Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas in Cambodia

The past week and a half have easily been the busiest of my mission so far.  We missionaries were occupied with preparations and intensified proselyting efforts.  

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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I Unfold The Mysteries of the Universe Before Him

This week was alright.  I don't know the width of Cambodia from one end to anther, but I feel as though I've biked it a few times this transfer.  

On Wednesday my bike broke.  We were halfway to Baku it just quit.  The front wheel refused to spin despite all efforts, and we had to drag it for 45 minutes till we found a mechanic.  The mechanic was a good sport for dealing with it.  Most mechanics see my old bike and say "Too busy" or "Just buy a new bike, that thing is super old".  The guy ended up working at the front wheel for about an hour.  I can now ride it, but it wobbles hard in the front and its pretty grindy as far as pedalling goes.  The whole ordeal was unfortunate, BUT, it got me permission from the mission to purchase a new bike this week (the mission pays for it).  I'm super excited about that.  

Even though we bike a lot, it gives me time to talk to Elder Horn.  We have good conversations on the ride home from Baku at night.  I unfold the mysteries of the universe before him.  He was mind-blown when I told him that the light from the moon is a reflection of light that comes from the sun.  He spent the next few days telling people in our lessons, and they too were shocked.  I tell him about lots of things as we bike, and there's never a dull moment.  

We spent the majority of our week in Baku.  We had started proselyting in TK, but our lessons kept falling through and we felt that we would find more work in Baku at the present time.  We ended up having investigators at our Sacrament meetings in Baku and in TK as well on Sunday.  

Sacrament meeting was funny in TK yesterday.  I was translating for the senior couple and the district president had showed up to speak.  He went up and said "Well, basically everything I'd like to say today has been said in this talk in the Liahona magazine..." and he proceeded to read an article or two for the remainder the sacrament meeting.  I know how to translate...but not THAT fast.  The guy was reading it pretty quickly and the articles used words I'd never heard before.  In the end I think I got the gist across to the senior couple and I suggested that they read the articles for themselves for the full story.  

The "read a talk" when you "give a talk" approach seems to be pretty popular here in Cambodia.  The only issue is that the members seem to lose focus and stop listening after the first few lines.  I've learned a lot about how to keep people engaged in a lesson from my mission.  

On Wednesday I had quite a crowd at English class in Baku.  Every student is basic, so I end up teaching the ABC's for an hour and a half.  Our recent convert, "Songha" leads the class, having learned the ABC's from the previous missionaries.  I've endeavored to introduce key phrases to them like "What is that?" and the response "That is a...".  For only learning one day a week for a few weeks now, they are progressing well.  Many struggle with "S" sounds and "L's", but I make them say it over and over till they get it correctly.  

Thats a good review of my past week.  Have fun christmas shopping and taking pictures, etc.

Love, Elder Zierenberg

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I Like To Push Limits

This week was good,

On Monday we played Soccer again, went to a buffet in Phnom Penh, and started packing up our house in "Preh Ho".  They next Morning was the move.  

Tuesday Elders Anthony, Olsen, Horn and I, moved in with Elder Ty and Elder Lenguyen.  Their larger house can accommodate all of us quite comfortably and its been a party since then.  Moving was a bit stressful considering that it wasn't just our personal belongings, but the entire house as well.  Any appliances that we could carry and pack into the Tuk-tuk (moto-trailer carriage thing) came with us.  (Mattresses, dishes, fans, etc. )  So now we are all living together and settling in little by little.  

On Wednesday we had Zone Conference.  The major theme was "using time wisely".  Our leaders and President Moon had prepared some very inspiring lessons on this subject.  We gained an appreciation on how important the time that we have is.  Part of our training included searching the all scriptures that had references to "time" and how the Lord views it.  

Thursday was our first normal day for this past week.  P-day was over, the move was over, and so was Zone conference.  We had our weekly planning and proselyted.  

The weekend was spent predominately in Baku and that means "biking".  I was able to buy a new chain from my bike and tighten some things here and there and its been a bit better.  Elder Horn and I have a good pace when it comes to biking.  Some elders are slow,  but Elder Horn and I like to push limits when we bike.  Its a great workout besides how much vehicle exhaust we take in.  I don't think Cambodia has laws realted to the cleanliness of car exhaust.  Every car here blows out the darkest , thickest exhaust for everyone to breathe.  Most days I just wear a mask, but I don't know if it makes much difference.  

