Monday, April 27, 2015

It's started raining again!!!!

Hello everyone! Hope all of yall are doing great! Stung Mean Chey is doing awesome! And guess what?! Its started raining again!! We are still a couple months away from the start of rainy season, but its nice to have rain every few days to help cool down the heat. Cambodia hot season is soooo hot haha. It’s actually a lot like San Antonio in the middle part/end of July. Imagine like the hottest week of the year in San Antonio and then extend that over the course of a few months and you'll understand hot season in Cambodia. Members always ask me whether its hot like this in America and I'm always like "Actually, yeah it is. But here it’s a lot longer! And in America we actually have a/c so it’s not a big deal!"

Imagine not having a car with a/c and having to bike around San Antonio in July. And then imagine every home you ever teach in doesn't have a/c. And then imagine your own home doesn't have a/c, except for the bedrooms. Haha when we are down in the kitchen making food I always drip sweat into the food I'm making because its so hot down there. I love the heat and the sweat though. It feels so good. It makes you feel like you're working even harder! You give 110% and it feels like you're giving 150%! I'm glad I was raised in San Antonio though. I think it helps me not be too affected by this unreal tropical heat. And here it doesn't even matter that I sweat all the way through my shirt (and through my backpack, and my tie, and my pants haha) because it's not like I'm scared I'm going to be running into any girls or anything! 

I didn't eat anything insane or do anything like that this week. Sorry. I'll try better in the future.

Elder Osborne and I were going around finding people who are interested in learning about Jesus Christ and we passed this place which smelled like grape-fundip. Straight up. Because all of Stung Mean Chey smells like fermented trash it was such a powerful transition that we were almost knocked off our bikes by the sheer power of the scent. It smelled so good. I had to take a picture to remember these heaven-sent flower

Elder Osborne and I have three investigators who are coming up on their baptisimal dates! Srei Niat, Srei Lin, and Om Ae. They're all going to receive baptism on the 9th of May! I'm so excited for all of them. They're all wonderful and show their faith in the most wonderful ways! Srei Niat is so cool. She is someone whom Elder Uhi and I found and taught, along with her parents, but then we gave them to the sisters because it was an easier teaching situation for the sisters, since sometimes the dad wasn't there. Well the sisters were removed a month ago, so I got to start reteaching Srei Niat! Her dad and her mom aren't interested in learning anymore, but they encourage Srei Niat in her learning and going to church! Srei Niat just turned 18 so she technically doesn't need her parents permission to be baptized now, but if she did need it would be right there. Well Srei Niat hasn't been able to go to church in the last month and half or so, because her dad had to sell the family moto to feed the family (they're way poor). In spite of that, she still walked to church 3 or 4 times. That walk is about 45 minutes in the hot Cambodian sun. Such incredible faith! She had to stop walking because it got too hot and it’s not safe for a girl to be walking alone like that. We were talking with bishop in ward council about what we could do to help her. She obviously is converted to the true gospel; that is clearly manifest in her actions (she's already read through Helaman 14, which is insane for a Cambodian!). Our bishop went out and bought a bike for her and on Sunday we went and discretely delivered the bike to her (we didn't want the neighbors thinking that we are just people who come and give out free prizes and stuff to people. We want to help invite people come unto Christ, and that’s hard to do if people are just focused on the temporal stuff. That stuff is important, and obviously the church is one of the biggest charitable organizations in the world, but as elders we don't want people thinking we're the people who give out the stuff. That's not the elder's duty, it’s other peoples.). She was so excited to get the bike! She showed up to church a whole hour early yesterday and just sat and read her scriptures and prepared herself to take the sacrament! Ah she’s so good! 

Srei Lin is also way good. She is the 3rd or 4th cousin of two very recently returned sister missionaries in our ward, Sister Neet and Sister Chan. She has great family support behind her (the cousins and aunt she lives with are all members). She is 13, and although she doesn't know how to read, she goes to church every single Sunday for three hours and listens and pays attention. I'm excited for her as she continues to progress towards baptism!

Om Ae is the step-dad of our ward mission leader. We just started teaching him a couple weeks ago. He is way good. He has never learned about Christianity before (like the vast majority of Cambodians) but he loves everything we teach. He's a little slow at understand, but he is a strong believer. When we ask him questions to ensure understanding and he's still a little bit vague, he always says, "My memory isn't the best, but I feel like all of this is true. And when I feel something is true I hold firmly to it." He came to church for the second time yesterday. He's a great guy.

