Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 26, 2010

It’s been a tough week. Still lots of people this week. But one of our investigators has gone completely down hill. She was supposed to get baptized last week but she's tanked all of a sudden and so we have to keep working with her. Other than that the month of February should be filled with baptisms. We have two in a week or two. And, a family of 4 after that. I love that family. It’s a mom and her 3 sons. They are ages 12, 10, and 7. So it reminds me a ton of Nick, Matthew, and Nathan. It gives me a piece of home every time I go visit them. We have another investigator who should be getting baptized too. But he goes to Branch 7 every week because its closer to his house. So we told him he HAS to go to Branch 12 and he said that he would try to go this week. So we'll see how that goes.

Transfers are this week. Elder Um is leaving. He's been here for a long time. My new companion will be Elder Chiang. He is Khmae. And he is amazing too. I knew him well before. We're going to have fun serving together. He knows a ton of English. So we're going to have to work something out so that we can speak in English at times so I can help him and so we can speak Khmae at times so that he can help me.

I've started learning Khmae in only Khmae. I use the Khmae=Khmae dictionary only. No more Khmae-English for me. So now when I have to translate for the senior couple on Sunday its hard because I don't know words translate to in English. But I can spout off 4 or 5 different words that mean the same thing in Khmae. It’s kind of cool. I'm getting pretty confident in my Khmae speaking. Still don't understand everything. But I absolutely love this language. It’s a bunch of memorizing, reviewing, and memorizing some more. I'm going to learn this language fluently, and it’s completely through God's power. How awesome is that?!

Good luck with guitar lessons. There is someone who plays guitar in our Branch and he knows a lot of American songs so its fun listening to him play when he is hanging out at the church.

January 19, 2010

So President Smedley called a Zone Meeting thing, wasn't a zone conference, and we all got together to discuss our new goals for the new year. Last year, as a mission, we baptized a total of 438 people which is a lot. And President Smedley said that he had prayed a lot about this and that based off all our goals and stuff he decided that our goal this year would be........800 people!!!!!!! Can you believe that? That's almost double the people we did last year. But he said that all it will take is the faith to believe on our part and it will get done. And, one more thing...verbal prayer. So now we're praying in different rooms every night. And I love it. Just being able to pour my soul out every night is just so amazing. So I went home and prayed about this goal forever trying to make sure that we could do that. And we're DEFINITELY going to do that this year. 800 people are going to come unto Christ this year. And it’s going be an amazing experience to do that to.

We're getting it set up right now where the Branch Missionaries will be teaching all the recent converts, so that we can concentrate on getting all of our investigators progressing and baptized. It’s going to be absolutely amazing. We'll be having our third of the month this Sunday. And we have about 11 more that could be baptized in the coming months. So we're well on our way.

And we've already seen amazing miracles. We had a group of 13 people show up saying that they all wanted to learn on Monday. It’s like 4 families. And we met them all on Tuesday. Their only problem is that they are poorer that dirt. And they live right behind the Branch 7/8 building. So getting them all the way to Branch 12 is going to be a nightmare. And while we were talking with them on Monday, a group of 5 guys walked in that wanted to learn. So on Monday the Lord bagged us a total of about 20 new investigators. But none of them have any means of getting to our building. And they're working on rearranging the boundaries. But when they do we'll lose our Branch President because he lives really close to Branch 7 and they have to take in a huge number of other factors. So we'll see how it goes. But right now we're going to be teaching them all.

We've had to start double booking a few hours. So now we tell them they have to show up at 7 because if they show up at 7:30 will be meeting someone else. (And for Khmaes being on time is 30 minutes late). So this will be a good lesson for them.

We have some really good investigators right now. One has read all of 1 Nephi already and it’s only been about a week or 2. She's awesome. Her name is Maalih.

We also have 2 others that just have to get interviewed. So they should be baptized in about a week or 2. Their names are Vicett and Vuthy.

We are teaching a mom and her 3 sons and they are doing awesome. They all understand so much. And the 12 year old reads the Book of Mormon to his mom at night because she doesn't know how to read. So it strengthens them all. I was going to go buy them a picture Book of Mormon, like the one you would always read with the boys (but Khmae of course), so they could practice reading, but it’s been nonstop raining the last two days (VERY STRANGE, rainy season doesn't start until about July or August), and I don't feel like an hour bike ride in the rain to and from the service center.

Work is going well. We had 126 people to church on Sunday. Our Branch goal for the year is to have an average of 140. So we'll be pushing to get that up there.

As for the package, more chocolate or sour patch kids. Also if you could send me the CDs that sing us through the plan of salvation, that would be sweet. Remember those?

