This week has been so important to me. First off, I finished my assignment as District Leader. I loved that assignment. The weekly interviews I held with members of my district have been some of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I will really miss the assignment, but I'm confident that Elder Elieson is capable and ready for it.
The reason why I said that this week was so important for me was because of an experience I had. Growing up in the Young Mens's Organization, all my leaders would always say "I gained my real-lasting testimony during my stay at the MTC". That they had prayed and asked God if the church was true, and received an answer in some form or another. Before entering the MTC, I had made it a goal to have a similar "life changing" experience here. Despite having a previously gained my testimony, I still really wanted an unquestionable, REAL experience. Something that would be an anchor to me during my mission, and for the rest of my life even. I spent the last 7 weeks searching for that experience, doing the things I was supposed to do, praying, reading my scriptures, etc. After about week 4, I started having doubts that Heavenly Father was going to give me that experience, because He knows me, and He knows I already have a testimony. I figured He saved such things for people who really needed it, and that I would be fine without it. Besides, He has given me many, many testimony building experiences here already.
I continued to pray, and to study. I changed my mindset, that I no longer needed an experience, and that I needed to forget myself, to be humble, and focus on serving the people of Cambodia. It was as soon as I started doing that, that I got my answer.... The one I wanted all along....
My experience has taken my testimony and built it so strong. After my experience this week, I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father called ME to Cambodia. *There is nothing random, nothing surprising, about my call to Cambodia. I also know that He prepared me for this call, this language, and for the people. He was preparing me before I even put my application papers in.*
I now know greater than I ever have before that God is our Heavenly Father. I know that He has called me to represent His true church. I also know that Heavenly Father knew and knows of our needs and struggles, and that He blesses us accordingly. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything else, not even the Beach House. I don't need to question, to doubt, or second-guess myself. I'm just going to do my best and serve to the greatest of my ability. I have my anchor.
On Tuesday we went to a Devotional with 6 Apostles present. Elder Christofferson gave the most beautiful, rich, and organized talk I have ever heard. He speaks like a modern day Isaiah, and every sentence could be a half hour discussion on its own. The talk was so well prepared, and woven with scripture references and quotes. Elder Bednar, Elder Oaks, Elder Nelson, Elder Ballard and Elder Anderson were all seated on the stand. The Presiding Bishopric and several of the Seventy were also there. We have been blessed by so many great examples and representatives during our stay here.
My companion, Elder Christensen and I had some powerful lessons with our investigators this week. We taught Bong Ni (who we committed to baptism), about the word of wisdom, "ch'bah sokhaphiap". He was receptive and we committed him to live it. Bong Ni is awesome, and he's progressing fast. Our other investigator, Lookpu Tri, gave us a curveball during our lesson this week. We've been teaching him a while, and he WAS reading the Book of Mormon everyday, but this week he told us that he didn't really understand the purpose of the book. I was confused because I have taught him the purpose of the Book of Mormon like 3 times already and he just can't seem to get it. Elder Christensen went into our lesson prepared to teach about prophets, but our main focus became the B.O.M. I was able to tell him about how God calls prophets to speak for Him. I told Lookpu tri that Prophets give us guidance from the Lord. (I keep having to translate my thoughts from Khmae into English so I can type this).
For the Book of Mormon , I was able to help Lookpu Tri to know that prophets of God had written the scriptures for us:
"Somrab Preahkompii moomoon, Khnom baan aac Lookpu Tri yuel tha pshhiaakarei nei Preah baan saasee Preahkompii somrab yeeng."
Yesterday Elder Christensen and I spoke with Sister Teb, from Cambodia. She's been a member 2 years and is now here learning English so she can serve in the CA, Redlands Mission. We speak Khmae with her and we communicate pretty well. It's awesome to see the fruits of our labors. We even make jokes and come up with clever phrases in khmae. She's cool.
Oh, as for other good news, I am really good at basketball now (Never would have for-seen this). All week I was raining baskets from half court during our games. Consistently too, not just lucky shots. Seven weeks of shooting everyday have paid off. Oh and I have a little carpet burn on my hand from wrestling with my Zone. I had a little match this week with an elder who thought he could take anyone.... I threw him so fast with a little fancy foot sweep, (and I even got the zone cheering)... Elder Christensen said he had gained a new respect for me and other elders still bring it up now and then.
There is an Elder Nixon here from Texas going to Taiwan and he says he is related to the Daley's from Moorpark 1st. Also, there's an Elder Peirce? Pearce? from TO 4th ward in my residence building. I'd never met him but he says he went to Mormon Prom with Marissa Fletcher. We had a ton of mutual friends.
I really had an awesome week, and I'm excited for the two weeks I have left here. Us “Cambo's” are among the oldest missionaries in the MTC now, and we are ready to head out. This Friday there will be a fourth of July celebration, and we will get to watch the fireworks (thanks to our awesome MTC president). This will be two 4th of July's in a row that I've been in Utah for. Thank you everyone for all the emails and letters/dear elders. I really appreciate it. I'm healthy, usually pretty alert ;), and happy. I know how important the Gospel is, and I know they need it in Cambodia. Tonight I will Skype-teach with Cambodians. Last week's lesson went well and I anticipate that if we are prepared, tonight’s can be great as well.
Thank you all,
Love Elder Z