Monday, March 30, 2015

In Which I Eat Dog (Because let's be real, I never really liked them anyway)

Transfer day! Tuk tuk ride to mission home!
Greetings from Pochentong, where the factories churn and the members skip church weekly! Just kidding. Sorta. It's officially a new transfer! And I really think this transfer is going to be turning over a new leaf for this area, in part because my awesome new companion! I'm excited.
But first, this week was a busy one with the end of the transfer. And it is a big transfer. We had five new sisters (one Khmer, the rest American) and I don't know how many elders, but a lot! When they get a new batch of misisonaries, they always take them to one of the big markets in the city and go contacting. And I got to go and help this time! We all paired off with the new missionaries and went around for 45 minutes or so and gave them a chance to get a feel for contacting. Can I just say, it is the strangest feeling to be in a position of authority and knowledge. Since when did I learn this language? And, okay, let's be real, I still don't really know this language, but it was a nice reality check. It made me realize that I do know a lot more than I think I do. Even though we've had new groups come in since ours, this is the first group with American sisters. So I've always still kind of felt like the baby of the family until now. That being said, this new group knows a lot! Way more than I did when I first came I'm sure.
And it's fun because we have a new American sister in our house! There are six of us all together now because Sister Khim stayed on with her new companion, at least for the time being. So it's crowded, but it's fun! And it's fun to be the translator for the American and other sisters a little bit. Though my speaking still has a long way to go, my listening comprehension has really grown since I've had Khmer companions. I don't even have to think about it most of the time, and I catch quite a bit of what people say. When it's not someone I know speaking and if we're not talking about the gospel, my comprehension goes down; but it's definitely improved a lot these past few transfers.
As for my new companion, she's great! Her name is Sister Phon. She has only been out for 2.5 transfers, but she already knows so much. I'm technically senior companion, but I'm pretty sure I will be the one learning from her most of the time. She has such a good work ethic and an enthusiasm that's contangious! She's one of the reasons I really think Pochentong is going to turn around this transfer. That and the Bishop is going to be a help to us this transfer. He's instigated weekly meetings on Saturday afternoons with the missionaries. And yesterday after church I was able to talk to him about a few things and give him a progress record, and I was happy to learn he had already been working on a couple things I had mentioned to him the week before! So I'm not exactly sure what changed, but something changed. And I really think he's going to be a great resource for us this transfer. Having the ward leaders and the members help makes all the difference in the world. It's missionary work, but it's not really because whether we are teaching investigators, recent converts, or less actives, ultimately they are all members (or hopefully will be in the future) and they will be here with the members long after we're gone.
We had our weekly branch mission meeting yesterday and that was the main topic on the agenda. Getting the members involved in fellow-shipping less actives, recent converts, and investigators (if we ever get any... Honestly, I think our main task here in Pochentong right now is just to strengthen the ward. That's not to say I'm going to stop looking for investigators, but I won't be disappointed if they don't come flocking to the font this transfer) because the members will be here long after the missionaries are gone. It's hard because so many of the members are busy all the time. But we're going to try and get the youth involved when they're not busy at school. I have hopes! My hopes are high. And that's what counts. It's gonna be a good transfer! I'm pumped.
As I was leading my area this past week, I was thinking about how I'm here again with a new companion. Three transfers, three companions! While it is a bit exhausting to lead again, I'm glad things worked out this way. If I had left at the end of transfer two, I would have left feeling disappointed with my work in Pochentong. I feel like this transfer has given me another chance to work even harder and really help the area grow. Plus I've really gotten close to a lot of these members. There are some good people here in Pochentong. Whenver I do leave it will be sad.
As for a spiritual thought, I want to invite everyone to read D&C 6 sometime this week. It's written to Oliver Cowdery. Joseph received this revelation on behalf of Oliver after Oliver had already received a witness of the truth of this work from God, but he wanted Joseph to ask again on his behalf. I feel like Oliver and I could be friends. He and I have the same mentality a lot of the time, a bit self-doubting, a bit unsure at times. But thankfully with both Oliver and me, Heavenly Father has a lot of patience. This section has a ton of great verses, but the gem I wanted to share is verse 20. The Lord's counsel to him is to be diligent and faithful in keeping the commandments and "I will encircle thee in the arms of my love." How great is that? I've really grown to love teaching about obedience. You just have to do these things and then you will get all these great blessings. Just try it and you will see!
Well, that's all for this week. As for the subject line of this email, yes I did eat a dog. Sister Khim and I bought it as a end of transfer surprise, and we didn't tell the other sisters it was dog until after they ate it. It was not bad. It tasted quite a bit like beef. It was quite tough. I wouldn't eat it everyday, but it was not bad! Okay, does anybody hate me now?
Have a good week, friends!

