Sunday, November 24, 2013

My beloved family

Dear Family,
First, before I forget, I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!!!! You can't imagine how grateful I am for you and for your support and your love and examples. I think about you often and although I try not to miss you, the truth is I miss you all terribly. You probably will never quite understand. But I know the reason I miss you so much is because you are all so wonderful, so thank you for being my awesome family!
This week I actually told Sister Davis all about things we do/used to do as a family like daily scripture study, daily family prayer, dinner as a family, FHE, and then I even told her about the Sunday Chart. I had so much fun telling her about all these things. I never thought that these things were out of the ordinary, especially the sunday chart, until I was telling her about them. haha, oh how I love the way I grew up! I can't even tell you how excited I was to talk about all of these things! Thank you mom and dad for incorporating all these things into our lives!
Along the lines of scripture study, this past week Sister Davis and I went and met with our recent converts Bong Diana, Om Babe, and Cynthia. We decided we would just read the scriptures with them a bit and talk about them. This turned out to be one of the best lessons ever! We were reading in 1 Nephi 18, I believe. We just read the first 9 verses or so, but I learned so much that I had never even learned before! We talked about them building a ship and how they were going to cross the sea. Of course we compared the waves to our trials and temptations in life, and then Bong Diana said that she thought they could also be caused by our own sins, which I think she definitely had a point. And then this is where they taught me, they talked about the ship being our faith and also devoting our heart to Christ. I know this is really simple but I had never thought of that! That if we do build our ship of faith and devote our hearts to Christ, we will be able to cross the stormy sea! I love how the scriptures can be interpreted in so many ways, and they are pretty much always right!
Yesterday we had 1 investigator get baptized, her name is Shoelie. She is just the sweetest. We were actually supposed to have 2 people, Ming Laundry, being the second. But she didn't show up to church... but I hear that's because someone in her house (her child?) was really sick. So that was too bad, but I'm not too worried about it. Mostly because after her interview for baptism on Friday, she was just GLOWING! She was so so so happy, I can't even tell you. It was one of the best things to see.

Another fun thing this week was that one of our investigators Srei Chia (who is like 10 years old) brought like 8 friends to church yesterday! Haha, it was great! She is the daughter of a member, but was never baptized so we are teaching her. Lots of her friends always sit in, and so yesterday she brought all of them, plus some others I had never seen. And they stayed all three hours! It was so funny too because Srei Chia was like totally just loving being like the one who knew what she was doing. Right before the prayers she would be like "oh everyone be quiet, we're praying now!" It was super great. I hope we can actually start teaching some of those other kids, but the hard thing is that we can't teach them without their parents. But I hope their parents want to learn too! We'll work on that this week.
We had some other fun and random experiences this week too that really just make being a missionary fun! On Friday we were just riding our bikes and we heard a voice from behind say "Miss! Miss!" and usually I just kinda ignore those because they are usually impolite men trying to be funny, but I looked who it was and he seemed like a nice looking man, so we let him catch up. Turns out he legitimately was interested! He asked us if we were missionaries and he asked us about a lot of other stuff that we believe, including polygamy in Utah! Which let me tell you, for someone to even be aware that Utah is a place is CRAZY! So let's just say he is one educated man! But we answered his questions and gave him a pamphlet about the plan of salvation. I'm not sure if anything will happen there, but it was really neat at the time!
Just a few hours after that we went to teach another investigator Bong Baa. We taught her the plan of salvation in this lesson, but she wasn't really focusing, which was kind of frustrating. But she randomly had a friend there who sit and listened the whole time and even read a scripture when we asked her too. So we got to the end of the lesson and Baa didn't really have any questions, but we asked the friend if she did, and boy did she! She wanted to reconfirm about the three kingdoms, she asked about the spirit world, and then she asked more about Adam and Eve. This is like maybe the 2nd time in my ministry (haha, can I call this my ministry?) that someone has presented REAL questions. It really is not a thing here to ask questions. Anyway, I was loving how into it she was! She then told us that she actually had wanted to join before but was too scared to ever ask questions about it. But then she also told us that she is going back to Phnom Penh soon... so I guess she doesn't live here. But is sounds like she is from Stung Mean Chey and I really encouraged her to look into it more up there! Super cool though!
Now, let me tell you just one of the greatest stories of all time. This actually happened like a week and a half ago, but somehow I forgot to tell you last email. One night Sister Davis and I were sitting in our room doing language study. Of course sitting on the wall was just one of the usual little lizards that are always to be found. Well, we think nothing of that. Fast forward 20 minutes, out of no where we hear a massive THUMP on Sister Davis' desk. I'm sure you can already see what is coming. We look over and of course there is the lizard sitting on her desk starring at us. Well that just didn't sit right with either of us. We decided we needed to somehow get it off her desk. But we didn't just want to get it off, we decided we wanted it out of our room. After so many attempts and literally probably like 40 minutes, the best we could do was trap it under a tupperware and decide that we would deal with it in the morning. You can't imagine the efforts that went into trying to get this lizard out of our presence. Somewhere in there I decided that Satan was the most appropriate name for this lizard. So the next morning we get up, and we manage to slight the tupperware onto a notebook and we ran the lizard outside. Really anti-climatic. BUT fast forward like 1 more day. I come downstairs getting ready to leave for the day. I go to my shoes. What do I find hiding right in between my shoes? SATAN!!!! This lizard is the worst! And we know it's him because not only is he creepy but he looks creepy, and he's totally recognizable! Literally that first night he was just staring at us with his mouth half open like he wanted to suck our blood! So creepy. So back to the shoe incident. We decided we didn't have time for him right then, so we trapped him under the tupperware again so he couldn't escape. Well that same day our landlady decided to come and clean our house. So we get home and our house is really clean, and satan is nowhere to be found. But the best part is that I really bet our landlady had quite a laugh when she lifted up the tupperware and found a lizard underneath. She probably thinks we are nuts! Haha, oh it was the best. And no we blame satan for everything.
Sister Davis is still doing really well! It's interesting because it really is hard to be here especially that first while, but she is doing really great. I also feel like it's good we are together because I had a really similar experience to what she is having as far as how she is with missing home and stuff. I'm glad that I understand her and can tell her that it does get better. But honestly, she is super awesome! It is just the two of us in the same house as before. I haven't moved beds since I got in KC 5 months ago. We used to have all 4 sisters in a house, but they still haven't brought more sisters back here so it is just the 2 of us sisters here in KC. It's not so bad though. We have a lot of fun together. Sometime I'll probably go serve in the city and I think I'll be overwhelmed by how many missionaries there are, haha.

