Sunday, October 5, 2014

Closing Remarks . . .?

Hey guys,

Well, is anyone else just starting to feel kind of sick? Or is that just me? Honestly it's kind of starting to hit me and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Maybe we just won't talk about that for a minute.

This week was actually really good! In order to get people ready for conference we have been teaching a lot about Following the Prophet. WOW! I love teaching this lesson! I know that we have a prophet called of God, and telling people about him is just about the best thing ever! It is the best to teach it near conference too because the invitation is perfect to invite them to attend conference! "we thank thee oh God for a prophet!!!" I can't wait to see conference! I hope you all enjoyed it!

We did get to watch the women's session though. It was really good as well and I love how they focused on the temple a lot. But I do have one question, President Uchtdorf mentioned a "life-hack". Life hack? What is that??? I am so out of touch with reality!! President Uchtdorf knows more about social media than I do!!!

Also you will never believe this. Yesterday a returned missionary and his wife and son showed up to our branch. Somewhat rare, but it happens. I didn't really talk to them until relief society. She didn't have anyone to translate for her, so I did. Well do you know who she is? She is Annalee Mickelson's niece! Her blood-relative! Woah!! What a small world! That was so cool! 

Also this week I had one of the best experiences of my mission, what great timing! Maybe I have told you a little bit about Bong Noreen. She served a mission in the states about 10 years ago and we've been meeting with her once a week helping her to come back. Well we went on Monday and we taught a lesson about tithing. We knew that she obviously already knew about tithing, so we read about the young rich ruler instead and also in Jacob 2:18-19. It was a good lesson! But really it was just a pretty normal lesson. She was being kind of sassy and saying she didn't know if she ever received blessings from tithing. So we left and blah blah blah nothing happened. But the next day we got a text from her that went something along these lines, "I'm so sorry I said those things last night, I didn't intend to. I used to be a missionary and bear my testimony all the time. Sometimes I am busy and lazy and don't apply my faith. But from now on I will pay my tithing because I want to show my faith and I want to receive blessings from Heavenly Father." I can't describe how happy I felt when I read that message. She has yet to come to church, but we can see that the spirit really is working on her and we know that any week now she will come back to church as well! What a special experience! I wrote down the full text in my journal, so maybe I'll read it to you when I get home. It was so cool!!

Also, I really feel like she is specifically one of the reasons I am here in this area right now. I haven't felt that often on my mission, so it is really sweet. Also she and her dad have invited Mom and Dad to dinner there on Saturday night. Are you down for that? I'm not sure if it's for sure happening nor do I know details, but how do you feel?

So I have been reflecting on my life and I realized that I have developed quite a few habits that are probably unusual in America. Such as: 
  • grunting yes
  • using my skirt as a sweat rag... that's a good one.
  • eating with a spoon and fork at the same time, one in each had. I don't remember quite but I feel like in America this might be somewhat barbaric.
  • wearing spandex under my skirts
  • being really blunt about peoples' weight
  • taking peoples' scriptures from them, opening to the right page, and then helping them read it. I just feel like all those things would not work in America if I tried to do that to anyone over the age of 14. Especially not 50 years old people, like I do here.
  • riding directly into oncoming traffic
  • not doing my hair
So yeah I'm seriously so sorry by any offensive things I do and I promise I'm not trying to be offensive and if you could just kindly correct me that would be helpful and appreciated. :)

So I guess that is really all I have but I just really want you all to know how much I love my mission. It has not been what I thought or would have expected, or even what I wanted, but it has been everything I needed. There is a verse I came across that I think describes my mission quite well: D&C 112:13. There has kind of been a lot of tribulation, but I truly have been converted. I love this gospel I love this church. And I know that Heavenly Father really has and will heal me from the hard things about my mission. I know He lives. I know He is so aware of us and very patient with us. I know this gospel changes lives for the better. This is true! I love it! I love the Book of Mormon so much and it truly does testify of Christ. He is our Savior! And I just can't wait to serve Him forever! 

I guess that next time we talk I'll be in America, or I guess Mom and Dad will be here in Cambodia. Wow! I love you all so much!!

