Monday, February 23, 2015

Sam sent us the following email and videos on Sunday, February 22, 2015.  The video shows some men de-constructing a house...  Our questions to Sam appear in italics.

Hey guys,

What are you eating these days?  Are you having rice everyday for every meal?  What is the best thing to put on it.  What is you favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner?  Do you cook mostly or eat out?  Are you getting any American food from the American store?  Probably the thing I eat most is eggs and noodles like ramen, and bread. But I actually like it, so it works. One of our recent specials is breading and deep-frying chicken, putting tomato sauce on top of it, and eating it with rice. The tri-culture meal. We still probably eat rice once every day, but not every meal. It's not actually as annoying eating rice as it seemed like it used to be. We put soy sauce and a red sauce that I don't even know what the flavor is, but it's good. Lots of times I make pancakes too. we probably eat lunch out 3 days a week. If we don't have appointments we'll go and eat a 75 cent. I'm a terrible cook, so usually I let Elder Cook, cook. From the American store I get pancake mix, jam, pb, sometimes milk.

Do you guys share a bathroom between the 4 of you?  There are 2 bathrooms between the 4 of us. But both showers can't be on at the same time or the power flips off.

Do you ever get a chance to throw a Frisbee?  No frisbee for me ever since I moved on from Elder Yorgason.

How often do you need to go to the store?  Like, do you ever need to buy food on non-p-days?  One time a week pretty much covers us for the food. But if I need more bread or noodles, I can just get those along the road.

What is your current best method of contacting?  I'll have to think on the best method of contacting and get back to you next week. But recently the Buddhism excuse has been killing our contacting efforts.

Ross was wondering if it is commonplace for you to see people urinating in public.  People are constantly urinating in public. At the beginning of my mission I liked to take pictures of them. Now, it doesn't seem so strange. It is funny when you see people trying to "hide" it behind a small, small tree.

Chinese New Year was an excuse for people to light off a bunch of fireworks. That's great but it scared me plenty of times thinking that someone had just opened fire with a machine gun right under the house. 

Very interesting to see the different meanings that members and investigators alike can extract from scriptures. Like, they make it work, I guess. I just look at Elder Cook and we kinda just roll our eyes.

And having people find scriptures is a massive feat in itself. Like lots of times they'll be turning pages page-by-page and they're still hundreds of pages away. If they find someone who can actually find it, he's in pretty high demand to find it for them. They look at page numbers anyways, so I'm not sure why it's that hard, but it is.

Thanks guys, I gotta go. Have a good week!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sam sent us the following email & photos on Sunday, February 15, 2014.  He also sent some video footage of the Bamboo Train and a cave he visited.  You can view the video by clicking on the link at the bottom of Sam's email.

From: Samuel Christensen <>
Subject: Time Trudges on
Date: February 15, 2015 10:17:10 PM MST

Hey guys,

I feel like I'm so old in the mission, but I'm really not. I'm only now entering my 6th transfer, so I have a loooong ways to go yet, but in my mind I'm a seasoned veteran. A big group of Elders just finished their missions. After another group finishes when this transfer is over, there will only be 15 American Elders older than my group. Crazy.

We had two baptisms on Saturday that both went through and were pretty good. It's nice to finally get to take care of some of my own recent converts. So we're still looking to replenish our teaching pool, and I think we'll be able to.

There's a ton that happens out here, but it's all just become so common that I've gotten used to it and it seems like nothing new or exciting happens. It is a daily grind out here, but right now I really am enjoying it.

The transfers brought my old companion, Elder Um, to Battambang, and he's living in the same house with us now. It's funny and I already know everything about him. It's fun though.

Our church attendance was (apparently) 145 people yesterday. I don't trust any of their counting, but I guess that's what it was. But anyways, that means attendance went up 10 from last week, which was a big week in itself. Two weeks ago we had 108 people at church. Part of it is the blitz they did, the other part is that rice harvesting season just ended.

I've started reading the D&C with the study manual that you sent me. It's good, there's lots of information in there. If I can stay awake for all of personal study then I learn a lot.

This letter is so boring. What's happened to me?! I've become the boring missionary who only ever talks about church, boring stuff. Dang it!

