Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sept 27, 2013 The Midland Reporter Telegram

The Midland newspaper ran a nice article on local LDS missionaries currently serving missions.  Here is the article online (link).  A couple of pictures from Adam's mission were included in print but are not on the website so they will be included below.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sept 22, 2013 Grounded in Christ

So in Cambodia, phone etiquette hasn't quite progressed to the point that it has in America. It is extremely common for people to answer their phone in the middle of activities including church services. Despite the Branch President's continual pleas for members to turn off their phones we continue to have problems with it. This Sunday I heard about a guy in the other branch in Ta Khmao who was speaking to the congregation about repentance when his phone rang and he answered it. He then talked for about a minute while the congregation stared at him. We're still working with the members on this one. It sure is funny though.

You know how they say if you feed birds rice then the birds' stomachs will explode? I don't know if MythBusters have ever done this one (animal cruelty anyone) but I'll go ahead and bust that one for you. False. I have watched with some anticipation for nearly 5 months now and have not seen one single bird suffer any adverse side effects due to eating rice. They feed all their birds with rice, from chickens to ducks to other birds whose names I don't really know. No exploding birds. 

This email is going really quick because we are going to go play soccer on the other side of the city but I do want to tell a short story about a guy that we contacted this week. He sells stuff outside his house and we sat and talked with him for a good 30 minutes before trying to share a gospel related message. He responded to that with a really long comparison involving missionaries and monks (who he represented as suckers) that had to cross a very tall narrow bridge (a plate) but couldn't get along and started fighting (he begins to bang the suckers together) and then fell to their deaths (tossed them to the ground). He explained that this was the reason he couldn't meet with us. I told him that I didn't understand and he told me that it was because I was white and asked my companion if he understood. After shaking his head the man picked up one of the suckers and unwrapped it and said, ''See? It's broken! Buddhists and Christians will only get along if they leave each other alone.'' You sure meet some strange people when you do nothing but wander around trying to talk to people.

We were teaching English on Wednesday and shared the reading that was in the Teacher's Guide. It was pretty advanced reading about foundations and buildings and had a lot of words that our students didn't know. After we read it I went through and translated all the words that they didn't know. One of the words was the word 'grounded'. I didn't really know how to say it in Khmer so I just explained what it meant. The definition that I used went something like this: placed deep into the Earth and then covered to make it firm. We talked some more about foundations and so for the spiritual thought at the end of the lesson I shared a scripture that is found in the Book of Mormon.  ''And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.'' (Heleman 5:12)

Jesus Christ used a similar comparison at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) when he compared those who followed his teachings to a man who built his house upon a rock and those who didn't to a man who built his house upon sand. All of this leads to the question, what is your foundation? Our lives are very much like a large building that depends on it's foundation to stay steady. People can build their lives on many good things, many sure foundations but in the end there is only one foundation that counts.

We must built our foundation upon Christ. I drew a little picture to help explain my point. There were two houses on stilts, one built on a hill of sand and one on a boulder. I asked which one was more firm and one student correctly determined that the one built on the rock was sturdier. I then drew one more picture, much like the picture of the house on the rock, but in this picture the stilts were driven deep into the rock. Both of these pictures represent a man who built his house on ''the rock of our Redeemer'' but one of them has a more sure foundation. This man who has a more sure foundation has a faith and a hope in Christ and his great atoning sacrifice and he has gone above and beyond in the preparation of his foundation. We can each examine our lives and find ways to make our foundation firmer, stronger and more sure. Usually this will involve a change, not necessarily a change from good to bad but maybe a change from good to better. Wherever you are on your journey, now is the time to become grounded in Christ. Love you guys.  -Elder Vore

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sept 15, 2013 Eating Weeds

Boy the weeks go by quickly. I get lost in the jet stream of missionary work and then BOOM it's September already! I know, I know, it's been September for weeks now but it still manages to catch me by surprise. One of the side effects of our (sometimes) excessive planning is that I frequently forget what month or week it is because we talk so much about what is going to happen or needs to happen next week, next month or next transfer. In that sense, once October rolls around it shouldn't be a surprise at all, right? Plans to go play soccer in my birthplace (the branch I was trained in, Tuk Thla) have been nixed by the Mission Office. We aren't allowed to go to the city today because of the political demonstrating and some missionaries in the city aren't allowed to leave their houses at all. I happened to glance at the news while at the market this morning and saw video of hundreds of policemen dressed in riot gear and shields and punk teenagers throwing tear gas grenades at them. Pretty interesting.

I was eating lunch the other day, a dish called somlaw mjoo kruan, and a younger missionary asked me what vegetable was in the soup. I didn't know what it was called and as I leaned over to ask one of the Khmer Elders a missionary from South Africa answered for me and said, ''They're weeds. They went into the backyard, weeded the garden, chopped it up and put it in the soup.'' It's not really true but it does highlight something about Khmer food. They eat pretty much anything. If it's green it goes in the soup. If it moves, fry it up and serve it. Even that vegetable which is really common (it actually does pretty much just look like stalks of weeds) isn't totally digestible. Wait a few hours and you'll see it again, pretty much unchanged from it's original state. I was joking about this the other day as we made food and pointed at the leaves of a tree in our ''back yard'' and suggested that according to Khmer tradition we should put them in the stir fry. Elder Chan agreed that these leaves probably wouldn't be good but then plucked some leaves from 3 other trees and said we could put those ones in, and we did. I wonder what fried yard clippings would taste like. Probably like hot yard clippings I suppose.

I was helping one of the young men in our branch fill out his missionary application (since the forms are in English). I asked him what his birthday was and he had two. They were 4 years apart. That was a little confusing for me until he explained that he was born in Thailand and when his parents came back to Cambodia they gave him a new birthday (the day he entered the country). A lot of the Khmer Elders and Sisters have more than one birthday. Those from Vietnam usually change for educational reasons. While filling out the papers we had to make sure all the information was according to one set of documents (we went with the Cambodian documents for no real reason). The border between Cambodia and Thailand is a little more fluid than government officials would like. Mostly Thai officials. Makes me think of home.

We had a really cool lesson with a young mother named So Chiat the other day. She has learned with the Elders before and was relatively knowledgeable about such subjects as prayer, God, the mission of Jesus Christ and the role of prophets. At the end of the lesson I asked her why she had never been to church. She had a litany of reasons but none of them really had a lot of weight. We talked about change and why it was important for us in our conversion. I've thought a lot about that conversation. The word for conversion in Khmer is plahpreajetjua which means literally to change (plah) flip your heart or repent (prea means flip, jet means heart and preajet means repent) and believe (jua).

