Sunday, June 16, 2013

Jun 16, 2013 Mission Week 20 Welcome to Rainy Season!

Today is June 17 and I got your letters from April 22 last week! Thanks for writing! I also got a letter from Grandma and Grandpa dated April 15 and a package from Emily and David that got sent to Laos for some reason and had all sorts of weird customs stickers on it. You guys are awesome! It's fun to get mail. I wonder how they keep it dry. We have officially entered the rainy season and it is raining every day but it stops a lot and right now it's sunny outside so we've got a long way to go until it peaks. I've been told that in about a month it will begin raining and then not stop raining for about two months. Crazy. It's not like we're getting any wimpy rain either. We went into a lesson on Saturday and about halfway through the rain started. It sprinkled for a little while before coming to a crescendo where we literally had to shout to each other to make ourselves heard (Nearly all roofs are metal here, cheap but loud when it's raining). It had rained for about 10 minutes when we stepped outside of the house into streets that were completely flooded. I'm talking water to our calves. It must have rained 4 or five inches in 10 minutes. We were soaked. Pretty soon it's going to be like that all the time. I don't even know how to prepare myself.

A few words about one of our recent converts, Kuntia. We met her through her cousins who are members and she has been awesome. She learned until about the 5th grade before having to drop out, probably because her family didn't have enough money to pay for her schooling. Nevertheless, everything we taught her just made sense to her. She comes to church every week and is a really great girl. We had District conference last week and didn't see her but figured we had just missed her with the extra couple hundred people. We visited her house where her cousin told us, very nonchalantly, "Kuntia? She moved to Thailand yesterday." Apparently work opportunities are better in Thailand so she went to meet her family who is already there. Just picked up and left. This actually happens a lot here in Cambodia and I shouldn't have been quite so shocked but it sure was an interesting conversation. 

Do you want to know who makes your Aeropostale shirts? I do. In Cambodia. After the designs on the shirts are printed they have to cut of all the excess string and some other plastic stuff. It's not hard, but it has to be done by hand, so they give out batches of 100 shirts to people so they can cut all the things off and then give them back for $1.50. It usually takes about a day and a half to do a batch so it's not very good pay but if they are just sitting at home watching the kids anyway it's an easy supplement to a family's income. And so, on Thursday when we were visiting Sokhuan and she was doing that we joined in. So the next time you're wearing your little T-shirt remember that someone was paid about $1 a day to make it and it might have been me! Have a fun week! That's all from me.
My companion and Chan Li making Aeropostale shirts with the neighbors.

Jun 9, 2013 I'm in Cambodia--It's kind of Weird

Hello everybody! Not a day goes by without me having some new thing happen to me or having another awesome spiritual experience with those that are working to come unto Christ! We have continued to teach Sao Li and I really just think he's pretty much the greatest guy ever. We talked to him about helping those around him have the opportunity to learn about Christ and he jumped on that and asked if he could become a missionary or at least come out with us to our appointments. We left from that lesson with him in tow and went to our next 6 and a half hours of teaching appointments where he bore his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel to pretty much everybody we talked to.

When Sao Li isn't with us, Chan Li is with us almost all the time. Chan Li is a 13 year old girl who was baptized in January, has a strong testimony in the power of Christ's message and probably spends more time with the missionaries than she does at school. Between those two, we never have to look very far for someone who can help us teach and testify of Christ. It's hard for us to relate with some of our investigators because we speak with accents, are white and are from America but hey, when you have Chan Li and Sao Li around, you don't have to take it from us!

Power outages in Cambodia are really common. Probably at least once a week the power shuts off, usually for an hour or so but sometimes for several hours, so when our power shut off yesterday around 6:30 in the morning, it was just business as usual. We went to church, and to our appointments but when we came back at 8 last night the power was still off. Even the nicest of houses don't have central air conditioning but usually there are one or two rooms that are air conditioned. In our house, only our bedroom has AC, so when the power goes out the room heats up really quick, because everything else is already warm.

 In any case, we didn't even consider sleeping in our beds because of how hot it was. Instead, the four of us, in our house, took our pillows to what is basically just a big open room in our house, sprayed ourselves with bug spray, opened the door and slept on the tile. I expected it to be really hard to fall asleep but it wasn't too bad at all. It reminded me of a camp out. Today we were supposed to go and buy our food for the rest of the week but since our fridge is out of power and all our food is just rotting in there, it seemed kind of pointless. Instead, we all sat on the floor and had a study session that was just a little longer than usual. It's different for sure but really not too bad. Hopefully our power will be on by tonight and we won't have to sleep on the floor again!

