Monday, August 11, 2014

Aug 11, 2014 Thou Shalt Not Play with Guns

Had a couple of run ins with ghosts this week. Well, we talked to people who said they had. One of the members that we work with a lot, Chanty, took a trip to Siem Riep, the cultural capitol of Cambodia and the site of all the famous ruins and temples and of course, Angkor Wat. She made a deal with a friend who promised a free room for a month if Chanty would help work at the family restaurant. It was the perfect set up. The family even had a nice home and Chanty had her own bedroom. Well, this was a really long story when she told it to me, and it actually wasn't very interesting which is why I interrupted her explanation of all the creepy ghostly things that were going on and asked her, "What would the ghost do if you saw it?" She kind of rolled her eyes at my comment and said, "Well, it will scare you of course!" I thought that I had misunderstood so I asked her about her friend who had actually seen the supposed ghost. What happened to her when she saw the ghost? "It scared her! Duh!" Laughing a little to myself I kept pushing. "Can the ghost mess with you at all? Can it hurt you?" The answer? No, ghosts scare you. That's it. At the point the question that had been implied but not yet said aloud came out. "If the ghost can't do anything other than scare you, what's the point of being scared by it?" My companion and I thought it was hilarious but the Khmers insisted that we just didn't understand. "Just wait. When you see a ghost, it'll scare you" they said.

More fun facts about Khmer! When Khmers say a name, the last syllable is almost always the most important syllable and therefore the syllable that they actually say. Think of how we pronounce the word 'because'. Usually if you're just speaking normally you drop the 'be' and just say 'cuz' right? Well, Khmers do that for basically all names and lots of words. For example, when people talk to us on the street they will often call us teacher, but with the Khmer accent it just comes out as "cheu" (eu would be roughly equivalent to the way we say oo in the word 'look'). Funny thing about that word? It has meaning in Khmer, it means wood. Well, taking all of those things into account, we were out near a member's house, Maly, just talking to people and looking for people that wanted to learn about the gospel when I started talking to some little kids. They were calling me  'cheu' or teacher, but they were just saying it like they would say the word wood. I tried to be funny and crack a joke. I told them that I wasn't wood, I was a person, and then picked up a stick and told them that this was wood and not to confuse us. It probably wasn't the clearest joke and they clearly didn't get it, but Maly understood what I was trying to get at. She told me I was wrong and that I was wood. That was a little confusing for me and my face must have shown it because she laughed and told me to read my name tag. "Elder Vwoa". "That's right!" she said triumphantly, "you're daum cheu vwoa!" or "a wooden vine", which actually makes sense when you say it in Khmer. That was a joke the kids could understand. They cracked up.

We were teaching an older lady who joined the church about 8 months ago and doesn't remember things very well. We went over the 10 commandments and taught her this fun little trick where you hold up your hands and count and it can help you remember them in order. Ex. 1) (holds up one finger) there is only one God. 2) (two fingers curled up and "kneel" on the table) don't make or worship graven images. Anyways, the sixth commandment is always a pretty easy one. Six fingers go up and a finger gun "shoots" the other five fingers, hopefully reminding us that the sixth commandment is "Thou shalt not kill". She loved it, and by the time we were done she could get all of them, except the sixth one. Twice she held up her little finger gun and "shot" the other five fingers, and then paused, "Thou shalt not... play with guns? Is that right Elder?"