Sister Fields

Last district meeting before end of transfer.

This is what dog looks like on the grill.

This is what me eating a dog looks like!

Monday, March 23, 2015

In Which I Work in Sweatshop

Making shoes!
Well, transfer calls came, and they went. And this girl's staying in Pochentong. Six more weeks of winter. Just kidding. But I'm not kidding about transfers. I will be staying, but I will be getting a new companion. Sister Phon. I'm excited! ... Yes. I'm telling myself I'm excited. I won't lie, this area is hard. And I was hoping that the problems I have now would be over in a week. But the problems will continue to be my problems. But I've thought and prayed about it a lot since yesterday. And clearly there are still lessons for me to learn here. So I'm ready to learn them. In reflecting on this past transfer, I've realized that I've become a bit complacent. I've hit a certain point where I can get by decently in the language, and my teaching and contacting skills are adequate. And I think this transfer I didn't really stretch myself as much as I should. So last night I committed myself to working harder this transfer. I don't who Heavenly Father is preparing for me to help (be it investigators, less actives or the members here in Pochentong), but I know I'm supposed to be here doing Heavenly Father's work.

This morning in personal study, I read in Ether 12 about hope and faith. In order to keep going and working harder in Pochentong, I will need to have both. In this chapter, Moroni tells us about the prophet Ether. In verse three we learn that he works every day from morning to night crying repentence to the people. Even though it sounds like he didn't have much success, he keeps going. Why? Because he has faith in God. And that faith leads him to have a sure hope for a better world. It's his faith that gives him the hope each morning to get up and face it again, a situation that to someone with lesser faith, would seem hopeless. I learned the key here, then, is to strengthen faith. Strengthen my faith in the Savior and His Atonement and strenghten my faith in myself. Both are ongoing processes. But I find it interesting that later in this chapter Moroni writes one of my favorite verses of scripture about grace (vs 27). When we come unto Christ, our weaknesses become more blatant. But we have these weaknesses to teach us about our reliance on Christ that when we have faith in Jesus Christ and the Atonement, we can also have faith in ourselves because we know that through him, we can receive the enabling power we need to overcome trials and accomplish the tasks He has set before us.

