Monday, November 24, 2014

Ceh tae mian mong

Not sure where to start this email, so I'll just jump right into it:

For all of you who were wondering about so-called "Trash Mountain" well......I've finally made it as a missionary in Cambodia. Trash mountain is approximately five minutes from my house so its actually in SMC, but its in third branch, so I wasn't sure I would ever get to see it. But luckily I still get to do exchanges here and I did one with Sister Ray who's serving in third branch.
PAUSE: Sister Ray is one of my favorite Khmer Sisters here and I love her so much that on a whim i offered to sponsor her if she wanted to go to BYU, sooooooooooo Mommy and Daddy, you're up.
OKAY. So I went into Sister Ray's branch and got to go to the infamous trash mountain. I don't have any great pictures of it myself but I have a couple of me on the outskirts. You have to really bike inside of it to get the full effect but im sure you could google it. Anyway, for those of you who don't know, Trash mountain was a landfill that the garbage companies dumped all their trash into. And what may surprise you is that recycling is actually a big thing in cambodia. the really, super poor people rummage through garbage piles and pick out things that they can recycle for a few cents. Anyway, at a certain point, people just started building their homes on top of the trash and behold! It became trash mountain. I think it used to be a lot worse a year or so ago, because right now that have moved the site for the landfill and so everyone is actually moving their houses too. But the principle is generally the same. People building their houses on mounds of trash. Building it out of the trash, really. In all honesty, I wasn't hugely impressed because so many people built it up, but that could also be because I'm just very jaded by now. In my head, it was an extreme version of the tracks from Tuolkork. Remember the train tracks that were lined with trash that people built their houses on? Same idea. But anyway, while we were there, Sister Ray and I helped some less-active members recycle their trash. It was pretty disgusting, but worth the good deed. They walk around the streets hauling these huge carts and filling them with any trash they can scavenge and find. The members there are mostly less active and very very poor, but Sister Ray is doing an awesome job in that area. She's such a trooper.

On that delicious note, I have some food comments to make. First: remember when I couldn't handle spicy food, and I was eating Chili flavored Ramen to train myself for Cambodia? (I was SUCH a fool). Well, I'm over that. The more Thai chili peppers the better. Thai chili peppers are these really tiny red and green peppers that are super spicy. I put them in EVERYTHING. the other day I bought some Papaya Salad ( SO DELICIOUS. I want to make that for you guys if i can) on the side of the road and asked her to put in twice the amount of chili peppers that she normally does. I was eating it at home and my nose was running and I was breathing like a dragon because my tongue was on fire BUT IT IS SO DELICIOUS so i just kept eating anyway and Sister Nov just starts laughing at me and she goes (pay attention because you guys will really like this part): "Sister Davis, you know what we say in Cambodia? People who eat spicy food are always STUBBORN people. Its to hot for them but they are too stubborn to stop eating." Valid. I thought you guys might enjoy that since we all know my number one personality trait is stubborn. 
Second: Sugar cane juice. This stuff exists in abundance here. Its on every street corner and its my favorite thing in the world. Its legit sugar cane and they have a little machine that rolls and presses the sugar cane so you get the fresh pressed juice from it and then they put it in a little baggie with ice and a straw. My favorite treat. I get it all the time. (I have justified the fact that Im straight up DRINKING SUGAR byt telling myself that its natural sugar, so don't even worry about it). The other day I got some and Sister Harris was like "Is that the thing you're gonna miss most from your mission?"  Uh, yes, most likely. Its gone so far that now my contacting goal is to find one new sugar cane person every week. Thats one more new person to contact! You probably think I'm joking...

