Monday, August 31, 2015

How to be a Cambodian Millionaire (or at least look like one)

Wyatt with Elder Holland. (I think the photographer 
might have been shorter than Wyatt. He cut off the top of Wyatt's head. 
Oh well...happy to have this pic!)

Adding up all of our referrals and contacts, we have 18 investigators/strong potential investigators--17 of which are male. SEVENTEEN. God is sending all these people because he knows that this ward is in trouble and doesn't want it to die. So about 10 of them we have already contacted, and the other 7 are yet to "find free time," but really that just means build up the courage to meet with us, because meeting with Christians in this country is completely taboo. But it doesn't matter, I've met this situation before; they will eventually come through. The other 10 are absolutely great. Two of them have baptismal dates, and the others we have barely taught, but will hopefully have baptismal dates eventually. 

 Sunday Selfie @ church

Phirum, for example, was contacted by Elder Cook and I while we were contacting in the park. We started walking with the flow of people and the first person to our left was a guy.

Elder Cook (in Khmer): Where are you going?
Phirum (in pretty broken English): I'm taking a walk. 
Wyatt (in English, more jokingly because this never happens): Would you want to learn about Jesus?
Phirum: Nods his head.

I thought he didn't understand what I was saying, so I said it in Khmer. He confirmed the yes. So we got his number, asked him when he was free, and kept walking with him. Then when it was almost 8, we went home. So we called him the next Saturday and he wasn't free, but he said he would be free the next Saturday (3 days ago), so that day, I called him and asked him if he wanted to meet and he said he could meet at 4. So we met him at the park (where we contacted him), and we all rode down to the church building together (tactics--if he sees how big our church is, it gives us some reinforcement that we are a legit organization). Then we taught him how to pray and gave him a book of Mormon, because we didn't have a lot of time. At the end of the lesson, he freaking volunteered to pray. That absolutely never happens. He prayed and started saying stuff like, "Thank you for giving me an opportunity to get to know you, God, and thank you for the Elders." Thinking back on that moment, that was the first time that he had actually communicated with God in 21 years. Super cool moment. Then he came to church the next day! This is just one example of investigators in this pool that God has given us to work with. Missionary work is amazing. 

We are also teaching a man who is less active. Every time he prays he can't remember the word "amen," so he just says, "Alright God. That's it." That's just one example. One time (with Elder Gardiner) we found him on a Sunday morning to remind him to go to church, and he was like, "They have church on Tuesday?" Haha. Ok anyways, we really had to come to adjust our teaching with him. Since he has a hard time remembering, we decided to try a new technique. We taught him for 15 minutes 3 times that week about the word of wisdom and literally read the exact same scriptures each time. And if I could have remembered what I had said verbatim the time before, I would have repeated what I had said verbatim each time. And hey, guess what? I think it actually got through. His apartment smells a lot less like smoke, and his bottle of cigarette butts has been at the same level since then. That is a funny little man, but he is still a child of God. 

 Another baptism yesterday.

It's cool to see what active members look like after like a year of activity. They have typically secured themselves some sort of job that they can subsist on, and they stop drinking and smoking (so they have extra money to buy nicer clothes and comb their hair and stuff). They just stand out. Seriously, the old members that are still active here all look like millionaires compared to the rest of society. 


Elder Hall

 Elder Palmer, Elder Jones, Elder Lambert, Elder Osborne, 
Wyatt, and Elder ? @ the meeting with Elder Holland

Wyatt's little sister asked, "What's the most interesting thing you have eaten?:

The most interesting food I have eaten is like every meal that I get fed, because since they don't waste any part of any animal, you never really know what you're eating. They even eat the chicken feet lol. 
They also roast crickets, and they taste like bbq chips, so those are good. And outside of the city they have these huge ants called angkrong that you pick off the tree and eat and they taste like lime. I think that's all the bugs I've eaten, but so far they were both good.

Wyatt, ?, Elder Neuberger

Oh and one more thing, if you didn't know Khmer or spanish, you probably wouldn't be able to tell them apart. I'm listening to these Cambodian commentators for a soccer game that is playing in this internet cafe (the game was last night, I think, because the stadium lights were on full blast), and they sound just like the mexican commentators on Univision. Haha.

