Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5, 2013 Week of Firsts--Wk 14

This week was a week of firsts. I saw my first accident, I killed my first mouse and I was asked for the first time if I wanted a Cambodian wife.

For story time I think we'll go in chronological order. My companion has what appears to be a three foot long shoe horn hanging on his wall, but I've never seen him use it. I asked him about it last week and he told me, "Yes, it's a shoe horn, but it's up on my wall because I've killed 13 mice with it". We were cooking eggs later at night and suddenly a mouse came out from under the stove and darted under a shelf. He told me to keep an eye on it and ran upstairs to get his shoehorn. He scared it toward me and I hit it with a serving spoon, twice, before it stopped scurrying around. It then preceded to limp out into the middle of our kitchen floor where my companion beat it to death with a shoe horn. Somehow at the end I managed to get blood sprayed on me. It was totally gruesome.

Car/bike/moto accidents in Cambodia are really sketchy. I don't know about how insurance works here but I can guarantee it's not like America where everyone is required to have it. In any case, if you hurt someone or damage their car you have to pay for the damages, so almost all wrecks are hit and run (In some cases literally, there will be an accident and the man at fault will run away from the wreckage and leave it all) . However, if you are at fault in a fatal accident you are only required to pay the family $2,000. Sometimes if injuries are super severe, drivers will run over someone again on purpose so they only have to pay the relatively smaller fee. 

That is supposedly not very common, but we are told that if we ever get in an accident to get up immediately and out of the street. Having said all this, accidents in Cambodia are also very common. Think about how long it has been since you have seen an accident happen before your eyes, or even seen the results of one and now think that I have seen the results of about 5 since I got here and seen one happen right in front of me. Fun stuff.

 Anyway, two motos wrecked in front of us, one of them leaped to his feet and sped off and one got up very slowly (no helmet). We are not allowed to help people who have been in accidents because of how complicated the whole thing is but it didn't look like anyone was going to have permanent damage. Still pretty intimidating. Every time I see another one I think the next one could be me. On that cheery note, the fear of dying in the streets of Phnom Penh has actually dissipated pretty quickly. The streets are crazy but I can belong here.

We have spent considerable time in the neighborhood where we helped to move wood and build a house. The people have been extremely receptive and at times we sat down and taught more than 20 people at one time! The group as a whole wasn't very good at listening but they were there and willing to learn. Almost all of them are related and ideas like prayer and the Atonement that are very hard for most Cambodians to understand came fairly easily for entire families. We were super stoked and actually started calling it Pum (basically means neighborhood or subdivision) Zion.

 One day one of them came out with a picture of her baptismal day. She seemed really excited about it and when we looked we realized that almost every single person we were teaching was already a member and hadn't told us! Super strange situation. We changed our focus to reviewing and helping them come back to church and making sure they can get jobs where they don't have to work on Sunday so that they can come. Unfortunately, they haven't come to church in over a decade so it's been pretty tough. We're still meeting with whoever happens to be home every day around 4 and usually around 7 as well. Pretty interesting.

 In other news, one of them was testing my knowledge of the language, and at the end of this test she said something like, "You're pretty bad but you're learning. Hey, you can get by. Do you want a Cambodian wife?" to which my response was something to the effect of "I'm too young to think about that" and changed the subject. Or at least I hope that's what I said, because she laughed and walked away. It's considerably more uncomfortable when someone your own age is around and the person asking the question can just say "Like her! Do you want to marry her?" The Cambodian people are very blunt and sometimes it's pretty hard to answer them. Funny though.

If you didn't know before this time, my favorite hymn is 'If You Could Hie to Kolob' and in case you're not super familiar with it, I'll remind you that the last two verses of the song repeat the words 'there is no end'' 15 times. I was struck by that song in the kitchen the other day as I sprayed ants for the third time that day. Where do all of the ants come from??? There is no end to them! They come in through the cracks, through the holes in the walls, from the cupboards, out of the drain and pretty much everywhere except the fridge. Our apartment is super nice but it's built to Cambodian specifications, and one thing Cambodians do not worry about are bugs. They are absolutely everywhere. I've learned that, among other things, things that kill ants are: dish soap, boiling water, putting them in the freezer, bleach, and of course, simply smashing them.

Things are all great here in Cambodia and thanks for keeping me up to date with what's going on at home. Love y'all!

