Monday, September 29, 2014



Greetings from the MTC! For (almost) the last time! As of tomorrow I will officially have one week left in this place. For the first time, the English speaking missionaries who arrived on Wednesday won't take off before us. 

It's all starting to feel more real. We got our official flight plans on Friday. I'm flying American Airlines from Salt Lake to LAX taking off at 6:50 PM. And then Cathay Pacific Airlines from LAX to Hong Kong taking off at 11:55 PM LA time and landing 5:45 AM Hong Kong time (AKA 14 hours later). And then flying Dragonair from Hong Kong at 8:45 and landing in Phnom Penh at 10:25 AM! Pretty exciting! We are meeting to leave the MTC at 1:30, even though the flight doesn't take off until 7! I'm sure they have learned to just be extra cautious about time with all the missionaries they ship out weekly. 

Now that we have the itinerary everything is starting to sink in. We had a district chat session yesterday where we all wrote a fear we had about the next few weeks and then we tried to dispel them. It was surprisingly a success. And it made me grateful that I have done this flying to Asia thing before. I have pleanty of fears about the next few weeks, but mine take place after the plane has landed in Cambodia. 

Actually, right now I'm not really thinking too far ahead. I'm mostly just trying to get myself pumped about the fact that in a little over a week I'll finally be in Cambodia! And then we will be picked up by the mission president, and we will spend the night there, I think. We'll get a little orientation. But after that, who knows! An elder in my district thinks that generally they send the sister missionaries out to the country and the elders stay in Phnom Penh. I don't know why he thinks that, but I wouldn't mind that. When I try to picture myself in Cambodia, I usually picture a village like Paklang in Thailand. It would certainly make my bike riding experiences less terrifying. All in all, it's just pretty hard to picture in general. 

Becuase general conference is next weekend, yesterday was our last Sunday in our branch, so we had a special meeting with the branch presidency and exit interviews. So it's all starting to seem like we're leaving soon! It's going to be hard to keep up the motivation this week. It'll be an interesting week too, because on Friday we have In-Field orientation which is held by the MTC and lasts all day. And then we won't have class on Saturday either because of General Conference! 

So everything is getting wrapped up this week. We have our last few lessons with our investigators. And we had it timed just perfectly to fit in all the lessons and get interviewed for baptism, but we did not account for General conference. But thankfully they are not real. Our investigator Lookpuu Roath (AKA Lokruu Michelsen) wrote us a note this week. It was all in script, so it took a little while to translate becuase of his handwriting. But in it he thanked us for teaching him about the gospel and the Atonement and how much happiness it brought to him and his family. It was nice even if it wasn't real. 

It was a good week language-wise. Sister S. and I have done a good job SYL-ing. On Saturday we tried an "English Fast" with our whole district. We definitely did not make it the whole day, but we had a party anyways. I brought the rest of my gummy bears and we played games for the last hour of the day. It's been really fun getting to know these kids. It's going to be a little sad when we're all split up! Most of us are headed to Cambodia together, but Sister H. is headed to Tacoma(!) and two Elders in our district are headed to Long Beach, CA. 

Also this week the bookstore got in Cambodian versions of the illustrated Book of Mormon. I bought a copy (even though I do not need the extra weight!). And it's been fun reading it! I know most of the words, so it's good practice reading. And the pictures make it a lot less intimidating than the actual Book of Mormon. It'll be a cool thing to keep and show people when I come home too. 

Hmmm. What else. We got to hear from Elder Ballard this week. So we had to do another eat dinner in 5  minutes and rush to choir thing again. We sang "Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning." And I'm still a little bitter about not singing in conference. Elder Ballard gave a good talk. It was cool because he didn't really prepare anything, but just talked with us about what things he learned on his missions and advice for us. 

That's about all from this week. This next week will be prepping to go and cramming in all the Cambodian I can! Wish me luck!


Sister F. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Two Weeks from Tomorrow is Take-off!

Hey guys,

We're on week 7 already? How crazy is that! In two weeks from tomorrow we'll be taking off! 

