Monday, March 16, 2015

                         Pictures from Zone Conference with Elder Gong, member of the seventy.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Jorge and I

Okay for real though, let me just complain for a sec. Today we had to go to a new email place because ours was closed, so we stopped at the first internet shop we saw, and now I am stuck in a dingy, grungy place where someone apparently decided it would be a good idea to spew sweet chili sauce all over my computer booth (INCLUDING  THE KEYBOARD). So now my fingers are really sticky and every five minutes i have to use hand sanitizer to cover up the smell. Also, the "2" key on my keyboard is sketchy, so in case I have to type numbers later on in this email....dont get too confused.

Im trying to get the motivation to write this email. This very well might be the last email you guys get for the blog just because they take so much darn time and I am so darn lazy. 

So, my "Children of the World" story for the week:  So last Monday during proselyting hours, SIster Mathews and I came to a construction site in our area (no surprise there) and for some reason, the people in charge f the construction thought it would be a good idea to block off a main intersection with 15 foot high mountains of dirt and rubble. So sister mathews and i could have easily turned around, but that would have added on an unnecessary 20 minutes to our travel time so we just stood there staring at the mounds of dirt with market pedestrians crowding around us trying to direct us which way we should go. Finally, I made the executive decision to get off my bike and essentially throw it over the mountain. As i was struggling through this not-well-thought-out task, four boys of about 6 years of age with no shirts on peeked their heads over the top of the mountain and called down "We'll help you!" Climbing my own body over the dirt was sort of a crawling thing and required both my hands, so you can see how I was struggling with my bike. But one boy grabbed my front tire and pulled it towards him and then each of his friends grabbed a part of my bike and they lifted it over the top of the mound, calling out directions to each other with me at the tail end holding onto the back tire. I slid myself down the other side of the mountain and then they went back to help Sister Mathews. I was just smiling through the whole ordeal. Once we got our bikes on the ground I told the boys, "If I had candy I would give you some! But I dont have any, sorry. Thank you so much!"  And they just waved goodbye as we rode off. I Cambodia. and Cambodians. And little seemingly insignificant moments that I will always smile about for the rest of my life.

Also, Sister Jepsen totally thvee baabed me this week. (im sick of not speaking Khmer in these emails. Sometimes its just easier.) Our power went out and the landlady was over at our house trying to fix the situation, and Sister Jepsen started a conversation with her about Cambodian music, and then we parted ways. Well, wouldnt you know it, the landlady didnt forget. So she called the nearest sister to come meet her outside the gate of our house to give lyrics to her favorite cambodian song. Well, I was the lucky winner and so I went out to meet her, and instead of just handing me the lyrics she started serenading me and trying to teach me how to sing (lesson: Cambodian music DOES NOT mean american music with Cambodian lyrics. It means weirdo ancient asian tonal songs....that I am not capable of singing well, but im really good at making fun of). She literally didnt stop singing for ten minutes and then she was like "okay got it? your turn!"  And I mumbled some random words trying to read her chicken scrawl and also failing at the tune of the song and she was like "okay you dont know it yet. listen again."  ROUND 2. I finally got back inside and threw the paper at sister jepsen who was like "she sang for you?! Dangit I wish I had been there! Do you think she'll sing again for me?"  So i went to wash my dishes. At this point, you should know that our house and the landlady's house are connected and her bathroom connects to our kitchen. So WHILE THIS WOMAN IS SITTING ON THE TOILET, I hear her voice through the walls, "SIster! Listen to this:"  and then she starts playing the song on her phone and I just have to stand there listening through the walls as she plays this ten minute long song. SIster Jpesen and I covertly witched places so that sister jpesen could be like " Oh yes, ming, i see, oh yes, understood okay i know the song now thank you!"  It was a little extreme. but very funny.

Also....some mornings Im doing my personal study, trying to read about Jesus and stuff...............and I hear monks chanting to our neighbors next door. Some might say its ironic. Just makes you think, ya know?

So yesterday, SIster Mathews and I had a lesson with one of our investigators Kunthia. She is...............interesting, to say the least. She has very little education and is difficult to teach because she thinks our church is a school and that everything we teach is just a nice bunch of stories and not actually truth. not because she stubborn or unbelieving, just because shes kind of a ditz and no matter how many time we explain what our job is, she doesnt really understand. But she comes to church every week and keeps all of our commitments and reads and prays and she wants to learn so hey. we'll teach. We decided it would be good for her to see the movie Finding Faith in Christ, which details His life and shows His power, authority and divinity. It was HILARIOUS to watch this with her because every time something important happened she seriously did not understand. And every time something unimportant happened....well she tended to focus on that. Example: We are watching the scene where Thomas is talking about Jesus Christ and she goes "What? What is that they're eating? Beans?"  And then when Jesus is helping the disciples on the boat she goes, "Wow. So pretty. WOah! Thats a lot of fish!"  Like...she is hysterical. It is a crack-up to teach her. Shes not just your average blonde, she cant read or anything and has ZERO knowledge of God and its just a little difficult to help her understand the importance of what we're teaching. But shes really sweet and honestly more reliable than most of our other investigators so we're stickin with her. 

