Monday, November 30, 2015

In Which We Have a Classic Turkey Dinner

Cooking Thanksgiving in the mission home kitchen. They even have hot water! It comes out of the tap!

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Transfer Calls! I received my last transfer call last night! Okay, not really, but in all likelihood I will stay the same for my last two transfers because I'm training again! Woo-hoo! I'll be spending the last seven months of my mission training. Good times. I'm excited. I'm also going to be a sister training leader for my zone. Sisters are a bit stretched thin this transfer... But I will no longer be in two areas. I'll just be in Tuk La'ak. Sister L. will be staying in Toulkork with her new companion. So we won't be quite as spread thin anymore. Over the past few transfers here it's been hard to focus on anything with so much going on, so I'm excited to just be in one ward and focus on the investigators and finding the less actives we don't yet know. So good things to come! I don't yet know who I'll be training, but there are six Americans and eight Khmers coming in, so we'll see! I pick her up on Thursday!

Two big holidays this week. Water Festival and Thanksgiving! Water Festival was actually not a very big deal. Usually they have big festivities here with boat races in the city; but this year with all the political stuff going on, they moved the celebrations to Siem Reap. So the city was a little bit quieter. But we had a way fun Thanksgiving. They split it up by zones this year and we were the lucky ones that got to go to the mission home. And Sister Christensen went all out! We ended up going earlier in the morning for an interview with President so we were able to help Sister Christensen cook! We made potatoes, stuffing, apple pies, the works! The rest of the missionaries came at noon. We talked about what we were thankful for and then feasted. It was a lot of fun, and much more of a real Thanksgiving than I expected! And it topped last year's lunch at a bar (see Nov 2014). We then stuck around to clean up with the massive amounts of dishes we had dirtied. So it really felt like we had gotten the entire classic Thanksgiving experience. And I was much more involved in cooking and cleaning then I think I had ever been before!

Also I my body is no longer accustomed to eating American food. Just eating one helping of everything made me feel so sick. No regrets though. The problem is after we got back and biked across the whole city, we got invited to a 5-year-old's birthday party; and since I don't know how to say no, soon we were over there eating vegetable rolls. Lucky for us, not too filling. 

Then Friday I went on an exchange with Sister M. It was her last exchange on her mission because she ends this week! We had fun together. I got to go back to my old house in Pochentong (she lives there and proselytes in another area), and that brought back some memories... We had a good day together. We had a weird experience though. We stopped by the Superstore (and American grocery store in their area) to get lunch and we ran into an American guy. He casually asked us how long we were in Cambodia and then when he saw our tags he stopped. He said the first time he saw a Khmer Mormon he almost puked. We did not know what to say to that, but then he went on to call us out. That we don't know our own religion, that Mormons didn't actually become Christians until the Salt Lake Olympics and they changed it as a political move and whatever. He just wanted to argue, and we weren't engaging so it was an awkward exchange, but we were polite. And then we ran into a member from the international branch who was stopping in to buy some ingredients because she was having the Christensens over for Thanksgiving dinner! It was all a strange interchange, but what is perhaps most interesting is that this is the first time that's ever happened to me on my mission! It made me realize just how lucky I am to be in Cambodia! Yes, everyone here thinks all Christianity is the same (even a lot of members...) but no one has ever called us out, even just for being Christian. Everyone is so kind and polite. I think it's really true that Khmers are possibly the nicest people. Everyone is treated like family, and it's so nice just to be able to go up and share a message with anyone on the street. And maybe they will brush you off, but generally they will be polite about it. 

We had some good lessons this week. I'm really kind of sad I'm leaving Toulkork, because our only two progressing investigators this week come from that ward. We met both of them Tuesday in back-to-back lessons, and they were both great. Sonan asks a ton of questions. She's always interested in comparing things to Buddhism (because she's never learned about Christianity before and she has no context), but she really has sincere desire to learn and to prepare herself for baptism. Her questions this week ranged from: "What part of Jesus was a god and what part was a human?" to "Do all Americans have to serve missions?" So some of her questions are more on topic then others, but she's doing well. 

