testifying in Thailand

testifying in Thailand

Friday, December 29, 2017

18 Months...Have I not great reason to rejoice?

Well..it's time. Can't believe I'm saying this but I've officially been a missionary for 18 months and this is the last email that I will be sending to all of you. At the moment all I can think of to describe my feelings is gratitude.

Gratitude for the experiences I've been given here in Thailand, the people I've grown to love, the gift of tongues that allows me to speak Thai and my Savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to be His imperfect representative. My feelings are similar to Ammon's found in Alma 26...especially verse 35. 

"Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name."

I cannot express how much I love being a missionary! No matter if it's blistering heat or a total down pour, if we are biking 20 kilos or running down the streets of Bangkok trying to make the bus, getting eaten alive by mosquitos or being fed more food than can physically fit in our stomach, being rejected by 50 people in under a few minutes or hearing the words "yes, I'd like to learn more about Jesus Christ" from an elect soul...it's all part of being His missionary. And it will be missed. It makes me think of a poem I recently found by Adney Y. Komatsu:

To be missionary, there’s no finer thing I know.
Though you may toil and work and worry all the day,
Just to hear one person tell you that he knows the gospel’s true,
There’s no finer thing that anyone can say.
When first I came I thought it indeed a sacrifice
To leave behind the home I love so dear,
But now I see it was no sacrifice at all,
It’s a great and marvelous privilege to be here.
The language isn’t easy, that I’m sure you know by now,
There’s quite a large adjustment to be made,
But through the trials and sorrow, I’ve grown closer to my God,
And for that there’s not a thing that I would trade.
I’ve seen a man stop smoking,
I’ve seen his happy smile,
In prayer I’ve seen a family kneeling down.
I’ve seen the Saints grow stronger, how happy is the day
When they’ll have a holy temple of their own.

Very very soon Thailand will have their own temple and I am overjoyed to have been able to add my small brick to that temple. I don't think it can be consider it a sacrifice because I've been so blessed

I couldn't know more strongly than I do now that Jesus is the Christ. The Only Begotten of the Father and our Savior and Redeemer. It is in His name that we are forgiven from our sins, and able to progress in this life. I know that Joseph Smith was a chosen vessel of God to restore Christ's church and priesthood authority here upon the earth and that the Book of Mormon is the evidence of this miraculous event. That through the Book of Mormon a power will enter into our lives and change us forever. I know that God is in the details. Every thing that happens in our lives is of divine origin and is for our eternal benefit and happiness. God hears and answers every single righteous prayer offered. He knows us and He loves us individually

How grateful I am to have been a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ in Thailand. Thank you all for your love and support...I guess I'll see you soon!

Much much love,
Sister Hammon
ซิสเตอร์ แฮมมอน

Monday, December 25, 2017

Week 79 - A White Christmas in Thailand

Some of the greatest days of my entire mission happened this week..not to mention it's CHRISTMAS!! Honestly I have not stopped smiling this whole week.

As you all know, Christmas in a Buddhist country is the absolute best time to be a missionary because we get to tell these wonderful Thai people that Christmas is not in fact the Christian new year but is Jesus Christ's birthday!! My absolute favorite thing, I honestly tell every single person I meet and I love it! Couldn't ask for a better last month than December.

The weather lately has been mid 80's but that does not mean we can't have a 'white Christmas'...White with baptism! Such an incredible day yesterday, one of my favorite because Earth and Elaa entered into the waters of baptism.

This kid is going to be the most incredible missionary!! He was found through English class and comes to every activity at the church and brings his friends too.

At one point we didn't know how interested he was and so we had a lesson simply where we asked him...he then shared with us his desire to have the Holy Ghost with him constantly to help him with his decisions and feel God's love. That is when everything changed and we started teaching him 3 times a week getting him ready for his Christmas baptism. 

He was scared his parents wouldn't accept his decision so we all prayed and fasted and miraculously they opened their heart and allowed him to become Christian! He was so happy he couldn't contain himself, "How special is it that I get to be baptized on Christmas? It's like I'm giving a gift to God!"