PS Sister Jepsen is very much convinced that I have a tapeworm.

So to end off, we had zone conference this past week, and Elder Gong from the Quorum of the Seventy came with his wife. they taught us a great deal about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and helping our investigators and members to understand the importnace of the Book of Mormon, and especially to help them all have "a meaningful experience" with the Book of Mormon. And of course, how to become better teachers. It was really awesome. one thing that I really loved, on a personal level,m was when Elder gong started the meeting. I think I told you guys a while ago that my MTC teacher, Lookkruu Oleson, once made me a promise that by the end of my 18 months of service, I would know why Heavenly Father sent me to Cambodia. Well, one of the first things Elder Gong told us was this: "You can rest assured that God wants you to be here right now. He called you here. He sent a lot of other people to a lot of other places, but He sent YOU, HERE, NOW."  It was so powerful the way he said that, and wouldnt ya know? Zone Conference was on the day of my exact 18 month mark. I still dont necessarily know the exact reason WHY, but I know that it was no mistake for me to be called here, now, to this place, at this time. 
I have been grateful for every single moment, difficult, painful, awkward, strange, hilarious or otherwise. 

I can honestly say that I love my mission. I love Cambodia. I love all the people I've met here. I love Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon. I love this church. And I know its the only way for us to find complete, true and lasting happiness. I am eternally grateful for my mission, which taught me to love these things more than I ever have before.

Peace out. See you guys soon.

Love, Sister Davis 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Godfather, Part 7: The Sister Training Leader

Okay Im really sorry you guys, but emailing seems to be pretty fruitless to me nowadays. Dont be surprised if you dont get these big long weekly emails for the last couple weeks of my mission.

Anywho, recently Ive been making jokes about how Im not even done yet and the mission has already bot caoled me. that is Cambodian for toss into a trashcan like a rotten fish head (PS Sister Spangler bought me an actual fish head to keep as a pet this week, but thats another story). I dont actually feel that way, but I started cracking jokes about it when i stopped being the Sister training Leader for my last transfer, and then there was this secret English Class meeting that I wasnt invited to (im trying to be sarcastic by the way. President Moon doesnt do "invite-only" meetings). So we were laughing about that to and i was like, whelp they dont care about me and my opinion anymore. this all became quite poignant as Sister Spangler and Sister jepsen called me into their room to have a little chat. They were all like...we need your help. You are the most senior sister in this house and we're doing a sister training leader exchange but we need you to go with one of the sisters because she wont listen to us. I started laughing because I was like, I dont know why you think she would listen to me, but they made the point that in Khmer culture age has a big pull. So they pulled me in to be a third sister training leader to help out with this one exchange.
(obviously Im making this sound way more dramatic than it actually was).
I am not kidding I had a field day with the whole fiasco. I couldnt take it seriously. I SO BADLY wanted to grab my stuffed animal and start petting it and throw some cotton balls in my mouth and go, "You show me nothin but disrespect. And now, you come to me, askin for help, on this the day of my daughters wedding." (Brooklyn accent implied).

I was a brat about it because exchanges are on of my least favorite things, BUT I did what they asked me to and came out alive. it was actually a really fun day and I was happy to do it. I went with Sister Harris comp and at the end of the day she and I were cracking each other up as per usual. And then Sister Jepsen stole Sister Harris'cake mix so all in all, it was worth it.

I also have your weekly English Class Sign Holding quote of the week.
A young man who speaks decent English for  CAmbodian comes up, finds out that we speak Khmer and goes "Wow! how long have you been here for?" Me: "a year and a half." Him: "You lovee Cambodia?" Me: "Yes, I love Cambodia." Him: "Good. CAMBODIA LOVE YOU TOO!" That was great. It finally loves me back, you guys.

Speaking of weekly things: Bong Sokhaa's weekly spotlight. here it is:  We decided to go see her as a back up one night, so it was an impromptu lesson that we hadn't fleshed out much. We just did a really basic lesson on the life of Christ and shared John 3:16 (classic). And she just sat there and after reading the verse she goes, "Sometimes I wonder how He did it. I wonder how God would send His own Son. it would be too hard to send your own child to do that. But I know He did it for us. Not just for one of us, but for EVERY ONE OF US." And I was like, you bascially just dissected one of my favorite quotes from brilliant author CS Lewis without even knowing it and you live in a shack in Cambodia! I swear she is perfect. Her kids are doing great too. They are still learning with the elders, and they join in and pray in our lessons.