We also saw some real progression with Naiky this week. She came to sacrament meeting for the first time this week! Also when we met her on Tuesday we didn't really know where she was. She told us over the phone that she tried to read the BoM but didn't really understand it. So we planned just to read with her, and help her follow it. We read in 1 Ne 3 from where she was, and she totally got it! She would stop every three verses and explain what we were reading together. She even went so far as to apply it on her own! She said, we learn from this that we should follow Nephi's example, and not his lazy, unbelieving brothers. So good! Also there was one point when she used the phrase "when I become a member..." Sis L. and I just gave each other a side glance at the exact same time. Basically, we gotta get this girl a baptismal date. So I bummed I'll be leaving both of them, but I won't be far, so I'll still get to attend their baptisms. 

We had an inspired lesson with Ming Sovanna (the mom of our three teenage recent converts). Her two oldest are struggling a lot right now, and she just does not know what to do. I feel like I've been out of answers for a while now, and then a talk I had read and thought about from a long time ago came to me. The Music of the Gospel talk by Elder Wilford W. Anderson. I had printed out in Khmer and meant to give it to her a while ago. We planned to go teach her daughters but they weren't home, so we shared the talk with her. We had planned on all reading it silently (her in Khmer, us in English to refresh) and then discuss it. But she started reading it out loud. It took two hours of her reading and stopping and talking about it, but it was excellent. I've never studied anything as thoroughly as she studied this talk. But it was a huge answer to her prayers. Sometimes I feel like it's almost easy to be a missionary. That's not true of course, I'm just not really sure how to explain it. But when we follow promptings and the Spirit leads the lesson, it's almost like we don't have to do anything. The Spirit's doing all the work and we just have the blessing of being the instrument. 

Well, I think I'll end it there for the week. I'll close with a suggestion to read a talk by Elder Bednar entitled In the Strength of the Lord. There's a conference talk of his called that, but I read the extended version he gave at BYU. It's excellent, and I've learned so much about the Atonement from it. But what I love is what he teaches us from the scriptures about the Atonement. It's all about how agency is such a key part in the enabling power of the Atonement. So often in times of trials it's not our circumstances that are changed, but rather through Christ, we are empowered to change our circumstances. For example, Nephi, when he was tied up by his brothers, offers this prayer in 1 Ne 7:17: "O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound." Note that Nephi does not ask for the bands to magically fall off, but that he will have the strength to burst them. The Lord gives us trials for our benefit. If He were just to take them away when we asked Him to, we'd learn nothing. Rather, through our experiences and through His strength and grace, we are empowered to overcome everything. Read the talk. It's great.

Okay, that's all for this week. Next time this week I'll have another koon


Sister Fields

We bought soccer jerseys--it's what everyone wears here in Cambodia.

This is what me receiving my transfer call looks like!

This is from last week when we went to the museum

At the musuem.

Hiang li's baptism!

This is what a Cambodian crab looks like. Sketchy...
Me eating crab.

First public trash can I've ever seen in Cambodia. Had to capture the moment.

Classic tag shot.

We learned you can play Phase 10 with Uno cards! Changed our lives...

Along the riverside.

My very first pie! Apple.
Our Thanksgiving meal in the mission home.

Thanksgiving after party. AKA Omi's birthday. She turned five. You know it's a bad sign when you roll up to a kid's b-day party and they're already crying... Her friends had to go home early. But she's very cute. She knows a little English too. And she terrorizes the ward during sacrament meeting.

Meal after our Thanksgiving meal.

This is a member from Pochentong who moved to Tuk Tlaa (where I went on exchanges). So fun to see her and teach her again!

Sis M's last exchange!

