Sunday, March 19, 2017

Collecting, Culling, and Cleaning

16 March 2017

This is our last week in Cambodia.   We have been busily getting the apartment ready for Elder and Sister Scott.   Of course, you could dust mop here 3 times a day and get a mop full of dirt every time.   Being domestic is not my favorite thing to do..... I am the least domestic person on the earth.   On the other hand, Brian is a great little cleaner!   He has been very handy to have around!   As the children were growing up I would assign them a job to do.   Trying to evaluate how thorough and at what standard the job at hand had to be completed, they would ask, "is this a "dad" job or a "mom" job?"   If I said it had to be a "dad" job I would hear moans and groans but if  it was announced as a "mom" job they would frantically scurry around to just get the job done knowing that they would have lots of time to do whatever they wanted.   I have often told the missionaries.... "I hate cleaning. But I know that the Spirit will not dwell in filthiness.  I know what the Spirit feels like in a clean environment."   So here we are collecting, culling, and cleaning.
It is not just at home either.   I have been putting together instruction sheets to help Sister Scott with all the multitude of jobs that she will have to do. I am trying to clean up my projects and jobs on the computer.    On top of that I have inherited the Temple Patron Trips for the Districts.    Last year I think the Mission, using the Temple Patron Assistance Fund,  did one trip with 25 saints, although, there was also a Viet group that went but they orchestrated that on their own.

We just completed one trip in January (Manila Temple) and I now have 3 more Hong Kong Temple trips being planned.   I discovered some appealing attributes that the Hong Kong Temple provides.   The Hong Kong Patron House has a full functioning kitchen where the Saints can cook for themselves.  The temple trips are very involved and have an order in how things are done.  Poor Sister Scott will have to finish these things up for me.

By June we will have sent 67 Saints to the Temple.   My goal was to have 60 Cambodians endowed per year until the Thailand Temple is completed.  The Thailand Temple was announced in April 2015 but this temple has not even been started yet.  We don't even have an architect's drawing of it. They are presumably 5 years away from any kind of completion (that's my guess).  Within that 5 years, Cambodia is not standing still.   Cambodia will have 400 or more endowed members ready and waiting for the doors of the new Thailand Temple to open.    This year we have already exceeded our goal.  I can see that I was short sighted when it came to the Saints of Cambodia and the temple.  The Saints are ready to go to the temple.  On top of all of that, when these saints go they take a hand full of names of their ancestors to temple.   This is not unfamiliar to them..... the Buhdist have been taking, remembering, and worshiping their ancestors for centuries to their temples.  So all these Saints are doing their own kind of collecting, culling, and cleaning.

We are doing several of our "last time" things.   We have now gone to Church in Cambodia for the last time.   It was a sweet experience.   It was a Central District Conference.   The District itself was dissolved and now the 3 Viet Branches are now 2 branches.  New boundaries were drawn and new Branch Presidencies were called.  It might seem that this is a step backward.   But on the contrary,  this is going to be a great thing for the Vietnamese Saints.  There is strength in numbers.   Eventually they will be part of the East District.   With the Vietnamese numbers added to the East District it will become much closer to becoming a Stake.  We now have the Russey Keo Branch (Vietnamese) and the Kbal Thanl Branch (Vietnamese).
We had many good-byes today.  This is Sister Hanh.   I could not possibly look into her sweet, sweet eyes and let her cry alone!  She is a Vietnamese Family History angel.  We also had to say good-bye to this little family.   I love them and will miss them so much.  These children speak the best English of all.  They also speak Khmer and Mandrin!   Very educated children.   They are the hope of the Church in Cambodia.  James was looking real spiffy in his new suit. 
We will have many more good-byes on Monday at the Mission Office with the missionaries.   Last week I had one of the Elders ask, "Sister Leavitt, do think it will be Okay if I get a hug on Monday before you go?".  I get "drippy" every time I think about that little request. 