I would also just like to go on a rant about this one guy in our ward named Bong Dara. He has been a member for probably close to ten years and he is seriously AWESOME. He is one of those people that you look at and just go....youve got a special place in the celestial kingdom, my friend. I wont go into too much detail, but essentially He runs our whole ward and does everything. he sacrifices times to help everyone in every activity and the whole place would be nothing without him. Anyway, a couple weeks ago, a random guy came up to us (again while holding the English Class guys probably think its the only thing that we do. In reality its just that a lot of crazy things happen when youve got two white girls standing on the side of the road in the middle-of-nowhere cambodia inviting people to come talk to us) and this guys handed us to cans of orange juice. I took it gingerly and then the guy took off his helmet and what do you know! its Bong Dara. I cannot tell you how busy this man is and how so much fo his good deeds go unnoticed, but he still makes time to buy the missionaries some soda. He is the definition of  Saint. Look it up.

Sidenote: as part of the exchange I missed a wedding for a member in SMC and Im still a little bitter about it.

OH ALSO, this week, I have my very last Zone Conference of my mission EVER. and its fantastic because Elder Gong is coming! A member of the Seventy is gonna be all up in our Zone Conference and I'm stoked about it, so wait to hear more about that.

i think thats all I've got for this week! Love you guys very much. Have a great week!


Sister Davis

                      Sister Spangler doing something. I think these photo creds go to Sister Jepsen.

Some exchange pics. We couldnt keep it together long enough. 

                                                                             semi normal.

                                     also a delayed photo from siem reap i stole from sister litchfield.

One of the best members in Cambodia. Named Zion (pronounced Seee-yon). She should be leaving on a mission soon. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why thanks, that was very American of you

Okay I am super pooped from email time today and Im running out of gas so I'm probably ging to make this a short one and save the other cool stories fro next week.

I hope you were all kind and gracious to your friendly neighborhood monks, joined in on the 11 am trash-burning party and ate some Chinese cabbage soup. 
What? You didn't do those things? Because here in Cambodia, we are all about the monk life. 

I made Cab Chae for everyone in the house, which is one of my favorite Khmer foods. Its actually the Chinese cabbage soup I just mentioned, but Sister Ky taught me how to make a Khmer version when we were in Battambang and it is MY FAVORITE. Sister Jepsen also really liked it, but for some reason I couldn't convince Sister Mathews and Sister Spangler to eat the pig skin. Go figure.

This is what happens when Sister Spangler doesnt know how to set the timer on the camera and takes an unannounced candid of us eating soup. Please note Sister Mathews (who refused to eat my soup and ate plain spaghetti instead). #weeklyplanningincambodia

In other news. we helped a family scrape paint off their stair railing for a couple hours and now I'm pretty positive that I have lead poisoning (among other diseases.) 

We also had one of our super less active LAs tell us she was too busy to say one prayer with us.....after we helped her cook and clean her house for 45 minutes while she just sat on a bench. Dont get me wrong, I love serving the members, but sometimes the Cambodian idea of "busy" really throw me for a loop. 

We had a great lesson with Bong Sokha (when is it not a great lesson). We reviewed about prophets, and at the end  of the lesson after we had read Doctrine and Covenants 1:38, she just goes, "Even though God can't talk to us, He send the prophet to talk to us and its the same. I know that the prophet will never lead us astray, not even a little."  So theres your weekly Bong Sokha quote. Shes the reason I keep on going some days. 

And heres the real story of the week. During weekly planning, while we were taking a break and eating soup together, Sister Jepsen showed me some of her pictures from Battambang. If you guys want to go back through my emails a whiel back, you will probably find one where I talked about a wheelchair investigator I had in Battambang named Chendaa who was INCREDIBLE. And I was only able to meet her a couple times because she lived so far away that it became too difficult to meet her or for her to go to church and even though I biked all the way out to her house, it was near impossible to meet her. But either eay, she was amazing. Well, she and Sopheap, another wheelchair investigator that i had that ALSo ended up not working out, got baptized with Sister Jepsen!!! They both moved really close to a village that has a couple members and were able to start learning again after I left. Because they have crippled legs, Sister Jepsen had to carry them into the baptismal font and she was telling me the funny story of how it all worked out and so I started laughing and happened. While laughing at this story it just hit me how happy i was that they had gotten baptized, how sad I was that I hadnt been there to see it and just how much I love Battambang and serving in Cambodia and I just started bawling. I know I just told you last week I cried too but I promise I dont cry that much! I think my last transfer is just really filled with emotions. Either way, I was laughing and crying HARDCORE at the same time and all the other sisters were like ..............what is happening to her. It was just a swirl of emotions when I realized how close I am to leaving this place and my heart truly ached. It was a sadness about ending my mission that I really hadn't experienced before. And Im not even done yet! All I know is this: when I get home, your patience will be much appreciated because apparently I cant control my emotions anymore. SO moral of the story: it is dang hard, but I love my mission and everywhere I've been and everyone Ive taught and all the experiences Ive had here. And it hurts sometimes when I think about leaving in just one month. 

Like I said, I have a lot more stories coming next week, but im totally burned out for today so you'll just have to wait. (dont worry, they're not terribly exciting.) But, I love you all, I miss you and I hope you have a great week! 

Love, Sister Davis.

                                     Children of the world. Swimming in a flooded neighborhood.