Monday, November 23, 2015

In Which I Learn to Eat Crab

Baptism of Hiang Li this past week.
Hey friends,

This week was interesting. Some unexpected challenges arose. But it's okay. We're hanging in there, and we are healthy and happy, sok sabbay, as they say. Sometimes we get spread so thin over two areas and training that I forget what's really important. But my new motto is: we do what we can. Also trust the Lord. Yes, also that one. 

Also give yourself chill time. That's another important one. P-days are sometimes saving graces. This P-day I got to go back to my roots AKA we went to the National Museum! Like every good Cambodian museum, it had little or no interesting/relevant information, lots of objects that looked the same displayed over and over. My former co-workers would have cringed. The museum was open-air and none of the artifacts were in display cases. So, so much for temperature control. At the very least, they didn't allow us to take pictures of the objects so I suppose there is some level of artifact handling going on. It was cool to see so many ancient things. And it was interesting because each object had a little plaque that told where it was from, like Kampongcham or Battambang or whatever. And it's just interesting to see all these places in a new light. We miss so much of the history and culture as missionaries! I wish I could take a crash course in Buddhism. Maybe someday. 

Monday night we went to an FHE at a member's house in Toukork. The husband is in the bishopric and the wife is the stake relief society president. And plot twist: we found out the wife's brother is the bishop of the Teuk La'ak ward. So they were there and our worlds (or wards, rather) collided for a bit. The Elders were invited as well; and after a lesson, they pulled out the food (In Cambodia FHE is about 10 percent about the lesson and 90 percent about the food). And the neakming had made us spaghetti! Legit spaghetti with homemade sauce! And they had ordered a pizza from Pizza Company (the pizza of Cambodia). It was all delicious. And she made fresh spring rolls, which were possibly my favorite part. So good food all around. 

The next day we had another food adventure, not quite so delicious. We went over to Hiang Li's house (where all my sketchy stories have gone down--fire, rats), and they were eating crab. But this was not like Red Lobster style crab. When you say you don't like food in Cambodian it translates to you don't know how to eat it. But that was actually really the problem! I didn't know how to eat the food. So Hiang Li broke off the legs for me. There was a tiny, tiny amount of meat in it. But it was way sketchy. Good news; I'm still alive. 

Speaking of Hiang Li, we got her baptized on Saturday! It was a great experience. The coolest part was that the whole family ended up coming! The Bishop arranged for a tuk tuk to come pick them up (because as of now they're down to one bike). So Ciat and Navy got to see the church for the first time. I could tell they had a great experience, and the members were doing a great job fellow-shipping. It's just too bad they are leaving this week. But they'll be back. In the mean time we're planting seeds. 

Hiang Li was so happy. As soon as we saw her at the church (they arrived well over an hour before the baptism started), she ran down the hall and gave us a big hug. We've seen her testimony grow a lot over the past few months. Even though she can't really read yet, we've started to practice reading with her. We give her a verse to work on as homework, and she even takes her BoM to school and reads it! So it was a great day. And I'm excited for the day when they'll all be baptized. And then go to the temple! It'll happen. 

So that is it for this week. Things are good. We take it one day at a time. And the little moments like Hiang Li running down the hall and hugging us make it all worth it. This Sunday is transfer calls, which means next week I'll know about my last two transfers: where I will go to die, if I will train (hint, I will there's no getting out of it-- fourteen sisters are coming in!). So stay tuned.

Quick spiritual thought: I finished reading Leviticus today. It was a bit rough. It's taken me awhile, but it's been interesting. It's pretty much all the laws that the Lord gives the children of Israel. Sometimes I forget that Jehovah is the same God as Jesus Christ. But then He reminds us of His freeing the Israelites from bondage--in overlay for the Atonement and His freeing of all of us from spiritual bondage. When you look with the right mindset, you can see Christ and His Atonement all throughout the Old Testament. But after laying out all His laws in this book, the Lord says "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them..." then He goes on to list all the temporal blessings he will give the Israelites. And then He promises them in verse 12: "And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people." And that is His promise to all of us. He just wants us to keep His commandments and keep our covenants so that He can keep His and shower blessings upon us. 

