Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sam sent the following email on Monday, June 23, 2014:

Hello Family,

Wow, Skibby is almost out of here [Skibby is going to Peru for 2 1/2 weeks in July to do humanitarian service with a youth group]. She'll be eating third world food and living the third world life before I am. Too bad that I have to miss out on the World Cup fever when people who have never in their lives cared about soccer care for about 3 weeks. That's fun to be a part of.

Yeah, I don't know for sure what to do with the pictures thing. Emily said she just keeps hers on her card and hasn't run out of space yet. A back up probably would be nice though. I would be worried about banking on being able to use a cloud dropbox thing.

We are going to do a skype TRC tonight for the first time with a member in Cambodia. It's going to be so impossible to understand what they're saying. The old Thais leave today, so we'll officially become the elderstatesmen of zone 30. There's a guy in here from Thailand and he's taught us how to say a few things, so next time you see Kelly you'll have to tell him kon bobappobo, which means crazy person and ahhhluaahhn, which means "let's fight." So if I run into any Thai people in Cambodia I should be set.

They're having mission president seminar here right now, so the main building (1m) is pretty much on lockdown. They've quartered off the cafeteria so that the rich can't see the poor eat. (We are the poor). Which means the lines for food now take about 20 minutes to get into the cafeteria sometimes. On the flip side, I was in 1m for singing yesterday and I got to see how they'd set up the cafeteria for the luncheon, and it was amazing. Fine glass dining ware, table cloths, little pastries sitting out waiting for the arrival of the mission presidents. It's truly "how the other half lives." Jk, it's fine.

But for the choir we practiced from tuesday-sat last week for an hour and a half to 2 hours. We sang in the special sacrament meeting yesterday the "Have I Done any Good" song. As far as I know, all of the Q of the 12 was there and the first presidency was there except Packer. Yesterday I distinctly remember seeing Richard G scott, Monson, and Uchtdorf. But since you're not supposed to stare, I only got about 10-15 seconds worth of looking before we filed out. And today this morning we sang for their meeting that Eyring spoke at. This time I was on the stand and was about 12 inches from Holland and Anderson. When we finished singing, Holland gave us two thumbs up and a "Terrific!" We sing the next two days, too. M. Russell Ballard spoke to us last tuesday.

Zierenberg and I have little tie competitions in here every day where we ask some pairs of sisters to say which tie they like better. I was destroying him until they started giving him mercy victories. But I still win most days.

We hosted again last week, but that'll probably be the last time. Everything in here is about the same as always. Janice Kapp Perry and her husband spoke at last night's devotional. I know they came last year and that Emily really liked them. They were very funny, especially the husband. 

Finnish is a much harder speaking language than Cambodian, I'm sure of that. But according to a book we have, Cambodian has the hardest alphabet in the world. But I guess it's like Bompa said to me once that an old guy told him when he first got into Mexico that Spanish wasn't hard because all the little children could speak it, and even the dogs could understand it.

Peace and love you guys!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sam sent the following email & photos on Monday, June 16, 2014:

All right people, here I go,

So the British Cantonese left early this morning and that was pretty sad. Everybody loved them and they had such a big impact on the zone that it's just a little somber around here right now.

We had a devotional last Tuesday from Quentin L. Cook and his wife. Rumor is we'll get Richard G. Scott this Tuesday. And yesterday Sheri Dew spoke at the Sunday devotional. She's quite the empowered woman. But she gave a really solid talk.

I already told you about some of the pass downs. I got the pizza tie. Zierenberg and I also were the beneficiaries of a certain nerf dart gun, and that one's a bit of an honor. Had to go through a small "ceremony" to get it though, and that's a different story for a different day.

I'm in the choir thing. We practice from Tuesday to Saturday this week for one hour each day. Unfortunately, that hour falls right during my gym time. So I'm quitting the choir.
Just kidding I'm not quitting. I think i've gained about 5 or 6 pounds in here and I don't think it's necessarily muscle. I need to weigh myself again today though. Good for the spurs. Go spurs. What does the general public think of the Quin Snyder hiring? And the Fisher hiring? I really made some waves in here when I announced the Fisher thing. Let me know if anything happens with Duncan, Ginobili, Popovich, or LeBron.

We're trying to have fun in here. We hosted again last week and we will this week too. But our teachers are getting annoyed that we're missing class, so this will probably be the last week we host.

