I've been thinking about you guys today! I hope the drive is going well. It's funny to think that you guys will be here tomorrow! Send me Dear Elders throughout the week and keep me updated! Hopefully the move-ins go well. I wish I could be there (here) to help.
Okay, so highlights of this week:
The MTC is starting to feel like regular life. Which is both a good and a bad thing. We'll have been here three weeks on Wednesday, but it feels like it's been much longer. Our district gets to host this Wednesday! Which means we get to pick up the newbies from the curb and show them around.
I learned to read! And it's craaaazyy. In Khmer you read left to right, but in circles. Everything in a word is built around the consonant. So you look for the consonant first, and then the sub consonants, and then the vowels. The tricky thing is, depending on the consonant, the vowel might make different sounds. Also, there are new spaces in between letters, so until you familiarize yourself with what a lot of words look like, it's impossible to tell when one word starts and one word ends. So it's gonna take a while to get used to it. And I've decided that I'm going to make sure I always put speaking/listening first. For me, speaking and listening is more important than reading or writing. But SOMEDAY I'll be able to do them all. Maybe.
We had our first TRC this week on Saturday. In TRC we teach volunteers who come in. The lessons are home/visiting teacher style, so all of the volunteers are usually members. Either returned missionaries or natives. It's pretty nerve-wracking. It's one thing to be teaching "investigators" that are just your teachers, but real people is another thing. Eventually, we will be skyping members in Cambodia and teaching 40 minute lessons. I'm not sure how that will work with the time difference. So we'll see. So this week Sis S. and I taught two sets of returned missionaries. We taught on the Holy Ghost. It didn't go too terrible. It's actually kind of nice teaching members, because it's a whole different type of teaching. They all contributed a lot and then praised us on our Cambodian afterwords. So that was nice.
Our lessons have been going pretty well this week. We're on a pretty regular schedule now where we teach one of our teachers every day (except Sunday and P-day night) and then TRC on Saturday. Now for the most part we're able to go in with two note cards: one that's a brief lesson plan in English, and one with vocabulary we haven't memorized that we might need.
One lesson this week with an investigator was about the Atonement. We felt pretty good about it going in, and it was going great until he asked "Why did Christ have to die?" We both sat there for a minute. And I'm not sure I could answer that question fully if I was speaking English. We didn't really end up giving him an answer. I told him that it was a good question and that we would talk about it more next time. Hahah. So now we've got to figure out the answer. It spurred an interesting conversation within our district. And I suppose the answer is that justice needed to be satisfied. It's true that in order for us not have to pay for our sins, He did. But why did He die? But give me your thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
I had another interesting experience in class last week. Two of our teachers were demonstrating giving a lesson. We were supposed to be observing the investigator and trying to decipher what they were thinking/feeling, etc. The lesson was about Christ and he was showing the investigator a picture of him in the pamphlet. And it struck me how impossible this would be if it weren't true. I imagined a Cambodian man in a dirt floor bamboo hut in Cambodia looking at a picture of a bearded Caucasian man who lived 2000 years ago, and trying to explain to him that this man was Jesus Christ and that he took upon his sins and perfectly understands everything he's going though. But it works. And it's been done over and over and over again. So that's why the spirit is important I suppose. Sometimes it's a relieving thought to know that I am just the messenger. That it's not my work I'm doing, but Heavenly Father's. He has to do the hard work, preparing all of these people.
For a while I've had issue with the idea of coming into someone's country and home and pushing my religion/beliefs/outlook of the world on them. But someone explained it well in an orientation the first week. We're not here to tear away everything they know and all their previous understandings of the world. We take their basic understanding of love and family and an all-knowing, all-loving being and build on top of that basic foundation. And that is the "preparation" that everyone talks about already taking place. Kelsey sent me a great quote by Madeleine L'Engle that spoke to this idea, but I forgot to bring it with me! Well, I'll send it next week. I really liked it.
Anyways, we've been having some crazy weather here. We've had a ton of thunder storms and it's been really chilly for August in Provo. We'll see if it sticks around for when you guys are here. Friday night the storm was really close and thunder went off for a long time in the middle of the night. The first time it woke me up it shook the whole building! It was crazy. It hasn't helped my sleep schedule. And it made TRC hard to do. My brain was moving slowly. One of the annoying things is that if you get a bad night of sleep, there's no way to catch up.
Yesterday was really nice. Sundays are my favorite days of the week. Definitely the most relaxing. I get my music and my movie fix. The MTC is severely lacking in the form of entertainment. My music fix comes from Music and the Spoken Word. So that's what my life has come too... Also, I might have mentioned this last week, but Sunday nights they show four different films. Usually one is a "good one" while the others recorded devotionals. So as soon as the Sunday night devotional is over everyone books it to the other building to the movie. We've learned to sit near the side door so that as soon as they say amen we can run out the door and literally run across campus to get a seat. I wish I were joking. Last week was Legacy, this week was the Joseph Smith Movie. So that's life now.
But other than that, things are going well in the MTC. We're getting to be good friends with our district, which is fun, but also bad for the four hours of studying we have at night. I've learned that some people are not as adept at studying as others. These elders that come straight out of high school admit that they've never had to study before in their lives! Another good reason to go after college. I'm coming up with a good list. I'm so glad I came at this point in my life.
Thank you everyone for the Dear Elders! I'm writing snail mail letters back! So don't think I've given up on you if you haven't heard from me yet. Love you all!