We are the only set of missionaries in our ward here in Tuol Kork. Our zone has ballooned in size and we are now directing 25 missionaries in our Stake. Even with the huge increase in missionaries in our stake, and even though 2 of the wards in our Stake have 3 sets of missionaries, President Moon felt that Elder Martinson and I would be able to handle the work in our ward by ourselves. Well, it's been a great week here and it's looking like we are not going to be able to handle all the work! But that's OK, because a busy missionary is a happy missionary! :D
We started this last week with a focus to try and get a return appointment with every single person we talked to about learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Cambodian people are very accepting of us and our message but are usually much less interested in actually learning more or committing to do anything. Most everyone we meet says we're super nice and thanks us for coming to their country to help teach about Christianity, but that they're busy or already Buddhist and can't meet with us. Many people even tell us that they are interested, but just can't make time. Well, Elder Martinson and I decided that we were going to push a lot harder to get a return appointment with people who said they wanted to learn but didn't have time. The result: we met people during their lunch hours, at their work, in their moto taxi and got 9 new investigators! I know that a lot of people that are reading these emails are not familiar with how Elders in our church do missionary work or how we measure success, so to clear things up let me tell you. That's a lot of new people that want to learn about Jesus. Honestly, we didn't even do much and really felt like the Lord was guiding us as we looked for people who wanted to learn.
We had one guy named Pan-aye who just walked into the church and said he wanted to learn about how he could be baptized and cleansed from his sins. Pan-aye is 21 and moved from the countryside into the city to find work. He had a friend who invited him to find a Christian church in Phnom Penh and learn about Christ because it would help him have direction in his life. He was very interested and very serious about the gospel. He wanted to know exactly what he needed to do in order to follow Christ and receive blessings. Usually when we meet people we need to be very careful to be friendly, interested in their life and happy, but Pan-aye was all business. We're planning on meeting him several times this week.
That was a theme we saw this week actually. Meeting a lot of people who really wanted to follow Christ and were willing to do something about it rather than just talk about it. I heard our Stake Young Men's President (who was my zone leader just 10 months ago) tell a funny Khmer parable the other day. He told of a gorge that was impassible unless you crossed the wooden bridge that was guarded by a magical tiger. One day two men approached the bridge. The tiger asked the first man if he believed that the bridge would hold him when he crossed. The man replied that he did, the tiger stepped aside and the man walked forward and across the bridge. The second man walked up to the tiger and asked permission to cross the bridge as well. Again, the tiger asked if the man believed the bridge would hold him when he crossed. The man answered yes but hesitated when the tiger stepped aside. The tiger then pounced and swallowed him whole, except for the lips, because it was only his lips that truly believed.
So, believe with you whole heart and show it by your actions or a giant magical tiger will come and eat you! Love you guys!