OH also I totally forgot to tell you guys last week that we all got transfer calls. I forgot to tell you because it was a teeny tiny transfer. Almost nobody changed. Pretty much all the trainers are still with their trainees, including me and Sister Harris. So not much to report there. Although, Sister Soun got transferred to Kampong Thom. So sad! I'm gonna miss being with her in the city. Before she left she sent me this letter, which cracked me up. When I trained her, I taught her the phrase "Do as I say, not as I do." (You can all use your imaginations as to why that even came up) So here's a picture of the letter she sent me:
Anywho, we also had Special Activity Night for Englsih class since it was the end of the transfer. One of the elders in our area was Elder Khem (a Khmer but born and raised in Texas) and he was hysterical. He's one of those people thats really into science and scifi type stuff and engineering and he's wildly creative. The general idea in our zone is, if you just let him go on a rant, you'll proabbly get a cool idea out of him. So we were trying to figure out what to do for activity night and Elder Khem shouts out "Mission Impossible on the Moon!" and we all started laughing at him like, Elder Khem, what does that even mean? and Sister Allen goes "SHH! Just let him start talking!" So even though Elder Khem doesn't even know what he's talking about he just starts in hoping to get somewhere and comes up with this crazy story where we all are on a spaceship and then it crashes on the moon and we have to repair the spaceship, kill the aliens and save the astronauts (complete with sound effects). And guess what? We actually did that. And it was super fun! Elder Khem cut out pieces from an old refridgerator box to turn his bike into a "spaceship" and then he crashed. Sister Harris and I were in charge of the aliens game. All in all, it was a success. 

Sister Harris and I also had a couple fun experiences with our recent converts. First is Ming Puang, the former Christian who sings in her prayers (who know what I'm talking about). Christians here have a habit of always saying "Thank you God" (in Khmer obviously) and she is the one who does it best. Just a sample from our most recent lesson:
"This is such a good scripture. Thank you God."
"Where's my pencil? I need my pencil to mark the scripture. Oh! I found it, Thank you God."
"Tonight, I'm having fish for dinner, Thank you God."
It's like ANYTHING can be followed by that sentence for them. So Sister Harris and I find that pretty funny. But even better than that is Om Im. She is also a former Christian and the other day we went to go teach her and walked into her Bible study circle with her and two of her friends from another nearby church. Which was totally fine and dandy, until they started a weird prayer circle and Sister Harris and I lost it. These women are NUTS and went off on so many random rants about Jesus that I seriously couldn't handle it. I realized at a certain point that there was no way we would be able to share anything in time because we had another appointment, so I just offered to say a prayer with them and then part ways. Well, they took that as an invitation to start a prayer circle. After I finished, one of them went "Thank you Teacher ( a lot of people who don't know us as well call us "Teacher" which is actually kind of cool because it's a very respectful term, especially coming from someone older than you) "I will go now....." and then she went into the "HALLELUJAH"s and "THANK YOU GOD"s it was odd. and then the next woman went, and then Om Im went and sister harris and i were like uhhh.......what do we do? so we just sat as quietly as possible trying not to laugh too hard. Its not a disrespectful kind of laughing when these things occur, its really more just like......what is even happening right now? And when its an old lady its always funnier. 

We also did some more CBR finding this week and had a bit of success. One day, we spent a while looking for this one girls house, who has been inactive pretty much since 2003. We found her house but she wasn't home. Her name is Sophoan. Anyway, a couple days later we wanted to go find a recent new member who has also been inactive and nobody knows her (a little wonder how those things happen but hey...this is Cambodia). So we followed her CBR, another badly drawn map. It turns out, these girls are essentially neighbors. But the maps were drawn from different perspectives and they were very badly detailed so we came to the same street, one from a main road, and the other way through maze-like alleys and back roads. We popped out on this corner in the middle of this maze and we were way. They're ten steps away from each other! So anyway, we were able to meet both of them that day, so that was cool. 

Fun story about Sister Harris this week: I was downstairs making dinner and I just hear Sister Harris upstairs from our room "SISTER DAVIS!!!!" and then she comes pounding down the stairs, panting and sounding like she's having an anxiety attack and holding the phone out to me -  "SISTER DAVIS TAKE THE PHONE. THEY'RE TALKING TO ME! AND THEY'RE SPEAKING KHMER!"  I just about died laughing. You will most likely only find that funny if you have an understanding of how difficult it is to understand Khmer, especially on the phone, and how nobody can understand a word when they are brand new. It was pretty funny because it reminded me of when I was in Kampong Cham and the phone rang and it was a recent convert and I started yelling at Sister Homer who was in the bathroom "WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO I DO?!" and she was like/......pick it up, you fool. So I answered back, "Cant you do it?!?" and she was like..."Sister DAvis....IM IN THE BATHROOM JUST PICK IT UP!" So i answered the phone and it took me five minutes just to understand the NAME of the person talking and then I was like "okay, wait, sister homer, bye" because thats all i could manage to say, and then hung up. good times.

