Sunday, February 22, 2015

My 19th Birthday

Dear friends and family,

This week was a big week for a lot of reasons.  It was my first full week proselyting here in Chamkarmon.  I turned 19 on Friday, and I had many good experiences. 

As for the new area, I'm loving it.  I'm enjoying meeting new people and staying busy one task at a time.   I have never been so busy in my mission, the only way I can describe it is "Good, wholesome missionary work".  I don't feel stressed or overwhelmed, and we've had a trend of success everyday of the week so far. Having people approach us and ask to learn has been a new experience for me.  This week I took down the names and phone numbers of 12 potential investigators who had interest in learning with us.  We hope to meet with them and start teaching them in the course of this next week.  

The new house, as I've mentioned, is great.  The only problem was that the fan wouldn't work (someone had cut the power cord, so it lacked a plug).  Scavenging around the house I was able to find a broken clothes-Iron.  Using scissors and a bit of electric tape, I was able to surgically-transplant the plug from the clothes-iron and attach it to the fan.  So now we have a working fan! Do not be concerned though, the entire process was done in a very safe manner.

One good experience from this week happened on Saturday during a visit with an elderly active member in the "Chak Angre" area.  Her middle-aged son was home watching television and I noticed that he was watching and older version of "Robinson Crusoe", (translated into khmae obviously).  The man seemed confused and was having trouble following the bad translation, so I was able to clear things up for him.  I explained that "Thngai sok" (the 5th day of the week, Friday) is the name of Crusoe's companion.  Hence, that's why Crusoe keeps shouting "Friday! Friday!".  I was also able to give some background information on the characters and the plot. The man, surprised at my knowledge, asked how I knew and if I had seen the movie before,  I replied "No, but I've read the story once or twice".  He thought I was some sort of genius.  People don't read much here.

Friday was my birthday and I had trouble remembering that the day was special.  My companion had to remind me a few times, like when he asked "Do you want to do anything special for your birthday lunch?".  I though: "Oh's my birthday huh...".  It actually ended up being the most interesting/memorable birthdays I've ever had. 

That night we taught the older Chinese man, Vong.  My companion had mentioned it was my birthday so after the lesson Vong grabbed a bottle of soda and poured some into our emptied water bottles. (He had asked if we had any cups..but seriously who carries cups around?)  So we sat there in the dark, (He doesn't have electricity) and had a classic cheers *banging bottles together and everything, and drank.  I looked over at the Vong, this shriveled-old Chinese man who speaks hardly any khmae, and watched him drink the soda straight from the 2-liter bottle.  I looked over to my companion and we both almost lost it. After a few minutes of silence and enjoying one another's company, Vong, looking up with a drunken gaze, hand-motioned/grunted at us to finish our bottles before leaving. We shook hands, said goodbye, and biked off into the night.  I could not have had a more bizarre/cool birthday party.

I finished up the night with a surprise dinner from the next-door Vietnamese elder, and our regular nightly-Vietnamese lesson.  In the past week I was able to learn the entirety of the alphabet, the written/spoken-tones, and a few phrases.  I rub shoulders with Vietnamese people everyday, so I figure that the language might come in handy.  

The rats in my new area are bigger than I've ever seen.  It's like something out of "princess' bride" every time I see one.  The people keep their chickens locked in tightly-woven cages at night to keep them from getting killed and eaten by the ferocious rats.

As I expected, the food has been great this week.  Solid-healthy meals, combined my daily exercises are definitely increasing my energy levels and effectiveness throughout the day.  I've been pretty proud of the dishes I have prepared for my companion and me to consume so far.  I'm not familiar with the science of cooking food, but so far it's been coming out really good and I hope it continues to be that way.

With a many new investigators lately, we have taught "lesson 1" pretty frequently in the past week.  Teaching "The Restoration" never gets old.  Each time we convey the message to those we teach, I gain a greater appreciation of it.  I appreciate the peaceful spirit that settles around us, and the ability to commit those we teach to sincerely "pray to know".  Above all else, I appreciate the opportunity I have to bear my personal witness of the truthfulness of the message.  

It was a great start to my 19th year.

Love, Elder Zierenberg


Me with the tallest companionship in the mission (No...I am not getting shorter, if anything I've grown)

Cool artwork done by a Young man in our branch.  The theme is "The Stories of Jesus".  See how many stories you can find in the painting.

"Chbar Ampoev"

I "Tvwer muhohp"...(Make food)

The neighborhood

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