(Sister Harris and I mentally jumping out of our chairs)
Yep, you heard it right. Apparently, Cambodia isn't the most ignored mission in the world (still TBD). This past week we got three of the Church History specialists, like the big head honchos who run the entire Church History program from Salt Lake City, coming to Cambodia to check out the family history work going on here. They had a pretty cool devotional meeting where they talked about the importance of recording your own personal history in journal and what not for future generations. We biked all the way to the south stake center in Chamkarmon to listen because our english class was cancelled due to renovations in the church building.
We heard from Elder Snow and Elder Chi Hong Wong.
If you don't remember, Elder Wong spoke in the most recent General Conference in Cantonese. He was the first person EVER to speak in General Conference in his native language. But don't worry because he's super good at english. And apparently super funny too. He was CRACKING everyone up. He was trying to make his comments really quick and short (which made things super difficult for Elder Sam who was translating). He was trying to go quick because he wanted to hold a meeting with the missionaries after the devotional. So we all sat down and Elder Snow and Elder Wong and their wives all spoke to us briefly. It was really cool, and nice for them to take time out to just do a meeting with the missionaries. When Sister Snow spoke, she was just like "Thank you for your service. Just thank you so much." And she was almost crying. It was really cool to see how highly they think of the missionary work. And Sister Wong reminded us that even though it's hard now, and you don't always feel like your hard work is paying off, sometimes you just have to have an eternal perspective. Think about the single people we are teaching now who's children will one day go on missions. Think about the little things we are doing today that will help Cambodia to one day get a temple. She shared her personal experience of the missionary who taught her father and how much her family has been blessed since then. I loved what she said too.
BUT HERE'S THE COOLEST PART (my email has just been building up to this moment). The day BEFORE this special meeting, Sister Harris and I were out CBR finding. It started to rain, we were in a random alleyway, and the main road was under construction and just a river of mud. So we come out of the alley trying to decide where we should turn next according to the poorly drawn map. and we see this white van slow down on the side of the road. I assumed it was just a random bunch of Cambodians who were gonna roll down the window to start yelling and making fun of the white barrangs on the side of the road, but down the window rolls and i see the face of Sister Hollenzer! She is one of the senior couples, and she and Elder Hollenzer are in charge of family history. I knew them pretty well from when I served back in Tuolkork. So I took off my mask and was like "HEY!!" She originally didnt know it was me until she saw my face and she was like "ITS SISTER DAVIS PULL OVER!!" so they pulled over and we chatted for a bit and they were like, oh hey by the way, that Chinese guy sitting behind us is the one that just spoke in general conference. My jaw dropped and i was like .....hey. Im soaking wet and covered in mud but its nice to meet you anyway. So Elder Wong doesnt even say a word...he just reaches out both arms and hands us a couple Nature Valley granola bars. So we chatted for a bit, they told us about the devotional, and then we went our separate ways. I turned to sister harris and said "He's in the Quorum of the Seventy! He just spoke in General Conference!" And Sister harris goes, "Is it the one that gave us these granola bars because I'M PUMPED." so funny.
Anyway, we went to the meeting the next day, and Elder Wong shook my hand and was like "I didnt recognize you without your helmet and mask!" We had a good chat.
When I met the Hollenzers at the meeting they both spoke to us on two separate occasions and both said the same thing: While driving on the road the other day, they had all been complaining about the construction and rain and then they saw us on the side of the road and they were all like "the sisters are going out in these conditions?" So after they drove away they had all just been talking about how impressed they were and elder and sister Hollenzer were like "we were just so grateful to run into you. It was the best thing for them to see you out proselyting. It was the best thing that could have happened for all the missionaries here because of how impressed those men were."
Obviously, Sister Harris and I really didnt do anything impressive. We were just.....there. But Elder Wong later told Sister Harris that we were the reason they called that meeting with the missionaries. To encourage the missionaries, inspire us, and thank us for our service. It was just overall a really cool experience.
Also, Elder Wong told me to make my new companion eat the fried spiders, so I'll get right on that.