January 12, 2010

We got 2 of our investigators baptized. Elder Um baptized one and I could have baptized the other. But, we let her uncle baptize her instead. They're both really awesome. We should have a few more coming up in the next month here too so I'm really excited.

One of our investigators has to get interviewed with the Mission President. I'm kind of nervous for that because I'm going to have to translate. I'm not the greatest translator. My brain either operates in Khmae or in English but it still has a hard time operating in both. She's awesome though. So I have no doubts that she'll pass. We also have two or 3 other people that are legitimately close to getting baptized.

We also have a family of a mom and her 3 boys. The husband died. And they are progressing awesome. We also just got another new investigator that we just gave a baptismal date too. We now have 9 with a baptismal date and about 4 more we're planning on giving this week. So we should somehow manage to stay busy. Haha. One of our best investigators had to go back to the provinces because her mom is sick, really sick. So now we have to wait on her to come back as well.

As of today I've been in the country for a total of 5 months. It’s amazing how time flies. The language is going really well. I'm not letting myself settle on being comfortable with the language. I want to become fluent. So right now I'm really training myself to just constantly study in order to keep the language flowing.

I'm so tired 24/7. Its killer work being a missionary. But my heavens it is worth it.

I'm really worried about the transfer that is coming up in about two weeks. Elder Um has been here for about 6 months already and so it’s about that time for him to go. But I don't want him to. I absolutely love serving with him. I've never had it been so stress free ever. It’s awesome. But whatever happens, the Lord knows its best. So I'm not going to worry about it too much.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 5, 2010

I actually bought the tie from someone who lives in one of the provinces. It is a mom. And she sells them to make money for her two daughters that are getting ready to apply for their missions. It's only 500 bucks for Khmaes to go. Which in their standards is a ton. Its a ton in my standards. Haha.

The work is still going well. We have 3 people getting interviewed for baptism this week. So we should have 3 squeeky clean people by about 12 on Sunday. The work is amazing here. They are getting ready to change the boundaries of all the areas right now though because a lot of the boundaries are pretty wacked out. So I hope that doesn't affect too many of our investigators, because we have some seriously awesome investigators right now. We also have some fence sitters too. So we're really trying to sift through everyone and see who is really ready to keep the standards of God. Their names are Liin, Sotiarit, and Sopeak. All girls. All referalls. We also have Vijett (he's amazing, started crying the other day when we taught about the Atonement and how he could be forgiven for his sins because he said he wants to be forgiven too). Then there is Da. He's good. He wouldn't come to church for awhile because he didn't want to give up going to this thing on Sunday. But he finally came. Vijett helped him a lot in that. They're good friends. Then we have Vutii. He has almost finished 1 Nephi and he's getting ready for his baptisimal interview here soon. We have 11 people committed to baptism right now.We got 10 new investigators this week. Most of them were pretty weak. But 1 or 2 had some mild interest. But they said they were willing to meet us again and we scheduled a time so they can't be that bad. So we'll see how that goes.

I'm learning a ton of Khmae. I started reading the Book of Mormon in Khmae. And every word I don't know I scribble in the margin what it means. I'm hoping that as words are repeated and that as I learn more and more, Khmae there will be less and less words in the margins. Plus I read that one of the best ways to learn a new language is by reading the Book of Mormon in that language. That comes from Preach My Gospel. Which means it comes from the Prophet. Which means it comes from God. So I'm hoping that God will enlighten my mind to learning a lot of Khmae while I read the Book of Mormon.

I've been jump roping everyday except Pday and Sunday. Those are my days off. I study Khmae instead on those days. If you can look up an variations of jump roping for me that'd be cool. I'm coming up with some on my own. I'm hoping it will help me stay in better shape.I'm glad you like the tie and the pictures. I'm gonna start taking a lot more once I get my new camera. And send them back more frequently too. Its just hard to take pictures because we're just so busy all the time. But we'll see.

November 24, 2009

We have a baptism on Sunday. The mom and her 2 daughters. The mom's name is sokli and the daughters are gumseng and gumsua. They are really good. I love that family so much. They've made an incredible change. Before, they didn't know anything about Jesus Christ. They didn't even know who He was. But now it is so awesome hearing them talk about Joseph Smith and the 1st vision. Its absolutely incredible how much they've changed in the last 3 months that we have been teaching them. Right now we have an investigator named hoan and seiha who are both really good. Hoan has read til 2 Nephi chapter 8 in a week and absolutely loves the Book of Mormon. He is 23 and has a wife. His wife isn't very interested right now. But we're going to keep working with her. And hopefully she comes around. Have fun at Thanksgiving tomorrow without me. I'll enjoy some rice for you. Just make sure you enjoy the turkey for me. And tell David hi too. Tell him thanks for setting an example for me by going on a mission, even though I never got to see him much growing up. The weather has been absolutely awesome here this whole month of November. Glorious!!! But all the Cambodians are freezing. Its so funny. Its probably about 75 or 80. Its great. We've gone to eating rice 3 times per day now because its just so much cheaper. But we have thrown a ton of Americann twists on Khmae food. And its really good. Its fun. And in 2 days, I'll have been a missionary for 6 months.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

