Monday, December 8, 2014

Deck the harrs with boughs of horry Farararara rararara

^^^^For those of you who understand that reference, I'm finally living my dream. #christmaswithasians
Well, this was was pretty great for Sister Harris and I. I'm gonna start off with the main story of the week, to get that out of the way.
So I think I may have mentioned last week our new almost-investigator, Bong Sokha. She is probably about 30+ years old and has three kids and a husband. She's the neighbor of our favorite recent convert, Om Im.
**It was kinda funny because the first time we had a real conversation with her we were teaching Om Im about temples and the whole Plan of Salvation thing came up so Om Im was talking about after we die and when we get resurrected and being the blunt, old lady Cambodian that she is, Om Im yelled out "So when you get resurrected your body will be perfect! Right now you've only got one arm! After the resurrection you'll have TWO!!!" And I was like.......what? THE WOMAN IS MISSING HER ENTIRE LEFT ARM AND I DIDNT EVEN NOTICE. The funnier part was after we left the lesson and I turned to Sister Harris (who is still having a little trouble understanding Khmer) and I go "Hey did you know Bong Sokha only has one arm?" And Sister Harris goes "SHE ONLY HAS ONE ARM?!?!" You could say we're a pretty observant duo.
Anyway, when we first contacted her, we let her know about church and she seemed interested in learning, but she came back and told us "my husband doesn't want me to go to church in the evening because I have to take care of the kids." SO that was a real bummer for us. Husbands here are always geting in the way. BUT THEN she came to church anyway, and was like "My husband doesn't know Shhhh!!!" and we were like "ok!!" and then she came to stake conference too! Half of our active members didnt even come to stake conference! We were stoked. So then we finally set up an appt to teach her on saturday, two days ago. So we taught her lesson one and literally, im not mkidding, so many incredible, wonderful thiungs happened during that lesson that im just gonna bullet-point them:
- She read the last paragraph of the BoM intro and told us "It already feels right with my heart. I already believe its true." 
- She offered top say the closing prayer and started crying as she asked heavenly father to bless her family and forgive her of her sins
- when we taught about baptism she said she weanted her children to be baptized with her, because she doesnt want her family to be split up. They all have to be in the same religion together.
- She asked us questions to make sure she understood what we were teaching (particularly about prophets) and that is a BIGGIE for cambodians.
- She said that right now her husband drinks but she wants him to stop and that she believes that when she goes to church with her family, they will be happier. 
Guys......this was like the miracle lesson that i have been waiting my whole mission for. SIster Harris and I left her house and stopped our bikes around the corner because we were smiling and laughing from excitement and almost crying about how amazing it was. And then it was all followed up by Bong Sokha coming to church yesterday for all three hours AND bringing all of her kids. When I asked her how she got there she goes, "I walked from my house...its not too far." And I was like, "tell that to all the grumpy people i contact who lives 3 minutes from here and tell me its too far for them!!!!" It felt like my heart ripped in half. I told Sister Harris that she had walked all the way with her kids and Sis Harris just grabbed her heart and yelled "SHE ONLY HAS ONE ARM THOUGH!!!!"  She is absolutely GOLDEN. I already love her so much and want to help her and her family with all of my heart. She is SO SWEET and sincere and faithful. I just cant even handle it. She's still new, and we don't know exactly where things will go from here, because new investigators are so unpredictable, but so far she has been one of the greatest blessings/miracles of my mission.
Speaking of Sunday, it was probavbly one of the best SUndays of my whole mission. We had Bong Sokha and her family, plus all of our recent converts, plus a less-active family who used to be very offended but they came AND the mom bore her testimony, plus an inactive young women who got help from Mei and Mian to come to church, PLUS we got a referral from a member Sister Harris and I call "the beautiful lady" because she's probably the prettiest Cambodian I have ever seen. Her referral came to church with her (!!!!!!) and was like "Here is my phone number, this is where my house is, these are the hours Im free, call me anytime." She was great. AND THEN (no Im not done, just chill for a sec) a random woman that Sis Harris and I contacted came top church too! We don't ever expect our contacts to be fruitful because everyone rejects or is like "uhhhhhhh......yeah i mean i guess you can come back, i dont really care......" and then they turn into non-progressing investigators. SO we didn't get too excited when this woman told us she wanted to learn. Still, I went back to teach her when I was on an exchange with Sister Matthews, and her husband joined in and they said they were gonna come to church. Lo and behold, SHE ACTUALLY CAME and she stayed for all three hours AND the third hour lesson was on tithing and instead of running away and screaming she turned to another member and asked, "Can I pay my tithing now?"  
***Cue the "Hallelujah" chorus. ***
So, miracles. They are real. They are available to all (even if you are whitewashing Steungmeanchey) and they WILL happen if you just keep on being patient and "look up" instead of getting discouraged. He knows your hard work! Keep on going, and you will see the miracles not far off. As they say in Cambodia, Suu Suu!!!
Okay, so thats enough of that. But, a random thing: another great moment this week was when President Moon informed us during zone conference that FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY CAMBODIA IS GETTING REAL HYMNBOOKS!!!!! 
This has been a great frustration of my mission. They currently have a little paperback hymnbook in Khmer that has about 50 songs in it, and approximately 10 of them are actually sung because the Cambodians never want to learn the other ones. Do you have any idea how many times I have heard tone-deaf Cambodians singing "Do what is right"?? DO YOU?!  Well, no longer. I found the hymnbook transcript in the Kampong Cham house when I was in my training. The hymns have been translated into Khmer for a looooong time, but it has just been sitting in Salt Lake waiting to be approved. President Moon actually expected them to get to the country last Christmas, but they never arrived. Well, they are finally on their way. I am SO excited. Someone sent some copies of the christmas hymns in Khmer to the choir director in our branch and it got be so excited. 