I should have ended my email on that note. Everything from here will just go down hill spiritually, but that's alright. While we are still not having success with investigators, we have a referral and two contacts we will be following up with this week. So stay tuned on that. As for the ward, while it still has it's challenges, we had our first PEC this week! It was exciting. We had a good turnout from all the different quorums and auxiliaries. Also the Bishop says he wants to start meeting with the missionaries every week. So hopefully that happens. That will be a big help. Right now we meet with the ward mission leader every week with the elders, but it feels like most of the time we just talk ourselves in circles. So I'm excited for that. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this transfer could be quite good. I can do this.
This week we had a stake relief society activity that we got to attend. It was really good. We had a meeting where the stake president and relief society stake president talked and then a relief society sister from each ward was invited to talk. Surprise, surprise Pochentong's speaker was a no-show... They were too busy preparing the food. The food was really delicous though. After the meeting they had a food competition, where each ward got to make and bring a dish and then everyone sampled everything and voted on whose was the best. Sometimes it will hit me that the church here is exactly the same as everywhere else. Relief society sisters in Cambodia are just as competitive as they would be anywhere else and dramatic. Sometimes it just makes me laugh.
English class is always a bright spot of my week. While I can't say I've a had a lot of outward measures of success here in Pochentong so far, I am very proud of our English class. After we moved buildings a few weeks ago, we built up our studentship from nothing. Now we have at least eight regulars. Usually our numbers are twelve or so. We have two classes: beginning and intermediate. I teach beginning on my own, and the elders teach the other class. It's a lot of fun, and for the first time, it's starting to feel like a legitimate operation. We have registration cards, and lesson plans, and I give out homework every week. Also, I gave a pretty dang good spiritual thought last week (if I do so say myself), about families, and everyone wanted a copy of the Family Proclamation. And at least two were interested in meeting with us. So stay tuned! I think I will be the English class leader for our building (because Elder P. who I've been with for two transfers here is ditching me). So that could be fun.
Hmmm what else. Okay, yes. Sweatshop. It was either that subject line or that I become a cobbler. We learned how to make shoes this week! We went with the elders to a shop just down the street from our church building. Members in another ward work there, even though it's actually in our area. We made flip flops of various kinds. I got to see the process from rubber sheets, to furry leopard print fabric, to fake Gucci labeling. It was quite interesting. It felt like an episode of How it's Made. I'm learning so many skills in this country. We actually went back and helped them again this week to help them get their work done so that they could go to the RS activity on Saturday. Two of the members that work there are twins and working on saving enough money to serve a mission! They're hoping to turn in their papers in the fall. The other neakming who works there is less active. But she's super funny. She had me write down my name so she could find me on facebook. I was talking to her and she was complimenting my skin. People are obsessed with white skin here, and I never know what to say when they say I'm super white. I told her that I like darker skin and I showed her my tan lines. She told me that we should switch. And then she told me that when I get back to America that I should marry an African man and our children would be beautiful. So we'll see about that one. . . .
Well, that's all for this week. It should be a good transfer. I'm talking myself into it. At the very least we have General Conference and cool chnam khmer (Khmer New Years to celebrate).
Have a good week, friends!
Sister Fields

Contacting for English class--me, Sister Khim, and Neakming Samay

My relief society sisters.

The delicious dish they made. Don't ask me what it's called.

This is how I combat lung disease. Guaranteed to block dust, factory fumes, and toxic waste that comes from burning electrical cords outside people's homes. Welcome to the Third World. Downside, it does make contacting while biking a bit difficult.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In Which I Meet Lady Gaga

President and Sister Moon and President and Sister Gong


(Khmer is frustrating! There are lots of words I want to write, but I don't know how to spell them in English. Or really, in Khmer either. It's very much only an oral language for me right now. But because there is no legitimized Romanization, reading Khmer written in English is a lot like playing mad gabs).  

When I was with my trainer, she had only two transfers left in her mission. Because I was so fresh into the mission field, I was eager to ask her about her future plans and how she felt about going back home. I remember she told me it was strange to think about, and that this world felt much more real to her than the other. At the time that answer kind of annoyed me. But I'm starting to understand it now. Every day the other world seems more like a dream and less like reality. This world of psaars, tuk tuks, sitting cross-legged, sweating, smelling incense, and yelling to hear one another over the wat music is my reality. Which is not to say I don't think about home. I do. As I'm biking in the sun or as I've lost track of someone's Sacrament meeting talk, I like to dream of sitting on a real couch in sweatpants eating cookies and watching Netflix. But it's starting to feel very far away. Someday I'll return, but right now, this Cambodia mission life is my reality. 

That being said, it is still quite often a rough life, particularly in Pochentong. It just feels like the work here is not progressing, and I'm not really sure what we can do to help it. We had no investigator lessons this week. We currently have one investigator, who we hope to meet with tonight. And we have a referral. who we haven't gotten a hold of yet, but hopefully this week.... It's hard not to get discouraged sometimes. But when we get discouraged we lower our expectations. That's what PMG teaches (whoami?). But what's the key to not getting discouraged? Let's turn to PMG.... PMG says when we work hard and do everything we can, we might not always have outward measures of success, and millions of investigators (I'm paraphrasing here), but we can be at peace because we know that we have done our all and  everything we could. So I'm working on this mindset. Sometimes I struggle with the "do all that you can do" mentality, because I think, well I can always do more. What exactly is my "all?" But that's where the concept of grace comes in. And I've written about that a bit before...