The other funniest thing that happened this week was during a lesson. I was teaching a recent convert in 2nd branch, she is like 14 years old. I had mentioned that someday I'll bring my husband back here, to Cambodia, so that she can meet him. So then when she said the closing prayer she was like "please bless Sister Homer to get a boyfriend really quick!" hahaha, it was super funny. You probably had to be there.
Anyway, that is pretty much my week! It was pretty normal. I just love Kampong Cham. I think I probably won't ever leave 'til the end of my mission, so that is good! (That's actually totally false, but I don't want to leave!)
I love you all! Happy thanksgiving!!!
Sister Homer

This is what I call Rooster Sauce. It is just the most essential condiment on the planet. You should start searching Asian markets for it now. I eat it daily, usually with a fried egg on bread. It is incredible.

Some of the YW in 1st branch who I love SO MUCH!


Monday, November 18, 2013

From me to you

Dear family,
I'm sorry about the late email this week. As Dad guessed, we did have a zone conference on Monday so they moved our P-day to Tuesday.
Mom and Dad both asked a lot of good questions so I will start by answering those.
Sister Davis is AWESOME!!!!!! I literally can't tell you how just perfect this companionship is. We are like the same person, but we are different, but our perspectives and our likes are like the same. It's crazy and SO MUCH FUN! We are talking all the time about who even knows what, and it's so fun! I think she is just starting to get over her jet-lag! Woohoo! She probably does feel like a dear in the headlights, I don't know how you couldn't. I wish I could bring you all here for just a week so that you would know what it is like here. It literally is insane! There is no way you can understand without coming here. So yeah, she just is getting used to all that. :)

Her personality is like... chill I guess. She isn't quiet, but not crazy outgoing either. Probably kinda like me. If she has something to say she will totally say it though. I don't know, she is just super cool! (Though this just in, I'm pretty certain this place has driven me just a touch crazy. I've lost it! I'm like crazy now, kind of in an outgoing way, but mostly I just feel crazy! What is happening to me?!?) Anyway, Sister Davis is a political science major at BYU and eventually wants to go into Law. Did I tell you she is 19 years old? So she has just done one year at BYU. Her family is actually all converts of 6 years, way cool! As far as the language I'm sure she feels so overwhelmed, but from my perspective she is doing great! I have her teaching like half the lessons already! Haha, so that's awesome!
Mom asked about my first area. I was only there for 1 transfer, so six weeks. So short. And now I have been here in KC for 5 months, going on 6! I love this place! Seeing Sister Hartley was the best thing ever. I think she is doing well, but she has had a very different experience than I have, it sound like. A lot of hard companions and stuff. :( But she is still as funny as ever! She is so solid! I think sister Davis liked the monkeys, but it was actually really disappointing, there were only a couple of monkeys there this time.

