Monday, November 3, 2014

Fastest week of my mission

Just had hands-down the fastest week of my mission. I am in disbelief that here I am, sitting in the internet cafe, writing out an email to y’all once again. It’s funny that this week flew by so fast in hind-sight, because I think every single day this week seemed like the longest day of my mission. Elder Vout and I worked our tails off trying to find people to teach. We contacted 109 people and taught 16 lessons. We definitely want to be teaching more lessons, the mission standard of excellence is 24, but we have improvement! 

This week Viasnaa came to church! He hasn't been in a month and a half. It’s been really rough on me seeing both of the people I baptized during my training go inactive. I stress a lot about what I could possibly do more to help them. Both of them experienced a ton of adversity almost immediately after they were baptized. Financial situations went downhill, family members became mortally ill, addiction relapses... It's tough, sometimes people don't fully comprehend that life doesn't become a piece of cake after baptism. Actually it probably becomes harder. I don't remember who said it, I feel like it was Elder Holland, who said something along the lines of: "The more light and knowledge you receive the more Satan will want to drag you down, but he will have so much less power to do so." The same thing happened with our second counselor in the ward. He has been completely inactive for 2 months now. That first week I got to Pochentong he had just returned a couple days before from being sealed with his wife in the Hong Kong temple. He went inactive just about a month and a half after that. Sometimes I don't know what else I can do to help people like him. He's a returned missionary, he's been to the temple twice, he's served in the branch presidency for a while. He knows what he is doing is wrong! At the end of the day all we can really do is try to help him (and others like him) feel the Spirit and feel of our love for them. I also know that bold commitments, given in a loving and charitable manner, have the power to change people as well.

This Tuesday I went on exchange with Elder Caine. He came down to Pochentong with me and Elder Vuut went up to Saen Sok with Elder Neeng.  It was super fun. It's crazy that Elder Caine is dying in 2.5 weeks. I've served with him for the past 3.5 months! It's been fun times. And guess what, more fun times ahead, because last night Elder Caine joined Elder Vuut and I here in Pochentong! Through a series of unfortunate events an emergency transfer became necessary so Elder Caine will be serving with us here for at least the next week. After this next week President will decide where to put Elder Caine for his remaining week and half. So this week I'm in a threesome or a tri-pan, (depending on who you talk to the term changes). It will definitely be interesting trying to teach as three people. It will definitely take a lot more coordination during companionship study.

Helping Elder An (just finished his mission here a couple weeks ago) and Elder Caine stitch shoes for service. Elder Caine came down to Pochentong with me on Tuesday for an exchange. Elder An was AP here in Cambodia. He's super cool.

This is Elder An's house. Thats his mom and aunt stitching shoes. You know all those cute moccasin Sperry's that all the girls in America wear? Well tons of them are sewn in homes just like this.

This week I contacted two guys from Nigeria! There's actually a ton of Nigerians in Phnom Penh, especially in Chaktomuk over on the east side of Phnom Penh. But there's quite a few in Pochentong as well, but I've never had the chance to contact them, because usually I just catch a glance of them as I'm riding past them on my bike.

It was weird contacting someone in English. I've contacted people in English before, just because some people really like to try out their English on me, but this is the first time where I actually had to use English when contacting. It was tough; the words weren’t coming out of my mouth smoothly at all. The Spirit was there though, and that is what counts. One of the guys I contacted came out as we were contacting the first guy and he was like "Brothers what’s up?" and we were like "Oh, hey how are you?" and he said "What branch are y’all coming from?" and instantly I was like "We are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latt..." and then he stopped me and said "Haha, no, no I know brother, I know. I mean which BRANCH? Pochentong, Tuk Thlaa, Tuk La-ak. I used to attend the International Branch every week." Haha turns out he is a less-active member. HIs name is "Sunday".  He used to be active but then he returned to Nigeria for a while and then when he came back he never returned to the International Branch. We gave his number to the AP's though (they're the elders in the International Branch). He was super excited to meet and talk with us. Hopefully he'll start attending church again!

Elder Caine and I also ran from a crazy guy this week. We were on the side of the road when we looked out of the corner of our eye and saw this crazy guy wearing nothing but this pair of shredded pants (so shredded that him even wearing these pants completely defeated the purpose. Sorry, just trying to describe the scene for y’all). He was slowly inching toward us with this crazy look in his eye. Normally I try and talk to people like him, but there was something about him that unsettled me and made me feel like maybe we weren't safe at all. Elder Caine turned to me and was like "Let's bounce" so we started biking away. All of a sudden I heard this crazy chilling laugh/cackle behind me and I looked back as I was pedaling away and the guy was charging us! We booked it out of there. Good times...

