Thursday, December 31, 2015

The week Christmas happened!

Hello all! 

This has been a crazy week with Christmas and coming to the city and all. We went to Sister Nhem's graduation today and so we didn't have much time for email but I'll try to make it quick. Christmas was great! Our district went and gave gifts to our branch presidencies and sang carols to them all day. I got to skype home to family on Saturday and do miss them so very much but love Cambodia too much to desire to go home. We had an activity with first and second branch on Saturday for Christmas and more than 200 people showed up including less actives and so we committed almost all of our recent converts, less actives and investigators to come to church the next day and none of them ended up showing up. Bummer. I gave my first talk in sacrament meeting and was incredibly nervous, I'm pretty sure one of the Lookpuus yelled at me to speak up. All in all, Cambodia is still crazy, I think I'm still sane. I'm just incredibly grateful for the opportunity we had to remember the great gift of the Savior that gives us hope and helps us to endure. I hope that everyone can not only take time of Christmas to remember that but also in all we do each day. I'm pumped for New Years and hope everyone has a safe and happy one. Love you all and will hopefully send pictures next week!! 

Sister Nguyen 

Monday, December 21, 2015

The week, My Favorite Week So Far!‏

Hi all!

Cambodia is still great and I am still loving it and super optimistic :) This week was way fun! On Wednesday, we finally got to do service!!!! On our way to service, we had to take this mile long bridge made completely of bamboo to a tiny little island where our entire district plus our zone leaders helped a member harvest rice. My knees are still swollen from kneeling and I've got a few callouses but I'm so happy. It's difficult to serve people sometimes when you can't speak but being able to do actual physical labor made me incredibly happy because it was a different kind of service than we usually do. The members fed us afterwards and by gol it was so goood. Sister Brown and I sat down with one of the Bongs after eating and helped her wash the dishes and just talked to her and it felt so nice because there was no pressure or anything. It was just a nice casual conversation and tons of dirty dishes. Later that day, we headed to English class and the Elders made me translate the spiritual thought from English to Khmer. I was so nervous that I was literally turning red the entire time and getting feverish haha. But with divine help from the Lord, I didn't mess up anyone's chance at salvation I don't think. 😬

And then on Thursday, since my trainer is a Sister Training Leader, she went on exchanges with Sister Semones to Battambang and I stayed in Kampong Cham with Sister Ren and Sister Brown who we share an apartment with. It is so interesting to see how different companionship do things. Sister Brown and Ren literally contact everyone they see and are literally afraid of no one. It was so fun being with them and definitely have been three of my favoritest days so far. Being with Sister Brown was super helpful because she just got to Cambodia too and like me, her language skills are not too hot but she literally talks to everyone. The entire time I was with her I was just like, 'huh. I'm really quiet compared to her". And so this week, my goal is to talk to everyone and contact as much people as possible because everyone deserves to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ!!! We went and visited one of Sister Nhem, Sister Semones, and I's investigators. Her name is Bong Taa. She's super nice and has a baby and is always just sitting outside on her hammock. We taught her about the Law  of Chastity and her sister and aunt? neighbor? not sure, sat in on the lesson. They easily remembered all the points and it was way cool. Bong Taa's only problem is that her husband is currently working in Phnom Penh and lives there because of his job and they aren't legally married and that's keeping her from receiving baptism. And I guess that is the problem with more than half this country. No one is legally married, they just have a traditionally ceremony and then live together. We encourages her to try her best to get the paper work done, because she wants to get baptized because she said that God gave her a miracle and healed her baby. Hopefully ervything works out. We also visited Sum Si Niat who just got back from living in Vietnam for 3 months with her boyfriend. She's in the same situation but keeps asking us if she can get baptized already. Yesterday, she even asked the Branch President if she could get baptized on Christmas hahah. We're working with her and are super optimistic.
 While going out with Sister Brown and Sister Ren, we visited a lot of less-active members and shared with them the message of CHRISTMAS! We tried to help remind them of the importance of Jesus Christ and tried to get them to come back to church. Everyone always says they will come and then no one ever comes. I just want them to be happy. Everyone we visited told me I looked Khmer which made me super happy because I want to be Khmer sooo bad. I just want to understand these people and their situations so I can help them, but with it being Christmas, I was just reminded that that's not my role. That's the Savior's job. Through Him, everything is possible -- even learning this language! My role is just to share that with others and help them see that He lives and He knows them and understands and wants to help. This morning when I was studying in 3 Nephi 17-18, I was so touched by the love Jesus had for the people. It is such a tender moment in the scriptures. And for maybe just a moment I felt an immense love for the Khmer people. I know that this gift of charity is only from the Lord. I feel closest to Him when I feel it overtaking my soul and I feel so far away from Him when I let myself feel frustrated or angry at others. I'm forever grateful for the Savior's perfect example.  