December 30, 2009

Wow. Christmas went by so fast. It was so much fun. Now it’s back to the work and toil everyday. But that's OK. In this Branch, I'm willing to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It’s so awesome here. I love the language here. It has so much extra meaning to it that you don't find in English. It’s really hard to speak though because you say about twice as many words to do that. But there is just so much deeper meaning to all the words. It’s really sweet. But we have even more investigators now and we're sitting at about 20 something that are legitimately progressing. I'm trying not to brag at all but I just get so excited about the success we're having that it’s hard not too. So I just pull the Ammon excuse that comes from Alma 26. My whole heart and soul is like completely rejuvenated because of the awesomeness of this branch. I'm like overwhelmed with joy 24/7 because of all the people we have that want to learn. And as a result I'm trying to express more gratitude than I ever though imaginable for how spoiled God has made me in the Branch. I honestly cannot describe in words to you right now the state of my soul and just how filled it is with the Spirit right now. It’s phenomenal. And I give the credit all to God because this definitely didn't come from anything that I've ever done.

My New Year's resolution is to jump rope 15 minutes everyday. A good hard solid jump roping should help me lose some of this weight I'm hoping. I'm at 185. When I got here I was at 170. I hope I'm just storing up for a growth spurt here real soon. We played 3 on 3 soccer in the gym today, Americans vs Khmaes. We told them we were going to dominate but they insisted. We beat them. Haha. They are definitely more skilled but Americans had the size advantage and we're way more athletic.

We have gotten 5 new referrals in the last 3 days. So we're somehow trying to squeeze them in too. So now I think we're at about 20 seriously solid investigators that are progressing. The hard part is that they all want to meet at the same times. So I'm looking forward to planning session tomorrow so that we can start double booking time slots if we need to as well. In my prayers I've never given more thanks in my life. I feel so spoiled and unworthy to be in this branch. It’s absolutely ridiculous. So I keep trying to give as much thanks as possible in prayer so that God knows I'm truly grateful for my opportunity to serve here. And in terms of a language and a people, I am spoiled out of my mind already. The members here treat us as if we are angels sent directly from God, like we just came from heaven or something. It’s amazing. And with every bit of language I learn my desire to learn more grows and grows. The meanings behind all the words is just so deep. It’s so cool. They say months 4-5 are really hard because you're fixing all your bad habits in the language that you learned from months 1-3. But everyone has told me that months 6-9 you really start to get dang good at the language. So I am going to start studying the language even harder now trying to get even more fluent than some of the Khmaes. I think I'm completely obsessed with learning the language. And the more I learn the easier it is to teach, to get to know people, and to show them my love. It’s so awesome. I love it. I've never prayed harder for my investigators in my life either. Every night I've just pouring out everything I can thing of that is going to help them and that is going to benefit them in coming unto Christ. It’s so great. I love it here in Branch 12. And as long as it’s here and God is blessing me like this, I will be giving more thanks than I ever thought I could give. I'm doing awesome.

December 23, 2009

Wow. Elder Um is awesome. I was really nervous about getting a Khmae companion. They are very hit and miss on whether they work hard or not. But he is great. I have a hard time keeping up with him. He doesn't ever speak English so I get to speak Khmae 24/7 with him. He's teaching me a ton of Khmae and I've been teaching him a ton of English in return.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I’m super excited. It’s still really hot out though. It doesn’t feel like Christmas at all.

Branch 12 is awesome. We have a ton of investigators. It’s crazy. So many!! And we keep finding them left and right too. So we keep on having a ton of people to teach. The area is a massive bike ride though. It’s WAYYYYYY bigger than branch 1. We get over 100 people to church. Our branch is so big and is having so much growth that we actually have 2 sets of Elders in this branch. Elder Thompson is here too. He was in my group in the MTC. He is really awesome. So it’s pretty sweet getting to see him a lot now.

I'm working on memorizing the Khmae dictionary. Today I learned a word that means to show off by eating a lot of food. I don't know when I'll use it. But if its Khmae, then I'm going to learn it.

All of our investigators are awesome. And we have about 10 recent converts that we have to teach too. So we have the recent converts help teach. And the recent converts all give out a ton of referrals so we're just racking it in right now. I've been praying so hard for all of them to keep progressing like they do. Elder Um is super legit. I absolutely love him to death.

