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.

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