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

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