Little kid who is the little brother of our ward mission leader

On Saturday I led out my first exchange as a district leader. I took Elder Sok into my own area. It was really fun. Elder Sok is such a great humble guy! He's Vietnamese, but he was born in Phnom Penh and has lived here his whole life. Despite Vietnamese being his main language, he still speaks Khmae fluently, albeit with a bit of an accent (although his Khmae is light years ahead of mine, haha). He is so humble. He comes from a family of 12 and he is the only member. They are dirt poor and often don't have enough food to eat, but he loves life and loves working hard and being a missionary. We did work on Saturday! We got six lessons in, as well as a couple unplanned service opportunities. This past week was a lot better for Elder Osborne and I! We got 22 lessons.

Cutting sheet metal for a little spontaneous service, helping a guy build his roof

Unfortunately attendance at church was pretty low this week because it started raining 15 minutes before sacrament, and you know how Cambodians are about rain... But Srei Niat, Srei Lin, and Om Ae all still came! Elder Osborne and I were pumped!

Well all is good here in the Successful Stream! This Sunday is transfer calls and I'm praying that I'll be able to stay here and finish training Elder Osborne, but "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord." I'll let you know next week what I'll be doing next transfer!

Love yall! Have fun and stay safe!

Love Elder Burger

Our bishop gave us 25 kilos of rice for free because he's just gangster like that

The meanest dog in the world. If it didn't have a big fat chain around it, it would have easily taken off my leg

Monday, April 20, 2015

Our bathroom is haunted

This little kid should give professional athletes tips on how to make the best thug face.

Khmae New Year is finally over!!!!! YAYYY!!! Finally we will have people to teach again, starting tonight! Most people got back from the provinces on Saturday night or last night, but theres still a trickle of people coming in from the provinces. This week was super rough in terms of proselyting. We only taught 9 lessons, although that is 2 more than the 7 lessons I taught one week in Pochentong! Silver lining! Tuesday to Thursday there was absolutely NO ONE here. The streets were completely empty. It was really hard to proselyte because not only did we have no one to teach, but we had no one to contact either!

Wednesday was our designated deep-cleaning/CBR record-updating day. It was good. One of the bathrooms in our house had a bird's nest in it, so we were finally able to clean that bathroom and pull out the birds nest as well as the ghosts hiding in the toilet. That bathroom doesn't have any water in it either. It's haunted. We don't ever go in it.

Phnom Penh apartments.  Looks a lot like the Village in Provo

Crazy house in Tuol Kook which we always see on our way to the soccer place.

Wednesday night we headed down to the south stake center with all of the missionaries in Phnom Penh and watched Meet the Mormons! Man isn't that movie the greatest? We loved it. A lot of the younger missionaries had seen it before, but the rest of us had only ever been able to watch the preview of it on It was a great movie, I think it was really well made and helped to show how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are normal people. I'm still amazed at how some people in America still have such negative views of our church. I think this movie must have helped a lot to show people that we aren't some obscure cult-of-personality around Joseph Smith, but we are real people who love the gospel of Jesus Christ and have found the deepest most blissful happiness by following those teachings of our Savior.

On Tuesday we had a stake party for the few people in our stake who actually didn't go to province for Khmae new year. It was fun. We met the friend of a member there who really wants to learn! We're going to try to meet with him this week! The party was good, even though the music was a bit loud (Khmae's love to blare their music. I heard it comes from the time of the Khmae Krahom, because they used to blare music when they were killing people so you couldn't hear it). It was fun to build relationships with the members and help the recent converts and investigators there feel like they're a part of everything. 

Stake President hitting a Khmae piñata, aka a clay pot on a string

Elder Long and I wore our helmets to hit the piñatas, because we were scared we were going to whack each other.
Talking to Abraham, who came to the party from Pochentong

Elder Osborne is doing great. He's done great with the transition and everything. He's doing super well with the language! This week we've shared several lessons about Elder Oak's talk from conference about the different types of soil in the Parable of the Sower. It's a difficult lesson for a young missionary to help give, just because of the vocabulary that’s required to teach a parable about farming, gardening, and planting, but he was able to participate and taught way well. I was super impressed! 
Streets and places in our area

This past week we had interviews with President Moon on Thursday after weekly planning.  I love having interviews with President. He's just so wise and knowledgeable and loving and Christ-like. I look up to him so much. He has done so much for these two countries. It's going to be really sad for him to go. I hope that wasn't my last interview with him! Hopefully he does a parting interview with all of us before he leaves! It'll be exciting for President Christensen to come in though. Our mission is super super, super young right now, so my groups really going to have to step in and help starting in July!