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change. Those who convert and truly believe on his name will do so by changing their lives and following his will. True change isn't temporary. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can't quit and we can't go back.'' When we have an understanding of correct principals we need to carry them out for them to have worth. The worth of a solution lies in putting that solution to action. We all can remember a little more fully that ''Jesus's teachings were not meant to be theoretical'' and that true religion is repentance, or changing our habits that are incorrect and doing good works instead. Like all good stories, this one has a happy ending. So Chiat came to church yesterday! 
Love you guys,  Elder Vore

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sept 8, 2013 Week 32 A Turn for the Wet

Well, it looks as if the rainy season that everyone has been talking about is finally here. It's rained really hard every day for nearly a week now and some of the lower roads have water all the time. It wouldn't really be a big deal except that essentially all roofs (of people's houses) here in Cambodia are made of sheet metal which means that when it rains it gets really loud. I feel sometimes that I'm trying to teach people on the tarmac at LAX.

 According to the Missionary Handbook, missionaries aren't really supposed to go out when it's raining hard or there are other kinds of severe weather. I kind of feel like for us, out here in Southeast Asia, those pages are a little bit overlooked. I don't know if our leaders have actually said, ''Ignore those pages, they're for Elders and Sisters that don't live in tropical rain forests'' but we certainly are not going by the book.

So we had a lesson with a woman named Lim and her daughters Rotana, who has been a member for many years, and Ranyaa, who was just baptized a little more than a month ago by Elder Sin. Their family is doing very well right now and they were all at church yesterday. After our lesson we were just talking a little bit and I asked Ming Lim if she knew anyone that wanted to learn about Jesus Christ. She answered no but I asked her about her married daughter who lives about 10 minutes down the road. Lim told me he didn't really think her daughter was super into the religion thing and suggested that if I wanted to go talk to her I should bring something to defend myself because she would hit me. I kept asking about her daughter and eventually asked what she did for a living. I proceeded to not understand a word she said for nearly 3 straight sentences. She asked me if I had had understood and when I indicated that I hadn't, her daughter told me that her sister was a ''kruu areak'' which means a evil spirit teacher (or person who does stuff with evil spirits). That was a little weird. After explaining it to me in words that were a little more familiar (I haven't really had much of a chance to make flashcards for words about sorcery and evil spirits), I began to understand that Lim's daughter is kind of like a reverse exorcist.  She takes money from people and then calls down evil spirits through some sort of strange ritual to go and kill or otherwise bother her customer's enemies.
That was a very interesting conversation.
This email is being cut a little short because of some difficulties with the computer. Love you guys!
-Elder Vore

Hi!  This is Adam's mom.  Since Adam's email was so short this week, I decided to type a letter we got from him in the mail just the other day.  It is dated 8/10/13 so it is a month old.

Dear Vore Family,

Hello from Cambodia!  How's the weather in Odessa?  That's nice.  It's really wet here.  There are a couple of bridges that I cross nearly every day and now that it's raining a little more I can actually see the water level rising.  It looks like it's going to go past the little barriers they made in a couple of months, but I suppose they know what they're doing!  There's one bridge that I really need to send y'all a picture of, hopefully by the time you get this I'll already have sent it.  The view from the bridge is just so beautiful and green and it's just cool.  The only problem is, it's a fairly well traveled bridge, right in the middle of the "city" part of my area, so it's kind of hard to stop and snap a photo.  I want to take the picture before the water level rises over a lot of the greenery.

  The work is going well in our area.  It's much harder to find people here than in Phnom Penh, but we are managing.  We are now teaching the rest of Ranyaa's family in addition to a referral family and an old investigator that was dropped and we managed to recontact them.  Three families progressing!  It's so cool!  Glad you share my enthusiasm.  Really though, it's so nice to have people to teach.  When I got here we didn't have anybody.

  In other news, I passed my 6 month mark this last week, weird.  I still feel like I just got here, I can't believe that I've already been through so much time when I still feel like I haven't done anything yet.  Have you ever been watching a good movie and you look down at the time, realize that the movie has been going for nearly 2 hours and then feel a little sad because you want to keep watching it, you're not ready for it to end yet?  Or got to the last few pages of a book and thought the same?  That's how I feel about my mission.  I just want the time to slow down a bit so I can enjoy it.

  This letter has no order and I'm just writing what I think about so....Cool story!  Not about me though.  There's an Elder that got here the transfer after me from Utah, speaking Vietnamese.  He's a recent convert whose family speaks Vietnamese in their home.  Random side note, he's in Jon Schmidt's ward and when he got baptized, brother Schmidt played 3 special musical numbers.  Anyway, one transfer into the mission, President Moon decided Elder Tran needed to learn Khmer.  So he started learning Khmer about 4 weeks ago.  Last week his back was hurting so they took him to see a doctor who told him he had a pinched nerve or something!  I forgot, but that meant he was going home for surgery.  Because he had to leave so suddenly and it was weird timing, his flight back sent him through Shanghai where he sat by a 20 year old woman heading to the states for a 2 week school exchange.  As they began to talk, he learned she was a very recent convert to Christianity and they began talking about religion.  Through the course of their flight he taught the first 3 lessons:  The Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, and the Gospel of Christ.  She is now meeting with missionaries in California and plans to be baptized before returning to China.  So cool!

  Just talked to our landlord about 5 minutes ago.  He bought this house from the old landlord last week.  We talked with him because we haven't received our electric bill yet and if we don't pay it, our power will be shut off on Thursday.  He doesn't know where it is and promised to call the old landlord about it on Tuesday.  "Tuesday?" was my reply.  He told me, "yeah, I'm pretty busy today and tomorrow but I should be able to call Tuesday."  I don't understand  Khmers sometimes.  I can understand every single word coming out of their mouths but it still doesn't make any sense.

One more example of this is when we are out contacting.  Usually we just wander down the street and talk to people who are sitting outside their houses.  I talk to people every single day who are lounging around in hammocks talking to their friends who tell me that they are just too busy to learn about Jesus Christ.  They really want to, they just don't have time.  Or returned missionaries with degrees in law or engineering that sit around at their parents' house all day and tell me that I don't understand how hard it is to find a job in Cambodia.  That's my rant for the day, going back to more positive subjects.  

