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.

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