December 15, 2009

Wow this last transfer has gone by so fast. And I'm getting transferred this week. I’m headed up to Branch 12 to serve with Elder Um, my first Khmae companion. From what I've heard he's a really good Elder and he's one of the nicest people you will ever meet. So I'm excited. But he doesn't speak any English so it’s going to be fun speaking Khmae 24/7. I'm actually really nervous because the cultures are different and I don't know what it’s going be like living with a Khmae companion. But I'm really looking forward to it and I hope that I learn a lot of grammar and learn how to understand Khmae speakers a lot better. American Elders just don't speak like Khmaes, no matter how good they are at the language. Branch 12 is in the North part of the city. I'm sad to leave because our branch president is kicking butt right now. But I think it'll be a blast going to a new branch too.

I’ve gained probably about 10 pounds I’m guessing. I’m so fat right now it’s ridiculous. I can eat more rice that anyone in this country.

I'm working like crazy right now. And last week we went to the killing fields. It’s really creepy what went on there.

December 8, 2009

The work is so hard. I've never been more tired. We are like plum out of investigators right now. Yap Mehn! I don't know what to do right now to get more. We have some that are really awesome. But they're all like 20 year old kids. I want to teach some families. But no one is ever interested it seems. We get ditched a lot too. Two weeks ago we went to that famous jail. And right after this we're headed over to the killing fields so I'll let you know how that goes. Hoan is still doing awesome. He is leaps and bounds ahead of any other investigator we have. He's awesome. Then we have Sari. She's really good too. Then we have Piap. She has an awesome desire to learn. But she has no idea about anything. So it’s taking a lot of patience with her. Right now is a ton of finding though. I keep praying for referrals. My area is really hard to go finding in because it’s all businesses and it’s in the touristy part of town so everyone here is just trying to make money off all the white guys that are walking around. So they never pay attention as soon as they find out we're not trying to buy something from them. The work is hard. But it beats having to take finals by a long shot.

Since Elder Fisher is the Zone Leader (and it’s by far the biggest zone in the mission--like 5 districts) so he has to go on a split every week in order to get them all in one transfer. So I go on splits a lot. And I always think I'm absolutely awful at Khame until I hear people from my group or the group who just came in speak. And then I realize I'm leaps and bounds ahead of all of them. Saturday I had a greenie for a day.

There is a family that hadn't come to church since I got here that's now come to church for 2 weeks in a row!!!! Praise the heavens!!! I was so ready to give up on her. I'm so happy now that they have come twice now. And I pray with all my heart they continue to come. The Book of Mormon is really helping them in that. There is another family who is all members except for the dad. And we've really been trying to help them have their own spiritual experiences. We're really pushing for them to find out on their own that the church is true.

It is so hard teaching people here because the culture is so different. They tell us all the time that they feel "too lazy" to follow God's commandments so they'll go break some commandment or they'll say that it’s only possible to follow God's commandments 60% of the time. They think that God's commandments are a joke or you can follow them when you "feel like it". And I don't speak the language well enough to be bold with them and tell them that's not how it is because sometimes I don't understand everything and when I speak my tongue gets twisted up so bad sometimes (this language is so ridiculously hard). Every night I pour out my soul to God to help me learn this language like I know my native tongue of English so that I can teach these people to the best of my abilities. I always think I'm so bad at Khmae but I'm like way ahead of most of the people in my group.

December 2, 2009

Sunday I got to baptize my first person. We baptized Sokli and her two kids Gumseng and Gumsua. They are awesome. I baptized the mom and Elder Fisher baptized the 2 girls. They've really grown a lot. We just committed another investigator to baptism again. His name is Hoan. We tried to do it once but he declined. But he came to the baptism on Sunday and then we committed him again and so this time he said yes. And he's reading like crazy in the Book of Mormon. So now we just have to get his wife to start learning with us. Elder Fisher went on a split with a district leader last week so I got to have a goon for a day (a brand new missionary who just came). That was fun. I had to do all the talking that day because he hasn't been here for very long so he still doesn't know the language very well. I was running completely off the Spirit that day because I was able to understand and say everything I needed to that day. We got 10 lessons taught that day and 5 with members present. We dominated.

The mission president still wants us working with members and inactives. He was just saying that our lessons taught to recent converts and less actives were too high and that we needed to start getting more lessons to some new people out there. So we're still trying to work through the members. It’s just hard. Everyone always says they're busy. Even though most of the time they sit around in the hammocks all day. We only have 2 investigators with a baptismal date now. And we only have about 3 that are progressing after that. We need more.

