Monday, June 29, 2015

In Which We Go to the Mountains (well, mountain)

The view from the mountain.
Hello friends,

I always feel like nothing new happened in the week and then I look back through my planner and remember all the little things that happen. It's weird because we do the same things every week and every day, so what's left to share are the weird random details. So that's what this week will be. 

First of all, Phnom Sampov. Last Monday we took a trip up to the "mountains." This country is incredibly flat, so it was really just more like hills. Our whole zone plus the missionary couple decided to go, so we got to tuk tuks to take us up. Despite speaking the language, they still made us pay the entrance fee. We are, after all, not actually Khmer. The mountain was super pretty. There's a big wat at the top and a bunch of really great lookouts. And it was really cloudy and misty, so it was the perfect day to go hiking. A bunch of kids hang out at the base, hoping to be tour guides for the tourists who come along. And when they realized we spoke Khmer we had about four or five kids trailing after us. It was actually pretty interesting though. Phnom Sampov was the site of a whole lot of killings during Pol Pot's reign. They have these big caves called the Killing Caves. There are these pits you can stand above and look down into, and we learned that they would take the victims (the educated, people who lived in the city, and pretty much whoever they wanted) up to to the top, hit them in the back of the head and push them in. They wouldn't even waste a bullet on them. They killed men, women (many of whom were pregnant), and kids each at separate caves. The craziest thing is that the caves still have so many of their bones in them. We went into one cave that had a big cage just full of skulls. And next to it on a ledge was a bunch of human teeth. Not even in a case or next to a sign or anything. That was one of the strangest things to me. There's no monument or sign or anything recognizing the crazy atrocities that went down there. That's one of the reasons it put me on edge so much. It just feels so real and raw still. It also makes me sad that these sites of such cultural and religious significance (wats) became places of such terrible history. I wish I knew more about Pol Pot. People don't talk about it. I feel like it would give me more of a context for everything. I felt very reverent there. I don't know if that's the word for it. But it reminded me again of why I'm here. The Atonement is the answer. It can bring more healing than anything I know. 

As far as teaching goes, it was kind of a weird week. We had so many appointments fall through. On Saturday we had two separate people call and cancel before we had made it to our first appointment. So we were stuck for a bit. But then things turned around and we were able to meet with a couple recent converts who are hard to meet with. On Saturdays we go out to a far area and stay until 2:00, and then we come back into the city, get lunch at our favorite Chinese place and then go to the church at 3:00 for a meeting. But as we were riding back in, happy that the day had turned around, Sister Allen's tire popped with no bike fixing places in sight. So we ended up walking to get lunch to go, and then to make copies for our meeting, and then walked across the river to find a bike shop. Long story short, it took forever.  We were late to our meeting and had an appointment at 4:00 before we had to be back to the church at 5:00 for a baptism. So we ended up eating our lunch for dinner after our crazy day. 

My companion and I have gotten steadily more lazy with making food. Sometimes putting rice in the rice cooker and pressing the on button just seems like too much work. So Sunday at lunch we came home and had the great idea to make an entire box of Bisquick pancakes. We stuck them in the freezer, and we have food for a week!

We had an interesting experience yesterday with an investigator. We contacted her a couple weeks ago doing service outside her house. She's super nice and always invites us in. She's having a hard time financially now (but who's not) and with her family. She needs the gospel, but she hasn't really realized it yet. She says she's too old to learn, that she won't remember anything and that she never went to school and is not smart enough. (We get that a lot). But we found out on our first visit that there are Japanese missionaries visiting her once a week. We had a great Lesson 1 with her, helping her realize that there are a lot of churches on this Earth, and she needs to find truth for herself. But yesterday as we were trying to teach her about faith the Japanese missionaries showed up. Things were about to get fun. Jk. But it was a little awkward. These two girls walk in (probably about our age) and they're wearing skirts and crocs, just like us! They start talking in halting Khmer. And we scoot over and invite them to sit on the wooden bed with us. I was super excited. I wanted to hear their whole spiel and hear them speak Khmer and what there message was. They ended up wanting to meet with her daughter and show her a little video. She was about to go back to Japan for a few months. She pulls out an iPad (they're iPad missionaries!) and this video goes on to tell (in Khmer) about how life is hard, and we can find answers in the Bible. And then she sort of bore testimony of it. It was fascinating! I felt like I was watching the Japanese, Jehovah's Witnesses (maybe?) version of myself! The only difference is they ride a moto...

