Thursday, May 19, 2016

President and Sister Christensen are on the left. This is Sam's group who are all being released. 
We are in Phnom Penh with Sam now and are about to embark on a whirlwind tour of the country so we can meet and visit all the people Sam has grown to love during his past two years here!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Well, here is Sam's final missionary email from Cambodia!  This is a bittersweet time for him (and all of us), but we are sooo excited to see him! Sam will be getting home from Cambodia May 30th, and he will give his homecoming report on Sunday, June 12th at 9:00 am at our church, located at 12950 S. 1300 W., Riverton, UT.  Many thanks to all of you for loving and supporting Sam for the past two years!

Date:  May 15, 2016 at 9:21 PM
Subject:  This is it, I guess…

I'm kind of starting to get a pit in my stomach. I don't have time to say now everything that has changed in 2 years. It hasn't really hit me, but this email session it is finally starting to. And I'm starting to feel really sad a little bit. I love you guys and am juiced to see you all again, but this has been my life for the past 2 years and we've poured everything into it that we have. I'm afraid I'll be a wreck when you guys get here. I've met some of the best people in the world. If anyone who reads this is even remotely thinking about going on a mission, DO IT! It'll be the best thing you ever do. See you guys on Thursday!

Love always

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sam sent the following email and photos on Sunday, May 1, 2016.  Sam's release date is May 19th! Peter and I are flying to Cambodia to meet him and we are so excited to see him!  We are going to spend about 10 days traveling with him around the country so he can introduce us to the people and areas he has grown to love during the past two years. :) 

Date:  May 2, 2016 at 2:21 AM
Subject:  Hey Fam

Hey you guys! I love you and am getting really close to seeing you. Asay and I realized this week that the work we (all of the mission are doing and have been doing) is so extremely inefficient and we're trying to find better ways to use our time. We hope to do this on a large scale for the whole mission so that we can be better and more effective. I met a Nigerian guy who insisted that the population of Nigeria was 15 billion.  Not million, billion--he was sure. That's a lot. 

This is our EQP getting animated in class trying to teach in English. He's a riot. Talk to you next week [skyping on Mother's Day]!

Sam and Elder Zierenberg with a Cambodian gentleman

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sam sent the following email on Sunday, April 24, 2016.  In Peter's email to Sam yesterday, he included a newspaper article with the heading, “Bryce Harper is Our Own Young Mickey Mantle." I'm sure that article was the inspiration for Sam's subject line.

Date:  April 24, 2016 at 10:54 PM
Subject:  Imagine the impact Bryce Harper could have on the world if he was living his religion a little better

Wow the sports world is really heating up. Chaktomuk is heating up too. We had a good day yesterday and Elder Asay and I feel like the ward and area has improved over the past few months. Even just a little bit at a time is worth it. I got my $1.50 haircut this morning. You really get what you pay for. I don't know why nobody in this country knows how to cut hair. I started a list a few days ago of "things I learned on my mission". Gotta make sure I write all this stuff down so don't go home and forget it all. It's a pretty general list, but it's getting long. We finished off zone conferences with trips to KC [Kambong Chhnang] and BB [Battambang] last week. Trying to use the Book of Mormon more in contacting is cash so far! I don't know why we weren't doing this more before. There is no one perfect way to be a missionary, there's just too much you could or should be doing that you can't do it all at one time. 

Mike Trout's still better than Bryce Harper overall, right? I think so, just a slow start to the season. And if you have one gameplan to knock the warriors [Golden State Warriors] out, that would definitely be to take out Steph's [Steph Curry’s] ankles. 

We'll see... It is mango season here, so you'll all get to experience that soon. I write lots of stuff down in my journal so I won't lose it. 

