Monday, June 1, 2015

In Which I Take the Bamboo Train

Stopped to pump my bike and made a new friend.

Greetings from Battambang!

It's been a good week! To be honest I don't remember a lot of it. This transfer has gone by the quickest so far. It's all becoming a blur, a hazy, hot blur. The rains have yet to make a steady appearance. It's looking like it's going to be an unusually hot, unusually dry rainy season. 

Well I'll start with last P-day. After our usual errands we decided to go check out the bamboo train. I picked up a tourist map of Battambang a few weeks ago so I can read up on all the tourist sites I want to hit up. Apparently the bamboo train was built after the Khmer Rouge period as means of transporting agricultural products also maybe people at some point? They used to use them all across the country. Now it's just a tourist thing. It's really just a plank made out of bamboo with a motor attached that goes along a very sketchy track. The Australian government discourages Australians from riding it for safety reasons. But we survived. It's one track that goes down, drops you off at a little village full of people trying to sell you things, and then takes you back. And since there's only one track, when you meet another cart going the other way, the cart with fewer people has to step off and let the other car through. We were fortunate enough to have eight people, so we only had to get off once! I don't know if I'd go again, but it was a fun ride. It could get going pretty fast!

On Friday I got to go on an exchange with my old comp Sister Choek! It was super fun. She lives at the other house in Battambang, so I packed up and headed over Thursday night. I'm all about the sleepover life. We had just settled down for a good language study at 8:00 and about five minutes later the power went out. Usually when the power goes out here (it happens quite often) it's on in another five minutes, but this time it was out for over an hour. So there went language study, but we ended up having a good chat. She is on the last three weeks of her mission. IT GOES BY SO FAST. 

Then the next morning we headed out to her farthest area and it was far!  It took us an hour biking to get there. So we spent most of the day out there and picked up lunch on the way. Her area is much more rural than mine. So it was fun to see that. Super beautiful. We met a lot of great members. She's teaching one investigator who lives super far out. We met at the hour away place as a halfway point between her and us! But she's really awesome. She's come to church foour times already. And she'll get baptized next week. But because she's so hard to meet, we taught her all of lesson 4 and 5 in one lesson! If you don't have the context for that go find PMG and flip through lessons 4 and 5. It's pretty much the entire gospel. I wouldn't necessarily have done it that way, but she is really great and I'm excited for her baptism!

Speaking of baptisms, we've had a baptism EVERY WEEK here in Battambang since the transfer started from three branches!  We had a family of six get baptized on Saturday. The whole family! And next week this one investigator from Sister Choek's branch will get baptized, and the elders from our branch have one as well and then the following week, WE HAVE A BAPTISM! Ming Thida. She's so good.

Speaking of Ming Thida, I'll give a little investigator update now. I think I mentioned last week that we taught fasting and she really took it to heart. She fasted the very next day for her son who was sick. Yesterday in Sunday school she pulled me down to the chair next to her and with a big smile on her face pulled out an envelope explaining it was her fast offering. I couldn't stop smiling either! So I got her a slip and helped her hand it off to the branch president. She's so good! And she really wants her kids to all start learning. She's got one at home now (he's nine) who we're hoping we can get him to learn. He goes to church every week and likes Primary. It's more of a matter of just getting him to sit down and take the lessons. We're thinking when we re-teach it all after she gets baptized, if he could join in too then that would be great. And she's invited her older children who live in Battambang to come to the baptism. She's invited them all to church, but they all work weekends. We taught her about missionary work yesterday and we were like, to be honest, you are doing this already! We met with her neighbor (a referral from her) on Saturday and taught her the first lesson. 

Bong Mei has had some interesting progression this week. She's very much a roller coaster. She has very high highs and very low lows. We went over Tuesday and it was a low, low day. She fought with her husband, had smoked twenty cigarettes and hadn't been praying. We went back the following day and she was sick. So we just met with her a bit and prayed and left. We came back the next day after that and she was really sick. She hadn't moved in two days, just lying in her hammock. We ended up singing Be Still My Soul and encouraged her to pray. Sister A. went back on an exchange the day after that (we meet her a lot) and she was doing a little better and they taught her about baptism and committed her to pray about accepting a date for the end of July. She's been very hesitant about committing because she's afraid she won't be able to stop smoking. But we went to visit her yesterday, and it was like a totally different person again. She's not all the way healed, but she was up washing dishes, cleaning the house. She was praying again, and recognized that when she prayed she received the strength she needed. We sat down to teach and asked how she was doing smoking-wise, and she said she hadn't smoked in six days! She said it was amazing, just the thought of smoking was making her feel sicker! We helped her see that maybe her sickness was actually a blessing in disguise. She literally went from smoking 18-20 a day, to stopping. And of course that's not going to be the end. There will continue to be temptation and she will probably fall into temptation again, but we're hoping that she recognizes the miracles that are happening right now in her life. We asked her if she prayed about the baptism date, and she said she did. And she had a dream that she was at the church at her baptism and she had a chance to speak. She was telling everyone how before she used to drink and smoke and fight with her husband, but then her life changed. How cool is that? Now the challenge is just finding her a ride to church. She lives quite far away and doesn't have anything to ride. And the members around her have full motos already.... So stay tuned on that....

Om Chantha (the grandma) and her grandchildren Devyan and Udom are doing pretty good. Devyan and Udom are the kids we walked to church with last Sunday. They were at church again! They got a ride with the branch president's family who lives nearby. But unfortunately the grandma didn't come. Sister A. met with them on Friday when I was on the exchange and learned that her son (and I guess the kid's uncle?) doesn't want them to join. He says he'll quit paying rent if they join. So we'll be fasting and praying for that one as well. It's a tough situation, but they are still so welcoming to us and wanting to learn from us, especially the kids. They are so smart and just eat up every lesson we teach them. We taught plan of salvation last week and it was so fun because they were so enthralled. There are so many amazing youth and kids here. Sister A. made a cool point that Heavenly Father's currently preparing Cambodia's future leaders. The work is just going to keep on exploding over here!

I didn't really prepare a spiritual thought for this week. But this morning I re-read Elder Bednar's talk about fear from this past conference. Go back and read it. It's so good. I love that he describes worldly fear and then describes godly fear. And then ends with the point that Godly fear dispels mortal fear. When we have faith and hope in Christ, we will receive the peace and eternal perspective needed to hush our own fears. Super good.

Well, that's all I've got this week. I'm headed down to the Phnom Penh for a mission leadership meeting. I'm pretty excited. Also pretty excited to be representing Battambang with a baptism each week! (And ten new investigators so far this transfer, just between Sister A. and I!) Wooohooo. 

Have a good week! 


Sister Fields

Bamboo train!

This is how the train runs.

Cow along the track.

The view from our balcony. Looking out over Battambang.

Not the wat we ride through every day to visit Bong Mei, but another wat we pass as we drive to the church.

Battambang sunset. We call this man the eight-arm statue. A well known landmark on CBR (convert baptism record) maps.

Stopped to do a tire repair.

Bike selfie.

English class!

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