Apr 28, 2013 Second Week in Cambodia--Mission Wk 13

Wow. My first full week here and not a moment has gone by that we aren't having some sort of awesome spiritual experience or general adventure. My Khmer continues to be an obstacle but I can see that I have learned a great deal just since I have arrived. Nevertheless, I don't always understand what's going on and people don't always understand me. Earlier this week we were teaching the branch president's mother who is a recent convert and is super old. She doesn't always know what's going on either, but it was still a little jarring when after giving my part of the lesson she looked at me blankly and then turned to my companion and said, "Unjung, koat ot toan jeh Khmer dte?" (That's about how it sounds using English letters), which means, "So, he doesn't speak Khmer yet huh?" Pretty rough, but funny at the same time.

We were out in a neighborhood visiting an older woman who hasn't been to church in a while. We finished talking with her and began talking to another lady who was feeding her children when a tiny lady who looked to be about 30 walked by carrying a load of wood. We took it off her hands and when she went back for more we asked if we could help and she welcomed it (side note, About 95% of the time when we ask someone if we can help them we are turned down even if we could really help them). So, for the next hour and a half we helped tear down their old house and haul the wood to a new location. White shirts and ties+hauling wood=dirty elders, but we really had a good time. On a related note, when we returned the next day to help again they had already finished, but expressed a desire to learn about Christ. Since then we have begun teaching 4 new people in the area.

It's kind of funny the questions people ask us, especially my companion who can actually communicate. It usually goes in an order something like this: 1. Whoa, you speak Khmer! Why? 2. Hey, you're white! Where are you from? 3. Which state? 4. Do you have a wife? 5. Do you want a wife? Because I know someone...  I have been here for about a week and a half and my companion has been essentially proposed to 3 times. Super funny. Here in Cambodia, and I've been told generally in Asia, the lighter your skin is, the more beautiful you are. Also, we speak their language. On top of that, we're from America which automatically means we're rich. All that added up equals a marriage proposal a week or thereabouts. Sometimes fairly awkward, but funny for sure.

We entered one house earlier today to teach another recently baptized member. About two minutes into our conversation an older guy who lives with them and is super nice was moving our bikes inside when he said, "Did you come on one bike or what?'' Of course we hadn't but when we went outside to check, sure enough, my bike had been stolen. Ironically enough, I bought a lock on my third day here but it broke the same day we bought it. They sent out a search party but it was useless. All bikes here look exactly the same: old, sturdy, slightly beat up, gray/brown/black, and have a basket and a seat on the back. We used this seat as my companion took me home. This is called doping. One person sits on the back while the other rides. Pretty tough. Somehow I've already manged to do it several times and I figure I'll probably get pretty good at it by the end of my mission.

 In any case, we were doping and the back tire busted, so we walked our bike back to a bike repair shop near our house and took the extra bike in our apartment to the shop to be fixed as well, and then set off on foot to our next appointment. All's well that ends well. We are back to riding. On a related note, I had to buy a new helmet and I picked up a used moto helmet for 2 dollars. It reminds me of those helmets police officers in older movies wear.

It's rained four or five times since I got here, welcome to the dry season! Yesterday it rained for about an hour and then let up, but then came down in earnest for another hour and a half. Literally more rain than we get in a year has fallen since I arrived. Not that that's too hard compared to the weather in West Texas, but it's considerable. I've found that waterproofing your shoes is useless if you're walking/biking in water to your calves. Water get in your shoes and then stays there. During the rainy season we're allowed to wear crocs. Can't quite see myself doing it and my companion hasn't ever done it either but he certainly wants to.

That's all for me for now, sorry I can't address all the things in y'├ílls (don't know why that accent mark is on there but this computer won't let me change it. Weird.) emails. Thank you for writing though!  Love, Elder Vore

They don't have candy here! Too weird! Obviously all regular candy can be purchased at 1st world stores at slightly elevated prices, but slightly elevated means that I can buy a chocolate bar or lunch for three days. Cereal isn't too useful because there isn't any milk here. Gum is against the rules. Gatorade packets or something to put in my water would be nice. 
We do cook, a lot actually. Every day for lunch is a chaa, which is basically stir fry. My companion loves to cook and every morning I enjoy pancakes, french toast, eggs, etc.. We can skype for mothers day and I'll probably do it around 10 in the morning on Monday here.

Second Week in Cambodia--Pictures!

Our apartment building

"We helped a lady tear down her old house and haul the wood to a new location in white shirts & ties."

"I've found that waterproofing your shoes is useless if your're walking/biking in water to your calves!  Water gets in your shoes and stays there."  Notice the muddy water.

