Monday, July 27, 2015

In Which We Celebrate Pioneer Day....Khmer Style...

This kid is crazy. Don't let his cute smile fool you. 

So here's the big news! I'll be staying in Battambang (woo-hoo!); but here's the catch, I will be serving in two branches now (Branch 1 and Branch 3). And I will be in a tri-panionship with Sister K. (who's currently in branch 3) and Sister E. who is coming up from the city. I'm super excited!! I had a feeling they might combine branches because we're running low on sisters over here. I'm really glad I'm staying. I'm not ready to be done yet with my branch, but serving in two branches will be a fun (and stressful/busy) change. We also might move houses... So stay tuned! Exciting things are coming. 

Also coming soon this coming transfer... (1) my birthday (common knowledge already, I'm sure) (2) ELDER HOLLAND is coming. I haven't mentioned it yet, because I wasn't sure if it was officially announced or not. I'm still not sure, but I'm mentioning it now anyway. He comes August 22nd, I believe. I'M SOOOO EXCITED. He's doing a whole trip of SE Asia, and Cambodia is the last stop. He's here on a Sunday, and he'll have a general meeting with all the members (broadcast throughout the country) and then meet with just the missionaries in the afternoon, and all the missionaries from the khets are coming in. So, it will be a good transfer I think. 

So it was a good week. The theme of this week was definitely pioneers. Pioneer Day is BIG here, like equal to Christmas in size and importance, at least when it comes to ward parties. Christmas and Pioneer Day are the times to party. I'll get to the party in a little bit though. We taught a lot of lessons focused on pioneers this week, which was difficult a little bit. Not only does it require a whole new set of vocabulary (wagon, oxen, snow, etc,), most of our members and investigators have no concept of the significance or even what pioneers would look like (having no background in US Western migration in school, understandably). But we've got gospel art books and Liahona articles to help us out. 

We shared a pioneer message with Chanda, Devan, and Udom. Update on them first. They haven't gotten kicked out of their home yet, but their hose/water source got turned off. The mom/daughter is coming at the end of the month to try and help solve the problem; but if she can't, they will have to move far away to a place without the Church. And the kids will get pulled out of school, and who knows if they'll get to go back. So we're keeping them in our prayers and waiting. That's pretty much all we can do at this point. Hopefully this week we'll learn about the situation. But we wanted to share them a message of hope and faith this week. So we shared President Uchtdorf's message on pioneers in the Liahona, "All is Well," or in Khmer "Sreul Teang Ah." At the end of the lesson we all sang "Come, Come Ye Saints" together. and as she was seeing us off on her porch, she said something to the effect of, "don't worry about me, sisters. God is in charge and everything is going to work out. "Sreul Teang Ah." And then the 12 year old boy, Udom starts singing the song. They are such a good family, and I know the Lord prepared them and prepared us to find each other. Someday they will get baptized whether it's here, now, or in the future. Planting seeds. 

Okay so Pioneer Day. We showed up in the morning a to help cut food. They made three giant vats of Cambodian curry. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. These enormous pots cooking over makeshift stove/fire things outside in the church parking lot. It was a stake activity, so they needed plenty of food to go around. We left, went proselyting for a few crazy hours and came back for the program at 2:00. We had a program with five speakers (probably a bit excessive, people got a little restless), but the talks were good. Then the young men and young women and elders (sisters we're not included, slightly offended) put on a play they've been practicing for a few weeks. It was so good! I was so impressed! (Taking into consideration the fact that it was performed in the chapel, without many costumes or props, and more importantly without a whole lot of knowledge of who the pioneers are). There were only a few historical inaccuracies. Martin Harris was originally dying in Carthage with Joseph, but that got cleared up before the final performance. All the girls had these cute pioneer dresses and aprons, and the boys had vests. They looked so good! They had two curtains they were swinging back and forth in between scenes. And they had music and narration they played of speakers. It told the story from the Restoration to arriving in Salt Lake. They did a lot of "traveling across the plains" AKA walking in circles in and out behind the curtain. And then at the end they square danced! I was so impressed. It was so fun. 

So it was a good program. The whole thing was a little long after the speakers and the play, but it was good. And then the counselor in the stake presidency stood up and told us to turn the page in our program to the second program. After a closing prayer and hymn and opening prayer and opening hymn, we started seminary/institute graduation. That's the Khmer way to do it! Hit two birds with one stone. So it was a loong program. But we all got through it and then had curry with all parts of the chicken in it, and had fun mingling with members from all the branches. I was told it turned into quite the dance party as the night went on, but unfortunately we had a 6:30 curfew to make. So between the curry, the electronic/dance music, and playing Ava Maria as Joseph got shot in jail, it was your pretty classic Pioneer Day. I did stop and think for a second about how bizarre/fascinating it was from an anthropological perspective for Cambodian youth to be dressing up and acting out a piece of American history. It's a weird time. But it's a good time. 

We had a good turn out for the party. A few investigators and a few less actives who don't make it out church very often came. Unfortunately I think a lot of people thought because they went to Church Saturday night, Church Sunday morning was not that necessary. We ended up getting called in to teach primary with no notice. We only had three kids though. It was a hodge-podge lesson made up of what we found in the cabinet and our backpacks. We told the story of the restoration, played an "I can be a missionary" board game we found in the Liahona. And we watched "Finding Faith in Christ" we had in our bag. The kids were good and very cute. 

And even though no one was at church, guess who did show up for the first time. Om Jonhan! Our 77 year old investigator! He came totally on his own. Showed up on his moto in a white shirt. We had really hoped he would come after teaching Sabbath Day, and we waited and waited outside and he didn't come. And then maybe 10 minutes into the meeting he slipped into the back! We were in primary, so we didn't really get to interact with him much. But we gave him over to the Elders. And I think he did well! 

Oh, another interesting thing that happened this week, as we were driving past the Elders house (we pass it all the time, it's right in the middle of our area), we saw them standing outside the gate talking to a guy who was definitely not Cambodian. They saw us and waved us to stop. It turns out it's a guy from America named Danny or something who is also a missionary here. He's here with a group teaching kids about the Bible. We ended up having a half-hour discussion about the Book of Mormon, the Restoration, priesthood, and a ton of different topics. He just had a lot of different questions and all four of us kept taking turns answering. It was so fun! It gave us a taste of something we don't really get a chance to do much of here in Cambodia. For so many of our investigators, just the concept of God is foreign. It surprised me how easily I found the answers to his questions. I don't really feel like my knowledge of the gospel has increased that much, but it's more I have a better understanding of how everything is connected. 

Well, that's all I have for this week. I keep getting distracted as I write this email because I am finding out where everyone is going for transfers. But I want to end with a brief spiritual thought. As we were sharing about pioneers, we shared what is one of my favorite scriptures from my mission thus far. D&C 64:33 (34 is also really good, and I know it's one of Dad's favorites): "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." I love this in regards to pioneers. They did not weary in well-doing, even though their travels were very wearying because, in part, they knew that they were laying the foundation of a great work. And then, as we explained this in lessons, we'd turn it on them and help them see how they are the pioneers now. The Church got started here in Battambang just ten years ago. There were only 18 members at first. And now we have a district with three branches. Out of small things proceeds that which is great. When they come to church, pay their tithing, read scriptures, prepare to go to the temple, and teach their kids to do the same, they are the pioneers paving the way. So in the decades in the future after there are many stakes and a temple, the members will look back and look up to their examples as pioneers in Cambodia.

That's all for now. See you next transfer! Have a good week! 

Sister Fields

Me and Sis K. figuring out transfers. My making brackets for guessing transfers went to a whole new level this time. I wrote out little papers with all the sisters names so we could move them around for our guesses. It's an intense game.

This is one of the big intersections in town. We contacted for English class here with the Elders last Monday night.

Chanda, Davan, and Udom, the "All is Well" family.

Helping Om Jonhan read his prayer cheat sheet because he still can't pray without it.

This is Om Jonhan. He is just a joy to teach.

These girls come to our English class every week.

The YM/YW pioneer play!

Last Monday we decided to have a relaxing P-day, so we made cinnamon rolls and watched a movie.

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