It's been another good week! It's been a really great week missionary-work wise too. Lot's of progression over here! So this week I'll break it down person by person.
First. Ming Thida! When I met this women two weeks ago, she hadn't been able to meet with the missionaries in a while because she was a out of town for Khmer New Years, and she came to church for the first time in a while. But over the past few weeks she has grown so much. When we come over to her house now she is ready and waiting with her Book of Mormon out and glasses on the table. She accepts things so readily and has lots of good questions. And she just seems so happy! It's like she can't stop smiling now. She's come to church all three hours the past three Sundays in a row. We just finished teaching her the commandments, so we just have lesson five stuff left. We had a really great lesson yesterday on tithing and fasting. She committed to both without any issues and even said she was going to do a special fast the very next day for her son who is sick! Not even long-time members fast here! So she's doing great. And then the other day she said that she had someone she wants us to meet. She took us behind her house on a long path through a field to a little wooden house of a young mother with five kids. Turns out Ming Thida, our investigator, doesn't really know this woman, but the other day she was walking by her house and overheard her talking about a dream she had in which she saw God or had some spiritual experience. Ming Thida excitedly told us, "I think God is preparing her heart to accept the gospel!" And then when we went over to this woman's house she took the lead, promising the blessings that come from the gospel like she had been a member all her life. It was awesome! We'll teach the referral tomorrow. Ming Thida will be baptized on Saturday the 13th. I'm excited!
Second. Bong Mei. I don't remember how much I talked about her last week, but she's our investigator who's struggling with Word of Wisdom addictions. She's been having a really hard time (with money and with her husband) which was causing her to smoke and drink even more. But when we visited her on Tuesday, it was like she was a different person. She had swept the little concrete step outside her house we meet on. Her usually shy kids were bouncing around excited to see us, and she was just so happy. It was like a night and day difference. She pulled out her book we gave her where she keeps track of how much she had smoked, and it was substantially less. She had read the Book of Mormon. Reading is a struggle for her, and she didn't understand everything, but she recognized the difference it made in her home and the Spirit it brought. Also, she prays with her husband every night! And sometimes he helps her read! And she says she thinks he would be willing to start learning as long as it doesn't go too long (because long lessons give him a headache? which is fine, we can be short)! She's still got a way to go before she will be ready for baptism. Actually, she's still scared to accept a baptism date because she doesn't know if she will be worthy. But in some ways that's a good sign, because she's taking this so seriously. But things are going well. The gospel really changes lives.
Third. Last week we began teaching a grandma and her grandchildren. It's been going pretty well so far. They don't have anything to ride to church, so we convinced them to walk with us this Sunday. We showed up at there house at 6:00 in the morning (because the grandma thought it would take two hours. Turns out it took 45 minutes, but that's okay. Better safe than sorry). Unfortunately, the grandma was overwhelmed with work, and ended up just sending the two oldest grandkids (Davan, 13 and Udom, 12) to church with us. So we walked with them. They're both shy, but I think they were excited. As it would happen we got to church an hour and fifteen minutes early. And both of the kids brought their own paperback copies of The Book of Mormons we had given them with them. So we all read a chapter or two together. It was pretty cute. It think they had a good experience at church. They ended up knowing one of the kids of a member already, and I think all the kids fellow shipped them pretty well. They want to come back next week. The trick will get the grandma to come. I think she's more interested in her grandchildren learning than she is for herself. We're hoping that as we continue to teach them all together, she will start to realize that she needs this for herself as well.
So those are our main groups of progressing investigators. But we've also had a lot of success finding more investigators. Sister A. and I made it a goal this week to be bold in our contacting. Sometimes I think we just get in the habit of inviting to English class and that's all. And while that's certainly important and useful, we miss a great opportunity when we don't also talk about the gospel in all our contacting. So we made it a goal to specifically ask everyone we contact "Do you want to learn about Christ?" That's not necessarily our opening line, but we get it in there. And so far it's had good results! Then we follow it up by asking if there's a day and time we can come back and share a short message with them and their family. And it's so simple, and I don't know why I haven't been doing this all along. But just this week we've gotten three return appointments. So I have great faith in contacting now! I still hate it, but I'm getting better at it!