Though we've been putting in extra time and energy into our contacting and finding efforts, so far no luck. Everyone is just so busy all the time here. Everyone works in factories all day, seven days a week. So even just talking to people on the streets is harder. It's quite different here than it was in Kampongcham. Oh Kampongcham... So, for the most part right now, we're working on strengthening the ward, which, like I've talked a little bit about before, could use a bit of strengthening. And by a bit I mean more than a bit. The frustrating thing is that for the most part I feel like the people I meet are not helping themselves. I can come over to their house every week, or multiple times a week (and in fact, I do) and talk and testify of the importance of keeping covenants, and repentance, and applying the Atonement, and scriptures and prayer, but until they start applying these things and start making changes for themselves, It won't do any good. It's like Paul says. Everyone must work out their own salvation (Philippians 2:15, yes I had to Google it to check). 

But even in the midst of the discouragement and frustration, Heavenly Father's hand is still there if you look for it. If there's one thing I'm learning on my mission, it is that though often the Spirit works in small ways, it is never insignificant. We have to search for God's hand to find it, it takes work and it takes faith, but it's always there. 

With that being said, I had a little miracle last Monday. Monday night we had plans to meet with an investigator, but it fell through. My comp suggested we go visit a member who lives far away who we had talked to on Sunday. I had visited their home twice before, but it was about a 45-minute bike ride, with about 10 or 15 different unmarked turns to make on various confusing roads. I was very much doubting my ability to find it, but because things were a bit patchy with my companion, I agreed with her suggestion, and only added jokingly, hopefully I'll remember the way. In our prayer before we left, she asked Heavenly Father to help us find the house. And I led off. And as we went along, I knew exactly which road to take and where I needed to turn, even though all the roads looked the same. On the whole ride, I only missed one turn and realized I was mistaken as soon as I passed it. Now this might not seem like a miracle. But I know my terrible memory and lack of a sense of direction. I definitely didn't do that on my own. And it didn't change anyone's life. It didn't have miraculous results. We just met with this member and went back home. But it made a difference to me. And it gave me more confidence in my ability to recognize the Spirit. 

Another cool thing happened this week. While we were chatting with a less active member outside her home, we ended up contacting her neighbor. Well, he contacted us really. He told us he was learning about Christianity. So I gave him a Restoration pamphlet and started sharing a little bit about it. I told him a little about prophets, and how we had prophets before and how we have one today. And he said, a prophet, that's like a servant of God, right? You have no idea how rare that is! Ask any given bishop or branch president and you don't know what kind of answer you'll get. Just kidding, that's not true. But this man had some serious background in Christianity and he was interested in our message and I gave him a Book of Mormon. Ultimately, I ended up passing him to the elders who met with him. And though he was very thoughtful and had lots of good questions, he decided he would keep meeting with the missionaries from the other Christian sect. But hey, planting seeds. That's another antidote to discouragement. Realizing that planting seeds is as necessary as harvesting, though often not as exciting. 

And then there's humor, which is my antidote to everything. Yesterday we had lunch at a member's house. It was delicious! A spicy hot-pot style soup thing and then a salad thing. I'm going to be such a good Khmer cook when I come home, I know so much.... The member is a returned missionary and knows a ton of English. We ended up talking a lot about the Khmer Rouge. This paragraph started out about humor.... This is not the humorous part. His now inactive mom lost her husband and two children to the Pol Pot regime. Her husband was killed because he was educated and her kids starved to death. Only after it was all over did she remarry, have him and his siblings, and then joined the church. Sometimes I forget about this country's tragic history. I think it does come up; but because my vocabulary on the topic (war is songriam and that's about it) is so limited, I miss it. But also I think people just want to forget it. He told me his mom doesn't like to talk about it for obvious reasons. 

His mom is very funny though. She's in her late 50s, probably, and walks with a bad limp from a biking accident. She's very sassy. She asked me what I thought about Cambodia and then immediately asked if it has made me lazy. I didn't know how to respond to it. She had us all laughing with stories she told of when her kids were little. She would make their pockets extra long in their clothes longer than the length of the shorts themselves. And then when they went to weddings or other parties, she would stuff their pockets full of food. But the best part is for some reason some earlier missionaries had giver her the name Lady Gaga. And that is what she introduced herself as! I can't explain how funny it is to hear Om Srey, this 60-year-old Khmer woman introduce herself as Lady Gaga. We were all dying. 

