Monday, July 21, 2014

First Week In Cambodia

The past few days feel like a really weird dream.  We left the MTC on Tuesday, and the travels went pretty well. 

On the way to SLC Airport we were on a bus with three or four 16-17 year old kids.  They kept asking each other (loudly so we could hear) "Hey, have you ever read the book of Satan?", and then when they got off the bus they told us "don't forget to read the book of Satan!"  and after we helped them get their bikes off.  
Our little Group going to Cambodia/Vietnam was about 14 people.  We stayed together and didn't have too many complications.  It was so nice to be in LA for the few hours I was there.  It was overcast and cool, better than the hot Utah I had come from.  The flight to Hong Kong was interesting, I've never been surrounded by so many Asian people in my life.  We sat on the left side of the big plane, and the seats went:  Sister Uresk (window seat), Me (middle), and a 21-year old Asian woman (aisle seat).  They fed us Asian food and there were tons of movies going on all around.  I fell asleep like two hours after boarding (we were maybe an hour's flight off the coast) and when I woke up again we were flying over Japan. That was a little weird.  I don't know how long I slept but I was really tired.  When I looked at the GPS map and saw Japan below us...I was thinking "Wow this just got real. I'm in Asia".

Sister Uresk and I arrived in Hong Kong an hour and a half before everyone else.  I was able to freshen up in a bathroom and change clothes.  
The flight to Cambodia was so cool.  We flew over Vietnam and Cambodia and it was flat, green, and there were tons of little rivers running through it.  On the flight I sat next to an Indian man from Canada. 

The airport was hot and everyone there looked super serious.  The airport was full of Buddha’s and we got through the entrance paperwork pretty fast.  We met President Moon and his wife and the AP’s (assistants to the President) outside.  President Moon and his wife are so nice.  He's always smiling and super helpful.  

From the airport, we loaded our bags into cars and headed for the large "Ouressay market".  People drive crazy here.  I was just waiting for us to get hit or hit someone.  The AP, elder Satterthwaite was driving, and the car was a stick and he said he learned to drive stick shift last week.  

The streets are packed with motorcycles and everybody sells some food/product or another: Fly infested Fish, random alien-fruit, clothes, etc.  Everything is really cheap too.  My companion elder Clark (from Orange county, California) Bought "BEATS" headphones here for $50.  (They cost $400 in America).  

In the market, I teamed up with the AP and gave a BOM and a few pamphlets out.  I can teach gospel stuff pretty fluently, but everything else is way over my head. Ha-ha.  I taught a few "Look pu's" (men my dad's age), and they were all pretty cool and said they'd read.  It was a cool first experience.  We went back to the mission home and ate lunch after that.  Then I got super tired.  At like 3:00 pm (Cambodia time) it felt soo late.  I felt like it was 11:00 pm and I was supposed to be getting to bed.  We had a little orientation, ate dinner, got interviewed, and went to bed at like 7:45.  We woke up at 5:30, and sister Moon had bought us "Bai sek choorop" Rice-meat-eggs, which is a popular breakfast here.  It’s probably my favorite thing to eat here.  
We met are new trainers/received our areas.  I've been assigned to Kampong Cham with Elder Clark.  Its four hours drive away from Phnom Penh.  The place has some okay areas and also extreme poverty.

Yesterday we visited a ton of members to get to know them.  We were chilling in huts and everyone is pretty nice.  The kids love us.  Every little kid says "HEYLO" when they see us ride by. They say that with big smiles on their faces.  There's like a ton of little Devonaes here too.  They're so cute, and I feel sad when I watch them eat some 3-week-old moldy crab thing.  In the really poor area, the kids walk around naked and they have little sores all over their bodies.  It’s just sad. Everybody's teeth are rotten.  

I made friends with all the priests at church, and one of them "Run" helped us find members around the area.  I can speak well enough with him and he helps me out when I mess up.  I still have a lot to learn.  I want to be like Elder Clark and just be able to say anything to anyone.  