I have gotten rid of shoes, clothes, toiletries, food, books, bags, and any thing else not useful in my life.   I have been able to cull out the things I used to think were important but now it doesn't even seem to be worthy of suitcase space!  The things I have collected instead are a tiny bit more tolerance in my life, maybe a sprinkling of patience, an unmeasurable amount of faith, and an eternity of new friends.  I see the Church, as a whole, a little differently.   When the brethren talk about the Worldwide Church I see a better picture of that, not just my little Alberta corner!    But I gotta say, I LOVE my little Alberta corner!   So what I come home with is..... 

I feel privileged to have been able to raise our children in the heart of Alberta where the gospel of Jesus Christ was always present.  Maybe not in huge groups all the time, but it was always present.  A place where true doctrines where taught and lived.  A place where they had good friends, outstanding leaders, and family close by to direct them toward the ways of the Savior.

I am grateful for many callings that have built faith and understanding of the gospel. I am grateful for those early Primary leaders that had patience with me in my early teaching days. (I really wasn't a very good teacher because I didn't know what I was doing and certainly didn't understand what I was teaching. I am grateful for Brian who was so patient with my lack of gospel knowledge.  He had to explain many simple things to me over and over..... as well as Norma and Ray and probably Tami too were good resources of gospel information for me!)   I am grateful to have been surrounded by LDS books that have educated me in doctrine.  I am grateful to be have been taught to read at a young age. I am grateful that the scriptures have been my textbooks and my focus of learning. 

So thank you Cambodia for helping me collect, cull, and clean.... which helped me remember many of the things that I am most grateful for!  I really was privileged to have been fed by a "silver" gospel spoon.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sand Barges and Suitcases

26 Feb 2017

This week I captured a rare photo of two sand barges passing on the Tonle Sap River.   Believe it or not, they are identical ships.   One is full of sand and travels in the depth of the river.  The other is empty and skims across the surface of the river.  

It was fascinating to see them side by side.  Just to look at the ships you would think that the larger of the vessels would be the mightier and most valuable, but on the contrary, it is the smaller one that has all the value and strength. The one that is full.

Seeing these two ships, one coming and one going, has made me reflect on my beginnings here 21 months ago.  (We leave Cambodia in 26 days.)  I came with a large amount of knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.   I know how it works and why.   I came with a fervent testimony of Jesus Christ.  I came fortified with years of scripture study.  

I also came with two huge suitcases and a carry-on loaded with things I knew I would need for the next several months.  (I can't even remember what was in there!)
Interestingly, all those things that I thought I needed ..... I am hardly bringing any of those things back!  My suitcases that originally housed things I thought I needed will now bring back gifts full of memories.  My vessel that I thought was strong and mighty I have come to realize only sat on the surface of the gospel.   Cambodia has given me depth. 

I have re-read and reflected on Jacob 5 and the Allegory of the Olive Tree.  
I always understood my privilege of having been planted on a "good spot" of ground and have felt a responsibility in having had that privilege.  I now have a greater understanding of His "nethermost part of the vineyard".   I have seen the "poorest spot of the ground".  

I have also seen the spot that was "poorer than the first"!
What I know now is that even though this may be the "nethermost part of the vineyard" it is STILL the Lord's vineyard.   Growth can take place here.  Growth has taken place here.  Growth will continue to take place here.   Slowly but surely, just as the small-looking vessel, they will trudge up stream.  Cambodia will be filled with the gospel.   The Saints are beginning to grasp the importance of the temple and more and more temple trips are being organized.   They are not waiting for the Bangkok Temple to be built they are going now!   Even though it is a great hardship for them.   They will contribute one hundred, maybe two hundred dollars (for some this is years of saving) and some even more, toward their temple trip.  The Church's Temple Patron Assistance Fund makes up the difference.  I believe there will be 60 or more Cambodian Saints that will receive their endowments this year.   What a tremendous blessing that will be for Cambodia.