I really like Isaiah chapter 53. It's probably my very favorite chapter in the Old Testament. In this chapter, Isaiah is prophesying about the Atonement of Christ and what he is going to to for us. In verse three it mentions that "we esteemed Him not" and I thought that was really deep. It made me think about what esteeming Christ means. Since really starting to think about this I have been trying to ask myself daily, "Am I doing my best to live my life in a way that esteems Christ?" I hope you guys read this chapter and think to yourselves about what that means. When we accept baptism we promise to always remember Christ, to take His name upon us and to keep His commandments, and for me, that is showing esteem for the sacrifice he gave. When we live our lives in such a way that everything we do is done with His sacrifice in mind, then we are esteeming Him. Then His sacrifice has full meaning in our lives. Love you guys!
P.S. សួស្ដី!​​ I kind of figured out how to write in Khmer on this keyboard, Hope y'all can see it! ខ្ញុំស្រឡាញអ្នក់ទាំងអស់គ្នា!ស្រូកខ្មែរសាប្បាយ!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2, 2013 Eating Ants week 18

I can't believe how quickly time passes. I've already been in the country for nearly a month and a half and everything is just a blur. One of the first questions people always have is what ridiculous foods I've eaten and I finally have a decent answer for you. Ants. Apparently some people eat ants here. I've known people eat bugs and stuff but I always imagined them as bigger and fried and me watching other people eat them. Really there's no reason I was surprised at the ants but I was surprised anyway.  In any case, they tasted kind of like stuffing, except maybe a little more sour. Honestly, they weren't too bad. I don't know if I would be lining up to eat them again but maybe that's just because I don't like stuffing very much. Or maybe it's because swallowing is kind of hard when I know that I'm swallowing ants (I don't even know what the other bugs in there were, but it was mostly ants, and whoever told me that the wings get stuck in your teeth was lying). Or maybe it was the irrational fear I had that they would start biting me when I put them in my mouth. Pretty weird. On an unrelated note I was feeling pretty sick the next day...

Someone should google a list of the world's shortest countries and send it to me, because I swear Cambodia has to be somewhere near the top. Or the bottom I suppose. Everybody here is shorter than me! I thought the picture from our baptism yesterday would illustrate this pretty well. I have literally seen only two people who are taller than me since arriving. Imagine how tall you would have to be in America to wander around a big city for a month and a half doing your best to talk to everyone you see and meet only two people who are taller than you. I hear stories from other missions about missionaries being stopped, robbed or beat up but I just can't see that happening to us around here.

Random side note about drunk people. They're about the easiest people in the world for us to get along with. They greet us, we talk to them, they realize we can speak their language and they immediately think it's the coolest thing. I mean, Cambodians as a rule are blown away when my companion opens his mouth and begins to speak but for drunk people the effect triples. They just start laughing or just put a big grin on their faces. Also, drunk people are easier for me to understand because they only use really simple words.

At a conference we had last week, they talked about doing things halfway and what that can mean for us. It's very interesting, some things can be done halfway and you will get benefit out of it. For example, if you eat half of an apple or drink half of a glass of water you will get some nourishment out of it. If you take half of the cough syrup you should take it will probably help you feel better. Other things just can't be done halfway. Half of a surgery will just do you no good at all. In fact, it'll probably hurt you.

 Often our relationship with our Heavenly Father is the same way. If we obey Him and follow him half of the week and then turn around and do everything that He asks us not to do for the rest of the week, it's not going to help you at all. In fact, it'll probably hurt you. It got me to thinking about obedience and how we receive help and blessing from God. We are required to follow him with our whole hearts, and to stand as his witnesses at all times and in all things and in all places. Anything less than this is pointless and in vain. In addition, we can always do more. There's something I heard in the MTC a lot that I really like. They say obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings miracles. Have a great week guys!   -Elder Vore

May 26, 2013 Mission Life Week 17

Another full week has come and past. Full in that it was 7 days long and full as in there were so many things that happened I can't possibly tell them all in one email. We had a devotional with two members of the Quorum of the 70, President Clayton and President Wilson. On the way over we passed through an intersection without any stop lights (not having a stop light in an intersection is extremely common, much more common than having proper regulation or stop signs, which everyone ignores anyway). Pretty much the way these types of intersections work is that people just go. They don't wait for a space to open up or until no one is coming, you just go.

 In any case, we were riding in a line of 4, heading across the city when the 3 elders in front of me went through an intersection in front of me where a car was coming through perpendicularly. The car stopped of course, but somehow must not have seen me at the end of the line because when the elder in front of me passed the car went. Unfortunately, I was still in front of him. He hit my back tire hard enough for me to lose control and hit the curb ahead of me. No worries, I didn't even fall off, but when he braked hard after hitting me, he was rear-ended by a couple of motos who weren't really paying attention. Fun stuff those traffic accidents.

Cambodians aren't very subtle. If they think you're a little overweight they will tell you that you are fat and laugh at you. If they think your Khmer is horrible, they will tell you and then your companion will have to translate for you and tell you what wording they used to describe how bad your grammar is. Another thing thing that the Cambodians don't have much subtlety for: haircuts. Or maybe my Khmer really is that bad. Anyway, we walked in, I told them I wanted it a little short, and the first stroke of the razor took off a little more hair than I was expecting. My haircut is a little closer to a marine haircut than a missionary haircut, but no big deal. Really, it's kind of nice.