Oh! I got to do my first exchange as a sister training leader. I went with Sister Y., which was super fun because she was in my group in the MTC. It made me realize how much we had both progressed in the language. There were certainly some things we couldn't understand in our conversing with Khmer people, but we could totally be good companions together. We went in her area, so it was fun to see a different side of Battambang. We bought a friendship lunch! I'll explain. She has a recent convert who works at a restaurant, just this little shack on the side of the road ,and for some reason this middle-aged Indian man who doesn't know any Khmer works there. And every time Sister Y. and her companion go to meet the member, this Indian man gives her a hard time, saying they're just trying to baptize everyone into their church. So that day Sister Y. and I decided to go by lunch and make friends with him. We got there and he still gave us a spiel about how all religions are good and we can't force people to join ours without giving us a second to respond. But then we told him all we want is to teach and invite and that we had come for lunch and what was his suggestion for something delicious. We ended up paying $5.50 for a fried fish without rice! (That's expensive, by the way.) But he totally warmed up to us once he saw we were just trying to be friends. And by the time we left, he was joking around with us. So I think it was money well spent.
And then on Wednesday we did something pretty cool. Because Sister A. and I are both still not very familiar with our area, the Branch President offered to take us out and show us a bunch of members houses. So we ended up going in Elder and Sister S.'s car, and it worked perfectly! It would have taken so much longer on bikes. We went to probably ten or fifteen houses. It was a bit of an adventure. Because lots of roads in Cambodia were not built for cars, we almost got stuck going down one little alley but we made it out alive. The S's are troopers, putting on their crocks and walking out in the mud with all of us. They are really wanting to meet all the members and learn the language as much as possible, so it was fun to got out with them and translate for them a little bit.
Okay this is boring. I'm only talking about missionary stuff. The terribly sad news this week is that Green Mango (the bakery with the banana bread) closed! I was in mourning for about a week until we we're driving along the river and saw a sign saying they're moving locations! Good news is they'll be back in June.
Also, last Monday we went and checked out the Battambang museum. It cost one dollar for foreigners and was free for Khmers. The building is super cool on the outside. I should have taken a picture. And inside it's just one big room with lots of big carved stones unlabeled and not in any cases. My fellow museum cohorts would have freaked. It wasn't super interesting because there wasn't really any information. But it made me excited to go to Angkor Wat one day. And then they had a little exhibit to the side which really was just a series of panels. But it was on the Khmer Rouge and when they forced everyone to move out of the city in masses and go out to work in the country side. It told stories from a bunch of different people and had pictures. It was really sad. And it made me realize just how much context I feel like I'm missing still from these people lives. The Khmer Rouge was such a huge thing and such a recent thing that is just not talked about very much. The last panel was kind of a call to action of sorts, saying that the Khmer people need to confront their past in order to learn from it and make sure something like that doesn't happen again. It was way interesting and very sad. Someday I'll go home and do research.
But it was a good week! Today we're going to go check out a Bamboo train! Should be fun. And if the S's go, we don't have to find a tuk tuk. I'll take pictures!
Last, just a quick spiritual thought. Inspired by who else but my good friend Paul. He wrote a lot. And it's taking me a while to get through the New Testament. It's interesting though. In 1 Timothy 1, he says in verse 12, "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;" This is how I feel. The Lord definitely took a chance on me when he called me to serve a mission. But it is through his enabling power that I'm able to do it, and able to become actually (hopefully, someday) an effective missionary. And then in verse 15 he goes on to say that the Lord came into the world to save the sinners "of whom I am chief." I love that. It reminds me of President Uchtorf's most recent conference talk about grace. I was just reading it this morning. And I will just paraphrase because I'm running out of time, but he talks about how we are all indebted to the grace of Christ through his Atonement. And like the woman who washed Christ's feet with her tears and expensive oil, we should never take for granted His sacrifice for us or forget our indebtedness to Him. And then I will find this quote because it's too good. He says: "When we kneel to pray, is it to replay the greatest hits of our own righteousness, or is it to confess our faults, plead for God’s mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing plan of redemption? Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God."
And that's too good. I can't add on to that.
Well, thanks for making it to the end of this particularly long and ramble-y email. Hope you have a good week!