This week has been a good one. Let's start with MondayMonday night we had the opportunity to do a Skype lesson with a member in Cambodia. It was a bit hectic at first, because they only had a couple volunteers lined up. We ended up being a tri-panionship, and Sister S. and I adopted Sister H. We each had our own computer screen with headphones and a microphone. I'd tell you the name of the man we Skyped, but I couldn't understand him. We didn't understand much of what he said. And it didn't help that we couldn't hear him very well either. And he was working in the mission home, so he kept getting up to help other missionaries, but we couldn't understand him at first, so we thought he just kept getting up and leaving us in the middle of our lesson. Overall, I'd say it did not go well, but that's okay. He was very nice. And we met the mission president! Halfway through the lesson he stuck his head in the screen, and talked to us in English! It was only for a second, but he seemed very nice and said he was excited to meet us very soon! We have another Skype session tonight. Hopefully we can only improve. 

Tuesday night we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Scott! It was pretty exciting. Have I told you about choir here yet? Normally I am not a choir person. At all. But the director here tells great stories and is really funny, and when you can't really get any music any other way, I take what I can get. But everyone here wants to sing in the choir, so you have to line up really early. And when there's a general authority coming, you have to line up exxtrraa early. We ate dinner in about 5 minutes. There have been a lot of moments here when I ask myself, "who am I"? And racing to get into choir was one of them. But the devotional was great. He talked about prayer. And it was a very simple message, but encouraging and something I needed to hear. It was broadcast to the other MTCs around the world. And the rumor is we have another apostle coming tomorrow night, so stay tuned. 

Speaking of choir though, I have unfortunate news. We will not be singing at conference. The Elders however will be singing at Priesthood session. But since it is frowned upon for women to attend, we will probably not be there. Though plans for sneaking in have been discussed. Just the field trip to Salt Lake is all I'm asking for. I feel like after seven weeks in this establishment, they owe us that much. 

Another epidemic is working its way through the MTC. As I sit here, people are taking turns hacking away. At the devotional on Tuesday it was hard to hear Elder Scott over 5,000 coughers. I unfortunately have caught it. It was inevitable though, because the elder and sister that sit on either side of me and Sis S. in class were both deathly ill. So it was only a matter of time. I could literally feel myself inhale the warm air that the elder had just coughed. Sorry, that's really gross. The classroom is just really small. I came down with it on Saturday, but I didn't get it too bad. It's going away already.

For service this week we had the fun job of tearing up all the plants at the entrance of the MTC. For some reason I've never understood, the church feels  the need to completely re-do their flowers every season. (They do this at BYU too.) So we got to rip everything up, and it was actually pretty satisfying, though spiders flew everywhere. 

The language is coming along as well as can be expected. Some days I feel like I just have more than other days though. Sis S. and I did give a really great lesson on Saturday talking about repentance. We used the story of Alma the Younger, and stopped and explained verses as he went along. He asked us how he would know when he had faith in Christ. We understood the question and tagged teamed our response like pros. It's really exciting when we can carry on a natural conversation and we're able to really address their concerns. 

Another cool experience this week came from a lesson with an investigator about Joseph Smith. It was the same night as the Skype lesson, and our first lesson after the weekend, and I guess I was feeling particularly flustered, so I was stuttering all over the place. But then I began to recite the First Vision and the stuttering went away. I didn't get through the whole thing (still not completely memorized, I read the ending), but I felt the spirit strongly. Whether that came from the words I was saying, or the fact that I was no longer stuttering, I'm not sure. But either way I felt the power of those words. And I realized why it was important for us to memorize it. I almost have the whole thing down now.

Hmm. What else... Oh, here's a fun thing. The other night we were in our classroom studying, like usual, and somebody noticed fireworks going off outside. So we turned off, the lights, closed the door, stood on the desks and watched the show. I have no idea where they were coming from, but they were big! And they lasted a while. It  was a good show. Also, it was like a Wednesday night... Mason, any ideas? 

