them, befriend them, bear testimony to them, invite them. I can't wait to do this for the rest of my life! I hope the New Year celebration was safe and fun and bright and happy for all of you:). Happy New Year! Today I have a scripture that rooooocks to share that makes me feel sooo privileged to be able to access Heavenly Father through prayer: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels (isn't that funny? earthen vessels? I told my comps I feel like an elf in Lord of the Rings or something when I refer to myself as an earthen vessel) that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7. And "Yea in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against [whatever our human or personal or spiritual enemy may be]; for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that He would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies" (Mosiah 10:16). Man, if left on my own, I'd totally be conquered. I'm so grateful we have this treasure in earthen vessels to ask Heavenly Father for help in any and all things. We're so blessed:). I'm so blessed to be His full-time reminder. I love it!
And as you may have guessed but I will tell you anyway,
I love all of you:)
Happy 2012,
Sister Roper