Our Preach My Gospel class here in Ta KhMav is awesome!  All the youth and YSAs that have a goal to serve a mission meet every Sunday night at the church to learn from Preach My Gospel, learn from the missionaries, and practice teaching.  The future of Cambodia is bright because of how prepared and willing to serve their youth are. Returned missionaries make really good leaders at church.  This is really apparent in our branch (congregation).  I counted who was on the stand on Sunday:  President and his 2 counselors, the two blessing the sacrament and the two leading and playing piano are all returned missionaries.

It's very easy to see the blessing of serving a mission from the perspective of one guy trying really hard to make his branch grow.  We are really working on getting Melchizedek Priesthood holders active and helping those who could potentially receive it progress toward that goal because in order to have a ward/stake/functioning branch you need Melchizedek Priesthood holders to lead out.  One of the slower ways to do this is by sending all your young men on missions.  The percentage of young men serving missions from Cambodia is really high and I'm sure the percentage of young women serving is way higher than it is in the states.  Most of these young people are recent converts.  I know at least 3 that had their papers in before they were even allowed to go to the temple (members for 1 year).  Elder Sin was baptized at age 20 and before his 23rd birthday he was on a mission.  He's now approaching the end of his mission and he's been a member for almost 4 years.  Serve missions!  Love you!  Adam

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sept 1, 2013 Week 31 It's never too early for EMERGENCY TRANSFERS! :D

And just when I was settling in with Elder Sin, BOOM! Emergency Transfers. We have emergency transfers a lot here in our mission for two main reasons. First, missionaries are meeting family members or friends really often (way common here because about 35% of Elders and 70% of Sisters are natives). This gets to be a problem mostly just because it's distracting. Imagine if you were passing out pamphlets or trying to talk to people on the street and suddenly your best friend from high school came out and started chatting with you. Not a bad thing, just not conducive to being focused on spreading the message of Jesus Christ 24/7. Second, Khmer girls send love letters to the missionaries. Elder Edmunds, my trainer had this happen to him. Obviously that can lead to situations that are not good. I've heard horror stories. Everybody loves horror stories right? In any case, Elder Mok is my new companion. He's been in the mission for about a year now and he likes biking really fast. We're making the trip to Baku (a little over 30 kilos) in an hour now. It's certainly not a world class time but it feels really fast. I wish I had something to put on my bike that could count how far I traveled every day.

Speaking of trips to Baku, when we're on our way home at night we go through the rice fields as far as we can to avoid the big cars on the highway. However, there are some negative aspects to this as well. The rice paddies are really humid and warm and at night the bugs come out in swarms. It is incredible how many darn bugs there are. I'm talking bugs hitting my face every couple of seconds. Every once in a while once will poke me in the eye or fly up my nose a little but nothing that's too traumatizing. About two weeks ago I was riding back and I yawned really big and a bug flew straight into the back of my throat causing me to choke and cough. It was so startling I nearly fell off my bike. I don't know if I actually manged to spit it out or if I swallowed it. Now that I think about it, I guess swallowing a bug isn't really news here huh?

You guys know we don't use toilet paper out here right? Have I been over that? Toilets are essentially the same here as they are in the good ole USA but rather than using toilet paper to wash off, all toilets are equipped with a little spray gun connected to a hose similar to something you would find in an American kitchen sink. I was pretty skeptical at first and the first couple of times were a little hit and miss but after a week I was totally used to it, and here, 5 months later I am totally convinced that it is so much better than toilet paper (a sentiment that is echoed by all of the missionaries here). There are toilets here that you have to squat to use too. I had seen them but until recently I would just wait until I could use a normal toilet. But, of course, nature intervened. Upset stomachs are really common for us white guys out here and it just so happened that one of these stomachaches hit me while I was in Baku, where we do not have a toilet immediately available. To the squatter I went. Unfortunately it wasn't until afterward that I realized there was no spray gun! That's a downer. You know what they say about banana leaves right? (Just kidding, I happened to have a packet of tissues in my backpack, but there was actually a banana tree growing through the window).

I want to tell you guys just a little bit about the day I received my mission call. I got out of class at BYU and I had a voice mail from the Cannon Center telling me that I had received a large important looking package from Salt Lake. I was excited, but I was also nervous. I wasn't totally sure I was ready to serve a mission and didn't really know much about what a mission really was other than a lot of hard work. I had been preparing, in many ways, to serve a mission for my whole life but I didn't know exactly what to prepare for because I didn't even know where I was going! With my call in hand, I headed for my dorm, knelt and told my Heavenly Father that it didn't really matter to me where I went, but wherever I did go, I asked that He would help me to understand for myself that I would be sent to the place where I needed to go.

 Fast forward almost exactly a year later. I am at a branch family home evening in Baku and for the lesson, Pu Pov (the group leader out there) decided that we should have a testimony meeting. As I listened to the testimonies of these wonderful members I felt very strongly that I was exactly where I needed to be, among people that I loved and could help. It almost moved me to tears. As we left the activity, I remembered my prayer. I decided at that time that my prayer had been answered, not quickly or according to my desires, but answered surely, leaving no doubt. I love the quote by Albert Einstein, ''God does not play dice with the universe'' and have felt the truthfulness of that statement in my life. When we follow Jesus Christ we will be guided to where we need to go. Unexpected events and trials will occur but they are not random, nor are they in vain, but are for our profit and learning. I also learned a firsthand lesson about prayer. Our Heavenly Father is willing and even eager to give us answers to our great desires, but often that answer will come slowly. I love you guys. Hold to the rod!    Elder Vore

Aug 26, 2013 Week 30 The Back Roads of Baku

     It has not been an easy week out here. We had 3 families decide to stop learning with us for various reasons relating to their previous religion. Learning with the Elders is always a choice, we don't force anyone to listen to us, but that doesn't keep us from feeling sad when they exercise their moral agency and choose not to accept the gospel of Christ. And then there was the lady whose husband committed suicide and then his ghost came back and told her that if she kept learning with us she would get sick and die. That was pretty weird.

     We moved houses back into the city. It was kind of relief as we were without various basic commodities (Hot water, power in half of the house and no running water at all at the end) for a number of days. We moved into the city a couple of miles and are now living with the other 4 Elders in an apartment next to the church. The apartment is really skinny and has 5 stories, like a lot of buildings here in the city. Since we were the last ones in, our room is on the fourth floor. Climbing up and down four flights of stairs to get to our room is a little frustrating but we're taking it with good humor. I have suggested installing a fireman's pole to make going down a little easier but I don't know how well I explained it in Khmer. My companion told me it would probably be easier to use the stairs anyway.