Yesterday was such an amazing baptism. Earth was glowing!! And gave Elder Blocker the biggest hug right when he came out of the water. It melted my heart:) Also we're prepping him for his future and sometimes call him Elder Earth (praying this isn't super apostate and roll with it)

One of our very first Sundays in Don Muang we last minute invited a student from English class and she came!! Not only to church but stayed after for the next wards church and for a lesson with us. Her first question was, "Wait, so what is this 'baptism' thing and how can do it?" She quickly became one of our fastest progressors and way good friends with Earth and his friends. She received her answer about the Book of Mormon so quickly and after that had a testimony of everything we taught. Such an amazing experience teaching her!

She also was so worried about her parents not accepting it. She told us stories of her wanting to read her scriptures but her mom would come in and force her to turn the lights off so she couldn't read. She joined in our prayer/fast with Earth...and miracles happened!! The next day she called us almost in tears explaining that her parents signed the permission form! And later on they even agreed to go to the baptism as well!!

They came and stayed the whole time and even took pictures with their daughter at her 'Christian ritual' haha. So cute and so very special. Elaa shared her testimony for her gratitude to all the members, us (missionaries), and Christ for being born. It was just the most perfect last baptism I could have ever asked for. I truly am so blessed:) A white Christmas it was.

Another small miracle: yesterday we were able to spend our day caroling at hospitals and singing to a bunch of sick children...so if you know of a cuter Christmas Eve activity please let me know. So precious!

This past week my studies have been very focused on my Savior...His birth, life, death and glorious resurrection. A scripture that I have continued to quote is 2 Nephi 19:6. 

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Because God loves us, a son was sent...and how blessed are we to call Him our Savior! 

We were so blessed to have such a white Christmas and it is all possible due to the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. How happy I am to have His name on my lips at all times this Christmas season. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Sister Hammon
ซิสเตอร์ แฮมมอน

Baptism of Earth and Elaa 

Christmas Zone Ice Skating

Monday, December 18, 2017

Week 78 - A Baptism for BangMii

Ahhh what a special special week ending on the biggest high!! Bangmii's baptism! But first was our Zone Christmas conference!

Ahhh honestly best day ever. Because President and Sister Johnson love us they brought Christmas to us! We got to watch The Best Two Years (highlight), ate delicious food, played random games all day and even received a little training because we are indeed missionaries! Haha super fun and reminded me just how much I love being a missionary:)

     About 2 months ago my companion and I were waiting for an appointment and decided to get some inviting in before they came. I saw a cute girl walking up and started talking to her, then my companion took over and I talked with other people. My companion told her we had another appointment the next day, and she (Bangmii) came!!
     From the very beginning she told us she wanted to find comfort in this message because she has had a rough past...her mother has recently died, her boyfriend cheated on her, she has depression and has been in other abusive relationships, not to mention made a living by dancing at a bar. From our first lesson she just wanted more and more and kept meeting with us so often. Members were there for comfort and support, miraculously finding members with almost the exact same past as hers! 
     She started to have this light and wanted to learn more and more. We gave her a date and it couldn't come fast enough, she was so ready. Preparing for her interview we asked her what repentance meant to her and she said "it means everything to me, because now I can actually progress." She changed her entire life to get baptized and being there to watch it happen was precious.
     Yesterday she entered into the waters of baptism! It was so cute, she kept holding on to her Book of Mormon and actually took it back to the font then realized it couldn't go in, but she was glowing all day! Afterwards she shared a small testimony and said, "I can't even explain how good I feel. I've repented and words can't explain how I'm feeling. Really, I just don't know how to describe it." 
     One of her first Sunday's in church the Relief Society lesson was on how Christ is our Shepherd and Bangmii absolutely loved it. She kept mentioning it to us in our lessons how happy she was that Christ finds the lost sheep and brings them back to the fold..because just a few months ago she was the lost sheep, and He sent us to find her. In her baptismal service we asked her her favorite hymn and all she said was, "something about the lost sheep" so we sang 'Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd' and she could not stop smiling! 
     Her love for shepherds really opened my eyes and made me that much more grateful for my Savior..our Good Shepherd. Around this time of year we focus on His birth, but let us not forget His lifetime. Despite the person He went out, found them and helped them return: 

