I always struggle with how to begin my emails to y'all. Like how am I supposed to describe what my week is like? If I were to give you an accurate description of what my weeks are like at the MTC in an email y’all would stop writing me because my emails would be longer and thicker than a triple combination. So in order to have y’all continue to write me I just give y’all basically an ESPN Top 10 of what my weeks like. Dun nuh nuh Dun nuh nuh... Here we go...
This week was awesome (I hope y’all are starting to detect a pattern here). The language is really coming. Y'alls prayers can definitely be felt as I continue to strive to get the basics of this language down. We (my district) laugh all the time about how we're incapable of expressing basic emotions and thoughts sometimes but could rattle off a 25 minute lesson on the doctrine of Christ right there on the spot. Haha our Khmae vocab is very lopsided towards church terms. It's ok though, that’s how it should be. Everyday terms are something that we can easily pick up once we're in Cambodia.
On Monday night during personal devotional time (the quiet time we have between 10:15 and 10:30 to write in our journals, read our scriptures, etc.) I heard someone singing that song from Hercules "I can go the distance". It blew my mind how applicable some of the lyrics are to a missionary. Haha maybe I was just loopy from exhaustion. I don't know. Y'all can look up the lyrics and be the judge.
I love p-days because we have so much time to go to the gym. We played basketball and volleyball for like 3 hours last p-day. I think I might use some of the time today to nap though (p-days are the only days we're allowed to nap at all. Unless you count devotionals. A lot of people nap hardcore during those.) On Tuesday the speaker at the devotional was Elder Nelson! That makes two apostles that I've seen here already! He gave a great talk. Weird to think that I stayed the night at his cabin once. I wonder if he would get super weirded out if I told him that. Probably... I'll just keep it to myself...
So Maddie sent me a letter this week and that letter went through a bit of an ordeal. So I go and pick up the district's mail from the mailbox before lunch and before dinner every day. On Tuesday I got Maddie’s letter and put it on my tray at lunch (you aren't supposed to read letters till you go back to your residence so I just placed it there unopened.) I left the cafeteria after lunch and went back to class. About an hour in I realized that I had forgotten to take the letter off of the tray when I went to go put the tray on the conveyer belt! UGHHH. I couldn't concentrate the rest of class. I told my district about it during a water break. It was so funny seeing the difference between the sisters and the elders reactions. The sisters were all like "Ohhh nooo. Oh my gosh I'm so sorry" and the elders were really sweet too ("Bummer Neuberger"). I'm just so grateful to my dish-washing guardian angel that grabbed it off my tray and turned it into the lost and found. The Lord really does answer prayers, even if they're about silly things, like a lost card from your twin sister.
The days are really starting to get monotonous. That makes it easy to get comfortable and start slacking off a bit. We're not planning on letting up though. Lookruu Stevens gave us a sweet pump up talk this week about not losing that "new missionary freshness" that we had the first couple weeks.
I can kind of, sort of, but not really, read Khmae now! I have the alphabet memorized. I'm suuuuuuper slow though. Like 3 words a minute slow. Seriously. That slow. It's pretty incredible that the Lord has me reading (well sort of reading) after just 2.5 weeks. He really is infinitely powerful and amazing. And His Khmae is absolutely perfect (I don't mean to trivialize or make fun by saying that. Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost all speak Khmae perfectly. They're the best tutors and teachers that we have. We wouldn't know anything more than how to say hello or goodbye without them.)
This week we did TRC. TRC stands for Teaching Resource Center. It's basically where we go and home teach R.M.'s (returned missionaries) and members in Khmae. You know, talk to them, get to know them, and share a spiritual thought with them that will help them come closer to Christ. This week we had 4 R.M.s, one Khmae woman from California, one Khmae man that was like 25, and one little old Khmae lady. Elder LeNguyen and I really lucked out with who we were assigned to talk to! We got to teach both of the people who were actually from Cambodia! The first person we talked to was the little old lady (when I mean little I mean like four foot eight, tops). She was probably in her sixties or so. Maybe seventies. Elder LeNguyen and I could hardly understand anything she said. It sounded nothing like Khmae! What we could understand was absolutely amazing and humbling. Om Srei Meak (that’s her name) is from Phnom Penh. She moved to the states in 1981. She lived through the Khmer Rouge. Her husband was a pilot in Cambodia. They had a couple little kids during the Khmer Rouge's reign. She then told us that her husband was murdered by the Khmer Rouge. I don't think I would've known how to respond if the Spirit wasn't there. Thankfully the Spirit had earlier prompted Elder LeNguyen and I to prepare a lesson on eternal families. Om Srei Meak was still wearing her wedding ring even though she hadn’t remarried... Me and Elder LeNguyen and Om srei meak got to have one of the coolest conversations about eternal families. It was so humbling. She told us that she is so excited to return to live with her Heavenly Father and her husband in heaven.
The other Khmae person we taught was Bong Sopal. Right before we went in the room to talk to him Lookruu Oleson pulled us aside and was like “Oh hey by the way Bong Sopal isn't a member”. Then he pushed us in the room. Imagine the two most wide-eyed missionaries you have ever seen. Talk about being thrown into the lion’s den. Elder LeNguyen and I teach fake investigators all the time but this time it was for real. Bong Sopal told us that he is also from Phnom Penh. He has been taking the lessons from the missionaries for about a year. We just talked about the Book of Mormon with him for a long time. He told us that he was in 3 Nephi 7. We were Ohhhhhh my gosh you're just like 5 pages away from the climax of the most important book in human history! His Khmae was a lot easier to understand. I think in any language older people just speak differently. The Spirit was there very strongly. Thank goodness because with our Khmae we wouldn't be able to get a point across to anybody!
I'm really glad to hear the Spurs are back in the finals. I'll be fasting for them;) This coming Wednesday we have been asked to be hosts to the new missionaries (the people who escort them from their cars and help them get all situated). We're all really excited about it. We loveeee messing with the new missionaries. We tell them all kinds of crazy things about the MTC. Our personal favorites are to tell them about the trackers you get placed in you on your second day (I just show them my plasma scars. They look like tracker scars). We also turn our name tags around so that its just the plain black side and then put an orange sticker on it (orange stickers are what designate the greenies their first couple days) and then pretend to be real lost and ask all the new elders where they went to get their tags engraved. Haha it’s so funny to see the new elders faces when we do it. They're so lost and confused, bless their souls.
To Nana: I'm praying for papa. I hope that he gets better! And lookruu is just how you say "teacher" in Khmae. Our teachers are our investigators. They go into another room and just assume this completely different personality and persona. Cambodian takes about a year to be fluent and about a year and half to really be fluent. So it takes longer to learn than most. I hope your friend Sister Burton gets better as well. I'll keep her and papa and you as well in my prayers. Love you!
To Megan and Adam: Thanks so much for the package! The water bottle helps out (a lot). And the candy and stuff was much appreciated too! It amazes me how much Burgess and Cami's handwriting looks like Khmae. They're a lot better than I am.
Thanks for the package with the cookies! They're so good. They really help at night when you're in the residence and you're absolutely starving. Love y’all! Keep the faith! Go Spurs!