Saturday, November 14, 2015

ជយោ! Happy Khmae Independence Day!

Google had a special logo for Cambodian Independence Day this last week! Then we found out that it was only used for google.com.kh.  Should've gone worldwide... What a shame

Hello. I named Elder Burger. I come from country America state Texas. I do is missionary for Church of Jesus Christ of (plural indicator) Saint Last Day. I know language Khmae only two three mouthful. I (insert past-tense indicating particle) has experience many (insert adjective indicator) good good week this which I want share with you all each other.

Haha, that’s a little taste of Khmaenglish for y’all. But seriously this was a great week. One of the fastest of my mission. Coming back from our exchange last night, Elder Elieson and I were like "What?! It’s p-day again?! How can that be?!"

This last week on Monday was Khmae Independence day, but the festivities stretched over about three days. It created some horrible traffic situations here around the mission home, within half a kilo of the Royal Palace and Hun Saen's palace and the Independence Monument (which was the epicenter of the festivities). Like on Wednesday we tried to go to English class in Ta Khmao because the elders there had to go and help out in the Bakuu English class (long story). Well Ta Khmao is a town south of Phnom Penh. So we got in the car at 4:30 to go down there. We got stuck in traffic for the next four hours... It was the worst. We didn't get to Ta Khmao. Actually, we didn't get further than a kilo. I think the total round trip on our odometer was 1.5 kilos or something. Cambodian traffic can get so gridlocked it’s insane.

Eventually Elder Elieson and I had enough of it and we just left the office elders on their own in the van (they were driving) and we walked up the log-jammed street contacting. Found some cool people. I talked to a lady who has been a member since 1995, but since then has had to go through a divorce and all of her kids going inactive. She said she struggles with activity herself.

It was such a neat experience street contacting that evening, because it was one of those ones where the inspiration you get isn't for the purpose you think it’s for. Like we were walking down the street and after I finished talking to this one guy I saw this old man squatting on a street corner watching the police futilely trying to sort out the grid lock. I felt that I needed to squat next to him and talk to him, brushed it off, seeing that there was more young men on this street corner and young men are typically more willing to learn, but I instantly got the prompting again and went and squatted with him and started talking with him. Well about thirty seconds into this conversation this woman who was squatting about 5 feet to the left of this man said, 'Well you know, I'm a Christian, I go to that church right down the street." I thought she was talking about a different denomination. I said ' Wow that’s amazing! How long?" then I asked her if she had ever seen missionaries dressed similarly to me biking around everywhere. She said, "of course Elder, which branch are you in?" I was like, “oh haha ok, gotcha.” It’s funny, because the Spirit works like that so often. The man I squatted next to initially lost interest within about that 30 second time frame, but then I got to speak to who the Spirit really wanted me to speak with. I told her we'd love to see her at church again and that if she opened the scriptures again she'd find happiness.

After our conversation I stood up and suddenly the gridlock cleared out of nowhere, Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea status, and the Office Elders in the van came in the middle of the current, like a flash flood down a Utah slot canyon, and Elder Elieson and I ducked and wove and dived through the sliding door of the van to safety. Good times. That night we got home at 8:30... 4 hours in traffic. Ridiculous. Oh well. We got some good contacts, including one where Elder Elieson sticks his head out the window of the van and got a great contact to these well-off guys sitting in the back of a stuck Camry, haha.

Soaking wet in the pouring rain on an exchange last week with Elder Carter in Steung Mean Chey.  Elder Carter is my younger brother.

We had some great exchanges this week as well. Tuesday I went to Cbaar Ompov with Elder Christensen in my group, and his trainee Elder Riches. They're both awesome. Elder Christensen is a living legend and Elder Riches is going to follow in his daddy's footsteps for sure. I didn't realize it, but when we started the exchange Elder Christensen pointed out that this was our fourth exchange together. The first was way back in our training. We've come a long way. Their area is tough, but they're doing everything they can to help it grow. 

On exchange in Cbaar Ompov (Sugarcane Orchard). We taught this little old man, who is way funny and a recent convert.  He insists on taking handshake photos with every missionary who teaches him. He lives in the tiniest little sunken in shack, which is built into  a pit in the ground. His whole neighborhood was recently flooded with 6 inches of water. He also always prays for the Lord to send more sister missionaries to Cbaar Ompov. Haha, what a guy!

I also went on exchange yesterday up in North Zone with Elder Monson and his trainee, Elder Tatton. That night before as we were doing daily planning together, they were like 'Tomorrow we've only got a couple teaching appointments. So we're going to find people like crazy." We set a goal of getting 50 phone numbers of people who wanted to learn more. We contacted all day long, except the very end, when we got a lesson, but we ended up finding many people who wanted to learn more about the gospel, or at least wanted to learn English. It was super fun.

From my other exchange this week in Tuk Thlaa. These elders do this photo journal sort of thing, where they take a picture every day showing what they did. Pretty cool idea.

Wednesday morning we had a meeting for all the missionaries in Phnom Penh. Elder Funk, the area president, Sister Esplin from the Primary General Presidency, and Sister Marriott, from the Young Women's General Presidency were the guests (their spouses came as well). Elder Elieson and I served as the Khmae translators for it. Before the meeting started Sister Marriott comes over to our table and asks "Well what is it y’all are doing?" in her sweet, Southern accent. We told her we would be translating into Cambodian and she was just like " Oh my. Good for y’all that y’all can learn to speak that!". Haha, aww that reaction from people will never get old, probably because all of us missionaries are so surprised ourselves that we know such a random language.

Brother and Sister Marriott

During the meeting Elder Funk spoke very briefly (he comes to Cambodia quite a bit) and then turned the rest of the hour and a half over to Sister Esplin and Sister Marriott. It was a good meeting, full of the Spirit. You can definitely tell Sister Esplin and Marriott are used to teaching Primary children and Young Women, just from kind of how they taught and the methods they used. It's comforting to have such spiritual and capable women and men leading the Church.

Sisters Esplin, Marriott, and Christensen

That verse you sent me Dad is one I copied on the front cover of my journal when I was almost through with the MTC and was amazed at how fast time was flying by. I've thought about it frequently throughout my mission. 

"I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being...wanderers...born in a wilderness."

My mission is really passing away like “it were unto me a dream.” I can't imagine a sweeter dream then serving the people of Cambodia full-time. I love them with all my heart and I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church, established by God himself through a chosen prophet, Joseph Smith. If there are any Latter-day Saints struggling with testimony or the taunting of others or the difficulties of living in a world which seems to only ever go further away from the truth, they should remember that there is a legion of Saints 10,000 miles away who stand shoulder to shoulder with them bearing that same yoke. That's some good company to be in.

Love Elder Burger

Saw this bumper sticker this morning on the way to the phsaar. It's a horribly romanized version of the word 'modern' in Khmae (ទំនើប). I appreciated the shout out though.
This is in a foodcourt beneath a mall in Steung Mean Chey. Hahaha we thought that sign behind us was so funny. In Khmae it says 'Happy Every Day" but the people translating it were so bad at English that they went for "Happy All days" and couldn't even get that right. Haha you can hear the Cambodian accent so hard when you read that sentence. So funny. Maybe just to us though... 

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