 I can't wait to see my family again but more importantly I want to develop stronger relationships.  I have 21 grandchildren.... one I have never met.   I have things to learn about them.   I yearn for not only a weekly temple attendance schedule again but I want to draw nearer to the Savior with that attendance.  I have Family History that is screaming for attention.   I can now do these things differently with a depth that I never had before. 

Even though my suitcases may come home lighter they will be filled to the brim.  I can't say that I will be "filled" as if to say I am complete.  There are still many more things for me to learn.  I am grateful for sand barges and suitcases that have taught me about what is important in this life.
Thank you Cambodia.   I came to this poor spot of the ground equipped to be the "teacher" but I have clearly been the "student" as I watch the Saints strive every day to make this a good spot of ground in the Lord's vineyard. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What About the Eye-bone?

31 January 2017

There was a childhood anatomy song that taught how the body was all "connected".... shin bones connected to knees and knee bones connected to thighs, etc. and we sang from head to toe learning about the human body.    I always wondered, what are the eye-bones connected to?

The scriptures have often talked about the importance of seeing. We look to leaders to learn how they see the world.   We listen to and marvel at the apostles and prophet to catch a glimpse of not only what they see but how they see it.

 On an Asian Tour in May 1996, President Gordon B. Hinckley, a prophet of the Lord,  dedicated the new Hong Kong Temple, as well as, visit 13 other cities.   Three days after the temple dedication he was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.   Pockets of the Khmer Rouge were still taunting the country with its tyranny.  Pol Pot hadn't quite finished murdering, plundering, and stripping Cambodia of its goodness.  An Apostle of God and over 230 Saints stood behind the Cambodiana Hotel, on 29 May 1996, to dedicate the country to the opening of missionary work.  Today I stood where that meeting took place.  I wondered.... what did President Hinckley see that day?
Today I stood behind the Cambodiana Hotel.   I wanted to see what he saw.   Of course, in 1996 it was no more than an open field looking on the Mekong River.   Now there is a beautiful courtyard behind the hotel and a walkway for people to stroll up and down to enjoy Cambodia's beauty.
I would imagine that the stunning sunrise looked much the same.  There are some things in Cambodia that don't change.  By the looks of some of the fishing boats I would hasten to guess that some of them were there but now they are just manned by a families' next generation.  And there could have been single fishermen like this gentleman just looking for breakfast not understanding what was taking place above him.
Symbolically, the people in that congregation looked out where the Mekong River and Tonle Sap River meet.   This is where one of the great miracles of God takes place every year.   Every year this is where the Tonle Sap River experiences it's unique flow reversal.  One day it is flowing in one direction and the next day it is reversed!  Because of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Cambodia had not experienced any spirituality for 20 years but on this spot of ground a prophet of God blessed and dedicated this land for the opening of missionary work.  Cambodia was about to witness its own spiritual flow reversal!  
The Buddhist still have the lion's share of the people's attention but the Church is growing.  I was recently reminded of the ancient prophet, Nephi's, observation.
                  1 Nephi 14:12  "And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the
                  Lamb of God, and its numbers were FEW.....who were the saints of God,
                  (they) were also upon ALL the face of the earth..." (italics added)

We have 111 missionaries surging forward every day.   We are few in number but they are EVERYWHERE!   They are marvelous people and I have the greatest respect for them.   They seem to be able to see beyond the trash, the filth, and the awkwardness of the city's daily routines.   Like President Hinckley, the missionaries are able to see into the hearts of the people of Cambodia.   It is in Cambodia that I have learned that the eye-bone is connected to the heart-bone.    When your eyes and your heart become inseperately connected then you can understand and feel the love of Christ. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Seeing With Mother Eyes

31 Dec 2016

Here I am still creating mission posts!   Who knew an 18 month mission would evolve into a (most likely) 22 month mission???  I certainly didn't.   But that's how much I know!!!  So 2017 is most welcome!
Of course, a New Year always makes one reflect back on the past year.   It is no different for me.   It has been a memorable year.  I have learned much more than I ever dreamed possible. 