Hmmm. What else. Cambodia continues to be a bundle of fun. This place is so strange sometimes. Whenever there is a wedding or a funeral or anything, they throw up a tent in the road and have a party complete with monks who chant for hours on end. They have this music that they have to play in order to guide the spirit to where it's supposed to go. It's like a series of gong sounds in different  pitches. It's so terrible and eerie sounding. If you're rich, you can pay for other music to play on top of it, but it you're poor, it's just the familiar funeral music blasting for all the neighborhood. I don't know if a lot of people in Battambang die or what, but we hear it all the time! On Friday we went to Ming Thida's house to teach her son. We were hoping to watch the Restoration video with them, but their neighbors were having a funeral and so it was pointless. We had to yell to talk. Thida told us that the neighbors were currently digging a hole to bury the body right here! This is literally right off the side of her house! She said it smelled bad! I thought they cremated people in Buddhism. Cambodia is a strange place, I'm telling you. There are so many things that happen here that I think, I'm pretty sure that should be against the law...

But it's not all bad. They have cute, cheap clothes. With all our appointments falling through this week, Sister Allen and I have gotten into something we call "dress contacting." AKA if we have nothing to do and we drive around and see a place with cute dresses, we stop and contact the people and buy dresses. I've bought two so far this week... Whoops. 

So I won't give you the whole investigator update this week. There's not too much to tell. There were a couple people who couldn't make it to church this week for various reasons, but other than that, things are moving along and progressing well. And after our mass less-active house visiting activity last Sunday with the youth, we had a couple less actives come who hadn't come in a while! So that was exciting. There are two sisters (one's 22 the other is 16) who used to be really good and help the sisters a lot and then they got busy and stopped coming. I think they started to feel awkward about it after a while because it had been so long. We've been trying to meet them for a while with no success, but after they came to church we went over with them later in the afternoon and had a really good lesson! And we made friends with them, and I think they are going to try to start making time for church again. 

We've been teaching about the sacrament to pretty much everyone this week. Sharing in D&C 59:9. It's way good. We have a couple of recent converts that have stopped coming to church (most of our recent converts, actually). Two in particular are hard to meet. They are handicapped and play on a handicapped basketball team. For some reason there are so many handicapped people in Battambang. But somehow it's their job (aka they get paid for it) and work on Sundays. And it's really hard for them to get out of it. Also when they come to church they bike the whole way (maybe 5 miles) with a hand bike. There are actually a couple other members on the team. One in particular is a recent convert in another branch. And she has a ton of faith. And she's made the sacrifice to skip out every Sunday for church. The senior couple told us about her, as we were sharing about our struggles with our recent converts in district meeting one time. We knew it would be great to get her in a lesson with us, but she lives in another branch, and we didn't think it was very practical. But on Saturday we ended up meeting our recent convert at the center where she plays basketball. And we walk in and the person she's sitting with is the elder's recent convert! It was a miracle! As we taught about the sacrament, she was right there to testify that it was worth it. That sacrifices bring blessings. She was an incredible example for her friend. Even though she didn't come to church the next day, I think it sunk in for her. It was a bit of a reality check for her. That she couldn't just get baptized and it wasn't a big deal, but that she had made covenants already. So hopefully she'll start coming back! We're doing a FHE with her and our other recent convert and a couple other members in the neighborhood this week. 

So that was the week. I'll end with a spiritual thought that kind of ties in to where I started this letter. So I'm working my way through The Book of Mormon pretty quickly to finish in a transfer. And it's been really fun so far. Also I just made it out alive of the Isaiah chapters this morning, so it's all downhill from here. But I want to share a scripture from 1 Nephi 13. This is after Nephi has this crazy vision of pretty much all of history. He sees Christ, the Apostasy, the exploration/colonization of America, and then the beginnings of the Restoration. The angel tells Nephi that a record (the Book of Mormon) will come forth and make known the plain and precious things that had been lost, and then "shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world"  He goes on to learn that there is but one fold and one shepherd over all the others. And the time will come that he shall manifest himself "unto all nations." I read this the morning after I went to Phnom Sampov and I was still caught up thinking about Pol Pot and the situation Cambodia still finds itself in, even 40 years later. It's still dealing with so many repercussions, due in part to the fact that 25% of the population was killed. And I see this on a daily basis. Maybe not directly related to everything that went down in the 70s, but so many people are still broken here. Still trying to make sense of everything as they try to just make a living every day. And I can't give them money. I can't give them employment. I can't repair families that were torn about 40 years ago. But what I can offer them is this message of hope. The message of Jesus Christ that is now filling the world reaching all kindred, tongues, and peoples. Because the gospel knows no cultural boundaries. We are all children of God.

