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.......

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.....

Wednesday 17 August 2016

This week there has been an interruption in my regular life.   I have talked about learning curves before and how how difficult they are for me.   Well, really, I am just tired of them!  This week has been a bit different than just a learning curve.   It has just been a plain nuisance!

With the heavy rains that come pouring down on us, the Mission Office/Home's roof has finally sprung a leak.   Unfortunately, the leak was directly in line with the main breaker electrical box.   We have been without power in the Office since Sunday.    No power whatsoever!   There is also very little natural light so working there is impossible.

The missionaries in the office, the 2 AP's and the 2 Office elders,  go about their missionary business as if nothing has changed.   President and Sister Christensen checked-in to a near-by hotel.  They also have their computers which are hooked up to the Church systems.   President Christensen conducted his scheduled missionary interviews out of the Service Center, then they left to go to the Provinces to continue the interviews.

But here I sit a bit lost without my daily jobs that the mission provides for me.    I have read 2 books, cleaned the apartment,  gone grocery shopping, and done laundry.   I am not that domestic so most of these activities are not very fun!   Even in reading the books I have discovered that I read best in front of a roaring fireplace or at poolside!!!  (Preferably the latter!)

What I have discovered is that I LOVE electricity!  I love Benjamin Franklin.

 I love Thomas Edison.

 I love Willis Carrier for inventing air conditioners.
I love Alan Turing for inventing computers. 

I love Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for taking those computers to a higher level! 
(And by the way, Cambodia,  I miss my electric can opener!!!!!)

I believe that I was born for "such a time as this" to be surrounded by electricity.   I have read the promise over and over that states that I would never be given a task that I could not bear.   I am reaching my threshold......  Just give me back my office, my computer, my air conditioner, my electricity so I can function!

These are a few of my favorite things......

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Two Temple Trips

30 July 2016

It has been 3 months since Adrianne and Kelsey were here in Cambodia.  It seems like yesterday.    I have been hanging on to the pictures trying to decide how I wanted to include them into this blog.  I was thinking that I have really hung on to them a bit too long.  But last week, two highlights of our mission wrapped around one another in a tight embrace,  Adrianne and Kelsey's visit and being with 50 (or more) Vietnamese Saints in the Manila Temple.

                                  Adrianne and Kelsey arrived in Cambodia on 25 April 2016.   
 After staring at the calendar for weeks and counting days, they were finally here.  They both looked in pretty good shape having just been on a flight for 24 or more hours!  Of course we then found out that Kelsey had been popping Dramamine the whole time and had slept 12 of the 13 hours on the overseas flight!!!   She just looked beautiful and no worse the wear!!! 
We hit the floor running!   We only had 1 week to make sure they got the full experience of Cambodia and they wanted to do it all!   The first experience?   Traffic.  The traffic in Phnom Penh is always a rude awakening!  This is just a typical intersection! 
Our first night included traditional Khmer dancing at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. 
It was a very good start!   
The next day we drove 5 hours to Siem Reap to go to Angkor Wat.  Checking in at the Borei Angkor Hotel made us feel like royalty! 

First item on our agenda..... have dinner with the 4 sister missionaries in Siem Reap!   Well, really, for Adrianne, it was meet Sister Schwab!!!   Upon moving to Wyoming last August the first people that Adrianne met was Sister Schwab's parents.  The connection has been strong ever since.   There is something to be said about being able to rub shoulders with full-time missionaries.   There is a special spirit present.   (It was a good way to start a vacation!) We took the sisters to dinner at the local Flavors of India restaurant.  It was spectacular then went "fishing"!!!  I had heard about this fish tank that you can go to... stick your feet in the tank and the fish will nibble all the rough spots off of your feet.  I had to try it.  So off we went..... we had hired the Siem Reap District President, President Yu Dara, to drive us around in his TukTuk.  This is the fish tank! 

You stick your feet in and those little nibblers have fun!   It is crazy!  7 women screaming.... well at least 5.... it is not in Sister Kong or Sister Chanthakhoun's nature to scream!!!  People were gathered to watch the screaming white women put their feet in the fish tank.   If it is not on your bucket list, it should be!!! 

Early the next morning the adventures into the ancient ruins began.   It was as if we were continuing to check off that bucket list.    First adventure for Adrianne and Kelsey.....
 Well of course.... an elephant ride! 

 And they were off!  Heading for the ancient Bayon Temple which has four heads each looking toward the four corners of the earth. 
We saw four temples in total:  Pink Lady Temple....

Tomb Raider Temple ......

We ended with Cambodia's beloved Angkor Wat.  These were places of worship for the elite populous of Kings and Queens and palace dignitaries.  Angkor Wat was originally constructed in the early 12th century first as a Hindu Temple then later changed to a temple for the Buddhist.  Because of the years that have past and because it changed religious hands it no longer stands as a sacred edifice of daily worship for the Hindus or Buddhists.  There were thousands of people walking around  respectfully snapping pictures and quietly talking to one another some even offering prayers in specific places in memory of days gone by.    

