Monday, October 12, 2015

In Which I Watch My Last General Conference...

Me and Sister L. went to Swenson's with some sisters last Friday to celebrate our one-year  anniversary of being in the country! 
Hey hey, 

So it was a good week. Pchum Ben has definitely arrived. The city has been getting sparser and sparser every day; and when we woke up Sunday morning to go to the church to watch conference, there was literally no one on the streets and all the shops were closed. Sister L. said this is what life would be like if we were missionaries in Utah since life shuts down there on a Sunday! So it's nice not having to deal with traffic, but on the downside it took us an hour to track down an open internet cafe today. Also it's a good thing it was general conference weekend here for us because there is really no one to meet. Everyone went home to the khets for the holiday and to go to the wat. It's weird because in April, Cool Chnam conflicts with conference, and in October it's Pchum Ben--the two biggest holidays in Cambodia! The biggest days are today and tomorrow so we will be inside cleaning our house. We have a very small house, so we will make it sparkle. It'll be good times.

The highlight of the week was obviously conference, but I'll end on that good note. I'll start with last Monday, we decided to spend in enjoyable P-day afternoon at Toulslang. Nope, bad idea. While it was very interesting and important, it was not at all an uplifting/refreshing/de-stressful activity P-day requires. Toulslang is a museum on the genocide in Cambodia. It used to be a high school, but Pol Pot turned it into a prison camp. In typical Cambodian fashion, it doesn't really feel like a museum because there's very little information; but you can walk around the whole thing and get a sense of all the different rooms and buildings where people were held. It was very dark. I don't think I really walked away with a better understanding of why it happened, but more what happened there, the different ways they tortured people and killed people, etc. We ended up not even touring the whole thing because it was just too much for us. There's one hallway that just has picture after picture of prisoners taken right after they were put in prison. ALL of them died. I don't remember the statistics, but out of how ever many thousands of people who went in, only seven survived. A few of them now work at the museum and have books about there experiences/organizations to donate too, etc. We met one man; he was in his 60s probably. Very interesting. But mostly very, very sad. 

On a lighter note we had all sorts of weird food experiences this week, which I guess I have taken for granted, but Sister L. was freaking out a bit. It's fun to be with a koon because everything is still so new, and you realize all the weird things that have just become a part of your life now. The bishop's wife in the Toulkork ward is so nice, but also very intense and does not take no for an answer. And like every good Khmer person, she shows her love through food. We always know when we go by their home we are going to get some sort of concoction. This week though, we were about to leave a neighborhood with a bunch of members and we ran into her. Immediately (though it's only three in the afternoon) she shouts, "Sisters! You must be hungry! Come, let me buy you food." No amount of protests will stop her. I've learned to just give in and tell her thank you. So we ate some sort of noodle soup, which was not bad, but did have a very mysterious meat in it. But we didn't get sick, so that's good I suppose. 

Speaking of the Bishop's wife, she helped us teach a lesson this week. We went to meet one of our investigators (the mom and neice of a recent convert) at the church, and we were bummed because we weren't going to have a member present. But then she was right there in the lobby not  doing anything and was happy to help. So we were pumped until we remembered that both she and our investigator are chatters... And we were teaching the Plan of Salvation. It took some serious steering to keep that lesson on topic. But ultimately I think it went well. They got the main point that God loves us and wants us to have everything He has  They even got the whole detailed story of the fruit and the snake in the Garden of Eden... So much for teaching simply!

We had a good lesson with our teenage girl investigators on the temple. They were in a very silly mood and ended up making plans to come visit us in America, and we'll all go to the Salt Lake Temple together. But they felt the Spirit, and that's what's important I'm learning. And that Spirit can be felt in a lot of ways. Before we entered the house every one was waking up from their afternoon naps and annoyed with each other and not in the mood to learn. But when we left, they were all smiling and happy, and it's not because of anything we did but because the Spirit was present. 

Other adventures, we biked through an ocean again this week. We had a meeting at the church at 5:30 pm, and it started to pour. But we didn't realize how bad it was until we left. This is definitely flood season. But this time it was at night and it was cold! It was freezing! We were like, what is this feeling?! I had definitely forgotten what being cold felt like. It was a weird sensation! Then coming down the road back to our house with trucks barreling by the other direction, we literally had waves hitting us. We were biking against a current. Now we know what biking in the ocean would feel like. 

But yes, the highlight was definitely conference. Even though we didn't get to find out when it actually occurred, hearing about the new apostles was still exciting. I haven't had a chance yet to make sense of all my conference notes, but I'm really looking forward to going back and reading the talks. It always seems like conference has some sort of a theme, but this year it was really all so interconnected. So much was about discipleship, which was awesome, because that's what President Christensen is focusing on right now. It seemed like a lot of it was on just living the gospel simply and the joy and blessings that will come from that. When we make Christ the center of our life, every thing works out. 

I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's opening talk about making the gospel work for you. It was so practical, but simple. I liked that he said we must protect the purity and plainness of the gospel. This is so applicable in a teaching sense. One thing I've learned on my mission is that the gospel is really so simple. And the best way it is taught and understood is through the simple principles. Especially here in Cambodia where even the concept of God is foreign. Simplicity is so important. I loved Sister Marriott's talk too! She's a very eloquent speaker and I loved what she had to say about discipleship as well. That a disciple is one who has a changed heart, someone who has been converted, or is on the conversion path, if you will. I love the comforting message that every thing will work out in the timing of the Lord. And that as we wait upon Him, we learn of His ways. And make His ways our ways and become a better disciples.

Speaking of which, there was so much about spiritual progression and improving yourself, which was really good. I loved Elder Lawrence's message about listening to the Spirit that the Spirit gives customized counsel when we humbly turn to the Lord and ask "What lack I yet?" and then have the faith to follow it. I'm working on this now. I also felt like I learned a lot about the Holy Ghost and personal revelation, which is something I'm really trying to study right now. I feel like I still don't really understand how the Lord communicates with me, but I'm learning it might take my whole life time to figure out this pattern. I also really liked Elder Hales talk to young adults. Mostly his suggestion to have a "personal council" with the Lord was cool. 

Also, let's not forget Ponderizing! (If I knew how to do a little "c" for copyrighted on a keyboard I would). That talk made me laugh so much. He was just so into the idea and even provided testimonials. But hey, it worked on me. I picked out 2 Ne 26:24 for the week! 

There's so much more I loved (like Pres Uchdorf's story from women's session!) but that's probably all for now. More to follow! Hope everyone has a good week!


Sister Fields

A room at Toulsleng. No plaque of information, no "no touching" sign, just these beds that were very likely authentic.

Rules of the prison camp.

Wider shot of Toulslang.

Bishop's wife who bought us soup.

Noodle soup with mystery meat.

Sister L getting ready to brave the storm. No ponchos, just a giant grocery bag for the backpack.

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