Sunday, December 28, 2014

In Which I Celebrate My First Baptism, Christmas, and Transfer Call!

Christmas caroling with missionaries and members.


It has been quite an eventful few weeks, so I will just start at the top. Last Sunday I had my first baptism! Bong Naid and her two daughters Sokmian and Srei Pech. It was really great. We had the baptism right after church, and we were happy to see a lot of the members stay. And Bong Naid's husband came, so the whole family was there! We're still holding him to his commitment to learn in January. Because our church building is a rental for now, our baptismal font is outside. So when the time came to get baptized, we all followed outside to the front to watch. All three came out of the water with huge smiles on their faces. And Srei Pech (who is nine-years-old but about the size of a six-year-old) came jumping up out of the water as the elder lifted her back up. It was cute. After the baptism all three got to share their testimonies. All were short and sweet. And they had to pull up a chair for Srei Pech to stand on to see over the podium. Unfortunately there was a bit of a disagreement with the refreshments afterwards. One woman in the ward took probably more than her fair share in her purse and another member of the ward saw and got upset. Long story short, they had to call the branch president and the whole ward was talking about it. It's all we've heard about all week visiting with members. Thankfully when it happened our recent converts had already left, but they had already heard about it the next day and Bong Naid was quite disenchanted. We ended up teaching a lesson on love and the fact that we are all imperfect people. It was an important lesson to learn, but it came quite soon for her. 

Yesterday they got confirmed. I think it was a good experience for them. We met with them last night, and they are so cool! Here's an example we learned from Bong Naid (which really I only heard through Sis P because I still don't understand this language!). Sokmian is twelve, and she goes to a Chinese school. Every morning they have a religious ceremony where they worship Chinese gods (we're not really sure about this part, but it wasn't Buddha). After we taught the Ten Commandments and the importance of only worshiping God, she's been going to school ten or fifteen minutes late every day to skip the religious stuff. But the problem is that they kick out Christians. Bong Naid asked us last night if this is dishonest. We told her to pray about it. That we couldn't make a decision one way or the other for her. But this just goes to show you how great they are! So many of our members still have ancestral shrines in their houses. But this family gets it. 

Tuesday I went on exchanges with Sister E. in her area. As always, exchanges were super fun. It's always nice to break up the routine, and it's fun to see how other people work. Also, because it was the last proselyting day before Christmas, the elders in their area decided to go caroling! It was super fun! Sis E. and I went with the two of them and then three members came as well. There are only two Christmas songs in the Khmer hymnbook, but they are making a new one, so the other Christmas songs are translated but no one knows them yet. So singing those proved to be interesting. Also, from my limited experience singing hymns in church, staying on key or even choosing one key to sing isn't important here. And between the elders (who couldn't really sing much) and me (who still can't read at a singing-level pace quite yet) we proved to be a less than melodious choir. And the members who we visited were quite confused. Most felt the need to join in (which I think is actually a good way to do it. Because let's be real, it's awkward to just stand there and smile as a crowd of carolers makes their way through a million verses of Far Far Away on Judea's Plains. Eventually your mouth goes numb.) But we gave them little wrapped treats. And it was a lot of fun. We biked home through the rice fields in the dark singing Christmas songs. 

The next morning we left for the city first thing! In order to make it in time to participate in the service project, we took a van down. It was the best trip down yet. It was only missionaries in the van (and the driver) so we plugged in Christmas music. We made it to the stake center in PP in time to help with the service project (which was putting together temple-prep gift bags for the youth in all the branches). 

Though it was only Christmas Eve, it was our real Christmas party. We played games and had a white elephant gift exchange (I ended up with pencils?), and had a talent show. The talent show was super fun. President Moon did some sort of monologue from a movie in which he sang and talked about taking a dog to college. It was totally unexpected, but it was funny. And we had delicioussss meals. Made by some very kind members. Curry for lunch and a traditional chicken/potatoes/rolls Christmas dinner with brownies, ice cream, and cookies for dessert! And we ended the night with a Christmas devotional. 