That's all for this week. Be healthy and happy!


Sis Fields

My card reader won't download any more pictures.  My pictures next week!

At the museum.

Monday, November 16, 2015

In Which I Get Chased By Sandwiches and a Bishop's Wife

Selfie. Hiang Li is in the back. She'll be baptized on Saturday. Makara, her little brother, is a member already. 
Hello hello (read in a Khmer accent, hint: roll the Ls), 

So it's been a good week. We seemed to have made it through the rainy season up until this morning when it decided to pour for a total of about thirty minutes while we were at the psaar. The sun came out as we went inside. So it goes. 

The week started off with a fun p-day. A bunch of the sisters rented a field and we played soccer. Yes, you read that right, I played soccer. I dusted off my 7th grade skills. We kicked the little Khmer kids off and played our hearts out. It was a covered turf field, but still outside. It was very hot. I didn't actually play that hard. I gladly took the goalie position, which consisted of me just taking pictures of my koon in her element (she loves soccer). That's all I am, just a little soccer mom these days. 

In other news we picked up three new investigators this week! Woo-hoo! And our potential investigators keep coming along. We've been getting referrals up to literal wazoo this week. So that's been fun. It's way hard to meet with people consistently because people are either working all day every day, in school all day every day, or both. But we've got hope. 

Our first investigator of the week came from English class. Her name is So Nan and she's a college student. She actually came to church twice in a row before she became an official investigator. Then of course this week, she didn't make it, but that's okay. She's never learned about Christianity before, but she's definitely sincerely seeking. We met her on Saturday for a second time and she had read a good chunk of the intro and 1 Nephi (despite her busyness) and she said that she had been praying. And after she prayed she had gotten the job that she applied for! So that's a cool faith-building experience. We extended a baptismal date in January. She says if she feels like she understands enough by then and feels it's right, she'll do it. So hopefully her schedule allows her to keep meeting with us. 

The second investigator was a referral from English class at another building. Her name is Line, and she's also young. We called her on a Thursday and she ended up being able to meet us that afternoon. After a stressful time of her getting lost and me trying to give directions to her over the phone, she made it. And we had a good lesson one with her. Only problem is she goes home on weekends.... 

The third newbie is a contact from the elders. She's a neakming, and she recently lost her husband. The Plan of Salvation peaked her interest. We went back and taught lesson one. It was slightly awkward because she only has three chairs and us and our member help filled them, leaving her to stand. I didn't know what to do in that situation because it would have been a culture no-no to teach while I was standing above her. So that was slightly awkward, but the lesson was good. She had very little context for it, having never learned about Christ before either. But we taught simply, and she had lots of good questions. She was going to come to church (pay for a moto dope even!--which never happens!) but then she got sick. So hopefully next week. 

So we have some good things in the works. And we've got a baptism this coming Saturday. Hiang Li, our 13-year old daughter of our recent convert we've been teaching forever. Her mom's been gone and we don't want to baptizer her without the support of her mom. So hopefully her mom will actually come back on Friday like she says and the baptism will be Saturday. Otherwise, that'll be awkward...

Speaking of baptisms, we had some drama go down with our recent, recent converts--those three girls we baptized a few weeks ago. The mom went out of town for a week and the girls were at home alone. We learned later that the two oldest had started hanging out with a bad crowd from work and were coming home at like four in the morning every night. When their mom finally came home, she got in a huge fight with the oldest and she ran away. It was way hard on her mother. She didn't know where she went or when she would come home. We were over there a lot during the week and prayed a lot and ended up fasting. Then on Sunday morning guess who came through the chapel door! It was a bit of a miracle. I don't know all the details yet, but for now things are good. Their faith is still small, but I've seen a lot of progression. Now she's just gaining and even more solid testimony about repentance. 

