Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sam sent us the following email, video clip, & photos on Sunday, April 26, 2015.  Our questions & comments are in italics:

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: It is the 27th of April
Date: April 26, 2015 11:38:53 PM MDT

Hi Guys,

We had our best statistical week of the transfer this week with 23 total lessons and 14 new investigators. My companion counts new investigators differently than I would. I would have said 4 new, solid investigators, but 14 is good too. Regardless, it is picking up here and that is good news. That family from before is continuing to progress and came to church yesterday and when we taught them yesterday before church the mom got really stoked to learn about the temple and saving ancestors and stuff. Apparently she is training with a women's handicapped Cambodian professional wheelchair basketball team with the hopes that she can go outside of the country? I don't know, I was confused about it too but thought it was kind of cool. One thing that I've felt this week when we've been teaching people (and maybe skipping over points that I think are important for them to know), is that they are still understanding what we're saying and our message because they've heard it before. I've heard this or read it somewhere, but basically what we're doing here is reminding people of the plan that they learned and knew a long time ago in heaven. I've seen it in a few peoples' eyes where it does seem to resonate with them a little bit even though, logistically and orderally, it doesn't make much sense what we're teaching. Well that's enough of that.

We were shocked when we read that you had eaten baby duck! I sent a video of eating the baby duck a different time. It's harder to eat in the daytime when you have to look at it.  Do you still find stray hairs revolting?  Yes, I still dislike hairs: I picked 2 of them out of my rice/pork breakfast that we bought, and am often picking them off of my bar of soap in the bathroom. Except those hairs are black and I'm not sure where they're coming from..... But I probably have a little more patience than I did with them before. There is a lot of hair at our house between all the animals.

Did you like Ephraim’s Rescue? Ephraim's rescue was ok, but I was hoping for Meet the Mormons.

Where were you in that picture of you squatted down in front of a bunch of skulls???  The picture was at phnom sompov at a memorial for a place that they would hit people and then push them off a ledge to fall to their death in a cave. I even managed to capture a ghost in that picture. It's called like ghost cave or something like that.  How was your second visit to Phnom Sompov to see the monkeys? The monkeys played a more minimal part of the trip because there were a lot of people at the mountain this time for the holiday. The lizard picture you sent last week is so cool!  Is it a gecko?  Did you see it in a zoo or something, or was it just out in the wild?  The lizard was wild and I accidentally sent the blurry picture.

I also loved studying the picture of your bedroom.  I noted the positioning of the fan (aimed directly at your bed).  We put the fan on swivel mode.

Were you able to find all the baseball pictures of you that I put in Dropbox a couple weeks ago? I did get the pictures but haven't gotten to print them yet. Lots of things trigger memories of baseball. Sometimes it's a smell, sometimes I'm sweating and something reminds me of a particular time sweating playing baseball. This last week I put my church pants on, and they're so casual now that it felt like I was wearing baseball pants. I was just feeling like "ok, let's go" like it was normal. I don't know how to describe that..

When I watched that video clip of the zealous elder dancing with his sign and chasing motorists down, I laughed out loud!  I had to watch it several times, and I laughed each time!  HILARIOUS!  His mom and dad need to see that someday! That elder is always like that. He's great. I have a longer video that I'll send sometime. He said his parents don't need to see it because they've seen it for 18 years.

Do you currently have an English class going in Battambang?  I teach the middle class of english still. I teach it all by myself and usually do the gospel thought all by myself. There were 13 people in my class last week. At the end of class we tried to get meaning out of the first verse of "Good Riddance" by Green Day. Meaning that I explained it and they kind of grasped it. But then I looked it up on someone's phone and we listened to the first verse twice and they enjoyed that.

Peter and I were wondering this week how you do your laundry there.  Do you have access to washing machines and dryers?  We have our own laundry machine and then we just hang our stuff up to air dry in the house.

When will the rainy season begin?  We keep hearing that our current water supply is below normal and is going to get really low by summer because we got almost no snow this past winter.  That is worrisome.  It's finally started to rain a little here. People are in dire need of rain here too. Like if they don't get it, they won't survive. Because they just rely on catching all the rain water that runs off their tin roofs into their big pots and storing it. If they don't get rain, then they have to but water from the water truck which gets it from a well, and if they don't have money to buy it, then they don't get water. They're in something of a drought here in Battambang too, so they really need rain. One member we talked to was really scared about it.

Did Elder Holland ever make it to Cambodia?  I know nothing about Holland coming here anymore. Hmmm.

We're leaving in 30 minutes to go down to Phnom Penh again for another leadership meeting, and it should be good. Our area has been put through the grinder the past few months, but we're looking to climb out now that the holiday is past us.

We had one of our best investigators get baptized the other day. Our member help, and now his good friend, baptized him. He's a really good guy and when you guys come we'll go visit him and hopefully by then his family will have learned and joined, including his kids Krista, Roseann, William, and Phillip. He didn't get confirmed, but we're counting on next week.

Also, I've been making better progress in reading the scriptures for personal study. One is that sometimes I get more time for personal study.... The second is that the scriptures become more applicable when I have someone to compare the Lamanites to, if you know what I'm talking about.

I hope you guys all have a good, happy week!

It looks like one of the entrees is a bat...

baby duck in its shell

Sam's companion, Elder Kim, is on the far left

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sam sent us the following email & photos on Sunday, April 19, 2015:

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: O Home Beloved
Date: April 20, 2015 12:29:14 AM MDT

O home beloved, wherever I wander, on foreign land or distant sea, as time rolls by, my heart grows fonder and yearns more lovingly for thee!