 Cambodian ward members (including the 2 newest!), Bro and Sis Oveson 
on the right (their blog has more details about the baptism).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An Apostle of the Lord

So the conference with every member started at 9 at a huge conference center in our area. I'd say upwards of 2000 people showed up to the conference. I wish I had gotten a picture of everyone in there. 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Holland's visit was pretty much everything I could have imagined. He talked about how life is a tough time, and God can save us--He is always looking out for us.  He told a story about how he was lost in a forest and his father came and saved him, and just like that, our Heavenly Father will come and save us from sin and death if we just let Him. We had an investigator there and it touched her so much that later in the day she called us and told us thank you for showing her the church and teaching her these things and inviting her to this conference (she was also super impressed with the sheer number of members we have). So that was awesome because those were exactly the things she needed to hear and it came straight from a prophet of God to her (well, through a translator). 

Missionaries and Elder Holland

So afterwards we had a smaller little conference for just the missionaries. He shook all of our hands on the way into the chapel. Apparently, they do this so that they can interview us by looking into our eyes. So that's pretty sweet. But I got to shake his hand and tell him I'm from Dallas Texas! He said, "another Dallas boy." Haha. There are like 5 people from Dallas in the mission right now. 

Wyatt with Elder Lambert (from the MTC),

Wyatt with Elder Lambert and Elder Palmer (also from the MTC).

Wyatt with Elder Lambert, Elder Palmer, 
and Elder Osborne (also from the MTC--it was a reunion!).

He basically just told us the worst thing in the world is when missionaries 1) don't take their mission seriously 2) say that they're going back to the real world and 3) think they can go back to the same world they left, unchanged. So it was a good affirmation to me that if I let the Lord change me on my mission by working hard and doing what He wants, then He will truly change me into the person that I should be. Afterwards I made a resolve to focus more during personal study so that I can be more converted to the gospel. And so that I can change as much as the Lord wants me to. 

Wyatt during a weekly meeting.

Also as Elder Holland was leaving this conference with just the missionaries, he said "this is a special group; one of you is going to be doing this one day." Future apostle going to come out of the Cambodia Phnom Penh mission? Who knows, maybe he was talking about mission president. Either way, that was something super special to hear. 
I just felt like at the end when he had to go, it was like when Jesus visited the Nephites and their eyes watered, so Jesus had compassion on them and stayed longer. So I told everyone to start getting their eyes to water so he would stay longer. Haha.

Wyatt with Elder Cook (current companion) and Elder Gardiner (1st comp).

Aside from that, missionary work is picking up in my area of Chaktomuk. Seriously, we have seen so many blessings of just putting our heads down and working. Anytime we get stood up for an appointment, we just start contacting. That's essentially all you can do. And right now we have seen miracles from that. 

  1. We have 8 potential/progressing investigators: 3 from contacting them straight up, 1 from contacting us, and 4 that got referred from us.
  2. All of them are males (potential priesthood holders) except for 1 (ming By). 
  3. Life is good: Seriously, I'm doing more work than I have ever done in my life, and I have never been happier to do it. I am starting to see how truly short my mission is, and how it's my once in a life time opportunity to spend 100% of my efforts for the benefit of other people. 

Next Step: we need to turn all these potential investigators from referrals and contacting into progressing investigators. So that's what this week will be focused on. 

Cambodia is extraordinary.

Love, Elder Hall

Here are a couple of videos, too!

Some of these pictures are from the Oveson's. A big thank you to them!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Week in Chaktomuk

Wyatt didn't feel well Monday, so he only sent a few pics...

the kids on the street every night that always make the elders' day that much better

Prebaptism pic 1 (From Sis Oveson's Facebook page)

Prebaptism pic 2

Nala my boy--actually Elder Kim and I were the ones who 
started teaching him first, before I left Chaktomuk.

