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

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