Some recent converts in Baku invited the 6 Elders in our district to their house Saturday night for a Family Home Evening. This was the first time going to Baku for two of the Elders and we spent quite some time taking pictures in the rice fields on the way up. So pretty. It was a busy day in Baku. Seven back to back lessons and two baptismal interviews! Whoo! I love this place. Anyway, once we got to their house they started putting out the food. There was a lot of food. Our hosts encouraged us to eat until we were stuffed and we reluctantly obliged. The activity was a rousing success and all the Elders agreed that Baku was the happiest place on Earth (even happier than Disney World??).
We went home a little late in a big group, giving rides to several members who didn't want to make the trip the next morning. It wasn't until Sunday night when Elder Decker and Elder Mok were talking about different foods that I realized one of the dishes we had eaten the night before was filled with dog meat (Fun fact: dog meat in Khmer is sike piseh, which means 'special meat'). Some people in Cambodia are a little uneasy eating dog meat (that might come as a shock but it's true) and it's really expensive so it was kind of weird that we ate it accidentally. Apparently they did kind of announce it but 4 of us missed that little detail.
What do y'all think about substituting bleach for water when I wash my whites? Is that extreme? I'll tell you one thing that is extreme, our conditions in Cambodia are extreme. If you lined up 10 missionaries and then guessed how long they had been out in the country based only on the whiteness of their shirts, you might be pretty close. It's fairly safe to say that I am currently serving in one of the dustier areas in my mission. The big fields, road construction, long distances and relative lack of infrastructure combine to send clouds of dust in the air. Unless it's raining. Then it's just mud. Dust, sweat, mud, my blood (bike accidents), fish blood (don't ask) and other such things get on our shirts, and though I wash them every week, they are progressively getting less and less white. More of a cream color now. I've been told cream is in now. Or at least it is in Cambodia. Off white is all the rage in Southeast Asia. The rest of the world needs to catch up!
I'm still on a high from General Conference last week. Pretty awesome. President Monson spoke of rising over our trials. He said, ''Brothers and sisters, it may be safely assumed that no person has ever lived entirely free of suffering and sorrow, nor has there ever been a period in human history that did not have its full share of turmoil and misery. When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question “Why me?” At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night’s darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes. We join in uttering the biblical plea, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We become impatient for a solution to our problems, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.''
President Eyring spoke on this subject several years ago in a talk entitled 'Mountains to Climb''. It has since been made into short inspirational ''Mormon Message''. Watch it and be warned, it is a tear jerker.
All of us have trials. One of the great difficulties of life is dealing with the fact that not even our trials are fair! Christ taught that His Heavenly Father bestows rain on the righteous and the sinners alike (That one is in Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount somewhere) and Job admitted that sometimes the wicked prosper in this life. Fortunately for us, all that is unfair about this life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
President Monson finished his remarks by sharing a poem by Douglas Malloch
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
He then continued, sharing these comforting thoughts:
'Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity. He alone touches our tortured souls with His comforting words:
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, He is with us. He has promised that this will never change.'I testify that these things are true. Thomas S. Monson is an inspired man. When the going gets tough, the tough turn to Christ.
Love you guys, Elder Vore