     One nice thing about living in a house with a lot of guys is that Elder Sin is making food for all of us essentially 2 meals a day. We have to force him to accept our help in doing the dishes and cutting vegetables and stuff like that. What a great guy. He makes good food too. We're trying to get him to open a little restaurant after his mission. He's not so sure. Speaking of food, I had some fried frogs the other day. I've had frog before but this time it wasn't skinned or anything like that, it was just fried, bones and all. Actually pretty good. Frog is kind of like a mix between chicken and fish. I was not however, brave enough to try the fried bats (see pictures).

     The trip from Baku to our house takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to bike. The beaten stretch of highway between Ta Khmau and Baku is over traveled, has no lines or speed limits and is full of pot holes. The trip is dark and the large trucks are intimidating. Sometimes it's nice to see a car coming because the headlights illuminate our path but as the car comes closer we are blinded and when it passes we are plunged back into darkness.

 Saturday night we left Baku after a very fun activity. Our warm hearts quickly cooled as we set out on our long journey back. For the first 5 minutes or so the traffic was normal, which is not a good thing. Riding on that road is scary! However, after a few minutes a very interesting thing happened. A very large, very slow moving semi-truck pulled up behind us and began to follow us. At first I tried to pull off to the side to let him pass but it soon became clear that if anything, he was actually moving slower than us and simultaneously acting as a fantastic flashlight. The road in front of us was bright and the pot hole strewn highway was suddenly very easy to navigate. Even more, oncoming traffic that would usually come to the middle of the road (and uncomfortably close) to avoid the patchy edges of the road stayed far from us, intimidated by the 20 ton truck behind us. The truck traveled with us for over 30 minutes before passing us and moving on. I had a lot of time to think about this (there just isn't much to do when you're riding your bike for hours on end) and my thoughts kept turning to our life on Earth.

 Life is a long, dark, harrowing journey, full of pot holes and oncoming traffic. When we travel down this road alone, it is difficult and even dangerous. However, we have been promised that when we follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will be blessed with His Spirit, who will guide us. The Spirit is the third member of the godhead, whose purpose is to ''testify of [Christ]'' (John 15:26), ''teach'' us and ''bring all things to [our] remembrance'' (John 14:26), and ''guide [us] into all truth''. I testify that as we follow the promptings of the spirit, we will be protected from danger and guided to ''the narrow [way]... which leadeth unto life'', even life eternal (Matthew 7:14). I know that Jesus Christ was the perfect example, the master teacher, and I believe it is significant that on the last day of His mortal life He taught his disciples about the importance of His Spirit (See John 14-16). Follow the spirit! He will not lead you astray! That's all I've got for today. Pictures on the way!
-Love Elder Vore
                                         And me biking through the flooding

All of my pant legs are filthy!

Ruub Tot tiat! (More pictures)
                            Weird foods (snake eggs, bats other stuff that I'm not too sure about)

                                          A family we have been teaching.

Aug 19, 2013 Week 29 "Time"

Time is a funny thing. It's constant but sometimes seems to pass more quickly than normal. At other times it passes incredibly slowly. When we wish that we had more of it, it always seems that we run out of it even more quickly than normal. I have a somewhat limited time at this computer, and it always seems to pass very quickly. Ironically, I've spent several minutes of this time talking about time. Maybe I should stop..

On my first day in Baku I met a girl. She asked me my name and introduced herself as Selaing. When we go to Baku, there is one girl that we can count on greeting us. She is not a member of our church and neither is her mother, but she goes to church with her grandmother every week, and quite often beats her grandma there. She learned how to pray when she sat in on our lessons with her uncle and grandmother. She insists on praying at least once every time we visit. When I visited Baku this week, she was singing about how Heavenly Father would help her if she asked for it. The lyrics were her own. She has never once forgotten my name and announces with great pleasure when we come biking around the corner, ''The Elders are here! Elder Vore, Elder Vore! Hi Elder Vore!'' Selaing is 4 years old. She is the cutest most precocious little kid ever. I think shes better about attending sacrament meeting than nearly all of the adults in our congregation. Next week I'll send a picture because this week my time is pretty limited. We love her.

While in Baku yesterday, the group president, Pov, expressed concern because the speakers from Ta Khmau that were expected to come couldn't. I told him this was his show, and suggested that he ask members to bear testimony or if that didn't feel right, he could ask the Elders to speak as well. He nodded and penciled something in. About 30 minutes later after I played the piano and then sat with the members in the front, Pov was announcing the speakers. I was fairly surprised to hear that Elder Vore was speaking last, and would be speaking about love.

 Because the two speakers in front of me spoke for about 2 minutes each, I was expected to speak for the rest of the meeting. It is amazing what you can do when you really have to do it. Being a missionary has really prepared me and helped me learn how to speak. I remember just before leaving Odessa I was asked to speak for 20 minutes in sacrament meeting. I spent so much time working on that talk and when it came time to deliver it I didn't say what I had intended to or how I wanted it and it wasn't quite long enough. Just a couple months later I can whip out a sermon in a matter of minutes and my thoughts are more organized and coherent, well, assuming they understood all the words I was saying. Blessings of missionary work. Cool stuff.

Got into another bike wreck on Saturday. I was riding on the shoulder of the road and a parked car opened their door suddenly. I had just enough time to realize I was going to fall before impact. The impact was hard but my bike took it all. I dismounted onto the asphalt with great skill (practice makes perfect right?) and after deciding I was OK I walked away. The bike was a little beat up but I didn't even get bloodied. However, my shirt was ruined from some oil on the street and my backpack tore. Elder Sin was riding a little in front of me and didn't know that I had fallen. He got all the way over the next bridge before someone on a moto told him I was laying in the street ''back there''. No harm done. I'm a little sore from this one and riding to Baku was a little bit of a challenge but all's well that ends well! I intended to enclose a little spiritual thought but that will have to wait until next week. Time to email the Mission President. Love you guys!!  
-Elder Vore

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Aug 11, 2013 Week 28 Another Day, Another Fried Bug

Honestly, I don't even really like eating the bugs they give me and I really don't even eat them that often, but it makes for fun email subjects. Also, today it looks like I have a lot of time but I don't really have a whole lot to say. Funny how these things go sometimes.

