Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nov 17, 2013 Rip Off The White Guys‏

A little background information on the area is in order. We are now in Baku! Baku is a tiny little village of about 200 people in the middle of a larger area that most people call Siem Riap Kontuat that has a population in the low thousands (they don't exactly post these stats when you enter the town like they do in the US). The founding member here is a man in his 40s called Pov. His brother is an active member in a branch about an hour east and he invited Pov to come to church. He did, and then he went back the following week, and he kept coming, and he brought his family and they never stopped coming. When the missionaries went out to his house to make records they met other people who wanted to learn. The first group was big. Over 20 people joined in the first couple of months. A few stopped coming to church quickly because of the difficulties involved in getting there, but many of them faithfully made the trek to Ta Khmao every week for years. In March they got permission to meet as a group at Pov's house. Last week the first set of Elders proselyting full-time in Baku showed up. It's an amazing place.

Coming out here was a little bit of an adventure. Infrastructure like running water, paved roads, and convenience stores that are common in the city are much less common or completely non-existent out here. Our house actually has running water of a sort. We have tanks on our roof that collect rain water and then when we open the tap the water comes out. Unfortunately, it's a little more limited than we really understood so we quickly ran out of water after 2 loads of laundry. The last few days we have been showering like natives. Take a bucket, dip it in the well, and pour it over your head. Add soap and then repeat step 1 like 11 times. I think it works, or I haven't had anyone complain about the stench yet at least... One thing though, bucket showers are really cold. Even in our house where it gets really warm (just the bedroom had an air conditioner) the showers are a little uncomfortable. We're supposed to be able to have hot showers no matter where we go in the mission but we kind of used all of our water already. Whoops. On the positive side, it rained pretty hard last night so we should have water for the next few days. Aren't third world countries the best!

There's an open market right across the street from us, and this morning we went out to buy food for the first time. Most of these people had already heard that there were two white guys that spoke Khmer living down the street but the way they reacted to actually seeing us was pretty ridiculous. Some people tried to speak to us in English, others spoke to us very quickly in Khmer to test and see if we could understand them. One thing nearly all of them did was try to rip us off. Prices doubled the second we walked in. Most markets I go to have already known the Elders for years. I spent more time bartering for stupid things like cucumbers and pork than I ever have my whole mission. And everybody knows that the very most expensive breakfast pork and rice you can get is only 3500 riel ($1 is approximately 4000 riel) but the special price for white people today was 5000! We ended up biking for a few minutes to a place owned by a member who gave us the normal price, 2500. What a joke. 

Pretty much everyone who is reading this email is familiar with the song 'Viva la Vida' by Coldplay. It's definitely in my top few favorite songs of all time. For anyone who isn't super familiar with the lyrics I'm going to attempt to remember them for you. 

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

Ok. For those of you that are singing along, Have you ever thought about the meaning behind those lyrics? The narrator bemoans his fall from power and realizes that in the end, everything that he had rested upon ''pillars of salt and pillars of sand'' and was doomed to fall.

 In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught ''Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:(Matthew 5:19-20)''

The narrator in the song ''built his house upon the sand'', he put his faith in worldly things and when his time was up, he lost it all (Matthew 7:26). When we apply the teachings of Christ and ''lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven'' we will never have to worry about our foundation being ripped out from under us. When we change our pillars from salt and sand to faith and works and build upon the sure foundation of Christ ''we cannot fall'' (Heleman 5:12). 

Love you guys, 
Elder Vore

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nov 10, 2013 I Really Like Being a Missionary.

Drum roll please! We are going to get acquainted with Elder Caine. Elder Caine was born in South Africa in April of 1993. When he was 8 his family moved to a country called Mauritius, a small island about 750 kilometers east of Madagascar where he grew up. English is his native language though he understands French and Creole as well. Interesting though, when he tries to speak French, ''all that comes out is Khmer''. He spent two semesters at BYUI before coming out here and says he played rugby more than he studied. Shoot, if I knew how to play rugby I probably would too.

And now the downer: we're not actually in Baku yet. Our house isn't ready yet. In the US when you want to move into an apartment you can usually just go find one and move in. Apparently they had to give our new house a complete makeover because there was nothing in the area that had air conditioners, hot water and beds and such. I was all down for living in a shack next to the river and waking up at 4:30 to get fish for breakfast but apparently that's not an okay thing. Have you guys seen 'The Other Side of Heaven' ? I was thinking Cambodia would be kind of like that. I suppose 50 years does a lot for relatively undeveloped countries like Tonga and Cambodia. 