Sister Homer

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Too close for comfort . . .


Well things are getting a little too close for comfort now, aren't they? But actually that being said, I think my preferred coping method is denial. It really has not hit me yet that I'm done anytime soon, so I'm just going to keep going with that and live the normal missionary life!

This past week was good. We actually had Zone Conference, which was SO COOL!! Oh my goodness, I can't even tell you how great it was. But let me give you the highlights:
  • "If the mission isn't changing you, then maybe you aren't trying to change." Woah, that is true, isn't it! And I feel like that applies to life as well.
  • "Repentance isn't the back-up plan, it IS the plan." Woah. That one gives me chills.
  • Also, last but not least: TWO NEW PROVINCES ARE OPENING FOR MISSIONARY WORK HERE IN CAMBODIA!!!!!!! You don't realize how massive of a deal this is, but it is HUGE!!!! Probably this transfer when I finish they will be sending elders to these new places missionaries have never been before. SO COOL!!!! If you are curious, they are opening Prey Veng and Pursat.
So after zone conference was over I actually asked President Moon for a blessing. For a long time I have been wanting one, since trash mountain probably, but it just was never really convenient to ask for one. And then now that I am getting close to being done I've just told myself I'm fine and that I can make it to the end without one. But as I was sitting there in Zone Conference something hit me and I realized I was just being dumb. It doesn't matter how close to shore you are, if you are drowning you are drowning. And I realized I've kind of been drowning, and just because I was close to shore I thought I was fine. Fact is, if you are drowning, you are going to take a life jacket that is readily available, and that is kind of like what a Priesthood Blessing is, isn't it? A tool to help us stay afloat. I'm so grateful for the priesthood!

So we had a really cool lesson yesterday. We met this less-active who we haven't met for a long time. And we went and she kind of just spilled everything to us, which includes some law of chastity problems. And her life is just kind of in shambles. And it was neat because we then got to have a very real talk about her options and about repentance. The gospel just became REAL to her. Honestly lots of times I feel like we just go and teach and sometimes immediate application doesn't happen. But with her, the result was I gave her the Branch President's number and promised her that if she will meet with him her life will improve. And I believe that with all my heart. The gospel really is about change. I love that. Our life can always change for the better when we are doing it God's way. She found that out as well. When we follow God we are happy, when we don't our life often ends up in shambles. I hope she calls him.

Also I had another really interesting experience this week. I did another exchange this week. This time I was with Sister Fife, and guess where I was? SMC 3rd ward, AKA Trash Mountain! It was so weird to go back. It's only been two months but it almost felt foreign. When I got there that night and was looking through their area book and CBRs and stuff, I started feeling kind of panicked and anxiety. One, because I was there again, but two, because things were just kind of crazy. They weren't meeting with a lot of people that they probably should have been and they have a TON of investigators in trash mountain which we were specifically asked not to do. But then I was laying there in my old bed and just thinking, and I just felt very strongly that "I don't belong here anymore." That was my old area, room, desk, bed, everything, but it just was not where I was supposed to be. And I was so grateful for that feeling. I realized that I had been there at the right time for me and with the right companion, and now it's not my area anymore and I can trust that they are doing the work the way the Lord wants them to. I just felt so much that my mission has been RIGHT. I can't really explain that but, I just am so grateful for every area and companion, even the ones that have been really hard, because it has been so right.

I guess that is all I have this week. I love you!

Sister Homer

Zone Conference photo

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hey guys


This week kinda flew by pretty fast. It was once again just a normal week, though maybe we had more rain than usual. Honestly, I love the rain. It is so much better than the heat. I would so much rather be soaked with rain than sweat, and those are kind of the only two options. So, get ready Mom and Dad! :) 

Also, do you know that I have officially been a missionary for 18 months now! Yay! Now everyone blow a kazoo.