Yesterday we had the chance to watch the re-dedication of the Ogden Temple. That was pretty cool. I've been to quite a few of those now. Did Mason and Lauren go too? I remember when they dedicated the Brigham City temple, they canceled all the Provo wards, and we watched that. I'm not gonna lie though, I was in a sleepy, cold-medicine induced phase. So I don't remember a ton of it.

Anyways, that's the news from the MTC. Wish me luck in my next two weeks here. At this rate, I think I'll be lucky to make it out of here alive. Any Khmer I learn in the process will just be a bonus.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Birthday Week


Another greeaaattt week in the MTC. (Infer what you want from that sentence.) But, this week was birthday week! Well, birthday day. But that was good enough for me. 

Thanks for all the birthday surprises! When I got to the classroom that morning, my district friends had decorated my desk with sticky notes and wrote a big birthday note on the chalkboard (even though it was cleaning check and we were supposed to wipe the board clean, but they let us slide). Also, on my desk were goldfish, homemade cookies, and a note from Sarah!  Her friend, Lauren, who works at the MTC, dropped it off on my desk. The cookies were delicious. I miss homemade food!

My birthday landed on a Tuesday, which is one of the better days to have a birthday here. We have choir and devotional that night. The previous Sunday a member of the MTC presidency announced that a general authority would be coming soon and went over the proper procedure of how we should stand when he came. That led everyone to think that someone cool was coming on Tuesday, and there had been various reports of Pres. Uchtdorf sightings on campus. But alas, he was not there. An Elder Niatii (or something close to that...) and his wife spoke, and they both gave good talks. But at choir on Sunday it was confirmed that someone will be coming this Tuesday. So stay tuned. These kinds of rumors fly around the MTC like crazy. It's the little things.

I opened up packages when I got home that night, and got some fun things! The elephant necklace I got from you guys is the same one as Sister H. has. So now we can be twins. It's really cute, I like it a lot. I also got a really pretty one from Grandma and Grandpa. Lauren and Mason sent me some missionary essentials. When I saw the BYU bookstore bag in the package, it warmed my heart. Also, so much candy! But I've given up whatever no eating junk rules I may have come in with (which, were like none, so it's fine). Nate and Jane sent two pounds of gummy bears! I took them to my class and they were a big hit in my district. Ellie also sent me a box with sparkling cider! But it had a real bottle cap on it that we couldn't get off! After struggling to levy it off with a ladder from our bunk bed (pictures below), Sister H. eventually narrowly avoided serious injury as she pried it off with a pocket knife. We got it though! And it was fun celebration. 

Speaking of adventures in the residence, last P-day I was studying on my bed and from across the room (without my glasses on, I might add) I saw an enormous spider crawling across the floor. It was bigger than a quarter and hairy! I told everybody not to move, and grabbed a shoe, but as I got too it, I knew it was way too big. I have my bug catching limits. It eventually crawled under my bed and Sister H. (she solves all our problems!) and another sister from next door had their heads under the bed for 10 minutes trying to catch it. Eventually it was smashed. We figured it was just preparation for the bigger spiders to come! 

Today the Thai districts that came in just a few weeks before us are taking off! We all went up to the temple yesterday to take zone pictures. That makes us the oldest ones here--well, I'm always the oldest one here--but in length of time here, we're now the oldest in the zone. (Speaking of which, my birthday solidified even further that I am a grandmother here. People gave me flack for it all day. But it was loving. I did, however, find out that one of our teachers is only 21... It was a weird moment for both of us...). But anyways, we take off officially 3 weeks from now! I don't have the official flight information, but I think we take off from SLC around 8 and have a layover in LAX from 9:30 to 1 or something like that. So sometime during that span I'll give you guys a call! I'll let you know more as I do. 