On Sunday we had church in both areas, and I enjoyed all the meetings.  Elder Horn and I were beat tired though and we had to keep each other from falling asleep through all the meetings.  In the Takhmao branch it was a bit easier staying awake because I was translating for the senior couple, and that always keeps me on my toes.  It was a good Fast-Sunday and many members got up and bore their testimonies.  The theme was mostly about Christmas and its interesting to see these people experience this holiday for the first time in their lives.  They don't understand everything, but they've got a good concept.  

Just like the other Elder Z, we also use the "He is the gift" cards as a contacting tool and we invite people to learn about Jesus Christ and this special holiday.  But our's say "Trueng kuu cia amnauytian".  

It'll be an interesting Christmas for sure.  

Have a great week everyone.  

Love, Elder Z

Sunday, November 30, 2014

They Marveled At Us

Hey everyone,

This week was pretty long.  What's good is that all the hard work pays off.  In our area(s) we were able to find many less actives homes and contacted pretty effectively as well.  We gained a few new investigators and even had one at church.  Balancing both Baku and Takhmao areas has required a lot of planning and good effort daily.  We are striving to work at the pace the Lord has set and we are seeing success.

On Monday we had a great game of soccer in the city.  I'm getting better, scoring goals etc..

That night we hit the streets of Stung Churoh, the ''Deep Lake", a neighborhood in our Takhmao area.  Many people in this area are fishermen, fishing in the lake daily.  Later we contacted and got a few potentials.  At one point we were biking across a bridge and saw a family working at a large dirt pile.  They were moving the dirt and placing it to make a path to their house.  Their house is on stilts, resting above the river.

Elder Horn and I quickly jumped off our bikes and began assisting them.  They marveled at us.  The neighbors peeked out their windows and doors to watch.  I could hear them saying things about "the giant french person in the white shirt and tie".  It was great though because afterwards the family comitted to come to english class* and church.  We had many other similar experiences.

*When they went to english class, I wasn't there (I was in Baku) and the father of the family (who speaks some english) kept going around asking the other missionaries where the "very big man" was *hands stretched up above his head to show size*.

Thanksgiving was fun.  We headed to the senior couple's house as a zone and had a feast.  It was my first time having mashed potatoes since the MTC in July.  It was fun to discuss the gratitude we all had for various blessings in our lives.  This week I took much thought and study of the sacrifices of the early saints, which made the church as we know it, a possibility. I had many unforgettable spiritual experiences this past week as my thoughts were turned to the early saints.

As always, my bike was a pain this week.  The chain fell off more times than I can count and severely slowed down travels to and from Baku.  It was a little frustrating, and quite a few times Elder Horn and I switched bikes at my insistence so I could tow him (Horn on my useless bike) and I pedal us both to Baku (me on his bike). 

As for news for this week, President has asked us to move in with the Elders closer to the Takhmao church.  Their house is much larger with some 7 bedrooms and only one companionship currently using it.  I like our current house despite the small size.  It have a nice bathroom and shower (rare in Cambodia), and a nice convenient bedroom for Elder Horn and I.  

Thats all I've got for this week.  I spent most of my days finding the homes of lost members.  Its pretty difficult and time consuming because no one has an address here.  We are forced to rely on the map drawing skills of previous missionaries.  A lot of dogs barking at us, people pretending they don't know us (but they do, we have their picture on the CBR), and a ton of sweating.  Its worth it though because we now know our areas better  and know new people to meet with.  

Shout out to my brother Gabe! Today (Dec. 1st) is his 9th Birthday!

Love, Elder Jake Zierenberg

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Companion - Elder Horn

This week was eventful,

On P-day Elder Keo and I headed into the city for our last P-day together.  After a bit of emailing, we headed to the mission home to check for mail. Elder Keo, a few other elders, and I then headed to "P'saa T'mey" (the "new market"). It's a famous market in Cambodia and it is massive.  I walked in and I was instantly surrounded by merchandise.  Everything and anything you could ever think of (minus a few american food items maybe).  It was super cool and If I ever need anything, I know where to get it.

