Monday, January 18, 2016

Two Years Since I Opened My Call Letter

Hello! Had a great week. This Thursday was transfers, but we had to go up to Kampong Cham on Wednesday afternoon so Elder Smith could catch a bus down to Phnom Penh. We didn't know that till Wednesday morning though when we called the zone leaders to get the game plan! So he packed up the rest of the stuff real quick and we were able to only go out for like two hours before we had to head off. So Elder Smith and I sadly parted ways at the KC bus station and then I went on exchange with Elder Hall the rest of the day, because he was waiting for his new companion as well. Then Thursday around noon Elder Walker arrived in KC, and we headed over to the glorious metropolis of Prey Cho! 

Elder Cole Walker is a really great, hardworking missionary. He is in Elder Smith's group, so he's been out for a little over 6 months now. He's from Layton, Utah. He has 2 older siblings, who are twins, a boy and a girl, and they are all serving missions right now! His siblings are both in Latin America. They're all way close in age. They graduated class of 2014, he is class of 2015.  Pretty neat!

So last week as Elder Smith and I were riding back to Kampong Cham we had a monk riding in the car with us. I don't typically have conversations with monks, but this one started talking to us in intelligible English! It was crazy. He said he runs a Buddhist radio station. Not your average monk. The way he started the conversation: "Pardon me sir, can I ask you a question? My mom has diabetes. What do I do to cure her?" Uhhhh... You're talking to the wrong Frenchmen here. We teach people about Jesus Christ!  We enjoyed our ride with him.

Elder Smith and I showed this to a couple members just so that they can see that the Church is more than just 25 people out in the middle of nowhere. I don't know if some of the members know that.

I know Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I have been hoping and praying that Ming Sophal, our recent convert, could have an even clearer understanding of the role and importance of Joseph Smith, and that she could more clearly understand that this is the only true Church. That's such a hard concept to get Cambodians to understand. They know the Church is true, but the connection doesn't always get made that all other churches don't have that same fullness. Ming Sophal occasionally quotes things her former pastor in Phnom Penh said, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I just wondered about how clearly she understood this concept. So Elder Smith and I decided that next time we would go back and teach about the restoration and first vision and the resultant blessings. At the end I felt like it still hadn't sunk into her heart. We committed her to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. We felt there might be some messages in there that would speak to her. We never directly expressed the concern to her, just because calling out her former religion to her face seemed a little bit untactful in this particular situation. But we felt that by teaching the doctrine and praying for her, Heavenly Father would take care of the situation. When Elder Walker and I went over to teach her on Saturday morning, without us even having to ask her, right after we said the opening prayer she said "Elder I read the section you gave me to read. I know it’s true. Joseph Smith was a prophet and he helped restore this church that we have. You know what else? I was thinking this past week about that church I used to go to in Phnom Penh. They didn't encourage me to think about, pray for, and learn about my ancestors like y’all have. That point shows me that this is the true church. And also the Word of Wisdom does as well. I know that God wants us to have good health."

I don't know if I explained that very well, but it really was such a wonderful answer to prayer. I know that Heavenly Father knows all of His children. Not only does He just know us, but He loves us too, and He wants to help us all to return to live with Him. It’s so humbling to know that Heavenly Father will listen to my prayers. Sometimes I feel like such a weak servant of Him. I try my hardest, but sometimes my efforts seem so pathetic to me. But He hears me. And He hears the people I teach. He wants them to learn about Him even more than I do. A million times more. He wants my area to progress and for me and my companion to be successful more than I do as well. He wants me to be here; and I can't think of anything better than being an instrument in His hands, to help guide some other soul to repentance. As I see that happen, then memories come rushing back, of all the times Heavenly Father has guided me to repentance, and how He continues to do so. I love Him and am so grateful that He has blessed me with this opportunity to serve a mission and be able to express at least a part of the gratitude I have towards Him. But even more than the mission, I'm grateful for the covenants He allowed me to make with Him in the temple. Those have strengthened me in more ways than I could possible recognize. 

Saturday night, as I was kneeling down about to say my nightly prayer, I was blown away, because I realized that that day had marked two years from the day I opened my mission call, which told me that the Lord would have me preach the gospel to the Cambodian people. Those same feelings of shock and wonder that I had had when I opened my call 2 years ago washed over me again. Opening my mission call was such a sacred experience. The moment I saw "You are assigned to labor in the Cambodia Phnom Penh mission", the deepest feeling of peace immediately came and I suddenly had the most profound feeling that this call had been divinely made by my Heavenly Father.

I love this work and these sacred years in the service of God. Just like Elder Holland says: "The mission is as close to real life as it gets!"

Love Elder Burger

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