Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week 20: "And yet… The Work Progresses"

This was a stellar week! 

We started it off with a real bang this Monday as my companion lost his ticket to claim his bike when we were at the market. It was actually pretty funny, because we don't speak very much Khmer! They wouldn't let him have his bike and said for him to come back later in the day so they could see if anyone else will take it. We decided to not fight it and just went to get our hair cut… and wait it out. We both cut our hair for a dollar #DealsForDays and the people there said that I looked a lot like Justin Bieber… 

which I didn't take too much as a compliment. 

Then we came up with the idea that we could go home and grab a camera with a picture of my companion and his bike. We found one and brought it back to them, and for some reason they thought it was way funny. Oh… and when I woke up in the morning, I began brushing my teeth as usual. When I looked down I noticed that my toothbrush was littered with little black worms. For some reason there were little worms all over our toothbrushes. 
It was gross!     
                              On Tuesday we had an amazing lunch provided by our Senior Couple, the Baileys. We get to go eat lunch at their house during the last week of every transfer. We had pulled pork sandwiches, corn, and Sister Bailey made some amazing peach cobbler. We also celebrated the going home of my old companion and trainer, Elder Barker. It was pretty sad. Oh also, I don't know what it was… but I had some serious stomach problems. I could have received a frequent customer’s card for how many times I had to go to the bathroom. It really wasn't fun. We got a call later that day from a younger member named Nghia. He is like 14 and called saying he wants to start preparing for his mission and wanted to come with us. We went by to pick him up and it was so cool to see him waiting outside his house… all dressed up in his church clothes. Since then he has come with us almost every night this week. 

Wednesday, we decided to try out an angle for contacting in the morning. We went out, and as we were riding down the road, my companion stopped and said he had a feeling that we should talk with an older guy that he noticed a few streets back. So we went back and began talking to him. It turned out that spoke Vietnamese… and after some small talk, he said we could come by his house and talk some more. We ended up teaching him the entire first lesson. We taught him one more time since we first met him and he has accepted the Book of Mormon. 

Thursday was both good and bad. We had our weekly planning, and Elder Hibbert said that he still had money left over from his birthday, that his mom wanted him to spend on us… so he bought us all these humongous foot-long burgers called "Bazooka Burgers". They are so good. 

Then we went out and helped the Branch President some more while we waited for our investigator. We had previously set up a “members help” for the lesson, but decided that that particular member wasn't the best choice in helping our investigator progress because she is super intense, so we asked a different member. We went upstairs to go over the things we would share with the Branch President… and we found that super intense member asleep. I guess she learned where we were going to meet, and came two hours early so she wouldn't miss it. I am super grateful that our member wanted to help, but that was kind of nuts.
Anyway, we started the lesson and then things took a turn for the worst. You know how in those TV shows, like “When Animals Attack” or whatever… and the narrator says, "…and then things took a turn for the worst" That was what happened in our lesson. Our member help started talking about super deep doctrine while talking really fast… and wouldn't let anyone else talk. This went on for about an hour, when we finally got a chance to end it. I felt bad for the investigator…as that was only the second lesson with the missionaries. 

Friday we were out contacting and this homeless guy came up to me and started asking me questions. I took him aside because everyone had told him to go away. I sat down with him and ended up teaching him a lesson.  He told me about his life, and why he was living on the street. He said he used to travel a lot and how he studied to be a doctor. It seems that he had just made some mistakes and was living on the street. I told him that there is always hope, and he has the power to turn his life around. He agreed with me, and said he wanted to meet again this next week. I guess we will see how that goes. After that, we went and picked up my old Trainer, Elder Barker for the last few hours before he would board the plane to go home. It was a special experience getting to serve with such a seasoned missionary. 
We went to a recent convert’s house for lunch because she said she had prepared some food for us. Her first dish was rice porridge with a lot of squid in it. The second dish was actually pretty good, just some way good meat on rice with a little bit of pig skin shavings. Lastly was a bowl of soup with a whole boiled small chicken. This chicken was pure black. I asked what it was called. She answered me in English, "Chicken Black Man". I see this could be taken as offensive, but she is Vietnamese and English isn't her first language. I laughed so hard I almost died. She asked me if I would eat it but I told her I was really full. Actually, I just didn't want to eat it. I think she had made it as a joke because then she smiled and asked me if I was scared. Taking that as a challenge, I broke off the little foot (talons and all) and popped it into my mouth. She kind of made an "eww" noise and then laughed. It was really gross! She waited a little before telling me that you aren't supposed to eat the feet. (haha)… Oops. 