In other news, I think I have tuberculosis. Isn't that the disease people would get when they were overworked in the factories in the industrial revolution, when all the dirt and debris would get in their lungs? Well that's what's happening to me or else it's just a cold. But either way, I'm resorting to wearing a mask. Now I've officially become Asian. I still don't believe it works, but I'm willing to give it a try if it helps me not feel like I'm going to die every time I bike anywhere. 

Spiritual thought this week is unrelated, but something I came across last week in my readings in the New Testament. Matthew  19:16-22. A young man, eager to be a disciple of Christ, asks Him what else he can do. He's already keeping the ten commandments, what else could he be lacking? Christ tells him to go and sell all his possessions, to follow him. He basically asks him to give up all his time and energy and talents to following Christ. But that's too much for this guy. He's too attached to his life and his material comforts. So he doesn't do it. Sometimes I worry I'm like this guy. That I'm eager to tell the Lord I'm ready to go, I'm ready to serve, but when it comes to making real sacrifices, do I do it? Just something to think about. I'm really enjoying reading the New Testament. 

And that's all for this week. Transfer calls come Sunday, so by next week I'll know if I get another transfer in Pochentong. Stay tuned! Have a good week!


Sister Fields

Zone Conference

Monday, March 9, 2015

In Which I Meet the Gongs!

Indian food last p-day! We went with a group of sisters. It was fun and SO GOOD!

Hello friends,

It's been quite the week in Pochentong. Some ups and downs. But I'll start with the ups. 

The highlight of this week was the opportunity to meet together and receive training from Elder and Sister Gong. Elder Gong is the President of the Asia Area Presidency. They are both spiritual powerhouses and told lots of great stories! There's nothing like great stories to get me excited about missionary work. It was a good meeting. Here are some of the highlights:

--President Gong talked a lot about the importance of talking to everyone. This is a weakness of mine. I can pretty quickly talk myself out of contacting someone who I initially think I should go up and chat with. But Elder Gong shared a great story about Elder Ballard who came to visit Asia for training. They were checking into a hotel together and Elder Ballard struck up a conversation with the bellman. He asked him about his interests and his family.  Elder Ballard ended up asking if he could give him a book. The next day he left him a copy of Our Search for Happiness and passed on his information to the local missionaries. I don't know why that story struck me so much. Elder Ballard was the head apostle to work on Preach My Gospel. I just think it's cool that he's doing exactly what he preaches. That the apostles don't just hang out in the church office buildings and tell us to do missionary work, they are out sharing the gospel at every opportunity they get. 

--With President Moon (who is a great scriptorian) we read 1 Nephi 1 together and came to realize that all the principles we teach in lesson one are found in this first chapter of the Book of Mormon. I've always thought 1 Nephi 1 was a little weird to have as the first chapter. Lehi's vision is kind of confusing. And I've always found the story of Nephi getting the plates story to be more accessible. But if you look, you'll see evidence that God has a body, that He's our loving Heavenly Father who answers our prayers, that families are important, prophets, a book Lehi is supposed to read. It's all there! We just have to help our investigators make the connections.

--I realized that my testimony of The Book of Mormon didn't come through a once through read and a prayer following the pattern in Moroni 10. Rather, mine has come through diligent study and prayer every day. That's a simple idea, but it struck me hard during the meeting that I need to help investigators understand that (just like conversion!) gaining a testimony of The Book of Mormon is a process not an event. 

--Companionship unity is so important. And so much of it depends on good communication. Good communication is SO HARD when there are language and cultural barriers. But I'm trying.

--We talked a little about gratitude. Sister Gong shared this and I thought it was cool. Did you know that Muslims pray five times a day and that these prayers are exclusively giving thanks to God? They have a different prayer called supplication when they need to ask for blessings. But isn't that cool? 

--Also we (I) arranged a choir for the meeting. I felt very out of place directing us, but it worked out. We sang I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go. We ended up singing in three languages (Vietnamese too) and even added parts! It took us far longer than we intended in our practice session, but we ended up sounding really good! I was proud of us.

