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. 

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