Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More serious rain, service and tasty little snacks.

Hello Family

I am at a loss for words (especially english ones) for how much water is sitting on the ground in Cambodia right now. We have had some severe rain storms this week.  We were on our way to an investigators house late thursday night, and the wind started to pick up like I've never seen. It started peeling the roof off our investigators house!  When we went back outside we saw the biggest scariest rain cloud I have EVER seen. It seemed like I could watch it growing as stood looking up in the sky.  I think I'm getting used to these kinds of things so we muttered an "oh boy" and kept riding. The minute I decide I'm getting used to the madness, we were under the scariest, craziest rain blitz I've experienced yet.  We soon concluded it wasn't normal by anyone's standard.  We were racing home as fast as we could and the wind was so strong it was difficult to even ride our bikes.  Lightning was everywhere and the thunder never stopped. 

The good news is we got home safe. We finish planning and stare outside and agreed it was definitely the biggest rainstorm that we have seen since in Cambodia. It rained and stormed all night, and continued until we left the house the next day. When we left, it was absolutely insane what we found outside. The whole city was at least knee deep in flood water. Where there were soccer fields there are lakes, roads were running rivers, and wave pools. I didn't think I'd say this again, but this week has been the biggest adventure so far. 

Of course, this kind of situation is perfect for missionaries.  My companion and I smiled at each other and I said lets get to work!  So first we went to a members house thats quite a distance from where we are. We had no choice but to go on a road close to the river.  At times we were trudging through water up to our belly button. The river over flowed, and for MILES there was running water that was at least knee deep.  At one point we stopped to take a quick picture, then we turned around and my bike was gone! It had floated away in the river. My companion parked his bike and we looked for it for 15 minutes. Luckily, we ended up finding it 20 yards "down stream" hooked on a street sign. It sounds terrible, but I have to admit it's been crazy fun. 
The best part is, we've had the opportunity to help so many, many people who are stuck. Everyone finds it very funny and entertaining that two "french guys" in white shirts and ties are walking through main street helping people in the flood. The worst part for us is our favorite restaurant was flooded. We went in and told them we would always be their most loyal customers.

The flood brought us some good luck because the Kapoong Thom elders are now staying with us. It flooded so bad that it was over 7 feet of water by their house. They had a member take them to another member's house in a canoe. President took them out and they'll be staying with us until the water goes down (it could be quite a while)   

Other interesting notes from this week: 

This week is the holiday called Pshum Ben. It's the fifteenth day, of the tenth month, of the Khmer calendar. They believe it is a special time when the spirits of dead ancestors walk the earth.  And the living can ease their suffering by offering them food to eat by leaving it around the temple and feeding the monks.  It lasts 15 days which makes it difficult to get a lot done. BUT, there's a GREAT upside.  Everyone gives us these tasty little things called Num Soms. They look just like tamales with rice and pork and bananas.  Then, they cook it in a banana leaf and it makes a very tasty snack. We've literally received hundreds of them. Everybody takes great pride in their recipe and we are more than willing to compare and contrast the variations. 

We had president interviews last week. I got to go on an exchange with one of the assistants which was very fun.  He complimented me on my language skills which is always a relief to hear. 

Despite the weather, the work is going well. We seem to find a new investigator everyday. We have 3 baptisms scheduled before the end of the month which is exciting. I'm happy, I'm safe and I have really bad foot fungus. But, I love where I'm serving, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else.


I love you all, I hope all is well at home. 

-Elder Nelson

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm staying.

I found out I’m staying put for another 6 weeks! I am very excited about it. I’ve been on cloud 9 since transfer calls. AND I'm also staying with my trainer.  I'm really pumped about that as well. My trainer and I have gotten to be really close friends.  We have been on fire this week and we were hoping to stay together. I'm officially no longer a "greeny"  and it will be fun to be more involved because of that. We just added 2 new families and 3 other investigators to our teaching pool. We look forward to being able to continue to work with all of them.

I’m going to follow Sam’s example and start leaving a spiritual thought at the end of my emails.

Spiritual Thoughts about Moroni:

In my recent Book of Mormon reading I picked up something that I haven't noticed before.  First of all, Moroni is definitely one of my biggest heroes. He is such a man, and he just takes care of business. There’s this one story I particularly like in Alma chapter 62. This time through the Book of Mormon I've been taking my time and it has greatly increased my understanding. 

So, at this point in the Book of Mormon, Alma has the Lamanites on their heels and he is heading to Nephihah to take the city back. In verse 19, his plan was to take them out of the city and fight them in the Valley of Nephihah to protect the lives of the people in the city. But, the Lamanites wouldn't, because they knew the strength of Moroni's army. That night, they all went to bed and planned to fight the next day. But while everyone else went to sleep, Moroni, the Chief Captain of the Nephite army, climbed up the wall and went to the extra effort to personally find out where the weak points were. Obviously, that was the job of the scouts and not a job expected of the Chief Captain. But as the story goes, the Nephites were informed where the weak points of the Lamanite forces were and went in by night, and took over the city. Without even one soldier losing his life.

Sure, Moroni knew he could have easily fought the next day and "leveled the Lamanites to the earth" and lost some soldiers.  But he chose a better way by going the extra mile and saved thousands of lives.

We've been taught that everything in the Book of Mormon is there for a reason.  I really found why this story was put in for me.  Not to learn how to win wars on the battlefield, but in my life.

Like the example of Moroni’s leadership, I/we need to "climb the walls in our lives” This relates to me now as a missionary.  I can be obedient, keep the rules, and have some success.  But until I am ready to climb the wall, go the extra mile, serve when I wouldn't be expected to serve... That is when I will have true success.

