Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Betrayed by Chicken Bojangles

I've officially run out of introductions, since McKenna scolded me for speaking spanish last week (if you don't understand that reference, i suggest reading McKenna's mission blog). ANYHWAY, This week had some MAJOR ups and MAJOR downs. 

Major ups include: MING RONG AND MING MOOM WERE BOTH BAPTIZED YESTERDAY!! Hoo-rah! I've got pictures of that. Pretty self-explanatory. I love them both. 
Also, We received a referral for a family in first branch! I've never taught a family before. A lot of times, sister missionaries get stuck teaching ALLLL of the single women in the area, since it's more difficult for elders to teach single women (they have to have other people present to teach since they cant be alone with one girl) and elders just tend to get more families. But I finally got a family referral and it's lookin pretty good, even though we've only taught them once so far. What was the biggest "up"of my week you ask???? Cambodia is delightful you guys. I FOUND A DVD OF THE SECOND LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIE. thats right. As in, the lord of the rings movie that came out AFTER i left on my mission. it was literally sitting in a pile of other random khmer ninja dvds. and i found it. now guess how much it was. go ahead, guess!! 2500 RIAL!!!! Ok, now guess how much 2500 rial is. go ahead, guess!! approximately 60 cents. I win for life. Obviously, I cant watch it until after my mission, but its really more the whole story that makes it worth telling. this happened 7 days ago and im still pretty thrilled about it.

Major downs include the subject line of this email. A couple days ago, I suffered from my first case of food poisoning. From the chicken bojangles i mentioned a couple weeks ago.  After three months without ANY digestive problems whilst living in Cambodia and eating pig skin, snails and sketchy fish from less-than-reliable people on the side of the road, the one thing that gets me sick is..........chicken fingers. From probably the most westernized restaurant in all of KC. The irony is not lost on me.
Anyway, it only lasted about 12 hours and then I was well enough to make it to district conference that weekend (which is really good since President and Sister Moon came to KC for that). 

On the topic of food though, I have a new fruit to obsess about. MILKFRUIT. its incredible. It's like a soft, round fruit that has a white juice come out of it if you squeeze it that looks like milk, and has an almost creamy taste to it. But its a really mild sweetness. I could eat like 10 of them in one sitting. So that's your weekly dose of Cambodian cuisine.

Spekaing of fruit, I had one of my funnier lessons this past week. Sister Kong and I were teaching these two sisters, Long and Liang. They're awesome, but they can't read because they don't go to school. We've actually started teaching them how to read a little bit when we go see them. Anyway, we were talking about Adam and Eve and we asked them if they remembered the story (they just got baptized a few months ago). And Long goes, √čve ate the fruit and it made her pregnant!" I was trying so hard not to laugh. Sister Kong and I were like, um yeah we'll go with that.

Also, this week one of our investigators asked us to take her kids. Like she doesn't want them anymore and she wants us to take that responsibility away from her. It was super sad to be like uhhhhhhh we can't do that. Unfortunately that's what a lot of people are like here. It's what a lot of families are like. They don't have the same life that we do. It's not just the fact that their houses are different. Their whole idea of how to live life is different and I don't really know how to wrap my head around it sometimes. What do you say to someone who asks you to take their daughter while their daughter who's like 10 years old is sitting right there? 

HOLD UP HOLD UP HOLD UP. WE LITERALLY JUST GOT TRANSFER CALLS. not even joking. in the middle of my email writing, Elder Sorensen called me over to tell me about transfer calls. remember me saying that i would probably stay in KC for a while after Sister Kong finished her mission? And remember how I said that President Moon is notorious for doing the craziest things during transfers? WELL I WAS WRONG AGAIN. 

I GOT TRANSFERRED TO THE CITY. I'm off to Phnom Penh this friday!!! I'm serving in an area called Tualkok (pronounced Dual-goak). And get this: Sister Homer is the Sister Training Leader in my district so I'm going to go on exchanges with her ALL THE FREAKIN TIME. Sister training leaders are the equivalent of elders' zone leaders for sisters and you will go on exchanges with them every couple weeks. So Sis Homer and I will be companions for a day probably a few times! I am so flippin excited!!!!