Saturday we contacted a whole bunch of referrals from the sisters. Then we went over to teach a little lesson to the Branch President's daughter who is preparing for baptism. She did not want to learn. It was a rough lesson. 

Sunday was...different. We met with an investigator before Sacrament meeting and taught a lesson. We made a whole bunch of calls reminding people about Church, and telling members about the investigators that would be coming in hopes to get them fired up. It worked! We had 74 people at church… which is only two away from our year goal! We had five investigators at sacrament. It was so cool to see everyone coming. The only thing that stunk (literally), was right as sacrament was starting. One of the ladies brought a sickly baby who wasn't wearing pants. He pooped all over the floor! It immediately started smelling like death, and we all hurried to try and clean it up. The members started smelling it… and kind of started freaking out. After using a substantial amount of glade air freshener and wet wipes, the mess was cleaned up. It wasn't but 15 minutes later when the dang baby pooped all over the place again. 
People really started freaking out! It was nearly a disaster. People were gagging and covering their faces with scarves and towels. Two more cans of air freshener were brought out, and people started yelling at the mom with the sick baby. It was sad when they made her take the baby outside. The missionaries didn't really know what to do. It was hard. After church, we went out and taught some lessons.  I was talking about the day with my companion and I looked down at my foot and noticed this pretty big black spot on it. I think there is like a fungus growing on it. I have to go talk to Sister Moon, the mission president's wife. Oh and yes, I do wash my feet. This week was a blast, hope you all have an amazing week too! 
Love you all, Elder Morris  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week 19: "Parties, Movies, and Late Night Phone Calls"

This week pretty wacky!  
Monday we went to the market to look around for some stuff. As we were walking around, we got a call from our investigator who we had planned his baptism for this week. It was hard to hear him, but what I did pick up were the words, "sorry, arrested, and leaving".
I was a little concerned by this. The reason things are wacky lately is because the government of Cambodia has started tracking down the Vietnamese people and asking them for papers. If they don't have papers, they either get forced to move back to Vietnam or they have to pay the police officers off. From what I have heard, this is a method they use to make more money.
Our members have been pretty shaken up by all this stuff because most of them don't have the proper paper work. Anyways, we went over to our investigator's house to find out more about all this. He said not to worry, he just got caught by the police with the wrong paperwork and he had to lay low for a while or he will be sent back. I couldn't believe how calm he was about all of it. 
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Tuesday started out a little rough. I woke up and started the day off as I usually do ironing my shirt and doing a light workout. I went upstairs and we got a text from the district leader asking if we could teach the District meeting in two hours. My companions were still asleep, so I replied yes. I started looking up scriptures and putting together a lesson for the meeting. It took everyone a little longer than expected to get ready and we got out the door late.
We arrived at the meeting about 15 minutes late. It wouldn't have been a big deal, except President Moon decided that he would attend the meeting this week. My comps, being zone leaders, instantly started pooping their pants. I was in panic because I was giving the lesson! We walked in and after apologizing for being late we began. The District leader finished the announcements and invited my companions to teach the lesson. He was pretty surprised when I said that I was giving the lesson because I guess he thought one of my companions replied to the text earlier that morning. With sweaty palms and a shaky voice I shared some points I had thought of. After the lesson, we finished with a word of prayer. I was just happy it was over, or so I thought.
President Moon asked if he could talk to me. He said that he had asked the District Leader to have the zone leaders teach the lesson so he could see how they would do. He said he was really surprised that I shared the lesson. He gave me some points of advice and thanked me for the lesson…so scary.  After that, we went to get some lunch and then did service at a member's house. We pealed a lot of hard boiled eggs for them. By the end, I had gotten pretty good at it. 