                         Candid sugar cane juice shot in my happy place near Om Som An's

 HAHA FOOLED YA! you guys all thought I was in the city didnt you? just kidding I am. but luckily I am in the citys biggest area and as long as you're willing to bike 2 hours you can get out to places like this, that make me miss the provinces so much it hurts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Mosquito named Rainbow Dash

This week while we were holding the English class sign, a woman came up to talk to me and Sister Mathews about our class (she didnt know we spoke any Khmer because she was one of those people that demanded to speak in English to show off how much she knows) and as she drove away on her moto she yelled out, "WELCOME TO CAMBODIA." thoughts: 1) I have never had someone say "Welcome to Cambodia"to me on my whole mission. I feel like that was a bit of a delayed welcome party. 2) I feel like it was a really nice, ironic thing to happen to me at the commencement of my last transfer in Cambodia where I have been living for A YEAR AND A HALF. She didnt know that though so i just decided to say thanks and wave goodbye.

Also, yesterday in church, I was leading the music as perusual, because Cambodians can't handle anything that is even slighlty related to music and also the missionaries run the branches here so they ask me to lead every single week (add that to my list of things my mission has taught me: I can now lead music. Badly, but I can do it. Before my mission, I was of the variety of people who just sign their name in the air when they dont know how to lead). Anywho, I tried to move up the music stand and literally broke it in half. The whole top just popped right off, leaving me holding the tray and there I was, standing in front of the whole congregation, caught red-handed as the culprit of who broke the music stand as Elder Neuberger continues to play the intro for "Come, Come Ye Saints." Needless to say I had a panic attack and the former bishop from Tuolkork who now lives in my SMC ward was cracking up at me from the front row. 

Also, just so we're all on the same page, my crazy investigator Ming Rani is trying to forcibly adopt me. She knows I'm going home in 6 weeks so she keeps on being like, "Sister! you can stay with me! I will feed you and take such good care of you. You could get a job when you finish your mission and just stay in Cambodia forever!" And I'm like......uhhhhhhhhh you know my biological parents take pretty good care of me too. back in AMERICA. So thats an ongoing problem, but I choose to look at it as a compliment.

OH MY GOSH I ALMOST FORGOT TO TELL YOU GUYS. the best thing ever happened this transfer. Sister Nov got a last-minute transfer call to leave SMC (thats not the good part, because now I can't have her kill cockroaches for me or tell me funny phrases in Khmer) but to replace her.........PRESIDENT MOON SENT SISTER JEPSEN. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So now, I'm living in a house with Sister Jepsen and I am LOVING IT. She and I go way back. Like 4 or five months. but in mission terms, thats a long time. Its like having one of your best friends make a surprise visit. We are living it up and reminiscing about BB like no other. She's having a rough tiem adjusting to the city. As all of us who come from the provinces do. We ran into her at the church building and she is in first branch but has to bike through the worst, ugliest, grossest part of my branch to get there and she saw me and ran up to me and was like "Sister Davis, hug me. I HATE IT HERE. there are no trees! It's so ugly!" It was really sad. I had to pat her head and tell her it would be alright, even though that was a lie, because I know better than anyone that Steungmeanchey never stops being smelly and ugly. 

I also almost severely offended a member into less-activity this week. hooray! Here's what i say: If you never offended a member, I don't believe that you served a mission in Cambodia. So anyway, I told this one member that we couldn't eat lunch with her, she hung up the phone on me, and it gave me such bad anxiety that I caved and ended up stuffing three large vietnamese springrolls down my throat in less than 4 minutes ( a record). Then they gave us some fanta and sent us on our way. Aaaaand they came to church tomorrowso we know its all good. This family was already super offended and less-active so it wouldnt have really been my fault, but you get the point. I have to suck up to everyone these days. (for the record, that was a very abridged version of the story). 

Okay, so now to get to the good part, we had some FANTASTIC lessons this week. Srei Lay and Bong Da are doing amazing. First of all, we had two lessons with Bong Da this week. In the first one we taught the Plan of Salvation and when we were teaching her about our life on earth and the Atonement of Jesus Christ she just ran with it and basically ended up teaching herself. We segued into baptism and she just was like "OHHHHHH. So baptism is like SUPER important!!!" She even worked it out in her own head how baptism is related to the Atonement of Christ and the cleansing power of being baptized, so we can become clean from sin. At a certain point I had to be like, did we even teach you that? where did that come from? And then afterwards she goes, okay so now I have a question. What about people that didn't get the chance to learn before they died? Like my dad. Is there anything I can do to help him even though he's dead?  And guys.....I started laughing. In the middle of the lesson I started laughing because i was like, "YES THERE IS!!" she just is so in tune with our lessons and so smart and accepting that I couldnt even handle it anymore, to the point where i started laughing. Then, she went on to teach her eight year old daughter what a prophet was and how God helps us through his Living Prophet, and I just about died. In the same week, we also taught her about the Doctrine of Christ, which starts with faith and usually in those lessons we ask, "Okay, so now we've taught you what faith is. What do you think is the way that we show our faith in God?" So we taught her what faith is and then Bong Da goes, "Okay so this is what faith is. But tell me Sisters, how can I SHOW my faith in God?" I couldn't even handle it. She asks our questions before we ask them and THEN ANSWERS THEM. She's so smart! I think she's awesome.