All in all, this was a very interesting week. Someone told me I looked italian??? Sister Nhem found out she is going back to the city next week for three days and we get to go with her because she is graduating!! How many people can say they graduated university while on their mission?? Crazy. Anyway, this will be such a fun week because CHRISTMAS!! I hope you all get to share this tender holiday with your families and remembering all that the Savior has done, does, and will do. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share that message with the people of Cambodia. Love you all and may you have the best week ever!! 

Sister Nguyen 

PS sorry, i only have pictures from service :/ 

Picture 1 We harvested about three fields and it took a good two hours

Picture 2 About to conquer the rice fields 

Picture 3 Working hard

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The week I ate LARVA!

Hello all!
This week was full of several tender mercies. On Tuesday, we held signs up outside of the church for free English classes and that was fun. Not a lot of people stopped to grab flyers but they smiled so I guess that counts as something, right? Anyway, so on Wednesday, we taught an English class with the other elders and sisters from our district. I was pumped because now the Khmers had to try to understand me and I felt powerful. So this random girl comes and sits next to me and I was like alright cool. She was having trouble pronouncing some of the words and so I tried to help and decided to strike up a conversation. I asked her what her name was and stuff like that and she looked like she wasn't understanding me so I had to tell her that I didn't really know Khmer, I was Vietnamese and from America. She said something about Vietnam and I didn't really understand her so I smiled and nodded #classic. And then she asked me if I knew Vietnamese and so I asked her back just because that's what I do to everyone and she said yes! Turns out she's half Vietnamese and half Khmer and lived in Vietnam but was in Cambodia for school until the 24th. And so we talked for the rest of the time and she asked me what I was doing here and if I was scared because apparently I look terrified or something?? Not sure. But I told her we were missionaries and that we teach about Jesus Christ and that for me the Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought me so much comfort and guidance. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she said she would be interested in learning. The next day, we taught her and she asked if our church taught weird things like everyone has to be a sister. Sister Nhem told her that this was a choice because we want to share our happiness. Anyway, she had a bunch of good questions and in the end she accepted baptism!! So I am way pumped.
On Thursday, we made the trek to Phnom Penh for training. We caught a free bus ride with a bunch of members who were in Kampong Cham for a service project but on their way back to Phnom Penh. The entire bus ride was literally the worst. We heard Adele's and JB's new song and it kind of was awful. Sister Semones and I definitely bonded though and laughed the whole time at the Khmer's song selection. Some of the songs were in English but I don't think they knew what the lyrics meant because I'm pretty sure it wasn't appropriate to play at a church activity. On one of our pit stops, we met some of the other members on the other bus and a bunch of them spoke Vietnamese but i couldn't keep up haha. Also Sister Nhem held a tarantula and it was disgusting watching it's little sack jiggle. People actually do eat that here and I'm real tempted too. Also at the pit stop yes, Sister Semones and I ate larvae and it was pretty yum.
On Friday I saw all of my MTC district and I WAS LITERALLY SO HAPPY. Everyone sounds like they're doing awesome and having a lot of the same experiences! It's crazy how different you can look in a week. I missed them so much and I still do. They are a special group and are like a family to me. It was so heartbreaking to say bye because it'll be for a while but honestly, wouldn't want it to be any other way because we are here to do the Lord's work! And plus, they're homies for life so we've got all the time in the world after this. But for now, our time is devoted 10385048% to the Lord and to the Khmers. After our full day of training, we all went out a Christmas caroled around the city. It was super fun. And now I am back here in Kampong Cham ready to try harder and ready to forget myself. I'M GOING TO LEARN THIS LANGUAGE AND I AM GOING TO TRY MY BEST TO HELP THESE PEOPLE.
This week, my study was a lot about the Lord's work. I love Luke 4:18 because it lists off all the things Christ did during His ministry. And we are told so many times that our work is His work. The two are inseparable meaning we can do the same things Christ did during His ministry. Maybe not literally healing a leper or causing the blind to see but in a figurative sense yes. How great is that! The best way to make Christ's ways our ways is to learn of Him. This work is hard but I know it is worth it, if not for me then for them. I wouldn't rather be anywhere else in the world right now. Anyway, until next week!! I love you all and hope you are having fun preparing for Christmas!!!
Sister Nguyen
Picture 1 At Watt/ Mountain Haan Ce with GMO fruits 
 Picture 2 At Watt/Mountain Haan Ce Pday rocks
 Picture 3 Sister Nhem with satan in the form of a bug 
 Picture 4 Watt/Mountain Haan Ce again. Aren't my companions the cutest? Yes.
 Picture 5 In the city caroling and cornering people to give the pass along cards about Jesus 
 Picture 6 Good friends after a long day of training 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The week my brain went missing!