Love you guys, have a good week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sam sent the following email on Sunday, April 17, 2016:

Date:  April 18, 2016 at 3:17 AM
Subject:  Hey hey

Hey we are finally ផុត from the New Year so hopefully things can get back to normal. The free time that we did have in between zone conferences we used to do a lot of contacting, and had relative success. The zone conference that President and Sister Christensen put together was really cool. President focused on the Book of Mormon and said some cool stuff. There's some scripture in the DC that calls the old missionaries to repentance for not using the BoM enough. Same for us, I think. The Book of Mormon is so cool and no one can legitimately account for its source besides the explanation that Joseph Smith gave us. It's true, and anyone who truly wants to know about it can know the truth. So that was pretty sweet. We got cool stuff happening here. It's a little hard to focus all the time because I feel like I'm sometimes getting fed up of 2 years living in a third-world country and I'm starting to get to my wits end. But we will still keep working hard and I can go another month. Love you guys

Note:  Sam sent this "DIGRITY" picture along with his email this week.  
A few days ago, I (Heidi) found the blog of a senior couple currently serving in Cambodia 
(the Ovesons), and they had posted the following:  
"This Zone Conference...the Assistants to the President talked about our Mission Culture and said that we have a Cowboy Culture here in Cambodia and Cowboys have grit. 
But we needed to add dignity to our grit..."  
Hence, "DIGRITY" 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sam sent the following email & photo on Sunday, April 10, 2016:

Date:  April 10, 2016 at 10:51 PM
Subject:  Digrity

Hey there family and friends,

Not much to report for me. It was a slower week which was to be expected as we're entering the busiest holiday of the year. And we had to survive a transfer day and a MLC, but we did and live to tell the tale. And conference took up 10 hours. Everybody takes off from the city and goes out to their khet for the new year which, you know, means we have no one here to teach. We did get some people out to watch conference yesterday. Elder Asay and I will teach in ZC this week on how to be more dignified as missionaries. It's the complication of combining our mission which is rough and tumble and hard and kind of like the wild west and we're all like cowboys here. So that's the tricky part is combining the grit we have with the dignity of a missionary. Therefore, digrity. We'll see how that goes this week. Love you guys. I'm trying to get more sunscreen on my ears.

Love the Favorite Son

Also, I'll tell you, there's one less star in the heaven as a legend died this week. RIP to the one and only Elder Kim.

Elder Kim & Sam.
Sam told us Elder Kim is one of the finest missionaries and teachers he has ever met.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sam sent the following email, video, & photos on Sunday, March 27, 2016:

Date:  March 27, 2016 at 10:57 PM
Subject:  Hey

Hey I put an old video on dropbox for you. Still not doing great with the pictures thing, but I have one or two for you this week. It's hard to get people to actually follow through on what they've committed to do. Missionary work is a hard work. We are still trying hard. We're working with a few people. Also calling a member every night to follow up with his daily smoking. He wants to quit so badly, but now realizes he can't stop. But I think by us tracking it we can cut him down and eventually stop. It's a tall task that we're put with. Hope everything is going well. Love, always..

Video Link:  Peeling Coconuts

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sam sent the following email on Sunday, March 20, 2016:

Date:  March 20, 2016 at 10:32 PM
Subject:  សួស្ដីអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នា!
Hey Family,

You know what? I don't think I took a single picture this week. Sorry about that fall off. That's why I'm banking on you guys to document everything when you come. We have a few good investigators right now, and I saw a flicker of light in the midst of the dark abyss that is Chaktomuk yesterday. No, just kidding, but I do think that South Stake is about to wake up from its slumber. Something about the south rising again?? My personal studies are way better than they used to be in quality. Overall everything is going well. I feel like I have grown and progressed as a person. I know I still do a lot of stuff wrong and still make a lot of jokes that don't make sense, and I've forgotten all my pop culture and sports knowledge and how to write a college paper, but overall I think I'm a better person than I used to be. So I guess that's a success. Love you guys, hope all is going well. Get your cameras ready for when you come here to make up for lost time.

The Favorite

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I think I have done a very bad thing.  In my last email to Sam, I told him he didn't need to apologize to us for sending short emails.  I told him we knew he was busy, and that we understood if he didn't have a lot of time to write.  Apparently that was all he needed to hear:

Date:  March 14, 2016 at 2:56 AM
Subject:  Hey

Heidi said not to worry about sending short emails, so I'll just tell you that I'm doing good. We're trying to help our ward but sometimes it takes more than elmers glue and paper clips to fix a car engine. Send the package to Me Sokheang. Thanks!