It was really great to see everyone again. We got a picture of our MTC district all reunited again. It was fun too to hear about all our different areas and baptisms and nice to hear that everyone else is struggling with the language as much as I am (whether or not that's actually true). It was REALLY great to  see Sister S. and Sister H. (MTC friends) again. It feels like it's been soo long!! And it was really just nice to be with so many missionaries. I think being out in the kites has made me forget that their are so many of us. It was fun to meet more people. 

We spent the night at the mission home and actually got caroled to there by some youth in a ward in the city. We all came out to the front gate in our pajamas! And then the next morning we headed back to the stake center for training. We went over goals, had a testimony meeting, had a KFC catered lunch, and then it was back on the bus. A much too quick trip. But it was made longer by our bus breaking down. We waited about an hour on the roadside and another hour at a rest stop. But it wasn't too bad because the bus wasn't crowded at all. And the important thing is we all made it back in one piece. 

The next morning we had the chance to Skype home! forty minutes was MUCH too quick. We decided ten Skype minutes is the equivalent of one real minute. It was hard to get back into proselyting that afternoon. But we did it. 

Anddddd just yesterday we found out about transfer calls! I was nervous for it all day. The sisters kept tricking me by calling our phone and pretending to be the district leader. But the call finally came around 9:00. Sis P will be staying, and I will be headed to the city to an area called Pochentong! My companion's name is Sister Jet. She is from Cambodia. I will actually be replacing Sister S. (my MTC companion). I'm excited! It's starting to hit me that I will be leaving in just a few days! I will really miss a lot of people here. And I will be sad to miss baptisms that will be happening next month. But I'm excited to start afresh. And working in the city sounds like it will be a whole new world. So I'm excited!

I'm running out of time. So I won't say much more. Just that this week I read Romans chapter 8. Look it up. It's really great.

Hope everyone had good Christmases! 

Love You!

Sister Fields

Thursday, December 25, 2014

In Which I Celebrate Christmas in Phnom Penh

Kampong Cham Zone Conference

Baptism of Bong Naid and daughters

Our outdoor baptismal font.

Our ward mission leader drives a tuk tuk and picks up members to come to church.

Sister E. and me on exchanges.

Van ride to Phnom Penh for Christmas mission meetings.

Sister Khut and me in the van.

Gifts for all the local missionaries.

Tripanionship from the MTC!

Our MTC District.

Shot of all the missionaries from above the stake center.

Tuk Tuk ride to the bus station to return home on Christmas Day.

Hanging out on the side of the road after our bus broke down on Christmas Day (wearing my Christmas outfit).

Opening Christmas gifts back home again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In Which It's Beginning to Look (a little) Like Christmas (in a rice field)

So Kay, Nii, Si Nate, and then sitting below is Bong Vaid with her cute little girl
Hello! Merry (almost) Christmas! 

This week was an eventful one, and next week is Christmas! And then I'll only have about two more weeks left of training! I don't know where this month went... 

But it's finally starting to feel a bit like Christmas around these parts. Last week Sis E. and Khut came across a store that had some Christmas decorations. So with some tinsel and lights they made quite the impressive tree to hang in our bedroom. (See below)

On Wednesday we rode out pretty far to help elders in another branch cut rice for a family. It was quite picturesque. We had to walk out really far to get to their field. But one of the elders brought his ipod and speaker, and he has quite the collection of REAL Christmas music. We're not talking Mormon Tabernacle Choir here. He had Michael Buble, Josh Groban, etc etc (and Frozen, which trust me, I never thought I would be so excited to sing along to "Let it Go," but being in Cambodia for two months can do that to you...). We cranked up the music to drown out the chanting monks from the nearby temple, and it was one of those strange "How did I get here moments?" But it was a lot of fun. 

It's also been fun to participate in the "He is the Gift" initiative. You've probably heard about it already. I think it's supposed to have a big social media presence. But we're supposed to contact ten people a day just using these little pass-a-long cards. It's been interesting. We have to take a little bit of a different approach in a non-Christian country. Or as an Elder put it at district meeting, when you go up to someone in line to see Santa at the mall say "He is the Gift" they get it. But walking up to a person in their rice field and trying the same thing isn't quite as effective. But we're trying. 