This principle can be applied to any responsibility in our lives. Whether it's being a husband, a father, an athlete, a brother, a son, in my profession, in my calling as a missionary or anything else, it is key.

We can't settle being mediocre.

That's all I have for the week.

Love you all!

Elder Nelson

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We moved to a new house, dodged bats, waded through flood waters and walked the planks.

So this week was another interesting week because we moved! The water was always out from 8-930 (when we need to shower/cook) There were also lots of mean dogs nearby. They have one that’s usually locked up. But when its not, it always tries to attack me. On our last week, I got a solid kick to its jaw and it left whimpering. It was a storybook ending as we pulled away. 


I need to mention that we felt really grown up moving. We didn't have any senior couple help because we are so far away, so it was just us four, moving our whole house!

So for this week my regular, American companion went with our district leader to Phnom Penh for training. So once again its just me and Elder Hem, the cambodian elder.  Last time, he was able to take advantage of my "greeniness."  But this time, I am prepared. I wake up early every morning like Rambo and counter plan out every time when he could possibly be up to “something.”  Also known here as a,"tvee baab." (which means to do something bad like sin. But, the phrase is commonly used among missionaries for pranks.) This time I will not be vulnerable.  It’s very funny.  My kind of situation. 

Yesterday, I went proselyting with Elder Hem. We had a VERY severe rainstorm last weekend and our church attendance was way down.  I have to say I was really bummed about it. But this week, I started to figure out why it’s so difficult for members to come to church under certain conditions. For instance, we were on our way to our first appointment and our path eventually led straight into a “lake.” Elder Hem turned to me and said, "Now, we take our shoes off." Huh?  So, we hid our bikes in the jungle, rolled up our pants, and started wading through fairly deep water to get to our investigator. We started walking through a village and it was actually cool how they adjusted to the flooded conditions. They rigged long planks so that the villagers could walk from house to house without getting wet. Very cool! 
 When we came around the corner our investigator yelled, “ELDERS!” super loud and stood up very fast. He couldn't believe that two men in suits were willing to get all dirty to meet with him.  I could tell that we had instantly earned the respect of our investigator. The lesson we taught him went very well.  And, like I’ve said in earlier emails, it felt amazing to make extra sacrifices to meet our investigators. They truly are children of our Heavenly Father, and it’s our honor to offer them the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Interesting trivia for this week:

One time I noticed this huge, creepy bird. Then, I realized it was a bat.  Elder Hem pointed to the distance and there were literally 300 bats were flying our way! When they were on top of us they started to swoop down and kept coming very close to hitting me. They made strange, loud creepy noises.  It seriously gave me the chills.  Not my favorite thing about Cambodia.

The Cambodian language is coming along. I wish it was much better.  However, me and my companion “had a moment” the other day. He looked me in the eye and told me he was super impressed. He never gives compliments so it was a big deal. I've enjoyed having him as my trainer.

Next week I'll know where I'll be when Uncle Rick comes to Cambodia! I really hope its in Siem Reap.

Much Love,

-Elder Nelson

Friday, September 2, 2011

And, another week is on the books.

We had a different kind of week. Not as much proselyting. My companion was pretty sick so we were out of commission for a few days.  It was a little frustrating but we had some good talks and it was great for studying. My companion is really smart in the gospel and we enjoyed bouncing ideas off of each other. 

Our mission president had family visiting this past weekend. It is fun for us when he has family visit because they usually visit Siem Reap. President likes to take them teaching with the missionaries. I am lucky to be here because I’ve gotten to teach with the President twice.

The spirit he brings to lessons is amazing. He knows quite a bit of Khmer, but his example and his presence has helped us and our investigators this week. He loves the people that he is helping to teach, and the investigators can really feel it. That’s something I have been focusing on a lot lately. I want to have Charity when I am teaching but also in all other aspects in my life. It realize how important it is as a true disciple of Christ.

Ok, so let me tell you about a man named Hal. He has lived in Australia, New Zealand, and England. His accent is a little strange to me. He showed up at church randomly one Sunday. In our ward we usually get white, tourist visitors almost every week. But Hal was wearing a tank top and board shorts. Out of the ordinary even for tourists. He’s also a bit older, (hopefully I can send a picture home sometime.) But I remember thinking that first Sunday, oh boy, what do we have here?

Anyway, my companion usually translates for all visitors and after class we started talking more in depth with Hal about the Gospel. He said he once had a Mormon friend that he really respected.  He’s been interested in knowing more, but never really acted on it. So we set up a return appointment with him. My companion and I talked about it that night during our planning and we both agreed Hal probably wouldn’t be going anywhere soon, and that we should meet with him.

To make a long story short we had a very spiritual lesson with him. It ended with him in tears, saying the prayer, thanking his Heavenly Father for answering his prayer and guiding him to us. He called us by name in his prayer. And it was really touching. I mean REALLY touching.  The spirit was so strong. We've been meeting Hal pretty frequently now, and we truly believe he has been prepared by the Lord to receive the Gospel.

At times Hal can be a little different. Sometimes he starts comparing our meetings to a famous Australian song, and he scraped his arm on the fence to the church, and insisted that the Khmers had a remedy for it... Then, he sliced up a lime and put it on his arm. The whole lesson he insisted that it didn't hurt, but honestly I don't see how it didn’t.

Hal is odd, but he is a beloved son of our Heavenly Father. He is an honest seeker of truth, who Heavenly Father loves.
We feel like the Lord blessed us with him in our area. 

I love you all!

-Elder Nelson