Monday, April 27, 2015

Cambodian Investigators and Upcoming Baptisms

Me in a boat soaking up the green-ness while I can

So this Sunday we will be having a baptism! This lady is amazing. Maybe I have already talked about her, but her name is Ming Sok and she is going to be an amazing member of this church. She is the friend of one of the members named Om An Y and she just brought her to church about six weeks ago. Since then she has showed up to church with no reminder and no prompt whatsoever. So about 4 weeks ago we got her number and set up an appointment. She soaked it all up. She follows all the commandments already, and she has already read most of the 1st book of Nephi. Every time we teach her I can feel the Spirit helping us to have effectiveness when we teach. Otherwise these people would be so bored out of their minds trying to pick through our broken Khmer they would ban us from Cambodia. She is excited for baptism, but she is also a little scared. We keep reminding her that if she prays for comfort, she will receive it because we know this is the right path for her. There will be pictures with her in my email next week. I'm seriously so excited for her. 

Psaa Orussey, where my first contacting experience in Cambodia was

The following week we will hopefully be holding a baptismal service for two Oms that we have been teaching as well. They live pretty close to our house, and one day Elder Gardiner and I were contacting using one of our games that we play (Operation Find Family). She was outside of her gate taking her trash out. So we walked up to her and asked her if she wanted to learn about Jesus and she said that she was Christian, too, and agreed to have us come back. The first lesson we taught them they were trying hard to pay attention I could tell, but our language skills just weren't cutting it. We didn't have a member with us, though, so we decided that was the problem. We brought Om An Y to the next lesson with them, and it was awesome. They had a lot better time, because Om An Y would cut in (politely) and explain using real Khmer what we were trying to say, and the complicated subjects she could explain, too. So after a few lessons they really started getting into it and we decided to get one of the Oms a bigger version of the Book of Mormon since she has bad eyes (its discouraged to give these out frequently because they are very expensive to make). Then when she came to church the following Sunday (last Sunday), which was also really exciting, she told us she had already read the whole 1st Nephi (which I didn't believe at all but Elder Gardiner was super excited). And then the next time we went to teach them, she was sitting there on her balcony reading out loud to herself halfway through 2nd Nephi. To give credit where credit is due, when we asked her a bunch of questions about what she read, she could pretty easily recite Nephi going back to get the plates and crossing the ocean and everything. So hopefully I will be able to show you pictures of these two Oms in a couple weeks. 

A typical Cambodian power line getting worked on by a brave soul

With both of these investigators, I know that it is not me doing the converting at all. And it is really cool to me how when Elder Gardiner looks at me to bear my testimony of the truthfulness of this message, just like the scripture says (D&C 84:85), when I open my mouth I get ideas about what to say. And usually, I can't even follow along with the lesson, but I hope that what I say is helping these 3 investigators of our church come unto Christ and be perfected in him, as well as finding happiness in this life and the next. 

Seconds after this picture was taken, Elder Nhum (who I was on splits with for the day) was jumped on by this happy little dog and got all muddy haha

I don't really have any super cool stories to tell this week. I just wanted for everyone who reads my emails to know that I know that God approves of the work I am doing for Him and that He is helping me every step of the way if I just let Him. And He can help anyone. Anyone who just opens the door and lets Him in. 

Discourse on Cambodian traffic

Elder Hall

Weekly watch tan pic

Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting Used to Cambodia

Me at the end of a long day in Cambodia

Alright, so this week was a little slower than the last two I have had here, because of Khmer new year, (also just a side note, if any one is wondering how to pronounce Khmer its like Kmae, with the vowel sound the same as sky, die, and fly) so I will talk about more general things that I have been getting used to. 

This pic is to show how empty the city was in contrast to that one picture of all the traffic that one day

1. Motodopes. These guys all wear flannel longsleeves with fingerless gloves, long pants, and huge helmets. They all dress the exact same. There is one in my ward named Puu Pon who wears the same stuff to lessons with investigators that we have him help teach. So anyways, the way they make money is by driving people around the city on the back of their motos (not unlike the swagmobile) and they can maneuver better than tuk tuks, so people that are by themselves usually motodope instead of taking a tuk tuk. Unless you are a white tourist, because they all just take tuk tuks even if they are by themselves. The way they find customers is by looking at people that are walking by themselves and waving at them. And if you wave back they turn around and drive up to you and ask you where you want to go. However, my first few days I did not know this. Can you see why a fresh missionary ready to be friendly to anyone going to a country where waving is less of a greeting and more of a "I would like to purchase your service" would be a slight problem? If not, I will continue. The first few days I waved at like 3 moto dopes and then they rode up to me, and the whole time I was thinking, "Wow. That's all it takes to get investigators? I mean, my teachers in the MTC told me that the people here were super ready to hear the gospel, but I didn't know they were that ready." So the first time one of them came up, he said some things that I didn't know and so I asked my companion and he just shakes his head and tells the motodope we don't want to dope. And then the moto dope looks at us all mad and drives away. Then my companion told me to not wave at people here, but I thought he was just joking lol. So I think in my first week I waved down so many motodopes that I may have waved down the same guy more than once. I'm just kidding--I didn't wave down that many, but it is just hard to have to remember that when people wave at you here they arent being friendly. Unless its a little baby whose parents tell them, "Hey, go wave at those white people and say hello like you learned in your school."