Wooh. Okay, sorry. I'll get off my soapbox. Here's to another good week!


Sister Fields  

Tuk tuk ride to the mountain.

The mountain.

The sisters at Phnom sampov.

Phnom sampov.

Me and my comp.

The wat.

This monkey stole one of the Elder's drinks.

The look down from the caves.

The skulls.

This is inside one of the caves.

The tuk tuk.

Our boy band shot. 

Sister A. and Sister F.

Fixing power lines Cambodia-style.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

In Which Rainy Season Arrives (finally)

Rainy season has come...

The rains have come to Battambang! It's still an unusually hot, unusually dry rainy season; but the rains have indeed started turning every road into a muddy mess and soaking my bag (not to mention me) completely through. Time to invest in some waterproof bags. 

New transfer has also arrived. No changes for me and my comp, but a bunch of missionaries from my MTC group came to Battambang. So that's been fun. Sister Kimball replaced Sister Young in our apartment. We're all planning to go out to a mountain today after emailing, so that should be fun. Battambang is the best. 

Not a whole lot happened this week. It was a bit of a different week because we were a trio for Thursday and Friday while Sister Young and Sister K. traded places. Sister Koung came with me and Sister A. and we proselyted in two areas. It was a bit crazy biking from one end of the city to another. And at one particular instance we left one house to go to the next house just as it started to sprinkle. Seconds later it turned into a steady downpour and then it started dumping. And it was a 30 minute ride. So we got quite soaked. But the storms never last too long, and then the sun dries us all out. That's just how rainy season goes I suppose. 

Investigators are doing pretty well. Our next baptism is on the 18th of July (shout out to Spencer). It is for the grandkids (Davan, Udom) and Grandma (Chanda) that we are teaching. The kids made it to church this week for the fifth week in a row, and even went out to visit less actives for a youth activity. Our investigators are visiting less actives, it's great. Unfortunately the grandma was sick. The kids have integrated really well into the branch, we just want to make sure the grandma is being fellowshipped too. But they're all doing pretty good. 

Ming Srey Niang (the one who was really upset she couldn't get a ride to church last week) was able to come to church! I was soooo happy when I saw her walk in the chapel. And she had a huge grin on her face and two little kids in tow. Did I ever say how we found her? That was a miracle in itself. She's a neighbor of Ming Thida (our recent, recent convert), but they don't really know each other. But one day Ming Thida overheard Srey Niang talking about a dream in which she saw heavenly messenger which led her to a church near the main market in town. Ming Thida ran up to her and told her that she goes to that very church in the dream, and that she had some people she should meet. And then she introduced us. She's had a number of crazy dreams since then that I don't always know what to make of, but I very much believe that Heavenly Father talks to His children in ways they will understand and assigns meaning to them and in Cambodia, there are lots of dreams and visions and angels. It's pretty cool. 

So this last week we were able to teach Srey Niang and Thida's house, which was really great. They connected well, and spent twenty minutes discussing Lehi's family and how Laman and Lemuel totally missed the boat and should have listened to their little brother. And even though Thida has a moto, the seat is only big enough for her and her son. But she welcomed Srey Niang to ride a bike next to her and she would just drive a little ways and then wait for her. Well, Sunday morning came and Srey Niang was able to borrow a bike! And even though the tires were flat, and she had to hold her baby and bike with one hand down a road she didn't know with big trucks barreling by, she prayed and they all arrived to church safely! 

We've also officially started teaching Thida's little boy. His attention span is short, but he's a good kid. And he really likes primary. We taught him a simplified lesson of the restoration this week and we gave him his very own copy of The Book of Mormon. Once he realized it was his very own copy, he got a huge smile on his face and hugged it. And took it to church on Sunday. He can't really read it though, so Sister A. is going to give him her picture version of The Book of Mormon this week. So that will be really good for him. 

