Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Jun 16, 2014 We Get All The Crazies

This should be a fun email even if I'm getting worse and worse about saving enough time to send y'all a good long email. A couple funny things happened this week and we had a few conversations about past experiences and yeah... Let me just say it like this: If you wander around a city for 15 months (wow, I've been out here for a while) talking to whoever is willing to give you a second glance, you're bound to run into some crazies. If we add weird circumstances like 1. being white  2. being able to speak Khmer  3. being kind of gung-ho about talking to everybody  4. being in a third world country  and well... you get the idea. I mean, we're all crazy to a certain extent but some of the following have become standouts for me.

Almost every day we have an opportunity to teach people about faith. Faith, as we learn in Hebrews 11:1 "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." When we teach about faith, one of the easiest examples to use is Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. It is very common for us to ask, "Well, have you ever seen God? If not, why do you believe that  he exists? That is faith." See how that flows?  Well, that only works for people who don't believe they've ever seen Christ. Enter one investigator in the Tuk Thla branch. Elders asked, "Pu, have you ever seen Jesus Christ?" His answer, "Yes." They were a little shocked and asked again to make sure that everyone was understanding each other. They were and he answered a bit defensively, "Yes I have seen Jesus Christ!" One of the Elder's asked him when he had seen Christ. "He was cooking me scrambled eggs right there (pointing at the stove) just last week." 

While I was out in Baku I met a man who lived in Holland for nearly 30 years. At some point during us getting to know each other I mentioned that my Dad had studied in Belgium and I lived there when I was a toddler. Several weeks later he brought a picture of when he got to go to the royal palace or something like that. He pointed at two random people and said, "look, it's your parents!" They were definitely not my parents and I told him he was probably mixed up. However, he insisted that he knew my parents and that they were in this picture. Then things got weird. He told me that he and my parents had run into some problems and couldn't get out of the country. And he made up a kind of James Bond story where he went undercover to find this document so my parents and I could get home. Then he told me how close we were and that we were destined to meet up in Cambodia. We didn't go by there much after that...

Crazies aren't even limited to those with low IQs. I once taught a university professor who went off on a 35 minute rant on his life while we were teaching him at the church. Everything from his humble beginnings in a clay hut, to his mother's sickness and his suicidal thoughts, to the 15 minute ghost story about his two uncles that killed each other and the time where he had a premonition that a certain girl was going to meet him at a very specific time and that he needed to propose to her right when he saw her and then it actually happened and he didn't propose to her and then why it was necessary that the world have so many religions. Yeah, I wrote that in one run on sentence to illustrate how he told his stories. 

The other day we were talking to this one lady and I told her I was from a desert. Then she asked me if I rode camels. I didn't know the word for camel but kind of got it in context and sketched it and she confirmed it. Sorry, no camels in Odessa is what I told her. She just could not believe it. "But I've seen them! I've seen them in movies!" Ok, that one wasn't that crazy but it was still funny. I wish we had camels in Odessa!

Today is the day for random stories and guess what? I've got another one. We were going down a road we didn't know looking for people interested in learning about Christianity and stopped to buy a water bottle. Talked to the owner of the stand for a good 20 minutes and finally invited him to church. He said he wasn't interested and we started leaving. As we picked up our bags he told us that he was shocked when I started speaking Khmer to him. He said that when we walked up he had assumed that Elder Quirante was my translator! 

I feel like my thoughts on gospel topics return to the same basic main ideas over and over again. One of those major ideas that I have returned to time and time again is the importance of a firm foundation in Christ. Elder Russel M. Nelson taught about this by comparing our lives to different types of rock climbers. 

Christ taught this truth in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7:24-25 we read, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."

Choose today to follow the teachings of Christ (Joshua 24:15) and build upon his gospel, a secure anchor, a rock "which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Heleman 5:12)" Don't wait to build your foundation!
Elder Vore

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