Monday, August 10, 2015

In Which We Strike Gold

When we went to go pick up the grandma in Branch 3 in the wheelchair, we found this pipe and a giant ditch torn up in her neighborhood. So unfortunately, we couldn't take her to church this week, but the neighborhood kids had fun with us. 

Greetings friends,

And it's been another week already. This one was spent with more hours on a bus. We just can't seem to stay away from the city these days. Actually, it involved very little proselyting until about Saturday. We're still trying to figure out the balancing of the two branches. It's still causing us a bit of stress, but next week we've got a full week. So hopefully we can fit in all the people we hope to see. The nice thing about serving two branches is you never run out of people to see.

But I'll start with the beginning of the week. Just two days of making it home (and only approximately two hours of proselyting later) we hopped on a bus to the city. The six-hour rides are a breeze now. But I can't tell you how sick of Khmer music videos I am! We spent the night at the mission home and while Sister E. was in the meeting the next morning, Sis K. and I went to go visit another sister who's in the hospital with an amoeba(!!). She's out of the hospital now though.

We made it back Tuesday night. We had a bunch of errands and things still to finish up at the other house, so we took care of that this week. Our house is still a bit of a disaster. We're attempting to make sense of things this afternoon. Rearrange the kitchen, get the oven plugged in, and we are hoping to pawn off a couple things to the Elders. I think the plan is that the mission is going to come take some stuff and haul it back to a storage space in PP. Not sure when that's going down though. But President is coming up tomorrow night for interviews at our house. Don't ask me why he's coming to the house and not to the church across the street. But it might be not a bad thing. Then he can see the dire situation in person. Just kidding. It's not that dire. We're slowly chipping away at the mound.

Other monumental news, THURSDAY WAS MY YEAR MARK!! And all around I feel good about it. It's a bit stressful that the time is ticking away and I only have six months left. But in reality, six months is still a long time. I can't really decide if a year feels like it's been a whole lot longer or shorter than it actually is. I feel like both. It feels like forever since I said goodbye at the airport and hopped a plane to Provo like literally years and lifetimes ago. But then I can't believe I've been it Battambang for three months already. So, who knows. Mostly I just feel accomplished. It's been a good year. Lots of changing/growing, but it a good way I'd say.

Just a brief update on investigators. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to meet with people and it's causing us to have to push back some baptism dates, but that's okay.

First Tin. She's the young one woman who lives across from the Branch President's house. She's doing well. She comes to church every week (except yesterday, she was sick). If all goes well she should get baptized this Saturday.
Second Jonhan, our 77-year-old investigator. He got into a moto accident. He went off the road and fell into a hole(?), if I heard that right. Now he's afraid to ride to church on his own. So we're really hoping that we can work to help reactivate his very busy niece. I've seen a lot of progress with Jonhan over the past few months. He's still got a long ways to go, but I'm proud of him. Just the fact that he's willing to give Christianity a try says a lot. Pretty much everyone gets persecution in some sort or another when they convert but especially older people. Others think they are turning their backs on their heritage, culture and ancestors. So they talk behind his back. And when he goes to church he just says he's going to the market. So he's brave. And he just needs continued encouragement.

Then there's Chanda, Davan, and Udom. And they're tricky. It's just hard to feel like we're not losing ground with them. They've stopped coming to church because they're spending all of their time finding odd jobs and things. They still have the house. And they actually got their hose turned back on, so they have water to do laundry (which is one of their bigger sources of income). Also this was super weird. Chanda's daughter came to visit with several large slabs of what we think is fool's gold. It looks kind of like gold, but it's not real. It had a Khmer name. Apparently you can get $5 per kilo so she's selling it. But she insisted on chipping off a little piece and giving us each a little chunk. Something to remember her by. We tried not to accept it. And then we tried to pay her for it. It's so hard. People can be so generous here even when they are literally scraping together everything they can to eat a meal. So I'm not sure how to help them progress. I don't want to scare them off, and I want to go at Om Chanda's pace, but also I feel like their faith is still so weak, and I don't want them to lose it. So we might try and give them another baptismal date. We'll see, we'll see. 

Also, we're teaching a really cool husband and wife in branch three! I mentioned them last week, but we had a great lesson with them and the missionary couple's house this week. It's really cool because the husband is equally as motivated as the wife is, and lots of times that is not the case. We had a great lesson on priesthood yesterday. They'll be baptized at the end of the month!

So that's about all for this week. But we also had a good zone training Friday. One thing President Christensen is emphasizing right now is the importance of councils. So we had a zone counseling session. Our topic was retention because currently our retention rate for new converts staying active is 35%, which is scary low. So a goal of the mission right now is to get that number up higher. We talked all about reasons why people go less active after baptism, and the factors in our control that we can help change. Apparently if a recent convert comes consistently for two months after baptism, the chances of them staying active increases dramatically.
What it really came down to is we need to make sure that we are helping our investigators understand the magnitude of the covenants they are preparing to make. Conversion = change. It has to. Change of lifestyle. Change of heart.

I came across this scripture in my studies this week:

"And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters." (Mosaiah 5:7)
I love this scripture and when I read it I thought of Tin. This week we really need to help her understand the covenant that she will make which allows her to become a child of Christ. To help her understand the change of heart that needs to happen. Will it happen all at once? No. If there's one thing I learned from that summer in Thailand and that 37 page thesis. No. Conversion is a life-long process. But it's a process that needs to be ongoing. A little bit of a change each day when you kneel to pray, open your scriptures, partake of the sacrament, etc. It's a process, but we always have to be moving forward, or else we'll be losing ground.

Well, that's all for now. Have a good week, friends!


Sister Fields

Visiting Sister J. in the hospital. 

Coordinating plans on the cell phone.

The missionary couple took us to lunch after cleaning up stuff from the move.

In our zone of five companionships, four of them have someone from our MTC group! So I made everyone meet us at Swensen's to celebrate on our year mark day. It's been quite the year!

Sis K. tried to do surgery on my gum and it's all better now!

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