Sunday, September 14, 2014

We are Healthy, Happy, and Determined

Hey Everyone,

It was a long, action-packed week.  The weather has been great.  

Tons of rain and not too hot.  On Wednesday Clark and I were contacting and we could see a storm a big one, so we headed home to take cover, but got caught in the storm anyway.  It was the hardest, biggest rain I have ever experienced.  It was raining so hard that I had to put my sunglasses on in order to see where I was biking.  Within seconds we were soaked from head-to-toe from the wall of water falling from the sky.  I loved it haha.  Clark doesn't like to get wet though so we usually avoid the rain. 
Earlier this week Clark and I were doing nightly planning and I heard a squeak and saw something scurry across the entry room.  I knew immediately that it was a rat.  I stood up and blocked off the hallway leading to the rest of our house.  Clark and I scared the thing out from under the couch and back out the door.  We don't need any of that in our house.

Church was cool this week.  During our weekly meeting with the branch president, Clark and I were able to make some good suggestions to improve Sacrament Meeting reverence.  We reinvented "the foyer" here in Cambodia.  This should improve reverence and focus during the sacrament portion of the meeting.  

Normally it’s really bad and people are walking in (actually like half the branch) right during the blessing and passing of the Sacrament, which is not acceptable.  So yeah, project "Foyer" was a success yesterday thanks to Elder Clark and I.

This week was a bit more challenging in the proselyting sense due to the holiday season.  Although we did have a few very successful days despite the holidays.  Elder Clark and I incorporated fasting and prayer into our efforts this week, and we were blessed.  My testimony of fasting was greatly strengthened as I saw blessings bestowed immediately and directly.  
We have put much effort into our less-actives the past transfer, but at times no progress is seen.  Often they are "too busy" to meet or can't give up work on Sundays, so Clark and I teach, testify and make effort accordingly.  We get some success from this, but we still have many who don't seem to care or listen.  This week during my personal study I came across Enos 1:23 :

23 And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them.

This is not the comfortable way to teach, but with some of our less-actives we were bolder this week.  I shared the scripture with Elder Clark during our Companionship study and we decided that we had certain people who this scripture applied to.  We exercised faith and taught one less-active in this manner.  Not angrily, not disrespectfully, but boldly we testified.  After a full transfer of no success with this particular less-active, he WAS at church on Sunday.  

I learned a lot form the words of Enos, and I was able to apply it to my work here in Kampong Cham.  

I have one final story to share from this week  
Last week during our exchange, Elder Croick, Elieson, and I contacted a young man who was sitting near the river.  He showed a lot of interest, particularly in our English class that we teach every Wednesday.  
This week Elder Clark and I were taking our lunch on a bench overlooking the Mekong river.  The young man approached us on a bike (which is strange because most Khmaes don't ride bikes, its considered "shady" to ride a bike here in KC. A lady once told me that people say "never trust people on bikes" which is ironic because we ride bikes.  Everyone else rides a "moto".  Basically like a MoPed / motorcycle.  We're foreigners so it a little more okay for us to ride bikes.  

Anyways so the guy said he was trying to find the location of our English class, but couldn't understand the map.  He asked if we could take him there really quick so he would know where it was.  We had him follow us to the church where we teach English, and the whole way he would not stop asking us question about where our house was.  He would ask us "So do you live at this church, and if not where...exactly?  We gave him a rough location, but didn't wanna be too specific because thieving is prevalent here, and this guy seemed like that type.  Still he persisted until I finally just told him that we were knew and couldn't describe the exact location.  After showing him the church he kept sorta following us until we said "goodbye, see ya at English class" and made a rapid turn.  
So that guy kinda gave us a weird vibe and we kept feeling like people were watching us while we were in our house.  That night we fortified the house against intruders as best we could.  When we felt satisfied with our fortifications we went to bed, weapons stowed conveniently in our bedding.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened that night or the next, so we kinda just felt silly for worrying and relaxed a bit.  
Saturday we started fasting in the morning and proselyted all day. Fasting in Cambodia really takes it out of you though.  Especially since you are biking and sweating bullets all day.  That night we went to bed halfway through the fast, and I never sleep that well when I'm fasting because I repeatedly wake up very thirsty.  
I woke up at 1:00 am, the middle of the night. I could hear strange noises coming from upstairs (we sleep on the first floor). It took me a few moments to realize what I was hearing, but I realized from the sounds and hushed Khmae voices that someone was either breaking into our house, or already in.  It sounded like they were getting in through our laundry room window upstairs. All of our windows are barred though, so it would be work to get in.   
I quietly unzipped my mosquito net and stuck a leg out, and kicked Clark's hammock to make it swing.    He woke up and I whispered "Do you hear that?".  He listened for a moment and then responded "I don't think they're in yet".  We got out of our beds silently and began preparing to confront these thieves.  We were tired, dehydrated, and a bit freaked out, but we weren't gonna let these guys get away with our stuff. 
We got dressed, I put on a T-shirt and sweats, slipped a knife in my pocket, and Clark handed me his brass knuckles. Then we just kinda looked at each other and knew what we had to do.  Clark was wielding his two-foot long night-stick. All the while we were hearing this noises/hushed voices upstairs.  Clark and I then had a kneeling prayer together right there on our bedroom floor.  We had no idea what was gonna go down when we opened the door.  We closed the whispered prayer and stood ready at the door.  Knife in my pocket, un-lit flashlight in my left hand, and brass knuckles on my right.  I was tired, but the adrenaline was definitely kicking in.  
After a moment of silence we opened the door and poked our heads out. Silence.  It was very dark but I didn't want to turn on my light and alert whoever was there.  We stepped out into the hallway and made a right turn, towards the entry room of the house.  From there we could look up into the upstairs balcony/window and see if anyone was in the upper room.  It was silent, the noises had stopped.  We crept over to the stairs and began to ascend.  Once up the stairs, Clark peeked in the upstairs bedroom, it was empty/normal.  We then checked the laundry room where we thought the noises were coming from.  The window as open, but the bars still appeared to be in place.  No one was to be seen. We looked out the window and we could see a shadow coming off the roof onto a near building.  It was a man standing on our roof.  We turned on the lights in the house to scare them off, made sure everything was fortified and went back to bed. Before going to sleep we had another kneeling prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving that nothing bad happened.  It was a crazy night, closest thing I've had to the "Saratrov Approach" .

It was a good week, we are healthy, happy, and determined.  I anticipate our Zone training this Friday.

Love, Elder Zierenberg

Soaked from the storm, A homeless guy that kept asking me for a dollar, and the new church being built here in Kampong Cham (will be finished in during mission).

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