Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sam sent the following email & photos on Friday, December 18, 2015:

December 18, 2015 at 9:10 PM
Subject:  Back to BB

Hey Guys,

Wow, is it really the 19th of December? It is not beginning to look like Christmas at all. But hey, we had a good week here in Cambodia. Starting on Monday this last week Elieson and I headed out around the provinces to do some exchanges. We got into Battambang late Monday night and all of Tuesday I got to go out with Elder Zierenberg and his trainee in legendary Branch 2 Rothanak! It was one of the coolest days of my mission. I left Battambang over 7 months ago, and in mission terms that's a while (lot of turnover in missionaries). So when we'd pull up to a house of someone I knew well they'd double take and then realize that it was me. So fun! I really love that area and so many of the people up there. Since I was there for a while and Zierenberg basically had to whitewash in, I got to show him some houses of less active members that I knew. It's crazy because I've been out of there for a while, but when you get back in the area it's like you don't skip a beat. This is the first area that I've left that I've gotten to go back and proselyte in. Zierenberg and Schiefer are beasts out there and I'm happy and confident to have them holding down that sweet area. 

Then we drove around to the east and stopped off for another exchange in Kampong Cham on Thursday. That was also cool. It was my first time to go through KT and KC and they're really pretty khets. Doing exchanges is like pinch-hitting in baseball--you're kind of coming in cold off the bench and thrown right into the action. Sometimes you're successful, other times not. The guys in KC have a huge island in their area that you get to by going over a huge bamboo bridge. Way cool out there. 

Here's a link I just found about a lady from Battambang that I got the chance to teach back about 8 months ago. She's got great faith! 

Hey thank you guys for all the Christmas stuff! I got the packages and my random snacking has really picked up. The frisbee I'm stoked for. Thanks!

Left to right:  Elder Schiefer, Sam, Elder Zierenberg (Sam's companion back in the MTC)

Bamboo bridge to an island

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sam sent us the following email & photos on Friday, December 11, 2015:

Hey guys,

For a lot of this week it was pretty boring and depressing and I felt like I couldn't do a lot of the stuff I wanted to. I tried to keep up on it by handing out the little Christmas pass-along cards that we have, so I passed out a bunch of those out the passenger-side window at stoplights and stuff. You forget how much of a rush you get when you contact people when you don't get to do it as often. It's good. But Friday was a good day because we had 51 trainers/trainees come into the mission home to have a day of training/fun/whatever else. And that was a good day that felt like it was fulfilling. For a lot of the day it felt like trying to herd cats though.

There's downsides and perks to being in here. Last week we got to go to North Stake conference to translate and I got to see Someun and his 3 younger brothers that he's now brought to the church. Love that guy. Translating from Khmae to English was really tricky for me. I do get to drive now, so that'll be nice for you guys when you come over. You won't need to get a driver, just a car. It's actually not super crazy to drive like I thought it would be because I've been riding on these roads for a year and a half so I kind of know how traffic flows. But before on a bike, you're making cuts in front of cars that are good cuts, and now in the car, you're like hey that guy just cut me off. More perspective.

It's really happy to see all of the really good missionaries that we have. I love sending them out and knowing they're going to go do what they do best and what they're trained to do. We're confident in the missionaries that are in our mission right now. I really like a ton of people here. Just good people. Speaking of good people, Elder Elieson, my companion is a stud. We've known each other since day one and he's such a good dude. Fun to be with him.

I'm going to look and see what I can do to get out [proselyting] with two transfers left, or with at the least, one transfer left. I'm trying hard to keep a good journal still. We might be hitting up the khets next week, so that'd be sick to go around there, but we'll see.

Peace and love!!

Elder Elieson & Sam

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sam sent the following email on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015.  With his transfer into the mission office, his day for emailing us has changed to Friday (Sam's Saturday).

December 4, 2015 at 6:01 PM
Subject:  Perspective

Hey Guys, 

Probably won't write very much because we're a little crunched for time. I left from Chbar Ampov on Monday and the rest has gone pretty fast. Lots of meetings and stuff, but I'm really new so I don't have any good input or understand situations or anything like that. I'm pretty useless right now in those kinds of things. To choose one word to describe the last week, is perspective. Gives me a whole new perspective on missionary work. Because I thought I knew missionary work pretty well at this point. But to come in here puts you on the whole different side of things. It's funny because now you realize you can't do what you're wanting to do, which is proselyte and work in an area like normal. So you have to do all that you can to help those who can proselyte to be most effective. So it's a little bit of a shift. That means getting pummeled by requests, questions, favors, problems, phone calls, etc. for a lot of the time. Especially when I don't know the answer to any of them. Glad to have Elder Neuberger (who just left office now after 4.5 transfers in here) and Elder Elieson in here because they know what they're doing. 