Good luck with school getting out! I'm going to try and send some pictures now with stories to go with them! Love y'all!

Yesterday was my very first baptism and it was an absolute mess. First one was Om Tol, who was baptized by the branch president with his left arm raised instead of his right. And with me as witness! Super embarrassing. Unfortunately, by the time we raised the alarm, the next group was already in the font. Then, Bong Kuntia was baptized by my companion with the wrong wording but the only person who noticed was Elder Garlick in the back of the room, so yet again, the next person was already in the water before we figured everything out. The prayer for Sao Li was said twice but this time I had D&C 20:73 (In Khmer) out and open so we did it right. Then we did Om Tol again, and then finished with Kuntia, who had changed out of her baptismal clothing before she learned it needed to be done again. Next week we have another baptism and I will learn from this one! Picture from left to right is me, the Branch President, Om Tol, Sao Li, Elder Edmunds and Kuntia

May 19, 2013 Week 16 Teuk Thla

And just like that another week has gone by. It was really fun to get to talk to y'all last week. Reminders of home are really awesome. This week has been another eventful week. Every night I stop and think back to what happened in the morning and it just seems like it happened so long ago. 

For example, on Wednesday we woke up at 4:45 to go to the church and play basketball. We got baay sac chruuk (rice with pork and an egg) on the way back before showering, getting dressed and studying for a few hours. We had to be at the south district center at 9:00 in order to sing for a youth conference so we left around 8:15 because it's about a 40 minute bike ride to that chapel. We sang 'Families Can Be Together Forever' and it was really fun to see all the youth from all around Cambodia meeting together in one place. On our way back, we ran into someone who was interested in learning and talked to him for a few minutes before getting his information and phone number. We stopped by a recent convert on our way home. After eating, we went to teach several lessons but its started raining and we ended up helping one of our investigators build his house for a few hours. We taught English from 5 to 7:30 and after English we taught one more lesson because one of our investigators came to English. We cram so much into one day and then the next day we just do it all over again. Pretty exhausting but very fulfilling.

We have one guy who is learning with us right now. His name is Sao Lee and he is really awesome. We are meeting him three times a week and every time we meet him he has prayed every day, read in the scriptures wherever we asked him to and has questions for us about what he's read. His questions are usually something along the lines of, "Why did Jesus have to die?", "How can we receive help from God in our lives?" or "What do I need to do to follow Jesus?". He then listens quietly to our answers, seems to understand everything we say to him and then immediately applies what he has learned.

 Every day we have a lesson with Sao Lee it provides a boost for the rest of the day because he is so ready to follow Christ. He has come to church now 4 or 5 times and will be baptized this Sunday barring something weird or a random problem. People like Sao Lee are huge testimony builders for me. I can see clearly that God has prepared him to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know that there are others like him throughout Cambodia that are only waiting for us to find them.

In Cambodia, it is very clear what is men's work and what is women's work. We probably ask different people about 5 times a day if  they have anything we can help them with. If it's during the day and we're speaking with women, which is usually the case, this question is usually treated as a joke. They really think it is funny that you would even suggest helping them with what they're doing. Having said that, when we just come in and start helping them peel potatoes, quiet a child or wash dishes, they react in the funniest ways. One of our investigators, Ming Chirrup actually chased us away from her dirty dishes with a spatula which led my companion to threaten, "If you don't come to church tomorrow, we'll come and clean your dishes!" Oddly enough, for her, that was a legitimate threat. It's probably not the weirdest cultural difference I've run into so far but it's pushing it. 

This is Ming Chirrip and her three children whose house we are helping to build. They live in Pum Zion, the place where we have spent a lot of time teaching and reteaching people who have been, will be or want to be members.

We taught a lesson about the Savior's injunction to Peter in the last chapter of John (Do you love me? Then feed my lambs.) and about what it meant. The next day while reading in John I read the story of Peter's denial and was struck by how the two stories correlated. Peter was asked a question three times and answered quickly "No" all three times before doing the exact opposite just a few weeks later. It got me to thinking about second chances and how Jesus is so willing to reach his hand out and let us follow Him. Just remember that Christ will give His hand to us, but it is up to us to take it. Faith without works isn't faith at all! He can't drag us to Heaven, we must FOLLOW him. Love you guys, have a great week!

May 12, 2013 Mother's Day Call Week 15

We don't have a letter from Elder Vore this week because we got to facetime him for Mother's Day.  It was a little tricky because we were on a cruise celebrating our anniversary.  We set things up and got up at 5 am to receive his call and talked for an hour.  Mom was very happy to hear his voice and see his face.  He seems very happy and has a good attitude about everything.  Yea!

                                                   Happy Mother's Day from Cambodia!

We had FHE with the Branch President about a month ago and we brought a fruit called durrian. Look it up on google or something, it's really big and spikey and stuff. It tastes like super overripe, rotten cantaloupe mixed with artificial mango flavoring and has such a powerful sweet odor that many places have signs forbidding it. Ex. No guns, no bombs and NO DURRIAN