Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

My little piece of the land of the free 
and home of the brave (baby).
I'M AMERICAN. I know it. I live it. I love it. 

Supposedly one of the days last week the temperature got up to 47 degrees! I did the math and that's 116 Fahrenheit! What the heck?! I think I remember it, too--I don't remember which day; I just remember it being unbearably hot last week. Haha. It was tight, though. The longer I'm out here, the more Cambodians tell me how black I am for a white person, and they think it's funny that I want to be black like them. Also the less active individual that told me it got up to 47 isn't the most reliable source of information (since I asked him if he would go to church and then he said he would for sure, and then DIDN'T). So if somebody could fact check that, that would be great (legitimate request for information, or just wanting someone to email me? you'll have to risk it and find out). [Editor's note: I looked it up. The high temperature for last week was 102 F, but with the humidity, it felt like 120!]

 Grilling. Perpetuating the deforestation of Cambodia
 one piece of charcoal at a time. 
[Colette, look! He's wearing the jandals you gave him.]

So for any prospective Cambodian missionaries (I know huge audience, haha): COMPARE THE GOSPEL TO COOKING. A lot of times we get people that either just don't want to understand what we teach, or just can't. So we try analogies all the time. One of the people we were teaching just did NOT get the point of the gospel and having to do all the things in it. (It was just mostly that she didn't understand the point of going to church.) So we compared the gospel to the ingredients in curry--with church attendance being the meat. And I basically just explained that curry can't be delicious even if you forget just one ingredient. Well, actually the cool part was that she explained that to us. And then we were like, "Ming! It's just like the gospel!" and she like understood it completely We were super excited and were about to close this fire lesson when she tells us...that she is going to be busy for the whole month of June, so we can't come back any more. Haha. But, hey! We learned that cooking is a good way to teach! 

The whole Chaktomuk ward!

So from the onset of this week, I was super tired. I don't know why. I was going to bed and getting up right on time every day and eating enough food. And for the first few days of the week this was turning into frustration at about 4 or 5 in the afternoon--frustration with myself and with constant rejection. One night I was just reflecting on my day and realizing that we teach so much about peace and happiness, but I am not even applying those concepts in my own life. I have been teaching about how having the gospel and attending church can give you blessings when I wasn't even taking time to appreciate those blessings for myself. So that night I prayed that God would help me feel peace and happiness as I helped Him save people. The next day the tiredness was still there, but as long as I kept my head up and kept working, I felt happy. As long as I was teaching people, I felt the peace that what I was teaching them is true. 

Phnom Penh is my hood! 
Not really, but give it 2 more years and maybe...

So thank you for taking the time to read this! I know there are so many other things you could be doing, but if there is anything you could get out of this email, it is: Don't forget that peace and happiness from God--anytime you feel a lack thereof--is just a sincere prayer away. 

Love, Elder Hall

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Clay Pot

All aboard the elder express

"Shoot! I forgot to have time for an email for everyone. Maybe the pictures will make up, haha.  But here are some captions. [I included some excerpts from Wyatt's email to me.]

That's the stadium that Cambodia has all their Cambodian premier league soccer games in. Not too sure how good their premier league is though. 

"We have been working with a lot of less actives in Cambodia. You just need to love them back into the church.."

An hour of biking in Cambodia plus light colored pants.

"I think our testimony is like a clay pot of water. As converts (or to apply it to the people that you are talking about that have probably been going to church since birth, teenagers because thats the time when you decide if you are going to believe for yourself or not) we either move our clay pot to sit under a source of dripping water, or we leave it and remain empty because its just too hard to move. In Cambodia moving the pot is made incredibly hard because if you don't believe in Buddhism, you are essentially an outcast. So once the pot is under this source of water, you have to be patient and wait for the water a drip at a time. This is where Satan knows he can take the most souls. He comes up with a pick and wants to make just a little crack but tells you that it will be worth it. So he makes this little crack and then the water that slowly seeps through it freezes one night. And then the next time its cold enough it freezes again until this crack becomes a huge problem and there is no water left in the pot. We have to fix the cracks early before they become problems."

The kings bday. We got some solid contacting in while we waited for fireworks...which went off after our bedtime, so that was kind of a bummer.

Someone told us (before Wyatt left on his mission) that some missionaries in Cambodia were issued machetes. I just remembered this week to ask him about it: "Machetes? No. Haha. I got laughed at when I asked the AP's [Assistants to the Mission President] about that. There are no mission-issued machetes. But I could probably get one for like 50 cents here. Haha.

Huge snake skin.

"Also, Om Laey Sen got confirmed yesterday and she was ecstatic to receive the Holy Ghost!"

[Something tells me Wyatt is NOT starving.]

"Love Elder Hall

"P.S. Send me hate mail for having a short email this week...not my mom."