We were biking to Baku on Thursday when I saw a guy fishing in a rice field. All rice fields have about two feet or so of standing water that the rice grows from so I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised but I thought it was really strange. He had a bamboo pole, hook, worm and all and was fishing in the rice field. I stopped to talk to him and he assured me that yes, there actually were fish in there, and then, as if to prove his point, he caught one and threw it back in saying it was too small. That kind of surprised me because the fish was hand sized, plenty big enough to eat, and surely the fishing can't be that good in the rice field right? He explained that most of the fish he caught were well over a foot long.

Eventually the conversation turned to Christ and he shocked me again when he told me he was already a Christian and when he lived in the city some years before, he was very active in his congregation. We, of course, invited him to come with us and worship at our ''church'' in Baku (We meet at a member's house so I guess it's not a church in the strictest sense of the word but it works). We gave him a pamphlet and he called us later that night with questions and then he actually came to church on Sunday. The vast majority of Cambodians require a little prodding to change their ways but Puu Hat is awesome and is quickly falling back into the routine of following Jesus Christ. In missionary jargon they call people like these ''golden investigators''.

In places where the church isn't firmly built (eg places that don't have wards, stakes, 3rd and 4th generation members etc.) the missionaries keep track of converts through CBRs. I'm pretty sure CBR stands for convert baptism record but I'm not totally sure. On these CBRs the missionaries who baptized the convert fill out important information about the convert or family like names, birth dates, when they were baptized and where they live.

 That being said, these are being filled out by 20 year old boys, who sometimes have a tendency to do ''unimportant'' things like paperwork halfway. So, when we go out looking for those who we don't know and try and help them come back to church, occasionally we do so with pretty limited information. Especially maps. Addresses are totally useless in this country unless you live in the middle of the city or have a really nice house, so we use maps to find people. Because nobody knows what streets are called, we use landmarks to figure out where we are. Unfortunately, some people's definition of what landmarks are include ''the big tree in front of the blue house'' or ''small rice field'' or ''place that sells stuff''. Walking through rice fields in the middle of nowhere asking people if they know someone with nothing to go on but a name, a ten year old picture and a map that references ''that big rice field'' is quite the adventure. CBR work, it's the best.

I was studying in the scriptures the other day about life and trials. After my studies I went to write my thoughts in my study journal and recorded the following: ''Life is a test, and not just any old test but a really hard test. And not only is it a really hard test, there's a lot riding on it. Fortunately, it's an open book test, we're allowed to share answers and the teacher is working out the problems on the board''.  I go back to my high school days and remember that it seemed like it was the very smartest kids were the ones that went in for tutoring in the mornings.  It seems obvious now that the very smartest kids were also the ones who would be taking advantage of all their resources. Life is hard but we have all sorts of guides! We have the words of prophets and the teachings of Jesus Christ that are recorded in the scriptures. We have teachers and pastors and Bishops who can and will help us. We have families! All of this stuff is great but if we don't look up from our test and look for some help, we won't get any. Use your resources! Love you guys.  Elder Vore

Aug 5, 2013 Week 27 Over the River and Through the Jungle

First things first, thank you so much Mom for the package and the letter! Mail doesn't come very often out here and it feels so great to get stuff from home! The chocolate lasted about 15 minutes because I opened it when we were sleeping over at another house for a meeting and was obliged to share with the group. Pretty funny, but more than funny, it was delicious. I got it last Monday and it's probably 3/4 done. The mints and drink mixes should last a while though. The package actually took a bit of a spill when I was heading home. I was riding my bike next to a moto that was dragging a trailer and underestimated how big his trailer was. When he moved to pass me his trailer took my out from behind and I ate it.

He was actually really nice about it and stopped and apologized profusely, which is really uncommon for traffic accidents in Cambodia which are nearly all hit and run. No real harm done. I was a little bloody on my hands, elbows and especially my knees, and my pants were torn, but the most irritating thing was that my package fell and smashed the Oreos! It happened right in front of the church and a couple of members came up and had a few words with the driver. I pretty much told them to chill out and that it wasn't a big deal. Invited the guy who hit me to come to our free English class. He said he'd be happy to come but I haven't seen him yet. Pretty funny. When we got home my companion insisted on taking several pictures. The weird face is because I was laughing and he told me I couldn't laugh for this picture and needed to stop. The only thing that has really resulted from the accident is that I've been standing for a lot of prayers that I would normally kneel for.

The person who owns our house just sold it to someone else who is planning on doing some renovating to attract people who will pay a little more. I asked him about a hole that is in one of our rooms (it's probably the size of my fist, about a foot over my head and goes straight outside) and if he was planning on fixing it. He looked at it and back at me and said and I quote, ''It's only a little hole'' and walked away. I thought it was pretty funny but my companion didn't seem to see the humor in it. I suppose it is just a little hole. Really, my only problem with our new landlord is that he hasn't given us our electric bill yet. He said he would talk to the old landlord and ask if they had the bill. The only problem is is that if we don't get it then our power gets shut off. No warning letters in Cambodia.

Elder Sin and I were walking around in Baku talking to people about our English class when he stopped me and said very seriously (in English), ''Elder, how much could would a wood wood chuck chuck?" Spouting random slang or things like tongue twisters in a heavy Khmer accent will make anyone laugh. He's a funny guy. The difference between the sound e (bEd, mEt) and the sound i (sIt, mIt) totally escapes him and our language study sessions occasionally fall into him saying a word over and over again while I repeat it correctly until he says it right. It's pretty fun. He gave the white handbook thought in English at our Zone meeting the other day and ended up just saying random stuff in English until we laughed and he sat down. What a character.

I am just finishing the New Testament again and ran across a verse in 1st John 2:6 that I really liked. The verse reads, ''He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.''  Now I don't know what y'all get out of that verse but I wrote it down in my study journal and labelled it as ''If you're going to talk the talk you've got to walk the walk.'' Isn't that so true? In every aspect of our lives, our words must be backed up by our actions, otherwise our words are empty.

