Monday, January 19, 2015


So Sister Harris may be gone, but now we've got Sister Spangler in the house and thats a delight. She is from Sister Harris' group so its like, the next best thing. Sister Spangler is the one who appreciates my obsession with Instagram and ...............................

this is one of those times where I have to interrupt myself. So, I'm currently in the Internet Cafe and there is a loud Tv right in range of sight. I do my best to avoid it (as always), but this one particular commercial simply could not be ignored: Cambodia's Got Talent. Its a real thing. Tell your friends.

So. Sister Spangler. Anyway, the point is, while Sister Matthews was teaching English Class this week, Sister Spangler and I were busy being really unhelpful. Heres the problem: they recently revamped the English class lessons to be more modern and helpful to the students, and this past week's topic was "the Internet." So while Sister Matthews was following the lesson plan and doing what she was supposed to do, Sister Spangler nudged me and was like, "we should teach them about hashtags." Now, we all know my hashtag skills are a little rusty, but I did my best. I ran up there and drew a hashtag sign and I was like, do you guys know what this is?! And a few of them yelled out "number! sign for number!" and I was like, "NO. this is called a hashtag." I briefly explained the many uses for a hashtag, and then I just went down the list for examples, with Sister Spangler calling some stuff out too. "hashtag friends! hashtag so fun! hashtag we love hashtags!" I think it was pretty useless because they seemed really confused (hey now, think back to the days when you had to learn what a hashtag was).  Then, when I sat back down, this one really smart girl in the class started talking to us about the different electronic communication methods she uses and Sister Spangler and I asked her if she used Instagram. She said no and both of us were should get instagram. Then her friend sitting next to her opened up her instagram account and requested to follow sister spangler and I. It was a hoot. 
You guys should know that the whole point of english class is to get referrals for people who also want to learn about the church, so when we had our "after-english class-meeting" Elder neuberger asked if anybody had gotten any referrals and Sister Spangler and I were like, "No referrals, Elder, but we DID get two new followers on Instagram so I would say it was a success." 

All joking aside, I was assigned to give the spiritual thought at the end of English class, and we had about 20 new students show up that I had never seen before. So I was going to share a thought on gratitude, but I ended up changing my mind at the last minute to talk about prayer and getting to know God, essentially, because there were SO many new people who probably didnt know much at all. So i talked a little bit about prayer, shared a story that a member had shared with me a few days earlier about when she prayed for the first time and God answered her much needed plea, and closed it up. Pretty simple. Then at the end, we announced that anyone who wanted to learn more about our church should read the Book of Mormon and that we had free copies at the front. We gave away like 20 copies!! It was crazy! Granted, they're Cambodian, so its not like they are opposed to our church or anything. they most likely didnt even know what they were taking they just figured, might as well, since its free. But it was super cool anyway. They were all way stoked to get a copy. So hopefully they all come back!

Speaking of Sister Spangler, I got to go on an exchange with her this week in my area and it was super fun! She is already a great missionary. We took some selfies, taught some lessons, ate some sandwiches from our sandwich lady, and found a new sugar cane person, so overall it was a very productive day.

Also, on that day we taught Bong Sokha about tithing and she was totally up for it! She ahd learned a little bit about it in relief society already so she understood pretty well. But she is like......SO POOR. So at a certain point I asked her, "Bong, do you believe that if you pay your tithing that God will help you and your family have everything you need?"  And she goes, "Well, I'm not sure yet. We'll have to wait and see when I pay my tithing next month."  Done deal. 

Also, I had a lesson with her last week with Sister Mathews where we decided to just take some time to read the Book of Mormon with her. After we had been teaching her for about a month she told us that she had read all the way to Alma, which for Cambodians is UNHEARD OF. I feel so bad about it, but I almost didnt believe her because she said she couldnt remember where she stopped. But when I taught her with Sister Mathews I got my answer. We wanted to pick up where she left off, but she wasnt sure where she had stopped. But she was telling us about the family relations and how the generations work in the Book of Mormon and then I was looking for Jarom which is like the tiniest and most overlooked book in probably the whole Book of Mormon and Bong Sokha yelled out while I was flipping pages, "No youve gone to far! Jarom is back that way, its after Enos!"  And I was like....I dont even know where Jarom is, and she knows exactly. I was floored. Then after we read, we were saying a clsoing prayer and her little 5-year-old daughter Kannakaa is CRAZY. always running around, never sitting still and giving Bong Sokha a whole lot of grief. Anyway, during the prayer, I heard some moving around and felt Kannakaa climbing around and I peeked my eyes open and saw that kannakaa had seen that we were praying, and immediately climbed into Bong Sokha's lap and closed her eyes and folded her hands. Calm as a cucumber. It seriously made me want to cry. So anyway, after the last few months of sheer bliss, Bong Sokha should be getting baptized this Sunday. 

