A Birthday Surprise and the Cambodian Garden of Eden
So first off, I forgot to tell you about my awesome birthday party... The branch threw me a birthday party! After church ended, we were leaving and one of the members called me back to the church. She asked if I could carry some chairs up the stairs for her. Then when I went to leave again, another member called me back and I helped them with something else. Anyway, the pattern continued for a while. I just couldn't seem to get out of the church. Well, when I started to show small signs of confusion and frustration, the members came in with a cake and they all started cheering! Then, the branch president yelled in Cambodian, "OK, sing it one time quiet and the 2nd time wild!" It was funny. I really, really appreciated it. I don't know how they got the money for the cake but it meant the world to me. Last night I went in the bathroom after planning, turned on the light and to my surprise there was this HUGE cockroach on the ground. I said to myself, wow, now that's a big cockroach! Then one fell off the shower and then one was on the toilet seat. Before I knew it there were 6 very large cockroaches in our bathroom. Elder Blocker and I actually enjoy this because we can take the hose from the bathroom and spray them until they flip on their backs. Its my Cambodian video game. OK, story. So we have this investigator. Her name is Janta. She's been taught by the Elders for about 7 months in another branch and we got her as a referral. Its a long story but she keeps putting off baptism. We finally asked her why? She said that her parents say she can, but they don't support her. So Elder Blocker and I decided that we needed to go to her house and have her parents become familiar with the church. Janta kept telling us that it was too far away and that it wasn't possible. I assured her it was no problem. We were pretty confident we were strong enough to go. But, she was right. It was too far away. The next day we met with our Branch Mission leader. He said he wanted to go too. He asked if he could catch a ride. I said, sure! "Catching a ride" means riding on the back of my bike. Still not realizing how far away it was, we went to the church and picked up the Branch Mission leader and took off. In my mind I estimated this ride to be 6 maybe 7 kilos away. Not too bad. Sure having a Cambodian on the back of my bike made it hard but I could do 6 or 7. Well it turns out her parents really do live in the middle of nowhere! At least 15 kilos from the church! I was completely exhausted. At about the 10 kilo mark I looked over to Janta and asked her if we were almost there. She started laughing and said, "Oh no, we still have a long way to go." Miserable ride.
We finally got there. It turns out her dad is a farmer. He owns a ton of land out there. When it saw it, I was reminded of what the Garden of Eden would look like. He had a fruit vineyard where he grows Mangoes, Papayas, pumpkins, zucchini etc. etc. It felt like I stepped into a picture book. The coolest part was that the father said he wanted to treat us to some palm juice. (There's two kinds of Palm juice, one that makes you drunk and one that tastes really really good) Anyway all the sudden this 70 year old man tucks a huge knife in his waistband and starts climbing a palm tree. I guess they cut open roots at the top of the tree and it drips into a container and it takes like 12 hours for one cup of juice. Unfortunately we can't eat at member's houses.
Janta's father retrieving palm juice.
Janta's father's Garden of Eden
After a good meeting, we had to leave. I have to confess, biking back was miserable. I remember seeing the 11 kilo marker to Pochentong and saying a prayer in my head to help me not realize how much pain I was in. Then, at that exact moment I got a thought to call a member that we didn't plan on meeting. The BM president held the phone up to my ear and we said we'd be at her house in 40 minutes. When we got there she completely broke down and told us about a problem she had and how she was planning to go inactive. We ended up teaching about forgiveness and at the end I gave her a blessing. She had a new light in her eyes when we left and the next day she was sitting at church. A miracle. Although I was in a ton of physical pain, and I was extremely frustrated, Heavenly Father made my burdens seem light. The whole trip was worth it. The next morning I checked my bike and realized my tires were almost flat! No wonder it was so hard.. I love you all. I know the church is true. The power of the Atonement is real. It is open to all of us. I love teaching Jesus Christ's doctrine. Elder Nelson