This is especially important in the case of the gospel of Jesus Christ because there is so much riding on it. Our eternal salvation is riding on how well we apply gospel principals in our lives and follow Jesus Christ, not just with our mouths, but with our hearts and our actions as well. I got an email from a missionary serving in California today who explained it like this.  ''I like to think of it as our parents paying for college. Christ, through his Atonement, paid for us to come here to earth to learn and to grow. It's like our parents paying for us to go to college. Either way the college and education is paid for but it's up to us with what we do with the funds. We can either use it to learn and to grow and work hard and try to be the best we can be or we can waste it away goofing off and partying. Eventually we will all have to come back to Christ and He is going to ask us what we did with His Atonement, what we did with the money He gave us. At that point we can either say to Him that we did everything He asked: learned, gained an education, was obedient in following the commandments and because of that we are able to continue to progress. Or we can say that we didn't do anything and we didn't use what He gave us- what He already paid for so our progression stops.'' (Props to Sister Parkinson for the cool comparison) 

We have been given the wonderful gifts of life on Earth and the Atonement and simply stating that we believe and expecting our belief to cover us is marvelously unjust. I echo the words of James who said, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." (James 2:17-18 KVJ) Let us show our gratitude to Christ through our works, and do more than just talk the talk.
That's it for me, love you guys!     Elder Vore

Jul 29, 2013 Week 26 Crazy Week in Cambodia!

Well, it has been quite the week. I'm pretty sure I say that every week, but even for being on a mission in Cambodia it has been a crazy week. Before we start, I'm going to share some background information. I want to tell you a little bit about Ranyaa. She has been our investigator for just a short time now but has a desire to follow Christ and so it's been easy to teach her a lot. Her older sister is a member of our church, but Ranyaa and her mom go to another church because they pay for Ranyaa's education. Going into this week she had a baptismal date for Saturday July 27.  Also I've been having some stomach aches and this Sunday is elections.

Our investigator Ranyaa being silly
Our story begins last Thursday. In the morning we had weekly planning so we didn't manage to get out of the house until almost 1:30. Rainy season is just beginning, which means that it rains every evening for 3 or 4 hours until the sun goes down. Not too hard, mostly just drizzling. When we set out it was the middle of the afternoon and it was hot. Really hot. To make things worse, it was windy, which in our area means that dirt roads just become little clouds of dust that you drive through. After about 10 minutes of this, the wind suddenly turned really cold. The temperature probably changed by 25 degrees in a matter of minutes. Every temperature change like this is immediately followed by rain, but this storm hit unexpectedly hard and right in our faces. The wind blew hard enough that it felt like we were biking uphill, and the raindrops felt like hailstones on our faces. Totally blinded. It was pretty crazy, but it died down after about 10 minutes to a normal drizzle.

 Once in Baku we were talking to a woman who wants to learn but owns a restaurant and is really busy. While I was talking to her, Elder Sin took a phone call from Ranyaa's older sister who told him that Ranyaa was reconsidering her baptism and might just move to Kompung Saom (A province by the seashore) for a few months. Elder Sin was understandably concerned and I didn't know what was going on. Our hostess offered us some food but I declined because I was feeling a little nauseous and we went to prepare for our very first English Class in Baku. We spent a few weeks talking about it and finally we were opening up; a momentous occasion! English went well, but I started feeling sick about halfway through and when we were biking home I began to get tired and sick. Eventually my companion got a little ahead of me. I called out to him but started coughing and then fell off my bike and threw up in the gravel. No fun at all. On arriving home I collapsed on my bed and slept for 15 hours or so.

It is now Friday, and I am sick. In addition, we are having training today so one of our zone leaders is here at our house ready to go out proselyting with us. Unfortunately, that looks as if it is not going to happen, as I am still having some fairly intense stomach pains. He stayed with us all day and we talked about our Area and updated our paperwork. On the positive side, I read the New Testament for like 3 1/2 hours! It was great. Meanwhile, other Elders in our area went to visit Ranyaa and her family and had a miracle! After everything had been said they were all in tears and had a renewed vigor to follow Christ's example through baptism! 

Saturday started with us visiting Ranyaa and talking about her concerns and then visiting some members who were having a hard time. Around 2:30 we set out for one of our furthest areas (without actually going to Baku) to meet with a new member. He wasn't home but his mom told us there were probably some people who wanted to learn in the next Pum (village/neighborhood thing) over. We had never been in that direction, but following her instructions we crossed the bridge and headed out to contact.

I'm not so sure about their interest in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they sure thought it was cool that a white guy who spoke Khmer had biked out from Ta Khmau regardless of why he had done it. We promised to return and then hurried to the church for Ranyaa's baptism. Hurried means biked quickly, not that it didn't take very long. We were a long way from the church but once we got there, everything went very smoothly. Nice to have people who actually speak Khmer perform the service. After the service we did another companion switch for all the Khmer missionaries who had to go all over the country to vote (they have to vote in the province they were born in). 

A word or two about voting. Cambodia is holding elections every 5 five years and abiding by the results of those elections but they are far from politically stable. We were not allowed outside except for our church services. Later in the evening we got a panicked phone call from Sister Kung, who is serving in Ta Khmau with me but had to go back to the city to vote near her house. She told us a police car had been flipped and set on fire near her house and she was scared. Apparently there was a little violence in her area because some people who showed up to vote weren't on the voter registry lists. Elder Sin was also in the area. They were all picked up in a van by the mission president early this morning. 

And that's been my week. I'm exhausted. One parting thought. Khmer women think that if they are wearing a towel they are fully dressed. People will invite us into their home where their aunt is drying off from her shower in the corner. Really weird. It's even more prevalent among men. They just walk around wearing nothing but a towel. That's all I've got! Love you guys!  Elder Vore

Monday, September 2, 2013

Jul 21, 2013 Down by the Bay out in Baku!

Today's email might be a little short due to some computer problems, however we should have pictures! Don't feel offended if pictures don't actually work. Today our email place is full to capacity and all 16 computers are using the same wireless connection, which doesn't actually work very well. It is election season! Wow, election season in America is nothing compared to this.

 I saw 7 parades yesterday, including two for rival parties that managed to kind of combine (I assume it was an accident) and ride down the street waving flags and screaming with their face paint and party flags and such. They were all pretty normal, flags, matching t-shirts the big truck in the front blasting propaganda and telling everyone it's their duty to vote except one. This was one of only two I saw yesterday that were for the opposition party.  They were not all on motorcycles or in cars, rather, they were in columns like something out of a military movie. The lead car would shout something and all of the several hundred people would yell in unison "Never!" or something of the sort. All of this wasn't super weird, other than how well organized it was all the way until I had almost passed it all and I saw that the last car had a very large picture of the current leader, Hun Sain, that was being burned. That was a little chilling. Fun stuff, elections.

