Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sam sent us the following email and pictures on Monday, December 14, 2014.  Our questions and comments are in italics.Emily is completing her mission this week and will be home with us on Friday, December 19th!    

Man there's all this excitement going on at home and I just want to be a part of it so bad!

I got the Christmas package on Wednesday and was enjoying everything in it. I also received the Halloween letter on that same day, so that gave it a nice touch. Thank you so much for everything in there. The candy is great and the letters are better. Nate's was my favorite--sorry everyone. His opening sentence was "Things have never been more lame at the house." I mean, how do you top that?! And mom, the nativity set is totally adorbs! Thanks for spending so much time making that and sending it. I really do like it! That being said, I was wanting to ask you a question about it. Would you be upset if I were to give it to a family here? We've taught them the Christmas lesson and they don't know much about Christmas, but when we went to their house last night they had bought a small string of lights from a little store and strung them up to try and get in the spirit of Christmas. There was a little spot on a table that looked like it was just missing a little nativity scene, and I feel like having a nativity scene would mean so much to them. I want to keep it, but I feel like it would be for the greater good if they had it and they could get it out every year for Christmas. You can let me know on that.

The zone conference we had on Wednesday was pretty good. Elder Yorgason was there and I got to sit next to him for most of the day and talk to him, so it was fun. We had "mexican pizzas" (I also had it later this week on the exchange), which were good. Like, it's bad Mexican food, but because we're in Cambodia it becomes good Mexican food.

Like I talked a little bit about last week, people do not know when Christmas is. Only a few. Example: a guy we taught this last week we asked if he knew what Christmas was and he said it was Jesus's birthday. Wow, I'm super impressed, so I ask him a follow-up question because he answered correctly the first time. "Do you know what day we celebrate Christmas?" He answers now with increased confidence "For our church.....they celebrate every Saturday." I told him he was so close!

English class isn't as big of a deal for me here as it was before. Before I had to teach a class so I'd prepare and teach all by myself. Here, right now, we're just taking sign ins and then I join a class and sit by students and help them and they ask me questions that I don't understand, but I still try and help them.
I actually went on an exchange this past week and that was kind of a fun change of pace. We were actually riding in his area and we rode past a white guy on a moto and he yelled out "Go back to Utah!" So that's something I really haven't heard since I got here. It was also nice to have another white french person with me to absorb the blows of being in the minority. We talked to one guy for a long time who we contacted. He spoke in English. Long story short, I asked him if he believed in God and he named a bunch of different Gods, but for like God God, like our God, he told us that there's no proof of God. Me and the companion on the exchange were just completely dead silent for like 10 seconds. Finally I was like "....earth?" Cause you know, we were talking while standing in the middle of the jungle. But he said that no one made nature or something like that. OK, pal. Also we kind of contacted a monk.

I decided yesterday that my relationship with my companion is a lot like that between Zelda and Ivy in the picture book, just not as sweet and decidedly more sinister. But we're still trying to survive here.

[In my email to Sam, I thanked him for telling me last week that he loved me back. :)]  Thanks for all your updates mom. I know I don't usually have a lot to respond to them, but I do enjoy reading them and hearing what's going on with people at home and who's where and doing what. I really do love you, mother! And all of you as well!

I won't get to have a P day next Monday because we're going to have days off for Christmas, so don't worry about emailing.

I need to take more pictures because I haven't taken many and the ones I have aren't very good. I'll send a couple. I guess the next time I'll talk to you will be Skype in a week and a half. Have I told you before how much I don't like talking via skype? It always seems so awkward. Think of some good conversation points and I'll do the same.

Love you and miss you! Drive safely to California and give Emily all my loves and kisses.

You look closely and that whole truck is filled with ducks. Also they're speeding at probably 60 miles an hour or so and there's people riding on top. I've seen several trucks just filled to the brim full of pigs that have been packed in and are heading to Phnom Penh to be slaughtered. Just not stuff you see on an average day in america. Cambodia. 

And two hilarious old people that we teach that are recent converts and you have to yell so they can hear you. One of them is 81 and I have a picture of him from when he climbed a palm tree. In this picture they're both putting in eye drops
It's rice-harvesting season in Cambodia

Sam got the Christmas package we sent!


