Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Which I Find Out My Brother is Coming to Asia!

The BYU tuk tuk! It's famous. It belongs to a member who goes to church at the stake center. I see it there all the time, but finally took a picture with it!
Hey Hey!
First of all. Weekly shout out! Should I start doing weekly shout outs? Like my word of the week for English class? Probs not. But Mason got his mission call to Hong Kong!! Woo-hoo! Now we will only be one time zone away instead of 13. ASIA. ASIA. ASIA.
So that's exciting. And it's been a good week. Conference was super good. But I'll start at the front of the week. People are prepping for the rainy season. So that means lots of service projects hauling dirt so that houses don't turn into swamps. We hauled dirt MondayTuesday, and Wednesday this week for three different members. But the cool thing was we had a ton of members show up to help. The more time I spend in this ward, the more I really start to appreciate it. It's got it's quirks and it's issues, but I've gotten to know a lot of the members quite well lately, and it will be sad when I do have to leave eventually. Initially, I was not super excited to stay another transfer here. In retrospect, I'm really glad things worked out the way they did. Heavenly Father knows what He's doing.
Another highlight of the week was a great interview with President Moon. I ended up asking him for a blessing to help me with learning the language and having confidence and a few other things I've felt I've really been struggling with this transfer. Sometimes I feel like President is my personal counselor. Like I can spill all my problems to him and he makes sense of all the scattered pieces and hands it back to me. Nothing really changes, but now I can feel like I can handle it. He told me that so much of communication doesn't actually have to do with the language itself that a lot of it goes beyond words. That my service, my example, my sacrifices communicate a lot to the people. He told me about Levi Savage (who you will know if you've ever seen the movie 17 Miracles). He served a mission in Siam (aka Thailand) in the 1850s (I think). He couldn't speak the language, and never learned it even after 2.5 years , which honestly, doesn't give me a ton of hope. He didn't baptize anyone or establish the Church at all. But on the boat ride home he met up with the Willy Martin Handcart company and ended up playing an integral part in their survival. The lesson here is that our service--the reason I'm here--has more implications than I think I realize now or might ever realize. I just hope at some point I will be able to look back and see some of the good I've done here. I know I'm growing and learning so much, but I also want to help others as well.
As for the language, he promised me that my ability or inability to learn the language will never get in the way of someone receiving the gospel. That's a pretty big promise. He told me to place my confidence not in myself, but in Christ. Through the strength of the Lord I can do all things. It was a beautiful blessing. Now I just need to believe all the things he promised me. Sometimes I think I expect miraculous results to take place immediately. Like right after the blessing I would not have any more issues with stuttering. But that's not really how the Lord works, at least not in my life. I forget how subtly He works sometimes. He works slowly at first, like Elder Bednar's example of how the Spirit works. It's typically not a light switch, but a sunrise. The light and spiritual growth comes so imperceptibly until you look around and see how far you've come. So I'm maintaining my faith with hope towards the future that as I continue open my mouth and turn out towards others that the language will come, and that I will fulfill my purpose that I will learn the lessons I'm supposed to learn at this point in my life.
On a less spiritual note, we had our ward Cool Chnam Happy New Year party on Friday! It was sooo fun and we had a really great turn out!  We played a bunch of traditional Khmer games that pretty much looked like American party games with a twist. They played this pinata-like game where they strung up clay pots outside filled with paper money and candy. Then a blindfolded person hit it with a broom handle until it broke open and kids were flying everywhere. We played musical chairs and some sort of a tag game with a tree branch. The young women put on a fashion show, which was unexpected but fun and made me laugh a lot. But my personal favorite was a variation of the doughnut on the string game. But they played with a jicama, which is much harder than a doughnut. I know from experience because I was chosen to compete! But I had some good helpers who would put it in my mouth when no one was looking and somehow I was declared winner! Whoops...
Also, the less active family that I mentioned visiting last week with Ming Samay came! We ended up going over to her house before the party to help them get to the church (because she has one daughter whose legs don't work) and the mom (Bong Pich) only has a bike to get them around. I could tell she was a bit nervous about going back and what people would think. But my comp and I helped them with their hair and makeup (whatever works) and Bong Pich was feeling confident. And I was so happy with how people received them. It almost made me tear up. The Bishop picked up the little girl who couldn't walk and got her in a spot in the shade to watch. And the Bishop's wife hugged Bong Pich and then immediately others followed and fellowshipped them. Since sisters have a 7:30 curfew, we had to leave while everyone was still dancing. But I could tell it was going to go long into the evening with everyone enjoying each other's company. It made me happy.
And then, of course, to end a great week we had general conference. Sister Sheffield and I became companions for the weekend because we are the Americans. We got to watch it in a special room with all the missionaries where we can eat all the snacks we want and nobody will judge us. So we ate a lotttt of food. And I made some good progress on my cross stitch project, which will still probably never be finished by the time I die. And not die as in finish a mission, but die as in just die.
But conference was great. I haven't had a chance to read back over my notes yet, so I don't really have any particular insights yet. I'm really excited for the Liahona to come out so I can read them all. But the ones I liked this year actually weren't by the apostles. Well that's not true, I loved Elder Holland's and Uchtdorf's.  But that is to be expected. Elder Eyring's was really good too, I thought. But my favorite was by Elder Clayton about belief and the fact that belief is a choice that takes action. We must awake and arise our own faculties. That sometimes along the path we won't see the light, but we must choose to keep going, keep fanning the flame of our belief anyways. I also liked Sister Wixom's talk about the woman who was dealing with doubts. I thought it was such a beautiful story. And that there are lots of lessons to learn both from the perspective of the woman going through the crisis of faith and those around her who supported her. Okay last one, I loved the talk about Shiblon! I read the blessing to Shiblon in Alma this morning, and it's so good! I'm officially team Shiblon. I also related a lot to the story he told about the missionary who struggled with the language that it didn't matter if he ever had leadership position or accolades or what because Heavenly Father knew he was a successful missionary. What else matters?
Okay, I think that's all for this week. It's officially Khmer New Years this week! (But lets be real, it basically lasts for a month). So we're having a bit of a party today with the sisters in our zone. So Happy New Year! Have a good week!
Sister Fields

This is how we serve in Pochentong! We realized while we were waiting for the wheelbarrow, it was much more effective to make a chain and carry the loads together than it was to each take a basket individually. There's some type of ward council metaphor here I won't make... But our Bishop is the one on the left end and the girl is Samnang an an awesome recent convert of ours!

This is Bong Pich. She is all ready to go to the party. She wouldn't smile for the camera. She's too cool for that.

Pinata-esque game at our Cool Chnam Party

Me devouring a jicama.

In between sessions we went to the other sisters house because it's much closer to the stake center. This is Sister S., her companion Sister Vin and Sister Nyaem all working on our cross stitch projects. Sister S. is particularly eager.

Meal between sessions. I still can't cook it well, but I do love Khmer food these days!

Missionary conference room!

The Khmer sisters watched the women's session Sunday night, so Sister S. and I (who watched it already) went contacting for a bit in her area and found a beautiful view.

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