Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We received the following email from Sam on Sunday, July 20, 2014:

First Week!

Hey all you guys,

I just wanted to let you guys know that I got to Cambodia safe and sound! Holy cow it's so different here. It's like a foreign country or something. Um I don't exactly know where to start, but I'll give you a rundown of the last week that I can remember.

So we flew to LA on Tuesday night, waited at the layover and I called you at home, then had that beast flight to Hong Kong. The flight wouldn't be so bad if you could watch movies because they had a ton of new, good movies that were free on the plane, but I didn't watch any. I had two sausage mcmuffins at Hong Kong airport. I got a couple of bills changed there so now I have a little bit of Hong Kong money, so that's cool. Then we hopped over to Cambodia from there. The Mekong is absolutely nasty-looking from the plane.

The humidity is big-time here. President and Sister Moon met us at the airport with the APs. They welcomed us and then took us into the city to do some preliminary contacting. Everyone just smiles big at you if you talk to them, and I'm pretty sure it's because you're white. That went kind of OK. Btw, not counting anyone involved in the mission, I have seen one white person since I got here. So I'm a minority. Then we stayed the night at the mission home, which is super nice, and got companions the next day.

I got to see Jessa and talk to her a little. Emily, I gave her your package, and she took a picture, so maybe we'll see that one day. My companion's name is Elder Yorgason and he's from Logan. He's been out a little over a year. We are in Teuk Thlia North, which is in Phnom Penh city, but a little ways from the center I think.

The first day we taught a few lessons. It's not that bad because Elder Yorgason can speak so well that I don't have to really worry. Basically the way I see it is that when I say something, I dig a little hole, then he comes along after and goes beastmode on the lesson and fills in the hole and even builds it up. If that makes any sense. There's 4 of us that live together. The first night, Elder Yorgason discovered, chased around, and killed a giant rat that had been living in the kitchen. I'll send a picture. You can imagine how I'm feeling at this point. Actually, aside from that the apartment is really nice. There's AC in our bedroom. One of the Elders living with us is a native, so he cooks great. All Cambodians can cook it seems like.

Everyone loves to see missionaries. We have one of the big stake center churches here, and it's basically like a YMCA building or something. Like people just kind of hang out there all day.

People here are really friendly. Everyone will give you the time of day to talk with you. If they can't meet, they just say that they're busy whether or not they really are. But I can go out on the street and wave and say suasdei to anyone and they'll get a big smile. Probably just because I'm white. We ride bikes everywhere. Traffic is probably the thing that's most different here than America. No one follows the laws because there are none. People turn when they want to, change lanes when they want to, and drive down the wrong side of the road when they want to. And it's always like that. Also, everyone drives little motos. Sometimes there's a dude "directing" traffic, but that doesn't help, and he doesn't even do it according to the stop lights, so it's pretty pointless. He basically just blows his whistle really loud when you ride by.

The rain comes randomly and when it rains it rains hard. Then it stops and it's just muddy. I've gotten more dirty here in about 20 minutes than I did during all of the MTC. One of these days I'll take a picture of the "stilt city" that we've been to a couple of times. It's about 10 feet above trash water. And there are little tin shacks on top. I haven't taken many pictures because A) you're not "supposed" to when you're proselyting, and B) I don't want to seem rude. But one of these times I'll get one. The second lesson we had here was in a little shack probably 10ft. by 10ft. and there were 10 of us in there. It's incredible. But you see these people and they're so excited about the Gospel and their scriptures are all marked up and they literally have nothing, and you realize that you can do more.

I really don't know how to do anything yet. That's why my companion is great. He knows everything. I learned today that 400 riel is about 1 dollar. I don't know why they deal with such big numbers. I understood less at church yesterday than I ever have. People must think it's so funny to see two white people all dressed up riding bikes around, speaking khmae, and going into the dirtiest, poorest parts of town. It's probably pretty funny.

That's about it. There's a lot more to say than in a week at the MTC. If you have anything specific you want to know, fire me an email and I'll see what I can do. Also, right now I'm not sure about pictures in emails because I want to make sure I don't get a virus, so I've got to be extra careful.

See you guys!

Sam's mission president emailed us the following two photos:
Sam with his mission president, David Moon, and his wife, Kathryn

This is the group of missionaries Sam traveled from Provo to Cambodia with.
Jessa Homer & Sam
This is the picture Sam mentioned in his email, along with "maybe we'll see that one day."  Jessa emailed this picture to her family, then her family emailed it to me, and now I am posting it on Sam's blog! 

Sam's first area:  Tuek Thla North, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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