Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Moons are about to die

Well this is the last time I will ever send an email with President Moon as my mission president. It’s such a weird feeling. President and Sister Christensen will be coming in late Tuesday night, and then President and Sister Moon will be leaving late Wednesday night. President Moon will only spend a few short hours orienting President Christensen with mundane logistical things, like which hotels are the best to stay at and which restaurants have good food etc. They won't be discussing the missionaries really at all. Every missionary has a brand new start. It’s awesome for everybody! For the missionaries who have had less than favorable track records, they now have the opportunity to create a new life for themselves in the mission. Everything can be changed around! And for those missionaries who have been giving their all already, well they can't rely off stored credit with the new president! They have to show him and especially the Lord that they can endure to the end! 

My feelings are understandably extremely mixed about President Moon leaving the mission. He and Sister Moon have been like my mom and dad here for the past year. President Moon has provided me so much support and encouragement and advice when things were hard or when I doubted my ability to fulfill my calling and reach my full potential. I don't know if I've ever met anyone wiser or more in-tune to the Spirit than him. Certainly there are people tied with him, but I've never met anyone more Christ-like. He has been such a wonderful leader for a mission that has over 100 million people inside of its boundaries. My interviews with him are moments that I will cherish my whole life. This extra time I've had to spend with him over the last month have been extra special. Making the road trip with him and Sister Moon was such a great experience. Sister Moon truly is the mom of our mission. Being away from home hasn't been nearly as difficult with Sister Moon's caring attitude for every single missionary. I'm excited for them though. They certainly have received so many blessings for their wonderful service over the last few years. Now President and Sister Moon can go home and see their grandkids (of which there is 3 or 4 which President Moon has never seen before) and a new son-in-law as well. They actually have a grandbaby who is supposed to be born tomorrow!

We are all so excited for President and Sister Christensen to come in though. On Wednesday morning at 9 they will come down and meet the office staff and we'll meet and greet for a little bit. I'm excited for that! Then the next day, Thursday, we'll have a "Meet the President" meeting for a few hours for South and East zones. It's not a zone conference, but really just an opportunity for President Christensen to go and out and introduce himself to everyone, and introduce some new ideas and programs he wants to implement into the mission. He'll do interviews afterwards. Friday we'll go and do the same thing for North and Central zones. We won't go and do Meet the President meetings in the khaets for another week after that. Friday and Saturday President will have a lot of meetings with stake and district presidencies and what not. Elder Eppley and I are super interested to see how much President Christensen is going to need us. From what President Moon told us, he needed a ton of help from the assistants when he first came. Showing him where to go, translating for him, helping a ton with transfers, helping him understand kind of how the mission runs. So we'll see. It'll certainly be exciting. We're about to turn up the pace about 1000% here.

I'm getting a lot better driving the van. Learning to drive stick in the middle of a third-world country's capital city is certainly what you would call a "gauntlet". It’s way fun, haha. Who ever thought I would be more scared of riding a van in terrifying traffic than a flimsy bike? Weird how that happens. But I'm getting the hang of it. We're thinking of maybe painting racing flames on the side of our van in the next couple days so that we can transport the Christensen's in style.

On exchange with the East Zone leaders in Kean Svaay

This past week we had the opportunity to go and do exchanges with the zone leaders in South and East zone. On Wednesday we went to South zone. I went with Elder Christensen, who was in my MTC group! It was a blast. We were in Toul Tom Pong, which is the oldest branch in Cambodia. There are some wonderful wonderful members there! One of the people we visited was a man whom I had seen several times at stake conferences and things like that, but I had never officially met him before. He is like 84 years old and missing all his teeth. He's been a member for about 15 years. He is currently a high councilor. He is the cutest old man you've ever seen in your life. I was touched meeting with him. He is one of the most celestial people I've ever met in my life. He lives in this little stilted wooden shack on the edge of a busy Toul Tom Pong road, and on the other side of his house is this open river/sewer. He is bent over from age and walks slowly, but his testimony is so bright! Elder Christensen said he does nothing all day long but read in the scriptures. When we got to his house he was reading in the General Conference Liahona. People like him never cease to amaze me. He isn't in the gospel for the glory or admiration of men. How could he be? He lives in a little wooden shack on the side of a sewer river in Cambodia. But he feasts on the word of God and actively fulfills his calling as a high councilor despite him being 84 years old. There's no shortage of people like that in Cambodia, but just because there’s so many wonderful people like that doesn't mean any one of them is less special. That feeling that I get every time I walk into a shack where a picture of the temple is clearly up on the wall and the scriptures are there laying wide open on the table is a feeling that I will never be able to forget. I've had the privilege of having that sacred feeling many times on my mission, and it almost moves me to tears every time. These people don't follow the gospel because of social pressure or greed or vanity. They don't follow it through doing a mundane routine. People like that follow it simply because they know it’s true, and because they know that they have an infinite eternal potential, bestowed upon them by a loving Heavenly Father who is perfectly aware of them and their goodness, even if seemingly no one else is. That's how I want to live. 

District Meeting - Myers, Eppley, Christensen, Neuberger, Kuon, Jepsen, Morris, LeNguyen, Osborne, Olsen, the Ovesons
On exchange in Tuoltumpung, Elder Christensen pointed out this random building out to me that is advertising volleyball, and their advertisement has a BYU player on it! In the middle of Cambodia! What a small world...

To answer y’alls questions:
Will you pick the Christensens up from the airport?  No. Elder Eppley and I will not be the ones picking up the Christensens from the airport. President and Sister Moon will be doing that.
When do you go back to the provinces?  We go back to the provinces in 2 weeks. It’s not zone conferences, just a couple hour get-to-meet-you sort of thing

When Elder Holland visits do you think you and Elder Eppley will be the primary translators?  Most likely we will not be the principle translators. They'll probably have anative Church translators (like one of the General Conference translators) doing it for him. It'd be a lot better that way. Although, Elder Eppley could totally do it and just be awesome at it. He knows a ton! I would get way too nervous and forget all my Khmae if I had to that, haha

Where did Elder Osborne go? Elder Osborne is in Chomkaamorn. It’s in East zone. It’s actually the area right next to Chaktomuk, so he's real close!

What is the biggest challenge of being in the office? The biggest challenge of being in the office is definitely the lost time just meeting with people face to face and seeing them embrace the gospel. We still have a bit of time to proselyte in the evenings, but it’s hardly anything. Also the language. My language is starting to go downhill. It was easy to tell in the exchanges. It’s not like words or anything, It’s just fluidity. It’s harder to speak fluidly and quickly now.

Thanks for the package that’s in the mail! Love y’all! Hope y’all have a great week!

Love Elder Burger

Here's a Google Maps image of my house.  It says we are 75 meters from the Tuol Sleng prison
MTC group almost all reunited

With Elder Brewer and Elder Osborne on transfer day

The new shirt y'all sent to me, compared to a shirt I've had my whole mission.  You can't really tell in the picture, but the difference is immense.  I've tried to keep them appropriately clean.  I would have to regularly sit down for hours with a bucket of suds and a hard bristled brush in the bathroom in Stung Mean Chey to scrub all that dust out of my clothes.

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