Another cool thing this week, we had an opportunity Wednesday morning to hear from Sister Marriott and Sister Esplin. It was a way good meeting. They both spent a lot of time chatting with us and getting to know us before and after the meeting. So that was a lot of fun. Sister Marriott talked a lot about love and Sister Esplin talked about the Holy Ghost. In an object lesson teaching us to be "quick to observe," Sister Marriott sent us outside the chapel with the task of finding an object we could turn into an object lesson in one minute. But there were sixty of us! And objects were very limited. So Sister L. and I found each other. They really enjoyed being in Cambodia. I think it was very eye-opening for them to realize just how new the church is over here. 

Our lives continue to be verryyyy busy. Training, being in two areas, teaching English twice a week, and helping to clean the church just seem to eat up every bit of time. Saturdays are always crazy busy because we teach in the morning, then help clean the chapel and go out visiting less actives with the ward council in the Tuolkork ward. But Saturday is a day when a lot of our busy investigators can meet us. This Saturday we came to clean the building and went to a meeting for visiting even though we wouldn't have time to go this week. We hoped to have some time to contact (we're working hard on contacts as a mission this month) before our investigator came to meet us at 4:00), and we managed to sneak out of the room as they brought in Cambodian sandwiches for refreshments. We snuck up the backstairs, came down the other side of stairs, and ran outside to the curb with our English class sign thinking we were in the clear. But only minutes later the Bishop's wife comes running out the door with two sandwiches and two Cokes in her hand, asking us where we had been.  She had been running all over the church looking for us! Whoops. She then sat on the curb next to us to catch her breath. When Khmers try to give you food there's no getting out of it. 

Well, that's mostly it for the week. It was good one. I'll end with a scriptural thought I found this morning. This one comes from Alma 26 in which Ammon is going on about how great missionary work is. In verse 36 halfway through he says: "Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land." The phrase "wanderers in a strange land" really caught my eye. I think in this context he's talking about the part of the House of Israel (the Nephites and Lamanites) that had been broken off and guided to the promised land. But I couldn't help but relate it to missionary work, and myself. There's no doubt Ammon certainly felt like a wanderer in strange land as he went about converting Lamanites in the Land of Nephi. Even though it's been a year and I feel comfortable living here, there's no way I am not a wanderer in this often times very strange land. But, in the end, are we not all wanderers in a strange land? Stay with me. Let's turn to Hebrews 11. Here, as far as I can follow, Paul is speaking about the righteous. In verse 13 he says: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." From what I understand, these are those that are righteous, but never received a for sure sign of the eternal life that they sought after. But they nonetheless press forward in faith. Knowing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth because this was not where they truly belonged. This is not our home. And from time to time, I think we all feel homesick for a heavenly home. In verse 16 they " desire a better country, that is, an heavenly." That's where we come from, that's where we're going. And for this time we're merely strangers and pilgrims, wandering in strange lands. With our eyes set on our home. 

That's all for this week. P-day plan this afternoon: National Museum! I'm super pumped!


Sister Fields

Sports. I love those things.

Our soccer team!

Our pre-soccer lunch date at a new cafe that just opened up. I had a cream-cheese salmon bagel. It was a risk, but it ended up being delicious. 

I took these from my balcony in the morning after we got back from running.

Monday, November 9, 2015

In Which My Investigator Runs Away to France

Me eating a Khmer sandwich after a Relief Society activity this week. Don't let the smile or the sandwich deceive you. It's nasty. The meat is 90 percent cartilage.
Dear Friends,

Sometimes I don't know what to write. Even though I know I'm having crazy, unique experiences everyday, when you're in the middle of the missionary routine, it doesn't really feel like it. You just get up, study, teach, eat, teach, sleep and do it again. Throw in some district meetings and some English classes. So maybe I'll just focus on a few people I spent a lot of time with this week. 

