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.

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