Monday, May 4, 2015

2 Gone's and a Chewa!

More biking through flooded streets while simultaneously talking on the phone to try and confirm appointments.  Classic.  Meanwhile there's a random Lexus in front of me.

SOOO Transfers calls were last night! AND GUESS WHAT?!! I'm going to be staying here in Stung Mean Chey second ward for... MY FIFTH STRAIGHT TRANSFER!!!!! I'll get to finish training Elder Osborne and I get to postpone saying goodbye to this wonderful area for another 6 weeks! That's crazy! I came to Stung Mean Chey a week before Thanksgiving! Now I'll be here until past my 20th birthday! Haha I've been here long enough to have two trainees, or កូន (gone {rhymes with bone}) or children, and also had an additional transfer with the legendary Kim Meng Chewa! Wow! I was so excited to get that call last night! 

This week was so awesome. It was a very successful week with the people in our area. We were able to get a lot done and things just seemed to always work out. We got 12 member presents! That was way cool. We also got 26 lessons, which is the most we've gotten since we split the area. We're picking up lots of new investigators and we've got 4 baptisms lined up in the coming weeks, including Srei Niat's this Saturday!! Yay! So excited!!

Here's a cool interesting tidbit from this week: we were doing service for this one member, helping stuff curry powder into little bags to sell at the market. He was telling us about an old job he had after the Khmae Krahom were overthrown. He was working in the jungles out in western Cambodia in the mountains. His job was to go with a group of guys into the jungles for weeks and weeks at a time in order to find plants to make expensive European perfumes. So they would go out into the wild and cut these plants (I picture like that scene from Willy wonka where he goes out into the jungle looking for those new candy flavors and he finds the oompa loompas. Kind of like that.) He was telling us how they would sleep above the ground so that the snakes and floods wouldn't get to them and how in the jungle the trees are wayyy high, and the foliage at the top is so dense that the sky and sun are completely blackened so that you can't see anything. He said that several times a tiger would come out across their path and they would just stop and have a stare down with the tiger. Its whiskers would be quivering and then after that, as long as you don't move, the tiger would just go back into the brush. So he said that tigers weren't the thing that they were the most scared of. The thing they were legitimately the most scared of was... wait for it... peacocks. Haha, he told me that and I was like surely not! But he was like "no I'm for real". He said peacocks are insanely aggressive. When they see you they instantly go for you and they try and peck out your eyes and throat with their beaks. He said their beaks were way long and razor sharp. So next time any of y’all are going on perfume-ingredient expeditions in the mountain jungles of southwestern Cambodia, make sure to look out for the peacocks, alright?

That building you see in the background is the memorial stupa at the Killing Fields

Well this morning Elder Osborne and I and a few other elders rode out to the Killing Fields, which is actually in our area's boundaries. That was such a sobering experience. It is such a sacred place. It's hot season, so Cambodia is insanely hot right now, but inside I really felt like it was significantly cooler. There was a nice breeze the whole time. It’s totally quiet except for the monk chanting coming from the watt adjacent to the Killing Fields. I think it was one of the most surreal experiences I've had on my mission. It really helped me to understand that much more clearly about what the Khmae people have had to overcome.

A quarter of their population was murdered, and by their own people too! What happened is that Pol Pot, a power-hungry, Chinese-educated man who became obsessed with the dogma of Chairman Mao Tsedong, took over Cambodia in 1975 with this idea that he wanted to start a New World. He wanted to go back to the old Cambodia, the age when Cambodia was the most advanced civilization in the world. He wanted to remove anyone who could be a threat to his new government. This meant killing anyone with any education, any intellectual skills. He went and brainwashed the extremely poor countryside people, telling them that it was the city peoples' fault that their circumstances were so awful. He promised them steady jobs and safety if they would join with his cause. So they went and started killing everyone. Anyone who was educated was taken and murdered, as well as anyone who looked educated. If you had glasses, had soft hands, knew another language, went to college, graduated high school, etc. you were taken and murdered. 2-3 million people were murdered by Pol Pot. That’s one in every 4 Cambodians. They were taken to places like the Killing Fields.

Skulls inside the memorial stupa at the killing fields. This isn't even a beginning to the number of people slaughtered there

The Killing Fields that I went to this morning, the most famous one, had 20,000 people murdered there alone. They were killed in the most savage ways. None of them were shot; bullets were too expensive. They would all be taken to the edge of a pit, made to kneel done at the edge, and then they would be hacked to pieces by the tools that the killers were most familiar with: hoes and axes, and sickles and crowbars and machetes. You know the bark on palm trees? How it’s got that kind of leaf like things that fold off it, which has the serrated edges? Those were used to slit peoples throats. The worst part is that this was all done in secret, kind of like the Holocaust. The Khmae Kroham would hang speakers in the trees and blare revolutionary music as loud as the speakers could go so that farmers in the vicinity couldn't hear the screams of the thousands of people being murdered. There are so many more details I could tell but I won't. Some people probably don't want to hear them. It’s incredibly heart wrenching and unimaginable that any human being could do things like that to other human beings, especially their own people! So I'll spare y’all the rest of the details I learned. They're very extreme.

I encourage y’all to go and learn about it online though on your own. It really opens our eyes to how resilient of a people the Khmae people really are. I love them with all my heart. They are my life right now. How grateful I am for a Lord and Savior who lives! He knows me, and better yet He knows the Khmae people, every single one of them. All that is wrong and unfair about this life will be made right. All our hurts and pains and sadness can be washed away through His glorious and infinite Atonement. Nothing can help the Khmae people truly and completely overcome their troubles except for the atoning sacrifice of our Redeemer Jesus Christ. I love Him so much, and I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity He has given me to be His servant and representative for two years! What a privilege!

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" - Psalms 46:1

I know that God isn't just an idea or a force or an incomprehensible being who is indifferent to our cares and struggles. God is a real Being, who truly knows and loves each and everyone of us. He isn't just a mystic wind on the horizon, but He is our Father, who will comfort and strengthen us. He isn't indifferent, but He truly wants nothing more than to help us return to live in His presence. I testify that every single one of us has infinite worth and value in His eyes. We can never lose that value! It doesn't matter what we do! We will always be loved by Him. That's why He gives us commandments. Because He loves us that much. He knows that best way to live, and we can show our love for Him if we will follow Him and the example of His Beloved Son."

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-38

I love y’all so much! I can't wait to talk to y’all next week! Be ready Sunday night!

Love Elder Burger

Where two of our investigators live. There's a lot of places like this in Phnom Penh. It's basically a pavilion which has a bunch of plywood booths or shacks underneath it, but they aren't really shacks because the booths themselves don't have roofs at all. They're all open under the pavilion. Pretty sketchy. I took a picture with the flash and without the flash to show you what it really looks like 

ឆាគ្រឿងនឹងឆាត្រកួន។ឆ្ងាញ់ណាស់!​​ (Chaa kruang and chaa trakuan. Super delicious!)
Elder Allred yesterday evening. His lip just started swelling up in the middle of a lesson for no apparent reason. Haha welcome to the lives of Cambodian missionaries: random rashes, bug bites, swellings, and bumps that seem to come from no where

Biking over to the Killing Fields this morning. Some of the views on our ride. The Killing Fields is in our area's boundaries (Stung Mean Chey second ward). Back when I actually proselyted on the south side of the area with Elder Kim we would come down close to it but we never actually taught anyone this far down

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