Wednesday was a bummer. We spent almost the whole day inside because Elder Pham was really sick. I updated the book and had two personal studies. (haha), we also watched 17 miracles on the little DVD player. It had Vietnamese subtitles so we counted that as additional language study. We finally got out at the end of the day, to teach a less active member and his two sons. We had planned a lesson on reading the Book of Mormon. The spirit led the lesson and we ended up teaching about the Temple and ordinances essential for our salvation. He said he wanted more unity in his family so they could be happily sealed together forever. It was so cool. 

Thursday we had a lesson with a potential investigator named Chi na. He didn't have a lot of interest the first time we met, but he invited us to come and share our message with him. We got there and at first we didn't say much. He was looking at his phone and we didn't really know how we should start. I got this impression that we should watch the Mormon Message called "The Hope of God's Light". I told my companion how I felt and he thought we should try it. They don't have it in Vietnamese, so I told my companion he would be translating this one on the fly. He did an amazing job and the spirit was so strong.

After the video, Chi na asked if there were more movies like this one that he could watch. He also asked if we could teach him more about Christ. We gave him a Book of Mormon and gladly accepted a return appointment. 
Friday we had an exchange. The District leader would come up to our area and would jump in with us for the day. We started off by teaching a member out of a talk from General Conference earlier this year. After the lesson he made us some amazing food. We contacted for a while until we had to go to the fireside. We heard some amazing talks and it really motivated all the missionaries. 
Saturday we had some lessons with our Recent Converts. They are so much fun. Co nhien learned again with us and she is a hoot. She loves trying to speak in English so it gets pretty interesting when we go over there. Then we went to teach our investigator Chu Ken. In the middle of the lesson his friend came and sat down to listen. It turned into a big discussion about the dumbest things. I couldn't understand a thing they were saying so I looked around and noticed another guy sitting behind me listening. I began asking him questions and we had a great talk about some different principles in the Gospel he had questions about. At the end of the night we were invited to attend a member's birthday party. The Branch President's daughter was turning 8. It was a lot of fun. She reminded me so much of my little sister Emmie. 
This little girl was so excited that she could now get baptized! She even prayed over her cake right before she blew out the candles. At the party one of the members started asking me about Japan. She asked me in English if I knew about the "Cinnamon". She said a little while ago "Cinnamon" covered the people and a lot of them died. I was so confused. As she kept explaining this disaster, I realized she was trying to say Tsunami. I explained what she was saying and we got a good laugh. 
Sunday our rations were getting dangerously low. For breakfast Elder Pham ate a tomato with a pack of cheese and crackers. Elder Tan ate some old fruit from the fridge and some flavored water. I made myself makeshift oatmeal with some marshmallows I found, so I microwaved it and it turned into a pretty decent Rice Krispy treat. After church we lucked out because a member was having a get together and we ate some food. Last night was transfer calls! I am going to be staying in the area for one more transfer! I am so happy that I don't have to leave and start from scratch again. This week was so good. Love you all
Elder Morris

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Week 18: "There Can Be Miracles"

Well the title for this week pretty much speaks for itself. There were a lot miracles this week.

Monday we went to the Mission Home to pick up our suit pants from the dry cleaners. Then we cut P day short to meet up with some young men in the Branch. They said they wanted to prepare for missions and that they wanted us to teach them how to teach better. We shared with them about testimonies and the five points to a really strong and simple testimony. They loved it! We decided to go on splits so they could go with one of us to a Family Home Evening with an investigator, while we went to teach a lesson to another to a boy in the Branch also preparing for a mission. Our lesson went so good. He asked so many questions about missionary life and how to share with the spirit. I gave him some advice on things that have helped me a lot.