Sister L., my koon (#shoutout)
She's is doing amazing. She's all I could ever want in my posterity (don't worry, Sister X., I claim you too!). And she's doing so well. We read at about the same speed. She unfortunately came down with some sort of a weird flu/bug on Wednesday. So we stayed in and she slept it off. So I had some time on my hands. I think someone should start a tumblr entitled: "What I did while my comp was sick." Except tumblr's probably not a thing anymore. Here are things that I did: read a good few chapters of Khmer BoM, watched a never before seen (by me) section of the District, cross stitched, figured out transfers with sticky notes of the floor (unfortunate news, I don't think there's anyway I'm getting out of training again next transfer), danced to the Nutcracker, made Kraft Mac & Cheese. So it was a good time, but much more fun when Sis L is well. Good news is she's feeling much better now. And I'm sad that our time is starting to come to again. Not really, we've still got four weeks. We'll live it up!

President Christensen
I had a really good chat with him this week. I confided in him recently that I've been stressing out lately about the work. I always tend to think that I could or should have done things differently in any given teaching/contact situation. I forget that other people have agency. And I just feel a lot of pressure right now training, being the one who really knows the language. But he reminded me that all of that doesn't really matter that much. His focus for us is us. Which relates back to what he's been teaching us about being deliberate disciples. He wants us to work on us first. He told me the church is a whole lot less worried about baptismal statistics than they are about strong missionaries. The real growth of the church comes not in recent converts, but in the missionaries themselves; missionaries who come home, become strong members who serve in the church and raise families in the gospel. I thought that was way cool. And it's helped me remember to keep everything in perspective. 

Ciat and Navy
They are our couple we've been teaching for a while. Unfortunately although they've had really cool spiritual experiences, they aren't really progressing. Turns out Navy is going to go to France with a former 78-year-old lover of hers. And Ciat is going home to his srok. Also they are not legally married, like he had thought earlier. Basically, they've still got a way to go. However, they have seen miracles already since they've started giving the gospel a try. They've majorly cut down on drinking and smoking. They are so much happier now. So we're planting seeds here. Someday they'll be ready to join the church. In the mean time the gospel has already had a big effect on their lives. 

She's a 16-year-old kind of les-active young women in the Tuk La-ak ward. She's the sister of a recent convert we meet regularly. Our recent convert has been having a hard time lately, so we prepared a lesson about Joseph Smith in liberty jail and planned to read D&C 122 together. When we got over there Bunya was there as well and wanted to learn. We prayed and she started in with her questions. And she had some good ones! Basically they all stemmed down to why bad things happen to good people. Why trials were necessary. Does everybody have an equal amount of trials? After discussing with her for a while, we realized that our lesson we planned for Lida (her sister) wasn't really meant for her. It was meant for Bunya. I don't know if it satisfied every question she had, but I do know the Spirit led that lesson. The Lord knows exactly where we need to be; and when we do our part, He will lead us. Even if it's just helping a young woman. Something Sis L said this week I really liked. Our purpose is to invite OTHERS to come unto Christ. Not just investigators. The Lord has a plan for each of us, and if we're humble and willing to work, He'll use us to accomplish His purposes. 

She came out of nowhere. Really though. She just showed up randomly at church on Sunday a week ago. She stayed for the last two hours and had lots of good questions. But when we tried to schedule to meet her during the week, she didn't want to commit to anything. She said she was pretty busy, but that she'd try to come to English class. We ended up calling her anyway that week and she said she could meet us right after our Saturday morning English class. After class we saw her sitting in the lobby and she said she had been too busy to come to class, but had come just to meet us! So that was exciting. We had a really great lesson one with her. She's smart. She's studying to be a doctor right now. She's had a lot of people in her life encourage her to look into Christianity, but she hadn't up until now. As we taught she totally followed lesson one (which is a bit of a rough one to follow sometimes). She had questions about the apostasy and authority. We committed her to read and pray about the BoM and she said she'd give it a try. Then she came to church yesterday. She had read the whole introductory pages and had questions. So we're way excited to teach her this week!

So Nan
Another English class find. She came to church for the second time yesterday too! But we haven't even taught her yet! We'll teach her tonight. We're hoping that she can make time in her schedule to meet us. We're getting lots of great referrals from English class these days!