This photo was taken a while back when Sam was serving in Battambang.  He was with his friend, Me Sokheang, who was just recently called to serve as a missionary in Oakland, CA.  Sam likes to have me send little care packages to the Cambodian elders while they are at the MTC. :)

Elder Me (center) at the airport in Cambodia, before flying to Utah to enter the Provo MTC

Left to right:  Elder Asay (Sam's companion), Elder Me, Sam, & ?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sam sent the following email on Sunday, March 6, 2016:

Date:  March 6, 2016 at 9:58 PM
Subject:  Chatomuk Blues

I don't have a lot new or fun to say. I know you guys all probably hate me for it, but my emails are no good. My journal is still pretty good though, so never fear. We meet a lot of characters every day. Crazy people out here. We have a few people that we're hopeful will be good. The ward is pretty hard inasmuch as there is no good leadership. We've been thinking the best thing for it would be to merge it with some other ward because it's just baaad. This last week we did a full day of training for the new trainees and their trainers and that was pretty fun, then had MLC the next morning. I like working with President. He's a smart man. Elder Me, my friend from Battambang, will be taking a plane out to the Provo MTC tomorrow, so perhaps there may be another special package in store. A recent convert that we meet with and teach asked me the other day if missionary work is more a skill or the spirit. I say some of both. You've got to have skill to start talking with people and make conversation, but in the end if you think you can rely on your own skills and ability to get people to learn and progress and want to change their life, you're wrong. If you think that you will fail every time. I also read a Talmage talk about the difference between "Thou shalt not" commandments versus "Thou shalt" commandments. Give that a ponderize for a bit if you can. Also Joseph Smith is incredible. Read the "life and character of the prophet Joseph Smith." Skibby is going to have a great mission. They really are good. Man, it's hard and often discouraging but in the end it's an easy realization that it's the best thing to be doing. Love you guys!

Monday, February 29, 2016

February 28, 2016--Sunday

Skibby opened her mission call last night and has been called to serve in the Spain Madrid Mission! She will report to the Spain MTC on July 12th.  She is so excited!  Sam had been certain that Skibby was going to be called to serve in Cambodia, and Emily was equally sure Skibby was going to be called to San Fernando, California.  So both were a little disappointed...  But I really believe that every individual's call is the right one for them, and I am so happy for Skibby to have the same kinds of amazing experiences serving people that Em and Sam have had on their missions!

We recorded Skibby's mission call opening last night and then emailed it to Sam.  Sam sent us the following after watching the video:

Date: February 28, 2016 at 10:03 PM
Subject:  Play Ball

Hey, happy for Skibby, but I'm a little bummed. Still think she'd be great here. But you can't win them all. We had a transfer go through this week and that is always a little bit hectic, but we got it all figured out and everyone where they need to go. I think they're all happy. It was a good time with Elder Elieson. My new companion, Elder Asay, is really good. I'm excited to have him here and it will be good to help the area. I'm ready for Chaktomuk to get going and it already has and I think will continue to. Boy, I've learned a lot on my mission about a lot of things. I don't have any cool pictures this week, so cling to those Angkor Wat ones from last week. 11 weeks seems like a short time, but until the time I go home still seems far away. Hope all is well back home with you guys. Peace. Go Jazz, plus baseball season is about to get underway here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sam sent the following email & photos on Sunday, February 21, 2016:

Date:  February 21, 2016 at 11:21 PM
Subject:  Angkor Wat

Hey we took a surprise trip to Angkor Wat this past week. Also took another trip out to Phnom Chiso. We also got transfers all called out last night and it'll be this Wednesday.  Now this stuff barely registers a blip on the radar, but if you told me coming in that neither the Bishop or the EQP don't have a clue how to give a blessing for a sick person....  We walked them through that yesterday. Gotta love Cambodia, man.