To finish up the rest of the Christmas news. We just had our branch Christmas party today. We were told it started at 8:00 am and went until it ended. So we decided we could show up at 10:00 am. We came in time to catch the end of a movie about Christ. It took only about a minute to realize this was not a movie put out by the Church, which wasn't a bad thing. But it did look like it was made in the 70s. And the special effects left something to be desired. They played it on a big projector screen in our chapel/cultural hall with GIANT speakers. So every little noise was magnified, and the dubbed Khmer voices were strange. But hopefully the members had a good experience watching it. For some reason we closed the movie by singing "Praise to the Man." 

Then came the main event: the food. We had been at Church all day the day before for zone conference, and the Relief Society presidency had been slaving away in the kitchen getting it all ready. We helped a bit too. It was pretty good: thick noodles with a really tasty sauce and veggies and meat with it. That's not very descriptive, but it was good. 

We had a great turn out! Turns out quite a few members who aren't able to make it to Church on Sunday found their way just fine for the Christmas party. It was good to see lots of people there. And quite a few of our investigators came as well! They just jumped right in helping us clean the enormous amounts of dishes afterwards. 

And then came the dancing. I don't know how traditional this is, but the dancing we participated in involved walking in a line in circles (around a little Christmas tree actually) waving our hands back and forth. You could get carpal tunnel after a couple of dances, I think. But it was fun. And it was good to see a lot of the youth there and having fun together. 

Speaking of investigators (kind of) BONG NAID IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON SUNDAY!! As are her two oldest daughters. And she's just awesome! We've taught her all the lessons and her daughters have just two more to go. The other day we talked a little bit about the baptism and the interview that they will have on Friday with our district leader. After the lesson, the mom was quizzing her daughters saying stuff like, okay, what if they ask, why do you believe in Jesus Christ? It was pretty cute. I think they're all really excited. And they've been to church four times already. It just seems like they're already so integrated into the branch. Bong Naid was at the Church yesterday (for an interview) and while she was waiting she just jumped in and helped make food. And then they came for the whole party today and were helping us clean dishes. And her husband came to the party too, which is the first time he's been to the church!  So that's a good sign. Also, he told us he would start learning halfway through the month. And guess what time it is...

Bong Vaid and Bong Vanna are doing well. Actually, it's been a little while since we've had a chance to meet with Bong Vanna.  Unfortunately he hasn't been able to make it to Church yet because of work. But Bong Vaid is doing well. She and her little girl came to the party today as well. She's so much fun to teach because she asks a lot of questions. And she's super honest and tells us exactly what she's thinking/feeling/where she's at. I'm starting to get sad because their baptismal date is set for the 18th. AKA next transfer.... So who knows who will stay and who will go. But I'm excited for them nonetheless. 

We've actually gained three new investigators this week as well. One we met just contacting downtown. One is a friend of Bong Naid and two young women we're teaching (all three of which were at the Christmas party!). And the last one is a neighbor of Bong Vaid's. So now we're trying to balance our time to visit with all our investigators. Which is a good problem to have I would say. 

So it's been a good week. And it ended well with zone conference. The Moons came into town on Sunday. And we had been joking the night before that we should invite them over for dinner. But then on Sunday afternoon we got a call from Sis Moon asking if she could come proselyte with us while President Moon was in meetings. But she was at the far away Church, and we were already at our lesson, which was sad, because that would have been super fun. But Sis P. asked them if they wanted to come over for dinner! And they said yes. So we tried to get home quickly, but our last lesson was with a very chatty person. So we left with only about 15 minutes to get home. And theennnn. my bike chain (which had been having problems for the past few days and I should have taken it in) broke and I couldn't pedal and we had a long way home still. So I got on the back of Sis P's bike and pulled mine along by the handlebars. It was quite the feat! But we made it home safely. 

Then it was a rush to cook/clean in time! I haven't seen the Best Two Years in forever, but apparently there's a part where they find out the mission president is coming over and they are throwing stuff in closets trying to make their apartment look clean. That was us. But it ended up working out fine and it was really fun to have them over. And they brought packages! So now I have my Christmas package! 

Zone conference the next day was all about time management/setting goals, etc. It was a good one. President Moon is a really great teacher. He makes topics that don't seem like they would be naturally inspirational or spiritual inspiring. But i think my favorite part of zone conference was something Sister Moon shared at the end. Our focus this month is on charity. We looked at Moroni 7:45 and analyzed it. And then she shared this great quote from Marvin J. Ashton 

"Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other."

