Monday, December 7, 2015

I Now Live in the Village of Prey Cho!!

Me and Elder Smith. Everyone says we look like brothers. Everyone. Haha, Khmaes...

Hey! It's been a while! Lots and lots have happened since I last emailed y’all.

Monday and Tuesday was a wild rush to get logistics put together for the three-day combined MLC/Khet Leadership Meeting/Transfers/21 missionaries arriving in 2 waves/10 missionaries dying/all that other good stuff. Monday night we had Elder Elieson's new companion come in so he could see how a transfer week works, and guess who it is? Elder Christensen from our group! He's going to kill it with Elder Elieson, those two are living legends at the language, and their knowledge of Preach My Gospel and and the scriptures and how to be a good missionary blows my mind. Can't wait to see them again at zone conferences.

With Elder Elieson Thursday morning right before transferring. Learned so much from this guy, about missionary work, the language, everything.. Bummer to say goodbye

Elder Elieson going hard on agendas

Wednesday was way fun with MLC and the khet leadership meeting. Both Tuesday and Wednesday night we had tons and tons of missionaries staying at our house. I think we had 15 plus missionaries both nights. Super crowded. And with MLC/khet leadership/logistics/meetings with President/going to pick up the new missionaries from the MTC on Wednesday night, I had like no time to pack! But it's ok, it all worked out.

Much of my life for the last while has consisted of typing up itineraries. I love it though! Didn't know I could love logistics, but I definitely learned to! Fun trying to thinking of all the scenarios

Thursday morning I shipped out. It was weird saying goodbye to President and Sister Christensen though. I'm going to miss working with them every day. They're so fun and I learned so much about the gospel and about leadership from both of them. So I hopped in the van (it was weird being just a passenger in the van instead of having to be the cat-herder, trying to get everyone into the van on time so we could get people to the bus station.) Then we got taken to the bus station, and I stepped on a Cambodian bus for the first time! Off to... Prey Cho, in Kampong Cham province!

Prey Cho for ya 
Prey Cho for ya

If it's not ricefields or the national highway, we just ride through narrow country lanes like this
So for those of you who feel bad, because you've never heard of Prey Cho, don't feel bad, because most Cambodians have never ever heard of Prey Cho either. It's this little farming community off the side of the road to Kampong Cham. It doesn't even have a town, it literally isn't anything, haha. The way Elder Smith put it is that Prey Cho has got to be the most overlooked place on the planet Earth. Haha, there's nothing really there to set it apart from anywhere else on the road to Kampong Cham. Maybe you're wondering, why in the world is the church there? Well because about 6 years ago this man named Puu Dee was baptized and became one of the most active members in one of the Kampong Cham branches, even though he had to ride about 45 minutes to get to church (that's how far away it is by moto or car). He kept spreading the gospel to his friends and neighbors. He's one of those guys who just tells everyone about it. They all started joining to the point that about 1.5  years ago, right before I entered the MTC, President Moon decided to establish a group out there. So that's where I am! We actually don't even live in Prey Cho, we live in this village called Kvet Thom. That's what our area is, just a cluster of different farming villages that we ride out to.

Our little church building. Doesn't even have a church sign on it. It's just a little building surrounded by overgrown vegetation. That blue sign you see is for English class.

Right now is the middle of harvesting season so everyone is harvesting rice everyday. Everyone has told me this whole last week as I was preparing to leave out to Prey Cho that it is the prettiest area in the whole mission. I believed them, but I had yet to see it, just because the only part of Prey Cho I've ever seen is the national road that goes right through the middle of it, but even that part is beautiful. The whole road is lined with these white-barked trees and you can see rice fields on either side as you ride down it. But even prettier than that is if you just go down the road, and go under one of the tons of wat archways, and ride for like 50 meters and all of a sudden you're just on a raised dirt road surrounded by rice fields and palm trees literally till you cut the tail of your eye (that's how you say, “as far as you can see" in Khmae). It’s insane. And off in the distance you can see like a bunch of trees or jungle looking stuff past the rice fields, with some stilted houses in it, and you ride to it and that’s where an investigator or a member lives! That's how our whole area looks! It’s insane! It's a pretty big adjustment going from the most urban area in the mission to the most rural for sure, but I'm loving it!

So as you could expect in a village like Kvet Thom, there’s not much to go by in terms of nice housing, haha. We live in this house in the middle of a member's rice mill/pig farm/chicken coops. The house is small, but very clean. That's good, because the last time I went to the Prey Cho house, about 5 months ago for President to do interviews with the missionaries there, it was way gross. Out here in the boonies there’s no water pressure, so we don't have a shower. Or a toilet. In our bathroom we've just got a squatter, a basin that fills with water, and 2 buckets, one to clean yourself with and one to shower with (don't mix them up!) It's a pretty grand life. I've sent pics of this house before, way back when. Remember when I took those pictures with the pigs like 5 months ago? That's my house!

Our bathroom ;)
The colored bucket system isn't going to work if we get a colorblind elder transferred here...
There are the most wonderful members in the Prey Cho group. Puu Dee is our group president, and he and his wife and 3 kids are just about the most Christ-like family you could find anywhere. They are super loving with each other and are always smiling. Puu Dee is actually like the most well-known person in all these farming villages, because he's a traveling doctor, so every always knows who Kruu Puu Dee is when you ask them. It's way cool. All the active members here are way faithful, even though they've all been members for less than 2 years (since that’s how long missionaries have been out there).

Since Prey Cho is such an isolated community, people freak out when we speak Khmae. They literally are in disbelief. It's like that in the city too, but out here it’s even more exaggerated. Haha, their accents out here are hilarious. Kampong Cham's accent is even worse than Phnom Penh's. They all speak like country bumpkins. I love it, hahaha

So yeah, we're emailing y’all from Kampong Cham right now, since Prey Cho has no internet at all. This is the fourth time in five days we have had to hitchhike to Kampong Cham. Thursday was transfers, so I met Elder Smith in KC, then we headed out, Saturday was Zone Training Meeting in Kampong Cham, Sunday was church in KC (Every fast Sunday our group meets with the branch whose jurisdiction we're technically under which is KC 3rd. It's way fun because the KC 3rd elders are our zone leaders who are Elder Paramore and Elder Uhi! We have the coolest district ever), and then today we are emailing here in KC, and then we'll have district meeting this evening as well, just so we don't have to make the trip again tomorrow. It's a forty-five minute van ride from Prey Cho to KC, and costs 5,000 rial one way (a little over a dollar). Pretty interesting hitchhiking to church, haha.

Bus stop on the way to Kampong Cham featuring: deep fried tarantula!

My companion is Elder Smith. He's the coolest! He just finished training with Elder Brewer. Pretty funny that when Elder Brewer left Chaktomuk he went with my kid, and when I left I went with his. Elder Smith is from Eagle, Idaho and loves to work. He's a fearless contactor too! I love it! He'll just walk up to a huge group of people and invite all of them to learn about Christ.

People out here in the khets are all way inviting, even more so than in the city! Everyone always invites us to come and sit with them on their kre (a wooden bed) underneath their stilt houses. 

I love Cambodians so much. Moroni 7 has come to have such a deeper meaning to me now, because on my mission God has truly blessed me with at least a taste of what true love feels like for your fellowmen. I hope I can help this group progress, to continue establishing the kingdom of God in every clime, even in some quiet farming villages in Cambodia.

I love my mission.

Love Elder Burger

Taking selfies while making transfer calls

We were taking timed selfies (photo 1) then President walked in on us haha (photo 2) 

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