To: Mom, Dad
Outlook.com Active View
He is the Gift khmer
Added on 12/12/14
This is our He is the Gift video if you're interested

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sam sent the following email on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014.  Our questions/comments are in italics.

Hey Everybody!

I'd like to report that I'm enjoying the warmest December of my life, so that's great.

I hope you are having a good day in Battambang.  We have tried to look up the church building in Battambang but the Google maps arrow doesn't point to a specific building and doesn't give a "man on the street" view.  Does your church have some kind of street address we could try typing into the search bar?  I would just try on lds.org, but it sounds like you've already tried that.  I guess you can see it when you come over.

I know Cambodia had only branches up until this past summer when they created the two stakes there.  But Battambang isn't included in either of those stakes is it?  Battambang is a district--not a zone.  What is the name of your branch?  My branch is Battambang 2 or sometimes they call it Ratana.  Does your branch have a piano?  They have a piano.  Are the Zone Leaders in your city?  My Zone Leaders and most of the rest of the missionaries live like 3 houses down from us, still right across the street from the church.  

Is there a transfer coming before or after Christmas?  There will be a transfer a few weeks after Christmas, but I don't think anything will happen with me. I'm pretty sure it'll just be me and the same companion for one more transfer.  

I was wondering if you missionaries use DVDs or media of any kind.  Is there much translated into Cambodian that you know of? The only dvds I've used are the finding faith in Jesus Christ/Restoration videos, and I only used those back in TT [Teuk Thla].  

Last week, you said you didn’t have many investigators, but that you did have a lot of new converts.  I’m curious to know how many new converts there are in your area and how there came to be so many of them.  Did the missionaries just before you have a  blitz or something?  Are you responsible to help the new converts, or are you primarily focused on finding and teaching non-members?  By members I assume you mean active members. We had 170 at church yesterday (apparently, it didn't seem like that many), but that's a ton. But there are soooo many people who are technically members. I think we have upward of 55 recent converts in the ward. Meaning they have been members for less than a year. I think the missionaries just had some crazy success a while back and found some big pockets of people and hit it hard. We have to teach them for a year after their baptism.  We only had 4 investigator lessons last week, which is dangerously low. On Wednesdays and Fridays we go out to one of the pocket areas that blew up with the church and visit new members. It's about 10 kilometers away one way.

The First Presidency has started sending emails to those with an email address listed on LDS tools.  I got one this week with a message about Christ and how "He is the Gift."  The church has got a large billboard ad about the "He is the Gift" initiative in Times Square, and it will be there during the New Year's Eve celebration.  It also has a hashtag associated with it.  They are inviting everyone to share the gift.  This campaign is supposed to reach millions of people on the internet.  They've told us about the "He is the Gift" initiative. I guess it's a pretty big deal then, huh. We just teach people about what Christmas is and why we celebrate it. It is amazing though. Probably 75% of the people don't know what it is, and the other 25% only know that it is Jesus's Birthday. Longtime members alike just don't know. It's shocking to think that, but I guess if you asked someone in America what Pchum Ben is they wouldn't have a clue. So we try to teach them and I try to make sure that what my companion says isn't too...not exactly accurate. It is a cool idea though to think about Jesus being "The Gift" and we were given that gift because Heavenly Father loves us so much. I don't know how much actually sticks in their mind, but we're trying. I have seen the little 2 minute video.

We will celebrate Christmas on the 24th and 25th in Phnom Penh. I think they're making us do service or something. We have Zone Conference this week on Wednesday.

Sam, are you seriously eating grasshoppers?  I ate 2 grasshoppers for real. One was because my companion told me to and he wouldn't leave me alone and I was just trying to please. The second one I ate so I could take a picture and have it be somewhat authentic.

I'm sorry your companion struggles with anger issues.  Do you ever feel that he poses any danger to you?  I'm in no danger with my companion, sometimes he's just dumb. I'm sure once I'm long passed from this companionship I'll look back and say hey, that wasn't that bad. It's just not really what you'd call "fun" though.