I just love that. And think that Charity is particularly important to think about during Christmas because Christ is the ultimate example of charity.

Well, that's all for this week. Merry Christmas Everyone!


Sister Fields

Our Christmas tree!

My Christmas presents!!!!

At the Christmas party. The three girls about our age are three of our investigators (neighbors of Bong Naid and the kids are just some kids in the branch).

This is Bong Naid,her husband and two of their five kids.

Rocking around the Christmas tree Khmer style!

Party clean up, doing the dishes.

Our service look.

Me and Sister P.

Eating lunch together with members after service project.

Monday, December 8, 2014

In Which I Herd Cows

leading the pack


It was a good week! Our investigators are all progressing. It's been a little breezy these past few days, so I sweat through my clothes slightly less than usual, and I've even spotted a few Christmas trees in the windows of some of the stores downtown!

This week we've had a lot of fun teaching kids. Bong Naid (our super strong investigator who's now been to church three times in a row!) has two kids of baptism age. Since we first started teaching her, we asked if she and her kids all wanted to get baptized the following week; and they are all super excited about it. So we're going to try to get all the lessons in for everyone (working around everyone's schedules) to get the mom and her two daughters baptized on the 21st! Just before Christmas. It will be fun. We're still working on the husband. He tells us that he's going to start coming to church halfway through the month, and we're holding him to that!

Last night we met with our fairly recent convert relief society president (who is awesome!) and her three kids. We taught them the Tree of Life using little cut-outs we found in the Liahona. It was super fun! Teaching kids is a lot of fun. And it's really cool to see mothers who really want their kids to learn to. Generally in homes when we come to visit recent converts and less actives, we always invite the kids to come join us and pray with us; but they always avoid us. But these mothers had their children sit up and pay attention and answer questions. And I think they had fun too. 

Speaking of kids. There is a neighborhood that a lot of members live in that we visit often and a house at one end always has a million children at it. We always try and stop by and visit with the mom (who is a less than eager to meet with us, she is less-active). The kids will jump all over us and give us high fives. I made the mistake of doing the 1-2-3 jump thing and then lifting them in the air. Now every time I stop by every kid wants to do it! But they're cute, and I need to pull out my camera with them! But as we were leaving Bong Naid's house, her younger kids (and some of the neighbor kids too) attacked us. And we got some cute pictures of that! Every time we pass through this neighborhood we have to bike fast because the kids try to jump on the back of our bikes. They're monkeys!

Speaking of packs of animals, we ran into a herd of cows on the road the other day. Even though we're technically in the city, it's all still very much farm life around here. Sometimes you have to bike around the cows, goats, chickens, etc. (See picture below).

As for our other investigators, we had a couple great lessons with Bong Vaid and Bong Vanna this week. I can't remember if I've mentioned them. They are a young couple with a little girl. The wife (Vaid) was able to come to church yesterday for the first time with her daughter. I think she had a good experience. Her husband, unfortunately, works on Sundays, but we recently taught about keeping the Sabbath day holy. I think he's committed to trying to work out a way to get a few hours off. They have had a couple really cool experiences they've shared with us. We asked if they had read The Book of Mormon and Bong Vaid told us she had. She was reading in the intro to The Book of Mormon, the testimony of Joseph Smith, and she said all of a sudden she had goosebumps all up and down her arm, but she wasn't scared. She explained over and over that usually that happens to her when she's watching a scary TV show or something, but she wasn't scared at all! We taught her that this is one way she can feel the Spirit. And I think she really understood. Then the next lesson, Bong Vanna (the husband) told us that he had had a dream and in his dream he saw was walking in a shady part of town and it was dark. But then he turned the corner and saw Jesus Christ. And Christ helped him find his way out. How cool is that? I love teaching this family, and I'm so excited for them. They are getting baptized January 18th, which I may or may not be here for...

As for our Taiwanese friend, it's hard to tell where she's at. She's only been to church once and she's super busy and doesn't have a whole lot of time to meet with us. But she's so nice. And we just got a copy of The Book of Mormon in Chinese sent up from the mission home! So we're excited about that. On Friday we had a long list of less active/recent converts to see in Phum Tenang. One after one were either not home or pretending not to be home or (in the unfortunate case of one) too drunk to function. We were feeling discouraged. So we decided to go see our investigator and get ice cream! Ice cream and a lesson in English all in one. Pretty good afternoon. So we'll see how things go with her. 