It was a pretty good language week. I've revised my study plan, and I think I'm on track to learn 750 words before I leave this place. That and memorize the First Vision, and baptismal commitment. Oh and also learn how to read and speak fluently... So... We'll see how the last two go. TRC went well this week. I feel like I can understand their responses pretty well when I ask them questions, even if I still can't converse fluently with them. But then I'll ask them to pray at the end, and they'll speak at a normal pace and I won't catch any of it, haha. 

But we've now graduated from TRC with RMs here at the MTC. Now we get to skype actual members in Cambodia. Starting tonight! So that's a more than a little scary... And our lessons are 40 minutes now. Sister S. and I are teaching on enduring to the end. So I'll let you know how that goes next week. Say a prayer for me!

Just a couple of cool things from devotionals this week. Elder Niatii on Tuesday mentioned that our missions will become the spiritual foundations of our lives. And I feel like I can already see this happening. Because I spend so much time (literally all the time) devoted to studying the gospel and how we can present these doctrines simply, I'm gaining a greater testimony of the doctrinal aspect of the gospel, and how everything fits together. I can tell how having these 18 months getting to know the doctrine will help me make sense of everything more. 

I've also realized lately that I am more of a questioner than a lot of other people. I don't know if I was born this way, or if I've developed it after years of anthropology classes in which we're constantly encouraged to critique arguments. But questioning is important to me, and I'm not afraid to not know the answer. Just before companion study and after personal study, my qua-panions (AKA the four of us) like to have a little discussion about what we've learned before we start planning lessons. I love this because we get to wonder about things. My companion doesn't love it quite as much. I think she worries sometimes about asking questions. But in a recent devotional, a wife of an MTC leader (I forget who, her name was Sister Lindahl) talked about the difference between asking questions from a place of faith and from a place of doubt and drew upon the examples of Mary mother of Jesus and Zacharias ( I think this is in Jesus the Christ). And I loved that idea. That we can ask questions and admit that we don't have all the answers. And maybe asking questions will only lead to more questions, but as long as we hold to the faith we already have, it's good to ask. Just food for thought. 

We also watched a taped devotional that Elder Bednar gave on Christmas at the MTC about the Character of Christ. You should google it. I bet you could find it online. It was great! He talked all about how our natural inclination when life gets hard is to turn in, while Christ always turns out and helps other people. Even as he was dying on the cross, he turned to the two criminals also on crosses and started doing missionary work. He talked about what we can do to develop these qualities. Look it up!

Well, I think that's about it for this week. Thanks for all the B-day wishes! 

Sister Fields

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Place I Will Live Forever

Greetings from the MTC. The place I will live forever. Just kidding. But it feels like it a lot of the time. Saturday marked our halfway point! Which is both scary and exciting, because it both feels like we just got here and like we've been here forever. All at the same time. To celebrate our halfway point, Sister H. and I had grand plans to sneak downstairs to switch out our floor's broken toaster (you have to hold down the handle the whole time) with the one on the floor below us. But then we learned theirs didn't work at all, so our plans were futile. And then we popped some popcorn. It was quite the celebration.

This week was a bit rough. I caught a cold and was running low on sleep (as per usual), which made everything else that happened seem rough. Here you don't ever really get time to recover. Even p-days and Sundays are just as busy as every other day; they're just busy with other things. But I got over it. And I'm determined to have a better week this week. It's kind of a mind game. I'm not really one to have a positive attitude 24/7, but it actually does help here. At 6:30 every morning (or really, 6:24 so we can avoid the line for breakfast) I wake up reeeaallly not wanting to face the day. But whether I want to or not, I have to do it. So I might as well try not to hate my life while I'm doing it. In mission conference yesterday (more on that to follow) someone said the quote "The best way to to get over trials is to go through them." Or something like that. 

We went to the temple today for the first time in two weeks (because it was closed last Monday) and that was really nice. We're helping an elder in our zone do family names, so we take a different name each time we go. He's getting a lot done.  Sometimes we catch the 7:40 am session and sometimes the 8:00 am. 

