We were able to watch General Conference yesterday. It was amazing and I loved it. I enjoyed every speaker. Its interesting, no matter how long we are members of the church, how much we know, or how much it gets repeated, through the Spirit, each Conference impresses us and inspires us to change things in our lives. I felt like I learned so much and there were things said that I felt were especially for me. Two stories today: 1) I went on an exchange with Elder Gibson. He is from Connecticut. It was fairly late in the evening and raining super hard. In fact, it was chaos for a while. The flooding patrol was flying by in Land Cruisers drenching us in muddy water among other uncomfortable results of still being out at on that kind of night. Anyway, we were on our way to a less active member's house to discuss the Book of Mormon. He lives off a main road in a pretty sketchy area known as the slums. We ride our bikes down an alley to the turnoff for his road and suddenly the rain slowed, almost to a stop and there was an eerie silence. We turned down another narrow flooded road with rickety houses and there was a thick fog. It had been raining so hard, no one was out. I started feeling really creeped out. I turned to my companion and he agreed that he felt the same way. Then, all of a a sudden, a loud speaker started playing, what I would describe as "happy carnival music." Children singing really loud in high pitched voices, kind of like chanting. And given the circumstances I assumed we were about to be ambushed by a mob of blood thirsty clowns. Elder Gibson recalled that I turned to him and said with a very serious look on my face, "'If a clown jumps out right now I will seriously knock him out cold!" We kept trying to joke around but neither of us were laughing. Unfortunately, our route took us closer and closer to the music until it was echoing off of the houses around us and seemed like it was coming from all directions. Then, suddenly...we came to a house which was clearly the source, and... there was a jolly, middle aged man with a pot belly, shirt off, drinking a can of beer. Four little children were smiling and dancing around in a circle without shirts, wearing colorful, sparkly party hats. We stood there and stared in silence and my companion stated in a dead serious voice, "Now, that's just pure."
I found the response extremely funny. This use of the word "Pure" will now be a permanent addition to my vocabulary. But don't ask me to define it. One more story. So, I got a call from a recently less active, single mother of 5 children who wanted to meet with us. It was getting close to the time we should be home for the day. (I like to call her my mom. She said it makes her feel special.) She said she was super sick and needed a blessing. So Elder Blocker and I got on our bikes and hurried over. She was sitting on the ground level (which is open air) her head was in her hands and was yelling bad words at one of her daughters... telling them to eat their rice. (yes, there are bad words for "eat rice" in Cambodian) We went up to her and started talking to her and she told us about having migraine headaches and she needed a blessing fast. So we gave her one right away. It was very spiritual. Afterwards, she thanked us and apologized for interrupting us. We sat down and decided to take some time to talk to her. She said she was depressed and that her kids were disobedient, she felt lonely, etc etc. We asked if we could share a scripture and she agreed. We shared 1 Nephi 1:1. And talked to the family about the first sentence of the Book of Mormon. We taught that the first sentence of the Book of Mormon was well thought out, it was inspired, important, and it was what the world in the latter days would need to hear first. It says, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents...". We then taught about the importance of parenting and motherhood. I felt a little awkward because I've never been a parent, and never will be a mother.... But I talked about how this is what Nephi, looking back, found most important to him. When he was a child, he probably didn't have the same appreciation for his parents that he did when he wrote the book of Nephi. I then related to the family how there were times in my life when I was less respectful than I should have been. But now, looking back I realize I have been so blessed to come from the mother that I have. I talked about how in short term, while children are young, its hard to see the eternal perspective. I loved the lesson, It just came into my mind. I had never taught or heard a lesson based on that sentence before but I felt like the spirit truly guided what I was saying.
Best part if the story-
Afterwards, I gathered all the kids together. It felt like one of those forced family nights or family councils when there's some awkward tension. We shared number 5 of the 10 commandments with them and committed them all to show more respect and love to their mother. Then, I asked if she would be willing to kneel in prayer with her family. You can NEVER underestimate the power of a kneeling prayer as a family. The mood was still a little off at the end. Then I remembered the end our tense family council nights and Dad would say, "Ok, c'mon you guys... group hug!" So, I "firmly suggested" this family give each other a group hug when nobody wanted to. And guess what? It totally worked! Just like at home... thanks Dad! The feeling in the house completely changed. I love being a servant of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with all of my heart. I don't see it as a sacrifice in the slightest.