We tried out another unusual lesson technique this week involving nail polish. At one house in particular we have a bunch of less active young women. In district meeting we were going around the room sharing/asking advice and we asked for suggestions to get these girls wanting to learn. One of the elders suggested we bring nail polish. We thought he was joking, but he wasn't. And it totally worked! We rode up to their house and three were outside. So we sat down next to them, pulled out the nail polish and the scriptures. We got manicures and a lesson all in one. Win, win. (Or  as Michael Scott (The Office) would say: win, win, win.)

As I was biking around this week, I also had the interesting experience of seeing an animal head on a grill. I gave it a double take, and as I was looking back Sis P confirmed my suspicions. It was a dog. Which led me to share the story of my first day in Thailand (in which I watched a puppy die). But that led me to think about Thailand, and about my thesis, and about my other life before this. And it had been so long since I had thought about any of those things. And it struck me just how much of an immersive experience this is--much more than just immersive in the language. We are very much restricted in our outside contact with the world. All we really have is the other elders and sisters and the people we associate with here. Our media is limited to old copies of the Liahona and the District (which is constantly playing on repeat in our apartment). At first (particularly in the MTC) I hated being cut off, and I thought I was going to hate it all along. But I've gotten use to it, and I don't mind it now. It's nice to be able to focus so well. I still have stresses and problems, but they only exist in the realm of this mission experience. Everything else doesn't matter. It's nice to be able to focus on serving and becoming better at serving. 

My spiritual thought for the week is about receiving answers to prayers. Sometimes answers come later than we would hope for, but it's important to still realize that these are still answers. When I was getting ready to leave the MTC, I started to really stress that I didn't want to do this. I knew I was supposed to go on a mission to Cambodia, but I was quite certain I was less than excited about it. I was never the kid in Primary already counting the years to when she could serve a mission. I was worried how I would feel knocking on people's doors, telling them that they should change their beliefs and their lifestyles. But this week I realized that somewhere along the line there was a change in me. 

This week I've gotten particularly frustrated with my lack of language abilities and lack of teaching abilities in general. Explaining totally new, difficult to grasp concepts like the Atonement and family history work is difficult in English. And often I'll stutter through a section and Sister P will have to pick up the pieces. And I get discouraged. I feel like I'm working hard. I'm studying a lot (language and gospel). I'm trying to be as familiar as I can with Preach My Gospel. And I pray and seek inspiration for these people all the time. But it feels like I still have so far to go. But then it hit me. I REALLY want to do this well. I want to be a good missionary. And part of this desire has come from working with my new investigators and seeing the change and the happiness that is already coming into their lives. I believe in the power of the gospel and it's ability to change people in a whole new way. And this is 100 percent an answer to my prayers. So sometimes I think we want to move faster than we can and forget to look back and see how much we've grown and to see the answers we've already received. Heavenly Father's miracles, I'm learning, are usually very subtle. But that doesn't make them any less powerful. 

Okay, well that's all for this week! Hope everyone has a good week! Love and miss you all,

Sister Fields

herd of cows

professional photo-shopped version of my model shoot

me as a Khmer princess

when I visited Angkor Wat

rebuilt bamboo bridge

me and Sister P.

attack of the kids

Monday, December 1, 2014

In Which I have Thanksgiving in a Bar

Bamboo bridge jumping with Sister P.

Hello everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving Week! I missed America a bit this week, but that's okay. We had our own little bit of a Thanksgiving celebration this week. 

After long debates of who would make what food, how we would find it, where we would eat, etc. We decided to just  have Thanksgiving at a restaurant. We ended up choosing one none of us had ever been to before, but we had heard was good. It's technically a restaurant/bar, so we felt a little funny going in as missionaries; but we got our own little room and a big long table and it was pretty good. I had pork and potatoes, which was the most Thanksgiving-like meal on the menu; and it was pretty good! We spent the time waiting for our food dreaming about homemade rolls and pumpkin pie and all the food we weren't going to be eating. So  hopefully you guys enjoyed all of those on our behalf.