I spoke in church yesterday. Ha-ha.  It was probably horrible but I bore my testimony and told them that I could tell they had a strong branch after meeting many of them the day before.

After church an older man in the ward was talking to me and he grabbed my hand, interlocked fingers, and started walking with me.  It was weird.  We walked for like a block and Elder Clark just smiled at me.  I guess that’s normal here.  One of the priests had his hand on my thigh for like 20 minutes during Sunday school.

Okay, our house is huge. It has 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, kitchen, patio, large entryway and all to ourselves.  Our room stays at 65 degrees all the time and we stay in there as much as possible.

Before I go I have a story.  2 nights ago my bike broke.  It was horrible already, but it just quit working. I would pedal and nothing would happen.  I checked the chain and it was still on.  We took it to a mechanic guy and he said we'd have to go to town and buy a new bike, that mine was a lost cause.  I was bummed. Elder Clarke towed me around for like half an hour so we could finish up what we had to get done.  Then, miraculously after coming out of a printing shop I started pedaling and it worked! My bike was fixed.  I don't know what happened.... but my bike works now and hasn't had a problem since. We road by the mechanic guys place and he had the most puzzled look ever on his face.  It was blessing and it made it so we could go out and teach the next day versus buy a new bike in town.  I'll never forget it.

I love you guys.  Cambodia is great.  I love these people.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Made It To Cambodia!


I have like 1 minute to tell you guys that I made it to Cambodia after a long journey.  This place is NUTS.  It’s hot, like imagine sitting in a pressure cooker for a while.  Also, there's people on motorcycles and cars everywhere.  The driving is not at all safe. I was waiting for us to crash or someone to hit us.  

The missionaries here are awesome.  We went out and taught people in the streets, the Assistant to the President I was with just let me go at it.  It was awesome, like the Lord flipped a switch inside me and I was able to teach clearly and confidently.

Okay got to go.

I get my new trainer / area assigned tomorrow.

I've never been so happy and excited in my life!

Love, Jake

We Welcome Your Son

Dear Brother & Sister Zierenberg,

We are excited to welcome your son to the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission!  He arrived safely here today after their long flight and travel.  After their group arrived at the airport we took them to a local market where they were paired with a more experienced missionary and they had an opportunity to do some contacting—their first proselyting experience here in Cambodia.  They loved being able to try out their new language skills and do some real missionary work.  After a lunch with us at the mission home we spent the afternoon providing orientation, instructions, and having interviews with the mission president.  They will sleep here at the mission home tonight—after dinner we sent them off to bed—they were tired and ready after their long travel and full day here!  Tomorrow they will meet their new trainer and companion, and head out to their assigned areas.  Hopefully you should receive a short e-mail from them letting you know they are here safe.

We are so grateful for your sacrifice in letting your son serve and know it will be a great blessing to him and to your entire family.  We will do our very best to keep him safe and well.  If you have ever have any concerns or questions please know that you can always contact us using the information below.  Packages and letters for him can also be sent to the address below.  We encourage our missionaries to send you an e-mail each Monday, their preparation day.  Thank you for sharing your wonderful son with us!

Best gospel wishes,

President David C. Moon & Sister Kathryn T. Moon

Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission
House 2B Street 222
P.O. Box 165
Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

Last photos from the MTC

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Excitement Is Picking Up

Hey everyone,

I don't have a ton of time, but I just wanted to update you all on what’s up.  I had a good final week, pretty relaxed, our teachers taught a lot of culture (the stuff we like).  We had a ton of extra in-field orientation meetings this week as well.  On Tuesday we heard from Elder Niel L. Anderson, and he taught us about the importance of having the Spirit.  The power of the Holy Ghost is real and we are nothing without it.  It was a great final devotional for us.  On Saturday we had "Pass down ceremony July 2014" for the South-East Asia zone.  Elder Christensen and I bestowed the wealth to the new elders, and it was a ton of fun.  MTC culture is pretty cool.