Also, I went to the zoo last week. Cambodian zoos are not like American zoos. I got to sit behind a chain link fence and look at the tiger 10 feet away from me. Monkeys weren't even in cages. They just were having a party in the zoo. Monkeys are a bunch of punks by the way! Stealing food and cameras and bags from people in our group is just not cool. Funny though. I got a lot closer to some big scary animals than I ever thought I would. Even more fun was just walking into the cages and playing with the more docile animals. Someone from another group tried to ride one of the deer things. It didn't really work. Also, when big animals step on you with their hooves they hurt.

I really like being a missionary. Can y'all tell from these emails? I'm not sure but I just wanted to make that clear. This work is an amazing work, it is hard work, and it is fun work. There is no better feeling in all of the world than bringing someone closer to Christ and seeing the change it makes in their life. Doctrine and Covenants section 18:15-16 reads, ''And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!  And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!''

That is so true. Though this is hard work, it is worth every single bit of effort we put into it. Why? Because ''The worth of souls is great in the sight of God'' (D&C 20:10). These are children of our Heavenly Father. He wants this work to succeed. This is ''[His] work and [His] glory... [bringing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man'' (Moses 1:39). Though this is our Heavenly Father's work, he expects us to be His hands in doing that work (see In this last October's general conference President Monson taught, ''The holy scriptures contain no proclamation more relevant, no responsibility more binding, no instruction more direct than the injunction given by the resurrected Lord as He appeared in Galilee to the eleven disciples. Said He, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).'' That is a command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He wants us to fulfill it and we can only do so if we go out and ''preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words'' (St. Francis of Assisi). We must live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hope you guys enjoy the pictures!
Elder Vore

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nov 3, 2013 Actually, you can keep the teleporter...

Because we're going to Baku! Transfer calls yesterday and I was so sure I was heading out but instead I'm getting a new companion and heading to Baku full-time! Elder Caine and I will be moving out into the countryside and living in a little village called Siem Riep Ktuat near our little group in Baku. I am so stoked.

Had a lesson with an investigator last week who is a Christian but hasn't had the opportunity to be a practicing Christian in many years. Also, he's drunk pretty much every time we meet him. During our lesson on faith we shared a scripture from James chapter 2 verse 17 which reads, ''Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.'' After reading the verse  we asked what the verse meant to him. He paused for a moment and then said thoughtfully, ''I think it means that everyone who doesn't believe in Jesus Christ should die''. I couldn't help myself, I actually laughed. Fortunately (this kind of seems weird to say) he was really drunk so he wasn't super aware of what was going on. We pretty much just ignored his analysis and moved on with the lesson. I'm not sure how much he got out of it.

Also, weird food of the week is pig ears. I ate grilled pig ears. Not my favorite thing but definitely edible. Not sure if I would eat that one again. Why can't we just enjoy burgers and french fries around a nice kitchen table huh?

We're going to a zoo today. Though I have seen a good share of jungle animals in the wild, I have yet to see wild elephants and monkeys. Should be quite the day. Unfortunately, that means I will be cutting this email a little short but first I want to talk about President Uchtdorf. 

President Uchtdorf learned English as a third language after his native tongue, German, and Russian, the language he needed to learn as a youth in communist East Germany. Despite English being his third language, he is quite the speaker. His sermons are always well worded, poetic and powerful. While reading through a General Conference issue of the Ensign, I was particularly impressed by one of his more well known sermons entitled 'Waiting on the Road to Damascus'. He shared the experience of Paul on the road to Damascus and of that of Joseph Smith and pointed out that though miraculous events like these do occur, if we wait for such miracles to happen to us before we begin to act in faith, we will likely be disappointed.

''The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed.

This can be our experience if we move forward with faith and do not wait too long on the road to Damascus.'' (The Ensign, May 2011)

I testify that God wants us to learn of eternal truths and that usually He bestows those truths upon us ''line upon line'', ''precept upon precept'', ''here a little and there a little'' (Isaiah 28:13). I leave you with President Uchtdorf's commitment. ''Brothers and sisters, dear friends, let us not wait too long on our road to Damascus. Instead, let us courageously move forward in faith, hope, and charity, and we will be blessed with the light we are all seeking upon the path of true discipleship.'' (check it out at
That's it for me, love y'all!
Elder Vore