On that topic though, Sister Harris refuses to eat my food. Like she will take a bite and be like okay, thats enough. I DONT GET IT. I dont think its that gross. I dont understand because she literally ONLY eats bread and cereal. I tried to explain that we have to do chaas and eat lots of vegetable soups and things because its whats cheapest and we cant afford to eat normal american food, but she would prefer to just be malnourished on bread and plain rice. She also likes to joke that the reason I wanna make that food is because I think I'm a Khmer. She's like yep, youve crossed over. At first, I wholeheartedly disagreed. But then it hit me. I didnt realize how "Khmer" I was until I got put with a companion fresh off the boat from America. I have very Khmer habits nowadays. What I eat, the way I eat, the noises i make (I have a habit of doing this weird Khmer grunt whenever I get frustrated. I remember Sister Kong did it to me when I was brand new and I hated it. They make the same noise at animals. She always did it to me and I would be like "STAHP IT. I'M NOT A CHICKEN." And now I do it a million times a day). I wear a mask, like most Khmers here because SMC is FREAKING DUSTY MAN. I'm definitely touchier, which is weird because I used to pride myself on not being touchy at all. I'm still not a huge fan, but I sometimes find myself touching someones arm or patting them on the back and im like...why did i just do that. And also, I always have to have my legs crossed nowadays. I would rather sit on the floor than on a chair because I cant cross my legs on a chair. My chair in Battambang was big enough but my new one now is not, so i never realized how often i want to cross my legs until i cant. Anyway, ill end this rant but yeah.....#wannabeKhmer
Although back to the mask thing, I started wearing one because a couple days into my SMC adventure, I blew my nose and the tissue was BROWN. Like I literally had dirt, and dust and unidentified foreign particles coming out of my nose. Enough said.
Sister Harris and I have made up a good contacting game by the way. Its pretty effective. We started talking about it during lunch one day and it was a big joke, and then the first woman we saw after lunch became our first victim. It has two parts: 1) We are each responsible for 5 personal contacts. You are supposed to get 10 per companionship every day and so we have decided to make each person individually responsible for 5, which makes it way more effective because its sort of like a competition. 2) (this is the good part) The goal is to get as many random gospel terms into the contact as possible before you get rejected. VERY hilarious. And we were like, okay words like"church" and "Jesus Christ" do not count. those are part of a normal contact. You've gotta put yourself out there and be like "TEMPLE blah blah khmer words blah APOSTASY blah blah blah OUTER DARKNESS....." and so on and so forth. And then the other companion keeps count. Dont worry none of them have been that crazy. It was just a good way for us to get motivated to contact. The other tricky issue is when you get "rejected." The first woman I started talking to "got a phone call" in the middle of me telling her about our church so i turned to sister harris after standing there awkwardly for a while and asked "does it count as a rejection if they pretend to take a phone call they obviously dont really have?" She goes"lets find out". we started walking away and sure enough the woman hung up as soon as our back were turned. roasted. the sting kind of wears off after a while, dont worry.
***the great part about this country is that nobody speaks english so i can literally say whatever i want as loud as i want in front of someone and they will have no idea if im talking about them.
We also got a couple recent converts handed over to us from the elders because they are women. and I LOVE THEM. One of them is named Om Im. Shes probably like 70 something and maybe 4'8" if we're being generous and shes just the CUTEST. (i think we all know how i feel about teaching old Cambodian women). Sister Harris was reading in a lesson, and shes still new so the reading is a little slower, but Om Im just jumped in and started reading over her like each individual word that she struggled on. This is actually a REALLY common thing that Cambodians do, its incredibly frustrating. But what was funny was that the day before I warned sister Harris it would happen, and the fact that it was like a super old crazy woman was just too much to handle. She and I were DYING. i mean, in tears in the middle of the lesson (i tried to hold in my laughter until it came out as a snort, so that was awks) but its okay because Om Im is so old she justkept on readin and didnt even notice.
Okay well, I think im mostly done for this week. It was a pretty good week. The whitewashing is getting easier, bit by bit. Our investigator pool is a little clogged from the old missionaries who handed it over, but we are working on organizing it. Sister Harris is continuing to crack me up. She is a trooper. Things are going great!
Love you all and miss you tons!
Love, Sister Davis
PS. Quote from Sister Harris this week. We had a conversation about how much she DESPISES buttons. I dont really get it she just hates them. Sometimes she cuts them off of her clothing. Shortly after taking about how much she also hates tofu, we are in the middle of this button conversation adn she goes, "Oh, it is DISGUSTING. Like. I would rather eat that tofu than put buttons in my mouth."
...............????????? I always get the crazy ones. JUST KIDDING SHES SO COOL. dont know what her deal with buttons is though.
Our first comp photo! a selfie, of course. This was the rainy day we met Elder Wong.
Just a random Cambodian child and some cows chillin in the swampy garbage piles.
I am muddier and nastier here than I ever was in Battambang.