Last P-day after emailing, we went to go check out a bamboo bridge. It's one of the tourist spots in Kampong Cham. There's a little island on the Mekong (that's actually in our area, and someday we want to go out and meet the members there). They build a new bridge out of bamboo every year that sits just above the water. Every rainy season it floods and washes away, and then it is rebuilt again. It's not all the way built yet, but we still went out and took pictures on it. It feels very creaky and unstable, but they drive cars across it! Because it's made of bamboo, it's strong and flexible.

Other highlights... I got to teach in English this week! Just after our Thanksgiving meal we went next door to the drink shop our new Taiwanese friend runs. Turns out all the other missionaries wanted to get ice cream there, so they followed us there. She has soft-serve ice cream for about 12 cents a cone. So all the missionaries come by quite often. She ended up not having much time, so we just taught her a quick lesson on Heavenly Father and prayer. I can't explain how exciting it was to have a thought come to my mind to share with her and not have to figure out how to translate it before saying it, and to be able to understand her questions and respond to them. It just all seemed to come so naturally. So I'm excited to be able to teach her more. We meet her again tomorrow morning. She's very honest with us. She still isn't sure if she believes in God, but she's very willing to give it a shot. 

As for our other investigators, things are going well. Bong Naid, the investigator with five children who learned with missionaries originally ten years ago, is awesome. She came to church again with all her kids yesterday. And when we pass her house to go visit other people, she'll be sitting on the step to her house reading her Book of Mormon. She just already seems to understand so much of what we share with her. We're dropping by her house tonight to read with her. All we have to do next is get her husband to join in!

Even while our investigators are progressing, working with the less actives and recent converts this week has been discouraging. A little less than a year ago we had a whole wave of converts baptized in Phum Tenang (the very poor neighborhood I've mentioned before). While several continue to come to church and one in particular has a lot of faith, many, unfortunately, come for money. It's really too bad, but some people come, meet with branch presidency, and when they get some money, they don't come back. At least until they need money again. It's something the leadership in our branch is struggling to figure out what to do about. And so we visit people and we try to teach why we go to church and the blessings that come from it. But often it feels like we are building faith from scratch. 

On a happier note, however, Friday I had the opportunity to go on exchanges again (being the companion of a sister training leader has it's benefits). This time I went with Sister Khut in her area. It's beautiful! It's much more rural than our area. It's where we've been doing all these service projects that you've seen pictures from. They have to ride bikes farther than we do; but with rice fields on both sides, it's worth the ride. Easy for me to say (I don't have to do it every day). But I had a lot of fun with Sister Khut. I think she was a little apprehensive about it because she hasn't been out that long either, and she hasn't trained other missionaries yet. But I think we worked out a good balance in lessons. It's so valuable for me to be able to see how other missionaries operate. Not just in lessons, but in interacting with members, contacting. etc. It struck me as I was out with her on Friday that the Lord needs all kinds of people to be missionaries because there are all kinds of people that are wanting to hear the gospel and all kinds of different learning styles. 

Saturday afternoon while proselyting we got a call asking us to speak in church... the next day.... I was less than thrilled. So I wrote my talk (on the topic of service) Saturday night during language study so that I would be ready to go for 8:00 am church the next morning. And I didn't too bad at all. Much better than it went last time! I realized that my last talk was 6 weeks ago, or exactly one transfer. It was exciting to see that improvement is actually happening. It was only about 3 or 4 minutes long, but I read a scripture! In learning this language, I'm learning to appreciate the little victories. It's funny how in some days/lessons I can speak quite fluently (for me, at least), and I can understand well and I'm just on the ball and I think that in just a few more months I'll have this down. And then the very next lesson or even moment it all comes crashing down. And it hits me that I really don't know what I'm doing and just how far I have to go. But the key, I've found, is just to keep going. To keep speaking and keep trying even when it gets rough. And not to undervalue the ground I've already gained in this language. 

Okay, spiritual thought of the week comes to you from Ether 12:4. I don't remember reading this scripture before, but I love it now. In the verse just before it explains that Ether was a prophet called to cry repentance to a wicked people. He cried repentance all day, every day, morning to night. In verse 4 he shares:  Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.  