We met with a couple new investigators this week, and have a couple hopeful referrals. So hopefully we'll be getting some more new ones in the next coming weeks. Bong Mei, our no-longer-a-smoker investigator is unfortunately not doing as well. We haven't been able to meet her in almost two weeks. She's been sick for forever and having problems with her husband and now the house is locked and her neighbors say she's gone to PP. We don't know for how long. And she doesn't have a phone. So we keep praying for her. It's like she made this huge big change in her life and that one thing sucked up all the faith and strength she had. I worry about her. Hopefully she'll come back. 

Sunday we went went with a ton of youth from our branch to visit less active youth/young adults. This activity was the brainchild of Bong Nuen, who is not our Branch Missionary but pretty much is and helps the elders almost every day. We had a group of maybe 20 of us all on bikes and a few on motos, and we took over Battambang! We were pretty much a biking gang. We lost someone probably at every stop we made, but we met a lot of people. And the kids got a sense of what mission life is like as we went to a house and no one was home, and then we went to another house and no one was home. But we did meet quite a few people and hopefully helped them feel loved. Our at least peer-pressured to come back to church. Same thing. 

Well that's about it for the week. I'll close with a spiritual though of the week. So the new transfer officially started this morning, and I have set a goal to read The Book of Mormon in a transfer, thirteen pages a day. So my spiritual thoughts for the next six weeks will probably all come from The Book of Mormon because that's going to fill my personal study for the next transfer. It'll be good I'm excited. I've decided to focus on personal revelation. And I'm marking every time the Lord talks to any of His children to learn the different ways we can receive inspiration. This morning I was paying attention to the confirming revelation that Lehi's family members received (or didn't in the case of Laman and Lemuel) in regards to leaving Jerusalem and going into the wilderness. They did not have to trust on Lehi's word alone that the city was going to be destroyed, but they recieved a confirming witness. For example, Nephi had a desire to know the mysteries of God, so he "did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers." 

Sariah also received a witness. Her's came after the trial of her faith, in allowing her sons to go back to Jerusalem, not knowing if she would see them again. For a moment there she doubted that they would make it back, but they did and she rejoiced. And that was the witness she needed. In chapter 5 she says, "Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them."

I think it's interesting that both she and Nephi received revelation confirming Lehi's revelation in different ways. Both came to a knowledge that the Lord was guiding Lehi and guiding their family, but they both had to trust Lehi, the prophet's counsel first. I think this is one of many lessons from this story. That sometimes we have to trust the Lord first before we receive our own witness that it is truth. That's where the trial of faith comes in. But as we do, the Lord's hand will be revealed, and we will know that He is guiding our lives. 

That's all for this week. Happy Father's Day!


Sister Fields

Zone picture after English class before transfers 

Sister A. and Sister Koung. If you can't tell, that is a giant truck of rice that drove down a muddy road and got stuck and then couldn't turn around. Thus causing our traffic jam. A little different from the traffic jams in the city.

Drying everything that got soaked in my bag #rainyseason

The cake we made in our "new oven." Since we don't have frosting in these parts, we spread straight Nutella on the top. It was delicious.

GIANT dead bug we found next to my bike.

The visiting less actives youth activity.

Best comps 4everrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Monday, June 15, 2015

In Which We Go Crocodile Hunting

These are the kids of that investigator who just started to maybe be progressing. They like us a little tooo much. 
Hey hey,

It was a good week in Battambang. We got transfer calls last night, and Sister A. and I will be staying here another transfer. Woo-hoo! We're getting good work done, so I figure it will be good to keep it going another transfer. We had five investigators at church yesterday, and the elders had eight, so that was thirteen investigators on Sunday for Battambang First Branch! 

I'll start with an investigator update, because that always ends up taking the longest:

Ming Thida got baptized on Saturday! Preeetty exciting. Except for the fact that we showed up at her house on Sunday and the door was locked, a for-sale sign was on the house, and we called and her number wouldn't go through. Okay so it turns out that she is moving up towards the Thai border where we don't have the church. We actually didn't even know this until she got out of an interview with President and he mentioned that he was a bit worried about it. She asked if she could still pay tithing if she lived far away. We knew she was looking for work, but we didn't think a move would be immediate, or even necessary. So we are helping her understand the importance of attending church and encouraging her to make sure she's making it a prayerful decision. She's so good; she really doesn't want to go. So we'll see. I don't think she picked up and left yesterday, but it was just kind of strange. But the baptism itself was really good. It started at 5:00, and we told her to get their at 4:00 to make sure we had plenty of time to get everything ready. But her clock broke, so she was there at 3:00! So we had plenty of time. Her little boy came too. And as soon as we got there he kept asking us if he could get baptized (he's 9, but the size and temperament of a 5-year-old). We told him this is why we kept trying to get him to sit down and learn with us! But he's gets it now, so we'll start teaching him this week. And he goes to primary every week. So he'll learn quickly. We just have to pray they won't move...