Like I've said before, this transfer my language comprehension ability has skyrocketed, mainly from living with a Khmae 24/7. We speak almost zero English anymore, mainly because I continue speaking nothing but Khmae to him and he's kind of gotten lazy speaking English back. He just responds in Khmae now. Haha I don't know whether he gave up or what. I'm not complaining though. I understand probably 60% of everything I hear now perfectly. I'd say there’s another 20% where I understand it but I don't instantaneously process or understand the full meaning, and then there’s 20% where I have no idea what’s going on whatsoever. I feel like understanding Khmae is a lot like when you're first learning to ride a bike. You remember when you first learned and dad let go of you for the first time? You keep going and going until you realize dad's not holding you anymore and then you're like "wait I'm actually doing it! I'm actually riding a bike!" and then you freak out and you're like "Oh no! I'm riding a bike! Help I can't do it!" and then you fall over and crash. That’s how it is for me. I'll go hours and not blink an eye, I'll just be comprehending everything without thinking about it, and then in the middle of a lesson I'll think "Wow, I'm understanding everything! How am I doing this? Whoa, this is crazy. Wait. No no no!" and then I won't understand another word for the next 5 minutes. I hope that all makes a little sense.

My Elder's quorum lesson plans look a lot different than my lesson plans when I was elders quorum instructor at BYU haha. This lesson was on "Are you Sleeping hrough the Restoration" by President Uchtdorf

Here's some cool Khmae tidbits for y’all this week, if I've already told them to y’all, well, sorry...:

-In Khmae there's not really a form of the word "you" like there is in most other languages. You always just refer to the person you're talking to directly, by their relation to you. So for example, say I was talking to someone a little bit older than me. I wouldn't say "You're really nice". I would say "Big sibling is really nice"

-Which brings us to another point. You call everybody little sibling, big sibling, aunt (younger than your parents, uncle (younger than your parents), aunt (older than your parents), uncle (older than your parents), or grandma/grandpa. Everybody is family in Cambodia!

-In Khmae there is a hierarchy of words, depending on the rank or age of the person you're talking to. Like I know probably 7 or 8 words for the word "to eat" and you use them all differently depending on who or what is eating. Or for like a king or a god, there is an entirely different vocabulary. It makes it tough when you're reading the scriptures because I'll see a ton of different words that I don't know and they will all be weird obscure words that mean "the eye of a god" or "the wrath of a god"

-There are no plurals or singulars in Khmae. Every noun is inherently plural and singular at the same time. If you can emphasize the plurality or singularity of the object by saying how many there are, but you don't change the word at all. Like I can say the word "koat" and mean "him" or mean "them". Or I could say "chhkae" and be talking about 1 dog or hundreds of dogs

-Khmae is a super descriptive language. For example you can say five or 6 verbs in a row and the meaning is equal to the sum of all of the parts. The word for captivity in the book of Mormon combines the words for "to be stuck", "to be arrested" "to prevent from leaving" and "the situation of..."

-Speaking in third person in Khmae is completely normal. You do it all the time. Sometimes its good, sometimes its really confusing. Like somebody could say "Lookpuu went to the market" and be talking about themselves or be talking about somebody completely different. It takes some practice to get used to it.

-A lot of words have what we call "sandwiches" or a complement word that goes along with the word but that goes at the end of the clause. So if I want to say "I can ride a bike" I would say "khnyom aac cih kong baan". "Aac" and "baan" are the words for can. "aac" always goes before the verb and "baan" always goes at the end of the clause. So you say, "I can ride a bike can" or conversely "I not can ride a bike cannot". Sandwiches... Super fun!

That's all I have this week. When I was reading in the scriptures I was so impressed by the Nephites after they finally defeat the Lamanites in that huge war they have in the book of Alma. In their joy they fasted and prayed and gave thanks to God. They truly understood that we shouldn't just fast and pray and remember God in our hard times, but in our joyful happy times as well. 

Questions:
Have you seen any elephants?  Haven't seen an elephant yet.

Any rat stories recently? Or have they just become everyday? Rat stories are just kind of an everyday thing, not really remarkable or extraordinary to me in the slightest anymore

Will you get a copy of the General Conference Ensign?  Yes all missionaries (at least in our mission) get a monthly copy of the Liahona in their native language. Conference issues should be arriving soon!

I love y’all and pray for y’all constantly! Keep safe and enjoy this next week!

Love Elder Burger

One of the meals from this week. Whole fish in this soup that Elder Vout made. Whenever I eat fish in Cambodia I have to make sure that I chew it for a really long time so that the bones don't stick me in the throat (fish is always served whole here). This fish were pretty good, but I wish there was a way to clean out their digestive tracts before eating them. 


This sign was in the bathroom at the internet cafe.  Safety tip:  don't do the asian squat on a western toilet.

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