And then there was Srei Lay. Goodness gracious Srei Lay. So she is the former Christian, and from the beginning she has been very smart and willing to listen, but I could tell she wasn't accepting everythign we were teaching about baptism and the priesthood and ESPECIALLY the Book of Mormon. and thats a big one because if she doesn't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, our teachings are going to go nowhere with her. So we planned to teach her the Doctrine of Christ, and then at a certain point, SIster Mathews and I were like....No. that is not going to help her. She knows what faith and repentance is. that is not going to increase her desire to learn with us. And so we changed the lesson plan and decided to just teach her about the Book of Mormon. So we went in and started reading from the Intro with her, and we read every paragraph. And we would stop and she would ask these awesome, in-depth, kick-butt questions and to be honest, some of them felt like they were beyond my ability to explain in Khmer. Sometimes I would look at her face and I was like....dangit. She has no idea what I'm talking about, I'm just confusing her more, and now she's never gonna believe this is true. I honestly almost gave up in the middle of the lesson. But we finished the intro, and Sister Mathews and I were bearing our testimonies of how the Book of Mormon is true and while I was talking she just held up her hand to get me to stop talking and I was like oh. okay... and she just goes, "Sisters...I just want to tell you. Last week when you were teaching me, I did not understand. You kept on reading from the Book of Mormon but I did not understand what it is or where it came from and I could not the Bible true or is the Book of Mormon true? but now......I know they are both true. I know the Book of Mormon is true, because we read this introduction." And it was like BOOM. she gets it. She knows. We committed her, closed the lesson and asked her to say a closing prayer. While she was praying I got tears in my eyes because I was just so happy and filled with light! It was one of those moments where every thought I had was so clear and everything was just so filled with the Spirit and I KNEW that everything was true. It was a big moment. And it was unforgettable. it was probably the most gratifying lesson of my entire mission, for reasons I can't even exlpain. i would have to talk about it in person to explain to you guys the full significance of this lesson. All I know is, we said goodbye to Srei Lay, she left the room, and I said to Sister Mathews, "Sorry, I just need a second." And then i turned around and just started bawling. Like i was just CRYING! I just finally felt like it was all worth it and that that lesson was just as much for me as it was for Srei Lay. that lesson was my gift from Heavenly Father, I am not even kidding. It was also weird because seriously i havent cried in so long. For a while I was joking to people that my mission has hardened me so much that i dont know how to cry anymore. So anyway, I HAD to tell you guys that because it was one of the best moments of my mission so far. Steungmeanchey is a hard area, but I have seen a few very key, very important miracles. And I am grateful for everything in this area and in this country, even the hard things,  because I was able to have those few moments and miracles that have shaped my whole view of my mission. 

Anyway, I think that is all for this week. How was everybody's Friday the 13th?!?!? (that matters more to me than valentines day. Sister Spangler is still cracking herself up because we celebrated "Galentines day". aka......we ate terrible Cambodian made chocolate). 
I hope you all have a great week! Love you and miss you!

Love, Sister Davis

PS a fantiastic missionary scripture I found in the Bible: "Yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" 1 Corin 9:16.  My new mantra. and it should be yours too!

 here it is!!!! The grand Cambodian nativity. Its definitely got that Khmer flair. but its hand-carved and gorgeous. And also.....yes. I too am convinced that elephants were present at the birth of Jesus Christ in the Middle East. not a doubt in my mind. 
At English Class Activity night, the elders brought an airsoft gun as a prop and Sister Nov took it a little too seriously. i told you guys.....shes kinda scary. 

I dont know if you can tell from this picture, but my map-drawing skills are superb these days. 

                                                           ​"Arise from the dust, O Jerusalem...." 

February 8, 2015

I'm pretty much out of clever titles for my emails. Does everybody's mission go downhill in terms of exciting stories to tell in the last two transfers? Because I feel like thats whats going on in my life. Although it could just be from a lack of desire to stop my bike so that I can take notes on what has been going on. 

I think the biggest news is that this week I got into a huge fight with Elder Duffy over politics, which is......not new for Chloe but almost unheard of for Sister Davis. Elder Duffy is currently the Office Elder, and he and i were in the same MTC group and we're also secret besties. But, Elder Duffy told me who he voted for in the last election because "thats what all his friends did" (I'll give you one guess who he DID vote for) and THEN (this is where it gets crazy) he proceeded to make fun of me for wanting to major in political science and so I stalked out of the office like a 3-year-old throwing a temper tantrum until I saw him the next day at zone training and we cleared the air over a really terrible Cambodian-made pizza. Unfortunately, while explaining the ordeal at zone training I consequently offended Elder Allred for HIS political stance and now all the new elders in my zone are afraid of me. I would like to cite an email that I sent from Battambang when I mentioned how I havent actually gotten better at controlling my temper, its just that i have very few things to get a temper about. It shows when you bring up politics in a conversation with me for the first time in 18 months. All in all, Elder Duffy has forgiven me and vice versa. We're back to being secret besties.