We had a good last Sunday as well.  District blessings were amazing.  I blessed Elder Christensen and Sister Mathews.  Elder Christensen gave me a really good blessing.  I'm gonna miss this companionship, hopefully I get a good trainer.  E. Christensen is like my best friend and we tell each other everything that is going through our minds.  We have really been able to strengthen each other a lot in the past 9 weeks.  I look up to him a lot and I'll miss him. 
This morning my buddy Elder Klein left for Hong Kong.  He was the last remaining British elder we had because of his knee surgery.  He spent a total of 14 weeks here and he took it like a champ.  Now that he's gone it’s basically just our district remaining from the original South East-Asia Zone dream team.  So we are also ready to leave now.  

This week I was in the 18M building (where I have class), and I saw an elder with the last name "LOSEE" so I asked him who his grandpa was, and he said his name was Glenn.  I think that's Grandma's brother? Anyway so yeah I took a picture with the kid.  

The excitement is picking up, and it’s evident in the faces of the missionaries in our district.  I'll email next week and let you all know how the flight/first-week plays out.  Stay tuned for next week and Cambodia pictures.

Love, Elder Z

Monday, July 7, 2014

I'm Torn to Leave

Today begins my last week in the MTC.  I'm torn to leave because part of me has forgotten what the outside world is like.  If I heard a car radio blasting non-church music...I'd probably cringe a little.  Haha but really, I've been here a long time.  This past week we battled the MTC version of senioritis.  Basically all of our friends have left for their assigned missions, and we are here waiting for our turn. 

I DID get my flight plans this week.  I'll email an attached picture of it so everybody can know what’s up.  Someone must have messed up or something because I'm not even flying out with my companion.  Of the 14 elders and Sisters headed to Cambodia, 12 are on one flight, and Sister Uresk and I got put on a different flight together.... So for about 20 hours or so I'll be without a companion (unless you count Sister Uresk).  Our Branch President said we were allowed to sit together...but I might try to sit with/convert any Cambodians who might be on the plane.  I'm just bummed that I wont get to hang out with all my new best friends.

Upon arrival to Cambodia, we will receive new trainer-companions and head to our diverse parts of the country. 

Yesterday was Fast Sunday and we had the July Mission Conference. The speakers had prepared some very inspired talks and I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting.  During Fast and Testimony meeting with our branch, I bore my testimony.  We have a massive branch, the biggest on main campus, so most of the missionaries are nervous or too shy to go up and speak.  I'm really glad that I'm at the point where I don't get that nervous, and I feel it a part of my calling to voice my testimony whenever I get the chance.  Since this was our last one I felt like I had to get up.  As I was bearing my testimony, about halfway through, I started speaking khmae.  It was the most spontaneous, natural thing I've ever done.  I didn't stumble over my words, I had perfect pronunciation, and I was able to bear my testimony (to my district, the only people who knew what I was saying).  I don't know why, but speaking khmae feels really good.  There's nothing uncomfortable about it, and the words flow most of the time. 
So I'll probably be calling home from LAX on Tuesday night.  Maybe like 8:30 or so.  I might have forgotten to mention last week, but Elder Nathan Reyes from Simi Stake is here.  He's only been a member of the Church a year and two weeks, and he's here.  I remember having English with him in High School.  We were good friends, and it’s super cool that he ended up joining the Church.  He's headed to Finland and he's prepared.

4th of July here was so different.  We had a devotional and watched a movie about the pioneers, and then finally they let us out to see the fire works at like 10:15 pm... normally we would be in our beds then.  We ended up going to bed super late. It was cool to see fireworks though.  I'm excited for this last week here.  For now I've gotta go.
P.S. Shout out to my Dad, today is his birthday! 

Love Elder Z

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The sisters tried to be cool like us so they made their own picture similar to ours.