On the way home from the temple this week we were walking back through the gates into the MTC and a girl dressed in jeans is walking out and saw my tag and freaked out and asked if I was going to Cambodia. Turns out she got home three weeks ago! She was super nice, and we chatted with her for like 20 minutes. She told us that she looooved Cambodia and that she's having a hard time now adjusting to regular life and wishes she were in our place (it was a mutual feeling I think--going to BYU, or even just being able to walk out those gates freely is enviable). But she said we'd love it and that the food was delicious (lots of fish!). She told us not to worry about the language, that it will come. She said she stressed out about everything way to much when she was in the MTC and after she first got to Cambodia. We asked her all our questions. She did say that most everyone will get in a bike accident in the city, but that nobody ever really gets hurt(?). So pray for me. (But really). 

Yesterday was a very long fast Sunday. But we did have mission conference, which was kind of interesting. It was for the entire MTC, and the MTC presidency and their wives spoke. It was all about fear and faith, and it was a good thing for me to hear after a rough week. We had a lot of free time with no relief society or choir on Fast Sundays, so we spent a lot of time hanging out in our classroom (like every other day). We've taken to watching movies on on Sundays, and it's a really nice break. We've gotten through a lot of Mormon messages, so yesterday we watched some classic seminary videos, "Johnny Lingo," and "The Phone Call." Does anyone remember that one? It was definitely made in the 70s. Look it up, it's hilarious. And it has no spiritual undertones at all, so that's fun. 

Khmer is coming along. We're getting better at speaking Khmer outside of class. I'm learning quite a bit of vocab, but the trick is to be able to use it in common speech. So hopefully this week I can do a better job at that. I slacked off on reading this week, but I'm going to need to work hard on that this week because we are going to start reading the Book of Mormon out loud in class. So wish me luck on that one... 

Teaching is going pretty well. We're hoping to commit our "investigators" to baptism this week. My teacher mentioned this week that when he was at the MTC (which was only like 3 years ago, AKA he's basically my age) they only taught once a week during TRC on Saturdays. I can't imagine that! We teach a 20 minute lesson once a day. And it's the most helpful thing that we do at the MTC. And when it goes well, it's the most rewarding.

I have a little pile of packages sitting on my desk for tomorrow! It should be an exciting day. And it's Tuesday, which means we have choir and devotional instead of one of our usual classes, so it's a pretty good day to have a birthday. Everyone hear knows I'm old (Sis. S. likes to brag for me that I'm a college grad), so we joke that I'm turning 30 tomorrow. The big 3-0. It's been really fun getting to know everyone in our zone. Because we literally do everything together, we've become good friends. And because we (unlike most zones) have a bunch of different languages, we can walk down the hall and say hi in Cantonese, Thai, Cambodian, Hmong and Vietnamese. So I feel very multilingual. Sometimes the Hmong elders will try and chat with me in Hmong, but the little Hmong that was in my head from last summer has been pushed out by Cambodian. I barely have room for two languages in my head. And even though people are little here, lots of the time it's not noticeable. And I keep thinking about Mason, because all these elders are his age. When I talk about my family I'll mention my little brothers, only to realize that they are also 18/19. Wouldn't it be crazy if Mason had gone out of high school and we were at the MTC at the same time! 

Anyways, that's all the rambling for today. Sorry this one was lacking in exciting news or spiritual insight. I'll include some good pictures though. Have a good week everyone!

 This picture is one of our tasks for the week. It is the First Vision. We have to memorize it (which isn't really too much, I think it's just part of 17 and 18 of JST). We wrote it out and translated the whole thing with our locruu, which is nice because it has made it easier to memorize. But the board just looked so impressive that we all took pictures of it to send home. I'm only about 1/5 of the way through memorizing it.

The last picture is me and Lauren Smith! (Who is a friend from BYU I know through Sarah). She got home a few months ago and she teaches Japanese on the floor below me.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Halfway Done With the MTC


We will hit our halfway point of time at the MTC on Friday! Which is crazy! The MTC feels a lot like a time warp. Sometimes it feels like we've been here forever and my entire mission will be spent here. And then sometimes I think, In 5 weeks we will be headed to Cambodia and I don't know anything! 