So yeah. that was the most exciting thing to happen this week. Sister Mathews thought it was pretty funny. When I would get distracted and go on rants about it when we were supposed to be doing our Daily Planning she would just sit there and listen and laugh at my psychotics. What a good companion. 

Oh, on that note, we got transfer calls last night. My last ever transfer calls! Crazy huh? Anyway, Sister Mathews and I are staying the same. No changes in comp or area. Super boring. but also super easy. I'm happy though because we just started teaching a couple new investigators and I'm really excited to see how they turn out. I told you guys about Dani and Srei Lai last week, but the REALLY awesome one is named Bong Da. She was a referral from a member who used to work with Bong Da, and she brought Bong Da to church. She stayed for all three hours, brought both of her kids, AND when we talked to her she told us that.....(wait for it)......SHE'S FREE IN THE MORNINGS!!!!!!! ****HALLELUJAH AND AMEN***********  You should know that most of our mornings consist of biking incredibly far distances to see the only three members we know of who actually have time n the mornings on Monday-Friday (all less actives) after which my comp and I just sit on our bikes going nowhere for a while, debating with the awkward silence about whether or not we should go contacting even though deep in our hearts we know it is the only actual option. (I say "my comp" because this is not a Sister Mathews thing, nor a Steungmeanchey thing. I think its a life thing. Nobody wants to meet with the missionaries first thing in the morning. 
ANYWAY, the point is, Bong Da is great! We found her house last week on Wednesday morning, and she has a super ncie skincare business in her house so its a great place, and even though she doesnt have any real background in christianity, she still knows how to pray from one of her friends and she said that every day, she prays that God will show her the right way and show her the right path in life, and She considers us coming to teach her an answer to her prayers. Already wants to join, totally down with what we teach. Super smart. Super nice. We are really excited about her. 

One fun thing that did happen this week was Sister Harris came to our house because she was on an exchange with Sister Nov! It was so fun to have her back in her old humble abode.  The second she walked in the house she goes, "This place still smells the same. I hate it." I missed that girl. Needless to say, we spent our night talking in our old room, reminiscing about our TOP NOTCH Christmas display and all the toher antics we got up to when we were together, and especially doing sweet impressions of Om Im yelling at her grandson Vichekaa. Just thinking about Om Im still cracks Sister Harris up.
Speaking of Om Im, she continues to be a beacon of hope in the dust that is Steungmeanchey. 
We went over to visit her for a second, and she was just like, "Come 'ere! Sit down!!!" (Om Im could be throwing a dinner party and she would still invite us in to sit down and have a chat). She cleaned off a dirty bench in er house and proceeded to tell us the story of how she shared the gospel. It went a little something like this: 

"I went to the church to exercise this morning and met a man. He was a Christian too and he asked me if I go to church and I was like Yep! This church right here! this is my church. And he started going off talking about how Mormons are wrong and joseph Smith is wrong, and I was like No! joseph Smith was a prophet and he restored Christ's church in the latter-days! Its the exact same church that Christ established, and He picked Joseph Smith to lead it. Thats right, right? okay good! because thats what I told him! And then I asked him, does your church have temples? WELL OURS DOES. Does your church have a way to help and save your ancestors who died without knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Well, OUR DOES! That's right, right?" 

Listening to Om Im tell a story is one of the few things that gives me joy in this life. She gets so into it! And then she just paueses and breaks out into a big smile because shes all proud of herslef. And you know what? She should be! The members here need to open their mouths like she does, because I can promise you that that Buddhist grandma who squats on the corner to sell her fried bananas is not gonna listen to a word that two American girls say about Jesus Christ. But I would bet my hand-carved, GORGEOUS new Cambodian Christmas nativity that she would listen to Om Im! (thanks dad.)
here's how you know Om Im is a miracle worker. I told you a couple weeks ago that our crazy investigator who's always offended, Ming Rani, came to church and managed to pick a fight with Om Im of all people. Well, she came again last week, and OUT OF NOWHERE, I turned the corner after sacrament meeting and find Ming Rani linking arms with Om Im as they bond over their swollen, achey feet (a chronic condition Om Im suffers from and has wasted no time in explaining to us). Om Im was offering her advice on medicines, and Min Rani was just eating it up. As a result, they didnt disagree over a single thing during Gospel Principles class and just were best buds all morning long. It was a Cambodian miracle if I've ever seen one. 