Our stewardship throughout our mission along with the office responsibilities has always included the Vietnamese Branches.   We have lovingly been a part of those branches from day one.   We have constantly talked to them about the Manila Temple.....

and the importance of them going to the temple NOW and not waiting for the future Thailand Temple to be built.

That seems to be the natural-man thing to do to wait until a more conveniently located temple is built before you go.  I believe we heard that a lot after the Calgary Temple was announced even though the Calgarians only had to drive a few hours North or South to get to a temple.   These people have a 5-6 hour flight and need $800-$1000 to get to the Manila Temple one time in their lives.   The Church is so compassionate that they have created the Temple Patron Assistance Fund which helps people like this all over the world to experience the temple and the saving ordinance therein.  I see how much money they spend on just one little mission and this is a world-wide fund being used.   I am in awe of the Church and it's organization.

In July we had the privilege of attending two weddings of  some of our branch members.  From left to right, David Lo and Sophie Lim , Danh (Yan) Keo, and Sovy Lim each couple, respectively, were married.  Sophie and Sovy are siblings.   These are some of the finest people I have ever met.   All of them are returned missionaries.   They all understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.   They are the back-bone of the Vietnamese branches in Phnom Penh. 

 Sovy and Sohpie's mother is on the far left and their brother, Sovann is on the far right.   Sovann is a member of the Central District Presidency in Phnom Penh.   I will miss them when we have to leave.  In January 2017 there will be 20 more Vietnamese Saints attend the Manila Temple.  We also have 2 more temple trips planned for 2017.  2017 is going to be an exciting year.   There will be at least 20 Saints being endowed per temple trip.  If they continue this way, the country will grow in leaps and bounds.   This time last year I would not have believed it.   With a year's worth of talking, teaching, and urging it is now coming to fruition.

It has brought to me a few childhood memories.....
It was about April of 1961 (I was in the 1st grade), which April meant it was time for a new Easter dress.   Mother and I had gone to the big city, Duncan, to go dress-shopping.    We got to the dress shop.   We walked in the front door and I began perusing the clothes trying to quickly discern where the Easter dresses were located.   The store clerk was at the far end of the store.  She and Mother began communicating from afar. 
                "May I help you?"
                "Yes, I am looking for an Easter dress for my daughter."

I was glowing.   Yes, I was going to be the worthy recipient of a new dress.  This was my time.   Today it was all about me!   Then the clerk asked,  "what size?"   Right then, it seemed like the two women were as far apart as they could possibly be and Mother made her voice carry as if she were a professional opera soprano. 
I wanted to die on the spot!   Really, Mom?  You had to add "chubby"?   Good Grief!  I was as round as I was tall.   I'm sure the clerk had been in the business long enough to figure that one out on her own.   Did you really have to announce it?    I felt all eyes were on me!    This is not how I saw this going down! 
Elementary school was rough.  This was the first year that learned that I was bigger than the rest of the kids my age.   Prior to elementary school my family never made any derogatory remarks about body shapes.   Although, I did recall over hearing Mother say things like "she is big boned" or "she just hasn't lost her baby fat yet".  It was now all coming together and elementary school made it all too clear.  

The playground was the worst.   My friend, Jeanne and I seemed to joy in trying out every piece of equipment during our time out of the classroom.   I dreaded heading for the SeeSaw.   I had to let Jeanne get on her side first, then I hoisted myself on the other end.   I sat on the ground and Jeanne looked as if she had been run up the flag pole never to come down!  But I was a problem solver even at a very young age.  I just put two of those skinny, little first-graders on the other end then we were all in SeeSaw Heaven!   We were achieving playground excellence!  