Every month President Moon gives us a topic to focus on. This month's topic was hope. I love the example of Ether because even when it probably felt like he wasn't doing any good, he always got up the next day, went out, and went to work because he believed that the gospel could bring a better world. He knew that the gospel changes lives--individually and the whole world! It's just a cool verse. And a cool guy.

Okay, well that's all for this week! Happy December! 


Sister Fields

Thanksgiving feast!
Pork and potatoes
Harvesting more rice for service project

 Funny story. So Sister Khut has decided (long ago) that I look like a rabbit. Something about my big glasses and my teeth... We went to this woman's house (the grandma) and she so funny. She thought that I was beautiful and wanted to take a picture of me. Everybody loves white skin here. They will always compliment me, and I never know what to say.... But she kept telling me that I look like an Elder who served here. She went and got a picture and Sister Khut started laughing because that Elder used to have the nickname of Elder Bonsai (the Khmer word for rabbit)! She died laughing.
On exchanges with Sister Khut. The sunset was beautiful and my camera does not do it justice.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In Which I Become a Khmer Princess

Sister E. and I in traditional Khmer clothes
Hello, hello!

Happy Thanksgiving week! I can't really wrap my head around that. It's weird to think we're already most of the way through November. It's as hot as ever here. That's not true, it's cooled a bit. Probably low 90s most days. We have plans to eat together as a zone. The lucky ducks in the city get to go to the mission home and eat with the Moons for a real Thanksgiving dinner, turkey included! But we learned we each get subsidized $3.50. The elders just came by and asked for an additional $5.00 from each of us. Apparently, we're going all out. Not sure what that means in relation to the lack of traditional Thanksgiving ingredients we have access to, but stay tuned. 

Okay. So last Monday I somehow got roped into thinking it would be a fun idea to do the make-up/dress-up/take pictures of me thing. Let's just say it took 3.5 hours. 3.5 hours is always precious, but as a missionary on a p-day it is especially precious. It was bizarre experience. Sister E. was determined to do it. And she convinced me, and we thought that the other two would do it but they didn't. But after seeing the final result Sister P. wants to do it too! So maybe next week... 

It was a singularly unique experience, and I think the only opportunity in life I will have to feel like a model, which is good I think. Once was enough. We had a team of about eight people working on us. Makeup took 75 minutes alone. Powders and powders and powders. And then they teased my hair for about 45 minutes. I wasn't facing a mirror when they did this, but I'd catch glimpses of myself when they weren't working on me. And I freaked myself out every time! It was not me. 

And then the costume... It was a bit of a challenge because most of their dresses didn't have sleeves. But we eventually found two that worked. Mine was yellow. And with my hair in a ponytail to the side the sisters decided I looked like Belle. Then we did the photo shoot. We only did a couple pictures professionally, and then they let us take some on our cameras too. We'll go pick up the real pictures today. I'm excited. They will do a background of Angkor Wat. It's gonna be so funny. At the end of the session I was more than excited to have my body back. It was just a lot of touching by a lot of different people who I couldn't communicate well with. We rode home on our bikes with full makeup and hair and got some pretty strange looks. See pictures for full effect. 

Tuesday we held an Family Home Evening with a less active family. I think I've written about them earlier. It's mostly a bunch of young women and their moms who are all less active for the most part. We decided to hold it at 5:00 because that's when more people would be home. But it didn't go quite as planned. Turns out the members were mostly concerned about making a meal for us, which was very nice of them. But we were mostly concerned about teaching them. So the lesson itself was more just sharing a scripture over dinner. But we had fun together! And it was good to see the whole family together. Often times our branch feels like a collection of individuals. People don't really attend as families. So I think it was just a good thing to have everyone together to pray and read scriptures together. 

The farming life continues this week. We planted more jicama and corn this time. And on Saturday morning, we harvested rice! We had sickles and everything. We "thrusted in our sickles with all our might," so to speak. It was dry rice, so we just walked out into the fields, grabbed a bundle and started hacking at the stems. It was pretty fun, and we got some fun pictures. Now I've harvested wet rice (in Laos) and dry rice (in Cambodia)! I'm practically Asian. 

