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!

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