Saturday, August 15, 2015

Preparing for an Apostle

One of the best things I've learned in my mission is the importance of following up. Several times in the last few months I've invited those of you who may read these boring letters I write who haven't yet had the opportunity to read the Book of Mormon to go ahead and do so. If y’all haven't yet done so that’s ok. Why not quit putting it off and read in it today? I promise you have nothing to lose (and absolutely everything to gain) by doing so! Not knowing where to find one is an excuse that I will easily counter by putting this link here:  So please, just order a copy (ឥតគិតថ្លៃ) and try reading it for once! Too often people hear about our church, hear about the Book of Mormon and they just say "oh, well that's nice", or even "oh, well that's weird." I would like to put forward that the Book of Mormon is not weird at all, and it’s not even "just nice". It is truth. It is the words of God written by ancient prophets. It was translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God. Those statements may sound very absolute or polarizing or naive to those who haven't read the Book of Mormon. But I promise you that if you will sincerely read the Book of Mormon, than you will know that what I said is true. I'll put a guarantee on that. I challenge all of y’all to read the Book of Mormon and to ask God yourself if it’s true or not. If you can read through it all and sincerely pray and ask God if it’s true or not, and you can still come up to me and say that it isn't true than when I get back to America next year I will take you out and personally buy you a $50 meal at the restaurant of your choosing. There you go. You have my challenge in writing. I will stick to that. So go ahead. Y’all have a little less than a year! Hurry!

Also to follow up, I hope y’all had the opportunity to listen to “Profile of a Prophet” this last week. It really is great. Another talk I heard this week which I would recommend is "The Inconvenient Messiah", given by Elder Holland when he was a mere 42 years old and the president of BYU. That is a powerful talk as well.

Well our trip ended just as good as it started! It was a really fun 5 days. After emailing y’all on Monday I did another exchange with Elder Allred and Elder Jones. A lot of the appointments fell through (which is wont to happen sometimes) but we ended up being able to sit down with this one family who has like 10 little kids (I think some of them were the neighbors' kids). They fed us some rice and some pork which was cooked with lots of គ្រឿង (Cambodian spices) and ប្រហុក (fermented fish paste). It was delicious. We shared a lesson about the sons of Helaman with them. They really seemed to enjoy it. With all members, but especially with recent converts like them, we love just sharing stories out of the Book of Mormon. We've grown up hearing them our whole lives but they've never heard any of them. Some of these people have only heard the name ព្រះយេស៊ូគ្រីស្ទ (Jesus Christ) in passing a few times. So helping them become familiar with these stories really helps strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ.

Members homes in Siem Reap

Tuesday morning President conducted the missionary interviews in Siem Reap and then went to meet with the district president up there to further discuss a council that we had discussed with him last time. I think one of my favorite parts of being in the office has just been to go around with President interpreting for him as he meets with the district presidents. I mean, talk about the inner mechanics of the church! We have to help President explain everything about how to run councils, gathering and distribution of fast offerings, etc... Crazy stuff

Tuesday afternoon President conducted interviews in Battambang and then Elder Eppley and I went on exchange with some Battambang elders. He went with the zone leaders, Elder Quirante and Elder Monson, and I went with Elder Carter (also trained by Elder Johnson!) and Elder Chhouk. We went to go teach these investigators who lived in the straight jungle! It was unreal. In the middle of the jungle is this little bamboo train, which has this little path going alongside it, which we were riding the bikes on. Well since I was getting doped and the path was getting increasingly narrower, to the point where it was just a foot across with dense vegetation on both sides, we had to hop off and just walk. It was crazy being in the jungle like that! We were there in the evening so when we were walking in we could still see pretty decently. I tried to get good photos of it and that time but it just didn't turn out. So we walked 5 more minutes to this investigators' house out there. We had a great lesson with them. Those investigators said that they hadn't had the opportunity to read in the Book of Mormon since the last time they had met. I was grateful that those elders did exactly what Preach My Gospel tells us to do and we threw out our original lesson plan and we just sat there and read out of the Book of Mormon with them. If they aren't reading, they will not be converted to the gospel. I have had many, many powerful lessons with investigators and recent converts where instead of just teaching the original lesson we had planned, we read with them instead because they had failed to do so on their own. That little hand-holding goes so far. When they fall a little, we need reach down and help pick them right back up! After the lesson ended we left to return back home. We saw Elder Carter's bike though and realized that the back tire had gone completely flat during the lesson! So we had to walk all the way out of the jungle in the pitch pitch black of a Cambodian countryside night. Then once we got to the road, Elder Carter and I took turns doping each other back to the elders house. Doping on a flat tire is a real leg workout, for sure.

In the middle of the jungle in Battambang. It was ងងឹតឆឹងហ្មង (void/pitch black)

Wednesday morning we left to return to Phnom Penh. On the way back we made a couple hour stop for President to interview the elders in Posat and to eat as well. Then we got back to Phnom Penh around 4, hopped into the van with the office elders and headed off to the North Stake Center for English class! 

We've got transfer calls going out tomorrow! Mini-transfers! Although this mid-way transfer actually won't be so mini, since we have 9 missionaries who will be dying 3 weeks early so that they can get back in time for the semester. They will die Aug 24th, the day after Elder Holland comes. So there will actually be a decent amount of people changing around in the middle of the transfer! 

Everyone is getting super excited about Elder Holland! T-minus 8 days till we see him!  On Sunday the 24th we will meet in a big ole auditorium with all the members and we will have a devotional with him from 9-11. Then right after that all the missionaries will hop on their bikes or ride in tuk-tuks over to the South Stake Center for lunch and for a brief Mission Devotional with President Christensen. Then at 2:00 Elder Holland is scheduled to arrive at the stake center to do a missionary meeting with all of us! So we get to listen to him twice in one day! It’s been fun putting together all the logistics for missionaries coming down to the city. We've got it all basically worked out now. It'll be crazy, but super fun. We've been listening to a few Elder Holland talks trying to get ourselves ready for the fire! So yeah, if y’all have any free time this week I encourage y’all to go listen to "The Inconvenient Messiah"! 

This next week I'll be emailing on Saturday (like normal). I don't know how much time we'll have though, since we'll be doing a lot of food preparations for the missionary lunch on Sunday. It’s going to be a lot of work to put together fried rice for 130 people!

Well I hope y’all get home safe from Florida! Have a great week dealing with the post-vacation blues!

You can also see how ghostly pale elders' legs become out here

We had to cross this stream a couple different times. (Disclaimer: I'm only not wearing a helmet because Elder Eppley and I forgot to bring them. Normally we all wear helmets, I absolutely pinky promise)

The water was too deep for my bike to get across so I had to lift the bike out

Countryside puppy: The sequel to Slum Puppy a year ago

Playing with some puppies while waiting for an appointment on exchange in Siem Reap 

This cute little girl, whose head is shaved because she just had a huge surgery to remove a face cyst, got lost inside of her own shirt for like 30 seconds haha (probably because she wasn't used to wearing a shirt. Kids under the age of five just run around naked most of the time) 

Playing soccer out at Toul Kok with some Vietnamese members

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