Om Chanda, Davan, Udom are doing super good. They walked to church all together on Sunday (this is the first time the grandma has attended church) and got there an hour-and-a-half early for Sacrament meeting. I think they had a good experience. The kids are totally integrated with the ward already. They were asking their grandma if they could go with the youth to visit less-active young men/young women after church. We had a good lesson with them on Friday morning with the the senior couple. It's so fun to go out with them because they are still so new, and everything is strange to them. Plus also they always add so much to the lessons (we taught about prophets and priesthood). It's fun (read: difficult) to jump in and out of teaching in Khmer and translating for them in English as your companion does the opposite. But everyone respects the senior couple so much. They call them "lookta, lookyiay" (grandpa, grandma). 

Bong Mei is still very sick. She was better for a little while, and then got worse again. When she was feeling better we were able to go teach a good lesson on Word of Wisdom with the Branch President and his wife. She still hasn't smoked or anything since she first stopped. But I think it's kind of monopolizing all her faith. She hasn't been progressing in other ways, and we still haven't been able to get her to church. So we'll get her over this crazy sickness she has and hopefully things will get going for her again. She's very discouraged. 

Ming Srey Niang is doing well. I feel like when we first met her I didn't think too much of her, but now she just has this crazy faith that came out of nowhere. We taught keeping the Sabbath Day holy on Saturday and she was bound and determined to make it to church (despite the fact that she had no moto or bike of her own). She kept saying, don't worry sisters, I will ask all my neighbors. I will pray and God will prepare the way. Unfortunately, Sunday morning came and she wasn't at church. We stopped by her house that afternoon and she was upset. She had tried so hard to come, and nothing had worked out. So we'll keep praying for that one. 

We're teaching one family that has a mother and two daughters (and then all their little neighborhood friends who join in). We've taught them a couple times, and it's been a bit rough. The kids reaaaallly like us, but have a hard time focusing on lessons and just want to get through it and play. We try to involve the mom, but she just deflects questions to her kids.  She laughs when we invite her to pray. So we gave her an ultimatum on Tuesday. We explained we can't just teach children. If she wants us to come and teach (which we were happy, and willing to continue) she would need to learn with them. We went back Sunday expecting to drop them, but she came over and sat down. She folded her arms as we prayed, and as we started to teach on faith, she listened. We really tried to make it personal, to teach directly to her, and it really worked! We asked her if she wanted this to be true, that she had a Heavenly Father who know her personally and loved her so much, and a Savior who was standing there waiting to help her, and she said yes. She wanted it to be true. And that, we explained, is the beginning of faith. And then she prayed to close our lesson for the very first time. So, it looks like we're not erasing their names off the whiteboard yet!

We got a new investigator this week (the one we contacted via breaking bricks outside her house last week), and had a really good first lesson with her. She currently has missionaries from another Christian church visiting her once a week. So the focus on finding truth in the first lesson really stuck with her. So I'll let you know how it goes! 

Have I told you we're teaching a 77-year-old man? He's the uncle of a less-active we meet. Teaching him is kind of a joke. His niece acts as our translator because this man is practically deaf, as well as can't understand our Khmer, which I don't blame him. But he's very Buddhist, and just explaining the concept of God has proven to be a struggle. But he's still learning. We're taking the lessons nice and slow. And trying to get him to church. Also to remember how to pray....

So those are the people I hang out with most days. It's pretty fun, not a bad life. What else happened this week? We had zone conference! AKA probably the last time I will ever see the Moons! (Which is super sad). We were their last zone conference, the last stop on the trip around the khetes [provinces], so I think they were sad too. They shared very heart-felt testimonies. And President Moon went around the room and said what he admired about each missionary, which sounds really cheesy, but it wasn't at the time. He said I remind him of one of his daughters. That I am meek, humble and kind. And that I have overcome significant challenges as I have been serving,which I guess I'm not that humble, now that I've shared this with the world. I just want you all to know that I'm humble. Jk. 