Plus going to the city means I'll get my mail on time! And I get to go to the mission home every P-day and actually see people I know! And I'll get to go to the HUGE markets and buy awesome clothes and souvenirs for you guys!!! Don't get me wrong, I'm super sad to leave KC and being in the city definitely has its downsides, but I'm up for the change! Oh and also get this: I'M WHITEWASHING. That means I'm taking an area from scratch and totally starting over. President Moon does that all the time, but its way hard. I'm super nervous.  My new comp is Sister Von. She's a Khmer too and I hear she's really sweet. AHHHHHHHHHHH this sister, born and raised in KC, a corn-fed country hick in the eyes of Cambodian missionaries, is headed to the big city!! By next P-day I'll be in a totally new area with a new comp and everything! Guys, missions move by at a crazy-fast pace!

I honestly can't even focus on anything else! I've gotta go say goodbye to all the members here! I've gotta pack! I've got so much stuff to do! 

 I wish you were on this crazy adventure with me! It's so hard to explain everything that happens, especially when i know you guys don't really understand what missions are like - I didn't either before I left. What's a sister training leader? What's a transfer call? 
I love you guys! I miss you a ton! 

Love, Sister Davis

PS - Dear McKenna - SOMEONE is clearly becoming a "Spanish-speaking Supremacist". I feared this would happen to you. Remember that time it took me 6 weeks to teach you the word for spoon? Look at how far you've come, my little nina!

Picture where ming rong is not smiling:
I know, I know. Ming Rong looks simply thrilled to be here. One thing about Khmers is they tend to not smile. A lot of them will look like this in pictures. Where Ming Rong is smiling, Elder Sorensen forced her to, which I appreciate.

Killin it in KC. Ming Rong is on the left, and Ming Moom is on the right. 
PS I call this my "prairie outfit"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Missionaries vs. Midgets (Little People)


I'm just jealous that McKenna gets to start all of her emails like that and I can't because I'm speaking Khmer. That jealousy finally got the better of me this week, so I broke the rules. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone in my family understands that movie reference so I'm hoping the other 2 (maybe) people who read the blog will get a kick out of that (lookin at you, Mrs. Thomas).

Speaking of Spanish, I will say that I still have not yet gotten that language out of my head! I've been trying to learn Khmer for quite some time now, and Spanish still manages to weasel its way in every now and again. For example, I know the Spanish words for food much better than the Khmer words for food. I'll just tell you this: Saying "dop manzanas" (10 in Khmer, apples in spanish) does not work out so well at the phsaas here in KC.

You may be scratching your heads a little bit at the subject line. I did too for a while when, not only did I see a Cambodian midget (as if those even existed), but when standing near said "little person", I STILL GOT STARED AT MORE BY OTHER PEOPLE. Ladies and gentleman, when it comes to Cambodia, white people are officially more rare than midgets. I'm not even joking, I'm one of maybe ten white people in Kampong Cham (5 of which are missionaries). Obviously there are way more in Phnom Penh, and they don't get stared at, but here in KC white people are a rare commodity. The other day a kid almost crashed his bike because he was staring at me looking behind him for so long. That's the other thing: they have literally no shame when it comes to staring. Or pointing. Or laughing. 

More stories from the "I'm in Cambodia and I'm White" support group: This week, we got to go to "the island." Sounds exotic right? I don't know what its actual name is, we just call it the island. Anyway, to get there you have to go over this bamboo bridge. It's way cooler than it sounds. It's a super long bridge thats made entirely of bamboo, and it's freakin heavy-duty. People herd their cattle across that thing. (that's right, my gauge of the strength of a bridge is now measured by "number of cattle herded" rather than "number of cars driving"). I have pictures of that and of the island, which was beautiful. So what's wrong with being a white person on the bamboo bridge? When you get to the other side, they charge Khmers 1500 riall.....and white people are 2000 riall. Which didn't bother me too much, because that kind of stuff happens ALLLLL THE TIME except then I thought about it in the context of America: Let's picture the riot that would ensue if a Khmer went to the Bronx zoo and got charged $20 more than a white person. So just think about that next time you want to call America racist. I'm livin it people.

But just as I'm getting used to being a white person in an Asian country, so too am I getting used to being a missionary. In the worst ways possible. Onjung: I was riding my bike the other day, talking to myself, as per usual because I'm really starting to lose it. (I was really just thinking to myself, but it still makes me sound like a psycho, I'll give you that). And anyway, I thought these exact words: "Well, Sister, that's what you have to do...." I referred to myself as "Sister." SOOOOOOOOOOO game over. I've been here for too long.
Yes, so I can definitely tell I've been out for too long by the way I'm trying to entertain myself. Besides talking to myself, during the very diligent hours of language study, I'm usually playing with silly putty, sharpening all of my pencils really sharp so that I can poke myself, then making pictures out of the shavings.................#lifewithoutAdderall2014
Are hashtags still a thing?!?!?! How long have I been gone??? 