Yesterday there was a kid in our ward helping us go to teach people. Sometimes he's really cool, other times not so much. But he's getting ready for a mission, been a member for 10 years, and pretty much is the best-informed person in our ward. But it was in the evening yesterday [Sunday] and he just stopped on the side of the street and bought some little food thing. I was like come on bro, it's Sunday and he's like "Khlian" i'm hungry. I'm like bro, that's not a reason. Little things bug me. I'm tired of a lot of the people here teasing me for stuff that I don't understand and can't tease back about because I don't know enough words to. Like freckles for some reason people had a hayday with this week, and I don't know what to say so I just sit there helpless while they laugh at me. My companion doesn't back me up at all and usually brings up how I look 35. Ugh it's so annoying.

Our branch president left yesterday to go to Hong Kong to the temple. He's been a member for like 10 years, but was inactive for a long time I guess. Good for him. We met him at his house a few days ago and he's shirtless and is just wearing his little loincloth. I'm just thinking about how that just is so different from how you'd meet a bishop in America.

I tracked the Christmas package we sent you, and the usps website says it has been delivered to Cambodia.  I addressed it to the mission office in Phnom Penh. Have you gotten it yet? I don't have the package yet, but I imagine I will get it on Wednesday.

I haven't drunk milk in probably a month, and if you know me that is a really long time.

We watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional earlier this evening.  Some of the speakers were Bonnie Oscarson, Elder Christopherson, and Pres. Eyring.  They shared really good messages.  Elder Christopherson is probably my favorite GA to listen to speak.

The church is really on top of its stuff. The church buildings here are in fantastic locations and are big, clean, well kept, etc. I've seen other church buildings from different sects and they're just old and dirty. The church is smart.

I love you Sam.  You love me too, right?  I love you, mom!  [Yeah, I was soliciting... :)]

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sam sent the following email & pictures on Sunday, November 30, 2014.  Our statements & questions are in italics. 

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: Hi Family
Date: November 30, 2014 9:54:09 PM MST

Wow, can you believe I just finished my second-to-last Thanksgiving in Cambodia already? Time flies.

First some matters of business. They said that we will be able to call home on Skype on my Thursday morning December 26 meaning that it'll be the evening of Christmas day for you. For this, it would probably be easiest if you guys just made a Skype account for me and sent me the username and password so I can just log onto it because I really don't know much about Skype. Second, I sent home a big envelope about a week and a half ago, so it should be arriving soon. It's my meager Christmas offering for everybody so don't open it until Christmas. And no, your Christmas package has not yet arrived but I'll be glad when it does.

That sandwich you sent us the photo of last week looked mighty appetizing...  Was that just a seriously sub-standard sandwich offering, or are sandwiches like that pretty much the norm?  The sandwich is a typical side of the road sandwich.

We had Thanksgiving at the senior couples' home and it was really fun. They had everything American and Thanksgiving there except stuffing and apple pie. I ate a lot of food. It was super nice of them to let us all come over and have a Thanksgiving and feel like Americans again, even though they're Canadian.

I gave a talk for the first time in sacrament meeting yesterday. I don't know why it took so long because usually missionaries speak pretty often, but this was my first time. 

There are a lot of good things that are happening here and a lot of bad things. I honestly think that my companion has some acute psychological disorder that is undiagnosed, because he clearly has some problems.

We have next to no investigators right now, but about a million recent converts.

I don't really ever have much to say on email, but I write a ton of stuff in my journal. So I have it.

I guess that's all. Do you have any pictures from christmas tree hunting you could send to me?

There's your stack of delicious sandwiches.

And a grasshopper. I didn't eat that one because it was too big, but I did eat 2 smaller ones.
I don't know why people decide that things that shouldn't be eaten are acceptable to eat.
A lot of times, recently, I don't know what I'm actually eating. Most of the time it tastes ok, but I really don't know what I'm putting into my body.

I don't have any good pictures of me in the jungle yet, but I'll get one someday.
And I'm not just going with the open-necked look because it's more comfortable. We were helping gather rice for some people so I felt justified in taking it off for a few minutes. My companion's tie is still on because he volunteered us to do it, but he didn't actually do it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sam sent us the following email & pictures on Sunday, November 23, 2014.  Our questions & statements are in italics.  Sam was transferred from Phnom Penh to Battambang last week.  The map below shows the location of Battambang.

