Friday, January 21, 2011
Well I'm tired! Definitely more tired than I have been on my whole mission. You know they say that being tired is good, because it means you are working hard. Yesterday I was translating at a leadership meeting. Translating from English to Thai for the Thai missionaries that were wearing headsets. At one point I fell asleep mid-sentence and my companion had to reach over and wake me up. It was pretty funny. I didn't really know that it was possible to fall asleep while talking, but apparently it is.
So, I got my drivers license. Pretty terrifying. The thing that is the hardest for me right now is just driving such a big van into such small areas. The streets are so small and are packed with cars and people. Very hard to not crash into anything. Luckily, there are crash sensors in most of the cars here so whenever I get close to crashing into something the sensor lights will turn on. In terms of the driving etiquette here. I actually like it. There are three main rules to driving in Thailand.
1: Pick - Pick is really important. If you don't know how to pick, you basically will never get anywhere. In America we refer to picking as "cutting someone off" but in Thailand it is fair game. As long as you can get your front bumper in front of traffic, you have the right-of-way.
2: Flow - Flow is hard to get used to. Regardless of how crazy people are driving. Example: Driving on the wrong side of the road, cutting across multiple lanes of traffic, six lanes going down a four lane road, etc. You just go with the flow. Don't ask questions.
3: Big - This one is simple. The bigger your car is, the more right-of-way you have. Buses hit their brakes for no one. So when you think about pulling out in front of traffic, you have to see if you are pulling in front of something small like a motorcycle or something big like a bus. Luckily, we drive a really big van so often times we win the battle.
After I was cleared by the embassy and got my documents it was ridiculously easy to get a license. There was no driving test, no written test, they didn't even check to see if I could read Thai road signs. There was a slight vision test, but not like any vision test in America. They checked long-distance color-blindness, weird. They tested reaction speed, really really easy. Lastly, they tested peripheral color-blindness. I totally couldn't do this last test at all, but they passed me anyways. I paid a couple of bucks then I was on the road.
So I've been in the office for two weeks now. I'm starting to understand my role a lot better. I'm still pretty lost, but there is a lot of change that I need to start assimilating quicker. Another three weeks and Elder Chiu will be gone and I'll have to run it by myself. This is basically our schedule:
Monday: In the morning we might be with President Smith for about two hours. We talk about the previous weeks efforts. We talk about individual companionships, districts, zones, and the mission as a whole. We discuss business that needs to be taken care of and other things that we need to do. Monday then turns into an office day. Lots of administrative tasks: calendars, emails, travel plans, hotels, interviews, exchanges, etc.. Then we call all six of the zone leader companionships to talk about their results and responsibilities. It serves as a weekly accountability interview. We try to make it out of the office by 5-6 to go out and work in our area.
Tuesday: Similar idea. We finish up all the stuff that we were given to do on Monday. We tend to get out to work in our area a lot quicker. One bonus about being here is that we don't teach English Class. Yay! One less thing to think about. The district leader takes care of English class for us.
Wednesday-Friday: Usually should be normal days. However, recently we have been having three-day leadership trainings all over the country so basically all these days have been shot. Those should be over soon so we will be getting more time in our area soon.
Saturday: Preparation day. Kinda. Basically preparation day doesn't really happen. We send email, but sometimes we just send it from our cellphone. Preparation day ends at six, but typically we are doing missionary activities the whole day anyways.
Sunday: We come into the office at around seven or eight to start collecting the missions weekly results. We call all the zone leaders and collect their individual key-indicator results. We also take the names of the people who are baptized. We put all the information into the computer. After making some graphs and lists we print them off and stumble home at around midnight.
That is our weekly schedule, but that doesn't really include some other duties. Every month we have to exchange with all six zone leader companionships for at least 24 hours a piece. Sometimes it is slightly hard because three of the companionships are over six hours away so often times we have to travel. Luckily, the common choice of travel for us is airplane. Aside from the zone leaders we exchange with other companionships that are struggling or companionships that President Smith assigns us to exchange with.
We collect daily key indicators from the zone leaders every night before going to bed. This usually keeps us up pretty late every night. We also talk to them quickly about questions or help that they need.
Once a month we organize transfer meetings. I haven't done this yet so I'm not really sure how much of a role we play. I know that we have to organize travel and stuff. Make sure everyone gets down here ok and help them get visas. Also we have to pick up new missionaries from the airport and send old missionaries to the airport. The first day the new missionaries come in, we get to work with them for an evening.
Once a month we have a zone leader council meeting where we get to train the zone leaders and follow-up on their goals. Several days a month we have specialized training meetings where we have to translate and also evaluate missionary roleplays.
We also get a lot of calls from members and missionaries that have questions. Basically we serve as a filter service for President Smith.
Yeah. As for now, that is a short list of what I am doing. It is pretty fun, kinda exhausting. We still get to work in our area fairly often. We still find, teach, and baptize investigators, just some of the other time gets sucked up by new responsibilities.
Anyways. I'm out of time.
Sorry, This email was kind of boring.