We just got a new branch president and he is the biggest stud in the world. I think he'll be really good. We have to keep on going finding a lot right now because we're running out of investigators. So I keep praying so hard for referrals. We got 3 yesterday. So hopefully we can contact them and just get them going and get some more investigators on top of those ones too. We taught 44 lessons this week with 15 having a member there to help. And we're going for even more this week. So hopefully it'll keep picking up. I pray to God that he reloads us with some new solid investigators.

November 17, 2009

This last week we got 60 members at church. So it’s starting to go back up again. Language is going pretty well too. Just keep on trying to get better. It’s so hard because of how poor people are here. It’s so bad. I don't have much to say about this week. Tell everyone hi for me. And have a thanksgiving feast for me because I won't be having one. That's for sure.

November 12, 2009

Our Branch President didn't show up to church for the 4th week in a row. So we decided that we were going to go visit him. So we asked the clerk where he lived, and we have come to find out he doesn't even live in our branch. Actually, he lives kind of far from our branch. And his wife just had their kid. And the kid is sick. So we want to go meet him and tell him he has our support, but we can't even go to his house.

We're preparing people for baptism. Only 3 are going to get baptized next Sunday. The holidays through off our schedule so the others are a bit behind. But we'll get them baptized soon as well.

The problem with our branch is there is no leadership, and there isn't even enough leadership to call leadership. So it just continues to suffer. And all the inactive leaderships just hide behind the excuses of being offended. They're all offended. But they're like offended at no one. It’s ridiculous. So they're just offended for no reason. They say they're offended, so you ask them who. But they don't know who. They're just offended. I think it’s an excuse. And all the inactive leaders from the earlier branch presidency don't really like the new ones, so when they come they just bag on the others. It’s really frustrating. I don't know what to do. We spend so much time trying to help the branch leaders that we have no time to spend trying to get new investigators. We haven't gotten new investigators in forever. But when we bring the investigators into church they see that the members aren't good examples so they don't progress as well either. It’s a struggle.

Our family getting baptized on the 22nd is awesome. The mom and 2 girls are just so awesome. They just don't have a consistent ride to and from church. But we always seem to get them there and back. So hopefully God keeps providing in that regard.

Yesterday we had zone conference because the Presiding Bishop came to visit and teach us. So that was cool. It was about the Book of Mormon. I realized I got to get them reading and learning from the Book of Mormon more. So now I'm really going to do that. My companion, the zone leader, Elder Fisher, taught an amazing lesson comparing chapter 59-62 of Alma to the missionaries and the branch. You should read that and see if you can pull out any parallels as well.

November 3, 2009

Halloween was a blast here. I didn't even realize it was Halloween until I was writing in my journal that night. The 1st to the 3rd of November was the Water Festival. We weren't allowed to leave the house on Monday. So we just updated records all day, and then yesterday was Sports Day (everyone just meets together and plays sports all day). Tomorrow is hectic because we have Elders leaving so we have to take an Elder for a day and cover two branches, and Friday is transfers. I'm getting a new companion. I'm really excited because everyone says he's the best missionary ever and he knows a ton of Khmae. So I'm excited to learn from him. I'm going to miss Elder Sweeten. I love him to death. We've gotten to be like best friends in the last few weeks. I'm really grateful he's my trainer. My new companion is Elder Fisher. He's from Texas. And it is going be a blast serving with him. Every Elder who knows him said that they absolutely love the guy. So it should be really fun serving with him.

Please keep praying for me to learn Khmae. I want to get so good at this language. I pray every night to love these people. And slowly but surely I can feel myself loving them more and more. The language barrier creates problems with that. But I figure if I love them with all my heart before I know the language then I'll really love them once I can communicate really well with them.

We have 7 really solid investigators that are supposed to be baptized on the 21st. Please pray for them that they will do that according to plan. And Colby Denton is supposed to be baptized on the 21st too! So let's make the 21st a special day. Haha.

Yes, I did eat a tarantula. It was pretty good. They cook it in some kind of Khmae BBQ sauce. The worst part about it is getting over the fact that the thing is a spider the size of your hand. I recorded it too. So when I send that home you'll be able to see it in action. Haha.

October 28, 2009

All the dogs here hate us. No joke!!! They see white people and immediately freak out. The big black ones are always the scariest. Go figure.

