Monday, July 13, 2015

In Which I Sing At A Wedding

Us and the bride and groom.

Suasdei! (I don't know how to spell that in English... Sometimes I really wish I could type in Khmer. But let's be real, only for like two words and then I would switch back to English)

It was a good week! A bit crazy, because we went down to PP on Monday and came back the next day, which always makes the rest of the week kind of stressful trying to catch up. But it was good.

So I'll start with our Mission Leadership Conference meeting in the city. We got to spend some time with the Christensens, and we'll get to see them more tomorrow. They're coming up to Battambang (and the rest of the khets) to meet us all. I'm excited for them to be here. It was a little weird walking into the mission home and not having the Moons there. And then we got a new senior couple in the office, so the whole place feels different. But change is good. And the Christensens are going to be really fun to work with. They're both really funny! And very real, relate-able people. It must be so crazy to take over a mission. They only overlapped with the Moons for about three hours of training. And everything is just still so (unsurprisingly) new for them. They hadn't even adjusted to the time difference yet. But they're going to be great! I'm excited.

So the APs led MLC this time. It was good training. It was all very practical, like keeping good records and English class details. They called me and my comp the day before while we were on the bus and asked if we could teach a segment "What to do when everything falls through?" It was pretty ironic because we've been having a lot of moments this transfer where appointments fall through, and we don't know what to do. So we talked about back-up plans and seeking inspiration and then acting even if we feel like we haven't received a for sure answer. I think it went pretty well. And then we each got up from every zone and shared our results from the month before and goals for next month like we always do. And we all habitually set our goals too high and miss them. All of us. It's kind of depressing. And then President Christensen stood up and said something interesting. He said the missing of a goal should be relatively rare (which at first made us all feel worse) but then he said that we should set our goals around factors we can control. So much agency goes into our key indicators that we can work super hard every day and still not have any baptisms because so much is out of our control. Then he said he wants us to feel like we are successful. He wants us to go home thinking we had a great day everyday even if all our lessons fall through. To do that we have to change our measure of success.

So we talked about some of those things with the zone leaders. And on Friday morning we taught the training to our zone. And we decided that one of the factors we can control is contacting, the people we talk to everyday and invite to learn. We set a goal to get fourteen contacts per companionship daily. It's going well so far. It's fun because the zone leaders tally it every night and text us to let us know how we're doing. I'm not sure if it really solved the problem before. We're probably still a little too focused on numbers. It is causing me a little anxiety, always having that number in the back of my head as we are biking around. But we've had success so far. Yesterday 3 appointments fell through, so we found ourselves at the church (out of our area) with an extra hour. So we stood outside and handed out fliers for English class. Then we ran out of fliers, so we took out the pamphlets, but yelling "Do you want to learn about Jesus?" rather that "Do you want to learn English?" just felt a little wrong. So we just held the pamphlets up and less then a minute later a man pulled over, and about two minutes after that, the Elders had a return appointment. So it's working!

We got two new investigators this week! One was a girl who came to English class. Usually our English class in Battambang is filled with members/non-members who sneak out before our spiritual thought. But she wanted to learn. So we met her on Saturday at the church and had a really good lesson one with her. She asked so many good questions. The unfortunate thing is she's so busy! But she comes to English every week. So we'll make something work out. Her name is Rachana.

Then (also on Saturday--Saturday was another one of those crazy, no time for lunch days) we went to go teach a recent convert and she had some family friends at her house. We chatted with them and went in a different room to teach and this girl just sits down to join in and then starts asking all these great questions about prayer and commandments and things. It was super cool! And the thing is, we weren't even planning on going to her house today, but then ended up changing plans, and I'm glad we did. She's definitely prepared! We'll meet her again on Tuesday.

Speaking of investigators, our grandma and grandkids Chanda, Davan and Udom are doing well. They're having some serious financial issues right now because it really is Satan just making things hard. Satan is real. That's one thing I've learned on my mission. But it's okay because when we have faith things work out. And they've got some serious faith. And they are getting baptized this Saturday, woohoo!