So to end this scattered email, here's a quote from Elder Khem who has sice left SMC and gone to Kean Svaay:
"It's the word of God, and that is NOT awkward."  
Our district meetings are very enlightening.

Well, that's all for this week. Its been a little disappointing with a lot of appointments falling through the last couple weeks, but we're not getting down and still working hard. Steungmeanchey is doing well. Love you guys! 

Love, Sister Davis
 The SMC house before transfers: Sister Nov, Sister Harris, Sister Young, me, Sister Ray and Sister Allen in front. 
Remember Mei and Mian? The twins from Tuolkork? Well they moved to SMC while I was in Battambang and now I'm serving in their branch again! Its funny because when I came back they were like "Sister you know so much more khmer now!"  so instead of making fun of me like they used to, they now make fun of sister harris. Its interesting to be on the other side. They kind of remind me of the pixies from harry potter 2. I love em both. 
 Sister Harris doing some roadside bike work. The bikes we get are AWFUL and constantly falling apart. PS I got Sister Homer's old bike. Its purple and I call it Penelope. 

                                                                   Trash Mountain!
This is on the very very outskirts of trash mountain. On the inside, they have another big trash pile but I didn't want to take pictures there because people watch and its awkward.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Soymilk from the world's armepit

This week as a compliment during our weekly planning, Sister Harris told me that she has observed that I'm good at controlling my temper. I'm still laughing about it. 
I would like to contend that I still don't know how to control my temper, it's just that Cambodia has sucked the temper out of me. There is only so much to be angry at when you are in a country that's always sunny and has people who wear pajamas everywhere and laugh when they rub your arm hair. (Sister Harris got her first taste of that the other day. I think she was less than pleased.)

So it turns out that all of my companions, Sister Harris included, have taken it upon themselves to teach me all of the songs from the Children's Songbook. Since it's Christmastime, Sister Harris has taken her job seriously. She won't let me listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but she has marked the pages in my songbook for the Children's Christmas songs. She goes, "Joseph goes to Bethlehem, The Nativity song and Picture a Christmas. those are the heavy hitters. You have to know them for when you get called to work in the Primary."  That wasn't even a funny joke.

Om Im, one of our hilarious recent converts (the super old, roly-poly woman) is definitely starting to warm up to us. At first, I think she was reluctant to let go of the elders and have the sisters teach her instead. It only took her a couple weeks. Now she is really starting to love us. Whenever she sees me she waddles over and smiles real big and squeezes my arms and everytime we go to visit her at her house she gives us her homemade soymilk. (Poor Sister Harris is just going to have to accept the fact that I write unfortunate bathroom stories about most of my companions). So, I haven't had any problems with the soymilk, but Sister Harris has a very sensitive stomach and she is straight up CONVINCED that the stuff is evil. She had had it twice already and noticed similar......consequences both times. So this past week We sit down at Om Im's and she goes "Let me grab the soymilk." I don't thnk Sister Harris understood what she said though because Om Im wentinside and SIster Harris goes, "Oh no. OH NO. Is she getting the milk?" I just sort of smirked at her and when Om Im came out with the pitcher Sister Harris is like "Oh no. h gosh. Here she comes. She's coming. That stuff is straight up laxatives is what it is!!"    was in tears laughing so hard at my companion's pain. I'm a great mom. Always lookin out for her. (Although I will say that I did offer to drink her cup when Om wasn't looking.) Anyway, that's how you know someone loves you - when they offer you homemade soymilk that acts as an atomic bomb to your system.

Well, we contacted a lot and picked up a couple new investigators this week. They both are familiar with Christianity a little, and they both seem pretty sincere, but neither of them came to church this week because they were both going back to their "homeland" this past week. recently everyone and their dog has been headed back to the provinces for long weekends and its getting super annoying. It just makes me wish I could go with them back to Battambang or Kampong Cham. PLus, they dont come to church and thats also pretty annoying. 

