The missionaries from Cambodia and Vietnam all traveled to Phnom Penh where we had our Christmas activities. We started out with a service project. We made gift bags for the youth in our areas, filling them with journals, candy, and pictures of the temple. The theme was standing in holy places, and the majority of the work was designing the covers on the journals. I spent most of my time on that task.
During the service activity, the missionaries from the distant provinces were arriving by bus, car, and moto-taxi. It really started to feel like Christmas more and more with each reunion. Seeing Elder Clark (my trainer) for the first time in 3 months was great. Being back with Elder Christensen and the others from our group was also the best. We all took note that it was the Sisters in our group's first and last Christmas in Cambodia.
The mission had prepared a ton of food for everyone in attendance. Through out the events, listened to several devotionals, and received good of instruction from President Moon. I felt very inspired to make a few new year's resolutions as I commence my first full year (Jan-Dec) as a missionary.
The Mission Christmas celebrations ended on Thursday (Christmas day). Friday morning we skyped home. And Saturday was our branch Christmas party. Cambodian people have the craziest, biggest celebrations, no matter how clueless they may be on Christmas traditions/culture. I was impressed by the large number of people in attendance. I think the "free food" attracted the masses. There was a large group of drunk people that came from an area in 2nd branch, they came, they ate, and they left. Haha
One event happened during the party that I wont forget was when the Branch president came to us and announced that we (the missionaries) would be singing "Hark the Herald angels sing" two minutes before we had to go up. None of us knew the words, except maybe the first verse. We had no hymn books in English, except Elder Ty's small pocket hymn book. So we courageously went up to sing, no-rehearsal, no practice, we just went. 6 elders and 2 sisters crowded around the tiny hymn book and struggled to read the small print. Half way through we were all basically humming, one of the sisters was giggling, and we were done for. At that point we laughed/hummed the rest of the hymn and sat down. I think the audience and branch president really got a kick out of it. Maybe next time they'll tell us in advance(:
The Christmas party was closed with a crazy dance party, and I'm not sure when it ended exactly. The next morning our church attendance numbers were low, probably due to exhaustion from the party. We too were exhausted, and staying awake in church was no easy task.
Sunday night was transfer calls, and I'm staying with Elder Horn. I was happy about that, and I think I'll be in TK/Baku for at least 1 more transfer.
We are excited to be going into the 2015th year this week. Take time to decide who YOU want to be this year.
Have a great New Year's.
Love, Elder Zierenberg
Elder Clark and me... "The Reunion"
Christmas dinner with the boys