OH WAIT WAIT WAIT BEFORE I FORGET - this could be the biggest news you hear from me the entire time I'm in Cambodia: I heard "Teach Me How to Dougie"------IN KHMER. That is for sure the first thing I'm going to get my hands on when I come home. 

Sister Kong has had her fair share of hilarious moments this week. I have recently been hearing her throw out very American phrases such as, "What up, Homie G." (I'm assuming she learned these things from legendary Sister Hartley, who you don't know yet, but you will certainly hear about her in the near future if I am lucky enough to even live in the same house as her. That girl..)
Anyway, I have also taught her some of the slang those hoodlums in America use. She was especially confused when Elder McGavin and I tried to explain that "That's sick!" actually means a good thing. I've also taught her what I mean when I say "I look like a hobo" (which comes up more often than I'd like it too). This week, her favorite phrase to use, which she didn't learn from me is "You need to take a chill pill." I got a little spastic outside of a members house for a sec and for some reason my bike fell over, and she just says to me (with her palm up and facing me) "Sister, you need to take a chill pill." Being with a Khmer comp certainly has its perks.

I feel I should tell you that I actually lied just a second ago. This big news of this week is not that I hear "teach me how to dougie" in Khmer (depending on your perspective.....). I actually feel I should tell you that Moiseng, the investigator who learns in English, is super smart and actually UNDERSTANDS this gospel (which is a rarity) got a new job and IS MOVING TO A DIFFERENT PROVINCE. In like less than a month. The province is called Preahvihhia and they don't have a church or missionaries there or anything, so she's totally going to lose touch with the church which BITES. I was so upset. It sucks to lose an investigator, especially since she was really progressing so well. So that's the end of that saga. Who knows though, maybe she'll find the church again. A lot of missionary work is just "planting the seed" so I'm glad I got to be a part of her story. 

I think that's all I've got for this week. Next weekend we're having a District Conference and we're gonna have a few people getting baptized in KC and President Moon is coming up and everything so that should be fun. Those pictures will be good. I love you guys a ton!!! Thanks for all your love and support - Yes, Mommy, emailing is 100% my favorite part of P-day and my whole week!!! I love hearing from you guys! It;s the best! I love you and miss you so much!!!

Love, Sister Davis

PS Spiritual thoughts for this week:
- I've been spending some time reading the hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much." Really putting it into perspective for me. I used to think my life was hard. WHAT A FOOL I WAS. Nowadays, I struggle to think of anything I have but blessings. We are all so blessed! So don't think so much about what you need and think about what others need! Because we have been given much we too must give!

- Also read Doctrine and Covenants 50:40-44. Don't remember what it says and I don't have my scriptures with me right here, but I wrote it down so what the heck, go ahead and read it.

And Jacob 3:1 too. Loved reading that yesterday.

WELCOME TO THE ISLAND. Ugh, so pretty. Prettier than Veal Ksaac. That's right, I said it.

Forgot to tell you the whole reason we went to the island was to harvest rice. Yep, it's STILL rice-harvesting season. Whatevs. I'm harvesting rice, all day errrrrry day.

                                       This is a picture of the bamboo bridge leading to the island.

DON'T BE FOOLED: That's actually not a peace sign. It's some hand sign that all the asians do, so i tried it out. I'm pretty sure its facing the wrong way though. I guess they do it because it's cooler than a peace sign. Which coincidentally is everything....everything is cooler than a peace sign. But you know I rock it hard in every picture.

                                                             What a lovely river of brown. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chicken Bojangles

Well, it finally happened. A lizard fell on me this week. I was just sitting down, minding my own business when I reached up to a shelf to grab a tissue and the lizard jumped off the shelf and landed on my knee. I think it was one of those "trials and tribulations" they talk about in the scriptures.

The second point I want to make is that I ate snails this week. That is all. 
(I feel like I eat one new weird food every week that I have to tell you guys about.)