Tuesday we had district meeting and we went out to lunch with the senior couple afterward.  At 1:00 pm we met up with President Moon at the TK chapel.  He and sister Moon wanted to meet the non-member family of a sister missionary.  They lived in Baku.  The family lived just a bit farther than Baku, lucky for us, President was driving.  We met with the mother and father of the sister, delivered her letters to them, and talked with them for a bit.  We invited them to learn and shared our testimonies.  President Moon spoke khmae directly to them and I translated for Sister Moon as she shared her thoughts, experiences, and testimony.  It was good to meet with them and we hope to have them at church in the near future.  

Tuesday night/Wednesday I went on an exchange with Elder Le Nguyen (from my original MTC group).  We had a good time.  I found some rat traps in his backyard and set them. When we came home that night we had caught two!  One of them was the size of a small cat.  I think Cambodian rats are bigger than american ones.  

Wednesday Night we had English class and it was special activity/show-case night.  Many students got up and shared their English speaking talents.  Most of them sang songs.  One girl sang a song called "Give me a chance""? I think by "Clean bandit". I had never heard it so I assume it new? Haha  

Thursday was Elder Keo's last day in Takhmao/Baku, so we visited many members and he said his goodbye's.  

Friday was transfers.  Elder Keo and I headed into the city by Tuktuk.  We talked about how short our transfer together had been and discussed the new one that was beginning.  We ate lunch together in the city and said our farewells.  I've been with Elder Horn ever since.  

Elder Horn is 24 years old, from Stungmeanjey, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  He's a great missionary and a very coveted companion in this mission.  I'm excited to spend the next 2-3 transfers with him.  We teach well together and he is very knowledgeable in language questions.  I feel that through our combined efforts we will see miracles happen in TK/Baku area.

-អែលឌើរ Z

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Happy 6 months!

Hey Everybody,
So this week was pretty chill. This week we had church General Authorities in town, some great lessons, and some record breaking numbers in Phnom Penh East district. 
This week we had a few area authorities come to Phnom Penh and they took the time to speak to the missionaries.  It was great to learn from them and receive updates on the progress that our mission, the Cambodia/Vietnam mission, is making.  They told us that we are one of the fastest progressing missions in the world.  Some 1/3 of all investigators get baptized, and our missionaries know the language we teach in. We have gone from zero to 2 stakes during my mission, and East district (my current proselyting area) is about to become the 3rd stake.  At district conference on Sunday we had nearly 400 people in attendance.  15 new Melchizedek Priesthood holders were announced in our district as well. 

The newly opened area, Prey Veng, had it first sacrament meeting this past sunday.  Elder Krump and Elder Long have been proselyting there for the past 2 and a half weeks.  They had 22 people in their rented house for sacrament meeting.  The work here is great and I'm very excited to be part of it. 
Other news is that transfer calls was last night.  I'm staying in TK/Baku, and Elder Keo will be going to an area in the city.  Elder Horn is coming from the provinces to be my companion.  He's super good and I knew him while I was in my training.  He's khmae, knows a ton of english, and works pretty hard.  I'm excited to work with him and see miracles here in TK/Baku.  I'll miss elder Keo, we ended up getting pretty close in the short transfer, especially at the end. 
This week we also attended a wedding at our church building.  Two returned missionaries got married by President Moon.  It was great and they'll be headed to be sealed in the temple soon. 
We had some good lessons this week and a few things stood out to me.  One is that many people we teach are concerned with the eternal destiny of their nonmember families.  They feel that God's path will lead them to happiness, but their families wont be in heaven with them (because they are nonbelievers).  Some even think that if the choose not to follow God's plan, they wont go to heaven, but they will be with their families elsewhere.  I took the opportunity to clarify and testify that God's plan is all about families.  It is God that wants us to be happy with our families forever, and Satan who desires separation and sadness.  Through God's plan we can receive those blessings.  That is a big thing that really struck out to me this week. We teach about #1 Jesus Christ #2 Families #3 Loving one another.  Those are the three big things that summarize our message.  Its a good message and it changes lives everyday.
It was a good week here.  Shout-out to my sister Belle, her 14th Birthday is on Friday. (:
Love you guys, Elder Z

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Good Work Done This Week


**Sorry I don''t have much time to write today...It took forever to get into my myldsmail acc...I don't know why...

Okay so this week was pretty long, but it was good.

