Monday, September 21, 2015

In Which I Meet Nephi and Joseph

Crazy kids.

It's been a good week. First full week of training, and Sister L. and I both came out alive, for the most part. Just kidding, it's been a good week. We had a lot of funny, random things happen to us this week, so maybe I'll just share some anecdotes. 

First all, I'll start with the train tracks. I'm pretty sure no matter where you serve in Cambodia there's always a village of less-active members on "the tracks." So Wednesday morning we set out to find a couple less-actives on the Toulkork side of the tracks. The first was a mostly less-active neakming. Her house is literally three feet from the railroad tracks, so we put our bikes on the other side. She said something as we were putting our bikes over there; but I didn't think she was talking to us, so I thought nothing of it. She invited us in and we sat down and were chatting just as the whole ground starts rumbling. It takes me more than a few seconds for me to realize that that it meant the train coming down the track;, and while I was still putting two and two together, our less-active sister jumps from her chair, leaps across the tracks, and starts moving our bikes just as the train comes barreling down the tracks. The unfortunate thing is that we had locked the bikes so she ends up having to lift them up and pretty much throw them in a pile out of the way because as it turns out, the train is much wider than the actual tracks. She did it just in time for the train to come rushing past. She was then awkwardly trapped on the other side of the tracks for the next two minutes as the very long train went by. We then had a good lesson about the Atonement, and she said she'd come to church. She didn't. So, at least she saved our bikes. 

We then went to meet another less-active family who live along the tracks, which we successfully discovered via our trusty CBR (convert baptism retention)  map and asking neighbors (always a success--you've got to celebrate the little victories). The whole family are members, but only the dad and oldest daughter are active. The daughter had confided in me a little bit about her mom so we decided to go try to reach out to her, and we actually got her to join us in the lesson (which apparently is the first time she's listened to the missionaries in a long time). And I think it was the lesson she needed to hear, because she teared up as soon as we shared in Alma 7. Though she was pretty quiet throughout the lesson.  I think she really felt the Spirit when we bore testimony of the Savior's personal knowledge of her and her struggles. She's got a way rough life, and at the very least I think we helped remind her of Heavenly Father's love for her. We're going to try meeting her again next week.

After the lesson, we were still chatting with the daughter and a little naked baby (everyone is naked in Cambodia up until age 8, probably) crawls in the room, and she calls to him, Nephi! Yep, his name is actually Nephi. And she starts singing to him the line from Armies of Helaman: "We have been born as Nephi of old," and he gets this huge grin on his face and starts laughing. He was so cute. Turns out he has a twin who's name is Joseph (or Yosaeb, as they say it) and he'll start smiling whenever you sing Joseph Smith's First Prayer. They are her nephews. She convinced her sister and husband (less-active members) to give them those names. She says they're going to grow up and serve missions, and like Nephi and Joseph, lead their families in righteousness. So that's pretty cool. 

Ready for another anecdote? This is a bit of a weirder one. We went to see Ming Sovanna (recent convert and we are currently teaching her four teenage daughters). She, like many Cambodians, has a lot of experiences with spirits, dreams, and visions and things. I've talked a little bit about this before that for the most part I believe the experiences people tell me, even when they are a bit out there. because I believe that Heavenly Father speaks to his children in ways that they will understand and assign meaning too. So Ming Sovanna is always telling about her dreams in which she can see spirits and things. Well, she told me the other day when I walked in that she could sense I was struggling with something. She could see that Satan was trying to tempt me and a bad spirit was trying to get inside of me (this sounds a whole lot weirder in English as I type it out...). She told me I always come over and help lift her and encourage her family, but she wanted to tell me once that I should keep praying. So that freaked me out a bit. I felt a little like I was getting my fortune told. You just never know what's gonna happen when you go teach a lesson, as my koon is learning quickly. 

So all good things, all good things. It was a good week of work. It was a little unusual because Sister H. (MTC friend) ended up getting sick and coming down from Kampongcham to go the hospital. We're super close to the hospital, so we got permission to go visit and cheer her up (read: play Uno), and then she ended up staying at our house for a few days. It worked out well because she's also training so I got to take her koon out a little bit and give her some experience, and Sister H. stayed in with my koon and did some language practice. And then we had a big all-day orientation meeting at the mission home on  Friday.  It was good stuff. A lot of just general mission and cultural orientation things to go over. But then they did a cool thing where they split off into trainers and trainees and we each had separate discussions about how we could best help our koons and what we wanted to get out of training. Then we came back together and shared. It was good training and a fun reunion for the trainers and the trainees. Best part of course was free food: sandwiches for lunch and Khmer curry for dinner. Good day. 

Well, that's pretty much it for this week. I'll end with the weekly scriptural thought. This one comes from 1 Nephi because I just keep reading that book over again. 1 Nephi 11:5-6--when Nephi prays to better understand the Tree of Life vision and everything that Lehi has taught his family. The Spirit of the Lord comes to him and asks if he believes everything that Lehi has said. Nephi responds, yeah, of course I believe everything. Nephi takes it as a given that of course he already has that faith. But the Spirit takes a moment to praise Nephi for this faith. He says, "Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired." I love this. This verse stuck out to me as a tender mercy this week. We can think of it like we are climbing a staircase. And so often we are looking ahead to the next step and what we have to do to get there that we forget to acknowledge and be grateful for where we are already stand. Nephi had incredible faith; and though he took it for granted, the Lord reached out in love and mercy towards him to praise/encourage him for the ground he had gained so far. And it was because of his faith that he was able to gain more knowledge. 

Sorry if that didn't make sense. It just hit me on a morning I really needed it. It's okay if we can't do everything all at once, but sometimes the Lord just wants us to slow down for a second, look around, and recognize how far we've come and have gratitude for all the blessings and help we've received to get to that point.

Well, that's all for this week. Have a good one!


Sister Fields

Sister H. and I with our koons.
These are the girls we're teaching. The mom is in the white shirt. She's the one  who told me I had a bad spirit.

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