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

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