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: Battambang Week 1
Date: November 23, 2014 9:47:55 PM MST

Hi guys,

You must be in your new area... How many missionaries are there and how many Church units?  Are they wards or branches?  Do you live with other missionaries or just your companion?  I still don't know much about this area. There are 3 branches here. The best thing is that our house is literally across the street from the church. You can probably look it up on lds maps or google maps or something. We live in a yellow house. It's about a 30 second walk to the church. It's just me and him in this house. The other missionaries live in a house just down the street. I don't know how many missionaries are here. Probably like 12 or so.

I read that Cambodia was named again this year to have the best rice in the world.  I don't have all the rules of the competition, but this is what the Daily Cambodia newspaper said.  Haha. I really don't know much about rice, but I do know a little bit about propaganda. It's like in the movie Elf when he walks into that coffee shop and congratulates them for making "the world's best cup of coffee."

When I opened the mission call to Cambodia and you all got so excited because you thought I was going to the jungle, you were wrong. But now, 4 months later, I have arrived in the jungle. There's still a little city atmosphere here, but when you turn off the main road you're into the jungly areas. Wow, it's nothing like the city. It's so pretty and there are more bugs and it's definitely exciting to see a new area. It was cool to drive out of the city on the bus and see open land. There's a lot less garbage here than there was in the city.

Is Nate sleeping in my bed downstairs?

I don't know, there's not a lot to say yet. My companion has only been here for 2 weeks, so we haven't done a whole lot since I've been here. Just visited a few member houses. And I don't know any people or any of the area so I'm pretty handicapped at the moment.

Umm, yeah. That's all I have. I think we'll get to have Thanksgiving dinner at the senior couples' house this week, but I'm not sure. We'll see.

Ok, have fun Christmas tree hunting!

Jungle around Battambang

This picture, and all the following, were taken before Sam left Phnom Penh.

Sam wrote:  "Reshaping the future"--because someone's gotta do it.

Sam wrote: I mean seriously, is there a job market for proofreaders?
A 2nd grader can do this.

Sam wrote:  This is Vanny.

And this is what 50 cents gets you for a sandwich. Oh how I miss those sweet, sweet Subway footlongs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sam sent the following email & pictures on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014.  Our questions & comments are in italics.

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: I'm Moving

Hey I don't know if you've sent stuff for Christmas already or not, but if you havent, you could send like a companion book to reading the D&C to help give more background info. If you have sent it already, just wait and send the D&C book for next year or something. Also, Ty wants to know the recipe for eggie pancakes and I don't know it off the top of my head.

[Peter updated Sam on the Ebola epidemic, ISIS, and other world (and baseball) news.]  Another missionary told me about that guy in America that was quarantined in the hospital and ended up dying. He also told me that a few people got into Cambodia with it and when they found out about it, they quarantined them and then they killed them. Meaning that they didn't "let them die," but rather they "killed them." So I'm not sure if that's true or not. But wow, that's pretty crazy. I hate not being up to date on world events. Like I know that when I run for president in the future one of the questions in a debate will be "In the year 2014 in the month of November, what political group in the middle east led an uprising in Iraq" and I'm going to flounder because I don't know any of this stuff anymore. I used to be so smart. That's awesome for Trout. It also just sounds so cool how you said ISIS probably would have taken over if the US hadn't stepped in. Oh I love America.

Tell Bompa Lloyd happy birthday from me. 88 and still going strong!

And Emily, I forgot to tell you, but I actually did get the letter that you wrote to me in October. 

I got another hair cut this morning and it feels really uneven and lopsided. I haven't really had the opportunity to look at it yet. I don't know why they just can't do it good. You have like one moment of truth when they finish and they wait for your approval and you do all you can in 5 seconds to identify problems and then you pay them and leave and then you realize they forgot to cut the top. That's exaggerated, but still. It's only $1.25 though so I guess you get what you pay for.

Jessa Homer told us that the reason why are no McDonald's restaurants in Cambodia is because Cambodia's meat quality doesn't measure up to McDonald's standards.  I didn't know that about McDonalds. Hmmm. Burger King's here. I guess that tells ya something.

