Happy Fourth of July!!! Can't even explain how grateful I am to be an American. I feel so lucky to be born in a country with religious freedom and rights. Especially to have grown up in good old Idahome. No matter what anyone else says, I think it is one of the greatest places in the world. It's a hidden gem, that's why it's called the Treasure Valley. So we celebrated one of my favorite days of the year with another Zone Conference, which happened to be my last one. That was really bittersweet. It was so perfect though because we talked about obedience and the great importance of being obedient to the commandments of the Lord. You have no idea how many times I've been told that "I can't keep those commandments because they're just too hard and I like to have freedom." I've thought about that a lot. I remember one of my companions telling me out of the blue that there is no freedom in having no direction in life. Commandments are what keep us free from sin, which puts us in bondage. I always pictured Heavenly Father as the big man upstairs that just gave us commandments and told us what to do just for the heck of it. When we understand our God, our Heavenly Father, we understand that He literally is our father. When our parents give us rules, is it because they hate us and want to make our lives miserable? I used to think that, but no! It's because they love us and they want us to be happy. They know that with no direction in life, us kids would just run around doing whatever we want, making mistakes and doing things that will not ultimately make us happy. I understand God so much more. He's our Father. And He loves us. He wants more than anything for us to return to Him. So He gives us guidelines and direction. And these laws are just and trustworthy. So we're not sitting in the mist of darkness, not knowing what to do. We know our end goal and we know how to get there. It's all in the plan, and this plan was all thought out so well. And sometimes what we think will make us happy, in the end will not. That's why we trust in the Lord and know that He knows the bigger picture. I know that when I'm following Him, I will never be led astray. We can count on that! Remember that, there is no freedom in having no direction in life.
Cool story: This last week a guy from Iran showed up looking for the church here in Thailand. He was baptized in Ukraine two years ago and then moved back to Iran and lived there for two years. And as you may know, there is no church there and religious freedom isn't really a thing. He missed the spirit that he felt so abundantly that he felt at church and from the members that he decided that he needed to do something. So he left his job, packed up all his stuff and moved to Thailand with literally no plan at all. Just the thought that he wanted to live somewhere where he could practice his beliefs. I was so amazed by this story. We taught him for a bit and afterwards Sister Martell turns to us with tears in her eyes and says, "we just have no idea. People back home just have no idea what they have." I took being a member in this church for granted so much. I was so lucky to live in a place where the church is so established and where there are many that practice the same beliefs as me. We just take it for granted. So many people in the church here are the only members in their families! And I am so amazed and touched by their faith. I was so grateful for Brother Johnny in helping me realize how lucky I am. And how grateful I am to God for something I took for granted for so long. I am so grateful to have what I do.
Another thing I'm grateful for.... First time prayers. Those are my favorite. People feel awkward about them and sometimes think we're crazy for asking them to pray to this unseen God that they still don't understand. But they try it. And their prayers are so sweet and sincere. It's their first time talking to God. They didn't know how to before and now they do. It's a privilege to be there in those lessons. It's amazing.
Well, next week is transfers. Don't know where the last five weeks went but they're gone. Time is such a weird thing. Love you all! Hope you all have a great week! Don't forget to count your many blessings. We are blessed with so much.
Down by the Bay!
Salad with these two sistas! Sorry we had already
eaten all of it by the time I thought to take a picture!
One of the english students made me a dream
catcher necklace. Now we're all matchy!
Sister Jamie, My greeniehood sister from Korat!
Crepes in a cone
Sister Shee from Myanmar just got back from her
mission in Hong Kong! She was in our zone
in the MTC, it was so fun to see her again!
Sister Stephanie from Peru made us some Peruvian food.
It was so delish!
Switch offs with our Chiang Mai sisters!