On that note, I am re-writing "The Christmas Song" to fit the lifestyle of a Cambodian missionary. So far all I've got is this: "Fish heads roasting on a open fire, stray dogs nipping at your heels, off-key church hymns being sung by khmers......." and then something else. Thats where my long bike-rides go in case you were wondering. 
Stories about little Cambodian children:
It's a really good thing "Stranger Danger" isn't a thing here. Sister Harris and I were trying to get in touch with this one inactive member who hasn't come to church since like maybe 2004. She nice enough, but just hard to get hold of because she works a ton. So we went to her house which has this annoying bamboo gate out front, and we were calling her name from outside the gate but were getting no response, except for the blank stare of a tiny asian boy (who had a mullet, no less. Thats right: Cambodians love to give relaly young kids mullets. I just.....I dont even know.) So I asked him like three questions about if Sophoan was home or not, all of which got me more silence. I just started rattling at this awful gate trying to get it open and get inside but I couldn't unlatch it. If it were me, I probably would have freaked out that a stranger was trying to get in my house unannounced. Eventually he just hopped off his perch and unlatched the gate and let us inside even though he had legit NO IDEA who we were. I asked again if Sophoan was home and he just shook his head. But anyway, the point is, it amused me that he just let two random white strangers into his house without question. 
Second story: So, all Cambodian children here are taught how to talk to Americans. Its actually super annoying. They never see white people, so when they do see us its like one big joke to them and you get random drunk men yelling "HELLOOOO" in your face because its the only english they know. BUT, the cute part is the kids. You get HOARDS of tiny children gathering together rujnning alongside your bike yelling out "Hello! Hello! Hello!" waving at you and trying to grab your hand. So, some of the older children, if they have been taught in school, they know one other sentence: "What is your name?" and they say it the exact. same. way. every time. Its like an asian accent and they say it super fast: "HELLOWHATISYONAME?" If you respond and say "my name is sister davis. What is your name?" they will just laugh and have no idea what you're saying becuase its just a random sentence they memorized in school. So one day SIster Harris turned around and was like "Hey! Whats your name?" in a normal american accent. They didn't respond. And I was like "Sister Harris, they'll never understand you if you say it like that. You have to say it with an asian accent." and she was like, "Oh whatever, sister davis, you're full of it." So she gets back on her bike, and just for my own satisfaction I yelled out "HELLOWHATISYONAME?" and immediately came the response "MYNAMEISPISETH!" 
Sister Harris just goes "Ohh, COME ON!!!" It was one of the better moments of her training Im sure. If she remembers nothing about missionary work, at least she'll remember that. 
So to sign off, I'll share on other thing. Earlier in the week, before the whole Bong Sokha thing happened, Sister Harris and I were having a hard time. We've had little to no success since we've been here, and at the beginning of next week, things weren't looking up. We had gotten a "referral" for a girl named Bong Chan who the elders told us wanted to learn, and we went all the way out to her house which was in CHINA just to have her be like....I dont care about your church. I just wanna know about the free english class you teach. So I was getting bummed and honestly, pretty frustrated. But then recently President Moon had this teaching that came to mind. He talked about how we have our numbers that we report on every week, called key indicators, and they are things like number of lessons taught, number of new investigators, number of contacts and referrals....etc. He said, "Yes, those numbers are important in reporting and setting goals. We have to set goals to improve our work. BUT, I'm far more interested in the key indicators that never get reported. How many people smiled today because our missionaries stopped to help them? How many people were kinder to their spouse or children because the missionaries gave them a call and it reminded them to be more Christlike? How many people felt LOVED because our missionaries stopped in just to say Hi? How many people served someone else because of the example of our missionaries? And on and on....he gave so many. And I'm gonna be really honest here.......I have gotten to be one of those missionaries who gets really concerned about the numbers and gets really stressed when I'm not making my goals. It's something that, for the past few transfers, has really frustrated me. But that training made me realize a few things: When I finish my mission, I am not going to have a count of "total lessons taught". BUT I'll have a ton of memories to think back on and a lifetime to think "Did I do everything I could to help others and be the best person I could be?" SO should I care if I met my goals? Yes, I should care because that is what will help me progress, but I should also keep in my mind that Heavenly Father knows our hearts and desires, not just the numbers written in our planners. So, thats my piece for this week. 
I love you guys and miss you guys, and hope you are gearing up for Christmas like we are! I am definitely PUMPED for this Christmas! Way different from last Christmas when I was in KC and homesick like nobody's business. 
Send me some snow and peppermint bark.

Love, Sister Davis

I dont know how it got here....but I was pretty pleased.

What I look like during candid photos, thanks to Sister Harris's stellar eye for timing. This is the face I make when I remember that I'm not supposed to be taking pictures while proselyting so I can avoid looking like a tourist.
---> who made that rule anyway? Unfortunately, as long as I'm in Asia, I ALWAYS look like a tourist.

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