So that's about it for the week. Hopefully that was at least mildly interesting. If not, wait til next week because a trip to Ankor Wat is in the works! Cam meel sen, as they say, or, wait and see. 

But to end with just a scriptural note. This week I'm reading my favorite section of the Book of Mormon, the second half of Mosiah. It always reminds me of a Shakespearian play with all these groups (the wicked priests, Alma's people) running around in the wilderness and bumping into each other. In chapter 21 Limhi's people are in bondage (bondage that came about from their poor choices). They tried several times to fight, but ultimately humbled themselves and submitted to being in bondage. As I read this chapter I thought about how the Lord answers our prayers. Sometimes it's in the way we want it, but often it is not. Simply because He's got His own plan and He knows more than us. But we can't be so caught up in our own desires that we fail to see His hand. For example, the people of Limhi so badly wanted to be brought out of bondage. They cried unto the Lord. In verse 15, He was "slow to hear their cries," because they had been so disobedient, but "nevertheless, the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage." In the verse 16 we learn that they began to "prosper by degrees in the land, and began to raise grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds, that they did not suffer with hunger." Though this was not the answer to the prayer they were hoping for, it was nonetheless a merciful answer from the Lord. Like them, we need to make sure that we are not so caught up in what we want that we miss all the blessings the Lord is giving us.

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

Sister Fields

A little puppy showed up at our investigator's house. It basically just a ball of fluff. This is the same house as the rats and the fire. Something is always going down over there. 

Guavas we got from a less-active family. We recently found them, and they've started coming back to church. And free guavas! Win, win, win.

Monday, November 2, 2015

In Which I DON'T Die By Either Tuk Tuk or Fire

Baptism! From left to right: Kit, Srey Neng, and Srey Pov
Hello friends,

So this was an interesting week. It was a bit of a rough one work-wise. But I've come to realize that really just means good things are on the way. And it ended well, with a baptism! But I'll start with the rough bits and end on the bright side. 

For what ever reason, our investigators have all gotten together and decided they are either going to drop us, be way too busy for us, or just stop their progress all together. It has to do in part with the fact that school has started up again after the big holiday break, and now all our potential investigators from English class have no time. As for our other investigators, they all seemed to reject us this week. They wouldn't pick up our calls, or we'd stop by and they'd say they were busy. I wish people would just give the gospel a fair try. Then they'd get it. Then they would understand that it's worth making the time to go to church once a week and taking fifteen minutes to read the scriptures. 

All of this coincided Friday evening after having a discouraging lesson (more like lack of lesson) with Ciat and Navy. (Long story short, the mom is convinced they can't change and she thinks we're wasting our time.)  We were stuck in traffic and late to meet our investigator at the church. I reached in to my bag to check my phone, and a tuk tuk ran over my foot. Ouch! Only to read a text from our investigator cancelling. 

So it was just one of those weeks. The good news though, is we didn't die in a house fire. It was a close call though. We were over at Ciat and Navy's house, teaching Hiang Li (our 12-year-old investigator who may never get baptized because now her mom's leaving town). Ciat and Navy were cooking on their tiny little gas stove on the ground when all of a sudden out of no where the whole thing catches on fire, and they are yelling at us to run out of the house! I definitely saw my life flash before my eyes. And turns out I'm a terrible person because despite the fact there were three children in the house, I booked it and was the first one out. Whoops... Good news is Navy poured a bucket of water on it, and soon we were all laughing. But for a terrifying moment I was convinced I was dying in a little house in Cambodia. This is the same house that has the rats from last week. We always have adventures there. 