The other thing that made me want to cry this week: Finding Om Som An. It's this really long story that goes all the way back to Tuolkork. No joke. When I was in Tuolkork there was this one CBR for an old member and nobody knew where she was, and I'm sorry to say, I just didnt put that much effort into finding her. I just put the CBR aside and went to find other people. But the picture that was on that CBR stuck in my mind. I never forgot about it. And halfway through the whitewashing of Steunmeanchey, a solid 8 months later, the elders in our branch here in SMC gave us that very CBR. I was like, "Where did you get this?!" Freakin out because I totally remembered it. I read the comments and some other missionary had apparently found a way to contact this woman's daughter, and had written her phone number on the CBR. So I called the daughter and she told me that her mom had moved to live with her in our area, in a place near Wat Ceeng Aek. Which Sister Mathews and I later found out is like forever away. So we went all the way there, and when we got to the wat I called her again and was like, okay we're here but we dont know where your house is. (just be aware that i am shortening this story by MILES for you guys.) So five minutes later, I see this old, hunched over woman in a purple shirt, riding a bike and looking around all confused and honestly a little annoyed. It had been a few years since she got baptized so she looked much older than her picture but I KNEW it was her. I literally RAN from the wat entrance to go meet her and was waving like a maniac yelling "OM! OM!"  and I ran up and grabbed her arm and was like "We're here! the sisters are here! thank you so much for coming to get us!" As soon as she saw me running her face totally opened up and broke out into this huge smile (moment #1 for this story when I almsot started crying). Then she turned her bike around and we followed her down a couple dirt roads to her house where we met her daughter and granddaughter. The first thing she did when we got there was she sat us down, got us some cold water, and came back with a plastic back and sat down in front of us. After some small talk, I hesitantly asked if she still prayed, read her scriptures, etc, and her daughter answered for her and was like " Oh she reads all the time!" and Om Som An was like "Yeah, I read all the time!" and then whipped out the plastic bag which had like 3 copies of the Book of Mormon and the bible and she was like, "I would never forget Sisters. Jesus Christ is the greatest of them all. I would never forget." (moment #2 when I almost started crying). Anywho, they were super happy to see us because she had moved, nobody knew about her, and she probably felt like everyone in the church had forgotten about her. Long story short, I found a 7-year old CBR for a lost member with no map which had been haunting me for pretty much my entire mission and follwoed me all the way to Steungmeanchey. Finding lost sheep. My favorite activity. 

Also, this week I realized that Elder Kim and I have been serving together for what will be half of my mission by the time I'm done. # transfers in Battambang, and then we transferred to Steungmeanchey together and did 3 transfers here too. he was kind of a punk when he started (aka I first met him when he was still in his training) but now he's my district leader (weird) and he's a great missionary. We have a few inside jokes, tend to make weird faces at each other at inappropriate times (like in our meetings with the bishop or while Sister Matthews and I are teaching Ming Rani) and he always makes me laugh when he speaks english. So overall, its been a good run with Elder Kim. I figured since he was in the same branch as me for 6 transfers in a row I might as well give him a shout out. 

Also, this week, Sister Matthews and I got the weirdest referral. Good old Elder Plothow, who transferred up to Siem Reap a few weeks ago, called us and told us he had a referral. He was like, "Okay Sister Davis, you're gonna go over the Steungmeanchey bridge...*pause*....then take the very first right, dont go past the wat!.....*pause.....*some muffled talking*.....then take a right......*whispers*......then the first left.........*pause*........then the first right......."  
In case you guys were wondering, this is NOT how a normal contact goes. Usually its just, heres the number, give em a call and see if they'll learn with you. So I was like, "Elder Plothow, what kind of contact are you giving me? How do you even know these turns in my area?"  And he was like, " companion elder Cao just started his mission and his girlfriend lives in Steungmeanchey and he really wants her to learn so he wants you to go to her house and figure out if she will learn with you but he doesn't want her to know that he was the one who sent you guys."  And if it weren't for the fact that I was so touched by Elder Cao's story, I would have been like, "this is ridiculous"  and hung up. But Dangit! Sister Matthews and I tried our darndest! It took a few more calls to elder plothow to get the directions straight and some walking down random alleyways and INCREDIBLY creepy contacting aka "Do you want to learn english? Or do you know anyone with the age of 22 who has five or six brothers and sisters that lives near here that wants to learn English?"  (Elder Cao didnt allow us to ask her name because he thought it would blow our cover). In case you were wondering, we didnt find her. Everyone there insisted that there was no one of that age nearby but Sister Mathews and I are determined to go back and give it another shot. We cant let Elder Cao down!

So those are all of my cool stories for the week. Next Monday I'm taking my Siem Reaptrip with Sister Litchfield. I can't believe I am actually at that point in my mission. So I'll email in the morning like usual and then be gone monday and tuesday when I'll get to go to Angkor Wat and ride elephants and all that cool stuff. And spending a lot of money on souvenirs for you guys. Get excited. 
It was a really good week! I'm really loving Steungmeanchey despite some of the harder/more annoying and disappointing things. I hope I get to finish my mission here! Pray for that! I'll be praying for you guys too. Love you all very much! Have a great week!

Love, Sister Davis

Sister Spangler's cleaning checklist for us all. Its on the back of a laminated mission house cleaning checklist that nobody actually follows and that you are most likely to find covered in dust behind the stove top. Things get a little messy in our house (believe it or not....not my fault) so some of us kind of lost patience with the state of messiness. I appreciate her candor.
Sidenote: I do not actually remember what the word "candor" means but I'm pretty sure it works in that sentence.

 This is why we dont go eating at sketchy underground Khmer restaurants. Because we find miniature fishheads in food where miniature fishheads do not belong. 

 point is, Sister Spangler made me eat it and it was way crunchier than you guys want to know.

 A random candid Sister Spangler took of me on our exchange. Not sure what I'm doing, but it was on her camera so I had to send to to you guys to make sure I have it.

Om Sam An and her daughter!!!!! Not even kidding, this was one of the best moments of my whole mission. 

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