Monday, September 28, 2015

In Which I Chase a Bird with a Broom

Hey hey,

It's almost that time of year.... What time, you might ask. Phchum Ben! The second favorite holiday after Cool Chnam Khmer. Get pumped. Fifteen days of celebration, culminating the Monday and Tuesday after General Conference is shown here (delayed). So no one will be around to watch General Conference. Jk. I have more faith in my members than that. But people do clear out of the city and head to the khets. Phchum Ben has something to do with spirits and dead people. Sounds vaguely Halloween-ish to me. That's about all my non-missionary vocabulary can grasp. So we'll see. I'll I know is Sister L. and I get to clean our very small apartment over the two days that we must stay indoors. So it will be sparkling. Stay tuned. 

We had a good week. It started with an excursion to AEON Mall. Google it! America in Cambodia. That's not really true. More like Japan or Korea, maybe Hong Kong in Cambodia. Definitely some nicer, cooler part of Asia. It's a big shopping/entertainment center. They had a fun food court that had a lot of Khmer food that they sell on the streets, but in cute little kiosks with English names and descriptions. So we actually learned what some of the things are we've been eating for a year are called! (Just kidding. I NEVER eat off of carts because that's against the rules...). Then we had the intention of going bowling, but we got too late a start and didn't have time. So we made a plan to go again in a few weeks. But I can't tell you how weird it was to walk through the bowling alley and the movie theater area! With all the sounds and the smell of popcorn and the trailer for the new Hunger Games movie playing, it was all so overwhelming. It made me miss America and not want to go back at the same time? Lots of feelings. 

Time for a cross-stitch update lest you think I've neglected it. I pulled it out again for the first time since my Battambang days. It's serving as a good mechanism to de-stress at the end of each day. Training involves a lot of need to de-stress. Other methods Sister L. and I have found are pastries at the French bakery around the corner and nightly rounds of Uno. Uno is a whole lot less exciting with two people, but when you have an on-going tournament it can be fun. Sidenote: Uno is making quite a comeback. We played it at our BM meeting on Wednesday and with colors and numbers it could be a fun learn English game. Speaking of English class, I used my cross stitch as an object lesson during spiritual thought this week. We taught about Heavenly Father having a plan for each of us personally. And sometimes we look at life and all the crazy colors and designs and think nothing is working out like we planned. But what we don't understand is that God has the grander picture in mind. He has the map that tells where each thread is supposed to go where, so that in the end it creates a beautiful picture. So that twelve dollar cross stitch is getting me a lot of mileage...

In other news during a snack break in companionship study Saturday morning, I left our study room to go out to the kitchen only to find a sparrow sitting on our clean dishes. Knowing of Sister L's bird paranoia, I closed the door on her face and told her not to come in. I didn't tell her why. My motherly instincts just kicked in. I opened the front door and grabbed a broom and jabbed it around. But I lost sight of it. Figuring it must have left, I opened the door and told Sister L. it was safe. It wasn't safe. It flew back up and we both screamed!  It was like a horror movie. It kept trying to fly into closed windows. I eventually trapped it in a back room with a door that opens to a balcony. I had to throw my shoe at it to get it to move in the right direction, but eventually it found the door to freedom. It was just a lot of excitement for 9:00 in the morning. 