Probably my favorite quote of the week was when Elder Cook and I were talking about the impossibility of these people trying to establish food storage systems. Because like, they still don't even know the difference between the Atonement and tithing, but anyways. But he said "the thing here is if all hell broke loose..... all hell's already broken loose." It's true.

Our sisters are so bad in our branch right now. In the past two weeks they have contacted 2 people. Yeah, 2 people. In the past two weeks Cook and I have contacted 126, and we're not completely satisfied with that number either.

I think that's all. Once again, apologies for the boring-ness. I'm probably just losing my personality or something

Peace, love, and good wishes 

Video link:  

It looks like Sam just got the Christmas card I sent him 2 months ago!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sam sent us the following email on Sunday, February 8, 2015:

From: Samuel Christensen <>
Subject: February Heatwave
Date: February 8, 2015 10:57:45 PM MST

Hey gents,

So we got transfer calls last night and I'm headed nowhere. I'm staying the same with my same companion. That's pretty nice because we have several guys who should be getting baptized within the next few weeks and I wouldn't want to miss them. Besides that, we don't have a lot of investigators to teach right now. It's hard to find people. Like you know how before I was saying how contacting is so easy? Well now it is really hard and no one wants to learn. Is the "not having enough time" as legitimate of an excuse in America as everyone thinks it is. I hear that at least 15 times a day from different people for different reasons. I just tell them now to just be honest because if you don't want to learn I don't care, but don't lie to me.

Speaking of lying to me, there's this old inactive member who we found from a CBR and went to his house once and he said he was too busy and to come back another day. So we went back 2 days later and there he was again, lying in his hammock, listening to his radio. I asked him if he had time and he said no, he was busy fixing the moto that was just sitting there that he wasn't doing anything on. Busy? I looked straight at him for probably 30 seconds and just stared at him and he wouldn't even look back at me.  I was so ticked. When these less actives say all these different excuses for not coming to church it usually comes down to the fact that they've broken a commandment and are ashamed of it and are too scared or cowardly, so they turn against the church and try to bury themselves in their own knowledge and reassurance. I really hate people like that. Are so many of these people that reject us when we try to share the Gospel with them going to be saved in their ignorance or are they just gonna pay for it later? Oh my gosh, it drives me so nuts.

Speaking of less actives we had a bunch of the ward leaders get together on Saturday morning and kind of blitzed the ward area for people who don't usually come, and yesterday 29 more people came to church than the week before.

In church they announced two speakers. After that they announced one hymn. After the hymn was finished, there were no more announcements and no more speakers. There was 15 or so minutes left and the entire congregation sat there waiting and looking at each other expectantly for a minute and a half. I still don't know what was happening or why it happened, but it was one of the more awkward moments since I've been out here.

I really feel like being on a mission here in Cambodia you get to see the best of people and the worst of people. I see some of the sweetest, most faithful, greatest people in the world out here. Conversely I also get to associate with some of the people who are the complete opposite.

I heard BYU signed a 410 pound lineman. I will take credit for all of Nate's basketball-ular successes in that I never let him beat me at stuff, so now he knows how to be good. You're welcome Nate.

Oh, I randomly lost my voice for like 4 days this week. I woke up and it was just shot. It was weird, that's never happened to me.

At English class we learned about body parts. I taught a small group the word "swallow," but I got really confused when the one dude was like "swallow magazine, right?" No, if you swallow magazines you die. Five minutes later he realized his mistake and said "medicine." Yeah you can swallow that.

In a different branch there's a lady who kills dogs and sells dog meat which a lot of people like to eat and say is delicious, but I will never try because of my great love for dogs. Anyways, she passed away this last week. She was bitten by a dog and died from rabies later that night. Ironic. I don't know what an ideal reaction to that story would be, but now you have it and you can ponder on that...

I don't think I'll send any pictures because warning messages have been popping up on this computer about software not being up to date or something, and I don't want to get a virus on my card and lose everything. That's my worst fear.

Have a good week guys!


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sam sent us the following email and pictures on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015.  I'm late posting this week because our Internet was down for several days.  Grrrrr!

