Monday, August 17, 2015

In Which We Play Duck, Duck, Goose in Relief Society

Post rainstorm.  We were drenched!
Hello friends,

It was another busy week. The whole running two areas thing is a bit crazy, but we're getting it down I'd say. And we finally got all moved in to our house. A truck came up from  PP to load up a bunch of excess furniture to store in the city. But before that, we were sorting through everything, including two extra fridges that sat unplugged for a week and a half. I opened them to figure out which one we should keep and mold had struck. So that was a fun p-day. 

Part of the reason we wanted to get things sorted was because President was coming the next day to interview us. So we cleared out a little pathway through the clutter and debris. It's an interesting experience to get a new president halfway through. This is the first interview I've had with him, and it went very differently than my interviews with President Moon, which actually I think is more a measure of where I'm at on my mission more than anything. But President Moon had watched me ever since that first day. He observed my initial over-confidence in myself, coming in as what I thought was an experienced 23-year-old college grad. And he observed when it all came crashing down around me, only a week later. And then the dark days, and the gradual ascent up to the light. And President Christensen just doesn't have that vision of me, which is both freeing and scary. But the interview was good. I told him things were going well here. 

That is true. They are going quite well. I think we are being blessed for our efforts because even though we still stress about all the people we are forgetting, the time we always seem to be losing, and all there is still to do, all these referrals and new investigators are coming out of nowhere. Also, I just want to say, I just love Ming Thida. She has given us three separate referrals in the past two weeks. These are people she just meets and casually brings up the gospel with them. That's my recent convert! So branch one is just booming with new investigators again!

Also, I have good news about Om Chanta, Davan and Udom. They're back on track! I had been worrying about them a lot. It just felt that every week we were just losing more and more ground with them. They stopped coming to church, they asked if we could only teach once a week, instead of two. As much as Om Chanta loves the gospel, she just kept feeling like life (financial troubles, constantly trying to put together odd jobs to keep a roof over their heads) made it too difficult to make the gospel a priority. I knew we needed to give her a new baptismal goal to work towards, but I was worried how she would take it. But my companions both felt prompted we should. So we taught lesson three on the doctrine of Christ and hit hard on both faith and baptism. The Branch President came and bore a great testimony about baptismal covenants, and the Spirit was really strong. I testified that this was the only path that would bring the true happiness and security. I know that this was the right thing for her and her family. I've seen so much progression in them over the past two/three months, and I don't want to see that stop! Om is the spiritual leader of this family, and the example she sets for her grand kids will literally change the rest of their lives. Then we read Moroni 7:33-34 and extended the commitment to prepare for baptism again. And we waited. And I was nervous, because she had been very quiet while we had been teaching. But after a long pause she said, I know this is right. I know this is what I need to do. And that's when I teared up a little bit because she got it and it actually worked. And now we're helping them prepare again. We're going to get them coming back to church every week and finally get Om to stop smoking once and for all. The baptism is scheduled for the first week in September. 

Also, Tin will be getting baptized this Friday! The new rule in our mission is to have a week between the interview and the baptism, which I think works really well. So she's learned everything and now we just get to focus on helping her prepare spiritually for this special day. She was interviewed last Friday, and I could tell she was nervous. She's a little shy, and she never went to school, so she's self-conscious about not remembering everything. But the interview went well, and she came out of it smiling ear to ear, even glowing. So I'm excited for her. 

Vira and Sina are our really cool investigator family in branch three. If I didn't know them, I would think they were members already. They are just so good. So prepared. We went and taught them about temples this week, and they just got it. We really hit on family sealings; and as soon as they understood, they wanted to know all the logistics of how long they had to wait, how they could save up money, etc. And then the husband ended with a prayer and asked to help prepare the way for them so they could go to the temple. It was perfect. And he wore a white shirt and tie to church yesterday. So they are ready for baptism. 

So it was a good week work wise. We got caught in two rainstorms. We've been lucky this season. I guess Battambang is usually known for flooding, but it hasn't flooded once. But this week it was sooooo hot. It gets scorching hot before it rains. It just so happened that the time we were riding from the far end in branch one all the way to branch three is when it decided to dump. After one minute we were as soaked as if we had just jumped into pool. Sheets and sheets of rain. We couldn't see or bike after a little while. That was one of those moments where I stop and think about my life and my choices and the fact the fact that I am in the middle of  Cambodia, soaked. And so it goes. 

Oh yes, one last story from Relief Society on Sunday. So we walked into branch one Relief Society on Sunday and learned that there was no teacher. And in that case they of course turn to the missionaries, the non-native Khmer speakers to whip out a lesson using a Khmer manual. It's cool. The topic was family home evening. So we started talking about our own experiences and the blessings, the purpose, etc. And things kind of died down with fifteen minutes left to go. So we decided we'd do a role play. Sister K. was the father, Sister E. was the mother, I was the child, and then Ming Bok (our slightly apostate, but has her heart in the right place Sunday school teacher) volunteered to be my older brother. She got way into it. She was making me laugh so much. So we knelt on the floor in front of our "parents." We sang a song, had opening prayer, had a quick lesson on service, and then it was time for the game. Our zero forethought led to duck, duck goose, but when we were explaining the game, we realized none of us knew the word "goose" in Khmer. So of course we played duck, duck, cat. All the Relief Society sisters loved it! We had them all cracking up. So as far as winging lessons go, I'd say it was a success. 

So that's it for the week. Except for an unfortunate bit of news I've saved for the last because I don't like to think about it. I'm transferring next week. They ended up doing a mini transfer in the middle of the transfer because so many missionaries are leaving early to be home in time for school.  So I'm going back to the city.... Back to North Zone actually, same zone as Pochentong, where I was before. I'm in Tuk L'ak and Toul Kok. And I'm finishing up training a sister for her last three weeks, and then she's out of training. Her name is Sister X.. She's from America and she is Hmong-American!  I was not expecting it at all. I knew that only one sister was going home, and I figured they shuffle around sisters in the city for a few weeks, and then when real transfers came I might go. So it's three weeks too soon and I'm not ready! As I wrote all these things in this letter, I thought about the fact that I'm leaving so many people I love and I'm going to miss so much. I'll still be here for Tin's baptism, but then Saturday I'll be going down to the city. So it's sad. But in some ways, I'm glad that it's sad. I'm glad that I've made so many connections with people here (members, investigators, missionaries) that it's hard to leave. It seems like when you start to get used to things on the mission, that's when the change happens again. But that's how the growth keeps coming. So it'll be good. But next week you'll here from me from the city, I suppose. 

Also, yes Elder Holland is coming this weekend! I was super excited for this weekend until I got the call last night. Because now I'm going down, but not coming back up. But it'll still be great. I'm so excited. Of pretty much anyone to come visit the mission, Elder Holland would be the one I'd get most excited about. So it's ALL GOOD. 

Okay, that's all for this week. Big things are happening!

Sister Fields

Jonhan and Sokhaa (I don't wanna goooooooo......)

A member helping Vira (our investigator) tie a tie.

We are the only sisters in our zone so we decided we would go to lunch every Friday.

We ate at an Italian restaurant with a Zen atmosphere. 

This was ricotta, spinach ravioli. It was DELICIOUS!

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