Monday, February 23, 2015

In Which I Celebrate Chinese New Year, Khmer Style

Selfie in internet cafe because we still haven't taken a picture together!


It's Mondaaayyy again. It was kind of a hard week meeting-people wise, with Chinese New Year going on, but it's been really fun being comps with Sister Khim. So it's been good!

Monday we went lunch to celebrate Sis H's birthday with Sister S. and H and their comps at a place called Sunrise Taco. It was the first Mexican food I've had in over four months! Super good! And then Tuesday after district meeting we went to Burger King. The nicest Burger King I've ever seen in my life. I almost wanted to take a picture. I would define it as "burger chic." So still loving the American food life here in the city. 

So Chinese New Year interrupted our proselyting a little bit this week. I guess the holiday went from Wednesday to Friday, and a lot of people get work off. There were lots of red lantern decorations hung up all over the city. Wednesday is the day they burn offerings (I don't actually know what they call it). But Wednesday morning when a recent convert we were meeting at the church didn't show up, we went out contacting. Everyone was out in front of their houses burning fake money and different things over charcoal fires. The whole city smelled like it. They burn different things out of paper. They've been selling them at the markets for weeks. Three-story houses made of paper that look like doll houses. Motos, jewelry, appliances. Name any thing that costs money and they were burning the paper version. As it turns out, people who are in the midst of celebrating their Buddhist holidays aren't super interested in  the idea of learning about Jesus. So it made for some rough, hot few hours walking around.

But not having people to meet turned out to be kind of a blessing because we were able to track down some less actives. Like I said last week, Sister Khim served here for a few weeks at the beginning of her mission, a year ago. And that's been really helpful because some of the less actives they were meeting with a year ago, I haven't met. So we've been visiting those people. And then we found a map that some sisters had made a while ago with a bunch of people and houses marked on it. One unanticipated skill I'm picking up here is how to read and make hand-drawn maps with just the key elements listed. 

On Friday morning we ended up finding a recent convert neither me nor my comp before me had ever met. The map was bad. Just a couple of streets listed and then an "x" where she was supposed to live. We ended up finding the street we thought she was on; but when we asked a couple people about her, they didn't know her. We were about to leave, but then we decided to ask the man at the end of the street washing his moto. Turns out he was her dad, and she was at home. She goes to school from early in the morning to late at night all day every day. But she just happened to be home for the holiday. So that worked out well!

It's been kind of funny meeting people that we don't know. It feels a bit like whitewashing. We go up to someone's house and all we have is a name not even a picture or anything. And we ask if they're home. The longer I am in Cambodia, the more I realize this is a pretty good place to serve a mission. When we show up at someone's door asking if "Bong Palika," for example, is at home, they kindly let us in, give us a seat and chat with us. No questions asked. Also another thing. Awkward silences aren't a thing. Sometimes when nobody has anything to say we just sit there. And it's perfectly normal as far as I can tell. 

As far as investigators go, we are still meeting with the young couple Bong Paa and Bong Makara. I'm not sure about them. They didn't come to church yesterday even though they said they would. It's just hard to tell how they actually feel about things. Which led me to study about conversion this week in personal study. I've been reading in chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel what true conversion feels like for investigators and what it requires on the behalf of the missionaries and so on. I've been reading good accounts in 2 Nephi 4, Mosiah 18, Alma 5. I think we can define conversion as aligning our will with the Lord's, making His desires, our desires, and thus overwriting our desires of the "natural man/woman." 

I've been thinking about this in terms of Bong Phaa and Bong Makara.  I'm trying to help them catch this spark of conversion. I love in Mosiah 18 when the people at the Waters of Mormon clapped their hands because they were so excited to get baptized. That's how I want my them to feel! I want them to feel the power of this message and then feel that power work within them. But in reality, lessons can be chaotic with their kids running around, and the husband still hasn't come to church yet.

I think sometimes I expect conversion to happen all at once. That they will pray about the Book of Mormon and know that everything is true and that knowledge will change their lives. And while answers can come in powerful ways, that's not really how conversion works. Why? Because I wrote a spent 2.5 months observing conversions in Thailand and wrote 37 pages on this subject. For real. Lindsey, what were you expecting?

We see this in 2 Nephi 4, "Nephi's Psalm." Even Nephi, our scriptural example of amazing faith, still is working on his own conversion. He laments that he is not as good as he knows he should be, and that he still has desires to sin from time to time. His will isn't completely aligned with the Lord's yet. He's still a work in progress as are my investigators. And as I definitely am. The important thing is that we are all moving forward.

Just some thoughts. Also, I've started reading the New Testament this transfer, and I'm really enjoying that. So if you're looking for something to read, give it a try. And pay attention to the details. I feel like we learn a lot about Christ in the details of what he does and says and how the apostles describe him. More on that to follow in the coming weeks.

Working with Sister Khim has been so fun. She makes me laugh all the time. I'm starting to discover the humor of Khmenglish. It's a good time. She also teaches me a lot. Like when we're laying in bed she will point to items in the room with her flashlight and tells me the names. And then quizzes me. While I'm trying to sleep. Haha. 

Okay. I think that's about it for this week. We are meeting a new investigator (a referral from a member) tonight! So that should be good! And we're moving church buildings, from one rental to another rental (still no real church for us). So, should be an interesting week. Those are my exciting things to look forward to for the week. Moving church buildings. Missionary life is weird...


Sister Fields

My new "other half"

Sister S. (MTC companion) and Sister H.

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