[For some reason, Peter decided to read a Cambodian newspaper on the Internet.  He learned that Dominoes Pizza will be opening up in Cambodia and that Cambodia has a 3-day water festival/holiday coming up.]  Dad, you're reading the "Cambodian Daily"???? Yeah the water festival destroys proselyting.

Sam, if the tempos of the pre-recorded hymns on the keyboards at church are such a problem, why don't you just play the hymns yourself?  Mom, I don't play the piano for them because they need to learn to become self-reliant and not dependent on the missionaries. Otherwise they will never progress. [Heidi's note:  Yeah, I'm not buying that excuse.]

[At the conclusion of Emily's mission next month, she is going to bring some converts she absolutely loves home with her for a short vacation.]  That will be cool to meet German and Francisca and Eric who we've definitely heard so much about. Maybe I'll bring a few friends back to the states too when I'm done.

Our guy who is the golden investigator that we were really hoping would get baptized yesterday didn't because he didn't pass his interview on Saturday night. He didn't tell us something when we reviewed with him, but we were so happy because he really did tell it when it counted. So he has to get another interview and hopefully he'll get to be baptized next week instead. 

Which brings me to my next point. I'm transferring to the Battambang 2 branch. So I'm kite-bound. Battambang used to be super famous for having really good members out there. They speak really clearly out there, and it's probably going to be a little more like what you all were expecting with a call to Cambodia. So that will be interesting to go out to the country-side. I think it's about a 7 hour bus ride or something from Phnom Penh. My new companion will be another native, Elder Roem. He is infamous in the mission. When I say infamous I don't mean in the "more than famous" sense. In the "he is widely known as the most difficult companion in the mission" sense. So that kind of takes the cool level down a notch or two. To be honest, I'm already really worried about having to go out there with him. I hope we're going to be living with other people because I knew about this guy from multiple sources even before yesterday and he is a psychopath. He told his last companion that when he's mad he just wants to make people hurt. I think that sentence comes across so frightening because of his limited vocabulary, but still. So I thought things were tough, but they're about to get a whole lot harder. But we'll see. I can't judge it til I've actually tried it otherwise it's not fair. I thought for sure I'd go somewhere in the city because the kites were pretty full. And I started to get excited about that because I was hoping maybe I could come back for Somuen's baptism because I've been with him since the beginning. But I guess that won't happen. It'll be sad to leave Teuk Thla. There really are a ton of people in and around here that I will miss. I'll miss just riding down the street and waving to my "friends" who maybe I've talked to only once or twice, but I've just waved to them every day for 4 months. There's a lot of stuff and people I'll miss here. Darn it all.

So yeah, that's what's happening here. Business as usual. Are you guys going Christmas tree hunting? What day is Thanksgiving again?

Keep up the good work guys. Maybe go see interstellar and tell me how it is.
This guy is a less active who is super cool and writes songs and stuff

You'll definitely notice the power lines when you come here.

 Somuen and I switched helmets for a sec.

Sam advertising English class in Teuk Thla.  The sign reads, "Learn English Free"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sam sent the following email & pictures on Sunday, November 9, 2014.  Our questions/comments to him are in italics:

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: All the pictures I send home I have helmet hair because I wear a helmet every single day
Date: November 9, 2014 11:05:44 PM MST

Seriously, since my first day in the country I haven't not worn a helmet, so every picture that I send to you guys my hair is all messed up.

Jessa gave her homecoming talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday.  She did a really good job.  She ended by bearing her testimony in Khmae.  It is a language so different from anything we are used to.  It is pretty cool.  It's weird because now I know enough Khmae, you know, that it doesn't sound weird to me anymore.  But we have an investigator who prays in Thai sometimes because he knows I like to listen to it cause I think it sounds cool. So maybe it sounds something like that. 

I learned a little bit about Cambodian government and some stuff like that, and man they're just so messed up. Just so, so messed up. I may have said this before, I can't remember, but the infrastructure of their government is about as strong as the infrastructure of their buildings. To clarify: not strong. I sure do love America. Even as it falls deeper and deeper into liberalism like gay marriage and recreational marijuana, it's a lot better than most of the world. What's up with the Ebola thing? I only know a little bit about it, but I know it's a big deal.

