Thursday, July 14, 2011

Almost a Month in Cambodia!

This was definitely the craziest week in Cambodia so far.

Like I said in my last email, my companion was out of town for four days.  So, it was just me and Elder Hem (A Native Cambodian) together. We are hours and hours from any other missionaries and it seemed like a lot of responsibility for us. He has only been a missionary for about 3 months and I've only been in the country for 1 month. So, being inexperienced as missionaries and having a pretty serious language barrier made for quite a few adventures.

Our job was to cover ALL of Siem Riep (2 areas) The distances between our appointments were sometimes five miles. Which seems extra far when you're riding a realllly crummy bike.

But anyway, we had to roar all around Seam Riep for 4 days. This was cool because I got to become pretty familiar with a lot of investigators and recent members that I’d never met. I also found that serving with a native Cambodian, you don't eat a lot, and if you eat what they're cooking you may end up worse off. So, I didn't end up eating much this week.

Two days into the week I felt very exhausted. I literally stumbled into a house like I was really sick. Then the mother looks at me and was like "oooooh kdau khluan" which means, “Hot self.” I think in English it would mean fever. She then gave me this vial and insisted I rub it on my face and it would “clear up my system.” I was a little skeptical at first, but I tried it. It smelled funny and I thought, "Hey, maybe I'll find a crazy Cambodian cure for being sick that nobody in the states has ever heard of before!" As soon as I put it on my face it started burning like crazy. It didn't stop for a very long time.  I just sat there with my face burning up. I looked at the bottle... and it was nail polish remover! Note to family: Nail polish remover does not help a fever.

Anyway, she came in later and felt really bad and had me lie down and put this wet rag on my face. I missed the part where she said to put 1 drop on your forehead.  Once again, the language barrier can be a problem. I have a very red face now.

Some of the events this week:

-We found a very creepy, huge spider in the jungle, (bigger than my hand) and it was black, yellow and red. We took it home with us. It was the biggest bug I've ever seen. I'll try to send a picture so you guys can look it up on Wikipedia.

-Interestingly, one of our new investigators thought I was from Cambodia. They said I had Cambodian features.

-Turns out I had a case of heat exhaustion. When my regular companion came back, he told me to sleep all day after church. I ended up sleeping for about 14 hours straight.  I feel much better.

-We went to Srat Srong to do some service. I think that means the “kings bathtub” which is a huge man made lake. One of the coolest things I've seen since I've been here.  Look it up.

-We went to do a pre-arranged service project, but the people didn't believe we would actually come so they didn't have anything for us to do. So, we just walked away and starting hoeing a random rice field.  At first the elderly owner of the rice field started laughing because she didn't think we were serious. But we went on to hoe her field with some really old school, wooden hoes for about an hour and a half. Then, after a while, she started crying as she sat watching us. (And, it’s rare for a Cambodian to show any emotion) It was definitely my favorite service project I’ve ever done. This lady was about 65+ years old, bare foot, and could only hoe really slow like you would expect an elderly lady to hoe. I think we were able to accomplish about 2 weeks of work for her and she really appreciated it.  After a while, around 20 little naked kids came up and started helping too. It was a really cool. At the end, I said, “Git taa khnome aac jab moan?”  Translation:  “Want to help me catch a chicken?”  Then, I got all the kids running around to help me catch a chicken. And boy, they really got into it, and it was funny. I stopped for a second and thought to myself. How cool is this?   I'm in Cambodia, chasing a chicken, with 20 little kids, in the middle of a rice field, and the sun is setting behind the palm trees, with blisters covering my hands after helping an older lady hoe her yard. Could this get any better? The kids then taught me a Cambodian version of patty cakes. It was really funny to them because they could not get over the fact that a large white man was playing patty cake with them.

-I've really had to learn how to cook since I've been here.

-I think I've already lost 2 inches in my neck.

It’s been a fun week. And it’s amazing to see the Gospel bless the lives of the people we serve. Its interesting since I've been here, my testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown. It is so amazing that we have it.  It’s easy to take for granted.

I know that our Heavenly Father loves the Cambodian people so much. It’s so cool to see the miracles that happen here every day. I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior. I honestly couldn't do this without them.

I love you all. I hope everything is going well in America!

-Elder Nelson

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