Well I think maybe yall can detect that I really don't have too much to write about this week. I'm scrounging for things to write about. Yesterday I just remembered that I used to give yall a little info about the Khmae language. It's still way weird to me that yall literally know nothing about Khmae. Khmae has so many independent sounds its ridiculous. It has the largest alphabet in the world for a reason, and that reason is that there is a zillion sounds in Khmae. Most of them don't really exist in English. A lot of them have similar sounds in English but if you use the sound as it is in the English language you sound like a total dork in Khmae. In order to speak Khmae clearly you have to understand the sounds for what they are, you can't just compare them to their similar counterparts in English. I don't know if that makes any sense to y’all at all. 

But here's an example of some sounds in Khmae:
-a lot of the time I use the word " Bong" in my emails. Bong means older sibling, but its not actually a "b" sound at the beginning of it. It’s a . Its like a b, but you pop it. Almost like smacking your lips or something. I don't know how to describe it except it’s just like a b with a pop on it. 

-another sound is . In English you would write that as 'ng'. Like imagine the sound at the end of the word 'sing' or running'. That’s the 'ng' sound. Now try to make that sound be at the beginning of a word instead of just finishing a word with it. Haha it’s pretty hard at first. Now it’s completely natural. 

All the consonants in Khmae are pretty crazy, but where Khmae really starts getting crazy is the vowels. There is no way on this earth I can describe those sounds to you through an email. I'll just tell y’all about them when I get home. They're super cool, but they're what make Khmae hard.

We got emails about instructions for skyping home on Mother's Day! I'll skype y’all that p-day, so it'll be Sunday in America. It'll probably be around 7-8 in the evening when I skype y’all. Is it still daylights savings? What’s the time difference now? Can't wait until the 10th (well the 11th here) to skype with y’all. That was way fun last time!

Ok I love y’all. I still haven't gotten the Easter package yet, but hopefully it will be there when I go today! Have great weeks! Good luck with finals Maddie!

Love Elder Burger

Elder Allred always jokes about how he wants to mess with really new missionaries that the actual word for beef isn't koo, but krabei, which is the word for water buffalo. So he's always joking about water buffalo meat. Well Elder Osborne and I were going around contacting this week and I went past this sign and then immediately sceeched to a sudden stop when I realized that I had just read a sign for Water buffalo jerky! Haha pretty funny. I didn't realize they actually ate it. I have yet to try it though. I'll let you know if I try it this week.

Monday, April 13, 2015

For the third time . . . Happy New Year!

The members made the missionaries do a potato sack race at the ward Khmae New Year party. I came in third.

It’s officially Khmae New Year!!! Well, it is tomorrow at least. But yeah! សួស្ដីឆ្នាំថ្មី! Super exciting. Sort of. It’s also kind of a nightmare because Phnom Penh is once again a ghost town. It hasn't completely reached Pchum Ben levels yet (remember that?) but it will be tomorrow. If people haven't already gone to srok, they will be going tomorrow. So this week is going to be really rough on the lessons. This last week we were still able to get a large amount of work done, like a lot more work than I was expecting. Looks like people in our area all decided to go to srok today.

General Conference this weekend helped with the lack of things to do. And boy oh boy, wasn't General Conference THE GREATEST?!! Wow so many powerful talks. I won't bore all of y'all with every single point I liked from general conference but there were a ton! A thing I liked which I did this conference was that I wasn't taking notes like I would take notes for a college class or something. I wasn't writing down what they were saying, I was writing down what I was feeling. Impressions that came to my mind, people I should visit, introspective questions I felt like I needed to ask myself more often. I felt like it helped me get even more out of conference. I mean I'm going to get a perfect manuscript of conference sent to me in like a month. Why would I need to write down their words verbatim? But something I get to do only once is watch it all the way through and listen to the Spirit as I received revelation for myself, my district, my companion, and the people I teach. Such a cool experience.