From: Samuel Christensen <>
Subject: Well it's nice to be loved
Date: February 1, 2015 10:42:11 PM MST

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Yeah, I was a little bitter about not getting any emails from my loving mother and father last week, but you guys made up for it this week by emailing and having a semi-decent excuse. As I articulated to Skibby, you guys do have email access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don't feel limited to sending your emails to me at 10 PM on Sunday nights. But I'm grateful that you do email me at all. Enough of that.

We had a pretty good week last week. After emailing we went and got delicious American food and then we all met and went out to a place called Phnom sompov, where a lot of white tourists go. They discriminated against us and made us pay $3 dollars to enter, but for the natives it's free. Like the reverse-discrimination in this country is ridiculous. The only thing that all people can't do in America is collect eagle feathers, for which I will forever be jealous of the native Americans. But seriously like it's such a joke and they don't even have a reason to back it up other than that our skin is white and they assume white people have money. But in reality 3 bucks is a bargain. This place was really cool. Lots of old rock stuff and stuff, but they also had monkeys. Real live monkeys not on chains, free to roam and bite tourists. They didn't bite anybody, but wow that was cool to chill with monkeys. I can definitely see more how monkeys could take over the world though because they're very smart, and they can climb trees, and there was just a whole lot of them. You'll have to put some of the good videos onto the blog because it's cool to see the monkeys. And there was a cave and vines and stuff. Apparently at 5 on the dot hundreds of thousands of bats come flying out of caves and it lasts for an hour and it's amazing, but we had to be back and proselyting so we didn't get to see it. But put that on your list for when you come.

Here is some of the video Sam sent us:

Are you getting passports for when you come over in like a year and a half, or are you guys like taking a summer trip to Italy or something?  [Peter had mentioned to Sam that he and I renewed our passports, but we don't have plans to go to Italy or any other foreign country, darn it!]

We got 15 investigator lessons this week, which is a far cry from the 4 or 5 a week we were repping out last transfer. Things look up and we have several investigators who are legitimately solid. We had a baptism yesterday for a little 8-year old kid named Ranut. Cute little guy. His parents aren't members and ares surprisingly not very helpful or supportive, but his 3 older siblings are members and are great. I baptized the kid and then when we got in sacrament the branch pres asked him who he wanted to confirm him and he said me. So I got pretty nervous pretty fast because I though branch pres would just do it. But I did it and it was fine. So dad, when you guys come over A) you're going to have to bring little treats that we can give the people we visit, and B) you'll have to bring some cool little magic tricks to do for them because that will keep them engaged for days.

We had the bad luck of contacting another psycho last night. There's a lot of weird people in this world. We talked to the guy as he was riding on his moto and then he stopped and we talked. He was first surprised that we knew his language. Second, he asked us if we liked to look at his face. Third, he asked us, after you're married, how do you create children? Fourth we left him because he was outside his mind.

The other day before we started fasting we went to this place to load up on food. I got something called a Lok Lak. I don't actually know what's in it but it's generally clean and tastes good. They finally got us our food and it tasted fine. But then I found the tip of an unidentifiable claw. I asked the guy what kind of meat they put in the lok lak and he asked his wife and she said cow. This claw thing most definitely did not come from a cow. So for really one of the first times since I've been here I got a little tentative about eating the rest of that food. But I did and it was generally fine. I'm now fairly certain that it was chicken claw, so that's cool.

[Sam's wrist was injured a few months back and Peter is concerned that it is still hurting him.  Peter thinks Sam may need to see a doctor in Cambodia for an x-ray and some treatment, but Peter added this caution:  "Don't let them stick a needle in you there."  Peter also asked Sam if they got to play any sports on their P-days.]  Dad, I'll test my wrist out this week and see how it does. My grip is fine. I don't want them sticking needles in me either. Sometimes we'll get up in the morning and walk across the street to the church and play 21 in the dark.

Thanks you guys. I love you and I miss you.

-The Favorite

Sam with his companion, Elder Cook, and a Cambodian family

The rest of pictures are from Sam's trip to Phnom Sompov with his companion, Elder Cook, and a few other elders.