"Our Good Shepherd is unchanging and feels the same way today about sin and sinners as He did when He walked the earth. He does not recoil from us because we sin, even if He on occasion must think, “But what a sheep!” He loves us so much that He provided the way for us to repent and become clean so we can return to Him and our Heavenly Father. In doing so, Jesus Christ also set the example for us to follow—to show respect to all and hatred toward none."(Dale G. Renlund)

So, this Christmas season let us go and find the lost sheep. Befriend a less active member, share a social media post, love your neighbors and serve God's children. What a wonderful time to be in the labor of His children...it is my hope and prayer that I will never tire of helping our Good Shepherd rescue His flock. I am just grateful I get to experience the joy of seeing it first hand. 

I love being a missionary. I am so incredibly blessed to be among the work in Thailand. I love Christmas and know there isn't a better time to share the gospel and the Light of Christ. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! Don't forget the reason for the season! 

Much much love,
ซีสเตอร์ แฮมมอน

Bangmii!! (please note the Book of Mormon in her hands)

Merry Christmas from Bangkok North

Cutest companions you ever did see

Our Christmas set up (thank you families for the packages!)

Because we’re in Thailand there are no pet laws…
so we got to hold a meerkat and some exotic fox.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Week 77 - Bangkok North Presents....A JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM

The lights dimmed, the candles were lit, places were taken and a journey was had...this past week our stake put on a giant production of A JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM and it was the most memorable thing.

The entire church was decorated for the event, each room being a different scene on the journey to Bethlehem and to the birth of the Savior. I was in the angel and shepherds room and it was SO fun! This event was made to help people understand more about the holiday and tie it in to the actual meaning....CHRIST.

Leading up to the event we advertised EVERYWHERE, handed out hundreds of invitations and even got permission to go caroling at a giant mall in our area! And as a result we had over ONE THOUSAND people come through! We did our 4 minute presentation 39 times and got free dinner so it was a successful night! 

In our room the shepherds sang 'Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" and gave a cool talk about how the humble shepherds were some of the first to hear of the birth of Jesus Christ and the miracle that that was...then we angels sang 'Far Far Away on Judea's Plains' and the spirit filled the room, every time. My favorite is the chorus as it reads:
Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God in the highest, peace on earth good will to men
I was so happy to be able to proclaim this to all these random people, GLORY TO GOD because He sent Peace (our Savior) to this earth! I love Christmas so very much. It helps me remember who I need to be putting in the center of my life and the miracle that His life truly was. As I sang that with a bunch of other people/missionaries the spirit testified to me that this actually happened. Christ the Messiah was born in Bethlehem and at the time we all were REJOICING in heaven that a Savior was born. How glorious is this message??

Merry Christmas from your angelic friends.

If you want to see a crazy dramatic video advertising for this event follow this link! An amazing member in my ward made it, so enjoy:)   [Sister Hammon appears about 45 seconds into the 3 minute video]

I am so happy. I don't think a smile has left my face since December started because it's CHRISTMAS TIME. Truly is the best time ever, especially to be a missionary in Thailand. I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and God so loved US, so He sent His Son.

Don't forget to participate in Light the World! Take this opportunity to serve everyone you can, spread the joy around a little bit and have an incredible week!! Love you all very very much! and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Much much love,
Sister Hammon

PS. BIGGEST miracle of the week, our 14 year old investigator finally got permission from her parents to get baptized! Biggest answer to prayers for that little girl, ah I love her. Pray for our other investigators, they are dying to get baptized on Christmas but waiting for parents' permission.

