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.

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