We do cook, a lot actually.  Every day for lunch is  a chaa, which is basically stir fry.  My companion loves to cook!

                                     Teaching with Elder Edmonds, Adam's companion

Apr 21, 2013 First Week in Cambodia--Mission Wk 12

Wow. It still kind of blows me away how far I am from home and how different things are here than from anything I've ever seen. We stepped out of the airport and were immediately mobbed by missionaries and the Mission President. The weather is hot, but not as crazy hot as I had previously expected. Mostly it's just really uncomfortably humid. Always. Like right after someone has taken a shower and you walk into the bathroom? That's how it feels.

 We spent our first night in the Mission Home being oriented and trying to get un-jetlagged and such. On Friday we were assigned areas and trainers and headed out all over the country. My first area is here in the city, northern Phnom Penh, and it's called Tuek Tlat. Immediately after taking my luggage to our apartment and deciding which bike I was going to use, we headed out for my first lesson.

The streets in the city are insane. On the way back from the airport we were in vans and I thought we were going to kill someone. One day later, I was sure I had hours to live. The streets are crowded, clogged, messy and I don't know if anyone actually knows how to drive. I certainly don't. All I've got to say is that everyone in Cambodia needs to take a defensive driving course. I haven't actually seen anyone fall yet, only the results of accidents. My first contact with a moto (about 85% of the cars on the street are motorcycles called motos) was pretty uneventful. He needed to turn, I was in his way, he turned anyway, we bumped and I ended up driving onto the sidewalk. Anyway, the driving scene is completely ridiculous.

Our first appointment was with a family whose father died a year or so ago. The mother has been a member for a while but doesn't come to church. However, a few months ago the missionaries ran into them and retaught and baptized all of the children. When we arrived at the house, I was kind of stunned. They live in a little wood shack, about 8' by 20'. The kids were home, running around in the street and having a great time with the neighbors. The younger they are, the less clothing they wear. Toddlers and younger were naked. We played with the kids, gave them some candy and waited for mom to show up.

 Finally we just started the lesson. As we stepped into the room, my companion broke part of the floor. It was furnished with two yellow foam pads to sleep on , a tv, some clothes on the floor and two battered copies of the Book of Mormon. That was everything in the house. Nevertheless, in high spirits the children spoke rapidly, loudly and at my expense, making fun of my accent and general inability to do anything. "Tvee baab"ing is what they call it here. We taught, encouraged them to pray and come to church and left. 

I think the craziest thing for me here is how closely things that I see as normal are to things that I only associate with undeveloped and developing countries. Hanging "fresh" meat is right next to the Nike stand. Kids play, half naked in the garbage strewn streets as the Hummer comes through. I don't really get it yet, but I know that there isn't another group of people in the world that needs help more than the kids wandering around in the streets here in Phnom Penh. Love y'all. Be thankful for what you have. -Elder Vore 

My companion is Elder Edmonds. He's been out for 21 months now and I will be his very last assignment before he heads home. He's from Orem, Utah and is a really great guy. I really enjoy having him to help me and teach me.

Apr 18, 2013 Elder Vore arrives in Cambodia

The flight was really long and I'm not so sure how well I did with the prevention of jet lag, so this right now is approximately the longest day of my life. Really weird. I don't even know how long my day is right now. Gotta be approaching 35 hours, or at least that's how it feels. In any case, we're here safe, no injuries. This place is crazy. The weirdest thing so far is just seeing things that are so normal for me like Nike stands and Adidas shops right next to hanging meat, naked children and and people chopping up fish. Healthy and Happy! Love you guys. Elder Vore

Elder Adam Vore with President and Sister Moon--mission president

Bro. & Sis. Vore, We just wanted to write a quick note and let you know that Elder Vore has arrived here safely.  After meeting his group at the airport, we took them to a market area near the mission home where they had the opportunity to pair off with some more experienced missionaries and go contacting at the market for a while.  They seemed to enjoy the opportunity to speak the language and interact with the people here.  We then took them to the mission home, had lunch together, and spent the afternoon providing orientation and information to them.  After a dinner tonight we sent them to bed and hope they will get a good night's rest.  They are sleeping here at the mission home tonight.  Tomorrow we will do some additional training, assign them to their companions, and send them to their areas.  We are excited to have the opportunity to serve with your wonderful son.  Thank you for sharing him with us!  We have attached a photo from today, and our contact information below in case you ever need to contact us about anything.
Best regards,
David & Kathryn Moon
President, Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission
House 2B, Street 222
Off Norodom Blvd.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia