Sunday, July 19, 2015

In Which I Teach in Sign Language

This is what being a good missionary looks like.


So it was a good week. Unfortunately the baptisms we were hoping for (Chanda, Davan and Udom) didn't happen. There were a lot of factors outside of our control. Satan works hard. But it's okay because they just need a couple more weeks. We went on Wednesday and helped prepare them for the interview, and the kids were so good. They know so much. They've been coming to church every week for two months almost, and they are practically members already. But the grandma is still working through some Word of Wisdom things. And we think they got kicked out of their house. We don't know for sure; but if they didn't have a certain amount of money by this weekend, the landlord was going to kick them out of their home (and it's been their home for lots of years). And they weren't at church on Sunday. So we're praying for them. And hoping that they can find a more stable situation. So it's probably a good thing they didn't end up getting baptized yet. 

Sooooo we set a goal for five baptisms this month, and it's looking like we're not going to get any. Chanda, Davan, and Udom will be sometime in August now. And then Ming Srey Niang moved to the city. And Soknang (Ming Thida's son) isn't quite ready yet. We haven't been able to meet him as much as we hoped, but it's okay. He'll just be an August baptism to. It's not about numbers! 

Speaking of Soknang, we had fun teaching him this week. He's 9 and I think he might have ADD or ADHD or something that makes it hard for him to pay attention because it is so hard for him to sit down and learn. But he's a super funny kid. His sense of humor makes the experience less exasperating. For example last Tuesday after teaching Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity we asked him if he had any questions and he asked a really good question: "Why did Christ resurrect?" After talking about that for a bit he asked: "Will grandma be resurrected even though she was buried in a Wat?" Which led him to ask: "Will dogs be resurrected?" And then things really went downhill, "Can dogs see ghosts?" We were all laughing. I don't know where he comes up with some of these things. But he is smart. 

Speaking of funny investigators, we're still meeting Om Jonhan, our 77 year old investigator. And I would say he is progressing, if slowly. He read a page of the Book of Mormon on his own. So we praised him for that and then read to the end of the chapter with him. I have no idea how much of it is entering his brain, but he's very kind. And he seems like he's starting to learn how to pray. He still (one month later) uses our prayer example sheet to help him remember, but he understands now that he should fill in his own words after the parts that say "I thank thee for..." and "I ask thee for..." His prayer this week was difficult not to laugh during. He said "Thank thee for me....your child" and "I ask thee to help me...overcome my enemies." We were curious who his enemies were. But this was really cool, as we were going to leave, we started contacting a woman who came to the house to collect recycling. She said her husband was Christian but she had never knew much about it, so we were talking. And then Jonhan comes out and starts helping us contact! He told her that when we have hardships we need to rely on God. And he got so serious and sincere about it! So something we're saying must be sinking in.

I went on an exchange on Friday with Sister L. She is super fun to talk to so we had a good time. She finishes her mission in just two transfers! On our exchange we got to help prep one of her investigators for baptism the next day. The trick was, she is both deaf and dumb (meaning, she can't speak). So that was interesting. Apparently all the neighbors in this neighborhood are members. And for a long time she's always joined in the lessons and gone to church with them. She prays (or at least kneels and folds her arms, and helps her kid do the same before meals and bed). So it seems like she understands quite a bit. And they got permission from President to baptize her. She was so excited. She's so sweet. But the prepping for interview was a little bit interesting. Okay, so we didn't actually teach in sign language. We pretty much just showed her a bunch of pictures of church and Joseph Smith, Thomas S. Monson, and we have little diagrams for some of the commandments we like to use. But it all worked out. And she got baptized the next day and was so happy. 

Oh this was kind of a cool thing. We've been going through all our CBRs trying to make sense of some recent converts we have on a list who don't seem to have any paperwork. And we found one CBR of a grandma who looks like she's been a member for a while, and someone came and baptized all her grandkids. But they seem like they've all been pretty inactive after that. So we found the house and she wasn't home, but had a far too long conversation with her daughter who was either drunk or just not all there. We left thinking we'd try back another time when the grandma would be home. But then the next day at church my companion looks around the room halfway through the meeting and turns to me and asks if that's her. And it was! The grandma came with one of her granddaughters. So we went up and met her after the meeting. And what's even better is I saw a bunch of members go up and greet her and tell her that they missed seeing her at church. 

We also got to officially "meet the President" this week. President and Sister Christensen came up to visit on Tuesday morning. It was a very informal meeting. They told us all about themselves, the story of how they met and stuff; and then we got to ask them any questions we want. And then they shared a little bit of a spiritual message. It was fun to get to know them. And President told us about his mission. He got called to Hong Kong, and then 18 months into his mission he and three other missionaries were called to go open Vietnam and work with a branch (or the beginnings of a branch) that servicemen from the Vietnam war (it had just ended) had started. They were asked to start translating the Book of Mormon, hymns, and pretty much just start the church in Vietnam. All the while knowing zero Vietnamese at the time. So that's preeettyy crazy.

In other news I went out three mornings in a row to find a flat tire on my bike. I got the tube patched three times. Sometimes I don't trust Cambodia. You should see some of the sketchy ways they fix things around here. Hint: they use fire. But it costs 25 cents. 

That's pretty much all the news for this week. This Sunday is transfer calls (again, what??), so next Monday you'll know where I'll go. Pray that I will stay here! I'm not ready for my Battambang days to be done yet. Speaking of end of the transfer, I'm still working on my reading of the Book of Mormon. I'm only halfway through Alma, so we'll see if I'm gonna make it. But my spiritual thought this week comes from what I've been reading. 

I'm at my favorite part in the Book of Mormon, Ammon's adventures with King Lamoni. Every time I re-read the account I'm struck by how dramatic it is. It's a crazy story! Ammon pretty much converts a whole town and sees crazy huge miracles (involving people fainting, rising, and then fainting again). And after all these miraculous conversions Ammon learns by revelation that his brothers are in jail. So he sets off to go rescue them (more miracles occur on that road). But in chapter 20 Ammon goes and meets his brothers. And his brothers have had pretty much the opposite experience. Ammon finds them naked, with skin worn from the cords they were tied up with, thirsty, starving, and suffering from all kinds of afflictions (but it is added that they were patient through it all). And it hit me how hard it must have been for them to see Ammon in all of his successes because he had literally the coolest mission ever and his brothers probably had the worst mission up to that point. But the important point is that they cannot compare. There is no ideal model for "how your mission is supposed to be." It's up to the Lord and His will and what He wants us to learn. 

Also, missions are hard. Who ever says that they are not is a liar. One thing I loved about what President Christensen said when he talked about his mission is that the main word he uses to describe his mission was "hard". That said, it was also fun, but it was certainly not fun every day. It was so hard, but he would never regret it, and he would chose to go again in a heart beat. And I think Aaron, Omner, and Himni would say the same thing. And they went on to have success too. Aaron has a crazy cool conversion experience with King Lamoni's father. The important thing is Heavenly Father knows us each individually. And he knows the experiences we need to have to become the people he wants us to be. So we just have to trust that. And endure with patience the afflictions. And then (equally as important) recognize the successes and enjoy the little victories and appreciate the funny moments. Because there are a lot of ridiculous moments. 

Okay that's all for now. Have a great week!


Sister Fields

Me doing what I do every spare second of the day. Cross-stitching.

We went to eat last p-day at a restaurant with Khmer and Western food. I decided spaghetti sounded good. The waitress asked me if I wanted cheese on it, and I thought, yes, I never eat cheese in this country. This is the result. 

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