That's just a little ode that I wrote this past week. I could go on, but I won't.

Just kidding! Well this week was better than the last, so we're seeing progression. My companion likes me now, which is a great relief and makes life easier.

This past week was Khmae New Year and there was not a ton of work to be done there. People are busy and don't want to meet you or are gone. I went on an exchange to Pursat, which is one of the new areas that they opened a few months ago. Since it was the holiday, there wasn't a lot of work to be done, but it was fun to be there. I'd love to serve there one day. It's got an exciting vibe to it with those guys just holding church in their apartment every week. We came back the next day and our Battambang zone got to meet together and watch Ephraim's Rescue. Movie nights never happen here, so that was a big thing.

One thing that Elder Monson--the Elder in Pursat--pointed out to me is that everyone there is wearing the same red polo-branded hat. I hadn't noticed it before, but it's true and it's so funny. Then I realized the trend is catching on in Battambang too. I don't know why, but probably 10% of the population are rocking the same red Polo hat, and they don't seem to be conscious of it at all.

Also on the exchange I ate baby duck eggs for the first time. That's baby ducks that are still in embryo stage I think. So you crack them open and eat them out of the egg. I'd been avoiding them for a reason, but what the heck they were there and I didn't want to be that guy. They taste fine. Just don't look at what you're eating or you'll see the feet or the soft little skull. yeah....

I told Jennie this in an email, but the reason I get upset out here sometimes is because I don't want to go home and feel like I wasted my mission or I didn't do the things I should have. So when we're not doing anything I feel bad.

We really did have a miracle yesterday with a new family that we met. We met a lady several weeks ago who said she'd gone to our old church about 10 years ago before we changed locations. We invited her to church and she ended up coming with her husband. She's crippled and after that meeting 2 weeks ago her husband came up and asked me if they could take the wheelchair. I was like ├╝mmm, what?" No. So I thought they'd only come to try and get a free wheelchair out of us, but we met with them yesterday before church and they brought their whole family of 5. They listened to the whole lesson, digested it, asked some questions, and agreed to be baptized at the end of May. It's too early to tell for sure, but they seem really good and I hope it'll all work out for them. Their eyes lit up when Elder Kim said "Joseph Smith" for the first time because they recognized the name. It was really cool. So that, honestly, is an answered prayer and I'm grateful for all of you guys in helping us get them. The circumstances in finding them for the very first time were very happen-stancial. Is that a word?

One lady speaking yesterday in sacrament meeting got up to the pulpit and said "they gave me a topic, but I didn't look at it." She turned around to the presidency: "what am I speaking on?" These people aren't trying to be funny, that's just how things shake out here. She's got guts.

Our Branch President diagnosed our drop in sacrament attendance as the members struggling with the new "self reliance" book that the church is pushing here. He says they try to fill it out and then get frustrated and then are embarrassed to come to church. He suggested maybe we could learn it and then go teach it to members who are having trouble with it. Sure, why not. I don't think that's the problem anyways, but I asked him which members or families specifically had looked at it and felt frustrated and hadn't come to church as a result of it, hoping to have an idea of which families, specifically, we need to teach. He responded "All of them." So that was helpful.

I'm hoping that things will continue to progress. It's funny, of almost all of the best investigators we have, they're almost all crippled in some way. We're going to need more wheelchairs. I also think those people are a lot more humble and open to accepting the gospel.

The 10 kilos of rice last week was just right, so we bought 10 more this week. Heaven forbid we run out of rice.

I love you and miss you all. Best!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sam sent the following email, photos, & video clips on Sunday, April 12, 2015:

From: Samuel Christensen <samuel.christensen@myldsmail.net>
Subject: Hi There
Date: April 12, 2015 10:48:43 PM MDT

Hey Guys,

I'm feeling better today than I was last week. It was still a rough week. We only got 9 total lessons and 16 total contacts. You can compare those to some of the other numbers we've previously had here. But we got to watch conference yesterday and Saturday, so that was 10 hours of relaxation. They send the dvds up to us and we got to watch it in English just the 6 American missionaries in Battambang.

I wish it was a different situation, but it is what it is. We'll cross over the halfway mark of this transfer this week. It shouldn't be that bad, it's just that we had to get the start off on the wrong foot.

It's the biggest holiday of year for Cambodians. Khmae New Year. It's officially three days, but we've been suffering the effects of it since last week and it pretty much runs for like 2 whole weeks. So this will be another difficult week for meeting people.

It was funny because a sister missionary with us was like "we have GOT to be in there (with the members) when they announce the Thailand temple." So we stopped our broadcast and they ran over there to listen. When they announced it there was little more than a stir. I saw one person turn and say something to his neighbor. We were kind of hoping for cheers of joy and recognition, but there was nothing of the sort. They don't really understand the significance of it, but it is a pretty big deal for us here. 

There's a lot that's frustrating, but I'll get through it just fine. There are a lot of good people here. There's a lot that aren't really..good?.. but the ones that are are great.

Sad to hear about Susan the Duck

We ran out of 8 kilos of rice last week, so this week they bought 10. That oughtta do it.

We're going out to Phnom Sompov again-the place with the monkeys-so I don't have much time, but hopefully I can get some good videos for you guys.

Take it easy, don't work too hard! I love you guys and miss you!