The highlight of the week was hosting new missionaries. Not only did we get to welcome them and show them around, we got out of class for 2 hours and we aren't required to be with a companion. Brief freedom. I didn't actually get to pick anyone up off the curb because I was hosting international missionaries. They arrive early and stay in temporary rooms. But we still have to move their luggage to their permanent residence and pick up their books and materials. For whatever reason, the building they were in does not have elevator access, so we lugged suitcase after suitcase down two flights of stairs, across campus, and then up two more. But it was still a lot of fun. And it was funny to think that just three weeks ago we were in their place. 

Khmer has been kind of hit and miss this week. Some days it feels like I can understand so much and say nearly everything I'm trying (even if it takes a while). But then sometimes it feels like I know nothing and no matter how hard I try the vocabulary won't stay in my head. This week Sis. S. and I planned to teach an investigator about the Plan of Salvation. We had it all worked out and were ready to go. In the previous lesson we had shared the Book of Mormon and asked him to start reading it. So we asked him about that at the beginning of the lesson, and he said he didn't understand why it was important to read it. So we had a quick change of plans, and taught about the significance of the Book of Mormon. And it was a success. Even if just from a language standpoint (because, yes, the investigator is really just one of our teachers). It's really exciting to be able to understand the gist of a question and be able to respond to it.
But there are good and bad days. TRC this week was a little bit rough. We get used to how slow our teacher speaks and the limited vocabulary he uses, and then we meet with someone else speaking the language and we can't understand anything! It's prepping us for October I guess. TRC was kind of fun though, because we met with two RM sister missionaries from Cambodia! We haven't met any yet! So after the lesson was over (even though we're not supposed to do this) they asked in English if we had any questions about Cambodia. They said that we will definitely want bike shorts (though I'm still not convinced I won't die of heat stroke). She said they would tuck their skirts into their shorts. Either way, I do have that pair I can't wear to gym. 

I've been trying harder at learning to read this week. It's still rough, but I'm slowly understanding a little bit better. I'm working my way through the Articles of Faith. I read the first one yesterday, and it took me about 45 minutes. So... we'll see how that goes. We're supposed to be able to sing a hymn from reading script in class tonight. It's going to be rough.

We had a good devotional on Tuesday from an Elder Martino of the Seventy. He shared a point I really liked. He was talking about Enoch and shared the scripture where Enoch questions the Lord why he was called, "For I am slow of speech and all the people hate me" he says. Which I can definitely say I have thought from time to time in my life, and I'm sure I will when I get to Cambodia. And the Lord's answer, in a nutshell is: 1) Get to work 2) keep the commandments and 3) open your mouth and it will be filled, "And I will justify your words." That is a pretty powerful promise. 

I've also been reading Jesus the Christ this week, and really enjoying it! Though I'm not sure I would see eye to eye with all of Talmage's points, I'm learning a lot. I think he focuses a lot on the humanity of Christ, which is really interesting and something I've been thinking about a lot. So it's a good read.

Also, I appreciated everyone's insight on the question I asked about Christ last week. I have another question. The other day in class we were talking about the significance of the Book of Mormon and how it can apply to us. And it got me thinking. There are so many people who have lived on this Earth throughout time (not to mention other worlds). Surely God has had a hand in the lives of many peoples. And surely they have written records. Why is the Book of Mormon so significant? Why is this specific record about this specific people so applicable to us today? I think the key is that it testifies of Christ, but what about the other people who testified of him as well. There must have been others, right? Maybe this is just coming from my anthropology background, but it distracts me every time I think about the importance of the Book of Mormon.

Well, that's pretty much it for this week. Thanks everyone for all the Dear Elder's. Sorry this letter has been pretty ramble-y. It's been a pretty good P-day. The temple was closed today, so we had an extra few hours, which was actually kind of nice. I think I'm going to try to go home and take a nap. My companion has had a cold, and I'm afraid I might be coming down with it. But, until next week!

--Sister Fields