Then there was Red Rover.... I hated that game.   It was the only school yard game that I was chosen first.   I was like Helga, the Swedish Viking girl!   No one could break through me!  And very rarely did the other team ever ask me "to come over", which I was glad for.   I hated the run between one line of children to the other.   For some reason, it seemed like the length of a football field.  I felt like I needed to stop half way and have a breather.    I didn't stop, but instead of building steam with every stride, I got slower but I could still break through the skinny kids. 

I had never said anything to my parents about the name calling from my piers.  It was just too embarrassing... until the fourth grade.   Ricky Satterfield (its sad that I still remember his name, isn't it?) called me a name and it crushed me.   I guess after 4 years of it you finally crack.   Mother had picked me up early from school.  I must have been a bit teary-eyed because Mother asked me what was wrong.   I told her the story ending with the horrible fact that Ricky called me "elephant"!   Thankfully, Mother supressed her all-out laughter into a slight snicker but I saw it.   I suppose it was a bit funny but not to a 10 year old girl with some self-esteem issues brewing.    Mother did offer her opinion which was not necessarily words of wisdom, comfort, or solace.   She merely said, "ah, those kids are mean and they don't know what they are talking about.  You will grow out of this soon."
Ya, know what?   Mother was right!   (I hope she is listening!)

I was looking at myself with critical eyes, judgemental eyes.  I was allowing others to set some sort of standard that I could never meet.   Mother saw me as who I could become.  She saw me with potential.   She saw my capabilities.   Mother (and Jeanne) could see my goodness.  Mother always looked at me with her "mother-eyes" which was full of love. 

This is what I have learned... That's how I now see my Vietnamese friends.... with mother-eyes.   I see potential, capabilities, and goodness.  I see people trying to learn the gospel.   I see a people  that love their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.    Thank you to Branches 3, 6, and 10 who have also in return looked at me with mother-eyes the day I arrived.                          

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Watched Pot Never Boils!

24 November 2016

Because I never grew up having been embraced within the warmth of the security blanket of the gospel doctrines and principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my mother, Barbara Green Sloan, had to find other avenues to teach virtues and standards of living.

I learned many valuable lessons from "A stitch in time saves nine", "You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip",  "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" and "Don't be the pot calling the kettle black".   The one that still makes me roll my eyes, not because I think it is dumb anymore, but because now I realize how much it suited me is: "Pretty is as pretty does!" (I guess my poor teenage attitude was more transparent than I thought!) And to be even more forthright because Mother didn't feel like the message was getting through....she made up one all on her own:  "You can act like the Devil at home but you had better be an Angel in public!"  That one REALLY made me roll my eyes! 

We didn't have Nephi, Alma, or Moroni to teach love of family, obedience, or courage.  We did have Poor Richard's Almanac penned by Benjamin Franklin.  There I learned such virtues as "Honesty is the best policy" (I've got to say... this one always confused me coming from a man that used a pseudonym for his almanac!), "A penny saved is a penny earned", "There is a place for everything and everything has a place" and "Don't throw rocks at your neighbors if you, yourself,  live in a glass house".   All valuable lessons.

Mother is the voice in my head. She taught the application of the principles but she just didn't have the doctrine to back it up.   As Elder Bednar has so adequately taught doctrine explains WHY, principles teach WHAT, and application teaches HOW. 

It is like I had learned all the same virtues and principles as anyone else but I just had to learn it through the "lesser law".   I had to learn the hazards and follies of procrastination through sewing stitches

instead of learning obedience and listening to the Spirit from James and John when they went "straightway" when the Savior called to them.

Hypocritical behavior was always corrected through pots and kettles and glass houses

instead of soft, peaceful, melodic hymns "Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words To Each Other". 

Patience is one of those principles that is attached to the doctrine of Faith.   Of late my patience and faith is being tested.   The words of my mother that I have most recently been reminded of are  "A watched pot never boils!"