Exchange with Elder Myers, who finishes next week

 Osborne the English Class leader

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Unprofitable Servants

So Chaktomuk is about as different as it could have gotten in only six weeks. They even painted the church and trimmed back all the trees, not to mention half the ward moved out. The area has shown a lot of promise this week, though. On Tuesday we contacted ALL DAY LONG. Literally just raked in the contacts. Contacted I think like 136 people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in one day. How many of them wanted to learn? 0, but that's OK, because a couple days later we were holding signs out in front of the church for our English Class, and a lady rides her bike up to us and asks, "Do we have to learn about Jesus if we go to the English Class?" We told her no, and then she asked if there was a place where she could learn about Jesus, because she wants to change her life. I asked her where she lived, and it was right in the center of Elder Cook's and my area! We had our first lesson with her on Saturday and she is a solid investigator. The moral of the story is that even though we didn't get any people learning from our big day of contacting, because we put up the effort the Lord was willing to make up for the fact that we are "unprofitable servants" (Mosiah 2:21) and sent an investigator our way. Super cool miracle. 

Elder Cook and Wyatt

Also the one investigator we had that the APs gave us when we got here brought all his sisters to learn with us, AND it turns out their aunt who was staying with them at the time we taught the first lesson has a son who is serving a mission right now (coincidentally its Elder Lambert's companion, Elder Kim, in Ta Khmao). So we were really able to drive the lesson home for them. We just really need to get their mom to learn, too, but she sells in the Psaa right there. (Psaa orussey, if you can remember it). 

Elder Palmer (I believe), Wyatt, and Elder Jones

So when Elder Holland comes on the 23rd, all the members in Cambodia are invited to attend a conference at a huge building on an island in my area that Demi Lovato and Maroon 5 had their concerts at . So that tells me they are expecting A LOT of people to come. I'm excited to hear what he has to say.


Elder Hall

Q: Tell us more about Elder Cook.
A: My new companion, Elder Cook, is from Burley ID. And the way I could figure out where it was, is because it's right where I-15 splits and you can either go to Pocatello or to Boise. We get a long super well. He is a super good teacher. He and I are more similar than most companions I could have here. He is really into sports, so it's nice to be able to reminisce about some American things that I miss. 

Caught on camera during Sunday School. 
Apparently, Wyatt's companion had been sick all night.

Q: What do you do on p-day lately?
A: So this P-day we are gonna go play soccer, but when we don't play soccer, we just hang out at the mission home and clean our house and stuff. 

Q: Have you eaten any interesting foods lately?
A: A lot of what I have been eating lately is mi cha (which means fried noodles), because noodles are super cheap here. You can buy a box of probably 50 packets for 5 bucks. and since the cheap noodles taste like crap if you eat them like you're supposed to, people fry them. To eat the most unhealthy, yet most satisfying, meal ever, it costs like 25 cents between the oil, garlic, noodles, and spices. Otherwise, I just make some sort of cha that has whatever vegetables the lady puts in my bag when I go to her stand. Every week I buy like a kilo of whatever kind of meat I feel like. And then if its not that, it's like a peanut butter sandwich with the coconut bread that they have here. I mean there are lots of other things that I make, but to make a list it would go on and on. 

P.S. A big thank you to Bro and Sis Oveson (a senior couple serving in Cambodia for 2 years as well)! They sent me these pictures, and they came during the right week, because Wyatt's camera broke. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Plot twist

My week was a little bit of everything. So just to start, on Thursday, the APs called and told me and Elder Cook that we were going to be white washing Chaktomuk. And if that sounds familiar, that's because it's the area I was just in. So I am actually not staying in Siam Reap for another transfer. Plot twist!

For right now my companion is Elder Cook. He was also trained by Elder Gardiner, so we are brothers in the mission. He is from Houston, so he likes all the same sports teams as me, except for the Cowboys. He's hanging on to his Texans. I was in the same house as him in Siam Reap, in fact we were in the same ward, so I already knew him, and he's really cool. 

[We watched the Saratov Approach on Saturday. Claire asked in her email about missionaries getting kidnapped in Cambodia. This is Wyatt's response:]

No I have never heard of missionaries getting kidnapped here. In Thailand in the 70's two missionaries went to prison for sitting on a statue of Buddha, though. So that's kind of like getting kidnapped.


Elder Hall