To start off, P-day, Elder Keo and I biked into the city.  We found a place to email, printed some pictures, went to a sketchy khmae buffet, and made a stop at the mission home to visit with friends.  Before heading home, we got fresh hair-cuts.

Tuesday we had District meeting, and handed out English class flyers.  Tuesday night all 6 of us elders had "Pontia Gohn" or Embryonic Duck egg.  The Khmae elders had bought like 25 of these eggs.  I just cracked the egg open like a boiled egg and out comes a 75% developed baby duck.  Beak, feet, feathers, and all. Tasty.  You just eat the curled up ball thing with rice.  I haven't gotten sick yet so I should be fine right?

Wednesday was great, all the missionaries in Phnom Penh and near vicinity were invited to go to a special fireside with THE Church Historian speaking.   The Church Historian, his counselors, and Hong Chi Wong...(I think that's his name)....The guy who spoke Cantonese in conference.

They shared about the importance of record keeping.  The whole meeting really inspired me to write in my journal more detailed and to keep the commandment to keep a record.  Afterwards they met, spoke to, and individually shook hands with each missionary.

Elder Keo and I got a lot of good work done this week.  We committed our investigator Bong Tuen to be baptized on November 16th.  We hope that his family will follow suit.  The work is great here, good things are happening.  

On Sunday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting.  I don''t think it was perfect, but I spoke for a solid 5 minutes of so.  The topic was conference and I didn't have much time to prepare so I just brought my conference notes up to the stand and shared some thoughts about what had been said.  All my notes were written in English so I just went into translating mode and I thought I did pretty good.Elder Keo wasn't able to speak because he has a cold.  I had one too, but I think american are more immune than Khmae's.  We get colds every year, for them its not very often.  He had it pretty bad, he almost didn't want to leave the house to email today. 

I've been studying my language like crazy. Reading everyday, looking up words, speaking with Keo.  Its super great and I enjoy my language study time.  

Well that''s about what I did this week.  

Enjoy the Photos:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

In The Takhmao

Hey everyone,

So this week was fun.  Since I'm new to the area(s) ...(we have 2)..I spent the majority of the week meeting people.  We had some good lessons that I'll never forget.

So in the Takhmao area we've got a pretty good setup.  The area is about 15 minutes bike ride from our house.  Usually we like to have our lessons at the CHURCH's so great to have that.  It's built by the church, so it feels like home.  The building is very clean and convenient for our purposes.  

Our second area, Baku is very far away...ridiculously far away.  It's out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by miles and miles of rice fields.  It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes of fast biking to get there.  We don't have a church, but we've got a small tin-roofed shack with plastic chairs and a white board that we meet in.  On Sunday we packed about 20 members into that room and had a sacrament meeting.  Halfway through it started raining hard and ...a tin roof + hard rain = can't hear a thing.  So they just sat down and stopped giving talks and we had a closing hymn and prayer.  It was a 25 minute sacrament meeting.  I was in disbelief about how short it was.  After the rain died down they had a little gospel doctrine/discussion class.  I may not be perfect at the language, but I can listen and understand a lot.

I kept having to interrupt the lesson and correct the false doctrine that was being taught.  The lesson was supposed o be on the plan of salvation, but they ended up talking about outer darkness for about 45 minutes.  Elder Keo and I went up at the end and taught a brief, concise overview of the plan of salvation to clear up any confusion that may have arisen throughout the lesson.      

The hardest part about the new area is all the biking.  It seems like we spend more time biking than we do teaching or meeting with people.  The worst part is that my bike in this area isn't too great.  The tires are always low on air, the back wheel wobbles hard, pedaling is really choppy and I have no rear breaks.  What's more, I have no bell to warn the crazy drivers around me not to hit me. I kinda need that bell more than you might realize.  

So that's some of the tough stuff for the week.  Whats cool is that everyday my Companion makes us a big lunch.  He cooks so good! Elder Keo was a chef at one of the most famous restaurants in Phnom Penh before his mission.  He cooks up a big lunch and we eat it on the floor in our bedroom. We sit cross-legged facing each other with our food in-between us. Also, I think I have officially mastered the use of chopsticks.