So it was a good meeting, and I needed it this week. Pochentong has just been a rough area, and continues to be so. There's some sort of a virus in this ward. The leadership doesn't do or at least doesn't fully understand it's responsibility. The members, with the exclusion of a few REALLY great members, don't care about one another and aren't willing to lend a hand. And as a result, we have a LOT of inactive members, with more and more going inactive. There's definitely a "clique"in the ward; and if you're not it it, you are very much out of it. 

To be honest, we're just at a loss of how to help. I feel very much like the dairy man's daughter, asking "which part is mine?" There's a reference you will only get if you spent Sunday mornings circa 2004-2008 at the Fields' home listening to Michael Mclean. But what is our role as the missionaries to support the members and the leadership and to encourage them to do their jobs? I don't know. At the end of the day, what the members need to understand is that the people don't matter. Yes, it would be awesome if people fulfilled their callings, and didn't talk about you behind your back, and that financial issues were appropriately taken care of. But regardless, you come to church. You just do it. Just come to church. If I've learned one thing on my mission it's that. Just come to church. 

As for what truly is our part, our investigators are somewhere less than progressing. Bong Phaa and Makara ended up leaving for a province this week, and I don't know when their coming back. Bong Oun said she would come to church, but didn't. So we'll keep trying. And we're always on the look out for new people to teach. On the prowl one might say. 

Oh here's a good thing! Om Yuan came to church today. This woman has been a member forever and about ten years ago she used to come to church not only every week, but every Saturday she would go clean the church. And then her son moved to America and for various reasons she became inactive. She lives pretty far out, but we go out there maybe once every two weeks. And guess who rolled into the parking lot on Sunday! Come to church, friends. Just do it. 

I will end this with a quote from Patricia Holland (wife of Elder Holland). I read really great talk by her courtesy of Hermana Davis. She says, "We must have the courage to be imperfect as we are striving for perfection." That's also on my wall above my desk. I need to hear that everyday. As a missionary constantly being told to be more obedient and constantly setting faith-based goals, we often times we do not meet. It's hard. I'm still trying to find balance. I feel like I either work myself up into a ball of stress and give up and shut down (okay, perhaps not quite that dramatically) or I become complacent and I don't set goals, let alone work to achieve them. But we are all works in progress. And we just have to keep on working. 

Hopefully that wasn't too much of a downer email. Things are good. Still sweating, still working. Oh, I learned how to make food! My comp and I decided to do food on our own, so I'm learning to buy my own food at the psaa and cook it Khmer style. I'm not an expert, but so far I haven't died. That's what counts. 

Have a good week!


Sister Fields

From our training meeting. Sister Gong had us all stand up and give a verb to describe what we do in our mission (on the left half) and an adjective to describe the Moons (on the right).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In Which We Get a New Home

Amy (recent convert, pronounced ah-me) and Sister Khim. It's so hot lately we go teach by the lake/pond by her house.

Welcome to March! And today we start week three of the transfer already. That's insane. But I'll jump right in. It's been a good week. I'll start with our investigators (note the usage of plural!) 

Last Monday night we met with a new investigator. She attends college across the street from the stake center (I might have mentioned that in last week's letter). We had a good first lesson with her. She's never learned about Christianity at all, so we taught it very simply as one does. Most of our first lessons go this way. Whenever I read lesson one out of Preach My Gospel it feels like such a marathon (God, prophets, Christ, apostasy, restoration, okay now read this book). So when we teach it to people who are unfamiliar with the concept of God (mostly everyone), we teach the skeleton version. But there's still so much power in the simple version. We'll teach her lesson two tonight.

Also, the very first day of the transfer we contacted a woman on the road. We got her number and called back, but she never responded. So we forgot about it, until just a few days ago when an appointment fell through, Sister Khim suggested we go visit her again. So we did, and she was home. She welcomed us in. Turns out she's been to our church before, but had never learned with missionaries before. So we taught her lesson one right there and she gave a good prayer, and we invited her to be baptized. Sometimes it surprises me how easy missionary work is. In the MTC, I over thought everything. When our teachers told us we should be extending the baptismal commitment in the first few lessons, I thought they were crazy. These people don't understand baptism. They don't even really know who Christ or God is. But that doesn't really matter, if they are feeling the Spirit. The Spirit is the teacher and the Spirit will testify of what we are saying, and lead them to make the commitments that they need to make. 