I have plenty of pictures. like 300, but here's a few. And we'll get more when you come.
Angkor Wat

Left to right:  Elder Elieson (Sam's companion), Sam, & 2 other elders

Sam is on the far right.  His companion, Elder Elieson, is on the far left.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sam sent the following email on Sunday, February 14, 2016.  Skibby submitted her mission papers this same day, and Sam refers to this at the end of his email....his very short email....again. ;)

Hey guys, I don't have time. But this week was good. We're teaching better with the Spirit. And I think finding people who have real intent. Thanks for the prayers. There's a few things that seem possible for us in the area. We just got done making out transfers starting in a week and a half and that took a bit of time this week but was fun and we were effective in the time that we had. I'm doing good. We're going to some mountain today which was not my idea but was roped into it and I'm not thrilled to go, but I'm on a mission and everything we do has to be a group project so I don't have a choice. The wards here just make you want to shake your head, but then you laugh at the ridiculousness of it, then you find out a way to help it. God bless Cambodia, it's a great place and I think Skibby will come here on her mission too. We'll see. Peace guys!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sam sent us the following email on Sunday, February 7, 2016:

Date:  February 7, 2016 at 9:36 PM
Subject:  No pictures this week but maybe next week…

Heya guys,

We're in a hurry to get down to the south stake center to have a cook out and hopefully play some wiffleball/basketball stuff or something. Should be pretty fun. We bought 7 kilos of chicken breasts this morning and 4 kilos of potatoes. Plus 10 pineapples. Shishkabob here we come. 

There was a little girl on a trike or something that we saw take it right off a foot and a half curb and land right on her face. No problem, she popped up. Nbd. Gotta love that Cambodian spirit.

They're in a little bit of a cold spell (meaning the mornings sometimes get down to about 68), and the coats and winter hats are out in full force. If it ever snowed here so many people would die. Meanwhile we're loving it.

At the market (this kind of stuff happens all the time) some lady was talking about us right in front of us because they think we don't know the language and says joking to her friend, "They're handsome you should take one." The other lady cuts meat..."Careful, they know Khmae!" 

My study has gotten a lot better since President's zone conference this past week. Studying--I don't know--I was always afraid to mark in my scriptures, but now I'm not and I get a lot more out of it. If you need help studying, write stuff down and also don’t worry about marking in your scrips. 

s'good, love you guys!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sam sent the following email, photos, & video clip on Sunday, January 31, 2016:

Date:  January 31, 2016 at 10:50 PM
Subject:  With love

I put some videos on dropbox for you guys, so enjoy. I hope that means I don't have to write much. It was a pretty good week, but the last half was pretty rough for us for some reason and we started to lose heart. But we're regrouping and think this week will be better. Alma 26:27. Thank you guys!
Could you send these to Elder Ey Long in the MTC, mom? Thank you so much!

Video Link: January 31, 2016-Cambodia

Above & below:  Sam, Elder Long, & Elder Elieson (Sam's companion)
Elder Long is currently at the Provo MTC and will be serving in the Oakland, California Mission. Sam wants me to send prints of these two pictures to Elder Long at the MTC, along with a little care package.  This poor elder probably needs thermal underwear and a parka in his care package, having just come from 95 degree weather in Cambodia!

Above & below:  housing areas where Sam & Elder Elieson teach and tract

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sam sent the following email & photos on Sunday, January 24, 2016.  Our comments are in italics:

Date:  January 24, 2016 at 8:39 PM
Subject:  Call to Repentance

Well, once again I find myself cornered into no time to write. I know yall probably don't like me for that (or maybe by this point my letters are boring anyways so you don't really care). But I will say that we're doing good. We're working hard. We got a bunch of new investigators.  This week the Church had a worldwide missionary broadcast.  I am not sure if you have seen or will get it by dvd this week.  Kind of cool and some nice messages.  I did see the world-wide training and since Elder Elieson and I have started applying it the quality of our lessons has gotten way better. I'm really hoping that as we work hard we'll find a family of people to teach, because as of now it's mostly teaching single individuals. But it's way better to be out there doing stuff. In the allegory of the olive tree in verse 72 i think it says the Lord will be there working with us. I think that's true for us out here.