Also this past week Sister Harris taught English class and it was AWESOME. Elder Plothow, who normally teaches our class, was sick and he texted me asking to fill in as English Class Leader (I had some PTSD flashbacks from when I was in Battambang as the English class leader when he asked me) and to find someone to teach. So I asked Sister Harris to teach because she actually really likes teaching. It was super cool. She was totally in her element. She was making everyone laugh and I got to sort of assist her. It was super funny. We read the story of the Boy who cried wolf and she did a pretty good rendition. Then we taught them about the word "rather" which is way more difficult to explain than you think. Sometimes english cass is so dumb (This is how you pronounce the letter 'P': "Puhh!") So stupid. But SIster Harris made it really funny for them I think. I was so proud of her. She didnt think it was that big of a deal though. She goes, " I may not be able to speak Khmer, but I am an EXPERT at English. No problem!"

Another fun Sister Harris-biking story. So her bike chain keeps on getting all messed up. And it has happened so many times til this point that we have worked out a system where she will scooter herself on the bike to catch up to me and then grab onto the scarf that I tie onto my backpack (i have told you guys about these scarves. they work for many, MANY situations). So then I just tow her on her bike behind me. Hopefully we'll get a picture of it one day. It's hard work for em but also hilarious. For some reason, when Sister Harris loses the abilty to bike, she also loses the ability to remember to STEER herself. So I go by a moto or a tuk tuk and all I can tell from behind me is that she has let go of my scarf, almost run herself into the opposing vehicle and I usually her an "Oh no!" and a squeal of fear before she falls off her bike. Pretty funny for me. Last night I was towing her like normal back home at night in a pretty quiet area near our house and she just goes "It's like I'm in a parade. Hello Cambodia."  Her sense of humor is something you have to hear in person. It's got me doubled over every day.

Another good quote from her about contacting people: "Some people are such HATERS! It doesn't have to be hard!" Good advice for all you normal people out there. If you meet the missionaries, be nice and pleasant. If you really ask them to, they will just go away. We are not like mosquitos that just keep on coming back no matter how many times you swat. Dont be awkward like cambodians and just laugh and beat around the bush. Just be normal and nice and honest. It doesn't have to be hard!

Here's my one complaint about the Cambodian society this week: these people need to get on top of their addresses. I can't remember if I mentioned this part to you guys when I was trying to explain how difficult CBR finding is here. There really is no such thing as an address here. Few people actually have a house number, most people don't live on main roads, and almost no one can tell you what nieghborhood they currently reside in. It's downright impossible. All I do is go up to a person and Im like, "Sorry, to bother you, but I'm just looking for Russei village, group 6. Do you know where that is?"
Most common responses:
1) No.
2) I don't know my own group.
3) I don't think that place exists.

Number 3 is real. If they don't know where it is, they will just tell you it doesn't exist. THIS IS MY LIFE.

Another random quote from Sister Harris about that one offended less-active family: "They're not the only people that hate us. They were just the first."

The coolest thing that happened this week was that Brother Gibson and Brother Tanner came to our mission. The First Counselors in the General Sunday School Presidency and the General Young Men's Presidency from Salt Lake. Sister Harris was playing a special musical number for a meeting they had with the members and so we got to meet them and say hello and when brother tanner asked me where i was from, he was like "Oh New Canaan! We had an Elder Larson from there!" Turns out he was the mission president in Brazil over Nick Larson's mission. Small world.  I love little connections like that. He was a really nice guy. So theres your shout out for the week.

I think thats pretty much it. I'll leave some stuff for next week. Nothing new with any people we are teaching but we're hoping that things start happening soon. We're both loving Steungmeanchey and the members here. 
Love you guys and miss you so much!\

Love, Sister Davis

PS You guys are all slacking. I got a postcard from 9-year-old Luke Bryant this week, which went as follows:

"Dear Chole,
Are you haveing fun in the armepit of the world? hahahaha Do you like being where you are? because I wouldnt because I don't like liveing in a armepit. good luck love, luke."

This is the best mail I have received on my whole mission. The rest of you better keep up to Luke's standard. 

Sorry i didnt really take any pictures of myself this week but you can have some random ones of sister harris if you want!

I sat here doing nothing for like 10 minutes trying to figure out what the subject of this email should be. I got nothin. The weeks are getting more boring by the second. Being in the city is just far less exciting than being in the provinces, is my conclusion.