Bong Phaa and Bong Makara might be progressing. I'm not quite sure about them still. But we had a couple good lessons this week. Bong Makara (the husband) understands a lot, and he's loving The Book of Mormon. He's through 2 Nephi already! And always has lots of good questions for us about what he's reading. We had to analyze Isaiah with him this week (which was a bit rough). But they still haven't come to church together. We just have to help them understand the importance of the sacrament. And then they'll have the three pillars of prayer, scriptures, and church and they'll be good to go! (I was trying to think of a good metaphor, and I think I chose wrong with pillars...) 

In other news, our recent convert Srei Khuat had her baby! She wasn't due until next month! We stopped by on Tuesday afternoon to teach, as usual, and learned the baby had come last night. She was lying down on a bamboo bed in the open area outside of her rental house with a TINY baby girl next to her. Even though she came early, they are both healthy and doing well. All the neighbors/fellow renters were gathered around her. And with animals and kids running around, the whole place had a stable-like feel to it. For a second she reminded me of Mary, very young (she's only 19), innocent, probably not really understanding all that was in store. But then the train drove past and shook everything up and I remembered I was in Cambodia. 

More big news. We have a new church building! It's very beautiful. It's still just a rental building, but it's big and it's all ours. Before we shared a building with a family who lived there! We helped out a lot this week moving in and cleaning the building to get it all ready to go by Sunday. Lots of good members came and helped out a lot. It was pretty fun. And we're excited to teach English here too. It's right on a big street (our old building was tucked away on an inside road). We didn't have any students on Wednesday night, as we were in the midst of moving buildings, so we held signs advertising English class, and contacted a lot of people who seem interested. So hopefully we'll get a big turn out next week. Free English class! It's seriously the best deal ever. 

Hmm. Other news. Our Branch Mission leader got his mission call! He's the son of Ming Samay, the awesome member I've talked about quite a bit. We opened it at the stake center with a lot of people there. It was exciting. He's going to Sacramento, Khmer speaking!! We thought for sure he was going to stay here. My comp even promised to buy me ice cream if he went out of country. So now she owes me ice cream... He's excited. And nervous a little bit, I think. He doesn't leave til July. He'll only be in the MTC for 12 days because he already knows his mission language, so he won't know very much English. He better start coming to our class on Wednesdays...

Oh! And this Friday we get to have a special treat. Elder Gong from the Seventy is coming to speak to us. We have a conference all day with him on Friday. And guess who was asked to prepare a special musical number? This girl. This girl who took one year of choir and has no musical talent to speak of. Thankfully I have a partner. Elder P, who I've served with the past two transfers in Pochentong. I put him in charge of directing the choir, until he got a call from the APs asking specifically for me to conduct the music for the meeting.... So I've been practicing. My previous experience includes waving my arm back in forth in front of  sleeping teenagers in seminary. So needless to say my skills need a bit of a brushing up. But with the music aside, I'm really excited for Friday

That's all the news this week from Pochentong. A new big batch of Americans are coming in next transfer and making everyone nervous because that means trainers will be needed.... I think I have enough qualified candidates ahead of me, to be off the hook for this batch, but you never know. My comp keeps teasing me that I will train, because she knows it stresses me out! 

I didn't prepare a scriptural thought this week, but this morning I finished reading the first of the four gospels, Matthew, and I really enjoyed. And then I realized I get to read it all again three times over in the next three books. And it makes me wonder why we have four accounts of Christ life. As I read I will be paying attention to the differences and themes that run through each one. One thing Matthew really likes to point out is whenever Christ is fulfilling scripture (when he performs certain miracles, or when he ultimately is atones and is crucified and then resurrected). So pick a gopsel this week and read it. You won't regret it. 

Anyways, off to eat some Indian food and enjoy the rest of my P-day. Have a good week everyone!


Sister Fields

Srei Khuat and baby

One-day old baby.

New building!

Our members/church prep team taking  a lunch break. 

Water buffaloes passing through at Amy's house. When we go out to her house, it still feels like we're in the provinces!

But then we get scenes like this... Traffic has been terrible this week! Sometimes we just pick up our bikes and walk over the medians/wherever we can squeeze ourselves into.