The tin walls with the cambodian writing on it in black spraypaint: This means "haam nom" and is written on walls all over chaktomuk. I'm serious. It says it on like 40% of all walls. It is the english equivalent of tacking a sign on the wall saying, "No Peeing" hahahahahaha. There are people that pee on walls all the time.

2. This is a Buddhist country, and believe it or not, America has more Christian traditions than I realized. And one of the most important is things closing for Sunday. Or people not working for the weekend. Actually, I don't know if they don't do these things here because they are Buddhist or because they are poor or both, but the point is, Sunday is not a day of rest in any sense. So it is a huge thing [sacrifice] to not work on Sunday. (Probably the equivalent to attending all 3 hours of church when you aren't going to your own ward if you're traveling or something.) They all work. Even the members. Maybe not the stronger members but a LOT of them still work/go out to eat on Sunday. So I think when we teach, we need to really impress to them the blessings of following the commandment of God to Keep the Sabbath Day holy. 

This was in celebration of Khmer New Year and I had so much meat it was ridiculous. 

Also it got super messy and those two pots are full of actual fire. Inside a house. lol.

3. A few of the blessings I have seen come into my life from being a missionary, is being able to retain myself from getting angry at things that are really bothersome. In fact, sometimes I forget that these kind of things used to make me angry. One of them is the way they read here. When somebody starts to read in a group of people (Sunday school, lessons, etc.), if you are a bad reader, everyone just reads for you, even if you are native Khmer. So I start to read and say one word and then someone else has already said like the whole first line of the scripture. If somebody did this to me in America during like Sunday school, I would have to leave and go get a drink to cool off so I wouldn't have to smack that persons face off, but I honestly didn't even care here. I just started laughing a little and kept reading. And I know that it is a blessing from God that He has given me to be more temperate towards these people. Also, I didn't pray for that blessing so whoever did, I sincerely thank you. 

Freaking bike problems

4. The same principle in reading applies in any lessons. People just finish each others' (sandwiches, that's what I was going to say!) sentences here all the time, and I was giving a talk for a baptism yesterday and literally during the talk at this super spiritual and special ordinance, people are like talking to me in the middle of the talk and like correcting me, or trying to finish my sentence. Most of the time what they finish my sentence with is totally wrong, too haha, but I didn't even think about it until I was finished with the talk, that this would have made me really mad before my mission. 
Elder Gardiner

Aside from these I didn't have many lessons with investigators since they were all gone, so I will talk about them next week, when I actually have lessons with them. 
Thank you guys for all your love and emails and everything!
Elder Hall

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I Love It Here

So another week, another 7 days of living on the edge of death. I'm just kidding. You don't even think about how close you are to death here on the roads, and neither does anyone else here, which somehow makes it super safe... hmm... also I have angels watching over me since I'm a missionary, so I don't need to fear. Also Elder Bednar's talk about that was SUPER good and applies to life as a missionary a lot. 