I am currently sitting in an internet shop in Cambodia in my pday clothes getting ready to go "hike" a "mountain". I'm not so sure they're qualified to be called mountains. But we shall see.
Boy, do I have so much to say and how lucky are we that President Christensen doesn't give us a one hour limit? Literally #blest 
The plane ride here was great! Not many troubles. We were able to call family and such and had a few minutes left over on our call card so called our Lookruus and Neakruu and were sooo happy to talk to them. Hopefully we didn't annoy them haha. A couple of Elders and Sisters from our group lost some luggage but hopefully that got taken care of. As soon as we got to the mission home, we met our trainers and were ripped from each other. So no chance to really say goodbye, which was probably for the better. But we get to see each other one last time on Thursday for training. I am excited because I miss our MTC district like no other. 
Ok so let's talk about what you're all really wondering about. CAMBODIA. My first area ever is....KAMPONGCHAM! IIt's in the coutry side about three hours from Phnom Penh. It reminds me a lot of Vietnam except dirtier so I don't think I am that culture shocked. The food is heaven and my body really likes it, so the possibility of losing weight is nonexistent because I eat more than I am able to bike off. I freaking love Khmer food. In case anyone is wondering, haven't had poop problems YET and I have not eaten any insects yet either. Anyway, no one here believes I'm Vietnamese. Everyone's initial guess is Chinese or Korean. And then when I tell them my name is Sister Nguyen, they all tell me about the place where you can go get money called "Wing" and then I have to tell them I don't have money. After that, they're too lazy to remember my name or read my plaque so they just call me Sister Vietnam. Also everyone always tells me I look like someone they know that lives a few houses down. I guess all of Cambodia looks like me. My trainer is Sister Nhaem! She's a native but speaks a LOT of English. I'm in a companionship with her and Sister Semones who has been out for three months! They're both super nice and have been super helpful in this transition. We had zone training the other day and were able to talk a little bit about how to help our members. So Sister Nhaem, Semones and I are actually serving in Branch 1 and 2 of Kampongcham. There are a bunch of inactive members here and everyone leaves after the first hour of church. The area is a little weak but we are excited to get to work and help these people. Our apartment is apparently the nicest in the mission. Yes we have AC #blest but we are sandwiched between two or three watts and they are super SUPER loud. I went to my first real Cambodian sacrament meeting yesterday. It is true, reverence does not exist in this country. Everyone talks during the whole thing and the kids are running around playing and talking to people on the pulpit and chasing after the sacrament trays. BTW THE SACAMENT BREAD IS THE BEST THING EVER. It's like sweet coconut bread and I died when I ate it. Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting so I got to hear a lot of the testimonies of the members. Although this place is completely insane, I have to say that the Holy Spirit that is here is the same that I have felt everywhere. These people have amazing faith that I admire so much. For example, one of the members in Branch 2 doesn't have use of her legs but still comes to church every week. And church is not close. The members here have been so kind to me and are always encouraging me to keep trying. I love these people so much already. But the language barrier makes it so so hard. I never understood what it felt like to have a "broken heart and contrite spirit" until now. I feel completely helpless and useless. BUT I am fully dependent on my trainer and the Lord. I only want to help the people. I only want to get to know them. But not knowing the language makes it so hard. I trust that God is going to help me through this like He has with every other trial I have had. I am optimistic and cannot wait until I can truly serve the Khmers. I was reading in the Book of Mormon and was just pondering and asking myself how the heck I am going to be of any aid. And then I flipped to 2 Nephi 32:3, saying that if we feast upon the words of Christ, the words of Christ will tell us all that we should do. So I have restarted the Book of Mormon and trust that it will help me to know how to help these people see the importance of the gospel. 
A lot of this week was about overcoming fears and just remembering why I am here. Sister Nhaem told me to not be afraid of contacting even if I don't speak the language because this is the reason I am share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Who am I to decide who gets to hear about it and who doesn't? And the worst they could say is no. SO BUCK UP, SISTER NGUYEN. Anyway, I love you all so much and am grateful for your thoughts, kind words, and prayers. I would not be here without your powerful testimonies and incredible example to help me along the way. Until next week! 
Sister Vietnam 
Picture 1 Our family. Sister Nhaem is my mom, there's "not so little baby me", and Dad Sister Semones

 Picture 2 Riding down dirt roads