Monday, March 17, 2014

Mar 17, 2014 Scarier Than the FBI

So, imagine that you went to answer the door at your house and you were met by two overdressed young men with a beat up piece of paper and a black and white picture. "Do you know this guy?" one of them says. You look closely but it's not very clear. "No, I don't think so," you reply, "Why? Is he in trouble or something?" "No nothing like that," the other one replies, "Actually, do you know the people that you bought this home from?" You think back to 2006 when you moved in. "Kind of? His name was Sam maybe?" He looks at his paper. "Steve actually. Steve Johnson. This guy is his son." Well, at this point you're a little confused and not very interested in getting mixed into whatever this is. You thank them, apologize and begin to close the door. "Wait!" Says one of the young men. "Is there anyone on the block who knows this family better and could tell us where they are maybe?" "I'm not really sure," you say, "Sorry, my cookies are burning." and the door closes.

That's pretty much how things go with us trying to help old members. People get really excited to be new members, Christians, part of the congregation and they do lots of great things and they are changing their lives and then boom. They move. They're now far away from their old branch, don't know the new one or anyone in the new branch and feel uncomfortable. It doesn't help that all of it is so new already. That's where we come in. Me and Elder Duffy wander all over the place with our 15 year old baptismal record and a first name, trying to pick up information, find and re-teach the lost sheep. It makes things hard though when our records are incomplete, old, don't have maps, are copies of previously existing records or are written in horrible handwriting. Sure can be an adventure though!

When I first got to Cambodia here nearly a year ago, I had the awesome privilege of teaching Chhuo, a recent convert in Tuk Thla, my first area. Chhuo is super excited about the gospel and would go out with us to teach and help members all the time. He served in several leadership positions in his branch and decided that he wanted to go on a mission as well. He saved up money for months, filled out all the required paperwork and then started the interview process. Unfortunately, Chhuo has a high blood pressure problem and, according to policy, his application was not sent. Undeterred, Chhuo used some of his saved money to go get a hospital procedure of some sort, that would supposedly help his health. After the procedure, he again filled out the required paperwork but was denied a visa due to his health. --Side note, Chhuo's health is fine. He bikes and runs and plays sports and everything. I actually don't even know why they made a big deal about it all.-- Chhuo decided to appeal to the Mission President. He suggested a 3 week trial period. If he could deal with the rigors of being a 24/7 full-time missionary then they would send his application. Chhuo spent 3 weeks in the Stung Mian Chey area and is now back! His application has been sent to Salt Lake and we are waiting with great anticipation to see where he will be sent. There's nothing cooler than people that really get it!

Transfers were this last Friday. Elder Duffy and I stayed the same but the Viet missionaries in our house got shuffled. Enter Elder Vu. Elder Vu has pretty much the coolest conversion story of all time. In 2003 there was a woman renting a room in their house. She was a staunch Christian in Vietnam, pretty unusual. Elder Vu's family went with her to her revivalist type worship meetings every Sunday. One day, she decided to go to Cambodia to look for religious truth (Elder Vu said that was probably the most ridiculous part of the story) and toured through several churches in the Phnom Penh area. She settled on our church and brought books and other materials back to Vietnam with her. The Vu family was interested in the material and they asked for missionaries to be sent. They were told that missionaries were not allowed in Vietnam. So now what? They jumped the border and went to Cambodia to learn with missionaries for 3 weeks. After learning, they asked to be baptized. The Mission President suggested that they wait until Vietnam opened, and they did. 3 years later, missionaries were allowed into Vietnam and Elder Vu's family was finally able to be baptized. His older sister was actually the very first person to be baptized in Vietnam.

Several weeks ago I shared a verse of scripture that summarizes God's eternal goals. " For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). After sharing this at a recent lesson, a new member asked us a very important question, "Why doesn't God just make us follow him? Wouldn't that be easier?"

God, in his eternal wisdom has given us agency to choose right or wrong in this earthly life. A Book of Mormon prophet named Lehi summed it up as such, "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2Nephi 2:27).

Though God has the power to force us to choose the right, and with it life and liberty, He has our better interests in mind. God wants us to grow and progress by choosing for ourselves to follow him. Lehi continues, "...I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life"(2 Nephi 2:28). Choose now! Choose Christ! Choose Eternal Life!
 Love,  Elder Vore

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