So it's not all terrible. At least we didn't die. And we had a good Halloween. Last year I was in Kampongtom for the holiday, and there were zero signs of Halloween. But around here there actually seemed to be quite a few people who knew. The bakery and crepe place by us had decorations up. And on Saturday morning, we taught our English class all about the history and traditions of Halloween. Turns out when we try explaining Halloween in Khmer, it doesn't sound fun or cute.  It really just sounds creepy and weird. Then we had our Halloween baptism! And our three little new members, who have become very much like the little sisters Sister L and I never had, were jumping out of places trying to scare us. So it felt like a very Halloween-y day altogether. 

The baptism was good. Due to scheduling changes, not many members were there.  We started 45 minutes late, but hey, it's Cambodia. The love was definitely there. We had gone over to their house that morning to help the girls practice sharing testimonies after they got baptized. They were nervous, but they all did well. And their mom (our RC from August) gave her first talk. She did a great job. Then they provided a rice-noodle soup dish (kind of like pho) and sticky rice and jack fruit for dessert. So it was quite the party. The oldest son of the family has moved home, and (whether by his Mom's persuasion or his own volition, who knows) has started attending church and becoming involved in the gospel. The Elders are going to start teaching him so that's cool. Some day this family is going get sealed in the temple. It's Ming Sovanna's biggest dream. That and a bigger house so she can have the ward over for FHE. I think the girls had a good day. They were so happy afterwards. I just love this family. Srey Neng (the oldest) was saying how much she would miss us when we left. I told her I want to come back (maybe 2017?). She made me promise that when I do, I will come see her and she'd give me a tour of all the khets. I told her I was so down.

We had one other victory this week. But I'll start at the beginning. Thursday afternoon we found ourselves sitting on the curb in the hot sun not knowing what to do. It was one of those days we straight up didn't know where to go or what to do. So I suggested we think of an option or two and then pray about it. We did and I had the thought to go see a less active who we weren't planning to see until later in the afternoon. We went over and quickly I realized it was going to be a chaotic lesson. Her sister was in the same room listening to music, American music. Loudly. We started reading scriptures in Khmer/English (as we often do to help her), and I figure once we started the "real lesson" I'd ask her sister to turn down the music. We planned on watching Pres Nelson's "Sabbath is a Delight" talk and inviting her to come to church for the first time in over a year. We've been trying to get her to come to church over and over with no success. Turns out the internet was down. So I suggested we read 3 Ne 18 about the sacrament. We did, over the distracting beat of Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift. As we did so I thought, there's no way this is going to work. But we read it, and discussed the importance of the sacrament briefly afterward. Then I decided to go for it and invited her to come back to church. "This Sunday?" she asked. I said yes. And then there was a pause. And then to our complete surprise, she agreed. And guess what, she even came through with it! The members were all so excited to see her because she had gone inactive very quickly after her baptism. She's still got a long way to go faith-wise, but she's doing the right thing. And that was a testimony to me that we are indeed being led. Even in the little things. Even when it doesn't feel like it. This is the Lord's work. 

I just wanted to end with  a quote I came across during personal study this week and loved. It comes from Holland's "Inconvenient Messiah" talk, which is an excellent read and if you haven't read it, you really should. He talks a little bit about the hand of the Lord in our lives and receiving spiritual answers, which is something I've been learning a lot about lately. He says: "All but a prophetic few must go about God’s work in very quiet, very unspectacular ways. And as you labor to know Him, and to know that He knows you; as you invest your time—and your convenience—in quiet, unassuming service, you will indeed find that “he shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up” (Matthew 4:6)." I think if I could choose one quote to sum up what I've learned on my mission, this would be it. Generally speaking, the Lord works is small and simple ways in our lives, and if we don't look for his hand, we're gonna miss it. But when we do seek Him, our faith is strengthened and we learn that he's always there. He's always in the details. And often he doesn't answer our prayers right a way or in the way that we were looking for. But he always answers. It's our job to always be listening. 

Well, that's all for this week! Happy November everyone!


Sister Fields

Baptism shot with the family.

Post-baptism selfie life.

We were helping wash dishes in the kitchen after the baptism and we looked outside and had to run and get our cameras. Sometimes Cambodia can be pretty.