Other good things that happened this week: Sister Mathews and I went to visit Om Som An and we found a beautiful little rice field area with cows and stuff down a windy path. It had GRASS (like real, green, GRASS that I havent seen in forever) and it looked like a old farm/cow paddock (except for the rice fields). And it was dead quiet and just super peaceful. A lot of times, I just feel like this work is super hectic and I get stressed out because things aren't what I thought they would be and I feel like I'm not doing enough and the bishop of our ward sends the young men out to BUY BREAD for the sacrament ON SUNDAY and im just like "THIS IS NOT WORKING!" But, I have had brief, scattered moments of real peace and serenity in this country that make me remember why I love it. And while I was standing there on the edge of this beautiful bike trail, in the very very RARE moment of silence, I just felt that....He was there. He created that beautiful little spot. And he loves it probably more than I do. 

So, a boring week but a good one nonetheless. I think its no secret that Steungmeanchey didn't make the best first impression on me, but I have worked hard here and Im happy that I get to stay in my last transfer and see all my work out to the very end.

I love you all, and miss you very much. Have a great week everyone!

Love, Sister Davis 

 On our way home from English class, I got to the door to open the lock and......a rat FELL OUT OF A TREE and landed right in front of me. never gets old. 

                                                This adorable kid at church, in his Sunday best. 

 Found this gem at the mission home the other day. Me, Sister Peterson and Sister Thain at Christmas 2013!!!! Candids in President and Sister Moon's photo album. 

I bought these two completely useless books a couple weeks ago. So I dont know the word for "motivation" in Khmer but at the very least I'll have a really great legal/historical vocabulary.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Face wash is not a social circle

So, now I officially know why missionaries don't take vacations. Because I went to Siem Reap with Sister Litchfield for 2 days and the first day back was some hardcore whiplash from taking a long proselyting break. We basically just talked for 42 hours straight, got no sleep because the sisters in Siem Reap didn't know we were coming, and just basically didn't do missionary things. It was very odd. But worth it. I KNOW I KNOW you're all wondering..........Yes, I did get to ride an elephant. And don''t worry I've got enough pictures to last you until the end of my mission. 

So here's how the Siem Reap trip went:
We took a 9-hour bus ride to Siem Reap where Sister Litchfield and I shared ice cream bars, talked about squatty-potty quality, took mirror selfies and chatted til our throats were sore. The only thing that made it AWFUL was because some FOOL thought it would be a good idea to bring an open package of Durian onto the bus. AKA a closed, un-venitlated area filled with 40 other people. For those of you who don't know, Durian is an absolutely DISGUSTING asian fruit that smells incredibly strong and I swear to you is filled with toxic fumes. I would cover my nose with my scarf and it still couldn't block out the smell. I seriously thought I was gonna pass out. When I finally complained about it, Sister Litchfield goes, "Yeah, that person deserves to be executed." So that was good.
Then we got to Siem Reap and for our restful night, we got thin mats, no sheets, no pillows. Essentially we were like dogs sleeping on the welcome mat, according to Sister Litchfield. I will give her her credit though. Her mat was even thinner than mine, so she was basically sleeping on a tile floor. I woke up in the middle of the night (during the only 20 mins of sleep i actually got) and found that she had wrapped the mat around her and she was sleeping in it like a giant burrito because she was cold and had no sheets. What a trooper.

Then we woke up at 4:30 am to get to Angkor Wat in time to see the sunrise. Apparently the sunrise at Angkor wat is AWESOME but the day that we went was super cloudy. Still pretty, but nothing amazing. Anyway, it was still good because we got inside the wat at like 6 am and nobody is there that early so it wasnt crowded at all. Really cool. We went to three different wats (Angkor wat is the big, famous one, but there are a ton of smaller wats surrounding the area for miles.) We went to Bayon, across a river where they have the elephants, and another small temple called.....Tam Prol? I cant remember honestly. That one is famous for the giant trees that are growing inside the wat. Then we bought a few things, ate some lunch and went home. On the bus ride home, there was a group of maybe five khmer people sitting around us and they were talking about us the whole time but Sister Litchfield and I couldnt care less because we were having our own conversation. Until the end where sister litchfield asked me to subtly listen to what they were saying because she was curious (and a vietnamese speaker, so she actually couldnt understand everything) and when I tried to quiet down to listen in, a lady behind us was like "Stop gossiping them! Stop gossiping them! they might speak khmer!" (she said that in khmer obviously). And then a guy was like, they're french, they don't know khmer! and then I was like, yes i do. And they all went "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" and started laughing because hey, they've been on a bus for eight hours with two white people who could understand what they were saying the whole time. (including the parts when they were observing our conversation and making fun of our hand movements, over-the-top reactions, and constant laughter). It was way funny, Sister Litchfield and I were dying. this is probably the only country in the world where that would be a funny situation instead of an awkward one.

I would say my favorite parts of the trip were when Sister Litchfield was taking pictures of me on the elephant (which i will explain later), seeing two drunk British men staggering/swaying their way into the wat and having Sister Litchfield say to me, "Those are your people, Sister Davis." and when Sister Litchfield told me I have the humor of Ricky Gervais. We had some really good conversations.