ALTHOUGH. wait, this really happened. It was like my worst nightmare realized. SO, two nights ago, Sister Harris and I are just sitting on her bed, watching Finding Faith in Christ in Khmer together, munchin on popcorn that I got way too excited about because i hadn't seen popcorn in 6 months, havin a good time. And halfway through, out of the corner of our eyes (we spotted it at the same exact time) this HUGE BLACK MILLIPEDE came crawling out from under Sister Harris' bed. Let me give you a quick reminder: I am in Cambodia. NOT america. As in, this is NOT the type of caterpillar I would pick up with a stick in my backyard when I was five. No, no my friends. This is the infamous Cambodian millipede that I have only heard stories about. it was probably about five inches long and each individual thorax/body part/i dont know what you wanna call it, was the size of my fingernail. and there were like 20  of them. legs and feelers that were about and inch long each. I may as well have seen a snake in our room, it was that creepy. I just screamed "whaaaaaaat!!!" and Sister Harris goes "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" and I just started screaming at her "GET THE RAID GET THE RAID!!!!!" (raid is my best friend) so she runs downstairs to the bewilderment of all the other sister in the house and grabs two huge cans of raid and Sister Nov, the resident Khmer in the house is all like whats going on? and i yell down to her that it is one of those really huge millipedes and shes all like "WHAT?!?!" and grabs a brrom and runs upstairs to our room. SIster Harris and I are both spraying LITERS worth of raid onto this thing that seems completely unharmed by the poison we are dumping onto it, and then sister Nov takes the handle of the broom and just goes WHACKWHACKWHACKWHACKWHACK until it is nothing more than a powder. (Sister Nov is a little scary as far as Khmers go but shes fearless and really useful when you have questions about Khmer things or food, so I like her). The she turns to us and goes "That thing will bite you, and if it does, you have to go to the hospital." THIS IS NOT YOUR NORMAL MILLIPEDE.
but dont worry the story gets worse. Sister Nov told us to take all our stuff out from under our bed in case there are more hiding in our stuff. So last night i gingerly went to work on all of the junk i have under my bed (just so we're all on the same page: i have been in this house for almost a month and the mission STILL has not gotten Sister Harris and I closets. So our stuff is all over the place). i moved it all into another room, and swept out from under the bed, where not only did i find a disgusting amount of sawdust from the termites, but also two count em TWO cockroaches. I had to call Sister Harris to sweep them up for me. Cockroaches are just my kryptonite, we all know this. So anyway, thats the end of my nightmare. it was probably way less dramatic than i made it sound but it still was probably the worst part of my week.

Best part of my week? Probably wednesday. We had the leadership meeting for zone leaders and sister training leaders and I got to see all my friends that are still back up in Battambang. Sister Jepsen brought down some stuff that I left there, including some paintings I had done by a member there. For one of them I asked him to paint a scene of KampongCham and it is BEAUTIFUL. He kind of ran with it, so its not the exact scene i asked for but i still love it. Its a classic cambodian painting. So good.
Also, during the leadership meeting, Sister Thain got called on to lead the music, and in her typical Sister Thain way, she announces, "I dont know how to lead music, but ill do my very best to try!" and so Sister Litchfield crouches down in her seat and starts leading with her hand right in front of her so that sister thain would know what to do. It was TOO GOOD. Sister Thain was glued to sister litchfield and STILL couldnt follow the song properly. It was absolutely hilarious. I LOVE seeing my MTC group and hanging out with them. Now, almost our whole group was in that meeting, either as zone leaders or district leaders, since the district leaders had a separate meeting that day too (or sister training leaders). It was a super fun day.

