Monday, March 2, 2015

Baptism and the Sacrament

ជំរាបសួរអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នា! Hope all is well stateside. Things are going great over here in the Orient. We had a fantastic week. One of our investigators was baptized!!! Bong Ok Suan!!!! He is a great guy. He is the nephew of Puu Kosal, an active member in our ward. We've been teaching him for a few months now (Elder Kim and I started teaching him), but it’s been really hard to meet with him because he can only meet on Saturday mornings. He is super humble and really loves the gospel and the Book of Mormon though. It was such a great baptismal service yesterday too! We had a few investigators and recent converts come and watch! It was amazing, because baptismal services have such a special spirit about them. You can feel the Spirit so strongly as you watch someone make a sacred covenant with God to follow and serve Him their whole lives.

Bong Ok Suan's baptis

When we are reviewing the baptismal interview questions with our investigators to let them know ahead of time what they will be asked, I love reading the first few verses of Moroni 6 to help them understand just what it is expected of them by God in this covenant.

And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it. Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins. And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end. And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.  Moroni 6:1-4

The baptismal covenant is so sacred and we receive such special blessings from it our whole lives, especially as we go to church every Sunday and thoughtfully partake of the sacrament to renew that covenant. I have found a really special love for the sacrament on my mission. I've had the opportunity to increasingly understand of its importance and of the power that it bestows to us when we partake of it worthily.

He's super big for a Cambodian, if you can't tell already.  I also had to take one picture with the classic no-smile cambodian face.

There were a lot of other cool things that happened this week (although Bong Ok Suan's baptism was obviously the highlight):

On Thursday morning we had a special training meeting with President and Sister Moon at the Stung Mean Chey building from 7-9 in the morning. They made us breakfast and then taught us (all the Stung Mean Chey elders and sisters) about the way that we can become better testifiers. It was a great meeting. Elder Steadman, who is the oldest American elder in Stun Mean Chey, was translating for it most of the time but at one point President Moon asked him to get up (along with Elder Kim) and conduct some additional training. So I had to translate. During the discussion that followed one of the elders was comparing the gospel to a sun at the middle of a galaxy that pulls all the planets towards itself and keeps them in consistent orbits. I was amazed as I was translating that I knew every single one of those words and that the way to say that analogy instantly leaped to my mouth! Please don't think I'm saying this to be like "Man, look how super great Elder Burger is at Khmae." It’s just the opposite. I know for a fact that I would hardly know three mouthfuls of Khmae if it weren’t for the enabling power of the gift of tongues, which Heavenly Father in His mercy, bestows upon all of His servants that seek after it. There is absolutely no way on this earth that I could ever describe the movements of, and relationships between, galaxies, stars, and planets in Khmae if God didn't help me every single step of the way. He helps all of His servants to have better memories, a quicker tongue, and a faster recall as we teach the gospel in foreign languages. Everybody who has ever learned a language on their mission has experiences just like that. It’s amazing how God truly takes our efforts and then consecrates and edifies them. 

Heavenly Father also helped me accomplish another one of my language goals this last Friday: I finished reading the Khmae Book of Mormon cover to cover. Ahhh man, that was such a neat moment to read that final 'amen" from Moroni. Now it’s time for me to start reading it over again! Maybe after I read it through the second time I'll move to the other standard works in Khmae!

There is this new "Gift of Tongues" video which the Church filmed which we watched a couple weeks ago in district meeting. There is a quote in there by Elder Don Clarke of the Seventy, which I really liked. He said, "The gift of tongues is not an event of learning a language; it’s a journey of loving the people." I also liked how Elder Evans of the Seventy read that quote from Paul in Corinthians which talks about if even though we may speak with the tongues of men, if we don't have charity, our voice will be nothing but a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Even if we speak perfect language, if we don't love the people with all our hearts, that language will be nothing but meaningless sounds coming out of our mouths. The great thing about Cambodia is that the Khmaes are not a difficult people to love in the slightest. They are so friendly and warm and everyone is instantly family. I love them with all my heart, sometimes it feels like I'm going to burst!

I also finished another book this week: Jesus the Christ. Thats a great book. It’s in the approved missionary library for a reason. If it’s been a while since yall have read it, I encourage yall to pick it up again!

What 'taking a member to a lesson' looks like in Cambodia

Elder Kim, Elder Allred, and I have been playing tons of Uno recently (Elder Uhi usually just watches). We play almost every night from like 9-9:20 right before we go to bed. It’s a nice way to unwind at the end of the day. I forgot just how much fun that game is!

I also did another thing this week that I have honestly been waiting to do my whole mission: I ate dog. It was super tasty; it had a lot of flavor packed in it. Elder Kim and Elder Allred bought a box of it and brought it to English class meeting on Wednesday (on Tuesday night we had all been talking about how much we all wanted to eat dog meat). So yeah, there's something checked off my list. If I'm given dog again I'll eat it again in a heartbeat. It's so good! Eating it is kind of really looked down upon by a lot of members though. So it’s not something I'm going to go talking openly about around here. 

Elder Uhi and I kind of got sucker-punched yesterday afternoon. We were calling all our investigators to invite them to attend Ok Suan's baptism. One of our investigators, Puu Somnang, who is soooo good and soooo smart and who we absolutely love teaching because he understands everything and because he reads the Book of Mormon like crazy, told us that he had actually had to quit his job and move out to his khaet. We were like what? We just saw you Monday! That's how it is in Cambodia though. People will pack up and move in the blink of an eye. He told us that he would be reading the Book of Mormon every day though and if he ever moved back to Phnom Penh he would call us up. When I hung up the phone I was so dazed. That was literally like having a piece of my heart suddenly wrenched from me. That's one thing that’s hard, is that you pray about and think about and study for your investigators all day every day, and then either you get transferred away or they move away. You can't stay with these people forever, no matter how much you may want to. So even though Puu Somnan suddenly moved back to his khaet, and even though his khaet (Takeo) doesn't have the Church yet, I know that Heavenly Father is still perfectly aware of him and has a plan for Puu Somnang. One day he will find the missionaries again and learn once more about the true gospel of Jesus Christ!

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and that we have a living prophet here on the earth. His name is Thomas S. Monson, and through him, Jesus Christ leads and directs His great work here on the earth. I know that there are 15 men on the earth, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whom we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. As Elder Ballard says, if we keep our eyes on them, we will not be led astray. God bless all of y’all! Have great weeks! Be safe! Go and try dog meat!

Love Elder Burger

A little girl who wandered into one of our lessons with Bong Thol 

Little kids are the greatest

Phlov Veng Sreng aka our main stomping grounds. Its the road where the church is. Also if you keep following the road down to about where the horizon is in this picture, you'll get to the spot where last year the factory workers had protests and dozens of people were shot and killed. It was a pretty big news story a year or two ago. So yeah, that place is in my area.

In the middle of a random busy street in our area is... fields. Only in Cambodia... 

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