Tuesday an investigator called us in the morning telling us to come to get breakfast with him because he had a friend he wanted us to meet. I grabbed our things and ran out the door. His friend is this lady who has a few kids who are studying in Australia. She said she really wanted to learn but wasn't sure about coming to church on Sunday. She was very funny, speaking a lot of English to us. We tried to pay for the meal but she wouldn't let us, and in Vietnamese culture you don't try and force it or they will get really mad. So she paid for us, and we called her a taxi. She asked me how long I would be in the city. I said probably for a long time, she said, "good". She said she was going to go to a few places and might do some shopping and then asked me if I would like to join her for like a date (kidding of course). (haha) I explained to her that we don't date until after our two years are up. She laughed and got in the car. She is hilarious though.

Wednesday all the leaders had to go to a leadership training meeting which lasted for nine hours. I just dropped off my companions and went on an exchange with a Vietnamese elder from the other two Branches. I was senior companion for the first time on my mission. It was kind of scary, right when we got outside the mission home gate, they were looking to me for direction on where to go, so we decided to start out in the Branch 3 area. I have really missed Branch 3 and it was just like old times going back. We taught two investigators that I had helped to find last transfer, which was really cool. In our second lesson, the spirit was really strong. I didn't waste a minute in inviting their investigator to be Baptized. His answer was amazing, "Who's gonna do it?". I was so happy that he was making an effort to change his life for the better. He said he will try to come to church. 

Then I thought I would show one of the Elders (who is still in training) the house of a less active member. We went by his workplace as well and we actually found him there! I asked if we could share a lesson with him. He said he was having a hard time reading the scriptures, but that he is trying to pray. He agreed that he needed to come back to church. I was so happy to hear that from him. After that lesson, we headed back to the mission home.             We had about 15 minutes to spare, so we stopped at this really good ice cream place… because one of the other elders said he was going to die if he didn't get some ice cream. 
It was really good.

Thursday was great! We had our studies, and of course weekly planning. That went really well. I have come to realize that if your weekly planning doesn't go well, then your week doesn't either. We headed straight out and then went to teach a couple lessons. We had one with a new investigator, Co Huong.  She was a little uneasy about meeting with us at first, but this time she told us to come over right away! We sat down and immediately, she pulled out a little booklet. She opened it up… and I couldn't believe it. She had written over 15 questions that she wanted to ask from reading through the pamphlets. We answered a lot of them and then taught her about the Restoration. I pulled out my Book of Mormon and gave it to her and she said she wanted to read it. Later that night we went on a split. I went to go and contact, while my companion went to teach another investigator. It didn't take us long to find some people to talk to. We went down one street and found a huge group just hanging out together. We started talking to them and ended up having five people listening in on our lesson. We taught most of Lesson 1 with them and received a few phone numbers. In the lesson that my companion went to go and teach, our investigator accepted Baptism for the end of this month! We met her last week. I could not believe my ears!

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Friday, we had Zone meeting and it was so good! It was all about the talk by D. Todd Christofferson,  "The Worth of A Soul". I got a better perspective on others as well as of myself. We need to see the potential of others. Having Christ like charity is a spiritual gift that we need to be praying continually for. I really enjoyed that talk, especially 
because he gave the same talk in a devotional at the MTC while I was there. Following that, I went on an exchange with my old Trainer Elder Barker! It was so great to combine forces again. It felt like it had been forever, but right away we got back into the swing of things. We went and taught a lesson to a recent convert. He helps us all the time to teach lessons and stuff. He asked if we could teach him a little more on Repentance. It was an amazing lesson and the spirit was so strong. Right after that, we went out contacting. He took me to this place where he had met a guy who spoke Vietnamese six months ago. He and his wife were home and invited us in. We naturally flowed into talking about the gospel. They were really interested, and they said they wanted to learn more about Christ and His Atonement. I gave them another Book of Mormon. They promised to read and pray about it.

Saturday wasn't too special. We went out to lunch with two investigators. It was actually really good. They are kind of better off than some of our other investigators so they wanted to go to a nicer place than the one that we chose. It was around three dollars each, which here is pretty expensive for a full meal. We taught a few more lessons that afternoon and then exchanged back. We taught a couple more lessons..