I think the quote that touched me the most was something that Elder Pearson of the Seventy said. When he was called to go and preside over the Washington Tacoma mission he had to go to the chair and CEO of his company and resign from his job. They were pretty forward in telling him that he was being a fool. They wanted to know why he hadn't told them this decision earlier. They demanded that he tell them when he made this decision to go and serve the Lord. He responded, "“I made this decision as a 19-year-old boy, when I made sacred covenants with God in the temple to follow the Savior. I’ve built my entire life on those covenants, and I fully intend to keep them now.” Wow. His words are my words. Those covenants I made in the temple over a year ago now still guide my life every day. I try to make my entire life and all of my decisions revolve around those covenants, in addition to the sacred oath and covenant of the priesthood that I have also made. Through the making and keeping sacred covenants I know that I will have eternal joy. And the best part is that I still have more sacred covenants that I will have the opportunity to make in the coming years! I love the temple and the peace it brings to my heart, even though for these two years I don't have the opportunity of attending the temple. Watching President Monson announce the Thailand Bangkok Temple was a moment of pure joy for us all. It’s amazing to see the work rolling forth here.

This next week is going to be a lot harder than last week. No one is going to be here. The worst part is that its not just like there's no one to teach, but there's no one to contact either! There’s just flat out nobody! Elder Osborne and I are planning on trying and finding a lot of the CBR's (convert baptismal records) that the sisters gave to us when the sisters were pulled from the area. We'll try and find their houses just based off the maps, which will be tough, because asking neighbors for information is the most useful tool in finding lost CBR's. Also on Wednesday President Moon has instituted a deep cleaning day as well as a CBR updating day. So we'll do that all day all the way up till 5 o'clock when, wait for it, we'll be going to the south stake center to watch "Meet the Mormons"!!! YAAAAAA! When the zone leaders called me to tell me that I literally stood up and did a kung fu kick. The trailer for Meet the Mormons came out when I was in my training and I remember me and Elder Johnson watching it and being like "Wow that is so cool! Maybe President will show it to us at Christmas time or something." That never happened. But now we finally get to watch it! I'm so excited! 

Yesterday Elder Osborne and I had the coolest lesson. We've been teaching the two sons of this recent convert, Bong Sokhaa, for a couple of months now. Her husband has basically avoided us and hasn't really been friendly at all. But on Thursday Elder Osborne and I ran into Bong Sokhaa walking back from the market and we talked to her and she said that her husband actually wanted to start learning too. That was out of nowhere! So we excitedly made an appointment on Sunday right after the afternoon session of General Conference. We went over and even though the vast majority of the time we teach the lessons in the order suggested in Preach my Gospel, in some circumstances we feel prompted to share the lessons in a different order. This time the Spirit really prompted us that the message this family needed to hear together was the Plan of Salvation. It was an amazing question. The husband was completely different. He was pleasant, attentive, and he asked great questions. We had also felt prompted to share Alma 40:23 about the Resurrection.

The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.  Alma 40:23

We thought it would give them all hope, since Bong Sokhaa only has one arm. It talks about how we will all have perfect bodies, because of the mercy and grace and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. What an incredible blessing that knowledge is! I love how Preach My Gospel lays out the Atonement. First we talk about the incredible victory over death. This is a free gift for all, both wicked both righteous. Afterwards we talk about how even though we will all live again, what we really want is to live again with God. This requires us to be cleansed from our sin as well. Christ suffered for our sins and overcame this obstacle for us as well, and he has set the conditions of His Gospel (faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) to help us be cleansed from our sins, mistakes, pains, and sicknesses. I know that only in and through the merits of Christ can we be cleansed from sin.

I also loved what Elder Renlund of the Seventy shared at conference. He quoted Nelson Mandela that "a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying". I know that we all fall each and every day. That’s life. We're mortal. But we must keep trying and become a little bit more like Christ, each and every day, through the strengthening and enabling power of His Atonement. I love what President Uchtdorf has said: "Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward." I know that this is so true!

So as we all celebrate this Khmae New Year (because I know how big of a holiday it is over in America) let's just remember that its part of life to fall. But that doesn't mean we get down on ourselves. It means we get back up, keep trying, and become more like the Savior a little bit at a time. I love Jesus Christ. I know He is my Savior and I know that I am His representative. What an honor to hold that title for two years! I love my mission and I love the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which can be found in its complete fullness in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's all true!

Love y’all!

Love Elder Burger

After English class one night

Spaghetti dinner on thursday.
e and Me and elder osborne drinking some ទឹកអំពៅ aka sugarcane juice during a blazing hot day. He actually didn't like it, I don't know how. That's like saying you don't like capri-sun or chocolate milk shakes. Sheer heresy . . .
Elder Osborne backing it up out of an alley after a lesson

From a Mexican restaurant near the mission home. Note the Hill country sandwich and the San Antonio, as well.