But the best news of the week was a really great FHE we had with a family in the Teuk La'ak Ward. Maybe I've mentioned them. We're currently teaching the 12-year old daughter of a recent convert. Her name is Hiang Li. But the mom really wants all her kids to learn (she has 7 or 8 and some of them live at the house--and by house I mean tiny little room where they all sleep in together). So we planned to do an FHE, and I made it a point to make sure everyone felt invited. We came over and we were happily surprised to see they were all waiting for us! They even all showered and bought a little package of snacks to go with the jelly candy things we had brought. Altogether we had the mom, the dad (who kind of sat in), the older daughter and her husband, our investigator (the 12 year old), the 10 year old boy who's baptized already, and two younger kids. It was a fun group, and I was really impressed to see how eager they were to participate. We sang and then shared a shorter version of lesson one. Sister L. and I had ulterior motives to get the daughter and husband willing to learn with us. And it worked! When we got to the part where we shared the First Vision, they were both hooked. I could tell they just wanted to hear more even if they were still a bit shy. After the lesson we asked if we could keep teaching them, and they agreed. Woo-hoo! Two new investigators! Then we taught them how to play "telephone" for an activity and it was hilarious. They loved it. And then we feasted on snacks. The Spirit was strong and I could tell they felt it. We almost didn't want to leave, it was just such a happy atmosphere. And it was such a change too. Normally when we come over we just sit in a little corner and teach the mom and the youngest kids, and there are various shirtless, scary looking men smoking and drinking coming in and out. But FHE made it a totally different experience. 

Our new investigator was supposed to come to church and even got already to leave only to realize their bike was broken... That's okay, next week. But we went over that night to teach them. We taught the couple the full lesson one, and it started off a bit crazy. There was just a lot going on and the mom (who is awesome and has a ton of faith) likes to jump in and share her comments, which are often great, but often de-rail the lesson to talking about the Word of Wisdom. But when we got to the part about the Book of Mormon I could tell we had their attention. We invited Bong Ciat (the husband) to read from the introduction. He said he didn't really know how to read, but that he'd try. Then he started in and he really could do it. He needed a little help, but he knew a lot more than he thought he did, which gave him so much confidence. We testified that this book was not like any other book, and I think they really felt the Spirit. It was a cool moment. They've committed to read it. Then after we finished teaching Bong Ciat asked if we could come teach every day, which is one of the best things you can hear after teaching lesson one! 

Also, I forgot to mention that at FHE we committed them to pray together as a family. And ever since then all of them have been praying together! And then the dad said that he has stopped smoking and drinking. This is a big deal. He learned before, but never got baptized because he couldn't get over his addictions. He got sick, so that's what made him stop. But as soon as he gets feeling better he's going to start coming to church again. Basically we're going to get this whole family. It's so fun. I love teaching families. It just feels like you're really fulfilling your purpose. 

So things are going well over in our two wards. We have some potential investigators we hope to turn into real investigators this coming week. And we're slowly getting to know members--active and less-active. As always there are soooo many less-actives. We went out with the bishop's wife and a member of the Bishopric to go visit a few less-actives in Toulkork. That was an interesting experience. They were very bold. Asking straight out--why don't you come to church? That is the Khmer way to do it, I suppose. It worked; they told us their reasons. So now we've got a couple more families we want to work with to bring back. It's tricky because the Elders we are with are also in training and are also doing two branches, and the trainer has only been in one of the wards half a transfer longer than me. So it's tricky, but we're doing what we can. Just showing love to the members and going out of the way to let them know we want to help them and work with them goes a long way. 

Okay last thoughts. My spiritual-y thought part of the email comes from zone conference this week. It was way good. It's the first time President Christensen has taught us all together, and it was very inspired. He came up with a vision for our mission, and in short the vision is us, or you, he said--the missionaries. He wants to focus on us, and have that ripple out and affect the wards and branches and members and converts and retention rates. That's basically the thesis of PMG. Teach and convert the missionaries, and then the missionaries will figure out how to go and teach and convert the people. It's pretty brilliant. And in his vision for us, he wants us to become, what he's coining, "deliberate disciples." Pretty much going out and using our agency and doing everything more conscientiously. And as we do that the power will flow through us and into the work. I'm not doing this justice, I left my notes at home. But it was very energizing. And it relates a lot to what Elder Holland taught last month about us being God's investigators. I love that. We are all still in the process of learning and growing and coming unto Him. For our whole lives.

Okay, I think that's all for this week. Until next time! 

Love you all!

Sister Fields

Plastic food at AEON mall. So Asia.

More flooding. We learn which streets to avoid.

Our FHE snack plate!

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