Hope everything's going well for you guys! I'll talk to you later!!!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sam sent the following email on Sunday, November 29, 2015:

November 29, 2015 at 9:44 PM
Subject:  You should listen to “they saw our day” —Pretty crazy stuff there

Hey Family!

Just at the start here I'm not going to send any pictures because I don't trust our computer and I don't want to risk losing my pictures. 

But we had a decent week out here. It was actually pretty slow which we're basing on the fact of Om Tuk holiday or the Water Festival. That thing always complicates proselyting. And we had some bike difficulties, and.. yeah just stuff wasn't going through like we wanted it to.

As far as weekly highlights go, we had one investigator come to church now for the 3rd week in a row and for all three hours again and his whole family of 5 was there. We're happy with him. Taught him the law of chastity yesterday and he loved it.

Branch President has gone on about 8 weeks in a row or so of not organizing sacrament meeting ahead of time. I don't know how he does it but he always riffs or randomly calls on people to speak or fill the time. Yesterday he got me, so I gave a short talk. But fair is fair, his first counselor rarely comes because he's sick, and the 2nd is less active, so it kind of becomes a big responsibility for one guy every week. 

An old lady got mad at us for putting our garbage in her pre-existing garbage pile. I say lady, the whole country is full of garbage, how can you complain about this.

Last week for P-day we all got together and played volleyball and it was super fun. 

Transfer calls were last night and unexpectedly I'm leaving to go with Elder Elieson from my group and be an assistant with him. Elder Riches will get to stay and lead out Chbar Ampov with a super good missionary who is one group above me. It's in good hands. I'm kind of sad because I've gotten to the point that I love the grind of proselyting every day even though it's hard, and I won't get to do that as much, but I hope I can find good things to do still.

It sounds like you guys had a good Thanksgiving. Can't believe how fast the time goes. Peace and love!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sam sent the following email & pictures on Sunday, November 22, 2015.  Our questions/comments are in italics:

November 22, 2015 at 10:01 PM
Subject:  Who's this Moroni imposter

Hey guys,

We had another pretty good week out here. More lessons with investigators than last week. Coming up on Om Tuk, the water festival holiday, this week. Hun Sen [President of Cambodia], I don't know too much about what he's really doing, but nobody likes that guy. So I guess I don't either. We're teaching a Protestant pastor, and that's super fun because he actually knows stuff. He's really willing to try what we tell him. He loves Joseph Smith. Actually he pretty much likes everything, but he's got something out for Mormon and Moroni. The first time we met him he was a little put off that The Book of Mormon is titled as such and not The Book of Joseph Smith because, as he noted, Joseph Smith was the one who saw God. True. Then the next time we met him he seemed to forget his resentment about that and had read the BOM introduction (and JSH history), but was frustrated by this hack Moroni who got this ancient record that is God's word from his prophetic father and then went off and "added a few words of his own." That's some nerve for him to go off putting his own thoughts into the book that his father had labored in for his life, after his dad was gone off and dead. We had to explain that Moroni was also a prophet and that which he added was added under the influence of prophecy and revelation from the Spirit. Then he was good. It was a mistake, though, he noted. True.. He's fun. Hey, how was it that Moroni was a resurrected being when he came to Joseph Smith? I always forget resurrection rules.

We've got a few other good people progressing. It's fun. We're trying to stay working hard. We will get transfer calls next Sunday night. I'm happy to be in this area even though it still is a little trickier than most. I have no fear to contact anyone. I'm going to go hard on missionary work when I get home. Y'all don't ever need to be afraid to bring up religion if you do it in the right way. It's what helps people. 

For Thanksgiving the senior couples are lazy and are just having us go to a buffet that serves Cambodian food. Usually the senior couples make a Thanksgiving, but I guess this year they didn't want to. So the Grinch has stolen Thanksgiving.

Do you have any requests for your Christmas package?  If you could send me one (1) frisbee in the package that would be great. Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sam sent the following email, video clip, & photos on Sunday, November 15, 2015
November 15, 2015 at 9:53 PM

Hey guys!

Hey we had a really good week out in Chbar Ampov. Probably the best week we've had out here. Pretty fulfilling and it feels like we could do no wrong. Even though stuff falls through like it always does, we were able to make the most of it and get some stuff done. I'm really happy to be here right now. We finally have a foundation under us and are able to be effective and see progression. We are also getting lots of miracles as well as contacts. Sorry this is probably a boring missionary email but now I feel like I don't have a lot of things to say in these emails. I've just kind of got a lot of stuff going on and I can't organize my thoughts and stuff. I'm really pumped because my buddy Kheang from Battambang is going to serve in Cambodia before he gets his visa to America and he's coming to a nearby area. And he'll live in the same house with us and I'm really happy because he's a good friend. He's sitting right next to me right now. Hope you like the monkey mania videos. That guy's a ham. I'm happy where I'm at right now. Good area, good companion, we're doing good work.

Love you guys and miss you

Go Jazz 

Video Link: