Monday, October 7, 2013

Oct 7, 2013 When it Rains, it Pours

Well, we've technically been in rainy season for like 4 months now and the volume of rain has consistently, though slowly, increased throughout this whole period. We're now supposed to be in the very middle of rainy season and I just assumed that we were probably near the peak of the rain. Well, I was wrong. It feels like God just flipped a switch out here and sent the rain all at once. It has rained every day, many times a day, for hours and hours at a time for this entire week. The streets are flooded, everything goes really slowly and I can't enter some of my areas because I'm not allowed to go swimming. Mostly we just keep going. It would be kind of a pain if we just shut down missionary work for a couple of months while it rained so we don't do that. It is however, somewhat difficult to persuade our investigators to come to church and other activities when the water is so high. It certainly is an adventure. It rained when we went to the market this morning. It rained when we got back. It rained when we left the house and it hasn't stopped raining since we got to the Internet cafe.

This last week was also a holiday here in Cambodia. The holiday is called Pyum Bun, which doesn't really have a meaning other than the fact that it is the name of this celebration. They start the holiday 15 days earlier by going to a wat and throwing handfuls of rice at ghosts. After the first 10 days have passed everybody gets off work and goes to their birth province (essentially everyone was either born or had family that was born out in the country and they go there) outside the city and then make a whole lot of food. Especially they make this thing that's called noom som that is a mixture of pork, beans, corn or bananas and coconut that is wrapped in rice and cooked inside banana leaves. It's basically like a tamale but with Khmer ingredients (eg rice instead of corn meal, banana leaves instead of corn stalks). I don't really understand the significance of the holiday other than the fact that those who are Buddhist (98% of everyone) go the a wat and ask for luck from their ancestors. We mostly just ate a lot of stuff.

So I was making copies at a copy center that was not the one I usually go to (closed for the holidays) and I asked a question in Khmer. A little girl right in front of me answered my question... in English. I talked to her for about 2 minutes and shoot, this little kid speaks English! I talked to her parents for a minute and learned that they had sent her to a school when she was 4 to learn and now she's 6 and speaks English just like that! I still get freaked out a little bit when people speak to me in intelligible English. Ironically, I am also floored every time I meet a foreigner who speaks Khmer. We're not racist or anything but I have certainly done some racial profiling. White people, as a rule, do not speak Khmer. I guess that's why people are so shocked when I open my mouth. I forget sometimes that I'm 5 inches taller than everybody else and have white skin and a pointy nose (Khmer noses are kind of smushed and they think pointy noses are really attractive, go figure).

Most people who are reading this right now are familiar with my great grandpa. In fact, most of you are related to him. Today I learned that this past week he was struck and killed in a hit and run accident. Obviously this news was a little shocking to me, but I'm very thankful for all the family members who sent me information about his life, his poems and his stories that were shared at his funeral this week. I love my Papa. He was a great example to me and to all of our extended family. I have had the great opportunity in the past several years to get to know him more so than I did when I was younger. He was a very kind man. I feel like the loving grandfather archetype could have been patterned after him. 

He had a very powerful testimony of the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who knew him knew that all the way up into his 90s he accepted responsibilities in our church. For most of the time I knew him, Papa was a teacher. He taught the Gospel Essentials class for new members in our congregation. He went house to house to teach members in the 'home teaching' program. He went out with the full-time 20 year old missionaries every week and testified of Christ. He was a very happy man, and he knew that his happiness came from God. He spent a great deal of his time doing his very best to spread that happiness. He taught his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren and his great-great-grandchildren to love and follow the example of Jesus Christ.

 I recently read a favorite story in the Book of Mormon. It is set in a time of war. 2,000 young sons of a peaceful people volunteered to take up arms and defend their land and the land of their allies. A man by the name of Heleman took charge of these young men. Of them he said, ''And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him (Alma 53:20-21).''

When they were put into a battle situation Heleman said, ''Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.(Alma 56:47-48)'' Because of their faith in God, all 2,000 were spared. Not one died in the ensuing battle. They were taught by their mothers. 

There are many lessons we can learn from this story but the one I want to highlight today is about teaching. For us to know, we must be taught. We have to learn from somewhere and then pattern our lives after that knowledge. Christ himself was primarily a teacher. Through his teachings we ''have the words of eternal life'' (John 6:68). I encourage all of those who read this to make an effort to teach someone this week. Help them understand about what is important. Follow the example of Jesus Christ so that you will have joy (D&C 18:10,15-16). And to all of the children, grandchildren (etc.) of Hal Fanning do not doubt that he knew it. He knew it was true. Love you guys.  -Elder Vore

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