Monday, November 17, 2014

Going to Stung Mean Chey 2nd Branch!

We chopped down a huge coconut tree for service this week! This young widow in our ward is starting to clear the little piece of land behind her house so she can start renting it out for some extra income.
Transfer calls last night! Like always transfer calls take forever to come. Elder Vore didn't call us till after lights out time at 9:30. Call finally came at like 9:35. Elder Vout will continue to serve here in Pochentong and guess who is coming to take his place? Elder Paramore!! He's been up in Kampung Thom this whole time. I actually haven't seen him since we arrived here in Cambodia. Elder Paramore and I are the only members in our entire group who have never seen each other in Cambodia. Everyone else met together last transfer day, but Elder Vout and I left the mission home early so I didn't get to see everyone. But I'll see Elder Paramore on Friday finally, so that's exciting.

As for me, I am transferring to the South Zone, Stung Mean Chey Second Branch to be more exact. That was my prediction before calls! I was like I'm either going to Tuk Thlaa (right next door to Pochentong) or I'm going to one of the branches in Stung Mean Chey (there's three branches). I'm actually going to be serving right next to the world famous "trash mountain", which is the area of Stung Mean Chey Third Branch. That was Elder Johnson's area right before he went to Pochentong. He was serving as zone leader over there in south zone at the time.  I'm super excited to go and serve there. My companion is going to be Elder Kim, who is currently serving there right now. All I know about Elder Kim is that he is Khmae. That's it. I'll be finding out a lot more about him starting this Friday though!

My feelings are really mixed about transfers. I'm going to miss Pochentong so much, I've grown so close with so many different people here, but I'm also excited to go and help in another part of the Lord's vineyard. It honestly is going to be nice to totally cut off all ties to my training and infancy and start again in a new area as a full-fledged missionary! I know that I will be able to see all of the members and everyone I care about dearly from Pochentong again! It's going to be such a wonderful occasion when we meet together after the glorious Judgment Day, and step forward to inherit "all that the Father hath" with each other. I look forward with anticipation to that day! But till then, I have more friends to make, and the Lord wants me to make them in Stung Mean Chey Second! I'm so grateful for a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, because through it we know that there's no such thing as a true ending, as long as we hold out faithful till the end!

I'm so grateful right now to have so many great friends serving in the Lord's army with me all over the world! I have amazing friends who are preaching the gospel on literally every single inhabited continent on the face of the earth. I'm especially grateful for Elder Goodwin's example! Can you believe that every single companion he has had out in the field has been on a mission longer than Jack has been a member of the church?! That's incredible! He reminds me of those missionaries from pioneer times, who were members for 6 or 7 months before they were called to leave their families and go and serve missions around the world. What a guy!

So something special about the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission is that we have a special form of paperwork called "CBRs" or "Convert Baptismal Records". They're basically a form with pictures and information about all the members in Cambodia. Every area in the mission has a couple thick binders full of information on all the members in their area. It's essential here in Cambodia because nothing is really computerized here yet, and even if records were all computerized here, it wouldn't help because nobody has legitimate addresses so you couldn't find any members! CBR's are essential in finding less-actives. A big part of the work here is finding "lost CBRs" or members who we don't know where they are. We do it a lot. It makes me feel like a detective or a private eye or something. You follow the map drawn on the CBR (some of which are incredibly vague and unhelpful) and try and find out what happened to that member or that family. Like you try to see whether they've moved or have died or are still there or what. We talk to people's neighbors and people in the area to help us out. It's fun, but it's super frustrating. If a member moves away from their original home, it's almost impossible to find them in their new area. This is the primary reason we have so many less-actives in Cambodia (well according to my opinion). People move and once they move, nobody can find them in order to help them come to church! Hunting for CBR's always reminds me of the good old days when I would go geocaching every weekend with dad. It's exactly like that, except we don't have a GPS, just vague poorly drawn maps. But it's fun nonetheless!

Just a random house I took a picture of on the way to the internet cafe.

This week at church a less-active who hasn't been to church in over 6 months came for the second week in a row! Last week when I saw him I did a double-take and was like "Phia! You came!" and this week I saw him again I was like "YESSS!". He's super super cool. I love going over and teaching him. He's 27 and is chill as can be. If I knew him outside the mission I would hang out with him all the time. I hope that he continues to come!

