Monday, April 18, 2016

Friends, food and testimony

Me and my friend Puu Mongkol

YES KHMAE NEW YEAR IS OVER!!! Oh thank goodness. To be completely honest, it's the worst. But now people have returned back to Phnom Penh, it is past and all is well. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

The events that President scheduled made it a little better. Tuesday was cleaning day, but we cleaned our apartment real fast so we got back out on the streets proselyting for the last day that we could before Khmae New Year hit in all its glory on Wednesday. 
Wednesday we had a wonderful zone conference with President and Sister Christensen. It was awesome. Focused a lot on how we can better use the Book of Mormon.

On Wednesday Elder Khiev and I also got a new companion! We're now in a threesome. Our new companion is Elder ទ្រី (kinda like tree, but roll the r). He's transferring from Prey Cho! It's been a blast so far serving as a threesome. It's not quite as difficult and awkward as I thought it would be. Threesomes have always seemed like it would be so much harder to proselyte with, but it hasn't been bad. We’re always laughing and having a good time. A sense of humor is a good thing to have in Tuol Kouk.

Thursday we had a city-wide lunch at the Tonle Bassac buffet. Chowed down for a couple hours. It's so fun chatting with everyone about how their areas are going and how life is going for them. Always reassuring to know that we're all going through the same experiences and can completely empathize with each other. We get each other's jokes and stories. It's going to be terrible going back home not being surrounded by people who can perfectly understand what my mission was like. Words can't properly describe what it’s like to serve a mission.


President & Sister Christensen at the buffet lunch

This last week we got two more new investigators! We're finding people, slowly but surely. The trick in Tuol Kouk is to get them to progress. Khmae New Year was a big big stumbling block, because everyone drops off the face of the map for a week. So we'll see how our investigators are doing this week. What's hard about getting people to progress in Tuol Kouk is that almost all our investigators are guards, and guards have the most insane work schedules, and they change work locations all the time. We had a cool experience with this guard named Saran the other day though. Elder Khiev and I had contacted him before Khmae New Year. He said he'd still be in Phnom Penh guarding and so we asked if we could come back Wednesday night and teach him about Jesus Christ. He said sure. So we went back, and at this point we had Elder Try with us too, and we sat down with him, and almost immediately he laid out his need right in front of us! It's not always that easy to see what people's needs are. He said "I read that pamphlet you gave me. As I looked at the pictures of happy families I started shedding tears. I just separated from my wife 3 months ago. I've been wondering what I can do to help bring my family back together." We were pretty blown away. That's as obvious of a need as any. So we taught and testified of the reality of eternal families, and our Father's plan to help our families find happiness. We've taught him twice now. We're going back tonight, although it may be harder to meet with him now that Khmae New Year is over and he is back on active guarding duty.

Yesterday I had such a cool miracle happen! It was 10:30am and we were contacting for a couple hours before lunch. I felt like turning left down one street and we did and we see a guy sitting on his moto about 50 meters away and we bike over to him and as we get close he takes off his sunglasses and says "Elder Burger! Do you remember me?!" I instantly saw that it was Bot, a less-active guy from Pochentong whom I used to go and teach with Elder Johnson all the time in my training! It was so neat to run into him. He's doing good now, he's kinda sorta dating a returned sister missionary who served in England who is in his ward.

Me and my friend Bot

I don't know if y’all remember a couple weeks ago me meeting Puu Mongkol, an investigator from my training. But I kid you not, as I was still talking to Bot, I thought "Man, what if I met Puu Mongkol again right now? Haha, that'd be crazy." I don't know why I thought that, but seriously, not even 30 seconds after I had that thought, a man comes pedaling by on a teeny little bike. It was Puu Mongkol!!! I was still talking with Bot! We started talking with Puu Mongkol as well. Oh my word, miracles happen so often in the mission! So many tender mercies occur, which sometimes don't seem to have any great lasting significance, but are just tender reminders from Heavenly Father that He lives and that He is always lovingly aware of me.

It was really weird at zone conference, because President had the finishing missionaries get up and bare their testimonies. I've watched people do that my whole mission, and have always loved that part of zone conferences. It was really odd to be on the other side. It still hasn't sunk in that my mission will end, even though people constantly tell me it will. President had called the night before and asked me to bear my testimony on how I came to know that Book of Mormon was true. That's something that I've been thinking a lot about this last week. I really think I began to believe in the Book of Mormon as a little kid, dressing up for Family home Evening and acting out the stories. But I remember so clearly when I was nine, I wanted to know if it was true. I decided I wanted to read the Book of Mormon from start to finish. So I did. I remember the night I finished it. I got down on my knees at the base of my bunkbed and I asked, with the innocence of a 9 year old, "Is this really true?" I remember so vividly the feeling of peace and warmth that instantly washed over me. It filled my whole body. I remember that feeling so clearly that I tear up almost every time I recall it, and I feel it again and again every time I study from the scriptures. I remember I ended my prayer and got up from my knees and ran to Mom and Dad and said "I prayed! I know the Book of Mormon is true!". Then I ran back to my room. As I entered back in I remember Maddie getting up from her bed and asking what the fuss was about. I told "I know the Book of Mormon is true." The next morning I remember Dad took me out for tacos as a reward. To this day I can't exactly remember what sort of tacos I got or what they tasted like, but I do remember what the Holy Ghost felt like, as He confirmed to me the truthfulness of the book. Since then my entire testimony has always rested on it. I have occasionally had doubts about Joseph Smith and the Church and even if God really is out there, but I have never doubted the Book of Mormon. Every doubt I've ever had just bounces off it. Because I know the Book of Mormon is true I know that all I have been taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true too. That brings real peace.

I love y’all!

Love Elder Burger

Is this what y'alls Elders' quorum meeting whiteboard looked like after 3rd hour last week?
The view outside the cultural hall windows at the North Stake Center

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