Boo called me out for not sending pictures, so here's a few:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sam sent us the following email on Sunday, January 17 (actually in the wee hours of Monday, Jan. 18), 2016:

Date:  January 18, 2016 at 2:42 AM

Hey guys, I'm doing good. Sorry, I ran out of time to write an email. I love you guys. Everything here is going well. We didn't get out as much as we were hoping to last week because of transfers, but we did on Sunday and we will now. I did a bad thing by challenging the lesson king (Elder Kim) to a competition of lessons for this transfer. Loser buys the other companionship ice cream. But it's fun. Today was a good day. I feel good. We are getting a lot of people to meet just in the short time we've been out. We'll see what we can do. Have a good Martin Luther King Day--the best day of any year!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Peter wrote the following to Sam in an email on Friday, January 8, 2016:

The Church announced today that Viet Nam will become its own mission.  Wow! you probably already knew.  I would guess that is good for Cambodia as now your mission president can focus on the kingdom of Cambodia and not be stretched too thin.  It sounds like there is already a couple who will step right into the VietNam presidency.  How exciting is this for the VietNamese.  They are coming of age. And for those missionaries serving in Cambodia who are in VietNam, switching to their real mission would be exciting.  

Then Sam sent us the following email on Saturday, January 9, 2016:

Subject:  Vietnam
Date:  Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 1:29 AM  
To: Mom, Dad


Sounds like you guys heard the good news! It is good news. We only just learned yesterday, too. It'll be good for both our mission and Vietnam. Right now there's only 8 missionaries total serving in Vietnam, so I guess that's enough and they're going to get a lot stronger over time.

Operation: Laboratory basically means that we're back out proselyting FULL-TIME. An answered prayer. The idea is that we get our area really good, then when we do exchanges we bring people into our area to help train them rather than just going to their area and tagging along. Therefore, we must make our area a "laboratory" (that word used by those in the missionary council or something under Elder Oaks), which is sick and we're stoked for. They said in these videos we watched that some presidents won't even let their assistants have chairs in the office because they're not supposed to be there. We'll be taking the same approach and taking over Chatomuk. Probably starting in full next Thursday, so P-day will be back to Mondays. We're back, baby!

We had a MLC meeting on Tuesday and that was good. Not a ton of cool stuff to relay out for you guys.

I got to go on an exchange back into Teuk Thla yesterday. It was the first time I've been back in that northern area (my birth area) since mid-November 2014. I'm not famous there, but it was good to be back. There was a lot of less active homes and things that I was able to show them to. Going back there and riding around it didn't feel like I skipped a beat. Still felt like I knew where everything was. And you still get a flood of memories come back when you smell some stuff or just feelings you get. So it was a good, productive day. Especially the night  where we (miraculously) were able to track down a moved less active--the guy I sent a picture of last year and said he plays guitar. Yeah, that really was a miracle, but a story for another day when I don't have to type it because typing isn't that fun. 

Peace and love nas

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sam sent us the following email & photos on Friday, January 1, 2016:

Friday, January 1, 2016 at 8:46 PM
Subject:  Tiger Woods doesn’t hold the caddy bag

Hey Gents,

We've got some real good news on the homefront here. I won't tell you what it is yet, just tell you I'm pumped for it and it's going to be really good. The church is true. We're about to enact Operation: Laboratory out here. Hasten the work. "Don't believe me just watch"- Elder Elieson-quoting a song. Things are about to be getting better out here.

We had a good new year. They celebrate it big time. We rode around by Independence monument and it was packed. Full of ្លូវ (ភ្លៅ?).  Play on words.... 
We got to go on two more exchanges this week. On Wednesday I got to go into Tuol Tompung and proselyte with those guys. They're way good. They did operation: SIC (Suits in Cambodia)--a contacting technique. Then yesterday we went out with the Chbar Ampov guys and they're doing good in a tricky area. It is good because I feel like if I'm cool I can be a good influence on a lot of people. And that should be getting better because we're going to be getting some stuff done in the upcoming weeks.

The retention rate of recent converts in our mission is rising and President is really excited about that. I really like President Christensen, he's a baller. Lots of times just like one of the guys. This should be an eventful upcoming week.

Here's a request: the pictures I will attach are of an Elder we just shipped off to the Provo MTC last week. I knew him from my first area and he'd help us teach a lot and is a good guy. Could you print these pictures off and maybe send a small package to him in the MTC. Nothing huge, just a little thing to know that we're grateful for him and put the pictures in? He'd really appreciate it, I think. His name is Chaoboran Oroum and he's going to the Sacramento mission. Thank you guys so much!