Last Monday was my first real experience being in the rain here: We were eating dinner with an investigator and we had to be at a recent convert's house (Om Yem, straight baller I will talk about later) in like 10 minutes. Then lightning strikes and it starts raining. So that was really cool. We thought about staying with this investigator because he was really cool and Om Yem doesn't remember anything anyways, but then we decided that it would be best to go to Om Yem's house and just check up on him (also we had the AP's [Assistant to the President] with us eating so it wasn't too big of a deal for us to leave this investigator with them). So we look out at the rain that is just pretty much a waterfall at this point, and after putting all of our things in a plastic bag inside of our backpack, we book it. We had to run to get to the church to pick up our bikes, and then from the church, bike all the way to near the national monument where Om Yem lives. So on the way to the church after taking about 3 steps I was already completely soaked. It reminded me of when I hiked to Stewart Falls in Provo Canyon and then like jumped through the waterfall and got super wet. Except here it was like I didnt jump through, I just had to stand under neath it. So on our way to Om Yem's house, with Stewart Falls following us around all the way there, I started to feel a tingly sensation, that was very familiar to me, yet very foreign and something I hadn't felt in weeks. This wasn't the spirit, no, it was something much more tangible. Then, I began to realize what this strange feeling was... This was COLD. I was literally biking as fast as the canal (which used to be a road) would let me so I could feel colder because it felt so good, man. So anyways we got to Om Yem's house and we were soaking wet but he lets us in anyways. We are teaching him and just talking to him and then a mouse like squeaks in the corner. Om Yem's sixty year old body, that gets daily exercise at the park by his house, was easily able to keep up with his 20 year old spirit that got up off his chair slowly, found the source of the noise, and (literally before I could process what was making the noise) sprints after this mouse and stomps on it in the middle of his hallway and then slowly walks back to his seat. So with the dead mouse in the hall and our mouths gaping, we finished the lesson. 

Puu Hiang and Elder Hall

Alright, this was easily my favorite part of the week. We went to go teach a guy named Puu Hiang on Wednesday who lived by Psaa Thmei. Or the white people call it central market (which I have a picture of). So we pull up to the stairs to get to his house, and luckily, he was already outside, so he called to us and took us up to his house. We teach him about the Law of Chastity, for no particular reason, we just have to teach all the recent converts everything again, and it's a really good lesson--which I felt the spirit direct to teach him according to God's desire. So that was a great experience and I will always treasure those, but what happened after the lesson was hilarious. So he invites us to go eat frog with him across the street, and as we follow him there, he goes up to this man, that's probably the same age as him and just smacks him across the face and starts laughing. The guy that got hit didn't really think anything of it, but I could tell he wasn't super happy about it lol.  Nobody should just be able to do that .So then I start thinking about Puu Hiang and who he really is haha. I started noticing that he was walking with a dip. This old man was walking with the most confidence I have ever seen in an old man in Cambodia. While we walked through that alley I could see most people saying hi to Puu Hiang, but there were some that like looked down at the ground while we walked by, which was strange. Then we get to the frog leg place and we all three sit down and start chit chatting, and then they start bringing us food spontaneously, which would be normal if we had paid, but I don't remember anyone paying, so I just figured we would pay after. Then we ate and it was super good. Puu Hiang yelled at a few people as they walked by and yelled at this vendor to bring us sugar cane juice (which he never did), and then yelled at this water melon guy to bring us water melon, which he did. So then we finished eating everything and before we get up Puu Hiang walks over to the vendor that didn't bring us sugarcane juice and starts yelling and then comes back over and then we all walk home. It didn't really hit me until Puu Hiang had gone back inside his house and we were on our way to our next appointment that at no time during that whole thing did Puu Hiang ever get out any money except for when a beggar came up to us. So either Puu Hiang runs the Cambodian hood up there, or he just owns everything. Or he is just a straight thug. Either one Puu Hiang has a cool hat that makes him look like Freddy Kruger. 

 Psaa Thmei (orCentral Market)

Other than the insane people here, it is really cool to be able to teach investigators by the power of the spirit of God. When we testify to these people that Jesus lives and that he can help them in their every day lives, the power and joy that the Holy Spirit brings into the conversation offsets any of my doubts and discouragement that I experience in the rest of my days here and makes me excited to go back and teach people every time. 

Cambodia is insane, Cambodia is hot, Cambodia is dangerous, and that's why I love it here.

Love, Elder Hall

Questions Elder Hall has been asked:

Q: What is your companion, Elder Gardiner, like?
A: My companion is awesome. He is as enthusiastic to get things done as I am, which is really cool because I was a little scared that I would have a comp that was lazy and not have the same drive I do the first transfer. He knows the language really well which is good. I just feel really bad for him because my child self asks like a million questions about things that it would be ridiculous for him to know the answer to. Like I honestly probably ask him 10 questions every minute. So hopefully when I have a more solid footing in the language I wont have to be so curious just towards him since I will be able to ask natives all of my questions.

Q: What is your apartment like?
A: So my apartment is, yes, just me and my companion, and it's so big for Cambodia man. Its probably about 15 feet wide and 100 feet deep with two floors, but the second floor is half as big as the first floor because the ceiling is high in the front half on the first floor, so our second floor overlooks the open area of the first floor. That's pretty much how all the houses here are. And all the businesses since they are all in peoples houses too haha. Also I just realized this internet cafe is literally the same too hahaha (i just got a picture of it).