Sokhaa and Somoo, a couple I've been teaching for a few months who haven't come to church in about a month and a half, came to church too! It was awesome! The members love them so much, especially Bong Navi, Bong Kunthi, Puu Sokcia, and Bong Viasnaa. They are doing such a great job at befriending them. We have never have any problem getting member help to go out and teach them. And every week when they didn't come all of them always came up to me and were super concerned about them. They love them so much, and I love them too! They haven't been coming because Somoo has been hesitant recently about taking time off work on Sunday. We've been teaching lots and lots about applying and exercising our faith. I'm going to miss those two so much. Elder Paramore and Elder Vout will keep making sure they progress though, I don't worry.

One thing I love about Khmaes is that Khmaes love their own culture. What I mean by that is that they aren't preoccupied with American culture like I feel the rest of the world is. They aren't trying to be American. In fact, since I've been here (4 months today) I can literally count on one hand the number of times I have heard an American song playing on the radio. That's pretty incredible considering Khmae's blast music NONSTOP. They just listen to Khmae music. I love that. If there is any culture they're trying to emulate its Korea's. 

This week I studied in Ether chapter 6.

The Jaredites journey to the Americas is incredibly applicable to us in our lives! As I read verse 3 I paused to think, "What are my stones? What are the things that shine in the darkness and give light to me in my life?" I'll let everyone answer that question for themselves, but for me my stones are the scriptures, the words of living prophets and apostles, my family, my friends, the examples of my ancestors, my patriarchal blessing, and the sacred covenants I made in the temple.

3 And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.
 4 And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them—and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.  Ether 6:3-4

As I read on in verse 4 I loved the faith and dedication of the Jaredites. They prepared themselves in accordance with the commandments of the Lord, and when they had sufficiently prepared they "set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God." I love that! All of us at times in our life will be uncertain about decisions, but we must trust in the Lord and know that He will guide us. We must "chian tuo muk daoy seckdeicumnua" or press forward with faith, even if the path in front of us is dark and uncertain. I love the talk "Cast not Away Therefore Thy Confidence" by Elder Holland. It speaks about how when we receive revelation, or when we have a great spiritual experience, we cannot let uncertainty or doubt or temptation keep us from moving forward according to the revelation which we have already received.

 5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
 6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
 7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.  Ether 6:5-7

Reading onward in verses 5, 6, 7, and 8 I loved the image in my mind of the wind continuously blowing them toward the promised land. Even when they were "buried in the depths of the sea", the Lord was still pushing them toward where He wanted them to go. I love this imagery, because it helps us realize that our trials are all apart of the journey Heavenly Father has planned for us. Even when we plunge down into the depths of the sea, we are continually being pushed forward to where the Lord wants us to go. It's so important to nurture our testimonies and work towards our own personal conversion too, so that our faith may be "tight like unto a dish", that nothing will harm us or our faith, even when we are in the depths of affliction and adversity.

 9 And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
 10 And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.  Ether 6:9-10

In verse 9 the Jaredites show an incredible amount of gratitude for the Lord in what He had done for them, in bringing them to the promised land. And finally in verse 10 I love that "they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water". Heavenly Father will give us revelation and guidance in all of our circumstances. He wants to helps us. He wants to guide us. I testify that He loves us and that as we chian tuo muk daoy seckdeicumnua, He will guide us home, to the most promised of all lands, to dwell with Him and with our families for eternity. Families really are eternal. I love helping people realize that. 

Continue having amazing lives! Keep sending pictures of y’alls lives - no matter how boring y’all tell me they are! I love you all! 

Love Elder Burger

P.S. this week I contacted someone from a phum (it means like area or neighborhood, kind of like what Shavano Park or Deerfield is) called "phum domrei coan khlaa". That literally means "Neighborhood: Elephants stomps on tiger". Pretty cool

Editor's Note:  As Mitch mentioned, in Stung Mean Chey is a large trash dump known as "Trash Mountain".  People live and scavenge in the dump.  The following is a short documentary on the people and their lives in Trash Mountain.

This is kruac. I think it's called a quail in english. I'm not exactly sure, ask Grandpa, he's the resident ornithologist of the family. There's a kruac stand right outside our neighborhood. We stop there occasionally on the way home. Kruac's way good, just super bony and doesn't have a ton of meat. The bones are brittle though so whenever one finds its way into my mouth I usually end up just chewing it to bits, because I'm too lazy to spit it out.
It is mind-boggling how many temples there are in Cambodia. You'll be riding your bike and you'll see another temple you've never seen before hidden back in the trees. They call Cambodia "the Land of a Thousand Temples", but that phrase does Cambodia no justice. It's a huge underestimation. Theres a million temples here.

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