No she doesn't bit me. I tend to do a lot of the cooking. I've been making a lot of the Khmer stuff I learned from Sister Kuoch that is yummy and simple. We also eat a lot of ramen type stuff... haha, healthy... Dad, it's not really much like Butter-Yaki. It is similar in the fact that it is family-style, but it's not quite the same. Though, there are things that are similar. Haha, I don't know!

Our teaching pool is good right now. We have a lot of investigators in 2nd branch, they are all actually like in the same neighborhood, which is super cool! 1 will be getting baptized this week, a few more in the upcoming weeks. There is especially one who I love teaching, her name is Bong Baa. We have only taught her twice, but she is awesome! She is a referral from a member, and at first she had a really hard time understanding us, haha, and so she was really nervous. I was wondering how this would work out. But we went to her house the other day to teach her and she wasn't home, someone went to tell her we were there, and the next thing we know she is like running down the street with a big smiling on her face so excited to meet us! Haha, it made me day!!
Srei Label, the girl who got baptized last week, is actually the daughter of a long time member who never got baptized. She was learning for a long time, but the issue was that she doesn't really remember a lot and she gets nervous to learn and speak because her tongue is a little too big for her mouth, so she is hard to understand. But, I have loved teaching her so much! She is kinda like a sassy little teenager, but super sweet too. And her baptism was especially sweet because you could tell how happy she was.

I really love love love the members here! And part of that is because the members just love the missionaries. Especially because I have been here for so long I feel like the members really know me and I know a lot about them. I am more confident in my relationships with them, and I feel like they do accept me! There are definitely some members I have closer bonds with than others, but in general I feel really loved in these two branches, especially branch one! What a blessing! The members do help us find people to teach. I actually just realized this yesterday that I think every single investigator I have had here in Kampong Cham has come from a referral. Every single one!! That is crazy!! It's not like that all over Cambodia, so I am so blessed! Also, there is a member here who is trying to commit me to marry her son. She's joking, but really she's not joking. Haha, it's stinkin' hilarious! And I think that is a good sign that she likes me! But don't worry, I have declined the offer.
We do teach English class every Wednesday. I am actually the English Class Leader right now, but mostly that doesn't mean much because I have every one of us as English teachers. We split the class into tables according to their levels so that we can give them a more 1-on-1 experience. English class is one of the funnest, but least-fun things I do here. Haha, it's crazy! I love it but also hate it! I wish I could explain. Haha, so funny. The weather I think is generally getting drier, but we did have some rain a couple days this last week.

There are 10 Elders in my District and then also the Senior couple and me and sister Davis. We are also a zone. Right now there are 3 people being trained here in KC: Sister Davis, Elder Jones, Elder McGavin. They are 19,18, 18 respectively. It's kinda fun having people straight from the MTC, but also so weird. The other missionaries are Elder Sorenson (trainer), Elder Barnery, And then Khmers: Elder Chan, Heng, Ti, and Sam (trainer). It's kinda a funny mix of missionaries right now, but we all have fun together. I especially get along with Elder Barney. This is actually his last transfer of his mission, but we have been serving in the same branch together for the past 5 months. He came to KC when I did. It's fun have him as a friend here. I'm actually not the oldest missionary in my district. I think the Khmers are mostly all older than me, and Elder Barney is too. Pretty much the name "sister Grandma" has long died. :)
Wow, this email is already so long, but I have more to say! Sister Davis and I did do A LOT of teaching this week, which was awesome! Tuesday was kinda our first day to really go out and do a lot of teaching, I was kinda super nervous about it especially because we had planned to go to 2nd branch which I'm just not quite as comfortable in. I was praying so much for Heavenly Father to help us have a successful day and to help people want to meet with us and to help them understand us. I can't even tell you how much my prayers were answered! We met with everyone we wanted to, and more! It was probably the smoothest day I have had on my mission! I was so grateful that Heavenly Father was mindful of my needs and concerns.
I have seen so many blessings from Heavenly Father lately, actually, one of which is definitely the gift of tongues but more the gift of interpretation of tongues. I never before could figure out really the difference of how those are different, until I came on my mission, and now I totally understand. Just because I can talk to you, doesn't mean I know what you are saying back. I especially feel most my mission I have been blessed with the ability to speak but have really struggled to understand what people were saying. This made me especially nervous when I found out I would be training. I can't tell you how different things have been since I have been with Sister Davis. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father has blessed me with the gift of the interpretation of tongues. I finally understand like 90% of what everyone is saying, and I understand clearly! What a blessing! Especially on the phone, before I literally couldn't talk on the phone and I had no idea how that would work with Sister Davis and I, but suddenly I can have conversations and for the most part I know what they are saying to me! It's a miracle!!!!!!
I guess that is all for this week! Life is great! I love you all!