Transfer calls will come next week and I'm assuming that I'll probably be transferred. Maybe not though. But probably. And I'm also assuming that I'll just go to a different place in the city and not to any kites. Maybe not though. But probably.

I was wondering if you have to speak in Church much?  Have you had to give a talk or have you gone up to bear your testimony? I actually haven't spoken in church at all. They have been really nice to me. That or they think my Khmae is so bad that they don't even want me to try.

Are you guys taking lots of pictures and videos of the stuff you do to document them? I know everything seems mundane and like it hasn't changed much from week-to-week, but in a few years you'll look back and say wow, that changed a lot.

All the families of American missionaries currently serving in Cambodia received an email last week telling us that there is an opportunity for us to donate money or small gifts to be given to the native Cambodian elders and sisters for Christmas.  A local guy is collecting the donations and will be flying to Cambodia with them the first part of December.  Are there things  you think the Khmae elders and sisters might especially like?  That's nice they're taking stuff over. No, I can't think of anything they'd really like. I'm sure candy would be fine. I'm good with candy. I still have plenty of good socks, I haven't used the slime yet so wouldn't need any more of that, my shoes are still great and I love them. Candy should cover it.

Will your mission celebrate Thanksgiving in any way?  Do they even have turkeys in Cambodia?  I have no idea what we'll do for Thanksgiving, if anything. I know sometimes the senior couples will host a Thanksgiving for the missionaries, but that's only sometimes. We'll see. I don't think turkey is really big here. Plenty of pigs, cows, and chickens. You're really going to have to gather intel from the Homers on what you and Peter and going to eat when you're here. Seriously, I don't know how Peter could do it and be vegan. Asking someone what their favorite food here is synonymous with asking them if they prefer chicken, cow, or pork. Like, I don't think they'll understand if you say no meat. And even if they don't put meat in it, like heck they're going to clean the pan before they cook something vegetarian. If you thought the local Burger King had a hard time with "no cheese," try talking to these people. So yeah, ponder on that one for a little bit. Ensures are SUPER expensive here, too, so you'd have to bring them all from America. Some American cereal brands that have been shipped over I've seen at about 12 dollars for a normal box. It's ridiculous.

I (Heidi) taught the Laurels lesson today.  November’s “Come, Follow Me” theme is “Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance.”  I’ve felt like the girls need to understand the importance of maintaining activity in the church all their lives (spiritual self-reliance), and they need to recognize common pitfalls which can lead to inactivity so they can guard against them.  I was looking at statistics on the Internet, and found that of the 15,000,000 members the church currently has worldwide, only about 30% (4.5 million) regularly attend church meetings. I think that's a good lesson for your young women. Church inactivity is obviously a huge problem. That's probably why so much of the last general conference they focused on getting your own personal testimony. So here's a question, all those people who are technically members but are completely inactive, are they going to be like the tares among the wheat at the second coming and burn or is mercy going to save them?

The stake president spoke in our ward yesterday and he absolutely threw down. He talked a bunch about reading scriptures, praying, and going to church, and expounded on each of them. But when he talked about reading the scriptures, especially, he said he's met a lot of people who say they're too busy doing this or that to read. He says that everybody's busy, but that "if you're too busy to read, REPENT!" Oh my eyes almost welled up with tears of joy and I was about to stand up start clapping and singing hallelujah. That's all we hear every single day is that people are too busy to do any church stuff.

There's one guy here we found who lived in America for over 20 years. Long story short he's had some life problems, but apparently he was baptized. But we decided to review lesson one with him, which was a good idea cause he doesn't really know. But after we finished and put the bow on it with moroni 10 and reading and praying to know, he's just like "Well yeah, that's why I choose the Mormon," in his Mexican-American English accent. Pretty funny.

If they encourage "defensive driving" in America, then people embrace "offensive driving" here. 

