Monday, December 21, 2015

In Which We Get a Shiny New Christmas Present

Me and Sister X. back together again.

Seasons Greetings, 

Seemed appropriate. If I were more of the creative type, I would turn this week's letter into a Christmas card from Tuk La'ak. But c'mon, who has the time for that? 

We started this week of right by going ice skating! Yes, Cambodia has an ice rink in Aeon mall, the same place as the bowling alley. It's like a slice of America. Or more like a slice of Korea, or some other more upscale part of Asia. It was way fun. It brought me back to my teenage years of being afraid to let go of the wall during mutual activities. But fun nonetheless. It was even chilly in there. We wore sweaters! And the Australian guy who owns the place played a few Christmas songs for our entertainment. He even played Michael Buble's "Let it Snow" and somehow they had a fake snow machine dump on us! It was too magical. 

A lot of random things happened this week. So I'll just share them all. Monday night we ended up going to an FHE with the elders at there recent convert's house. Is was very spur of the moment and their kids were crazy. But he ordered us pizza! Real pizza! And by real pizza I do mean seafood pizza with hot dog crust because its Cambodia. 

Tuesday we had a cool experience. We went over to meet a less active whose house we've only recently found. We came to her door and she pulled us in and sat us down and said we were an answer to prayer. Turns out she had plans to move houses the next day, but couldn't do it by herself and had no money to hire anyone to help her. She said she had prayed for God to send her someone to help her, and we showed up! So that's pretty cool. We went over the next day with the elders and helped her move her stuff down the street. She moved in with another less active. They are both old, very poor, and have knee problems. But they have plans to make little Cambodian treat things they call "nums" and sell them together. And hopefully they can save money enough to come to church again. 

Friday I got to go on an exchange with Sister Xiong because now she's in North Zone again! It was super fun. It's funny because it feels like just yesterday she was a koon, and she was leading me around the area (sort of--meaning sort of just yesterday, not sort of leading me around. She was great at leading the area). She's grown so much in the past few transfers, and it was fun to teach with her again and see how much she's progressed in the language and as a missionary. And the members were excited to see her again. I always wished I would have somehow gotten a chance to go on an exchange again in Kampongcham... but as of yet, no. 

Despite our busy week, it was actually not very busy at all. For whatever reason ALL of our investigators have stopped answering the phone, and/or have moved far away, and/or are sick. And it seems appointment after appointment have been falling through. And we've been sitting down to plan for the next day and looking at a blank day. Now I feel like I'm starting to know how Elder Fields feels.... It's been a little rough. Okay, more than a little. It's been stressful. I've learned that missions cannot be easy. That would defeat the purpose of missions. Missions are not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience (thanks, Elder Holland). Just when you think you've gotten the hang of something, there's a switch and a new challenge comes along. 

So we (I) have been trying to meet our new challenges with optimism. A lack of people (and it really is a lack of all people--everyone is too busy for us--investigators, recent converts, less actives, members), just present new opportunities. We've been contacting a lot, and have found a few potentials through that. Which was never a focus the last time I trained, and it's a very important mission skill. So that's been good. And we've had fun handing out our Christmas cards from the Church's new Christmas initiative with the "A Savior is Born" video. And I've been handing out the little nativity stickers you sent, Mom, and the little kids love them. 

We've also spent a loooottttt of time on CBRs. Like a lottttttttt. We set a goal in zone training to give five CBRs from the sisters and five from the Elders to the ward council in hopes of getting home/visiting teaching started. It's a good idea because so often missionaries know and visit less actives that the members don't even know. And sometimes it can be so much more effective just to have a member go over and express love. So it's a good idea in theory. But it's been a project because we have to translate everything and re-draw maps and make sure all the info is up to date. And it doesn't sound like it would be that time consuming, but it has taken hours. And hours. We were supposed to finish it yesterday and have ward council. (Unfortunately our Bishop was sick, so all that work for nothing...). Sister H., Sister L., Sister Souen and I were working on them at our tiny kitchen table from 2:00-6:00. We were much farther behind than the other sisters, so they took pity on us and Sister Souen helped me write in script as I translated. It was a mess, but kind of fun at the same time. It very much felt like finals week. We ran out of the house just in time to go make copies, but then our copy place was closed! So we drove around town like crazy til we found one that was open. Hopefully this ends up being worth it...

Yesterday was a fun day at church, a very Cambodian Christmas. The primary had a special musical number in sacrament meeting. They sat on the stand the whole hour wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers and matching t-shirts that said "how are you?" Because that's Christmas. They sang "Away in A Manger" and it was very cute. We thought that was it, but one of the teachers went behind the stand and dimmed the lights and then the kids all pull out colored glow sticks! They start waving them and "oo-ing" "Silent Night" as two primary kids sang a duet. I just wish you could have heard it. Describing it does it no justice. No one in this country can carry a tune because Khmer songs are all over the place. So it was very off. But so funny and so cute. And they're just all trying to do Christmas right. 

Speaking of doing Christmas right, they ended church a half hour early and we went upstairs to have a get-together. They arranged chairs in a big circle around a table heaped with presents! I have no idea who arranged this. But we started with a hymn ("I'm A Child of God"--what else?) and then they asked the missionaries spur of the moment to preform a number. So of course we got on stage and sang all the verses of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" we could remember. That was not my idea. Then they passed out gifts. And someone had a KFC burger for each member (don't know how that happened--perhaps we need to review Sabbath Day observance). Someone else had a really pretty cake with a Christmas tree on top. So I don't really know why that happened, but we just rolled with it. As we do. 

Oh! I almost forgot. We are getting a realllllyyyyy great Christmas present this week. We have a new apartment!! We're moving sometime before Friday... Hopefully. The L. (the office couple) took us over last week and we could not believe it was real. They are upgrading the apartments in this mission. Let's just say. WE USE A KEY CARD TO GET INTO THE DOOR. THERE IS AN A/C IN EVERY ROOM. And THERE IS A SPACE TO WORK OUT ON THE 8TH FLOOR. It almost feels wrong. Oooh one more. THERE IS HOT WATER OUT OF THE TAP (I really did not even think that was a thing in this country). It's almost too nice. But I suppose as my last apartment in the mission it's preparing me for America again. 

So it's been an interesting week. For as scheduled as missionary life is, you can never predict these things.

Just want to end with a little Christmas spiritual thought. With all the members we have been able to meet this week we've been sharing a message of Christmas with them. And even though I do get a little sad when I think of Christmas cookies and the tree at home, I really am so incredibly grateful to be here at this time of year bringing the message of a Savior to a people who (for the most part) don't yet know Him. And the message of a Heavenly Father who loved us so much that He sent us His Son. I want to share from my new favorite Christmas hymn: 

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

I love the ending of this verse. That all the hopes and the fears were met in Jesus Christ. That through His Atonement He was able to overcome every fear, sin, and weakness that we have. And offer instead eternal hope. 

That's all for this week. Merry Christmas, everyone!


Sister Fields

Ice skating!!! 

More ice skating!

Me enjoying some hot chocolate on a wintry night. Actually, it's been substantially cooler the past few days. There was one morning we didn't even turn on our A/C! for like 20 min...

Our soon to be old apartment decorated for Christmas. And Sister Suoen confused why I was taking her picture.
After moving Om Lina into Om Dali's house.

Bad picture, but this was the primary choir get-up.

Merry Christmas! KFC and Angry Birds!

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