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Sunday was great! We almost broke a record with Sacrament attendance! 67 people. Our Branch goal is 75 by the end of the year! I know we can do it. We had a few of the usual investigators and our investigator from lunch the day before came as well! We met her this week! I was asked by the AP's to sit next to the Japanese guy for sacrament and try and translate or something because he didn't get to take the sacrament in the International Branch. I taught him a mini lesson based on the talks that were given. There is a little chubby boy in the Branch here that is always eating and running around. We have given him the title, "The Juggernaut". Yesterday, he was running around during Sunday School with a dry pack of Ramen Noodles in hand. He was running around making fighting noises and whenever he would get tired and stop, he would take a bite of his Ramen and "Power Up". (Hahaha) Everyone got a kick out of that. 

After church, we went to go teach Co Huong, who I had previously given a Book of Mormon to. We went with the Branch President. As we sat down, I looked on her little coffee table and saw that she had all the pamphlets out and that she had been reading from the Book of Mormon. She told us all about Lehi's dream and how interesting and amazing it was. We taught her of the Plan of Happiness and that can share the fruits of the Gospel with her family as well. She always gets so excited when we talk about the Gospel with her. Then we went to teach another lesson, and on the way, a recent convert stopped us in the road. He led us to a guy who sells food from his cart. He told us that this guy was his friend and that he wanted to come to church and learn about the Gospel. Then we taught our lesson and as we were helping clean up their food cart, we bumped into another guy. We asked him if we could meet and if he would be interested in learning. He said yes and that he also had friend that would want to learn as well!

In the mission, they made a standard of Excellence for us missionaries. The goal for the total lessons in a week is 24. We ended up getting 26 total lessons! That is more than most of the Khmer companionships get (from what I hear) and more than anything we have ever gotten before. My testimony that the Heavenly Father's work is being hastened has been strengthened so much this week. I know that if we stay obedient and diligent, Heavenly Father with bless us and that we have to earn His trust. This one was way long sorry, but I am just so grateful for all that is happening here! Love you all and hope you have the greatest week ever.

Elder Morris

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week 17: This week was full of miracles.

"Save me a piece of that corn!"

This week was full of miracles.

Monday was pretty normal aside from we had to go to the mission home to pick up some Elders coming in from Ho Chi Minh for Visas so we went out early. It was alright, we had to take them home first so they could drop off their bags and then we got stuck in the worst traffic. We ended up not getting to visit anyone.

Tuesday, we went on splits with the Elders who were visiting and then we went out to meet a potential investigator named Chu X. Sounds way cool right? Then we just contacted for about 3 hours around the area. We found 0 Vietnamese People. That was rough. We also had District meeting which was really great. Afterwords they thought it would be a good idea to use our lunch to go to this Japanese place called Roku. It was pretty good, I had Katsu Curry. Then we split up again and taught some more lessons.

Wednesday was really good! So... we have a member who does this thing called "Ep Chai". Basically they pull a cart around and pick up plastic and things that they find on the side of the road and then try and sell it. She works all day and only gets a few dollars for it. We felt we should do something, so we decided we would wake up early and gather all the plastic we had saved up over the months and take them over to her house... along with a special cake-type thing that we got as a gift from someone. 

We filled up 3 garbage bags with plastic and a few other things, I even tossed in a few of our bowls. We looked like Santa delivering presents on Christmas as we carried these huge bags while riding to this member's house. We knew she wouldn't be home so we sneaked in and put all of the stuff into her little shack of a house, and then left. We decided to contact for a few minutes while we were already out and about. We chose this little alley... This is when the miracles began. 

We walked about 50 yards and then I decided to ask a guy if he knew where the Vietnamese people were. I thought I was speaking really clearly, but he just didn't seem to understand what I was saying. So I thought... maybe I should just ask in Vietnamese. He then began speaking back in Viet to me. After a minute or two of introducing ourselves and just talking, his friend came and sat down. We asked if we could share with them and they said yes. After that, another one of his friends came and sat down. We were teaching this guy and his two friends... and as I was showing them parts of the pamphlet, a lady just passing by stopped to see what we were talking about... and then she left. We taught them the full lesson 1... and then they said they wanted to learn more.