Sister Homer

massive sleeping buddha?

monkey with cool building in background

Lily pond thing

dragon fruit - delicious! Kinda like Kiwi


pretty field!

Candid - I was really happy...

Christmas package!

oh Christmas Tree!

This has baffled me all week. How can this package be from Chile or the United States?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's me again

Dear Family,

So, I don't have a ton to say this week, besides the obvious, which is about my new companion.
But I'll start from the beginning of last week. Sister Kuoch and I spent most our time running around saying goodbye to members. And then on Thursday we caught the bus and rode it up to phnom penh. That is a beautiful bus ride! Also that was the first time I've left Kampong Cham in 4.5 months. CRAZY!
(1) I really miss sister Kuoch! She is stinkin' adorable and it's definitely different without her!
(2) On Thursday night I actually stayed in the same house as Sister Hartley (my mtc companion) and it was the BEST THING EVER! Gosh how I miss that girl. We just sat and talked and caught up about so much stuff, and she still is so funny and makes me laugh so much. Someday we are going to be companions again and it will be the best thing ever!
So after all that Friday morning we went to the mission home. I can't tell you how sick I felt all friday morning. I just felt so nervous and stressed and so so inadequate and apprehensive for what was about to go down. At 12:00 they took the trainers and the trainees into a room and they announced who would be training who. "Sister Homer will be training Sister Davis." Yes, my new companion is Sister Davis, from America. She is american. So that was like getting hit by a bus.
But after that we have 2 more meetings and then we rode the car home. And now it's been a few days and I'm doing a lot better! Because she is american, needless to say, she has never spoken Khmer before. But that's okay!
So far there haven't been any major disasters, though talking on the phone is still not a strength of mine. I felt bad because Saturday we had 3 different meetings to sit in and sunday we had 2 branches of church, so thus far we have hardly taught any lessons. Yikes! But starting tomorrow we will be teaching a lot, I hope!
So like I said, Sister Davis is from the states, Connecticut actually. She is 19 years old and has done 1 year at BYU. She and I have really similar perspectives on a lot of things, which is great. And although I think most the time she is probably on the verge of tears, and I KNOW she is super overwhelmed, she is pretending like it's all good and like she has it all together. I'm trying really hard to take care of her and let her know she can totally do this.
That totally made me start to wonder to myself, how did I get to this point myself? I feel like I was just at the point where I was thinking I couldn't do this and now here I am comforting her?! Crazy! This is actually a blessing for me. Although it brings new challenges, I think it is helping me to love it even more here and feel more confident.

But yes, so I am still in Kampong Cham, both branches. If I stay her trainer the whole time I will be in KC for a total of 5 transfers, 7.5 months! Haha, that's a long time! But honestly, I'm totally okay with that. We'll see what happens.
I'm sorry, this email is so like all over the place. I am going to see the monkeys again today! Maybe ask me questions next week for whatever you want to know about my new comp, that will help me be more organized.

Love you all!

Sister Homer

Srei Label

Sister Davis and I

Just me... sorry no glamour shots this week.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dear Family

Hello Fam,

This week was like the epitome of normal here, so I really don't have much to say. It was a good week, two branches are still kinda crazy, but fun! Yesterday Short and Leann were baptized. I've probably hardly talked about them, but they are the younger sisters of Elle, one of our other recent converts. They are super sweet.

Besides that it really was such a normal week. I'll fill you in on some of our investigators I guess!

Brak Kneesock: 2nd Branch. She has actually been learning quite a while, before I even started in this branch. But she really wasn't progressing very much. A few weeks ago we finished up all the lessons and getting close to her baptism date, but I really didn't feel like she was ready for that, so I just straight out asked her if she had faith in Heavenly Father, she said she didn't yet. (By the way, it is so much easier to just ask people things straight out.) Anyway, right after that she started working all the time and we didn't see her for like 2-3 weeks. And then just this last week she stopped working and we met with her again. Things have totally changed! The reason she started working was because her husband walked out on her, long story short she was in a really desperate situation and she sincerely prayed to Heavenly Father. She felt like she received help too. Now she is back willing to learn and she came to church for 2 hours yesterday! (2 hours is a lot here, believe me.)

