Monday, September 2, 2013

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

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