Monday, December 30, 2013

A Very Cambodian Christmas

SO to recap the last week: My beloved trainer, my mother, my roommate, my companion, DEAR SISTER HOMER, GOT TRANSFERRED IN THE MIDDLE OF MY TRAINING. And now I, a lowly new missionary, have been left to the dogs to LEAD TWO BRANCHES in a province with no other sisters. My new companion is a native, she's Khmer, and her name is Sister Kong (pronounced "Goong"). She's really nice and I've been told she's a great missionary, so it's not like I'm dying here. But she's not Sister Homer and as you can imagine, there's a big adjustment to go from an American companion to a Khmer one. On one of our first nights in Kampong Cham, Sister Kong says to me "YOU are the trainer." Yep, that's right. I essentially have gotten half the training as a normal missionary. Plus I've been trained in two branches so I only know my areas half as well on top of that. (We are the only missionaries in the whole mission that oversee two branches. There's a reason for that). Needless to say, I am ENTIRELY inadequate for this situation. I have to do all the paperwork, planning, and organizing (which is like 70% of a mission) because poor Sister Kong doesn't know Kampong Cham (be aware that I find no fault with her - she is a good missionary but when you don't know the area there isn't much you can do for a while). Sister Kong is good at teaching and obviously she knows Khmer, but that's not as much of a mission as you would think. It's hard, but hopefully in a few weeks she will learn her way around too and it won't be so much of a struggle for me. 

Anyway, in the long run I know that this is going to make me a much better missionary. I've already started working harder and taking things more seriously, even though I didn't think that was possible. I'm going to come out of my training a transfer ahead of other people because I'm basically going at it alone right now. The first night I really thought I wouldn't be able to do it, but after the second day I realized there's not much I can do, so I might as well work harder than I've ever worked before and make the best of it. It's gonna be a rough transfer, you guys. 

BUT, my Khmer has made leaps and bounds in the last week. Seriously. I think part of it is having a Khmer companion, so I'm learning a lot more words. Another part of it is that I have to talk to the members and investigators since Sister Kong doesn't know them. So I don't have someone else to fall back on. It has sort of forced me to understand and speak more Khmer. So I'm excited for my language to get better. It was kind of a necessary change, since I recently came up with the idea to sit next to the deaf girl at church. Sit next to the deaf girl and there's no risk of anyone talking to you! Genius! 

Sister Kong is pretty good at English and during language study we help each other which is cool. Yesterday she cracked me up. She was reading out loud and trying to pronounce a word and then she just started laughing, so I asked her why she was laughing so hard and she just said that she can tell she sounds silly when she's trying to pronounce English words. And then she goes, "I laugh by myself." I guess she was trying to say that she was laughing at herself. Honestly, the girl is adorable. 

She's also an AMAZING cook. I'm learning so many good Cambodian recipes. She's also getting me to try new foods that I never would have before. For example, I now love eating this salty dried fish that they eat. It's literally a fish that they've cut in half and then they salt it and leave it out to dry. And then you just eat it like that. Bones and scales and fins and all. That's right. I eat fish bones. I am officially eating like a Khmer. IT'S SO GOOD. I never would have tried it before with an American companion. 
I have another Khmer culture thing for you. It's called "The Long Fingernail". I found out about this over a week ago with Sister Homer. We were in church and Sister Homer leaned over to me and asked "Sister Davis, have you ever noticed how some Cambodians have one particularly long fingernail?" I told her that I had noticed our Branch Mission Leader did. Then she asked me if I knew what it was for. I made an educated guess. And I was right. IT'S FOR NOSE-PICKING YOU GUYS. Yum. I just find it odd that you go around with permanent evidence of your nose-picking habits for the whole world to see. Why? Because I'm in Cambodia, that's why. I stopped asking that question a while ago. 

Anyway, a lot of this past week was spent in Phnom Penh and during transfers, so I don't have many events for you guys, but I have a lot of pictures that will show you what Christmas week was like for us. 
I hope you're enjoying your holiday break. Keep praying for me, I'm definitely gonna need it this transfer. I love you all and miss you a ton!!!!!!!

Love, Sister Davis

We teach an Enlgish class on wednesdays. The week before Christmas, we did a christmas activity for english class. we taught them about american christmas traditions and we had them sing carols in english and tell santa (elder soresnsen) what they wanted for christmas in english.

Elder Barney as "Santa's helper." He actually went home this transfer. 

This kid is someone Sister Homer and I fondly call "The Cutest Kid in the World."

Mommy, I brought the stickers you sent me to this activity and they used them to put on their "gingerbread houses"

"Gingerbread houses" in Cambodia refer to crackers with peanut butter and coconut shavings with knock-off oreos. This little girl is named MoiLii.

Sooooooo.....this is what i was talking about over Skype. Although Mommy's lego set of the nativity was probably intended for the children i teach, I decided i needed a little more christmas spirit in our house and made it myself. I'm allowed to do one selfish thing as a missionary okay?!?

I FOUND PANDA COOKIES. Apparently sister homer loves pandas too. we didnt even figure out this huge piece of info until our last week together. 

I have tried and failed a million and one times to capture that cambodian sky. You'll just have to come see it for yourself.

                           Transfers.......saying goodbye to my dear mother.

                     REUNITED!!!! the MTC girls back together on christmas!

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