 Caroling at the Mall

MLC…last one 😔

MERRY CHRISTMAS…Love, the Pakkret District

Finally got a picture in front of the mission office…
but in a few years this will be a TEMPLE!

Don’t forget to come to English class!

I have another granddaughter!  They came for switch offs
so a generation picture was required

So every Wednesday the school kids wear their scouting uniform and it reminds me of the movie ‘Up’ so I finally got a picture of it.  So cute!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Week 76 - Love that Crosses Boundaries


Best news I have of the week: last year there were 0 Christmas decorations here (due to the death of the King), but the year of mourning is officially over and I have seen Christmas decorations!!! Most of them say 'Happy New Year' but still the best thing ever. Christmas in a Buddhist country is the greatest.

     This past Sunday was the most incredible fast Sunday of my mission. The morning started off slow. We had 3 canceled appointments, but 40 minutes before church came the first miracle! We are teaching a small family, mother and 2 young children (13 and 9 years old) and they are adorable. Usually the mom will drop off her kids at church while she goes to work. We have tried to invite her to get the day off but she always refused saying that she just wanted her kids to go to church so they would be good people, but she didn't need it. But yesterday as she dropped off her kids we noticed she was wearing a skirt...she walked up and said, "okay sisters, today I'm staying." We were SO HAPPY! Turns out she requested at her work to get Sundays off and she got it!! Her heart is slowly changing and I am so excited for her.
     Second miracle. Sacrament meeting was about to start and one of our investigators walked in last minute with 2 people I didn't recognize...turns out HE BROUGHT FRIENDS! A grandmother and her granddaughter! He said he feels good at church and wants them to feel good too. So adorable. Anyway he actually had to leave a little early, so he turned to me and said, "sister you will take care of them for me right?" It was just so cute to see him care about his friends so much that he wanted them to love church too:) Ah this gospel is so glorious.
     So recently we have found ourselves having a bunch of investigators that are not from Thailand. We are teaching a group of girls (member referrals) from Laos. They speak Thai fairly well, but it's weird that in some ways we (falangs) speak better than they do... We helped them pray for the first time the other day and one of them started crying..it was her first time talking to God and she was obviously overwhelmed with the spirit. So very special!
     Also we got more member referrals and one was to teach the cutest little family you have ever seen. They are also refugees, from Vietnam, but they are Hmong! SO ADORABLE. (I sent a picture) Miracle on top of miracle is that the father has been taught by the missionaries before (5 plus years ago) It is way hard to teach them. It's fairly inconvenient that I'm not fluent in the language of Hmong...should have listened to my Anthropology teacher my freshman year at BYU, ANYWAY we get by with simple Thai and relying on the Hmong pamphlets we have. Every time we leave their house after a lesson the mom and grandma do not miss an opportunity to hug us and tell us they love us. It is the cutest thing in the world. My heart is so full after each and every lesson! Goodness I love them.

Something I have come to learn and love on my mission is the standardization of the gospel. No matter who you are, or where you live, or what language you speak, this gospel will bless you. I have seen it over and over again. As long as someone humbly turns their life to Christ, miracles will come. And it is glorious! I am just so blessed that I have been able to witness this firsthand and feel God's love for all of them! I love being a missionary. I love loving other people. And I love getting to know other cultures. No matter who you are, you are a child of God and He loves you:)

"No matter where you live, no matter how humble your circumstances, how meager your employment, how limited your abilities, how ordinary your appearance, or how little your calling in the Church may appear to you, you are not invisible to your Heavenly Father. He loves you." (Uchtdorf)

Thank you for everything. I am SO excited for this week. Our ward is doing a massive presentation of 'Road to Bethlehem' and should have around 1500 visitors enter the church! Look it up, should be so incredible! Don't forget to LIGHT THE WORLD and love others (challenge for the week) Christmastime is the best time ahhhh so much joy:) BYE love you all!

