|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, 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.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,
|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|