We had a drop by with the guy who was told not to pay his tithing a few months ago [Sam told us about this guy--he's been inactive, but he showed up at church one day and bore a fervent testimony about how the Spirit told him not to pay his tithing...]. He didn't know we were coming and what a shock that must have been to him when we rolled up, cause he had to get back in his house real fast and try to hide the mug of beer that was in has hand. But we both saw it. Actually, now I'm stoked to meet him again and lay it down on him. I was thinking either DC 82:3, Mosiah 2:36-39, or a scripture about how God sees everything. Maybe one about how the Spirit of the Lord doesn't dwell in unholy temples.

I also found it interesting this week how when life is easy, it's easy to go to church and do all the church things you know you should do, but the second life gets hard, Satan tells you that you don't have time or ability to keep reading or praying or going to church. When in reality, when life starts to get hard, that's the time that you need help from Him the most. You should increase your scripture study and pray more often. Make sure you're still going to church. It's like that saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I'm not sure how that relates, but somehow it seems like it does. I know this is easy for me to say as a missionary, but, like I tell a lot of people, we as missionaries meet a lot of people, and I can promise that people who are honestly and truly trying to live every Gospel principle are miles happier than those who are not or do not care to. 

Ok that's enough of that. I don't want to become that guy. A guy named Vanny who is a super cool guy that I like here says to tell my family hi from him. So hi from Vanny.

Because nothing makes me want to buy toilet paper 
more than a picture of a dog eating toilet paper.

[This picture shows some of the Church-owned property
adjacent to the chapel Sam attends in Phnom Penh.]

Do they have this Fanta flavor in America? It's super good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sam sent the following email and pictures on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014:

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: Hi Guys, I'm fine so don't worry too much about me
Date: November 2, 2014 11:38:33 PM MST


Yeah I know that my email last week wasn't as upbeat as sometimes, but I'm fine. 

I got the group letter and it was fun to get accounts of their families from each of them. That's so crazy that Emily is going to BYU. By the time I get back, she'll have been there longer than I was.

Halloween was normal. No one celebrates it here. One guy thought it was Thanksgiving.

There's really not too much to report out here. We have a couple of solid investigators, and a lot of not solid investigators. So there's that. 

At sacrament meeting yesterday I decided that I'd do something for the good of the ward and tell the little girl who pushes the button to make the piano play itself to go to the slowest recommended tempo. Because every single time we sing a song, the tempo is automatically set too fast and it sounds horrible because they can't keep up with it. So I told her to go to the lowest one, because when I've controlled the organ I've found that that's best. But when the opening song came and it was playing through the introduction the first few notes I heard i was like ohhhhh crap. It's wayy too slow. But shoot, she didn't know that. I don't know if she went slower than the recommended or not, but it was pretty dang slow. The lady conducting did, though, and she decided to speed it up on her own and take it at her own pace. So she was trying to lead everybody and go fast while the piano was going slow and it sounded so bad. I just sat there in shame. Eventually the conductor lady went and turned the piano off and they made an announcement that they were going to sing the last 3 verses without accompaniment. The other two songs were fine though. But sometime this week I'm going to find out the ideal tempo for all of them and write it down on the page that we've already made for them that has correlating page numbers. Sometimes it's like the law of Moses here where they're not ready for the higher law, so you've got to spell out every little thing for them.

And fast Sunday meetings here are the same as they are in America where certain people get up every single month and as they're walking up you're thinking "no, no, no, sit back down"--those people that you can take to the bank because you know there's no way they're not going to impart of their wisdom to the congregation. Like, the 2nd counselor's wife always gets up and goes forever. She thinks she's so funny. And people like her here love to say how they've been members for so long, and it seems like they're bragging about it. They're like "yeah, been a member since 2005. long time." So honestly everyone in the congregation is shuddering when she gets up and the bishop you can tell is getting agitated, and the only person smiling is the second counselor either because he's scared of her, or he thinks that what she says is actually worth something. But I timed it and she only went 6 minutes, so it could have been worse.

I can't think of much else to say other than don't worry about me, I'm doing fine. I told Ross I probably complain more on this email thing than I would in real life.

Thank you guys. I miss you and love you.
This is a water label that Elder Yorgason and I always used to laugh about.

That's supposed to be a cheesy smile, but instead I just look like a maniac.

One more label:  Serve well, everybody.

This is typical Cambodian construction.