There is a recent convert in our branch here who is incredibly rich. The life of the incredibly rich is interesting in Cambodia. Obviously you don't have to do much. Living costs are incredibly low and so she hires servants to do everything for her. It's actually a pretty good gig for the servants, especially if they are there with their whole family. She invited us over for dinner on Sunday night and we went assuming that we would eat and then share a short lesson before heading home. Nope! She wasn't even there actually. She had gone swimming with her grandkids and then had a meeting with the Relief Society President in our branch to talk about some of the needs for some of the poorer members in our branch. We were greeted by a team of servants and one of her nephews who ate with us. 5 different main courses! It was pretty wild.
Elder Vore

Aug 4, 2014 My Name is Vore, like Vine

You know, some people have really cool names. Because we all go by our last names around here I think it would be kind of fun to have a last name with some meaning, do you know what I mean? What if my name was Lion, or Masters, or King? I guess that would be fun. I've actually never had any problem with my last name actually. I'm quite proud of being a Vore, it's just a little harder to remember for some people. For example, there was an Elder here whose last name is Bridge (he actually just went home a few weeks ago R.I.P.). Bridge is next to impossible for a Khmer to say correctly, so he went by Elder Spean (bridge) for a good part of his mission.

 Another Elder, Elder Satterthwaite, has a name that plenty of Americans have trouble with. No problem, he just shortens it to the first syllable and goes by Elder Sat (animal). Me? My name doesn't really have meaning in English or Khmer, and even though it's fairly easy to remember, I still have people that have problems with it. Recently, I've just started introducing myself by pronouncing my name a little bit differently. Imagine, if you can, an older southern man saying the word "war". I don't know if that's exactly what it sounds like, but it's what I imagine when I hear it... Basically if you don't pronounce the letter "r" in war and say it really slowly. Vwoa. In Khmer it means vine. It makes for a pretty ridiculous introduction. "Hi, my name is Elder Vore. You know, Vore like vine?" They think it's really funny. It's especially fun when they start naming different types of vines they know, because invariably the first one is vwoa paom, or the fart vine. Apparently it's some type of vine that smells really bad.
Elder Martinson and I are really busy here. It's kind of hard to explain how busy we are and we were just talking about our schedule which Elder Martinson explained like this: "It's like you're riding your bike down a steep hill and then your brakes go out. You're still having a really fun time but it's kind of out of control and hard to tell how it's all going to end up." We're certainly not accustomed to turning down opportunities to teach the gospel so anytime we get chance to set an appointment we just set it and go with it. Well, there are only 24 hours in the day and we can't really just end our personal morning study of the scriptures early and go out to teach people and basically it's exactly how Elder Martinson said. Super fun, but kind of out of control.

We had a special training meeting with all the missionaries in our zone and in the Vietnamese speaking zone this past Friday morning. Elder Martinson and I thought it would be great if we got out to meet somebody before the meeting so we left the house a little early to go meet with an excited new investigator, the friend of a recent convert. It was a really fun lesson and ended with her asking a lot of great questions about the scriptures and about church. We left the lesson with about 10 minutes to get to the church for the meeting, plenty of time. We wanted to get there a little early so we started biking over there at a pretty decent pace.

 We weren't even halfway there when my bike started doing weird things, the chain was skipping and making strange sounds. We stopped to see what was wrong and couldn't see anything. After just a few more blocks I started holding onto Elder Martinson's backpack to get along because my chain kept skipping and wouldn't pedal correctly. This was costing us a little more time than we really had if we wanted to be on time to the meeting.

Got to a hill near the church, so I was standing up to pedal with all my weight and then my chain snapped. I almost fell off my bike actually. Elder Martinson had pedaled on ahead because we were late and so he didn't see my chain break. At that point I just started riding my bike like a scooter, pushing myself with my foot through traffic and half running, half riding to the church. When we got there they were waiting for us (kind of, not really, more like nobody know what was going on and so they were just standing in a group in the front). I must have been quite a sight scootering my bike along like that because the instant everyone saw me they burst out laughing. I felt pretty sheepish showing up late to the meeting, and I really wish I could have gotten a picture of myself scootering, red faced and out of breath.

I love getting on the church website and wandering around. I especially like all of the videos and the meaning behind them. I had been thinking about this idea lately when I saw this video and felt like it summed up my thoughts really profoundly.
When we do small and simple things God blesses us. It's that simple. Those who follow His path faithfully will see the difference.
Elder Vore