Today until Wednesday is a major holiday here in Cambodia called Pchum Ben. So things are going to be kind of quiet for the next few days. Yesterday our church attendance was down because people headed out to the provinces. BUT it was still a really good day. I actually really liked the Sacrament talks we had. One woman talked about Job's story, which is ironic because sister Kean and I have been using that a lot this week in our teaching, and I just LOVE JOB! Seriously, if everyone could be like Job! And then the 1st Counselor filled up some spare time and I really liked something he said: "Obedience is the key to heaven." I love that. Obviously the Atonement is really the other major key, but if there is one thing I could instill in these people here it would be that you really do need to follow the commandments and teachings of God if you want to be with him again. The Atonement by itself won't be enough if you don't do anything to change your life to be more like God! Oh how I wish these people could see that! Honestly, I just have such strong feelings about obedience these days and I think our 1st Counselor nailed it! 

Also I have maybe told you about a somewhat less-active Ming that we visit regularly, Ming Paula. She is just a sweet, sweet, sweet woman. I love her so much. And I went to visit her this week and she told us how this other church has been coming and studying the Bible with her weekly. And we talked about it briefly and how she should just be kind of careful. And I loved her response. Mostly it was along the lines of, "Don't worry Sisters, I know where my heart is. I know where my loyalty is. I know what I want. I know the book of Mormon is true, I have a witness for myself. There is nothing that can tear me away." Wow! I felt like a proud parent. I think I will take Mom and Dad to meet her. She truly is an incredible woman with a firm resolution to stay committed to God's church!

I also went on another exchange this week with Sister Earl! That was super fun again! We had a really good day. She also is only in her second transfer, so it was fun to be with her. Also something we were focusing on throughout the day was teaching commandments in the context of the gospel (faith, repentance, baptism, etc.). So we had a few lessons about the commandment of scripture reading and we taught it intertwined with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was so great! I think it created a clearer picture for WHY we read the scriptures and more than just something that we need to check off the list every day. It was fun!

Also during our exchange we decided to eat lunch out at this place I have had my eye on called Alma Cafe (Mexican homestyle cooking). So we went. And do you know what happened? I had Mexican food. And I heard native Spanish speakers. If I had gone there a year ago I probably would have left in tears. But I was able to make it through with only small pangs of grief. It was a good experience. Also their cake was delicious. 

Now for some really important things:

My whole life as I have sung the song "Up on the rooftop" at Christmas time, I sang it like this: Up on the rooftop reindeer paws, out jumps... but in fact, that is not correct. It is actually this: Up on the rooftop reindeer pause, out jumps... I know that it sounds the same, but that is quite the distinction, and it wasn't until I read these Christmas trivia cards we have in our apartment here that I realized that major difference. And you would think the fact that reindeers don't have paws - but actually have hooves - would have tuned me in a lot sooner but... no. This is one of those Grapes=raisins/tuna=chicken of the sea kind of things, isn't it. Gooood. Gooood. 

But, on a more serious note, did you know there aren't any McDonald's here in Cambodia? Why you may ask? Well, turns out Cambodia's meat doesn't pass McDonald's standards. So that is comforting considering the amount of meat I have consumed these past months has been considerable. Once again, gooooood! But don't worry Mom and Dad, the meat really is fine I think! You will quite enjoy it!

So I guess that is all for me this week! We are making some good headway with some less-active members who probably would have rather remained unfound. We are slowly winning their hearts. :) We are quite the persistent pair, Sister Kean and I. :) 

Love you all!

Sister Homer
This is sometimes how we try to deal with the rain, but usually we just don't bother.

Me and Sister Earl!

This is Cambodian Primary.  Also, the lady in the blue-ish shirt is Ming Paula, who I told you about!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy Homer Birthday Week!


First things first, Happy birthday to Shawn and Dad this week! I'll be celebrating over here by visiting a lot of less active members and eating the Starbursts that Mom sent me. :) Also I might try to find a cake that kind of tastes like American cake. It might be possible.

This week was good. Actually it was kind of funny. Have I mentioned that we don't really have much going on investigator-wise right now? We have one investigator. But she is getting really busy and we couldn't even meet her this week... so... good! BUT, we visit A TON of less-active members every week. And I actually really, really love them. I just wish they would sacrifice and go to church. Also I feel like I am becoming the world's best visiting teacher. Seriously, watch out world. 

