Monday, August 10, 2015

On the road again . . .

Elder Eppley and I were heading out of the office at 5:00 to go teach like normal. Well its rainy season so of course the Pacific ocean is coming straight down out of the sky, but that's completely ordinary and missionaries here don't even give it a second thought. Well we had given away all the operating bikes at the mission home to missionaries who had bike problems, so when we tried to head out on cruddy bikes they broke down when we weren't even 15 feet outside of the mission home. With no bikes and with the office elders having taken the car already we had to head back inside:(  President and Sister Christensen thought it was hilarious and insisted on pictures.

Elder Hugh B. Brown called "The Profile of a Prophet". Y’all should go listen to it right now because: First off, it is one of the single greatest talks ever, and second, Hugh B. Brown just has one of the greatest voices ever. We listened to the audio of it in the office and became obsessed.

So anyway, this past week has been great! We started it off on Tuesday with MLC (Mission Leadership Council). It was fun planning all of that with President Christensen. In the past we have done a lot of training at MLC for the zone leaders and sister training leaders to take back to their zones, but this time President wanted it to really be a council. He really wanted to have some discussions that would generate solutions for some issues in our mission. The main issue which was discussed was recent convert retention and what we can do to increase that number. There were a lot of great ideas and concerns brought to the table by everyone. It was interesting, because beforehand, President and Sister Christensen and the senior sister training leaders and Elder Eppley and I had sat down for a long time brainstorming concerns, questions, and resolutions to insert into the discussion to guide it where we wanted to go. Well the great thing was that the zone leaders and sister training leaders came up with most of them on their own, so they could take ownership for their ideas! It was fun. 

It’s great sitting in there with so many missionaries that I admire and look up to, especially the ones in my group! In 3 out of the 4 zones in Phnom Penh, there is a member of my group who is a zone leader: Elder Elieson in north zone, Elder Christensen in south zone (he's been my zone leader for the past 3 transfers or so), and now Elder Paramore in east zone. The only one we're missing in the city is central zone (the official name for the Vietnamese zone in Phnom Penh). Who knows, maybe Elder Morris will leave the office and go be zone leader there again (that was his assignment before he came into the office). Its so much fun having our whole group in the city. Elder Zierenberg is out in Saen Sok and Elder Le Nguyen is out in Stung Mean Chey as well. So we all see each other all the time. Weird to think that in just 2 weeks, there will only be 2 groups above our group in the mission! 

On Friday morning we had zone training meeting. The zone training meetings this time were really just an extension of MLC, where the zone leaders took the same discussions we had in MLC to the missionaries in their zones so that they could generate ideas specific to the needs of their areas. Elder Eppley and I actually went to the north zone training meeting instead of the south zone one, just so we could be flies on the wall and see what sort of action-plan the north zone came up with. That zone training meeting was I think the best one I've ever gotten to be a part of! The discussion and unity between the members of the zone was amazing, and Elder Long and Elder Elieson are the best zone leaders that you could ask for. The Spirit was there so strong as we discussed! It was cool to be a part of it.

Saturday morning we left out to the khaets! First stop, like always, was Kampong Cham. President was doing interviews at all the missionaries' homes, so we had to show him the way to where they all lived. As he interviews we spend our time stamping bikes which have been purchased since March 2015. We stamp ‘em with a hammer and these metal number stamps. It’s pretty cool. Elder Eppley and I are in charge of all the bikes, and there is a new system where we're slowly trying to eighty-six all the old cruddy bikes which we are all so used to using (and boy, are they old and cruddy) and replace them with nicer, newer bikes. So all the new ones which we purchase or authorize the zone leaders to purchase, we go and stamp them with a numerical tracking code. Many of the bikes in the provinces haven't been stamped yet so that’s what we've been spending a lot of our time doing. 


The sisters house in Kampong Cham is the nicest missionary home I have ever seen

So in Kampong Cham, after going to the three different missionary houses (and after traumatizing Sister Christensen by helping the elders there kill about 10 mice in their house through means of brooms, a basketball, a bucket, a bottle of gasoline and a match), we drove out to Kampong Thom and did exchanges out there! Kampong Thom is very rural. It was fun doing an exchange with Elder Khiev and Lauritzen out there. I just got doped by them while we biked through the mud and pouring rain. Ahhhh, nothing like being a missionary in Cambodia during rainy season. It’s the best, it really is. Rainy season is the best! I forgot to tell y’all that it started. In the last couple weeks Phnom Penh has been seeing some really bad flooding. I wish I didn't have to be in an office so much!


It was raining the entire time we were in Kampong Thom doing exchanges. I've missed the rain so much! Welcome back rainy season.

Sunday morning we attended the Kampong Thom branch's meetings. Their building is just a few months old and way nice inside! What was really cool about this meeting is that Elder Vuut gave his homecoming! I never thought I would be able to attend one of my former companion's homecoming speeches during my mission, let alone in an area that isn't my own, but somehow the fate's aligned and I got to see Elder Vuut's! He did a really good job talking about the experiences on his mission. He'll be a great addition for the Kampong Thom branch.





Sunday afternoon we drove out to Siem Reap and did more exchanges! I went with Elder Allred and Jones in their area! Man, I can't say it enough, missionary work in the khaets is so different than the city. Like we're biking through these rice fields as the sun is setting, up and over brush and dirt trails with vegetation all around, going and rolling up our pants to our knees, throwing our shoes in our baskets, and fording rivers, all to go to members' homes. Haha, it’s a blast. The members out here are wonderful. I love going out with the elders and seeing how there are the most wonderful saints everywhere you go, whether in the dusty apartments of Phnom Penh or some wooden shack in the rice fields of Kampong Thom or Siem Reap.

Today we're spending p-day in Siem Reap, and then doing more exchanges with the elders here tonight. Tomorrow morning President will do the interviews with the missionaries in Siem Reap and then we'll drive up to Battombang and he'll do the missionary interviews there and we'll do exchanges with those elders. Then Wednesday morning we'll drive back to Phnom Penh. Super fun.

President and Sister Christensen just got a brand new car to replace the old Prado. It’s... a new Prado! It’s actually super super nice. Its a 2015 model. Are y’all aware of the stuff cars can do nowadays? Back-seat heaters, tv screens, even a refrigerator in the console! President Christensen has insisted that he drive the whole way for this trip because he says he wants to learn the roads... I think he just doesn't trust a couple 20 year olds with a brand new car. (Come on! We have more experience driving here! haha) It’s cool though because President and Sister Christensen just sit in the front and Elder Eppley and I get to nap in the back! 




So yeah. That's all I got. Ya’ll really should go listen to the Profile of a Prophet when y’all can. It’s like Elder Holland meets Elder Oaks meets the voice of Stephen Douglas (or what I imagine his voice to be).

I love y’all! Hope ya’ll are having a great time in Florida!

Love Elder Burger

Various countryside pics. Its super super pretty right now because its been raining so much so everything is flooded and crazy green



In Skun, a little town in the countryside of Kampung Cham, where there is a group. This is the pig farm right behind the elders' house.


You can't tell in this pic, but these pigs are all easily larger than I am. You can also see how pale I've gotten in the office:(
Piglets

A recent convert in Kampung Thom who looks exactly like Jamie Foxx


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