So other adventures: This past week my bike has had a couple problems. So one day, we had to stop on the side of the road to get it fixed but I didnthave enough money with me so we had to go to an ATM. Luckily, one of our members was riding on her moto to work right at the time that we were trying to find the nearest bank. So our member wanted to lead us in the right direction but because i didnt have a bike, Sister Harris and I had to dope each other. So i was like, "okay you sit on the back, ill dope you." and she was like "NO WAY." that is ALWAYS everyones first reaction to dopeing so i had to suck it up even though I KNEW she wouldnt be able to dope me. I was like "its harder than you think SIster Harris." and she goes "I dont care, you sit on the back." So i did as i was told, and i was like "okay ready? 1, 2, 3!" and not three seconds later, we atrted careening into the side of the road. Sister Harris was like Öh NO NO NO!" and we almost died I swear. So then I go, "see? i told you! Get off, and let me dope you." So we switched and I got going for a bit and Sister Harris the whole time is like "woah, woah WOAH, this is so uncomfortable...." and that was just on the paved road. Then we got to the part of the road where they were doing construction and sister harris goes, "if you hit a single pothole, I am going to go flying." Well, i didnt hit any potholes, but bumps for sure. For like 50 yards sister harris was just yelling and complaining ÖW OW OW oh man ow OH MY GOSH THIS HURTS" to the point where i started laughing so hard that I had to stop riding the bike. As soon as i did, she goes " IM OFF!!!" and just hops right off and starts walking. She walked the entire rest of the way. I was laughing so hard. I dont think SIster Harris has been that expressive the whole time I've been with her. Oh man, I am still laughing about it as I write this email.

I have definitely had to get creative feeding Sister Harris. If it were up to her, she would eat nothing but bread an cereal, with the occasional scrambled egg. But she won't eat most of the Khmer food I make for her either. But we also cant afford to be buying american food for every meal. SO this week I actually made her a khmer version of spaghetti and she loved it! I also splurged a little and bought some cambodian made chicken nuggets. So they were weird, but still decent. And I made mashed potatoes so that was pretty good. All in all, I'm keeping her alive. However, I personally think our house should be under quarantine. Sister Ray, Sister Nov and Sister Harris are all super sick with this nasty cold thats almost as bad as the 5-week battle I had with bronchitis when I was in Battambang. One person in each companionship. So SIster Allen, Sister Young and I are all walking on eggshells trying not to get sick. Its been a pretty basty week, what with the vermin and the random hacking of phlegm that can be heard at any given time in our house.

Other than that, things are pretty normal. We didnt have a ton of lessons this week because it was Om Tuuk here in Phnom Penh (the water festival). So for those random holidays, its always hard to get people to meet with us. We survived though. All of our recent converts are still doing awesome. And im feeling really good about the less-active work we are doing here too. We are getting the senior couple to do family home evenings with less active members, and our attendance is slowly climbing up, so hopefully that continues. Really nothing too interesting this week. Our investigators are.......dadael. not progresing a whole lot. We went to see this new investigator, Bong Sophea, whos daughter is deathly afraid of us because we are white. Liek this girl literally WAILS and SCREAMS the second she sees us (Sister Harris is convinced its mostly me.....the record would probably support her theory). So one time she left before we started the lesson because her daughter started crying so we sat and waited.....talked to her neighbors and waited,.....checked our watch and waited some more.....she never came back. Go figure. Thats how things work here. People are totally fine inviting brand new strangers into their home and then....leaving them there. So all of our investigators are a little apathetic like that. Sometimes its difficult to get them to understand the importance of the message we are trying to share. Because I know if they understood.....they would be RACING to church.

Well I love you guys a whole lot. Its weird to think that I am currently the oldest sister in the mission already and that ill be home in just a few months. But I am still missing you guys! Keep up the good work!
Love, Sister Davis

PS During companionship study one morning, we had a neighbor singing karaoke to some (apparently) popular songs and Sister Harris was like Ï LOVE THIS SONG!" Apparently its called "All of me" and it goes "all of me loves all of you" or something like that. And she goes, "if they start playing Human by Christina Perry, I'll die." And I was like.....I literally have no idea what you're talking about. Sometimes I forget how much I've missed being gone. Anyway, funny/weird experience i had, realizing that my current companion can catch me up on whats been happening. And to think, this whole time we've just been talking about how much we love the Hannah Montana movie.

                                      Dont forget! Jesus loves you!!!
                                     Sponsored by: the Korean church.

                                          Litchfield and thainburger. I love these girls.

                      leadership meeting with most of the people from my MTC group.