My Khmae has SKY ROCKETED in the last week or so. I don't know what you and the family are saying in your prayers and if God just had extra blessings left over and decided to give them to me, but WOW!!!! I have learned so much Khmae this week. Most of the time I can understand people now. For two months Elder Sweeten was always on me about talking more because I would never talk to anyone. But I committed myself to just talk to people even though I don't know any Khmae, and HOLY HEAVENS I know a TON of Khmae for only having been here for 2 and 1/2 months. As of yesterday I've officially been an Elder for 5 months. CRAZY HUH? But I read the dictionary everyday looking for new words. And I hear the words I read like 50 times that day. It’s crazy. I've learned so many of these stupid ticky tacky words but man it makes a huge difference in understanding. I learned solar eclipse and lunar eclipse the other day and a slang way to say that someone is Chinese. And then I heard them that day! It’s nuts. In about a month or two I'm going to buy this famous yellow Khmae dictionary that is strictly in Khmae. Some Khmae dude spent his whole life writing it and it has every Khmae word and phrase on the planet. So after I'm done reading Jesus the Christ I'm going to buy that dictionary and read it every night before I go to bed.

The Senior Couple Elder baptized the girl. So I still haven't gotten a chance. But I'm hoping my patience will be rewarded by God. We have 7 people who are going to be ready in November to be baptized. So hopefully that will work out and I'll get to baptize at least one of them. Some have more faith that I do. No idea how you're supposed to teach someone like that. But hey, I won't complain.

I started a remembrance book, where I give it to people to write in it. And they put pictures and write about things. It’s really sweet. But you won't be able to read it. It’s in Khmae. Haha.

I'm completely used to eating rice now and actually enjoy eating it for every meal.

It’s really tough teaching people. They see you’re white then assume you’re rich. So when they find out that we don't have money to give them they instantly stop listening. And we get called "Jesus" a lot, which is weird in English. But in Khmae it makes sense, for Buddhists reasons that I don't feel like explaining.

I'm slowly but surely starting to forget English. Sometimes I formulate sentences in English but using Khmae grammar. It’s bad. When I get a Khmae companion and speak Khame every second of everyday, then it'll get really bad. I've gotten to the point where I can almost pull out all the words that I don't know when someone is talking. Unless they talk really fast, or use super deep words like when they talk about the Khmer Rouge, they use a lot of deep words. I can't understand most of it. But I can understand a little, and it’s disgusting. One guy we were talking to last night said that they would feed them people that had been killed. And President Smedley's 1st counselor told us his story...he had watched all his brothers and sisters die, hacked to death. And then it got to him and it was his turn to die. But the guy didn't kill him because the guy's arm was so sore from hacking people to death that he couldn't even lift his arm anymore. So this man got to live. And now he's President Smedley's 1st counselor. His whole family is completely active in the church, we just baptized his son's girlfriend/fiancĂ©e, and they're all getting ready to go to the temple. It makes me think that God's hand was in saving his life. Just a guess though. And Elder Sweeten said that one of his favorite members in his old area, survived through those times too. The guy said that they would take you to a secluded place, and asked you if you could read. If you could, they killed you instantly. If you couldn't, you were thrown in these concentration camps. And they would do it so that people wouldn't know what was going on. But this guy said that for some reason he told them he couldn't read it (even though he really could) and eventually he joined the church and now is one of the strongest members in that area. Makes you wonder how God really influences things. It’s really awesome how merciful God can be, even through the disgusting human nature of men. Living in this country has truly opened my eyes to how great it truly is to be an American (no matter how corrupt that place is getting).

October 21, 2009

Things are a struggle here. Finding does us nothing. Like nothing. When we try to go finding people just tell us that they are Buddhist and to go away. Referrals are what really work. Everyone who has gotten baptized so far for us is referrals. Only 1 of 4 are getting baptized on Sunday. The mom and the 2 daughters can't because she's been at the hospital for the last week or so because she might need heart surgery. So I don't know what we're going to do with them. But our one baptism is awesome. She's the girlfriend of a returned missionary (he's Khmae) and I can definitely say that I love them so much. Especially him because he knows the language is really hard, especially for newer missionaries, because he's trained people and worked with Americans too. So they are both really patient with me and teach a lot of words as well. They actually live in a different branch but the mission president wants us teaching them. And they want us teaching them too. So it all works out.

I keep trying to work really hard. But things are getting redundant. Transfers are coming up here soon because the new group of missionaries are arriving in a few weeks. So I might be hoping for some sort of shift or change because I really need something different right now. But I really want to see the people we've been working with get baptized first. I keep working hard and praying hard but I always feel like I can pray harder and work harder. It’s just my natural drive of being competitive. It can be frustrating at times.

What I really, really, really miss is sports. I'm about to die here because there is nothing in terms of sports. NOTHING!!! It’s driving me nuts. I want to see some football or baseball or something. I know the Yankees are playing the Angels and Dodgers vs. Phillies. How are the Raiders? And how are the Cardinals? Haha. And did the Suns get anyone good out of the draft or in the offseason or anything?