After church in Baku we biked as fast as we could to get home, eat, and then go to church in Takhmao.  We made it home in just under an hour, ate a super quick lunch,and headed straight to church (round 2 for the day).  Church was cool.  I'm the designated translator for the senior couple in our branch.  So basically I sit behind the Hollenzer's and translate the talks and announcements into English. Then after the meeting I follow them around as they visit with members and translate their questions / the member's responses.  Translating definitely keeps me awake during church.  

After church we had two baptisms.  Bong Jeep and Bong Same got baptized! They're two young men who have been learning for a while and I have enjoyed teaching them a few times since arriving.  They even invited a friend to their baptisms,  He wants to learn as well so we got a referral from them already.  

So it was a killer week. I also had an overnight exchange in Kien Svaay.  I was with Elder Satterthwaite (recently retired AP).  We had a ton of success and I learned a lot from him.  He's a hard worker, and I thought we had some really good unity in our teaching.  Those are lessons I will never forget. We ended up getting like 7 lessons that day and some 18 contacts or so.  I really enjoyed the exchange.  

On the spiritual side of things I've been studying my scriptures pretty hard.  My goal is to read and study the whole Book of Mormon through in a transfer, and so far i'm on track. Its been really good and I can feel strength coming to my proselyting because of it.  I would encourage everyone to put effort into studying it. Not reading, but  really "studying" the words of the prophets.  You will be blessed.  

Love, Elder Z


Elder Keo and I travelling through the city at night

The baptism of Jeep and Same...(Yes people like to hold hands in pictures haha)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Conference Was Fantastic

Hey Everyone,

This is Elder Z reporting from Takhmao, Cambodia.  I'm officially out of training and out of Kampong Cham as well.  

I had a great last week with Elder Clark and headed out Friday morning.  It was tough leaving that elder, we got pretty close after 2 months together.  We took a bus for a few hours into the city (Phnom Penh).  

Once in the city, I was a little overwhelmed by all the buildings and people.  I've been in a province for the past few months and its very primitive out there.  Phnom Penh is like LA, just more Asians. I was able to get right off the bus and start talking to/answering the questions of nearby people standing at the curb.  After a minute or so they ask, "So, how many years have you lived in Cambodia for?" They are always taken aback when I tell them "Uh yeah...I've been here for 2 months". I guess my language is pretty good...?  That was a big confidence booster.  

At the mission home I was greeted by many of my old MTC buddies. Namely Elder Christensen, Paramore, Le Nguyen, (and Elder Elieson had accompanied me on my travels).  It feels like decades since I've seen those guys.  It was a very happy reunion.

I was able to quickly spot out my new comp Elder Keo (Pronounced "Gaio").  Elder Keo and I then headed to our house in Takhmao.  It’s a nice house, an old sister's apartment.  Now elders get to tear it to shreds I guess.  

Elder Keo is cool.  He has been a member for about 3-4 years, and been on a mission for 8 months or so.  He speaks ZERO English, at least I have yet to hear him speak an English word anyways.  It’s fine though we just speak Khmae.  We've had some killer lessons the past few days and I've been pretty pleased with what speaking khmae 24/7 is doing for my teaching.  Yeah, so the language is super legit and so is my companion.  We also have two baptisms this week.  

Conference was awesome!  The speaker line up this year was fantastic.  I got to watch Conference in English at the south stake center in Phnom Penh.  It is the most beautiful, large, extravagant building I've seen in Cambodia.  The stake center here is (no joke) better that the Thousand Oaks stake center. It’s super modern and comparable to a temple.  I enjoyed conference a lot and got some good notes.  The Sunday afternoon speaker, Elder Katcher, the man who spoke about "rip-tides" and his 16-year old daughter......That 16 -year-old girl is Sister Katcher, now older, serving her mission here in Cambodia.

My first night in Takhmao was fun.  Elder Keo and I spent 20 minutes trying to track down a rat that had gotten in our room.  After a struggle we finally beat it to a bloody pulp with a broomstick.  It was great a companionship bonding activity and we were laughing/screaming the whole time.  

The city is crazy.  Nothing like the provinces.  I have been given churros, Burger King, KFC, and home cooked meals by sister Moon.  Food is so plentiful out here, it makes Kampong Cham seem impoverished.  (Which it is).  

Anyway I had a big week.  It sounds like it was a big week back home as well. 