We have a coconut tree in our back yard. I don't know if y'all know this, but unlike depictions in movies, paintings and popular culture, coconuts do not grow on palm trees nicely carved into little brown wooden spheres like you buy at the store. Before you peel a coconut it is about 3 times bigger and usually green. It takes 10 minutes of hacking at it with a cleaver to get it to the point that we recognize as a coconut. Really good though. Coconuts here have more milk than the ones we buy in the states and it's more refreshing and less sweet. I'm actually not a huge fan of it but I can eat coconut meat all day. Delicious.

Ever since I got here to Ta Khmau I've been sick. First it was cold like symptoms but it turned eventually stomach problems and then managed to get back to cold stuff again. One funny thing the Khmer people believe is that hot water is healthy for you (I've been told it's a Chinese thing so it's probably pretty common throughout Asia). Every time someone sees me sneeze or cough they tell me that I need to toss out the cold water in my water bottle and drink hot water.

We're not talking lukewarm or 100 degree water, we're talking sear your tongue hot chocolate water. They're crazy! And every time I tell them I don't think I'm going to do that they almost take it personally! It's pretty funny. My companion explained to a few people that drinking hot water for good health isn't part of my culture but later in private he told me, "really, they're right. You should be drinking hot water." What a funny thing. Speaking of water, our sink is broken. That's not a super huge problem but it does mean that we are using a large, cement pot filled with rainwater from our roof for our water in the kitchen. Makes me feel more authentic. This is how all the Khmers do it. 
The rice fields of Baku

Elder Sin, my companion

Jul 14, 2013 The Best Mission in the World!

It's 6:15 in the morning. I am sitting on a bike that is loaded with about 3 kilos of vegetables, 2 of meat, 4 of rice and one companion, who's sitting on the back because his bike is being fixed. I have just purchased 3 dragon fruits for 75 cents and half a kilo of some other fruit that is really spiky and difficult to open but pretty much tastes like candy once you get through the skin. I am waiting on my companion. He's buying a cupful of fried crickets to augment his breakfast. I am in Cambodia.

Crickets! Yum, they are actually pretty good.
Being with a native is a little different. I have eaten some really weird food this week. Among other things I have tried for the first time, snake, crickets, weird smelly minnows, and a couple of fruits that taste like bitter orange peels. He really likes cooking, and honestly, most of it is pretty mundane. I really like all of the stir fry and other things, but when we head on out of the house we eat the weirdest things. Fun though. I am going to learn the language really fast speaking 24/7 like this. Except for our twice a week sleepovers in the city, I pretty much don't speak English at all. It's pretty weird. I feel weird speaking English. Occasionally my companion will bust out with something really random. For example, we were preparing to leave the house when he stopped me and said, "Elder, Elder. It's hammer time." So funny!

Oranges are really big in Cambodia
I met one investigator for the first time the other day. She insisted on knowing my first name, so I asked her, "skoal loke Adam dte?" which translates to "do you know Adam?" (loke kind of means sir so when you say it like that it's clear you're talking about Adam, the first man on Earth). Her response was really quick. "Yeah, he fell." I cracked up. We meet her a lot and she has a lot of questions. Hard questions. Questions like, "Does God have a wife?", "Why do we meet on Sundays rather than Saturdays?", "Why don't we use unleavened bread for the sacrament" and "Why did God make all women suffer through childbirth because of Eve's sin?"

 For all of these she was not satisfied until I had a scripture to back up my answer. When we talked about life before this life she asked so many questions and demanded so much proof behind each answer that we spent over an hour just teaching about what happened from the war in heaven to Adam and Eve and reading scriptures from Genesis, to Moses, to John to 2nd Nephi to Revelation. It was exhausting. In addition, it was really challenging. I can usually find the scripture I want if I pull open my scriptures and skim through the chapter or the chapter headings but everything was in Khmer! She is really great though. 

In Utah, they celebrate July 24th as Pioneer Day, the day the first wave of covered wagons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and Brigham Young said, "This is the place". In Cambodia, they like parties. Our pioneer day celebration out here will last from 2 to the end of the night. It will include a 30 minute play of events that happened in church history such as the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, handcarts, a deathly ill Brigham Young determined to go forward and, of course, square dancing. Cambodians square dancing. It just doesn't get any better than that.

In continuing with my study of older General Conference sessions I recently read President Uchtdorf's talk 'Your Potential, Your Privilege' in which he shares the following story. 

There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.

He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.

On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges.

As Paul taught in Acts, "We are children of God" and as such are entitled to everything that the father has. A comparison that I use almost every other day here is that of a prince. When a prince grows up, who does he become? We, as children of the most high, have infinite potential to become like our Father in Heaven but it is up to us to apply that. There's an old saying that says, "God is voting with me and the Devil is voting against me, but it's my vote that counts". Choose the right!
Elder Vore 

Jul 8, 2013 Week 23 I'm in Baku!

First transfer! I'm now in Ta Khmau, in the Baku group. I understand that means absolutely nothing for anyone reading this email so let me take a minute to explain. Ta Khmau is a small area/town/suburb thing south of Phnom Penh, but close enough that it could still be counted as part of the city. Most of the Elders live right next to the church, but because our area is further south and west our house is about a 20 minute bike ride from the church. From there we proselyte 3 days a week in the area around our house and 3 days a week in Baku.

 Baku is a tiny little village about an hour and 10 minute bike ride west, and maybe south a little, I get kind of mixed up. The church members in Baku used to go to church all the way in Ta Khmau, which, if you're any decent at arithmetic, you've already figured out is about an hour and a half by bike from their village. In March, President Moon instituted a Baku "group" (as in, too small to be a branch) that meets in one of the member's homes. However, once a month they all go to Ta Khmau together to meet with the larger congregation. Therefore, because me and Elder Sin are essentially stationed in two congregations at once, on Sundays we bike into the city to meet with the Ta Khmau branch, leave early, eat, bike a little over an hour to meet with the Baku group, bike back, bike back into the city to teach a mission preparation class at the church and then sleep at the other Elder's house right next to the church. It's pretty crazy.

Having said all that, I am in the most gorgeous place I have ever seen. Pictures, postcards, landscapes, there is no comparison. The last 35 minutes or so of travel time to Baku are spent biking through rice paddys in the middle of nowhere. Everything is so green and beautiful. It looks like a painting. It looks like someone should paint Adam and Eve in the foreground and leave the rest as is. I had forgotten, after nearly 3 months in the city, that Cambodia is a rain forest. I relearned how beautiful nature can be and that there is no greater artist than God himself. The members in Baku are amazing. They have been sacrificing for so long to make the trip out to Ta Khmau, and why have they been doing that? Because they believe it's true. Their testimonies are inspiring. I hope that sometime soon we will be able to proselyte full time in Baku. 

