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 and...do 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