Unfortunately, Ming Srey Niang (the referral from Thida who had a really hard time getting to church) is moving all of a sudden. She's found work in the city and she's planning on staying for seven months. She says it's bittersweet, because she really does need the money, but she really doesn't want to leave her family or stop learning with us. She was scheduled to be baptized next week! But it's okay. We're hoping that once she gets settled in she'll call us and we can figure out where specifically she's at and set her up with sisters there. And then maybe when she comes back she can afford a bike to get to church. I''ll just miss her. She was so  good and prepared. But her story isn't over yet.

We had a great FHE this week. We went over to what we call the "handicapped village," have I mentioned that? It's what it sounds like. There are so many handicapped people in Battambang for some reason. But we have a bunch of members who all live in this neighborhood and are all in wheelchairs and all play on the same basketball team. We went with the Spencer's and taught two recent converts at a less actives house. It was a great lesson about faith and miracles. And they made a plan to have a scripture reading group together. Unfortunately they still didn't make it to church. So we'll keep working with them! It was fun to spend time with them all together. They are very strong women.

Okay last but not least, the wedding. A guy in our ward (who's a huge help to the missionaries. He knows everyone and helps us a lot.) got married at the church Saturday morning. I've been anticipating this wedding ever since Bong Nuen (the groom) came up to the elders last transfer and introduced a referral as "the woman I love." They taught her in a few weeks, Bong Nuen baptized her, and in a few short weeks they were inviting us and the elders to sing at the wedding.

Here's just a list of some things I don't ever want to forget about this great occasion:

--We waited fifteen minutes for the person giving the opening prayer to go home and change into a white shirt (the branch president made him) because another person could not have been chosen. 
--We heard two talks before the bride made an entrance (one of whom shared from a Word of Wisdom pamphlet???)
--The bride entered from the overflow with the sliding curtains opening as Sister Spencer played "Here Comes the Bride"
--The theme was 80s prom, I think. That's the only explanation for the decor and outfits--purple and white balloons, and Bong Nuen and his groomsman were in white tuxes, checkered shirts, and bow ties
--The rings were found, only after someone yelled on the stand "Who has the rings??"
--One very awkward kiss on the stand in the chapel. Seriously though, it took three times and the bride was still not having it. PDA is not a thing here. 
--The Elders and Sisters sang "Love is Spoken Here"
--Closing hymn: "Did You Think to Pray?"

And that is apparently how you do an LDS wedding in Cambodia...

To close I just want to share a couple thoughts about repentance. I feel like I've been learning a lot about repentance. Before my mission I did not really understand repentance. I thought repentance was something you did when you really messed up. And it was hard. And yes, sometimes it is those things, but it is also just the process we can do everyday as we strive to grow closer to Christ. In PMG (and I think this is in the Bible Dictionary too) we learn that repentance is forming a fresh view of God and ourselves. I had a seminary teacher that always defined repentance as "to turn." Basically repentance = change. And change is sometimes hard, but it's that change that is going to turn us into the person Heavenly Father knows he can be. And that is the ongoing conversion process. Because if there's one thing I remember from that thesis I wrote (and this is really the only thing I remember, no joke) it's that conversion is a process. Alma 5 lets us in on that process. Thankfully Heavenly Father is merciful with us in that process, and thus gave us his Son to help us through it.

Well, that's all I've got! Have a good week everyone!

Sister Fields

Us with our investigator (Tin) who came to the wedding.

The goomsman and bridesmaid. It's just too good.

The wedding party & Elder S.

Me and our investigator (Srey Niang) who's moving. Her child is screaming because she stopped nursing to take this picture. 

This is us contacting outside the church and behind us the motorcycle gang otherwise known as our ward council about to go visit less actives. This may be one of my favorite pictures ever.

Ming Thida helping her son read the picture-book copy of The Book of Mormon. 

Our 77-year-old investigator. We came to his house and this is what we found. Sleeping with an open Book of Mormon

Me walking to a members house through a semi-creepy alley.

Sis A. locked me in with our bikes.

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