Anywho, this week I took sister mathews out to that one less-active member who lives an hour and a half away. This time, I reallt thought I was gonna pass out by the time we got back to the church. While we were out there, we went to visit another member who actually just recently moved from Trash Mountain in 3rd branch to this random place called "Smile Village" in our branch, in the same area as the super far away member. her name is Bong Siam, and she was already pretty less-active, but now she is super far away from the church with no moto or bike to get herself their. And she has started sending her kids to the wat to learn with the monks because they have no other schools near there. (This place is WAY out of the city). Anyway, the reason I tell you we went to visit her is because I sat down on the floor in a hand-me-down outfit that Sister Homer gave me bfore she left, looked at the wall and what did I find? A picture of dear Sister Homer with this lady's family. In this woman's house. Wearing the exact same outfit. Kind of random, but it made me laugh. That family LOVES Sister Homer. 

Another thing, we went to visit Bong Sokha this past week, as our newest recent convert. She is still FANTASTIC. We got to her house and asked if she was still reading and praying, etc, the usual, and she responded with "Well, I finished it a while ago, so I started reading again. I'm back somewhere in Mosiah." SHE'S SO GOOD. I cant even tell you how rare that is here. I'm lucky if I can get an investigator (or members for that matter) to read just one verse in the scriptures per day, let alone finish the whole book in 2 months. Also, while we were teaching her, we were explaining the fact that shes a member now so we'll reteach her the lessons and continue visiting her and she was like, "Thats good, because I still want to learn more. I'm not done learning. I just want to keep on learning!" Like, I dont even know where she came from. She's so good.

Also, that less-active member Izabel came back FOR THE SECOND WEEK IN A ROW. She is seriously the sweetest. I'm so glad she's coming back. 
And I went on an exchange this week with Sister Nov and she came into my area. And we had an AWESOME day. We got two new investigators, one of them came to church (and also started crying when she said her first prayer for us) and the other one is a former Christian. She still goes to her old church which is why she didnt have time to come to ours yesterday, but shes very knowledgeable and a good listener and I'm excited to keep working with her. Overall, a really good day. Seven lessons that day, so not bad at all. 

Anyway, thats kind of all I can think of. After getting back from Siem Reap there wasn't too much exciting stuff going on. So sorry about that. The only things I can think of are stories like when Elder Lauritzen immitated what his Khmer accent would sound like if he were speaking english and I was crying I laughed so hard. But thats one of those stories thats really only funny to me. Sooooo, yeah. again, sorry. 

But hey, to close off the email, I've got a ton of pictures, and a nice little quote from Sister Litchfield. So you should know that in our mission, we have this thing called a "Mission Vision" which has motivational sayings and scriptures to guide the work that we do on a daily basis. One of them is: "Obedience brings blessings, Exact obedience brings miracles." Good one right? Its like, OBEDIENCE. the difference between starting studies at 7:00 and starting at 7:04. And I'm totally down for it. You guys all know, one of the greatest things I've gotten out of my mission is an appreciation for being obedient, following the rules and guidelines, and just plain DOING WHAT YOU'RE ASKED. It makes you so much happier when you do. I have a sincere testimony of that. I wasn't fully happy on my mission until I learned how to be really, 100% obedient (well, thats impossible, but trying as hard as i could to be obedient) and working as hard as I could, too. So, in case you need any more convincing, here's what Sister Litchfield says:

"Obedience brings blessings. Disobedience brings diarrhea." And in Cambodia, she couldn't be more right. 
THE POINT IS...........just do what you're asked. Learn to love the commandments, and the God who gave them to you. Its the BEST way to be happy, when we are living in accordance to the principles that Jesus Christ himself taught. Why wouldn't we want to do what he did?!?!?

I love you guys very much, and hope you are having a great time back in America (or wherever you are). Keep up the good work! I'll see you all soon!

Love, Sister Davis

So....I borrowed Elder Asay's "Selfie stick".  its a real thing. And apparently neither myself nor sister litchfield knows how to use it. It is way hard! so in case you were wondering, that explains the lack of pictures of the two of us and one really bad selfies to show just how bad we are at it.
Nailed it.

almost there.....

Cambodians never smile in photos. Why should I???

Okay so theres a reason I was laughing hysterically throughout this whole trip. Sister Litchfield went to Siem Reap in a former life, so she didn't want to ride the elephant that badly. So I was like, ok, then you stay on the ground and take pictures for me. So I got on the elephant and it started walking around and Sister Litchfield all of a sudden becomes terrified of this huge hulking animal lunging towards her, so shes having a minor panic attack, while at the same time stumbling backwards and taking pictures of me. So shes just like, "Okay, here we go, good stuff, okay, dont kill me." and she kept on tripping over herself , nearly dying, running around trying to keep up with the was a sight to see. Only a really good friend would suffer like that for me. 

                                                     Thanks for the butt shot, Sister Litchfield.

 Also, I know its a little disappointing, I wasn't actually ON the elephant, but I have connections, so one day when I'm not a missionary.....I'm goin back.
also, dont worry, i got a nice few shots of the korean and chinese tourists while i was there too. they are just as annoying and funny as the internet makes fun of.