In addition to a new area and a new biking schedule, I have a new companion! Elder Sin is a convert to the church (essentially everyone is here but I have met at least one Khmer missionary whose is a 2nd generation member) and was baptized in 2009. He is 24 years old, which is fairly normal for the Khmer missionaries as they have to save up $550 to be able to go on a mission. That's a staggering sum for most Khmers. They sacrifice a lot to serve. Elder Sin's English is actually pretty good, but it's really hard for him to take all the words he knows in English and string them together in an order that makes sense. Mostly we just speak Khmer. It is funny to see what he picks up from other missionaries and those he speaks with.  The other day as we were walking our bikes out of the house he said, "Elder. Elder! It's hammer time." He had no idea what I was saying when I said y'all. Fun stuff. I'm trying to speak a lot with him so he can learn English. Being able to speak English is a very powerful commodity here in Cambodia. 

Well, that's it for now! Remember that Christ has commanded us to "take up [our] cross and follow [Him]" and that that is our first and most important work in this life. Oftentimes that will involve a sacrifice on our part. Life certainly isn't easy, but it wasn't easy for our Savior either. One thing we can count on though, is His help.

 Elder Holland said, "one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”  Call on the Lord. Invite His Spirit. Follow the counsel of his prophets in the holy scriptures, and above all: endure to the end. Never give up. Love you guys.   Elder Vore

Jul 1, 2013 Week 22 Surpise Transfer

This week has been really really eventful! I can't possibly put it all on one piece of paper/email/computer screen thing. We'll start with yesterday just because it's fresh in my mind. We left to go to church early so we could pick up an investigator of ours whose name is Reaksmei. He works at a factory from 7 at night to 7 in the morning and we picked him up at 7:20 to go to church at 8. Really great guy, really determined to go to church.

 As we were riding up to the church a tuk-tuk (motorcycle drawn carriage thing) came up beside us and the people in it started shouting at us. It was Elder Edmunds's family! They surprised him by coming a few days early so they could go to church with him! Really fun to see the reunion right in front of me. Everyone was really excited to meet the family and a large number of our investigators and recent converts came. It was really fun. I ended up translating a lot because Elder Fisher and Elder Garlick got called to go out in the foyer and teach someone who showed up to the church and wanted to learn. Translating is hard, but church was great! Poor Reaksmei fell asleep during 2nd hour but I don't blame him for a second. Factories are crazy. While we were in church Elder Edmunds's youngest brother was following him around while he was counting attendance. An older lady in the congregation whose name is Mat Ling gave him a spank (his brother, not Elder Edmunds) which in Cambodia is kind of a love tap type thing, but in America if anyone is hitting you that hard they are not happy with you. Super funny to see his reaction! He doesn't understand a thing and boom! An old lady is spanking him! It was really funny. It took all I had just to not crack up in the middle of sacrament meeting!
Elder Edmonds and his $17 picture of Angkor Wat
On the opposite page:  A really old statue of a lion. I think the whiskers are a little more recent.   They appear to be made out of fishing line.

The evening was good. We had several good lessons with people who are really progressing quickly. They are at church, reading from the scriptures, praying everyday, everything! It's so great! After all this we went home for transfer calls. My companion is going home and Elder Garlick has been here for a while so we were pretty much sure those two were on their way out. Instead, fireworks. Elder Fisher was called to be the new Assistant President, a pair of sister missionaries is coming into our area, Elder Garlick is staying to be the Zone Leader and train the new guy coming in (Elder Khem, my companion from the MTC) and I am going to Ta Khmau!

Wow. I was so shocked. Things were going so well here for me, I was finally getting to know the area, the members, and our branch missionaries. Chan Li and Sau Li are helping us everywhere we go and our investigators are progressing! And then I am ripped from my little house and branch and thrust into a new area that is going to be wildly different from my current area. All country, south of the city with a Khmer companion! I didn't realize how much I loved these people until they made me leave! I guess now I understand why it's hard for Elders to go home at the end of their missions. You make bonds with these people. Well, next week I'll be emailing from a whole different part of Cambodia. Should be interesting to be away from the city when rainy season hits though.

One brief experience before I close this thing up. Women breastfeeding in Cambodia have no shame. I guess it just seems so natural to them. We were talking to three women about going to church while one of their baby's was crying. She just opened up her shirt and began breastfeeding. Just right there like it was no big deal. We just kind of blinked and then kept going because what else could we do right? Really funny. Hard to keep a straight face for that one too.

Rainy season still hasn't hit. It's coming really late. One thing that has hit however is election season. Cambodian elections happen every 8 years, were established in the early 90s and the same guy has one it every time. 16 years ago the initial election had the opposing party in power but those who were in charge of the military called for a recount and that changed the results. There are huge parades with people waving flags and having matching t-shirts shouting things and playing recordings of old speeches. In short, it's loud, big and if it gets a little intense (like it did in 1997) the church might pull us out of Cambodia and send us to some other places for a little while. Should be interesting to see!
Love you guys! I sent letters back to y'all!    Elder Vore

Jun 23, 2013 Week 21 Strange Ritual

Sorry about this one guys! I had to send an email to the mission president and we're leaving early to go play soccer with some of the other missionaries in the city so we're getting out of here pretty quick.  Just for the sake of a quick story, we were on our way to teach someone with Chan Li and Sau Li  and we turned down an alley way/street thing where I saw one of the weirdest things I've seen since coming here.

Some sort of holy man (not a monk, or at least not a Buddhist monk) was standing behind a young man who was sitting cross legged on the ground and appeared to be praying. The monk was talking to himself, dressed in very scanty, old looking clothing, holding 3 clay pots, some feathers and a big scepter thing that was smoking a little bit. The boy wasn't wearing a shirt and was covered in feathers. We stopped, unsure of what to do, and as we watched the old man shouted, smashed one of the pots on the ground and then went back to talking to himself. The boy didn't even flinch. We watched for another 20 seconds or so, the priest guy smashed another pot and we decided to go down another road. Even Chan Li and Sau Li thought it was weird.

A couple of side notes. Several people asked me about spelling (e.g. where are you? Can you spell that?). Well, when you try to change the sounds they make in an Asian language into English letters it isn't ever the same.

Also, Cambodian children don't know what Disney is. I know, I almost cried. Love you!
Investigator kids who saw the camera and wanted a picture