I love you all, Elder Z (The one in Ching Chong Chang)


"My last day in Kampong Cham"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Life Changing Knowledge

Hey Everyone,

The week flew by...


My favorite day of the week I think...The day I stopped being sick. :) 4-5 days of Vitamin C finally paid off..  After emailing home, Clark and I headed out to find a computer guy who could convert a bunch of "Mormon Messages" on a USB Flash-drive into a format that could be played on our DVD player.  It was super cheap and we just came back a few hours later and now we have about a dozen "Mormon Messages" that we can watch whenever we want. After that we headed to the other elder's house to visit with Elder Quirante for a bit.  At 5:00 we started proselyting again, had some good contacts and an active-member lesson.

Tuesday we headed over to an investigator's place to do service.  The reason I say "place" and not "house" is because he is currently building it.  We spent about 3 hours moving a massive pile of gravel from the street, over to the construction area.  It was a good work out and it felt good to wield a shovel again for the first time in 6 months.
That afternoon Clark and I stood out in the middle of a busy street and handed out English class flyers. Basically I hold up a sign that says "Free English Class" (both in English and Khmae script), and Clark hands out flyers to motorists and cars that drive by.  It’s funny because people will do some crazy maneuvering just to get they're hands on whatever the "white people" are handing out.  After handing out nearly 200 flyers in about 8 minutes....we went and taught our progressing investigator Lookpu Pheap.  We had a great lesson with him and committed him to be baptized.  He's great, has a family, and he is quick to recognize truth.  He has investigated 2-3 other churches before, but he feels that he has found where he is meant to be.

Wednesday we had English class and a few new people showed up (Our flyers were a success). That night we met with our recent convert Nani and taught him about receiving the priesthood, and committed him to prepare accordingly.

Thursday we had weekly planning.  Weekly planning is the best thing ever.  We sit down for an hour or two and we plan out our whole next week hour-to-hour. Its great for goal setting and maximizing our time out here.

Friday was Zone training. We reviewed old goals, set new goals, and received instruction from the president through our ZL.  We learned that by next week there will be 67 total companionships in our mission.  One thing that was shared that stuck out to me was a quote about President Monson: "President Monson does things that others only think about doing".  I have learned in my two months here that we need to do things that others only think about doing, and that by showing our faith we will see miracles happen.

Also on Friday we met with a member that lived on the island.  The man has been a member a while and has read through the Book of Mormon a few times.  He's somewhat of an expert I guess.  While we were visiting with the family the father looked at me and said "Elder Zierenberg... Zieren... Mountain...."  I was in disbelief thinking that this guy living on a random island in Cambodia knew German somehow and translated "Berg" as "mountain".  Then he said "Ether 12:30".  We looked up the scripture and here's what we found: 

  30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.

I got a kick out of that.  It totally talks about us in the Book of Ether! 

Saturday morning we had service at our investigator's house again. We helped move a large stack of bricks this time.  After an hour or so of that we headed home.  On our way home we ran into a member of our branch presidency. He told us that a sick, bedridden man in our branch had passed away and that he was headed to the funeral.  He asked to go with him, even though we were in t-shirts and shorts from service still.  
We went to the funeral and saw the dead man, still in the bed where he always was when we visited the family.  This time he was covered by a white sheet, and many Buddhist decorations surrounded his body.  The funeral was half Buddhist, Half LDS. As Clark says: "I guess just in case one didn't workout on the other side, he had a back up plan" haha. They did a bunch of Buddhist chants and stuff over his body, and lit incense, etc.  It was sad and the family was crying.  Then the Branch president and a few members from the branch came up and we sang "I am a child of God" (khmae version) and I'm telling you, the atmosphere in the room completely changed.  The Spirit was strong and a feeling of love was over the funeral.  The District President then blessed the grave.  We closed singing "Till We Meet Again".  After that we left and the funeral went on, Buddhist-style for all I know.  What I do know, is that the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  I know that we do not reincarnate, or cease to exist, but rather we will live again because Christ did.  I know that we can live with our families forever in happiness if we will follow His plan.  That is the best knowledge I could ever ask for.  It’s life-changing knowledge.