But really, it has been really interesting meeting with so many less-active members and just seeing all the different "reasons" for being inactive. Some of them still have faith but don't come, some don't even care at all, some run away from us when we go (those are the funnest). Mostly I feel like I am learning a lot from each of them.

This past week we found a less-active member, Ming Missy. She actually lives in a wat--the Buddhist temple places. And so we found her and she was really friendly, but she said she decided to go back to Buddhism because it is easier since she lives there and she's afraid if she keeps going to church they might kick her out. So that's rough. But we had a good talk with her. We talked about some of the differences in doctrine between the two religions. I was hoping that would help her see she kinda had to pick one. Which I guess she did, just the wrong one... but she said we can go back and keep visiting her. So we'll try to rekindle the flame. 

Also there is another member who I LOVE. Her name is Ming Sophie. She has been a member for a long time. Her husband was one of the first branch presidents. And she has been to the temple. Her son served a mission. But now, she has a hard time going to church. And Sister Allen and I (I'll explain) sat there and talked to her this week, she really opened up to us. She talked about how her family doesn't really support her going to church and how it creates a lot of family problems. And I could see how painful that was to her. I just wanted to cry. She really really really wants to go to church and this has been such a hard thing for her. :( Which led me to feel that I want the 2nd coming to come. Now. Really. I know the Second Coming won't be perfect, but it will be a whole lot better than it is now. And there are a lot of GOOD members here in Cambodia that are just exhausted because of how hard it is to be Christian here, and not just Christian, but a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It requires a lot, and that is something that this culture doesn't lend itself to very well. So let's bring on the Second Coming! (Will the 2nd coming even make that better at all?)

So as I mentioned, I was with sister Allen this week on exchanges. She came with me in my area. I don't have much to say about that besides it was really awesome. It was so refreshing. She is new in the mission, this is her 2nd transfer, and she had a lot of awesome ideas on new ways to teach some things. I learned so much from her! Also we had about an hour that we went contacting, and we had some funny, weird contacts! But no one was interested...

Also have I ever mentioned how people are just everywhere here? They are all always outside. I can't explain very well, but it's not really like America. I think the U.S. will feel kind of empty when I go there. But anyway, why I thought of this was, the other day we were riding our bikes and I yawned, and the next thing I hear is "WOAH!!!! THAT'S A BIG OPEN MOUTH!!!" Hahaha ,some random guy just yelled that as he watched me ride by on my bike. Seriously, so funny. You really can't avoid people watching you here. 

Well, I guess that is all I have this week!! I love you all! Happy birthday one and all!

Sister Homer
My comp (Sister Kean) and I

This is Ming Missy

These are the other Sisters in my house, kinda.  Sister Nov and Sister Earl.  I think I will take Mom and Dad to this restaurant too.  So yummy!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Another week


I know this is lame, but I really just don't have much to say this week. We are just kinda doing the same thing all the time these days, meeting less-active members. But we did have one really cool lesson.

We met with Bong Noreen, who served her mission in America like 10 years ago, and is currently inactive. So we have been meeting with her and she is really friendly, but just not quite holding onto the rod. So, we went and we read in Alma 32 with her. She really has the desire, I think, to do what is right, but she just isn't really doing it. So we read with her and we talked about nourishing our testimonies. But the coolest thing is that mostly the scriptures talked and she talked and Sister Kean and I just kind of butt out of it. It was neat to see as she read and talked about the verses how the Spirit was touching her heart. You could see it on her face and hear it in her voice. And so then at the end of the lesson she committed to start reading her scriptures again daily! She said she's not ready to go back to church but that she will read. So we are going tonight to meet her again and I hope that she has been reading! Really, the Spirit touches hearts! The scriptures are amazing! I love this gospel!