He also talked a lot about living the gospel culture. He mentioned that in both America and Cambodia, there are certain traditions/behaviors that are not in line with gospel principles. He committed us to live in the gospel culture. And then he spoke directly to the Khmer missionaries. He told them that they need to marry each other (which made everyone laugh), but he was serious, and it is true. Lots of times when RMs come home, especially after they have learned a lot of English on their mission, they move to the US, go to school at BYU, and he couldn't tell them not to do that. But he said what Cambodia needs is strong multi-generational families that are active members of the church. That they need to get sealed in the temple and raise their families in the church. And it really reminded me of what you said, Dad, in your last email that sometimes conversion is a generational process. Sometimes I get frustrated with members here. But then I remember that the church has only been here twenty years, and that they are all pioneers with incredible faith. And their children are being raised in the gospel to be better members then they were, to raise their children to be better than they were. And then the temple will come. Hahaa. 

Okay humorous anecdote of the week: Yesterday we were getting ready to go out, and talking about how we didn't really want to go proselyte (Sunday afternoons are always a bit rough). I said the prayer before we left, and as soon as I said the words "We're grateful to go out even though we don't really want to right now" there was a huge, enormous thunder clap that came out of nowhere. And before I finished the prayer the rain was pouring. So we took that as an answer to a prayer, and worked on CBRs for an hour as it dumped. 

Spiritual thought: At zone conference we learned a lot about the sacrament, and we've been teaching it a lot since then trying to help members make it a more spiritually renewing process for themselves. And I came across this quote from Elder Bednar:

 "Ordinances and covenants are the building blocks we use to construct our lives upon the foundation of Christ and His Atonement. We are connected securely to and with the Savior as we worthily receive ordinances and enter into covenants, faithfully remember and honor those sacred commitments, and do our best to live in accordance with the obligations we have accepted. And that bond is the source of spiritual strength and stability in all of the seasons of our lives."

The sacrament is the only ordinance we perform more than once for ourselves. When we partake each week, we have the opportunity to renew not just our baptismal covenants, but all the convents we have made. And in so doing, we connect ourselves with the Savior and build upon His foundation of the Atonement. 

Well, I was going to say that's all, but then I remembered my title! Last P-day we got to go to the Crocodile farm or more like crocodile farm hopping! There are a bunch (four or five) down this dirt road in the middle of nowhere. A crocodile farm is exactly what it sounds like, just these giant pits crawling with crocodiles with little bridges (lots of times no railings) that you can walk on. Also I'm pretty sure they make them fight each other in this big open pit we found between the farms. It was creepy because no one was there when we went. But they let us go in for free at a bunch of the farms. And we got to watch as they threw in a giant container of raw fish heads and the crocodiles devoured them. It was terrifying. Turns out they raise them and sell them to China, to be turned into medicine, to Thailand, to be turned into shoes and belts, and Vietnam to be eaten. In the words of Sister Y, "Pretty sure that's illegal." That's Cambodia for you. 

Have a good week!

Sister Fields

Last Zone Conference with President and Sister Moon.

This one's for Instagram. Jk. Me, Sis S., Sis A, with Udom, Om Chanda, Davan, and Ming Moni (the BP's wife) 

Me and the crocs (not to be confused with the shoes...)

Selfie with the crocs.
Croc close-up.

and more crocs

Feeding them fish heads.

Looking in the pits.

Another one at the crocodile farm.
Playing miniature Apples to Apples Junior with Elder S. and our investigator's son, while our investigator was being interviewed for baptism. We had to translate each card for him. It was a good language exercise. Also incredibly difficult. 

Baptism! And another one coming up soon for him!

A street in Battambang.

The Cambodian dust is all too real

The road out to Ming Thida's house.

Our hands with our 77-year-old investigator's hand. 

Breaking bricks!

Waiting for Ming Moom to show up.

At Davan (a RC)'s house
With the Elders in our branch at our baptism.

With "crazy pirate lady." She lives super far out and pays for a moto taxi to take her to church every week. She's so cool!

Monday, June 8, 2015

In Which We See Miracles

The delicious Chinese fried dumplings that has become a weekly tradition for this companionship.


It was a great week! I'll just start at the beginning and work my way through.

On Monday we went down to the city for leadership training. It was a six-and-half hour drive by bus down and then back the next day. It was a bit crazy. Also we had seats at the back of the bus, and it was suuuper hot. But that's okay. We got lots of cross stitching time in. Sis A. has a cross stitch now too (actually I got all the sisters in our zone into it). Mine will still take me another twenty five years, but that's okay. With no plans for the future, I'll have nothing but time on my hands when I get home...

