Monday, February 9, 2015

Farewell President and Sister Smedley

 A week before last saturday we picked up the new mission president, President Moon and his wife from the airport.  

Later that night we had the unique opportunity and complete honor to take President and Sister Smedley to the airport to return home after 3 years of amazing service. It was a weird feeling. I couldn't believe it.  I remember so clearly, my first interview with President Smedley as a brand new missionary. Now I was taking him to the airport as he left the country. It was a sacred thing to be with them.  For the first time in 3 years, they had no phone calls, no urgent interviews or urgent needs or worries running a unique and unpredictable mission. I wondered if it felt like it was their first chance to catch their breath since they hit the ground running 3 years before.  I wondered what they were thinking.  I had the chance to ask them what was the most important thing they learned on their mission. President Smedley said, "Always, ALWAYS, follow the spirit." Sister Smedley said, "It's all worth it." I've thought about those two sentences a lot. Any sacrifice we make for the Lord is "worth it". Any sacrifice is always accompanied by blessings we can't even begin to count. It's a promise from our Heavenly Father.  When we got to the airport there were many native Cambodian members of the church, lined up to greet him one last time and say farewell. A lot of emotion by a people who tend to keep their emotion very private. Like I said, a sacred experience that words do no justice.

Then, the next day, we took the Moons to church. I think it was pretty fun for their family. The Cambodian people respect the Mission President similar to way that the people on the other side of heaven treat their missionaries. Everyone is so excited to meet and talk to him. Amazingly, he speaks really good Khmer and the members couldn't believe it. 

That night President Moon went proselyting with Elder Ott and I. It was great! He's very spiritual and you feel it whenever he talks. 

During our first AP planning with him we talked a lot about the Zone leader council the next day. We got the topic  and were asked to prepare a 30 minute lesson. Elder Ott and I really work good as a team and we were able to teach a pretty decent lesson the next day.

The following day we had our first "Meet the President" meeting. We had about 40 missionaries there and President/Sister Moon took time to talk with and meet each one of them. 

Next day we had meetings from 9-1:30. Afterwards I drove President out to Sen Sok for a baptismal interview. It's an area pretty much in the middle of no where. I went in to the interview room fully expecting to translate for him. Then he took off and did the whole interview himself in Khmer. I just helped to translate what they said.   The majority of the interview he did himself. I was super impressed. He was using words that I just recently learned! 
On friday we went to Battambang. That was fun. The meeting with the missionaries went really well. and then we ate. Following which we had a meeting with the members. We walked into the chapel and the District president yelled out, "Give them a round of applause!" and then everyone started clapping and put leis around their necks. 

Then, I drove from Battambang to Siem Reap. That was a blast. Half the distance is crazy Cambodian bumpy, pot hole filled roads where you can rarely go over 65. But then halfway there is a road that was constructed by Thais. You could get going pretty fast on those roads. When I drive on these Cambodian highways, I feel like I'm  in a Pod Racer from Star Wars. Passengers in the back of the van hit their heads on the ceiling and you must avoid very slow cars, strange vehicles packed with people and stuff, even parked cars in the middle of the road.  We got stuck in a rainstorm going like 40 kilos an hour and I could not see a thing. The rain was coming down super super hard. It was completely blinding and very scary. Then Elder Ott prayed that the rain would let up and almost on demand it let up.

In Siem Reap, we get to stay at the Angkor Paradise Hotel....pure heaven. Full sized beds, nice showers (with water pressure!) Free shampoo and bottled waters too. All the Cambodian workers love talking to us because we know the language. They can't believe it.  The guard outside even brought me a coconut with a straw poked in the top.
Then we drove back after that and came back to Phom Penh. 


Oh and exciting news for next week! Elder Ott and I are going to Vietnam with Presiident. We are going to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city as well! 

I love my Savior. I know this church is true.

I love you all 

Elder Nelson

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