Also I decided to make a list of all the names people have called me when they try to pronounce 'Hammon' so here you go:

Sister Hammon
Sister Ham
Sister Mormon
Sister Almond
Sister Hamburger
Sister Ham and Cheese
Sister Doraemon (Thai cartoon)
Sister Ammon (from the scriptures)

Anyway those are all I can remember for now...have the best week!

The cutest Hmong family we started teaching!!

Back in Bang Na—MY FIRST CONVERT! 
So crazy she’s not even considered a ‘recent convert’ any more, 
ahh I love her so much.

When I went back to Bang Na I got to see the TRIIO!!!! (AKA my favorite people)


We have the coolest mission

Climbed up to a wat on the top of a mountain.  Best. View. Ever.

Hike down the mountain

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Week 75 - Refuge from the Storm

This honestly has been the craziest past 10 days of my mission...

1. First of all...We were in a trio working 2 areas! Sister Pherson's companion left for home a little earlier than transfers so she joined with us and it was so fun but crazy with traveling back and forth for sure!

2. WE GOT PHONES. That's right. We are now a technology supported mission so at MLC they handed out the first smart phones and yeah. I have this way fancy Samsung that I don't know how to use so there's that. Super weird, our whole mission is going to change like crazy but for now it's just a few of the missionaries that have it until they get everyone up and running.

3. THANKSGIVING! So crazy miracles, we were invited to 2 separate Thanksgiving's!!! The first was a legit American Thanksgivng full of turkey (wow my mouth forgot what that tastes like) potatoes and pie. We died. I was so full I didn't eat until lunch the next day. America. It has glorious food. (but Thai food may definitely be better in some ways) The second was Pakistani style and I'll explain a little more about that in this email.

4. Since I have sent photos last a ton has happened! We went to : a sketchy Thai amusement park, a super crazy ancient city, and an ISLAND! (been on my mission bucket list and today I finally crossed it off! Sister Ham was happy all day let me tell ya)

5. Transfer calls! Sister McDonnell and I are STAYING in Don Muang and we are SO EXCITED! No one has to move and we can keep on moving forward for the magical month of December. Christmas is in full swing at our apartment let me tell you. 

I love being a missionary. So much. The crazy hectic life is just the best and makes time fly. But I'll talk a little more about our Pakistani dinner we had.

     A cool thing about serving in this area/this church is that there is an English ward! There are a lot of international families here for business so at 1 o'clock all the white people show up to church! Kinda crazy, being thrown back for Utah when all the massive families show up but it's way fun. Anyway there are also a large group of African, Chinese, Indian and Pakistani people that attend too, which is where the Asher's come in. 

     They are a family of 5 (their kids are teenagers) who fled to Thailand to escape persecution in Pakistan. To put it simply they are refugees. They have been investigating the church for almost a year, attending church every day for almost 8 months waiting for authorization to get baptized. Because of the legal complexities with refugees the church requires a lot of dedication from them before they are allowed to become members sometimes waiting up to a year and a half of church attendance before baptism is permitted. This family has unshaken faith. And the adore the missionaries. So they invited us all over for a Thanksgiving feast!
     We walked into their humble home that day and the spirit overwhelmed me. There was such love and peace felt within the walls of that small apartment. And they fed us like kings. So much [delicious] food for all of us!! And as we ate I began to hear their story...
In Pakistan they were incredibly wealthy. The father explained that when he was younger his parents wouldn't let him walk more then a few hundred yards before telling him to take a motor bike to keep from tiring. We saw pictures of their house, which was a mansion, their wedding, extremely extravagant, and their clothes..basically everything screaming wealth. Then the persecution started due to their Christianity. Their grandfather was found, murdered on the streets, and their lives were being sought after. So they did all that they could. And fled. Here. (about 5 years ago) 
     They explained the awful transition of having nothing. No home. No food. Nothing. But slowly by surely they made their way up. Then they met the missionaries. They were introduced to the ward and that brings you to today. They told us of their constant trial of faith and the reliance they have on Heavenly Father to make it through this. They are currently here illegally, praying daily for God's hand to help them receive Visas so they can stay or they will have to be uprooted again. The ward is helping and doing their best. After they fed us a feast we asked how they could help, and the mother simply said, "pray for us." 
I know that recently the leaders of the church have encouraged us to help these people. To get out and hear their story. That night my eyes were opened. My heart broke for this faithful little family as they experienced what Christ experienced. They did nothing wrong themselves and yet they find themselves in this situation. I finally was able to hear an experience firsthand. I cried when I hugged their dear mother as she asked that we pray for them and keep being incredible servants of God. And I feel like I was called to repentance at where my faith is...because as I heard them tell me their story, I realized I have work to do. 