Also, the scriptures really nail it every time. EVERY TIME. I feel like a lot of lessons I am living 1st Nephi 16:2. The wicked take the truth to be hard. When we go and meet with less-actives, a lot of time the lessons we share are hard for them to hear, cause they just aren't doing what they are supposed to do. Especially with Om Nan, I have told you about her. It doesn't matter what we teach her about, she always ends up trying to explain herself. And you can just see that the truth is hard for her to hear because she isn't doing what she is supposed to! It's not that we go with the intentions of making her feel guilty, but she just does! 

Another interesting comment I hear a lot is that "I'm not abandoning God, I just don't go to church." Well, I don't like that. The fact is when you aren't going to church, you aren't keeping the commandments. And another way to say "not keeping the commandments" is "sin". And I don't know that you could better describe sin than "abandoning God". It's killer! I just wish I could give these people my perspective for one day. Actually give them God's perspective would be better. But I just wish they could see how their life COULD be. The joy they could have. The hope. The peace. 

But what was cool was yesterday at church there was a woman who walked in looking for the International Branch. She is from the Philippines, and she had her 20+ year old daughter with her as well. So, I told her that the International Branch was actually at a different building and that they were also having their meetings at the same time. So instead of going over there, she stayed and I translated for her. Well, I found out that she has only been a member for like 8 months, and she was amazing! Her comments in the classes to me were spot on! And she really really just had the desire to come and worship Heavenly Father and keep the Sabbath day holy. She was amazing. I have never had an investigator even close to her. And maybe that is my problem. Maybe I haven't done what I was supposed to... but I don't know. I just want to know who taught her and congratulate them for doing such a good job. And I just hugged her before she left because I was so inspired by her faith! I hope that the people I taught reach a point where they have the same understanding that she did, as a new member of the church! She is amazing!

Well I guess that is all I have!

I love you all!

Sister Homer
The river

Welcome to Phnom Penh!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The beginning of the end


Well, this week started my last transfer and my last planner. It's safe to assume that this will be my last area and my last companion as well. How did it all come to this? And yet everything is still just kind of the same. People are STILL asking my about my freckles and trying to convince me to get rid of them. Come on guys! 

This was actually quite a good week. I feel like we worked hard and accomplished a lot! Yes! We kind of have like no investigators (we have 1 that we meet once a week...) so our time is spent visiting less active members. Also this week we spent quite a lot of time finding members who are just kind of "lost sheep." Honestly, it has been so fun! And I feel like we have been very successful as well! We found one girl who served a mission in the states like 10 years ago and met with her and she came to church yesterday!! Success! Also we have found a few others. Also along with this we are updating our CBRs. 

I think I have talked about CBR's before a little but let me explain. They are Convert Baptism Records. (I think...) Basically addresses are like useless in Cambodia and sometimes non-existent, so when someone gets baptized we need a way to keep track of where they are. So we create a CBR which is just a paper with a picture of them, their information, and a map we draw so later missionaries can find where they live. Think of, like, a complex ward directory. So sometimes people get lost and you have to find them according to the map, which based on how the map is, it's a joke! So we are going through and getting good pictures for people and updating maps and really trying to find as many people as possible! I'm a little bit addicted right now but I think it's a good obsession. 

Also I realized that missions are kind of like getting a tattoo. It's really painful. And it's really permanent. It's like someone has injected a bunch of gospel ink into my heart and soul and it's really going to be there forever. I'm permanently changed.

I forgot to tell you that a couple weeks ago I saw Elder Christensen in the mission home! He sounds like he is doing really well!  Haha, he is definitely going through the adjustment. It is so funny to hear him say things and it makes me think back to when I experienced it. But he really sounds like he is doing great. Also he has been serving in the same ward as Sister Melton, and Sister Melton told me that he has these magic tricks that he does for the members here and THEY LOVE IT!! Haha I was dying when Sister Melton told me. It sounds super cool!

We have one Ming that we work with, Ming Rhoda, and she is a sweetheart. She is kind of less active because her husband got SO SICK and can't work, so she has been constantly working to provide for her family. What does she do for work? She pulls a cart around finding recycle-ables. Trash Mountain style. AKA, she isn't earning much. But she still goes to church a lot of weeks. Anyway, we felt like we should teach her about tithing. That is kinda scary when she is so poor. But we prepared the lesson especially about the blessing we receive. It was so neat because after we had talked about it she responded by saying "thank you, sisters!" Wow. What incredible faith. My heart was truly touched by her response. 

