Monday, March 23, 2015

I'm so excited I want to fly!

with Sopheatraa and Sovanaa, two kids we teach. Their mom is a recent convert
ជំរាបសួរ! ឥឡូវខ្ញុំរំភើបចង់ហោះដោយសារខ្ញុំនៅស្ទឹងមានជ័យដដែល! ហើយខ្ញុំនឹងមានកូនម្នាក់ទៀត!
I'm so pumped! We got transfer calls last night and guess what (well for all of y'all who can't read Khmae)? I'm still here in Stung Mean Chey Second and I am going to be training again! Wow, I'm so excited!!! I really thought that I was going to be leaving. I was pretty sad in Sacrament Meeting because we had I think the single best most-spiritual sacrament I've had since I came to Cambodia.  And guess what? 110 people were at sacrament meeting! I'm pretty sure that's a record for our ward since it split way back in the day. It was amazing. So many people, so many great talks. Sister Davis gave a great going away talk (she dies on Friday with Elder Johnson's group). The closing hymn was the Spirit of God. I love playing the piano because I am at the front of the chapel and get the full effect of the singing. It was so beautiful. That meeting was even more beautiful because Phiarun's baptism was completed so he was confirmed! So awesome.

So yeah, you could say I was pretty excited when I got the call (in Khmae we say that “I'm so excited I want to fly!”) from President Moon that I would be staying in Stung Mean Chey and training another missionary. That's exactly what I wanted to happen. He also told me that he wanted me to be the district leader over here. That'll be exciting. New opportunities for growth!

I got my call about 45 minutes before Elder Kim, Elder Allred, and Elder Uhi got their calls because they had to wait for the zone leaders to call (President only calls if you're training or if you will have a new leadership assignment which you don't currently have). Once I found out that I would be staying I told Elder Uhi that I thought he would be going to Kampung Thom with Elder Child, who is in the group in between Elder Uhi and I. Lo and behold, Elder Kim picks up the call from the zone leaders and they tell him that Elder Uhi is going to Kompung Thom with Elder Child! Wow, paternal inspiration at its finest. Elder Kim is going to Posat to be the district leader over there (in Posat it'll just be him and his companion. Posat and Prey Veng and the two newest opened provinces). Elder Allred is going to stay here and his mother (companion right out of training) is Elder Sok. This next transfer our district in second ward and the district in 1st ward are actually combining, so there will be four companionships in our district. I don't know how other missions are, but in ours that's pretty unusual to have four in one district. I also guessed correctly that Elder LeNguyen would take the vacant office elder spot! What a guy! He's going to do great! In my group Elder Elieson and Paramore will also be training, Elder Zierenberg is district leader and Elder Christensen is a zone leader up in Battombong! I can't believe we're to this point in our missions already! Crazy, I feel that it was just yesterday that we met each other at the MTC!



This last week was really fun. One of the highlights was that on Wednesday the AP's asked Elder Kim and I to go on exchange and go to the Russian Friendship Hospital to be interpreters for Operation Smile, which is an organization which helps children born with cleft lips and palates. It was so much fun. We translated from 12-4:30. We were always just kind of on standby; sometimes we were super busy and sometimes we didn't have a whole lot to do. Elder Kim made me do the majority of the translating. He said he can't really understand white people when they talk. I was like whatever man, you've been speaking straight English with your trainee for 12 weeks. I didn't complain too much though. I really like translating, even though the Khmae-to-English, English-to-Khmae switcheroos give me headaches sometimes. I saw some crazy things on Wednesday too. Wednesday happened to be the day where Operation Smile opened its doors to all sorts of weird problems, not just cleft palates. I saw a little boy who had that 'werewolf syndrome' you see in Ripley's believe it or not or in stuff like that. He was probably 2 years old and the entire left side of his face was covered in bluish-black fur. Not hair, not a bruise, but fur. It was pretty bizarre. Cambodians also have like zero shame so he was surrounded by like 40 people just goggling at him. I also saw a girl with 13 toes, 7 on her left, 6 on her right. It was crazy. Plus lots and lots of super cute kids with cleft palates. What that Operation Smile organization does is amazing. It was really fun going and helping them serve the Khmae people.

Shoutout to all my Jewish buddies back home. Y'all aren't forgotten out here in Southeast Asia

We're getting pretty close to Khmae New Year here. That's the one thing that's going to be way rough about being here in the city next transfer: For that week we're going to have absolutely nothing to do. And also apparently as we get closer to Khmae New Year, more and more power-cuts start happening. Our power cut out three times last week. It’s the worst because it usually happens in the early morning and so we have to go and study out on the second floor (our bedroom has no windows) and just sweat to death down there. Sometimes we just go to the church and do our studies there. Power-cuts are rough for sure.

I read Alma 5 this morning. I've always loved that chapter so much. I've always like how Alma stirs the Zarahemlites to remember the captivity, sacrifice, faith, and deliverance of their forefathers. Alma 5:6-10 says that,

6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them. 
8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.
10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?

Verse 13 goes on to say
13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until theend; therefore they were saved.

I like asking myself, "Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance your pioneer and pilgrim ancestors and their sacrifices for your sake?" I love my ancestors so much and I am sad that I didn't do more family history work when I was back home. I went to the temple often enough, but sadly I didn't take part in the second half of that work, which is researching about our own ancestors and then taking their names to the temple ourselves. When I go back home I fully intend on claiming both halves of the blessings of temple work.

I also love verse 57 from Alma :
And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things

It’s not enough for us to just not commit sins. Over time that will result in us falling into that very sin we're not doing. We have to not do sin and completely remove ourselves from situations and people that cause us to do those wrong things. "Be ye separate and touch not their unclean things." I know that Alma's advice definitely helps me to ensure that I have the Holy Ghost with me. We should avoid and detest sin like the plague. When we fill our mind with good thoughts and our mouths with good words and our days with good deeds, we can be sure that we'll have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. 
 
At Watt Phnom

Questions:
Have you lost weight or had any intestinal issues?  This last transfer I lost 3 kilos. I was a constant weight my entire mission until a few weeks ago. I haven't been eating as much rice recently, which is what I think the problem is. Haven't been sick recently. No intestinal issues.

Do people in Cambodia have a hard time getting to the temple? Yes, most of them have to save up for years. The Church makes sure that everyone has the opportunity to go though. As they prepare themselves to the best of their abilities the Lord provides the means to be able to go to the temple. 

Do you get to go on temple trips? No, the nearest temples are in Hong Kong and the Philippines. So no. Senior couples take turns accompanying the groups of members that go.

Love y’all, stay safe and have a fantastic week!


Love Elder Burger

This monkey kept coming up to this dog and hitting it and then it would run up a tree


A diger. Like a liger, but the Stung Mean Chey version

Huge bats up in this really tall tree, probably 75 feet or so off the ground

Bong Thol's baby aka the chubbiest baby alive. It blows my mind how chubby it is

Crazy battle chicken holding up the sign for the fort right across the street from the church building 
Back in my old area on an exchange with Elder Allred. I miss the southside of Stung Mean Chey




On these flooded outhouse shacks you can see the LDS charities stamp. Pretty cool
 




Elder Uhi and I went to Watt Phnom on our last Pday








Monkeys! 








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