Anyway, I have a little more to write about this week than last week, so I'm hoping I have enough time. I've started to reach my breaking point with the phsaa and its hideodorous stench. (thats hideous, with the word odor thrown in - trademark Sister Homer.) I'm not even joking, I have been on the verge of tears some days when my patience is already low and I have to ride my bike past that place. Usually like 5 times a day. A couple days ago this very thing literally happened: We were going past the phsaa at about 3pm, smelling all of those delightful market smells of rotting meat and produce. And when I ride by there, I have to breathe through my mouth (but sometimes that doesn't even work. That odor is so pungent that even when you breathe through your mouth it still makes its way into your nostrils...theres no stopping it). So I'm breathing through my mouth and I see this guy smoking a cigarette on the side of the street and he's blowing the smoke in our direction. What is my t\first thought? "THANK GOODNESS!" No joke, I purposely breathed through my nose and took a huge gust of cigarette air because I knew it would cover up the smell of the phsaa and in comparison it smells like roses. That was a long paragraph to sufficiently describe the torture I have to go through. You don't even know. YOU DONT EVEN KNOW.

Anyway, lets get down to the nitty gritty: I now know for sure that I'm proud to be a missionary. I thought that before, but I proved it this week. The missionaries in KC all get together for a meeting once a week and then we have lunch together afterwards. So we went to this restaurant called Smiles that sells normal American food and therefore attracts foreigners pretty frequently. SO we walk in, and there are like 12 of us missionaries, and there's one couple sitting down and they were totally giving us the stink eye the whole time we were there. I would bet money that they were European based on the way they looked and acted. (I'm gonna go with German or French) Obviously Europeans (the same as Americans) have a different opinion of missionaires than Cambodians do. As in, they view missionaries as pests and avoid them at all costs. So anyway, it was clear to all 12 of us they this couple was totally hatin on us even though we literally didn't so much as breathe in their direction. We weren't proselyting or anything, we're just eating lunch and keeping to ourselves. Not a single one of us even made a motion to contact them. But regardless, I remember feeling like,. okay, they hate us and the fact that we're here. But in a weird way, that made me even more proud to be a missionary! I wasn't insecure or ashamed at all! I was just sitting up straight, speaking Khmer to the waiters and showing dem Europeans "hey. I live here. I do what I do. What of it?" Missionaries are cool, you guys. We may look like goobers with our bikes and nametags, but I swear we're cool deep down. 

*********This restaurant Smiles has chicken fingers (sort of) and they call them "Chicken Bojangles". I'm not kidding. Everytime someone says it I crack up. I can't handle it. Bojangles??? Are you joking?

Differet\nt topic: I'm definitely losing my grasp of English. Elder Flint once made fun of me in the MTC when I said, "My grammar is the only thing I've got going for me." Unfortunately I was serious, and now I'm losing that too. Sister Kong is obviously learning Enlgish, so I help her with that as much as she helps me with Khmer. The most awkward and humbling experience of my life is when she asks me what a word means and even I DONT KNOW THE DEFINITION. I look in my khmer-english dictionary to pretend like im looking up a khmer word, but im really looking up the definition for an english word. I'm such a fool. 

Highlight of my week: We were teaching a lesson to a recent convert, and at the end we asked her if she had any more questions or chngol (this word doesn't really have a translation: it means like "wonderings", things you wonder about). So she said, "No, but I just want to thank you so much for coming. I love when the sisters come to tech me. I don't always have time to study the Book of Mormon on my own but when the sisters come and teach me I get to read it and understand it so thank you, thank you so much."  For some reason, this meant the world to me. I'm gonna be honest, lately I've been feeling like I'm wasting my time, and nothing is coming from teaching. So many of our investigators just don't get it and a ton more don't even seem to care. But when I get one person expressing the fact that they love learning about this gospel and that they actually want my help, i'm like, okay. This is worth it. For this one woman, what I'm doing is not a waste of time. So that helped me a lot. Good times in Cambodia, right?

I think that's all I've got for this week. I had a homesick week so I'm missing you guys a lot. But like I said, it's worth it in the end. I LOOOOOOOOOVE you loads. 

Love, Sister Davis

PS, one of our members told me she loved that I'm super sloat (chill). Why am I so chill? She said because i'm always smiling!! (there's your shocker of the week). So my advice is: keep smiling!

We climbed up this tower last P-day. Then we ate a picnic next to the river of......brown.

                                                                         View from the top

                                                           A bunch of fools (aka missionaries) 
                           This week we did service building latrines/outhouses. G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Birthday to me!