Sunday we had church.  Our new progressing investigator accepted our invitation and attended church.  It was fast Sunday and many members got up and bore their testimonies.  Then, out of nowhere, our investigator gets up and starts bearing his testimony! It was the sweetest thing ever.  He was talking about how grateful he was to come to church that day, and how he likes the elders, and how important church is.  It was great.  He was using prayer words (imagine like how we use "thou" and "thee" in English)  It was sorta like 50% testimony, 50% like he was saying a prayer when he went up.  It was good though because he was using the correct form for praying (Address God, Thank-thee's, requests, close in His name), so he must have been paying attention when we taught him prayer the other night. :)

Everyone in the congregation was looking back at us elder's and smiling and giving us thumbs ups and stuff.  Our investigator killed it and he stayed for all three hours too! Two more weeks and he can be baptized.

I have received my new assignment.  I finish my training this week and I'll be transferring out.  I'm headed to the "Baku" (Like "Aku" from Samurai Jack) and "Dakmau" area.  It’s a couple areas spread out, but all combined into one.  My new companion is named Elder Gaio, and he's from Cambodia.  I've never met him, but it sounds like he doesn't speak any English so I'll be using my Khmae a lot more.  

My new area is not in the City but its pretty close (like an hour bike ride).  I'm still sort of in the "Kites" (provinces) to some extent.  I'm excited, but sad to leave all my friends and Elder Clark here in Kampong Cham.  Clark is the new Zone Leader here.

So yep, that's my week.  Hope everybody is doing well!

Love, Elder Z (In Cambodia)

 Here's what buddhists have instead of Angel Moroni's on their temples.  It means like the 7 states of reincarnation.  On the 7th one (highest) become a state of nothingness.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Few Good Lessons

This week was packed with all sorts of things.  It was challenging because I was sick the majority of the week with food poisoning (and other South-East Asian diseases for all I know) but that didn't stop our proselyting efforts.  I learned my lesson though, if you eat food from the members, you get sick.  

The only problem is, you have to eat it or else they'll hate you.  For instance, Sunday night we were dropping by a member’s house on the way to another appointment.  Somehow they managed to force us inside and handed each of us a bowl of bowled pumpkin in water stuff.  It was gross, but we were late to our appointment and we had to at least take a few bites.  After eating half the bowl we did a little Asian bow and said, "Thank you very much, we have to go to another appointment now".  The member guy responded "No, hurry finish that bowl, I've got more"...*placing a big pot of the slime in front of us*.... We then said "Uh no thanks, we have to go now..."  So then the guy went on a big spiel about how the last missionaries were "cooler" than us and that they always ate tons of his food and would come hang out for 2-3 hours at a time.
Luckily we made it out of there, and got to our next appointment (who also decided to feed us :/ )  We ended up spending the next few days battling sickness as a result.  Being sick put a lot more stress on our already very busy week.  Although it was still a good week in my book.

After emailing we met up with the senior couple and the rest of our district and did some sight seeing.  The senior couple, Elder and Sister Dilworth, finished their mission this past week.  They drove us to see a cool zoo and a natural water spring/waterfall.  At the zoo I saw all kinds of animals like… ostriches, birds, lizards, fish, bears, boars, porcupines, and monkeys.  I think the Khmae's there were paying more attention to us than the animals though.  It’s not too often that they see white people.   

One crazy thing did happen at the zoo...

We were all looking into the monkey cages at one point.  Out of the corner of my eye, on the other end of the cage, a small girl (maybe 3-4 years-old) had been standing near the cage.  A larger monkey swung down and reached through a gap in the cage and GRABBED the little girls arm!  The monkey then proceeded to pull her whole arm into the hole in the cage, and started trying to eat it or something.  A nearby man was able to pull the child away from the cage and crazy monkey, and give her to her mom.  The girl was screaming, and seemed to be very frightened, but not seriously injured.  

2nd lesson learned this week: Monkey's are insane, avoid them.  

Tuesday was an average day.  I do have one good story though... 
Tuesday night we met with a less-active member outside a cafe were he works.  The cafe was closing and the lady there was shutting things down for the night. Very generously she brought elder Clark and me drinks, free of charge.  Awesome right?!? ....No, not awesome.  It was Coffee.  We don't drink that.  We apologetically and politely told her that we couldn't drink the coffee and that water (even dirty Cambodian water) would be fine.  She seemed to take it pretty well, but then she returned with sugar… like for the coffee I think?  So once again we told her we couldn't drink it.  Then I saw her go and start coming back with another drink. Thank goodness right?!?...No, it was Tea this time.  :/

We told her that we couldn't drink that either, and that plain water would be fine.  She just kinda waved us off and told us to "drink up" and walked away.  So here you've got two missionaries and a less-active member.  On the table we have Coffee and Tea.  It was a party.