We didn't get into the mission home until 9:20 pm! And then Sister H. was spending the night. So it was a little bit of a party. And then I was quite sleepy for meetings the next day. But that's okay. Mostly it was just leadership training stuff. It was good. It was the Moon's last MLC. They are doing zone conferences this coming week. And then they've have just two weeks and they go home! So crazy. I wonder what it feels like to leave after three whole years. 

At MLC we got to present our zone results for the month, which was fun because Battambang has been doing so well! We've had at least one baptism (usually more than one) every week of the transfer. It's so fun. Saturday at 5:00 everyone shows up and there's always and handful of investigators getting baptized. And we've got one this coming Saturday, so we'll have had a baptism every week of the whole transfer. 

Tuesday we spent in meetings and eating delicious homemade food (lasagna and chocolate chip cookies courtesy of Sis Moon!) and then headed back on the bus. We left a little earlier, so we got home by 8:30 pm or so. The senior couple moved out, and Sister Y. has taken advantage of their oven already. She had a French toast casserole and a chocolate cake waiting at home for us! This oven opens up a whole new world of possibilities. 

Wednesday we finally had some time to go proselyting again. And our investigators are doing way good. 

I'll start with Om Chanda and her grandchildren Devyan and Udom. I mentioned them last email. The grand-kids were doing pretty good; they have come to church twice. But the son of the grandma wasn't allowing them to get baptized. But we went back on Wednesday and we met with them with the Branch President and his wife (who are neighbors). We taught doctrine of Christ and it was a really good lesson. And then they told us they had talked to the son again, and he had given them permission to join the church. So we extended them the invitation to be baptized, and they accepted. It was a miracle! But the coolest thing was seeing the change in the grandmother. At first she was just sitting in on the lessons because she wanted her grandchildren to learn. We would ask her questions, and she would just deflect them to the kids. But somewhere along the line a change happened. And now she is just eating everything up. She loves learning the gospel. Especially now because we found her a pair of reading glasses, and she can read The Book of Mormon along with the kids. They love reading scriptures! We went back Friday and taught scriptures and prayer using a story in Mosaiah, and they loved it. They keep reading after we tell them to stop. And the grandma said that in the mornings they will read from 6:00 am-8:00 am and then make breakfast and get ready for school. They're so good! Unfortunately a relative came from out of town on Sunday, so the grandma didn't come to church, but the kids were there again. We're hoping for next week! They'll get baptized on the 18th of next month (Spencer's birthday!--we will hopefully have a lot of investigators getting baptized that day!) 

Next up Bong Mei. She sill hasn't smoked! She's dealing with a lot of side-effects from stopping smoking. She's only 32 but she told us she's been smoking for 20 years (yes, since she was 12. And I believe it). So it's a serious addiction. But it's been almost two weeks now that she's completely stopped. She's pretty sick, but we were able to teach her about priesthood blessings and have the elders come over and give her a blessing. On Thursday we decided to a few days early about trying to get her a ride to get to church. And we worked hard at trying to find a way. We asked all the members around her (unfortunately a lot of them are less active and hardly come to church as is). We talked to a member who is a moto doper (motorcycle taxi) and said it would cost 6000 riel or $1.50 to get there and back, which for her is a lot of money right now. We ended up finding a member who couldn't promise a ride every week, but really wanted to help once we told her the whole story of how she's making all these changes in her life and is preparing for baptism. But then Bong Mei was too sick this week to come. So here's to hoping for next week! And hoping a more permanent solution comes along...

We have a newer investigator who made a lot of progress this week. She's the neighbor/referral of our almost-member Ming Thida). Her name is Ming Srei Niang. She's progressing quickly (minus the fact that she doesn't have a consistent way to come to church...the building is so far from our area!). She accepted a baptismal date and she has a couple kids over eight. So as long as they can all have a way to come to church, we'd really like to teach the whole family. She's really enjoying reading The Book of Mormon, even though she's not the quickest person and it takes a while to help her understand. She really has the desire to understand, and that's what counts! We asked her about how her Book of Mormon reading had been going and she said she really pitied Joseph Smith after he had to go work out in his dad's field after not sleeping all night. I suppose she was talking about when Angel Moroni visited him, and she had been reading in the introduction. I'm not sure why that was what she took from it, but hey. She's reading and connecting with it in some sense. She's doing good! And I love teaching people who want to learn. It makes such a difference. And it's so nice after teaching so many unresponsive less actives for so long. It makes me remember why I want to be a teacher someday.