Happy birthday and happy father's day dad. I was thinking about you. Tell Bompa Lloyd happy father's day too.

I really, really hate planning. Mostly because our days are already planned in here, and if we have to plan for investigators, the investigators AREN'T REAL. I don't know if anyone else in here realized that except for me. Just kidding, everybody realizes it except for the teachers. Who, ironically enough, are the investigators....

But I'm officially on the downhill now in here so that's encouraging. 500 missionaries came in last week and it's getting very crowded in here waiting for showers and food. And it's only going to get worse. I'll be in Cambodia in a month, which is a little intimidating considering they have a lot of bugs, diseases, infections, et al there and as bothersome as it is in here, it's going to be very rough out there.

I told emily this already. The language is coming. It's tricky, but now that I have a basic foundation of vocabulary, I am (very) slowly beginning to read. Only problem is that we just read from PMG or BOM and both aren't the easiest texts. I need something that's like kindergarten-level or something to start with. Reading is really exhilarating though. It is exciting to sound words out that you know and put them together. It feels like a little kid again reading (literally) for the first time.

I think that's it. I love and miss you all.

The alphabet

The Book of Mormon
The way that I think is helpful to try and read: with the script PMG next to the Romanized PMG next to the English PMG   [PMG = Preach My Gospel]

Sam is holding the birthday package we sent him and modeling his flashing new birthday bow tie.
This is the "Pizza Tie" that has been passed down in the zone for a while and now made its way into my possession. I got it from Elder Ferrar. You're supposed to wear it on Friday (Pizza Day) every week and if you forget to wear it then you have to wear it for a whole week every day. But I don't know if I will abide by that or not. We'll see.

Elder Pace (left) who is Hmong and Elder Paramore (right) who is in my district.
Sam, Elder Ferrar, & Elder Zierenberg (Sam's companion)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sam's 19th birthday was last Friday.  We sent him a package at the MTC containing a birthday cake, some little treats, and a few other things he had requested.  Our dog, Cubby, and our two cats sent him a birthday card in which they included some tufts of their hair as tokens of their affections.  Sam despises hair.  Also, Sam got some bad information about the date of Father's Day.  He makes reference to these things in the letter he sent us Monday, June 9, 2014:

Hi All,

First of all, I like the sports updates and they don't distract me. Let me know if both of those guys end up signing with the teams that drafted them. Popovich is a great coach. How old is this coach? Can you send me a picture of him? Sounds like a smart guy though, which is good. And I trust Dennis Lindsey. Good for joe and Petey.

Yeah, looks like I whiffed on the father's day. That's the last time I trust that elder. I got all of the stuff. Thanks for it. It was a pretty big box! The shoes are a little big, but will work really well. I'm wearing them right now. Good call on the apple juice. I wore the new gray tie to the temple this morning. The socks and the church shirts were on point this time so thank you very much for those. I kind of did a combination of chuckling good-naturedly and gagging when I opened the letter. That may be one that I have to throw away.

I didn't tell anyone it was my birthday on my birthday, but I had told some people when my birthday was a few weeks ago and they remembered. So they kind of spread the word and everybody ended up knowing, unfortunately. They sang to me at dinner.

We have 4 teachers now, and I really like 3 of them.

The food is ok. They have a different name for every meal, but we all know that it's really all made of the same ingredients. I'm sleeping better recently. I was waking up probably 6-10 times a night, but it's been better the past few nights. The thing about the language is that there is no conjugation of verbs past/present/future, just a word that tells which it is. That's really nice. But the rough thing is that every word is different from what it sounds like in english. In spanish it seems like so many of the words sound like their English counterparts, but in this everything is different. When I have to talk in Cambodian, my mind first takes the English then translates it into Spanish. From Spanish, it then goes to Cambodian. Like on Saturday at our TRC I was talking to this returned missionary and was telling him something, BECAUSE, and I just wasn't thinking and I said porque instead of the Cambodian "piipruah." It was kind of funny because it was totally accidental.

We got to host last wednesday, and that was fun. It's hard to have to take the kids from their families though. It's like I was telling some of the guys in here that it reminds me of that quote from the Dark Knight where someone says "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." That's us now, we've lived long enough that we've become the villain and now we have to take crying children from their mothers and look their mothers straight in the face and tell them that everything is going to be all right when we know that everything is not going to be all right. I'm just kidding, but it is nice to get out of class for that. We had a pre-hosting pump up in the bathroom and treated it like a locker room pump up. "What are we gonna do?!" "LIE!!!"