Q: What is the food like?
A: The food is the same as what I have been eating all my life at Sammy and Danny's house. There is literally nothing I have eaten here so far, that I haven't eaten at some point at their house. The worst food I have eaten so far is durian (sp?) wafers. Durian is so nasty but Khmers love it for some reason. When we were teaching a member one time he pulls out this HUGE box of durian wafers and gives us a bunch. His mom opened mine and like shoved it in my mouth. It tasted good at first so I ate the whole thing, but the after taste is literally the worst thing. I cant even describe it its so bad. It tasted like baby spit up mixed with a rusted nail that had been nailed to a piece of pine wood. Thats the only way I can describe it within the bounds of language. It was so bad. 

The best thing I have eaten however, baaysaccruk (bai-saek-jruuk). Which means rice and pork. Because its a styrofoam take out box filled with...? You guessed it, rice and pork. But I guess what makes it good is just the pickled vegetables that you put all over it. 

AP's doing surgery on my bike

Monday, April 6, 2015

Second Week in the Field

I would complain about the heat, but it's not even worth it. I'll save it for later. But for now I can just tell you that I sweat so much here. If there is not moving air I start to feel the sweat fall down my chest and pool at my belt. Luckily most people have a fan in places that don't have moving air. But when they don't, it gets real messy. Not enough to significantly distract me, but it gets messy. 

The big brown thing in the middle of the roundabout (behind Wyatt) is the national monument. That part of my area has all the embassies and is close to the mission home.

I guess a little about the people like I promised. Starting out the week we had one investigator named Ming Sitaa. She has been an investigator forever and will be an investigator forever, because one of her friends waited 8 years to get baptized, so she wants to wait 8 years, too. But anyways, we decided to start what we call "OFF"--Operation Find Family. So we started walking around the streets pretty close to our house and asking people if they wanted to learn about Jesus. Which most of the time when people hear the word "Jesus" they make a face and pretend like they don't understand us which is weird, because aren't we speaking Khmer?

 These kids live on our street so we see them every morning when we leave and every night when we get home.

This kid always wants to see my watch because it lights u,p so I'm gonna give him his own watch.

Side story: We were just walking home from our last lesson one day and we were walking towards this woman on the side of the road. We didn't even intend to talk to her; we were just walking by to get home, and she starts saying "ot cheh sdap" to us while walking away from us to avoid us, which means "I don't know how to listen" or basically "I cant understand you," Then we started speaking to her in Khmer (like asking her why she didn't understand her own language), but she just kept saying it over and over again, lol. 

On our way to Stung Meanchey for a zone meeting. So you can see how i'ts actually super dusty (although it rained the night before, so there wasn't as much dust as usual)
(Oh, and this one is for you mom; it's one of the dump trucks from trash mountain.)
Editor's note: read The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

But anyways, within the space of an hour we met two people that wanted to learn which was super cool. So we set up an appointment and came back to teach. The first time we taught them (Thursday or Friday), they didn't seem very interested--even though we were teaching them about the restoration. (Side story #2: This is actually really funny, because it just happened to Sam Najera on his mission, but right when I was starting to say the first vision the rain started pouring super hard to where I couldn't even hear myself because everyone has tin roofs, so that was a little bit of a bummer, and maybe contributed to them not having too much interest). But the second lesson we brought a lady from our ward that was like the same age as them, and that lesson went WAY better. They could actually understand us a lot better because our neakming (ladies that are like the same age as your parents) could explain everything in more advanced Khmer. Anyways it was really great and we were super excited for them, because we have taught them two lessons and they now seem to be receiving it really well. 

Love, Elder Hall

This is seriously the coolest picture I have ever taken, and no one will under stand it like me. I was riding super fast to catch up with my companion, because if I lose him, I'm screwed. This city is cray. and I saw it coming up on the wall, so I took off my back pack, threw it in my basket and got my camera out AND WHILE I WAS GOING FULL SPEED took a selfie at the exact right time to have it over my shoulder. It was such a cool success story. lol

Mekong river from the riverside view on the eastern side of Phnom Penh.

On the way to Stung Meanchay for Zone Coference

This Coke can was on an island called Koh Pich, and that thing was like just sitting on the side of the road. Don't really know why.

Still on the way to Zone Conference

The comp and I modeling Cambodian hats

This picture was a complete accident, but it looks like super artsy so I kept it.

Selfy of me and the comp while he was getting his bike fixed outside of one of the wats (temple).

The black mass of fur is, in fact, a little puppy. It was so cute and one of our recent converts just got it. 

developing watch tan

me holding my first ever dragonfruit