Monday, August 8, 2011

Greetings from a dusty Internet cafe in Phnom Penh!

Yes, this is my first official trip back to the city since I've been here. My companion has a Zone meeting tomorrow, so we are here for a couple days. This is one of the really cool benefits of the Cambodian Phnom Penh Mission. For meetings and gatherings, you get to travel all around the country.

This trip is actually extra exciting for me. It’s the first time I've talked to an American (besides my companion) in over a month and a half now. Its awesome seeing my buddies from the MTC.  Everyone goes to the mission home to get letters and what not, so I saw just about everyone. It’s strange to see the transformation of the Elders after 6 weeks. Everyone seems more mature... and 15 pounds lighter. Speaking of weight, I started working out pretty hard after I lost all that weight at first and now I'm back up to185. Whenever we need to “dope” someone, (Have someone ride on the back of my bike) I always do it because it gives me a solid leg workout.   All my buddies from the MTC are doing very well and holding up okay. The language is slapping us all in the face, but we're a solid group in that we're all good, hard workers. I’m excited to see how we all progress as time goes by.

This week has been wild, here are a couple of stories:

A few days ago there was an extremely bad rainstorm. We were meeting with a recent convert and it was sunny outside.  However, there was a dark lightning cloud off in the distance, but it was warm where we were. It was absolutely insane how fast the storm grew. In a matter of minutes it seemed to grow 50 times in size.  The thunder started off soft (like a regular rainstorm in Seattle) and then it started getting louder and louder. Out of the recent convert’s house you can see miles and miles of flat rice fields (Literally to the horizon.)  We saw the lightning striking way off in the distance. But it didn’t take long before the lightning started getting closer and closer. We started noticing that we couldn't see a lot of the things we could see earlier because the rain was coming down sooo hard. Once again, my companion says, “Oh boy, this is a bad one! I am literally scared right now.”  I thought he was joking, but all of the sudden, rain started coming down ridiculously hard and fast. It’s impossible to put into words just how hard it rains.  I guess its like at a water park when a huge, oversized bucket fills up with water and dumps on your head. The rain started coming down so hard on the palm tree leaves that we could hardly hear anything.

I need to go back for a second and talk about the lesson we were teaching. It was about the Restoration. It was me, my companion, Om Yum and 4 kids between the ages of 10 and14.  We all had our Books of Mormon out, reading one verse at a time by candle light with rain and thunder going crazy right outside. My companion turned to me and said, “These are the kind of moments I will always miss about Cambodia.” It really was amazing to be there with them.  The faith of the people here is absolutely incredible.

But anyway, back to the wild storm.  Suddenly, my companion turns to me and says, “We need to go, NOW!” We ended the lesson and left. I asked him why we left so suddenly and he said, “I have a horrible feeling.” Oh boy, then I did too!  So we quickly got on our bikes and started riding as fast as we possibly could. We were still in the middle of the jungle (it is absolute chaos in the jungle during storms.)  Branches were swaying and falling, loud noises of all kinds, thunder, and the rain pounding palm leaves.  Then, all the sudden there was a blinding flash accompanied by the loudest noise I have ever heard. It was enough to shock me for a second. I don't know how close the lightning struck but it had to be really close.  It seriously freaked me out. I don't think I’ve ever biked that fast in my whole life. The dirt paths through the jungle turn into rivers so there's dirty water splashing up from the ground.  Also, it was super dark and it was one of those moments where part of me just wanted to cuddle up in a ball and wake up from a dream.  

We sped out of that forest as fast as we could.  My companion was riding right in front of me.  I started making war sounds and pretending I was in the middle of the Vietnam War. I kept making explosion noises and yelling to my fellow soldiers… I’m sure I sounded crazy, but I decided to have fun with it.  It was like being a little kid again, but better.

Anyway, we got home, and immediately said a prayer of gratitude for our safety and prayed for the other two missionaries that were still out there. It was a long night, but it was an amazing experience.

So that’s all for this week! I'm safe, happy, warm and very glad to be under the Lords protection.

There’s no doubt in my mind or in my heart of the truthfulness of this gospel. I love my Savior so much. There is nothing I would rather be doing right now than sharing this message of peace, happiness, joy, hope and love with the people of Cambodia. They truly need it and deserve it.

I love you all so much!

-Elder Nelson

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