And then of course, there's Ming Thida. We went over yesterday to help her prep for her baptismal interview which is tomorrow. And then just a couple more prep things and she'll be good to go for her baptism on Saturday! She's so excited. And I'm so excited for her! 

We had a good English class on Wednesday. We're trying to be more creative/put more effort into our lessons. I teach with Sister A. and Sister Y, which is nice because in Pochentong I taught my class by myself! The topic was directions this week. We ended up hiding candy in different rooms in the church (we were going to do it outside but we ended up having a HUGE storm). We gave them directions in English.  They had to draw a map, and then go find it. It was a lot of fun. And then I was on spiritual thought and taught about prophets. I did an object lesson in which I blindfolded and spun around a student (spun her way too many times actually, whoops) and told her to find the piano on the other side of the room. After stumbling to it, we did it a second time and I gave her someone to guide her there. And then explained how the prophet can show us the way. It as pretty fun. 

Hmm. What else. Sunday was a lot of fun. I feel like I'm really starting to appreciate Cambodia more. A lot of things that used to really annoy about people here just kind of makes me laugh now. And church was super funny. Like in Sunday school (gospel essentials) when our teacher literally taught that Adam was the same as Jesus and that Joseph Smith was Jesus' dad. I think she got confused about the whole "begotten son" thing and then got confused about which Joseph is which. She's just so sure that she is right all the time. The elders were dying laughing in the back of the room. Maybe it was a good thing we didn't have many investigators at church...

Also Sunday night our 5:00 pm appointment fell through, so we went contacting. I always hate it when I start, but then I warm up to it. We ran into a woman working splitting bricks outside her house so we rolled up on bikes and I squatted down next to her and asked if I could help. She laughed like they always do and said no. But I told her I was serious. She told me she didn't want me to get rocks in my eyes, but I told her not to worry and I put on my sunglasses. She laughed, but realized I was serious, so she gave me her hammer. So I worked on splitting bricks (to make a floor for her house) while Sis A. talked with her and got a return appointment. So we now have a new contacting technique! All the neighbors gathered around and took pictures of the "Barang" (French person. Every white person here is French.). Sometimes I'm really glad I'm here in Cambodia. Everyone is so kind and welcoming. And even though they can be very blunt and like to make fun of you, they are very humble and willing to learn.

So it was a pretty successful week! Gosh this was long. But I do have a spiritual thought to end on. It comes from Sister Rosemary M. Wixom's talk from last conference. Remember it? It was so good. It was about finding and giving strength in times of doubt. She shared the story of a woman who was dealing with a crisis of faith, and what she did to cope and all the people who helped her through the hard time. She shared a quote by Mother Theresa that I really love. In a letter she wrote: 

"Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself—for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’ Ask Our Lord to give me courage."

Sometimes I really relate to this. Sometimes even in the midst of seeing miracles and knowing I'm doing all the work, I doubt myself. And I allow Satan to let me think I'm not doing enough, or not doing things right, or that others could do it so much better than I could. But I'm trying to shut those thoughts out. And I love the response Archbishop Perier gives to her:  

“God guides you, dear Mother; you are not so much in the dark as you think. The path to be followed may not always be clear at once. Pray for light; do not decide too quickly, listen to what others have to say, consider their reasons. You will always find something to help you. … Guided by faith, by prayer, and by reason with a right intention, you have enough.”  

It's all good. But I love the beginning especially. That you are not so much in the dark as you think. And I think that's true for all of us. Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us individually. And I think lot's of times we're on that path being guided by Him even when we don't think we are. And it isn't until we turn around and realize how things fell into place that we recognize the Lord had His hand in our lives the whole time. We just have to trust him and also trust ourselves. 

Okay this has gone on far too long. Have a good week everyone!


Sister Fields

This is us riding to church with our recent convert who's in a wheel chair. She bikes with her arms. It took us forty five minutes. She's so strong!

Baby lizard and my thumb.

Me and Sister H. enjoying crab apples dipped in Nutella. An acquired taste. 

Bike selfie!

Sister A. driving into the storm (also this is the wat we drive through every day to get to our investigator's house)