Okay, but the real exciting news this week is: WE HAVE INVESTIGATORS! Like real, actual, progressing, church-attending investigators. It's pretty exciting. So I told you last week about Bong Naid (the woman who learned ten years ago and decided to learn again). She's really cool. Her daughter is also learning with us and we just found out she has another kid over 8, so we'll try to get her to learn too. She brought all 5 of her kids to church last week. She asks us every time we visit if we're coming back the next day. She's relatively reserved, but she's very eager to learn. And she just seems so solid already. We sat down with her and her daughter and read the first chapter of 1st Nephi together. And I think she'll keep going. 

We're also teaching her neighbors across the street. They are two girls about our age who are living in a rental apartment and going to school. They are both shy, but very nice. We've taught them two lessons so far, and they stayed for all three hours on Sunday! Both of these families are referrals from our really cool 2nd counselor. He's so solid. He used to drink and smoke; but he totally turned his life around, or so I'm told by other missionaries. He's baptized his whole family and a lot of his extended family and now he's working on his neighbors. He drives a tuk tuk for a living, and so every Sunday he loads up his whole family and brings everyone to church. We were so happy to see him pull in with our new investigators stuffed in there along with everyone else. 

We met with another family last night. They live across the street from the family we had the FHE with on Tuesday. We met her that night, and asked if we could come back. They are a young couple with a little toddler girl. We didn't have much time last night, so we just taught them about Heavenly Father, and taught them how to pray. We gave them a little sheet to help them remember how to pray; and as we were leaving, the mom was helping the little girl say all the words. It was really cute. I'm really excited to teach them! The more time I spend here the more I realize that getting families to learn and come to church all together is really the key. 

Lastlyyyyy. I saved the best for last. We have and English-speaking investigator!! Tomorrow we are teaching the first lesson in ENGLISH!! Okay, so this woman is Taiwanese and moved here six months ago. All the missionaries know her because she owns a little ice cream shop that we go to a lot. She doesn't really know Khmer, but speaks Mandarin and very good English. The elders invited her to come to church this week and she stayed all three hours! Sister P translated for her. I'm not sure how genuinely interested she is or if she's just curious or what. It would be hard for her to attend church not knowing Khmer, but I think she is in the process of learning. Either way, tomorrow should be really interesting! 

So it was a good week! It was a good way to end the transfer. Yep. I am officially in my second transfer as of today. In some ways it feels like I've been here much longer than six weeks! But it's nice to know I have another full six weeks left of training. And then things get real. 

And just real quick I wanted to share a scripture that I came across again this week. It's one of my favorites in Moroni 8. About teaching the truth (and correcting errors that were going on in the church at that time) Mormon says, "Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear."   I'm not doing the crazy calling anyone to repentance over here, but I am trying to get out of my comfort zone every day. Sharing my testimony, contacting, teaching in Khmer, alone. It's all still kind of a scary thing to me. But what helps me is to think about Heavenly Father. And His love for these people. I don't really love everyone I meet yet (not even close, actually) but I am trying harder and harder to feel His love for other people. I think I understand a little bit how He feels about me. And when I realize He loves everyone else on this planet just as much as me, it blows my mind a little bit.  When I do this, I stop thinking about myself. I stop thinking about what they're thinking about me, and how terribly I am speaking. I think of how I can, hopefully, maybe, help them a little bit. I just got my copy of the Liahona with conference addresses. And there's a good talk called "Which way do you face" I think, by a Seventy, that inspired some of these thoughts as well. It's a good one to read about having courage. 

That's all for this week! Hopefully everyone has a good Thanksgiving! Eat a lot of pie and rolls for me. 

Sister Fields


After because the before and after are just so scarily stark. 

My servants.

They posed every last part of me down to the inch. I'm excited to see the final product.

The team.

The four of us.

If I only got up at 2:30 am I'd look like this everyday.

Me and Sister Khut harvesting dry rice.

All four of us.

"The field is white all ready to harvest."

Me and Sister P.

Ate this at an investigator's house this week. She saw a lady selling them across the street and made us try some. She laughed at our timidness to try them. But they really weren't bad. They were crickets. They had a lot of seasoning. They kind of tasted like those roasted chickpeas Spencer makes. A little bit. And a little bit like crickets.  We pulled the legs off before we ate them.

Family Home Evening.