This is why we cant afford to buy american food, sister harris. 1 pint of ice cream: 18 dollars. PINT.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Toad wants to eat the flesh of a goose

This week I went on an exchange with Sister Nov, a Khmer sister serving in SMC 1. During our language study she taught me a bunch of inapprpriate Khmer phrases (mostly fighting words and immature things having to do with flatulence) and also some old Khmer proverbs. The Khmer elders crack up every time I secretly tell them I want to get in a fist fight with them (Khmer style). It must be simialr to when I taught Sister Vorn how to say "You're killin me Smalls!" because that never got old. I considered making one of those my subject line for the email, but there's this thing about not speaking casually in emails (yeah right) so I picked an old Khmer proverb instead. 

"Toad wants to eat the flesh of a goose" - Someone is trying to flirt with someone else who is out of their league.  You're welcome.

What did we do to celebrate Halloween night you ask? Sister Harris says, "I think we ate dinner and went to bed at 9:30." 
So thanks to everyone who sent me their pictures from what they did on Halloween, but I think my night was probably the craziest of them all. Who would've thought how much I would miss Halloween while being on a mission? Just so we're all aware, chocolate here is CRAZY EXPENSIVE. God knew He had to send me to a place where everything American/delicious is outrageously priced. Well done.
Anyway, the senior couple in SMC, the Belchers, decided to have District meeting at their house this week, and we had a mini -Halloween party after our meetings ended (Don't tell President Moon). We made Jack-o-lanters and went "trick-or-treating" and ate hot dogs. HOT DOGS. First time in.....well, at least 14 months. 

​We ended up hanging these up on our wall at home. Too cute.

So anywho. Sister Harris and I are getting even better at our contacting games. This week it was "Who can get the most people to just blatantly walk away from you."  Not five minutes after we set up the rules, Sister Harris goes up to a girl coming home from the factory and all she says is "SUESDAI!!" and the girl just turns right around and walks away down an alley. as soon as she turned her back, sister harris turned to look at me and we both silently raised our eyebrows at each other and raised up a single finger: "1"   It was pretty funny.

Well, in terms of teaching, let's see what happened this week. We have this investigator that the elders used to teach. (Let me just clear something up about whitewshing: it means, the elders just dump all of their non-progressing investigators on you and claim its because "they're women" until you find out they kept all the progressing single women who also happen to be very wealthy. Very sly. So essentially we get a clogged investigator pool of people that no one wants to teach, and our only other work is contacting and finding less actives. You know what? Bring. it. on. #whitewashing2014.) 
ANYWHO. The investigator the elders used to teach. Her name is Ming Rani. And she's nuts. She's got this one grudge with the church that keeps her from going to church at all and its actually a problem you would never expect from a Cambodian. She came to church once a while ago, and in the Sunday School class asked the teacher if it was okay to go to worship at the wat. The teacher, of course, said yes (because thats what i deal with here folks e.g. go back to my Battambang emails) and Ming Rani, who has been a devoted Christian for many years, got so offended by that answer that she has refused to come back. Even though she acknowledges that we don't ACTUALLY TEACH THAT AS DOCTRINE and she knows that it was the teacher that made the mistake, she has essentially said that she doesn't even want to associate herself with that teacher and now refuses to come to church. I've tried everything. I've taught her about forgiveness, about how people are imperfect but Christ's gospel is perfect, despite the mistakes of men in teaching it, and I've taught her about how we have the ability to choose to do whats right for ourselves even if others around us dont do what is right....I've even built up her ego and was like "Well, we need members like you to be a good example for those you don't necessarily know what the right thing to do is!" Nada. this woman wont take the bait. The problem is that she full-heartedly agrees with what we teach and has a ton of faith and her son is the young men's president. The other issue is that she keeps on talking about "folllowing the commandments, you have to follow christ!"and sister harris and I are both like "WELL WHAT ABOUT KEEPING THE SABBATH DAY HOLY?!?!" Its funny to hear her talk about it while its obvious that she isnt doing the right thing either. Its sad, but we'll probably have to drop her soon. 

