Monday, April 20, 2015

In Which I Celebrate Khmer New Year


First things first. IT'S SOOOO HOTTTTTTTTT. I don't actually know how hot it is because there are no thermometers or anything to check around here. It's just hot. Apparently it's over 100 degrees these days. So I'm praying for the rainy season to come quickly because at this point, I'm drenched in sweat all day, every day so it doesn't really matter.

Second. Happy Khmer New Year! It definitely slowed down the work this week, but that's okay. We had a lot of fun. On Monday the other set of sisters came over to our house and we ate together. I'm learning every type of social gathering in Cambodia is centered around food. But I guess that's probably true anywhere you go. There were eight of us crowded around our tiny kitchen table eating fried fish. It was delicious! And then the first of many water fights broke out this week. Water fights (and baby powder/flour flights) are a central part Khmer New Year. And seeing as it is the hot, dry season, it's perfect timing. The house was a disaster after we were finished, but that's okay...

Tuesday we ended up moving dirt at two more members'  houses! They wanted to get it done before they left town for the holiday, so we enlisted a ton of missionaries to come help. We ended up having three sets of sisters and two sets of elders! So it was a lot of fun, and we got a lot done. And then we had a party! They roasted corn on the cob and put these delicious spices on it. It was super good. And we played the game we played at our ward party. It's basically a pinata game with a clay pot. And then we played another game with water. It's basically hot potato. You stand in the circle and pass an object as someone with a blindfold says sdaam (right) or chveeng (left). And then when you say chop! (stop) whoever is holding it gets water dumped on them. It didn't take long before it was a free-for-all water fight. This was about seven at night and completely dark already, but the water still felt way nice. This country is so hot!

Cool Chnam is three days long: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And I'm not joking when I say the city literally clears out. Driving around on those days was so strange. All the markets were closed and there was no traffic anywhere!  On Wednesday President didn't have us proselyte, because we would have had no one to meet. So we spent the day deep cleaning the house and then met up with the elders at the church to go over CBRs. And then in the evening we met at the stake center and we watched the movie Meet the Mormons! It was so fun! Have you seen it? It takes the lives of six different members from around the world and just kind of talks about their lives. It was pretty interesting. Granted, the only movies I've seen in the last eight months has been Legacy, the Testaments, and the District, but I still recommend it. The first few minutes of the movie take a look at how Mormons are depicted in media, and they had little clips from 30 Rock, and South Park. It was the weirdest thing! I forgot who I was for a second there. And then we had refreshments. And I'm so into food these days, so that was exciting for me. And because we met at the stake center on the other side of the city, we biked back to our home in a huge mob of missionaries and someone pulled out the baby powder . . . .  So we had one last water/baby powder fight as we biked across the city. It was a mess.

As for the rest of the week, proselyting was slow.  But by now everyone should be home. And we have a good list of referals we've received that we're hoping to contact this week. With everyone back in town and schedules getting back to normal, we're hoping to get some investigators moving this week!  The focus for this month and the next is to work on strengthening the members. Before we watched the movie on Wednesday, President gave us a pump-up speech about "re-kindling Cambodia." I say pump-up speech because the office elders made this cool video to go with it featuring a candle. So now we're all going to focus on rescuing less-actives and strengthening our recent converts, which actually works out quite well for my companion and I. We've been doing this already (mostly because we have no investigators, but still!).

One of our focuses right now is strengthening the youth. We have a lot of strong young men, but a lot of less active young women. So we've started attending young women's meetings, It has been a lot of fun. And Sister Phon had the great idea to sing a musical number. Somehow we got a hold of that "The Family is of God" song in Khmer! So we spent an hour learning that yesterday after church. I can't say that it sounds good yet, but hey we're trying. It's the thought that counts after all, right?

Then yesterday evening we went out with Ming Samay and the Bishop's wife to go visit some less-active members. It was really fun going with the Bishop's wife. She's young and she has a lot of energy and she's good with people. The four of us made a good team. We met with one old man who used to be super active and has gone to the temple already, but now is sick and in a wheelchair. He has a hard time communicating, but I think he could understand us just fine. But it was really sad, because every time we mentioned church he started to cry. The bishop and his wife have a car. So they told him they would go pick him up next week and bring him to church. I think he was happy about that.

So that was the my week. Kind of a strange one, but next week things will go back to normal. Between conference, service and Cool Chnam, it will felt so good to get back to proselyting again!

I'll end with a spiritual thought. I've been working my way through the New Testament and I'm now in Romans and really enjoying it.  I am really coming to love Paul. I'm such a language person. I love powerful, beautiful language. I've mentioned this before, but Paul reminds me of Elder Holland. They're both such powerful writers and  speakers too. Today I was reading in chapter 4 where Paul is talking about faith and works and uses the example of Abraham. When Abraham was told that he would be the father of many nations he (I love this) "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God"  Even though Abraham knew logically that it was difficult, if not impossible for him and his wife to have children at such an old age, he didn't let this dampen his faith or stifle his hope. He hoped against hope. And this faith and hope led him to believe with a surety that allowed him to be able to perform what the Lord would have him do. Faith and hope precede the miracle. I've been thinking a lot about faith and belief as an action and as a choice lately. And I love the example of Abraham  that Paul so eloquently describes. For me, I need to continue to have this faith and hope that we will help the work to progress here in Pochentong so we can find those the Lord is preparing.  And faith that I will get this language down and not let stuttering and my fears get in the way because I have been blessed on multiple occasions that I will be able to do this. I just need to keep my hopes up and keep the faith; faith in the blessings, faith in myself, but most importantly faith in Christ and His ability to strengthen me.

Well that's all for this week! Happy New Year!


 Sister Fields

Moving dirt.  The Khmers cover up with scarves, sweaters and gloves when it turns hot outside.

Moving dirt that will become mud.

Barbecuing corn for us.

Birthday celebration.

Movie night for Khmer New Year.

Biking at night.
You can see the baby powder in the upper left.

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