Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Last Week is Proving Eventful

Ladies of the branch who came to Ganjanee's for
the farewell party
Some of Ayutthaya Branch youth

Brother Five upcoming rock star
Ayutthaya has new elders: Heiner & Kandum, plus we still have E. Larsen too – yes a threesome. We were sad to see Elder AngKham leave after only one transfer here. He is now a district leader in another area. Elder Heiner is from Mesa and Elder Kandun is a Thai native from the northeast part Thailand. 
Elders Larsen, Heiner, Kandun

Joan taught her last music theory class. Hopefully the 5 youth that attended will continue to grow in their music abilities. They gave her a Hello Kitty as a going away present. 

Music theory students
At Book of Mormon reading class after theory, Elder Heiner asked who played the piano. Everyone looked up and Brother Now said 'We all do.' "Wow, that was a highlight of my mission." When we came, one 14 year-old girl played the melody line of the hymns for church. Now she is playing from the simplified hymnbook and moving on to the regular hymnal. All the youth have taken piano lessons and can read music. All the members of the branch that wanted to learn about music and the piano had the opportunity. It has been fun to see the branch go from very limited music to many being able to do or understand.

We went to Sister Kanjanee’s retirement party in the evening after transfers. The dinner was delicious and interesting as they served us various courses of food – one at a time. They had an honoring ceremony that we took part in, giving Ganjanee our best wishes and tying a friendship string around her wrist.

Sister Ganjanee
Joan taught how to make/bake chocolate chip cookies, chocolate pops, no-bake cookies and Texas Sheet Cake to interested members.Some were interested because they like these treats. Some are hoping to sell these as treats and become more self-reliant. I helped translate as Joan taught and did the taste test – no I did not eat the cookie dough! What surprised us is that the members were excited to see the cake rinse in the oven. Most do not have or use an oven. When Joan brought out the large bag of Costco chocolate chips (that Ted sent by way of Tommy) everyone was surprised at the size of the bag and the size of the chips. They even passed a cup of chips so they could sample them. We can buy chocolate chips here but they are small and not as tasty. The class went real well and one member remarked that he liked the ending of this training better than most classes (we ate the goodies).

The farewell party on Saturday evening was at a sister’s house out in the country. We had feared it would rain like it had almost every night. It did not rain! We were there with much of her family and friends to celebrate her retirement also. The member sister sent a small bus to bring the members out, too. We had a Thai dinner followed by Karaoke. After much karaoke the branch members sang "Come Though Fount” Then they asked Joan and I to lead the youth in a Virginia Reel dance. We had no idea that was coming. Next they asked Joan and I sing “Longer Than” karaoke that we sang weeks ago at the branch party. The evening was fun and always a surprise. We didn’t ride with the members in the bus/truck they came in but we heard they sang hymns all the way back to town. Almost like caroling. One member said it was the most fun he had had in a long time.

We found out in mid-week that we were the speakers in Sacrament meeting this week, not next as had previously been assigned. This increased our preparation efforts. Joan gave most of her talk in Thai and did well. I was assigned to speak about honoring the Sabbath. I tried not to criticize anyone but to help everyone see the importance of keeping it a holy day. We were two of 6 speakers on the program, and still ended on time.

 Jackson Shaver from Mesa came to our church on Sunday. He brought yummy American chocolates. He couldn’t stay long but it was fun to see him. Joan shared one of the bags of Hershey Nuggets with the Relief Society. The sisters ate with smiles on their faces and a Mmm! rippled through the group.

Sunday night the branch clerk brought some papers for me to take to Bangkok. Several members came with him, so we invited them in for a few minutes. Next thing we are doing is taking pictures. Camera phones are wonderful – our members are even better. At the same time Sister Mod Shaw put a slideshow with music on Facebook. It has lots of fun pictures of the branch members with us. It was so special.
Unexpected visitors: Top: Bro. Su, Sister Ben, Sister
Ked, Sister Saaw, Sister Baithery, Brother Nong

Monday night we had a going away dinner at President Seniors. The Goodsons are leaving this week and we leave next week. It was very enjoyable to eat and have family home evening together with the senior missionary couples.

I have discovered that finishing a mission as a senior couple is much more involved than a young missionary. Young missionaries just pack up leaving behind worn out clothes they don’t want to wear ever again, turn in the mission phone and go visit members and investigators to say good bye. They eat a lot of goodbye meals. As a senior couple, who is not being replaced, we must close the bank account, internet and phone services, pay off water and power bills and determine what to do with everything in the house. Some stuff belongs to the owner, some is the missions and some we bought. We are not getting trunky, but must prepare as all cannot be done last minute.

Five days left in Ayutthaya--so sad to say goodbye!

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