Our recent converts tho......too good. Remember Om SOkha, my FAVORITE less-active membver form Tuolkork? She used to sing and say "hallelujah" in the middle of her prayers? I have found a very mild, ACTIVE version of her in my recent convert Ming Puang. Right before we rode into a lesson with her (she is also a former christian. Baptist to be exact, whic will be relevant in just a second), I was telling Sister Harris about Christian in Cambodia. I told her they are basically all classic Baptists who sing gospel songs and shout out random phrases during their prayers. Luckily Ming Puang was next on our "to-do list"and we sat down in that lesson and she goes "yes, yes, before we say the prayre though, i would like to sing for you, a song from my old church." and proceeds to sing this Khmer version of a gospel song (Khmers do this weird thing when they sing, Thai people do it too, and im working on it so when i come home i can sing that way for you guys). And sister Harris was just wide-eyed the whole time trying not to laugh. As per usual, Ming went right into the prayer from the song without taking a breath (one of those awkward things when you dont know when they are starting the prayer) and SIster Harris was barely keeping it under control. 

OKay and this is my favorite part of the week: the girl with the crazy eye. Sister Harris and I went to find this less-active member, thinking it was the ming in the front of the photo that was pasted onto the CBR. After much struggling with mediocre map drawing, we finally found this apartment building. The ming from the picture was nowhere to be found, but her daughters were. One of them had.....a bit of an eye issue. I am NOT judging by appearances. BUT this girl had a big white lump in her eye, and even for someone like me (and i like to pretend i have SOME social tact) it was a little difficult to focus on the lesson. Anyway, we leave, and once we get far away from the house, sister Harris goes "DID YOU SEE HER EYE?!?!!" I died laughing. Nope, Sister Harris i happened to miss it. Sister Harris was grabbing her chest and being like "no no no. no i cant handle those kinds fo things. oh my gosh." lo and behold, we go home to check out the CBR again, and it turns out "the girl with the crazy eye" as Sister Harris likes to call her, is creeping in the corner of the picture, out of anyone's focus. Dont worry, despite my koon's fears, we will be going back to visit them. 

Here's my little churchy thought for the week. I LOVE the church buildings here. Especially this one in SMC. all the church building here are largely the same. And anywhere else, probably not that impressive. BUT HERE, these church buildings are quite literally a beacon of light. Riding your bike through this area of the city is treacherous, dirty, dusty and depressing (credit for that alliteration?) Its like every second of biking I'm all tensed up, ready to get hit by a truck, coughing up the dirt I'm swallowing and trying to ignore the piles of garbage and naked children and beggars on the side of the road. But I can see the church steeple from far away and as soon as my bike crosses the threshold of the gate, its like entering into another world (America, if you will). I can see groomed lawns, children playing safely with their siblings instead of peeing off of mountains of garbage and gravel in the middle of the road (real life).  Its as if I cant hear the traffic, or smell the garbage and my entire body relaxes. Im not kidding you when I say it is a physical AND emotional relief to enter the courtyard of the church here. And Sister Harris and I have frequently said since being here, that seeing the church is like seeing a beacon of hope in the distance. It may seem a little dramatic, and for us, yes maybe. But for a random Cambodian? Maybe not. The church is probably the closest they can get to heaven here. And I am just SO grateful that it's here for them. I am grateful its here for me. It represents not just safety and protection from the outside world, but for me, it represents all the peace and joy the gospel brings. I love the church. Enough said. 

Okay, well thats all for this week. Things are going well in Steungmeanchey! I feel like we're doing a lot of good work. And that is a great feeling! I love you all tons and miss you so much! 

Love, Sister Davis

These pictures are from today.

Besides the fact that I've never looked worse, I am now covered in sludge from the flooding streets of Phnom Penh. First thing in the morning. definitely wakes you up. 

THIS TRAFFIC. YOU GUYS DONT EVEN KNOW. This is an every single day thing happening in our area. The traffic is so bad that everyone just turns off their motos and we sit their in the dark for approximately 45 minutes. trust me, I WISH that was an exaggeration. So many people and motos (as you can tell from the picture, which doesnt even do it full justice) that there isnt even room for us to walk through, let alone weave our bikes through the traffic. it fills up the sidewalks and every inch of space. You literally cannot get around it. EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE.

This is a picture of me missing Instagram and trying to take an artsy picture of my beacon of hope. It worked right?!
my koon getting stuck in the water. I turned around after making it through and find her struggling on either side of her bike, almost falling over. Shes such a trooper. But i still laughed at her and snapped a pic.

i feel like a weird mom who takes way to many pictures of their children? She forgot to take off her helmet, then collapsed into a chair in the church and proceeded to eat a random banana a member had given us. she just cracks me up ALWAYS.