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Quick Answer to a Small Prayer

Best part of the week BY FAR: So here in the city we don't have rice fields or any type of farming for that matter, or houses that can be built by missionaries, so there is not a lot of opportunities for service except for teaching the English class every week, which gets incredibly monotonous.

So one day I decided I was going to pray for an opportunity to serve people in order to maybe change one Buddhist person's mind about Christianity--that they are in fact not evil people. And the next day, I didn't even remember what I had prayed for, but there was this girl on the side of the road trying to take off her semi flat tire. Haha. She just was like unscrewing the tire and it wasn't jacked up or anything. Like three of her lug nuts were already off. 

So anyways, we were actually on our way back to our bikes to go home or eat or something, since there wasn't much to do, and I spotted her and I was like, "Elder Gardiner, we got this." 

So we walked over and offered to help and, we showed her that she had a jack in the back of the car and everything, and we like lifted her car and finished the job for her. When it was all replaced and everything, we just like smiled and gave her an English class flier and walked away. So maybe she will think we are angels or something. Haha. Then while we were walking away, I had two thoughts. 1) Holy crap--I got a chance to do service in the city! I had just prayed about it the night before! So that was a really cool answer to my prayer; and 2) What was she planning to do when she got all the lug nuts off of her tire? Haha...

Alright. That's all I got. I mean...a lot more happened, but I'm out of time from Skyping my fam this morning. Which was really cool that I got to see them. And just to publicly show my love for my mom, Happy Mothers Day, I LOVE YOU MOMMY!

With Love

Elder Hall

[We skyped with Wyatt last night! He seems so great. He rated his physical comfort level a 9/10 (10 being the most comfortable); his happiness a 7.5 (sad sometimes when he sees the physical/spiritual well-being of the people, but happy when he sees their progress); his homesickness a 2/10 most of the time (5/10 during the skype).]

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Curry and Rekindling Cambodia

[5/7/2015 update: I fixed the videos for this post and the last post for better viewing.]

 Me stirring the beginning stages of curry. The thing was FULL of curry by the end.

Ming Sokuntia Sunday right before her baptism.

I think this week could be best defined by curry, because curry is very common here. And we wanted to learn how to make it. It started because we visited a less active member's house and they gave us curry, and it was the best curry I had ever tasted. This curry tops any curry that a white person could ever make. I'm sorry to all of the white people that have made curry and thought it was good. Because it wasn't. You have to be Asian. That's the secret ingredient. But anyways, we asked this ming for all of her advice and tips and then we went and made some last Thursday, and it was so bad. Then on Friday morning we went to the church to help all the million women in our ward make curry together. Making curry is more of a party than a job when you make that much. Haha. We like stopped halfway through and ate food, (not curry lol) and then later we got some sugar cane juice, and all the while we were helping them, we were picking up on what they did to the curry and what ingredients they use and what proportions that we didn't. So now we have a better idea of how to do it, although we are still not Asian unfortunately. So we will never be able to create this perfect dish, but I will still try to taste it as much as possible. 

Me and some elders chilling on a bridge in Stung Meanchay

There is a new initiative that we are starting in Cambodia called "rekindle Cambodia," and it is basically all the missionaries diverting efforts from finding new investigators to rescuing less active members. Not completely quitting finding new investigators, but just taking a little less time. All this is due to the huge percentage of members in the church that are inactive in Cambodia. I think about 10% of the ward in Chaktomuk, my area, is active. So what Elder Gardiner and I are doing about it is we are going through our ward directory with sloppy addresses and poorly Romanized names and finding them all. We started by just picking a few and going to that address, but that didn't work well, because it took a lot of time. So on Sunday after church we spent about an hour putting every single household in our ward on a map. And we are going to start from the Northwestern part of our area and work down. We have a bit of time tomorrow to begin this plan, so I will tell you next week how it goes. So far in our efforts to find lost members, we have only been able to meet with one, but we have met a few potential investigators along the way! Which is really cool because rather than being a burden to carry and losing time finding new investigators, finding people that are less active has actually lightened our burden and given us a few opportunities to teach.

A lake in Stung Meanchay

Missionary work is really hard--don't get me wrong. But that's the thing about missions, I think. They teach you that hard work can be fun.

 The gate to the Killing Fields (which we visited Monday morning). Super sobering, but I just couldn't get over the fact that there were so many white people there.
One of the skulls that was inside of the monument at the Killing Fields. You can see how brutal Pol Pot's regime was just by looking at all the different ways these people died. It's insane--actually, he was insane.

More about the less active finding next week. I love you all!

 A video of an electrical pole catching on fire. Super Cambodian, because even the owner of the shop like walked out and started laughing and pulled out his phone to take a video.


Elder Hall