Monday, September 22, 2014

Sam sent the following email and pictures on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.  Our questions are in italics.

From: Samuel Christensen <>
Subject: Happy Peach Season
Date: September 21, 2014 11:11:27 PM MDT

Hi Family,

I hope you're all enjoying your delicious peaches in this fall peach time. I haven't seen any peaches here but maybe I'll have to look and see if they have any.

I thought of one more thing you could send: another glue stick cap. A little kid lost the first one like my 2nd day in the country.

Also, last week I mailed a letter home from some teacher guy who has a student who wanted to write to someone in America and have a pen pal. She's 11 I think, so I was thinking maybe Isabelle could write her back. It shouldn't get there for about 3 more weeks or so probably, but that should be kind of fun.

Yeah, so for last P Day Elder Yorgason and I went to the Genocide prison that they've turned into a museum. It's called Tuol Sleng or S-21. You can read about it if you're interested. I just realized while we were there and seeing all that sad stuff how hard of a time it is for these people here, and I give them a lot of grief in letters home and stuff, but they're probably doing the best they can. It was so crazy to look at some of the pictures from the mid- late-70s, and lots of things really just don't look that different from what they do now. They just still haven't been able to develop or fully recover from all that yet. It's pretty sad. People have said that Cambodia now is what Thailand was like 30 years ago, and I believe it because Pol Pot really set these guys back. And a few weeks ago we were riding into the mission home and some white guy was like hey elders, so we stopped and he said he was a member but he's been to tons of Asian countries, and Cambodia is the least modernized of all of them (Vietnam, Philippines, etc.). It's just really sad and really unfair what these people have had to go through. And just thinking about them I know that they'll modernize and get to a good place, but it'll probably take a lot of years more. They're on the right path, just a really slow path. And hopefully the church grows along with the country. The October Liahona talks about the growth of the Church in Chile and it's crazy. In like 1970 it had 15,000 members and 10 years later it had like 80-something thousand. I can't even imagine that type of growth happening here, but we'll see. Cambodia has something like 13,000 members right now, but only a generous 3,000 are active.

I guess General Conference comes a little later here than normal, but I'm not sure, so we'll see. 

What's your favorite magic trick right now?  The scarf and thumb magic trick works really well if you use it in the right setting, and oftentimes the dim, poor lighting setting is lots of the type of lighting they have here, so it turns out pretty good.

Do you have sunglasses?  I haven't been wearing sunglasses yet. Do you think I really need to do that or do you just want me to look cool? Do you have a pillow?  I have a pillow. Do you teach English class, and if so, how is it going? Every Wednesday we do English class for an hour and a 30 minute spiritual thought after, then we attack people and try to get them to learn with us. It's kind of a week-to-week things with English turnout, but we probably average 20-25 in our middle class, and they also have a low and a high class too that people come out for. A senior couple from years past created an English lesson thing to do, so we go off of that, but really they are not very good. They have lots of  misspellings and misused grammar, but who's going to be the wiser here in Cambodia?

I know you’ve seen some examples of pretty weak leadership and some absolutely false beliefs among some of the members, but do you feel that you missionaries are, little by little, helping the church and its members progress? Yes, mom, I feel like little by little by little they are progressing. It's just nice to see kids and strong youth coming to church, because I've decided that it'll have to be those kids' kids that make the church strong. I just hope the parents are teaching them well and putting the right knowledge and strong beliefs into them now.

What's the literacy rate in your area?  For my situation, most everybody can read and write. There's plenty who can't, and that's not a huge problem-we just read to them. But the vast majority know how to read, even if their reading comprehension isn't that good. Lots of times we teach people and say something really simply and say it like a million times, and it just doesn't connect with them. I say this in the nicest way possible, but it's just really hard for some of the people to try to think. Example: a week or so ago we taught a kid who's 21 and did the Word of Wisdom with him. Explained what's forbidden to eat like twice, then had him explain what's forbidden to eat and he did it. Then Elder Yorgason asked him if he'd commit to live the WoW 100% and he said yes, and at that exact second he unscrewed his bottle of iced tea that he had and took a sip. So he just didn't get that. And all the time with that guy we explain stuff and ask him if he understands and he says he does. Then we say ok what is it, and he says he doesn't know, so we explain it again and he says he gets it, but he doesn't know. It's just ughh sometimes you just do all you can.

People here aren't really sure what missionaries are, I've found out. We were reviewing lesson 1 with a recent convert family a few weeks ago and they're the super good ones I've talked to you about before, but we were just kind of acting like we were the investigators and they were supposed to explain it to us, but they told us that we were prophets. We're like "no, no, no, we are definitely not prophets." And then another member a few days ago explained to our investigator that we (the missionaries) were apostles. So, yeah, strike 2.

It's Pchum Bun here, which is one of the two biggest holidays. It's essentially a 9-day holiday where there's a mass exodus from everyone in the city out to their province or homeland. Like more than 50% of the city probably goes and everything is closed. So that slows down missionary work, but it's a lot more peaceful and a little bit quieter, so that's welcomed.

Probably all for me. Keep on keeping on,
S-21 Prison/Museum

Cool picture

Meat at the phsaa

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