I saw my first live cockroach this week and let's be honest nothing else really matters. I could just end the email right there.
But I won't. I will say this though: My intense fear/distrust/disgust towards cockroaches is COMPLETELY justified. I could go on a very long rant, but just let it be known that Satan carries out the majority of his work through cockroaches. Of this I am certain.
Anywho, this week was completely crazy. I don't even know what happened. let me give you a little background info. On a normal week, Sister Homer and I will teach about 30 lessons. More than 35 is a great week, and 20-30 is less than decent. This week, everything that could possibly happen to mess up your teaching schedule happened to us. Do you know what our total teaching count was????????????
TWELVE FREAKING LESSONS. Most people might look at that and go.....what were you doing? Did you guys get Dhengay fever or something? No. We were SO BUSY all week, running (technically biking) everywhere, changing our schedule, trying to find people to teach. So many of the members and investigators we scheduled to teach were out of town, or not home when we went to see them. Then Sister Homer's tire went kaput and that took out almost a whole afternoon. THEN we had to help out with things like english class and help the senior couple with their piano class. THEN on Thanksgiving day, we lost an entire day of teaching basically to go do service (which I totally don't have a problem with, because service is the bomb dot com). THEN (and here's the real kicker), a member of one of our branches died of some sort of liver disease. So we spent two days helping the family (also members) with the funeral. Although this was a very sad occasion, it was actually a really cool experience so I'm going to tell you about that a little bit:
The thing about Cambodians is that they're all Buddhist. No news there. But what's interesting is that Buddhism is less of a religion and more of a culture, so even people who are totally awesome, active members of the church (like this family) still have there Buddhist ceremonies for weddings, funerals, etc. So we walk into this funeral with the senior couple and cause quite a scene right off the bat because we are four starkly white people. There's a monk sittin in the middle of a table surrounded by flowers and fruit, chanting away. Then the family, all dressed in white, starts this procession to the gravesite (also strange because most people in Cambodia will do cremation, so I don't know what was up with the burial) and they pick up the table WITH THE MONK ON IT and just carry him over to the gravesite and the whole funeral crowd just follows. Anyway, I really liked this because I loved seeing the mutual respect that exists between religions here. The Buddhists did their whole thing of chanting and blessing and other stuff and I had no idea what was going on. But then they all finished up and politely yielded to let the leaders of our church step in and say a prayer and dedicate the grave and sing some hymns. It was like two totally different cultures just showing respect to each other and I freaking loved it. I love how Buddhists are super accepting of other religions and that there isn't this fight between the christians in this country and the culture. We're all just sharing and it's totally cool. We see monks all the time, just walking around like normal people and seriously sister homer and I are just like "sup". What a cool place to be.
So like I said I also got to do service this week. I've got a buttload of pictures of that and I'm super happy about it because...... (drumroll) I FINALLY GOT TO HARVEST RICE. Now don't get too excited. There was no water involved. The rice patties in the water are only there when you're planting the rice. It's all dried up by the time you harvest it. But still. I feel like I've officially been initiated into Asia. You just can't consider yourself a missionary in Asia until you've done some sort of work farming rice. C'mon. I finally got to use my sickle though. So props to me. Seriously you guys, I am never going to look at rice the same way again. Sister homer and I discuss this at length pretty frequently. Each stalk only has MAYBE 20 individual grains of rice on it. Do you have any idea how much rice Asians eat????? Every freaking meal!!! And we're talking about all of Asia. It blows my mind. There's no way this world produces enough rice for all of the Asians who eat it like nobody's business. Sister Homer and I think there's some sort of conspiracy going on because the numbers just don't add up. One huuuuge crop of rice would feed one Cambodian for maybe a couple months. Something's fishy about this, but I shan't go on. All you need to know is that harvesting rice is really hard work, and my back still hurts from it but it was super awesome.
SOOOOO here's the deal. I can't teach in English. I spent a good majority of my mission complaining about how I can't teach good lessons because I don't know the language, thinking that if i could teach in English I would be the world's best teacher. Wrong. So wrong. So incredibly, STUPIDLY WRONG. We have this one investigator named Moiseng and she's pretty proficient in English but she wants to speak it better so we have our lessons with her in English and seriously you guys.....I'm such a fool. (sidenote: i've noticed that i pick up certain habits depending on who i spend the most time with. using the word "fool" is something I have acquired from sister homer. i say "such a fool" at least 10 times a day). I cannot teach in English. It reminds me of something gabrielle told me when i ran into her at the MTC. She said someone told her, "You are assigned to your mission language because God knows that that is the language you are best able to preach the gospel in." I found that so interesting. I consider myself to be fairly well spoken, and we know that I've just always been good at English. But that in no way means that I should be teaching this gospel in English. Because I can't apparently. God is merciful, because I would embarrass myself and confuse people so much if I had been sent to an English speaking mission. Guys......I'm such a fool. Poor Moiseng. Poor Sister Homer because she has to re-explain things all the time for me. I swear I'll get the hang of this one day.
I think that's pretty much all I have to say for this week. I wish you guys were here with me to experience these things and it's such a bummer that everything is normal to me now, because I bet you'd get a kick out of the things that happen to me on a daily basis. There was a legitimate catfight on our balcony the other night. Sister Homer and I watched from our bedroom window in amazement. these two cats were attacking each other and hissing and screaming like it was a movie. We named them Orange Gladiator and Khmau Coward (khmau = black). We also had quite the run-in with a particularly vengeful lizard. We named him Satan. So yeah.
Life is good. Cambodia's good. Loving the people. Loving God. The usual.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season!!!!!! I love you guys so much!
Daoy kdei srolan (with love),
These are the Elders in our district. (Minus elder sorensen and elder mcgavin, who I was in the mtc with). the only white guy there is Elder Jones who was also in the MTC with me. Elder barney has the red scarf on. hes half japanese but hes an american. From the left on the bottom is Elder Chan, Elder Sam, Edler Hang and Elder Ti. They're all khmer and all awesome! Elder Sam and Elder Chan both know Garrett Gibson! Small world.
We ate dinner with the family we helped at their house after we finished working in the fields. We ate........honestly I don't know what it was. Some sort of mochi-like gooey rice ball with bean mash in the middle and it was in a sweet broth. Quite strange.
Just for the record, i am not crouching down in this picture. rice is tall, i guess.