When we began our mission papers we talked about the duration of the mission.   We decided that 18 months would be enough.   Our 18 month mark was on the 25 November 2016.   That is since gone and we are still here in Cambodia.   We committed to President and Sister Christensen with all the love in our hearts to them that we would stay until our replacements arrive.   We do not regret that.  We will stay until the new office couple arrives or April... whatever comes first (we HAVE to leave by April which is our 23 month mark.  Government laws force us to leave at that duration of time) Every day for the past 6 weeks, I go to the office the first thing that I do is look on the computer to see if our replacements have been assigned yet.   So far the answer is "no".  So my patience is being exercised!   I am beginning to believe that truly this watched pot is never going to boil, therefore, this week.... I am not going to look at the assignment list until at least..... Wednesday!!!  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Do Not Turn Right On Red!

23 October 2016

There seems to be signs of Cambodia's self-inflicted polarizations everywhere.   It is a country of contradictions.   Socially there seems to be little to no middle class of people, therefore, you only see extreme poverty or over-indulgent opulence.

They seem to be obsessed with sweeping leaves and any other debris shed by their deciduous trees.  Many people are hired to sweep the sidewalks yet there are very few who have garbage bags or even know how to use it.

The day's or week's trash will be piled high in various places.   Cambodians will throw their trash anywhere and everywhere without giving it a second thought.   They even do that in the Church buildings.   I have seen children and adults alike, open a piece of candy and nonchalantly throw the wrapper on the floor, but they will sweep every single leaf off of the sidewalks and streets.  One day at the airport a man severely chided Sister Christensen who had stood on the public bench with her shoes on.   Apparently, this is was appalling and extremely rude and totally unacceptable!  Who knew?

The women of Cambodia have a great sense of modesty.   You don't see scantily dressed Khmer women.   So it is a bit shocking to see a full grown woman (or like last week an adult male) walking the streets of Phnom Penh completely naked.   Unfortunately, it is not surprising any more to see an  adult man publicly urinating against a wall in broad daylight.  (sorry... no pictures!)

Traffic laws are almost non-existent, except for ONE law..... You cannot turn right on red!   You can make U-turns anywhere.  You can drive on the opposite side of the street if that is more convenient! But you cannot turn right on red!    You can make a left-hand turn from the far right lane.  You can create 4 lanes out of any 2 lane street.  But you CANNOT turn right on red.  You can go threw a red light if the intersection is clear or there is a gap somewhere.  You can park on the sidewalk.   BUT you CANNOT turn right on red!   You will get stopped and ticketed.   It does not make sense, but we obey that law.

Cambodia has made me think often of Lehi's counsel to his son Jacob... "there must needs be an opposition in all things".  If we did not know sadness we would never know happiness.  If we didn't know illness we would never appreciate health.  Righteousness vs wickedness, holiness vs misery, corruption (mortality) vs incorruption (immortality).   I understand.... it all fits.... it all makes sense.

 But since being in Cambodia, I have pondered often.... where does "do not turn right on red" fit in?   Recently it came to me.   Its all about obedience.   Obedience with exactness.   I see it in the mission every day.   Its obedience to every little thing that will invite the Spirit into my life.   It seems so simplistic.  God does not ask anything of us that we cannot do.   If I could just catch the slightest glimpse of how He sees me....  Aaah, "but you can" you say!   I guess its time to re-read that Patriarchal Blessing.

"Where much is given, much is required"    I need to continue to read my scriptures but I read them differently than I did 40 years ago.   More is expected of me than just reading every single word, cover to cover.  I would rather read now subject to subject.  If I read the scriptures cover to cover there must be purpose in it than just for reading's sake and to say I did.   Prayers are not just one in the morning and one in the evening, now I better understand how to "remember Him always" in my thoughts, words, and deeds.  I fall short on at least one or all of these things daily.   I am grateful for the atonement that will help me find joy in the obedience.   I am grateful for Cambodia which has given me a greater perspective of obedience and taught me to be careful and "do not turn right on red". 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Lessons Better Caught Than Taught

18 Sept 2016

The book I have been gleaning from of late is David A. Bednar's Increase in Learning.   One of Elder Bednar's truths that has resonated with me is that "some lessons are better caught than taught"!   Our mission is quickly coming to a close.   Our scheduled date is 30 November 2016, although, we have told President and Sister Christensen that we will stay until our replacements are here.   That may not be until January 2017.   As November approaches it has made me reflect on everything that I have learned while in Cambodia.