I know this may sound like just another story, but this night changed me...I will never forget that feeling in their house, the love I felt for them and the love they gave me. It changed me. 

My challenge for you today is to get out and do what our leaders have told us to. Go find someone and hear their story. The Asher's are no longer strangers to me, but close close friends. I don't know what can be done in America, but I know there is something. All they need is a refuge, a friend, knowledge of their Savior.
"The Lord has instructed us that the stakes of Zion are to be “a defense” and “a refuge from the storm.” We have found refuge. Let us come out from our safe places and share with them, from our abundance, hope for a brighter future, faith in God and in our fellowman, and love that sees beyond cultural and ideological differences to the glorious truth that we are all children of our Heavenly Father." (Elder Kearon)

We have what they need. And it is our responsibility to share it.
I love you all, this experience changed me and I hope you can feel the spirit testifying to let you know it's all true. Please pray for the Ashers. 

Much much love,
ซีสเตอร์ แฮมมอน

The Ashers 😃 (minus 1 taking the picture)

Pakistani Thanksgiving!


My face when I get American food for the first time in ages

When the food is your Thai name

HAM for Sister HAM! Hahaha I laughed so hard!!

Switch offs!


Sketchy Thai theme park…check!

Preview to beach pictures!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Week 74 - Grateful Grateful Grateful

This week was absolutely incredible for a number of reasons...
1) I got to go back and visit my FIRST AREA!!!!
2) The woman I mentioned in my last email who took the Word of Wisdom with such humility accepted a date for baptism!
3) Don Muang is EXPLODING with miracles all around!
4) A blessed American brought my companion and I Captain Crunch 
5) I successfully survived another round of terrible food poisoning! (in the middle of stake conference may I add)

BACK TO BANGNA (first area)
This past week I got to go on switch off's in my first greenie area and it was such a tender mercy! I got to see all of the old members there AND my first few converts. Ahh. My heart was so full. I have so many pictures but my camera is being weird so they'll be sent next week. 
It was so weird to be back where I was a year ago. I felt like I have changed but everything there was the same--same fruit sellers, security guards and motorcycle taxis but so much has happened in this past year. Time is a crazy thing. Also super fun to talk to the members there when I can actually speak Thai now! BEST DAY EVER. 

BANG MII (investigator)
She's the one I told you about last week and oh my word is she prepared. We have meet so much this past week and I have learned SO much from her. She is so eager and willing to change her life it is inspiring...and baptism was accepted! Planning on early December and I could not be more excited for her. I KNOW she will be the strongest convert.

Basically life is full of miracles and Captain Crunch. I love being a missionary so much. Have I mentioned how incredible President Johnson is? (This week he missed his only son's wedding because he is here serving US.) The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Stake conference is so inspired. Life is so good. 

Sorry this email is super jumbily, we just got back from traveling to an ancient city, so so sad my camera isn't working but I have a few pictures Sister McDonnell took!

I LOVE YOU ALL! I was just told this week is Thanksgiving and I had a mini freakout how fast it came but have the best holiday ever, and let me know what beautiful blessings you have been given! (I gave you a list of 1-5 in this email so write yours down this week for the cliche challenge. I know but it's all I've got today) 

Much much love,
Sister Hammon

 Switchoffs in Bangna

Ancient City of Ayuttaya

[Mom received this text from some tourists in Bangkok--at 3am. So worth the wake up.]