In terms of food, we don't usually eat chicken. It’s always beef or pig. We eat a lot of rice and a lot of noodles too. There is also this stuff called Babah which is really good. It’s this rice porridge stuff. We also have a lot of Curry and other things. We mostly eat chaa, which is fried stuff. They have sweet and sour chaa that is really good, chaa mnoah, which is fried pineapple with beef, that's amazing, and my favorite is lok lak, but that is a little more expensive. But man it is amazing. They cook it in palm sugar. It’s really, really sweet and really, really tasty. We also eat a lot of fried breads and things like that. They have caik cian which is bananas that are dipped in this batter stuff then deep fried. Those are really, really good. They also have fruit shakes they sell on the road too. Those are good as well. Occasionally we see someone selling cotton candy, and for like 12 cents its definitely worth getting. There is also this coconut stuff that is really good here. It’s like shaved ice with coconut in it. It’s amazing. I know the name in Khmae, but couldn't tell you in English. It doesn't translate very well. There is a different type of coconut here. And it actually has flavor. But you'll just have to come visit in two years to have some Khmae food. because anything in America just won't be even close to as good.

October 13, 2009

Things have been rough this week. I got that wart on my hand cut off, or burned off. It was a little of both. So now I have a huge gaping hole in my hand. So I have to consistently go back to the doctor like everyday. And each time it takes like an hour to 2 hours depending which kills a lot of our proselyting time. So that has been really frustrating. And it’s just a burden to have in the first place.

The language is getting better. I've learned so much since I got here. Yesterday was officially two months since I have entered the country. And today is two months of proselyting. But I still have so much more of the language to learn. I can't quite understand everything yet. I need to start praying harder for that again. So if you could please include that in your prayers that would be awesome too. I need help learning this language.

We have 4 baptisms in 2 weeks. And we're working hard to prepare them. And we have 1 person we just committed as well. Plus we have like 4 or 5 more we are planning on giving the commitment to the next lesson or 2 we teach them. So we'll see how that goes as well. Nothing too crazy has happened this week. I just keep trying to keep plugging along. Trying to exercise every day is the worst part. I hate exercising in the morning. And we don't have time at night.

Conference was awesome. I never enjoyed a conference as much as I had enjoyed that one.

I'm into Acts in the New Testament now. It’s pretty good. And I'm also reading Jesus the Christ since I just finished the 4 gospels. I already know what I want for Christmas. Haha. I want to get copies of the NLightN CD's and CD's that we used to listen to in the car. The Book of Mormon stories ones and stuff like that. Remember those? I do. The armor of God song? Those were the best. Haha. Good times.

October 6, 2009

Well we went from having 4 investigators to having about 20 in a week. We pulled in a referral of 2 families that make up about 7 people that are EXTREMELY interested in the gospel. One or two more lessons and the baptismal commitment is coming. Then we got 2 ladies who are already Christian who we just started teaching. And they are amazing. We already taught them the Joseph Smith story and everything and they seemed very receptive to it. The one is going to have her family learn too. We also have a family of a mom and 2 daughters who are getting baptized in 2 weeks. And then we have one more investigator who is getting baptized the week after that.

I've had a huge jump in the last two weeks in terms of my language. I can say and understand way more that I ever could before. I pray so hard to learn this language fluently by the time I get out of here in 2 years. And I pray even harder that I can learn to teach like my companion does. He is so good at teaching. He puts everything so that they can understand it and its amazing how good at teaching he is. We get a long really well and it proves to me that God loves me a lot because while I was in the MTC I prayed so hard for a good trainer. And I got one. Awesome.

In our weekly letters, we wrote to President Smedley and said that we needed help. So he heard about the old Branch President (who has been inactive the last 5 or 6 years). The guy had run off to Siem Riap, and President Smedley drove the 6 hours up there, told him to come back, brought him back, and now the dude is going to help us get all the members back. When he was Branch President, they averaged about 200 people at church every week. Right now we average about 60. And the dude is an absolute stud. When he was Branch President he would go everywhere with the Elders and he always made sure everyone was getting taken care of and had friends and had callings. So now that dude is going to start helping us again. I love President Smedley. He doesn't speak the language, but man, he means business. And he gets work done!!

We meet inside a big house. Other branches have these massive 2 story buildings to meet in. But we just meet in a house that the changed around to be a chapel. It’s cool. We have hymn books with a total of about 45 hymns. Haha. And we have a piano. I've actually been working on my playing skills. Haha.

There are so many members here. But no one knows where they are. I used to take home teaching, mutual, scouts, ward activities, stuff like that for granted. But now I understand why they are so dang important. In one area there are about 500 members. But only 100 go to church. And no one knows where the other 400 are because people move and get lost. One Elder said that they went searching in some lost area and found some members that hadn't seen Elders for 3 years. It’s nuts.