Yesterday it just hit me that I really want to watch the TV series North America. Not that you can do anything about that, but I was just thinking how much I like that series.

You'd really like Brother Eggett, mom. We're singing "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" for the Tuesday devotional, and there's high likelihood that we'll get an apostle to come for that devotional. They're training new mission presidents here in a few weeks and they've said that at different times all of the 12 will be on campus, but we probably won't get to see them. But they're doing a "special choir" for something and they handed out stuff during choir yesterday. They'll practice everyday for about a week and, like they said, it becomes priority number one. I was conflicted on whether or not to do it because I didn't want to get behind in the language. But I filled out one of the little brief papers that asked what part you sing, experience, rate yourself on sight reading/memorizing/voice quality. I didn't lie or anything, but not a lot of elders volunteered so they called my name. They only want the choir to be about 35 people or so, and of the papers they reviewed they took 40 (10 SATB each), so they'll probably cut a few people. But I might be in it. I was kind of nervous about it, but I figured in a lot of years when I look back I would have more memories from that than I would from sitting in class a few hours more. And I knew Heidi would want me to do it. So we'll see how it goes, if it even goes.

Zierenberg got made the new DL yesterday. That means I have the worst calling in the district. I'm like the wife. I have to go to things (which is bad in itself), but I don't participate in meetings or anything. I just sit outside and wait. He'll do a good job though.

Have I told you about the push ups? I joined in with some guys at the start of this week who do push ups every night. They've been doing them for a while and I jumped in with them. We do 70 push ups right now and move up 5 push ups every 4 days. I've only gotten to like 62-64 and then I lose it and have to wait a minute before finishing the last 7 or so. I'll probably catch up with them in about a week though.

I think that's about it. If I haven't said something you wanted me to, email me and I'll get it next week. Thanks, I love and miss you guys.

<3 Cubby

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sam sent the following email on Monday, June 2, 2014:

Ok what's up everybody,

There are some things about the MTC that I don't particularly like, but there are a lot more things that I'm growing to kind of like. The devotionals are pretty good and going to meetings is long sometimes, but it's almost a relief just because then we don't have to do other stuff. Russell M Nelson came to the devotional last Tuesday. Once again, I heard I got some very quality airtime in the choir. As in I was centered on the camera again. I'm going to start charging people to stand next to me to get on camera so I can start making a little bit of profit. We sang "Hope of Israel" so it was loud and proud. Mom, do you know Brother Eggett? He directs the choir and he's a really cool guy.
I heard about the Cambodia/Vietnam thing. This is relevant to us because in our Cambodian district we have one elder with Vietnamese ancestry, so he will probably be allowed to go into Vietnam and become one of the "branch builders." We also have Elder Nguyen like you said who is learning Vietnamese and he'll probably be allowed to go in too.

We're going to try to get kickball going for gym tomorrow. We need to start doing something new. It's fun because more people that I know are starting to come in here and it's fun to see them.

Dad, do you know a guy (President Jackson) who is an orthopedic surgeon? He's my branch president.  I really like the MTC President and his wife, President Nally and Sister Kaye Nally. They're cool.

We went to the temple this morning and did initiatories. It's getting better there, but I'm still not to the point that I would say that going to the temple is like going to Disneyland like Emily said it was when she was here.
We had trc on Saturday for the first time and that was pretty fun. We talked to one RM and the other person was a native from Cambodia. She escaped during the Khmer Rouge, but her husband was apparently killed. She's very nice. Her name was omMeak. This is really the only way to learn the language because if you're in just a normal school language class then you learn to say something like "I bought bread at the store." A sentence like that does you no good. Here you learn to say stuff like "I go to church to learn." That's way more applicable and relevant.

Nobody flosses their teeth here. I've only seen 3 other people do it since I've been here, and I've only seen them do it once or twice. Bompa would be so upset. Also, I shined my black shoes last week. Nobody knew how to shine shoes so there were about 5 other guys with their shoes and polish sitting around me asking questions and I was preaching. It was like I was giving the sermon on the mount. Is that sacrilegious to say?

I can't think of anything else to say, but I probably will about 5 minutes after I've sent this. Have fun you guys.

Give cubby a hug and a kiss for me.