Also something that we hear A LOT here from our less-active members is: "It's okay if I can't go to church.  I read my scriptures and say my prayers at home instead." And while I'm happy that you are doing that, really no. It's not enough. There is really only so much progression you can do at your home. The gospel is really a lot about DOING. You can say you have faith all you want but until you start doing something about it, it's kinda pointless. That is something I'm learning a lot about here on my mission. 

I also think Cambodia is one big workshop on the WHY of the gospel - the whole reason for any of this. And you can be doing all the right steps but still be missing the why. And on the other hand you can totally understand the why but still be too lazy to do anything about it. It's giving me so much to think about. Really the gospel is actually quite simple and quite easy. It takes faith for sure, but that is kind of it. It's really neat when I see that in the lives of these members. 

On a random note, we randomly contacted the uncle of a missionary here! We stopped to talk to this lookpuu and were talking with him and he's like, "my nephew is Elder Khem", and we were like... wait, what? And yeah, turns out it really was! So we had a really good talk with him! It was super funny. But he still wasn't that interested in learning. 

Also I've had multiple people tell me they think I'm taller than before. Could that be true? 

And just because I realized that there is no way any of you are saying the name of my area, Chamkarmon, correctly, I will tell it to you. It is pronounced kind of like Jum-ga-moon. Khmer's do some funny things with English letters. 

Also last, but definitely not least. You know how I have had some interesting conversations with my Khmer companions over the months about things that you would think they know. WELL this one probably tops it. Sister Kean asked me how many months are in America. Which led into a discussion about time, which led into the rotation of the planet, and how the earth is indeed a sphere, and I didn't even want to get into the solar system. SHE DIDN'T KNOW OUR EARTH WAS ROUND! She didn't know the rotation of the planet is one day! There are so many things that she didn't know!! How can this be?! How is this possible! How can one live to the age of 24 and now know our earth is a sphere! I'm flabbergasted. Seriously my mind has been blown.

Hopefully that gives you something to think about. I love you all! I hope you have a good week!

Sister Homer

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hey family

Hey guys,

So, I'm sorry you all didn't go to Lake Powell this week. I did think of you. But it sounds like it kind of worked out best for every one that way. But can we please all commit to go next year? Please?

This week was good. I feel like I don't really remember what happened though... just a lot of normal work. I'm sure that is lame for you all to hear, but for me it really was a really normal week. 

I think I told you last week that there are a ton of less-active members that we work with here in this branch. Many of those less-active members are returned missionaries. I get so frustrated talking to them. Most people in Cambodia just don't really get it, and so when they are less active I kind of understand, but the thing is, those people should get it! And they do! But as I've thought about it a lot, I realized something. I think there is a common thought process that is something like "I served a mission, I proved myself, I am good to go." But what I've been thinking about is THAT IS TOTALLY WRONG. For all the obvious reasons. But also I think in reality, the mission isn't the time we prove ourselves. Serving a mission is more like time that we have to become converted and to have experience and to learn and seriously to become converted! And then the rest of our lives is the time we have to prove ourselves. I think some people really misunderstand that. At least a lot of the time I think that is the problem with a lot of these returned missionaries here in Cambodia. They kinda think they have done it already - proved themselves already - but the fact is they are just getting started. If I ever become like that, slap me upside the head. But I promise I will never become like that. I feel like my mission has been such a blessing and has helped me so much. 

I also read a really good talk this week in the November 2011 Conference Ensign. It's called A Time to Prepare, by Elder Ardern. If you have the chance, you should look it up. :)

I'm sorry I really can't think of much to say right now, I'm a little bit out of it getting over being sick. I'll try to do better next week. 

Oh by the way, I will officially be staying in my area with my companion for the rest of my mission. That is only a transfer away. Weird. 

Love you all!

Sister Homer

This girl is grinding rice to get flour, old-fashioned style. Cool.