Ming Laundry: 2nd Branch. She is the Aunt of one of our most active young men. Over the past probably 5+ years she has learned with missionaries off-and-on but never progressed because she couldn't give up drinking. Same thing happened with Sister Kuoch and Sister Mok a couple months ago. But she then got really sick and the doctor told her she HAD to stop drinking, and she has! Now we are teaching her again and she's doing awesome! She is just a sweet lady and she is coming to church every week! She even came to conference a few weeks ago!

Ming Cat: 1st Branch. This one is hard. Sister Payne and I actually taught her a few lessons like 3 months ago and they were CRAZY! She knows so much about buddhism and pretty much every lesson turned into her teaching us about buddhism or her reciting like buddhists do. She stopped learning back then, but now she wants to learn again. This time around it actually seems a little better, but I think she still thinks our church is like buddhism  and so she wants to chant all her prayers and everything we teach her... it's tricky. She is super sweet though and she came to church last week. I think if we can get her to stop drinking she will pick up on lessons a lot more as well.

Homestar: 1st Branch. She is just a sweetheart. She is the younger sister of one of our other recent converts. She wanted to be baptized like months ago, but she didn't get approved to be taught because her parents aren't members. But she has been coming to church like every week since last June, so I finally decided that was just not okay and I was going to ask for approval again. I did and she is approved! So now we are teaching her and she is super awesome!

Moiraine: 1st Branch. Oh Moiraine. You've heard a lot about her already. She is so smart and understands the scriptures so well. She prays and comes to church. She has been out of town lately off-and-on though so we haven't met her as much. She is so awesome in everything except that she won't commit to be baptized. I'm not sure what to do with her. Where is the point where you decide they aren't progressing? I know in the states that some people take a few years to be baptized, but here this is so different than normal so I don't know what to do! Usually they either do or do not want to be baptized. I think as long as she still has the desire to keep learning I'll still meet with her. I just wish she would commit, I know that she will be so happy!!

That's the most interesting of our investigators right now. We received a few more referrals this week as well, so we'll hopefully have a few more investigators this week too! We actually don't really have time for that but, I'm excited anyway! I'll make time!

Now for one cultural thing of the week. They do this thing that I like to call the sniff kiss. It's like, they are kissing, but instead they just sniff... mom's do it all the time to their babies. Mostly that's actually the only time I've seen it. But they do it ALL the time. And I was looking up how to spell the word for kiss in the dictionary and it actually mentions this! I'm not sure when this started or where it came from, but it's definitely a thing. And it's not just any old sniff, it's like a really powerful sniff. Hmm... that probably makes no sense but it's just the bizarre-est thing!

Now for the last news of the week. It seems as though I will be training this next transfer. So starting on Friday, I will have a new companion fresh from either the USA or fresh from Cambodia. I actually can't tell you how much this is not okay. Somewhere along the way I think my mission president got the idea that I'm doing really well here. The truth is, I think I put on a good show, but I'm really not at this point yet. I am scared to death either way, American on Khmer. Either way there are going to be hurdles to jump. I know that probably to you at home 6 months in the country sounds like a long time and you would think I have the language down and the culture down and everything else down that I am supposed to, but that is a myth! The language doesn't come after 6 months! One thing I have going for me is I think I at least have the organizational, administrative stuff down. I can do that much. I know at home you are probably rolling your eyes and saying to each other "she'll be fine." But what you should probably be doing is either laughing on the floor or praying for me. Actually probably do both. Okay I'll stop being dramatic, but actually that's really really the truth right now. But mostly this will just be a lot of fun! I'm sure I'm about to have a lot of great embarrassing, frustrating experiences that will make me laugh! I won't know if I'm training Khmer or American until this friday when we are all in the training meeting and they announce my name and my trainee's name and we stand up and look at each other across the room. All I know is, I'm grateful for the stress management book that the church just put out to all missionaries this past week that tells us how to deal with our stress. It just might come in handy. Pray for me! Pray for her! Brothers, tell me your experiences with training, PLEASE!


Sister Homer

probably the coolest word I've seen yet. You probably don't know, but those are like all the same letter over and over again, haha love it!

Short + Leann and fam

sweet short + leann

As promised, here are pictures. These are like the traditional clothes they dress up in and take pictures in all the time. Let me tell you, it was a true battle getting a second should on this outfit. Also, note that they definitely photoshopped like ALL my freckles out, hahaha!

Yes, I know this is comical and I look like a barbie and you should definitely be laughing right now. :)