That probably seems weird to you for me to start off my email that way, because i have always loathed my birthday, but hey im not a teenager anymore. Plus, it turns out cambodia is perfect for people who hate their birthdays because nobody in cambodia cares about birthdays. aka my companion at one point said "oh you are 20 today" and then turned around to buy something.....

Living with a Khmer has been a real adjustment. But I really do love her and she has sacrificed so much to be here. She has just had the hardest life and I appreciate her strength and the example she is to me. 
Plus she totally cracks me up sometimes. Last week Sister Kong informed me that Cambodians not only firmly believe in ghosts (which i dont have a problem with because ghosts are 100% real) but they also believe that when it smells bad, it means a ghost is nearby. She said, "If you smell bad, it mean a ghost says 'hello!'" And then she gave me the most serious face and said "men, sistaa." (men = really). The other thing was that someone nearby our house was setting off fireworks on new years eve, but thats obviously strange and cambodians dont have the same fondness for fireworks that we do. So the popping noises started while i was washing dishes and i didnt think much of it. But sister kong freaked out and asked me what the noise was. I told her it was fireworks and her response was "Fireworks or guns?!"  I did my best not to laugh. in my head i was thinking, "sister kong, this is an american youre talking to. i know the sound of a firework when i hear one." She is so funny sometimes. I don't want to make fun of the way she talks, because shes good at english and im not trying to be mean, but you should know that Khmers usually pronounce their Vs as a W noise, so she pronounces vegetable as "wigetable" and I cant correct her because its too funny to me.

The other thing about having a native comp is that they dont have friends and family to email to really since most people they know dont have computers or email addresses, so they only spend a small amount of time on the computer. Which means not only will my emails to you guys be short, but i probably wont be able to respond to everyone either, since its rude of me to make her wait for me for 2 hours+. so just be aware of that for the next few weeks.

Anyway, stories from this week: remember that lady who said my feet looked like baby pigs? Well, this week it changed to baby mice. That one i understand even less. But i'll make sure to keep you updated if that changes again so you know what the status of my feet is.
I've also become a regular victim of the dreaded "Sniff Kiss." A sniff kiss is something that Cambodian moms do to their children, usually babies or toddlers. It's like they put their lips to your face sort of like a kiss, but then they just sniff your face really hard. And theres this one member in first branch, her name is Om Kheng, and she freaking loves me for some reason, which is ridiculous because i cant understand a word she says. But apparently she has family in Connecticut and I told her im from there so now she really likes me, especially since sister homer left, too. Anyway, she sniff kisses me everytime she sees me now. It's really uncomfortable. But shes like one of my favorite members so I'll allow it, I suppose. 

Do you remember me telling you about our golden investigator, Ming Rong? Well, she's getting baptized soon and im super excited about it. it will be the first baptism ive seen from beginning to end (although ive been a part of about 6 already!)She comes to church every week for all three hours and shes just the best. Shes so friendly and just loves the church. We've also got Moiseng, who's the girl that learns in english. Shes been learning for a loooooong time now and still isnt sure if she wants to be baptized, but shes got more faith than so many people ive seen. Im making her my new project and im determined to see her get baptized. Shes so smart and she would be such a great member! I'll let you know how that one goes.

So to end my super quick email, I want to leave you guys with Moroni 10:6. It's sort of been my scripture of the week, if you will. Everybody reads Moroni 10:3-5 ad nauseum, but Moroni 10:6 kind of gets ignored, but I think its a really important one, so go ahead and read that. 

I love you guys a ton. Thanks for the birthday wishes!!!! I miss you all! 

Daoy kdei srolan (with love),
Sister Davis

Elder Sorensen actually surprised me with a birthday cake during our Branch meeting, which was on my birthday. He wins the award for best district leader ever.

Cambodian cakes are literally just two layers of bread with raisins in the middle and covered in frosting. But i appreciate the effort. and the snowmen.

DO YOU SEE HOW TALL I AM COMPARED TO THESE PEOPLE?!?!?! Seriously, you guys, Im a GIANT in Cambodia. It's crazy. At 5'4" I tower over most cambodians. PS thats sister kong on the right, and two girls from 2nd branch, Srei Liab and Tonaa.

This girls name is Sophea. She makes fun of me so much for not knowing the language, like more than anyone else, but she adores the sisters.