One cool experience I had is that we were preaching the gospel and I just had this huge overwhelming feeling that the gospel is true. And I just remember thinking to myself, "What the heck. Don't tell me that. I already know it’s true. Tell this guy we're teaching that it’s true". But still, what a loving Heavenly Father we have who cares enough about us just to let us know the gospel is true. I've also seen Satan try and work his magic. We were preaching to a group of literally 30 people (these people are about as poor as poor can possibly get), and we're teaching really good and bearing testimony of the restoration and everyone there is really into what we're teaching them about...and then this super hammered guy walks in and causes a ruckus. But the people listening loved us and so we came back and taught them again and about 20 of them want to go to church on Sunday. And we were talking to this one guy who had just got his appendix taken out. And he just so happened to be staying at his mom's house for the night so she could take care of him while he's resting. And he told us that he has believed in Christ for 3 months now and that now he is trying to find the true church of God. And as soon as he said that, his phone rang, his mom came out to talk to him, and about 50 other things happened trying to keep this guy from listening. Satan is good at what he does. But we bore testimony to him and taught him about the Restoration. That is when I had the huge feeling the Gospel was true. I hope he felt it as well. He lives in a different area, but he gave us his phone number and asked for ours and said he would read the pamphlet we gave him. So we'll see how that goes.

September 29, 2009

I've been talking to people a lot more lately. I'm starting to understand a lot more now so I've started small talking to people more. But I still don't understand everything. Someday I will though. Please keep praying for me to learn the language really fast and really well. I wanna know this language fluently by the time I get out of here. A language this hard is not worth forgetting. Haha.

Here, everyone is Buddhist because their parents were, who's parents were, who's parents were, who's parents were.......When we ask them why the practice it and if they believe it they usually say, "No, I just do because everyone else does and my parents did too. “ But in terms of Christian stuff, they have no idea what anything is. And Khmae doesn't translate from English at all. Like the word "resurrection" in Khmae it translates to mean "to live again". And Buddhists believe in reincarnation, so we have to explain the differences to them. It’s really difficult. And when we ask them who created the earth, they have no idea. Life before this and life after this like never occurs to them. They're always like man, I've never thought of that before.

Our branch is about as fragile as people who have just been baptized. We have to do everything. We spend a few weeks in one class trying to strengthen it, and then the other classes suffer. So we spend time working with them and then nothing gets done in the classes we just spent time working in. And as soon as we get callings out to people they stop coming or show up super late so that they don't have to do anything. And everyone leaves after sacrament. Our branch has had Khmae Elders for the last 1 year and a half. And I'm not going to blame it on them because they've never seen how church is run in America. I will always appreciate how much more organized church is American now. We teach lessons every week. Then we can't help out our investigators. And then when everyone leaves after sacrament, our investigators are always like "Why can't we go too?" A ton of our referrals have fallen through since the big holiday we had. We keep trying so hard to find people. But a lot of people here are just not ready yet. And none of the people here have any concept of God or anything like that, who he is, what he does, why he's important. We have to review stuff all the time with them. We've been relating every lesson to the Restoration, because that's what President Smedley said to do. So even if it’s something like listening to the Spirit, we still relate it to us having the opportunity to do this because Joseph Smith restored the church to the earth again.

We did just commit one family to baptism. It’s a mom and her 2 daughters. They're getting baptized in about 20 days. They're awesome. And we have another baptism in that time too. She's a returned Khmae Elder's girlfriend. She understands a lot. And one of our recent convert's husband came to church. We were like SWEEET!!! So we're going to keep working with him. We also have another investigator named Paulla. She speaks Thai, Khmae, and Vietnamese, but she can only read Vietnamese. So we teach her in Khame but we read with her in Vietnamese. She's leaving on a trip for a few weeks though and so we gave her a Vietnamese BOM and she was really excited and said she would read it while on her we'll see how that goes. But ya, we're starting to plan better and we're even pushing meals off to try and get more people right now. We literally ask every single person if they know anyone that wants to learn with us.

September 22, 2009

Things are starting to pick up again now that the holidays are over. I had this super weird thing happen to me this week. We were asking for directions and a 20 year old kid walked up to us speaking English because he figured we didn't speak Khmae. His English was really good. So we started talking to him in English and in Khmae. And we kept switching back and forth and then I realized that I was understanding his Khmae like I was understanding English. It was really weird that they both were just normal to me. I'm in no wise fluent by any means yet and I still have more to learn that I would like and I still don't know as much as I want to know, BUT man! It was so cool to be able to listen to both like they were my native tongue. Really cool!