We left the school around 6:20 and rode out bikes to the station. They ask us to wear helmets, so here I am on my bike with a helmet.
(I know it should be further up on my head, but my hair gets in the way... and apparently I choose looks over bicycle safety.)
We got to the station and bought our tickets around 6:40. We got on the train really quickly, but there weren't many seats. An old woman asked us to take her seat and so we alternated and let people take turns sitting while she stood almost on top of us. There were a couple people walking back and forth on the train selling food.
We showed the old woman out train ticket and she told us when to get off. Interesting fact. It's free for natives to ride the train but foreigners have to pay. Nobody asked for our ticket on the way there but they did check on the way back.
We didn't know exactly how to get the the church building from the train station. Stevie had a picture of the map showing the building and the old bus station. So when we left the train station we got a tuk-tuk and squished the 6 of us in there to ride that to the old bus station.
At the old bus station we couldn't find any street signs so we had no way to orient ourselves. We asked a couple people but they couldn't help. Eventually we called the sister missionaries and they told us which way to go. It was only about a 2 block walk.
By this time it was about 8:00 and we had an hour until church started. We took pictures by the sign out front, sang some hymns, and looked around. The building there had the same wifi password as the buildings in the states! One of the girls figured that out and thought that was so incredible. Sine I had internet I decided to Skype with Tanner since I hadn't talked to him the day before. I got to chat with him and that is always nice. The building is part of a row of buildings. On one side there is a restaurant and the other side looks like a business. The building itself is 3 stories tall.
The bottom floor is big and open with a pulpit at the front and a font at the back. There is a itty bitty bathroom under the stairs. The second floor has the branch president's office, a few classrooms and a kitchen. The 3rd floor has more classrooms. Even though it was small and 3 stories, it felt a lot like the churches at home. There was artwork and hymn books and lots of white shirts and ties! I did a quick count and there were between 60 and 70 people there. The missionaries said that since Pitsanulok is a college town the numbers fluctuate a lot. They said since our group was there (6 of us and 2 from the school in that town) it was the highest the attendance has been since January.
We got headsets and one of the missionaries translated for us. He was nervous about it because he said he only had a 30% comprehension of the language, but he did a good job.
They took us upstairs to the young single adult Sunday school class. I know that I'm not single (or very young) anymore, but 2 missionaries were going to translate for that class and it seemed like the easiest choice. One of the Elders is from Mesa, AZ too! I don't know the kid and he lives further east that I do, but it was comforting to have a connection like that.
Relief society was back down stairs and I was glad I had the manual to read in English because they missionaries said the teacher was hard to translate for. Apparently she goes off on lots of tangents, says things more than once, and speaks 'old Thai'. So I mostly read the lesson in English.
After the block they had 4 baptisms! We got to stay for those. They had us all go outside and take pictures before the baptisms. The last two baptisms were done by someone who has received the priesthood the week before and was performing baptisms for the first time. The first one had to be done twice because he didn't all the way under the first time. The last baptism it looked like he didn't get all the way immersed either. The baptizer realized this so in the way up before coming all the way out of the water he pushed him under a second time more thoroughly. It caught everyone off guard and was a little bit funny. After the baptism service everyone went upstairs for a potluck lunch. I guess that is something they do every week since some people have a ways to travel. By the time we got done eating it was about 2:00.
The train is scheduled to leave at 1:45 and since it runs late quite quite frequently we thought we'd see if we could still catch it. We got to the station around 2:20 and it was already gone. That meant we'd need to wait for the 5:25 train. We walked the streets, window shopped and went to a delightful little bakery. By then it was 3:00 and we decided to go to the school there. One of the volunteers here at our school has a little sister who is volunteering at the school in that city. We went to their school and they showed us around and we chatted with them for a couple hours.
Little shops like this are everywhere!
We got back to the station with plenty of time to get the 5:25 train. It was less crowded and we got about 5 seats. It started raining on the train ride home. I took a video on the way home. (I can always hear my mom's voice in my head saying things like "Lindsey, take a video of that! I would love to see what it's like and feel like I'm there." So this is for you Momma!)
I think the rope are funny... it's like they are trying to make it safe-ish, but really what will those two roped really do?
Once we got off the train we rode back to the school in the rain. It was a long day, but it felt so nice to get to church and I'm looking forward to going again this week. I have a feeling that once I get back to the states I'm going to be a LOT more grateful when I can get to church in less than 5 minutes.