They all wanted pamphlets, and gave us their phone numbers as well! I am overjoyed and this amazing series of events. After thanking them for talking with us, we started walking back to our bikes. Just as we were nearing the road, a lady calls out to me. I turned, and to my surprise it was the same lady that had stopped to see what was being taught. She said for me to give me all the pamphlets so she could learn more... and to right down our phone number and address to the church so she could come this Sunday

I couldn't believe what was happening! I wrote down everything and gave her the lesson pamphlets and we left. We went home for some lunch and then went back out to teach a lesson with one of our investigators. This guy is really educated and I was warned beforehand that he loves to talk. I didn't prepare myself for what happened. He went on and on talking so fast that I didn't know if it was Vietnamese or what! I was lost for a good 30 minutes. The whole lesson was so confusing. After the lesson we decided to stop at a Corn stand. They just grill corn on the cob and then dip it in this like garlic butter sauce, it was amazing! 

We stopped off back at home to grab some more banana bread for our other investigator and dropped it off at her house. That night we had an appointment with another investigator and this lady who works with him came over and wanted to talk about the Church. We taught her Lesson 1 as well. It was a really really good day. :)

Thursday was also really great. One of the Elders in our house had a birthday and his mom gave him money to buy us all a treat or something. We decided that we would order in some smoothie type of drinks from this place called BOBA. It was way good. Then we taught a lesson at a members house and finished the day with another Family Home Evening at our investigator's house.

Friday we set up a morning appointment with the lady from the alley that wanted to learn and come to Church. She is a quick learner. Then we went to our investigator Anh Thien's house again. I was scared because of the last visit with him. He just talks so fast. We taught him about prayer and had him share his experiences regarding prayer. He told us that he prayed and feels he needs to be baptized this next week! I understood that part and almost jumped out of my chair! After that meeting we met with another investigator of ours who is having problems at home. Her parents are not big fans of the Church and it has been a real struggle helping her progress towards baptism. In our lesson, she explained how she received personal revelation after reading a talk that we gave her, about having courage to stand up for what you believe in. She said she wants to talk to her parents about the Church and that she needs to be more courageous, she also said she wants to get baptized.

Saturday was a little empty because six of our seven planned appointments fell through. In our planning for the day, I felt that we really needed to try and teach a recent convert of ours who hasn't been taught in over three months. My companions said that they have tried countless times and she always comes up with excuses why she can't learn that day. I told them that we needed to try... and that it would work this time. We went over there and she and her husband were eating lunch. I pulled up a chair and just starting talking with them. I asked if we could share with them and they said that they were too busy today. I suggested just sharing with them while they eat. They agreed. We shared about temples and family history. Well, they finished eating and the lesson continued on for another 20 minutes. I know that the Spirit was there and that is why this new member stuck around to learn more.

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting. I love Fast Sundays! The lady from the alley came to church, along with anh thien and one other investigator. I felt that I should stand up and talk about how the Lord had blessed us this week... and how grateful I was for the efforts the Branch had made... and that our investigators have made. It probably wasn't the clearest of testimonies, but I am happy I went up. Then I got to teach the Priesthood Class with my companion. We taught about the Aaronic Priesthood. It was a good lesson and the boys tried really hard to pay attention. I am super grateful for them!

This week was a testimony to me that Heavenly Father prepares his children for the Gospel. I know that if a person will humble him or herself... and ask with real intent, the answers will come. I have a heart full of gratitude for the miracles, blessings, and tender mercies given to my companions and I. I love this Gospel and I testify that it is true. I know that... because Christ walked the path alone, we will never have to. I have seen seeds of faith grow within myself and I encourage all to feast on the word. I know that if we continually partake from the living waters we will be a light to others and our faith in the Redeemer of the World will be unshakable. I love you all and Hope you have the best week ever :)

Elder Morris