Monday, April 6, 2015

In Which I am Persuaded that Nothing Shall Separate Us from the Love of God

Helping move bricks to build a wall.
Hey there, 

Happy Easter! And Happy conference weekend! There was no sign of Easter celebrations here. One person mentioned it at church, but otherwise no one would have ever known. Everyone is much too caught up in preparations for Cool Chnam Khmer (Khmer New Year). It's pretty much Christmas to Cambodians and everyone in the city is getting ready to clear out this week. It's the 14th-16th and I've heard we can't even proselyte in Phenom Penh those days because everyone goes to their hometowns in the khetes. So we'll see about that. We have our Cool Chnam ward party on Friday, so that should be super fun.

It's SOOOOOOOOOOOO hot. April is the hottest month everyone says. And I don't know if I can survive it. The rains will come in May. But for right now, it's just hot and humid and so sticky. I'm soaked with sweat after five minutes of biking.

So I heard the news that a temple is coming to Bangkok! President Gong alluded to the fact when he was here a few months ago.  So rumors had been going around. That is SO exciting. It is really going to help people here. Thailand is so much closer than Hong Kong. And it's going to give members here increased hope that a temple of their own is not so far off. Super exciting. 

We will be watching conference this coming weekend. The American missionaries are fortunate enough to get to watch it in English. And this past Saturday, the American sisters (in the city) got together at the mission home and watched the women's broadcast. It was good time. Sister Moon even made cookies for us! She is the best. I thought it was pretty good. I think it's interesting that they always have such a pointed theme for the women's conference. The lip-syncing music video was a bit too much for me, but the talks were good. My note-taking took a very teaching-centered focus this time around. I liked how simply they talked about the family. If there's one thing I'm learning on this mission to Cambodia, it is understanding the gospel at it's simplest essence. I'm not Bible bashing anyone over here like I know other missionaries deal with. I'm just trying to help people understand the concept of a loving Heavenly Father. 

As we turned in our numbers last night, it was another disappointing string of zeroes as far as investigators are concerned. It's not about the numbers. But the numbers reflect a crucial part of our work here that is lacking in Pochentong. But we continue on. Continue to have hope that even though we're not teaching new people, that we are helping this ward to progress. 

Saturday afternoon we had an official sit down meeting with the bishop for the first time since I have been here! There's progress! We identified several less active families that we want to work with together this week. I'm  not exactly sure what is spurring this new-found desire to work with the missionaries, but it's making a big difference! With the bishop on our team, I'm hoping our efforts will be even more effective. 

This week we ended up doing a lot of service activities, which is a little strange because usually we don't have a whole lot of opportunities here in Pochentong. But twice this week we helped Ming Naeng (a recent convert) and her family. They both live and work on a construction site. And her husband is working on building the walls. So we bring the bricks from around the outskirts of the site to him to use. It is exhausting work. But they are trying to save up as much money as they can for Cool Chnam. We had the elders come as well, and she was so grateful for our service. She kept telling us to stop and take breaks in the shade every time we'd bring a load. 

We also helped move dirt at our Relief Society President's house Saturday morning. She had a whole army working at her house: the Bishop, Elder's Quorum President, a couple young men, the elders and sisters.  It was awesome! We moved wheel barrow after wheel barrow of dirt from the front of her house, through her house, to the back so that her back yard doesn't turn into a swamp once the rain comes. One nice thing about having a dirt floor house is that you don't have to worry about dirt getting on the floor when you're wheeling it through the house! And then she made is lunch! And I'm all about the food these days. 

I won't lie. It's been really discouraging not seeing outward results for the hard work we've been putting in week after week. It's been spiritually, emotionally, and certainly physically exhausting. But working and serving side-by-side with these members has been a really cool experience.  I've really developed a love for a lot of them. 

I know I talk about Ming Samay pretty much every week, but she is such a great example to me of what a member of this Church and a disciple of Christ is supposed to be. Sunday night she went to with us to meet a less active woman. I had met with this woman a lot of times the past few months. She has a hard life, and she's had a hard time with a lot of the members and even the missionaries. I didn't know how to continue to help her. But when we came into her home last night, we brought hope and light. We talked and laughed with her. My companion gave her a massage. I held her hand (this woman is very much a physical-touch-love-language person) and Ming Samay told her "coh mian seckdeisungkhum coh!" (have hope!) and then invited her to come spend Cool Chnam Khmer at her house with her family.   By the time we left her house, she was a different person than she was when we came. She's not fixed forever. She'll still have problems. I don't even know if she'll really come back to Church this time or not. But for a moment we (and by we I mostly mean Ming Samay) helped her feel God's love. 

Speaking of God's love, I just want to end with one scripture. The last two verses of a fantastic chapter of scripture. Romans 8. I love Paul. I always imagine him to be kind of like Elder Holland. They are both such powerful writers. I've written this one on a sticky-note and posted it on my wall and I'm memorizing it. And whenever I read it, I hear it in Elder Holland's voice in my head. It goes:

 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A thought appropriate for Easter Sunday because at the end of the day, that's the message of Easter and Christmas and the gospel and everything else. Heavenly Father loves us so much and He shows us that love through his Son. That's all that matters.
Sister Fields

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