We actually turned it into a teaching opportunity.  The less-active was able to witness the whole thing, and perhaps he was a bit impressed by our resilience.  We tied the whole thing into our lesson on "Enduring to the end", and explained that difficult circumstances come up, and we have to choose the right no matter what.  We promised him blessings and committed him to "endure to the end".

Wednesday was the day the Senior couple were leaving.  Elder Clark and I made a stop by their house in the morning to see them off, and they gave us basically all the food they had in their house! J  Few things compare to how happy I was when we received that food.  They had tons of expensive, imported American stuff. That day, Clark and I were able to stock our dusty, empty cabinets with food.  It was maybe the biggest score so far this mission. (besides Lookpu Nani's baptism of course)  Just to list a few food items we received: Carrot cake mix box, a couple of Jello mix boxes, a big container of oatmeal, brown rice, a container of chocolate powder for cooking, Crisco, all sorts of seasonings, raisins, craisins, Beef Jerky, dried mango, Barbecue sauce, and on and on.  (That may sound like nothing to you people over in USA, but here in Cambodia....that is the food of King's.) We will be eating great through the end of the transfer.  So that was one big blessing this week.

On Thursday we found a place that sells good fortune cookies.  The only problem is that they only sell them in 9 lb quantities. They were pretty cheap Clark and I have about 9 lbs of fortune cookies in our house...

On Friday we had service in the morning.  We served the same guy as last week I guess he had called the elders and said that we weren't done yet and he had more for us to do.  He's an investigator for the 1st branch elders, and he has a nice family.  I do wish they would help with the service more though...When we started working on Friday morning the guy said "I gotta go eat first", so we were like "okay" and started working.  3 hours later we were still working and the guy hadn't come back yet.  We finished up the job and headed back to our bikes.  The guy was just chilling in his hammock!  So yeah that was kinda annoying.  Again though, I do love service and its always a great workout, I just hope he gets baptized.  

Saturday was a big day.  We had a 24 hour exchange (Friday night through Saturday night).  It was Elieson and I holding down 2nd branch, and Clark headed to 3rd branch with the Zone Leader, Elder Krump.  At this point in my training I wasn't nervous at all to be sort of on our own.  (Elieson and I are from the same MTC group, we're both pretty new).  I was confident that we could handle the busy day, language and all.  We ended up having a great, successful day.  3 lessons, 2 meetings, and a referral.  After lunch we headed out to the Island and I was able to find the home of the less active who lived there.  We met 3 member families on the island, and had two lessons there as well.  
Saturday was a big confidence booster for me because I felt proficient enough in the language to carry out every task we had planned.  It is amazing how much we have learned in our 2 months here.  It was a blast proselyting with Elieson, and seeing each other's missionary-growth once again.  

On Sunday Lookpu Nani got confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Through out the week we were able to teach him and prepare him for these things.  Also, Elder Clark and I spoke in Church.  I gave a talk on "The One and True God".  It went well and I was able to speak for a solid 4-5 minutes on the topic and finish with my testimony.  I was able to ponder on the reality that it is only through Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father's plan that we can have happiness in this life and the next.

As for proselyting, we had a few good lessons with some less-actives, contacts, etc..

Announcements for the week:  
This week the Cambodia Phnom Penh mission announced that it would be opening two new areas.  "Prey Veng" and "Pursat" will be opening up very soon for missionary work.  The government gave us the green-light on proselyting in those areas after years of trying to get in.  It’s super exciting and maybe I'll get the chance to serve in one of these new areas.  

Also.... Transfer call is this Friday the 5th and I'll find out if I go, or stay here in Kampong Cham.  Our guess is that I go somewhere else, and Clark will train again here in KC.  To be honest I'd be totally fine with spending another transfer with Clark.  It’s pretty unlikely though.

That's all I've got for this week.  Hope everybody is safe and having fun.

Elder Z