A mission, no matter your age, can't help but make you different.   Such is the case for myself.  Cambodia has provided lessons that were only possible to catch.   If someone had told me that I would only use 2-3 pairs of shoes for the 18 months I would have scoffed at them.   I would have sneered and told them that they just don't understand me!!!   But here I sit in Cambodia with 7 pairs of shoes that I rarely use taking up a lot of valuable suitcase space!!  As trivial and shallow as that is, it was still a lesson I needed to catch.  I have a different perspective of "need". 

Even though my understanding and sense of compassion has broadened my personal ideas of "need" has narrowed.

I have seen poverty that I thought was only privy to a National Geographic magazines.   I have seen families of beggars because that is the "family profession" and has been for several generations.   Little bitty children will sit on a sidewalk or weave in and out of cars that are stopped at a busy intersection going from window to window with their hands clasped asking for money.   They do this all day every day.  I truly have witnessed the physical and spiritual "poor part of the vineyard".   I envision  those scriptures in my head differently now.

The principle that I have taught in classrooms for years that "God knows who you are" has enlarged, yet I have watched my own comprehension shrink.   I have met hundreds of more people that I love and adore.  My friendships have definitely broadened.   I don't mean that in the sense that just my number of friends has increased.... it is much more than that.   There is a quality of friendship that I now see in those that I left at home.   I see a "true" friendship based on their actions.    I look around Phnom Penh and see all the people I DON'T know and in amazement, I wonder,  how could He possibly know EVERYONE by name?   I certainly still believe in that principle but now I have caught the enormity of that principle in awe!  I understand that His love extends way beyond my meager mortal capacity.


I believe that faith does not come by chance but through righteous choices.  It is that action of our works that ushers in the power of testimony that builds more faith to make more righteous choices.   You can't have faith without works nor works without faith.  Faith needs action.  As Elder Bednar explained,  "the power will follow your actions".  The action could be opening a door, a smile, a kind word, opening those scriptures, or a positive nod of the head.  It may be just getting up in the morning and going forward with a day that might look like it doesn't have much promise.

These are some of the lessons that were taught to me a long time ago but I just recently caught the depth of its meaning.  With exception of the first year that I was a member of the Church, I have been fortunate enough to see the Church organization run by an optimum level of priesthood leadership.  I always have had faith and confidence in my priesthood leaders.  Living in Cambodia has given me the opportunity to "catch" a greater appreciation of the Church organization.   Just the smallest of things like having a functioning ward library and how that can change the quality of church participation.

None of the buildings here have libraries in them. They can't keep them stocked because poverty has a tendency to challenge your integrity.   I read the Doctrine and Covenants differently now that I have had a glimpse of a new and emerging Church.  I have a greater understanding of some of the Prophet Joseph's difficulties of teaching a people how the church should be run when it is a new experience all together.

Being on the other side of the world has caused my geographic horizons to broaden.   I know that there is lots more out there for me to see.  I hope I get a chance to do that.

My most remarkable catch......
Now that I have experienced first hand a mission that seemed to be especially designed for me, I have a heightened awareness that God has a vested interest in me.  He is concerned and cares about my mission in life and  what I need to accomplish that mission.   I know that Jesus is the Christ and that he is my Savior.   I can never "catch" that doctrine enough.  Many lessons have been taught and caught these last 16 months,   I have 2 more months to see what else is out there to catch!  I am poised, ready with my net.......