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. 

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