We saw everything!  Climbed every staircase!  At this site below there were people there to monitor modesty of dress.   No short-shorts, no bare shoulders, no swooping necklines were allowed at the top of this portion of the temple.   And they stuck to it.... I saw some very miffed women turned away and not allowed any further. 

It was a very long day, but worth all the walking in the heat.   Our day was not finished!  President Yu Dara picked us up again and took us to a restaurant then to the "Night Market" for some evening shopping.  It was a great day.   A day at a temple with Adrianne and Kelsey took new meaning.   We marveled at the workmanship and durability of the buildings.   We were amazed at what was important to the people to take the time to carve it into a stone wall.  I even tried to imagine what it looked like brand new.   I imagined it being dotted with a multitude of idols that have since crumbled into dust as the people had been warned by the prophets of old that their idols would never outlast the treasures of heaven. 

Last week Elder Leavitt and I experienced that "heaven" as described by the ancient prophets.  We attended the Manila Philippines LDS Temple.
I was surprised at how small it was.  Unlike Angkor Wat which sits on 403 acres, the Manila Temple only occupies 3.5 acres of land.   We were there with our Vietnamese Latter-day Saints from Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hanoi.   It was a wonderful experience.  We were there for 2 weddings and 3 attending for the first time.
There were not thousands of people there that day.... only a few hundred.  Pictures were only taken outside of the temple.   There was no monetary fee to enter the gate.   Although, entry into the Manila Temple does come with a price.... a price of worthiness, a price of obedience, and a price of personal sacrifice. Modesty in dress is also required, as well as, reverence while in the temple.

Angkor Wat is surrounded by opportunities to purchase all sorts of souvenirs.  From the Manila Temple what you get to take home is an abundance of the Spirit, power from God, and protection against evil.  Even though, Cambodia's temples have their charms and beauty and, even though, Angkor Wat gives you her own false sense of "forever" because of the years that she has existed, it can not compare to the promises and blessings that come from ordinances bestowed upon your family that seals you together forever.   Families truly can be together forever.  It is a promise that God will always keep.   Once the Star Valley Temple is dedicated, all of our children will live within minutes of an LDS Temple.  That I am grateful for. 

It was so fun to be with Adrianne and Kelsey in Cambodia but I will forever be grateful that long before Adrianne was born she was already sealed to her father and I, as was Kelsey to her parents because of a Temple marriage.  I am grateful for these experiences in the two temples.  It reminds me that whatever the sacrifice is, it is all worth it. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

FYI: It's All About the 725 Days!

25 June 2016

This was our very first Sunday over 1 year ago, 7 June 2015.   We drove these missionaries to the Church in Baku (I doubt if I have spelled that correctly!).   They found this young, inactive boy at home and taught him one more time in hopes to recover a testimony that was once present several months before.  I have no idea if this was a success story that they could take home with them or not!  But I certainly have learned a lot about missionaries and missionary work since that day. 

When missionaries come home we love to hear the beautiful success stories filled with the spirit.   We love to hear about the miracles.   We romanticize a mission into being this two year one-on-one, arm-in-arm, from-your-mouth-to-God's-ear daily experience with God!  Missionaries come home and you will hear them speak in a church service sharing 3-5 super stories about their missions.   And they will be glorious, faith promoting stories.   Those will be the stories that they will be able to fall back on and glean strength from during future trials and tribulations. 

Missionaries don't come home with hundreds of miracle stories.....they come home with 3-5.    Those are just 5 days out of 730 (or 545 for the sisters).   Once the stories have been told and the dust begins to settle then, if you really want to know what your missionary is made of, you need to ask: Tell me what happened on the other 725 days. 

MISSIONS ARE HARD!   But make no mistake.... it is a labor of love!   In their desires to be obedient they suffer through the heat and still wear a suit coat (this was before the new rule of "no suitcoats necessary" in Cambodia!).
 You ride your bike in the heat and you ride them in the rain.  
They make appointments and people don't show.  They teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   It is placed right in front of them and they won't reach out with their hands, see with their eyes, or open their hearts to take it into their lives.  Even though IT IS RIGHT THERE!!!   The disappointment and rejection is almost more than a frail, young, heart can bear.

Many of our missionaries have to deal with illnesses.   One missionary after having been in Cambodia for several months was physically suffering only to find that he had developed Crohn's Disease.  He had to go home, get his health stabilized, then he was reassigned to a California Khmer speaking mission, never to return to Cambodia.   Some of our local, native Khmer missionaries have little-to-no emotional support during their two years.   One such missionary in his two years never received an email, letter, or package of "love".   In fact, on the night that he was released from his mission, President and Sister Christensen had to put him in a cab to go home to an empty home because his mother left 2 days earlier to begin a vacation and his father was working a night shift.

It's not the 5 days that makes the missionary what they are today, it's the 725 days!   It is the day that we don't want to read any more but do anyway.   It is the day that we don't think that we have any more prayers left in us but be find one more ounce of strength to plead to our Father in Heaven to make things better.... to make me better!  It is that tiny spark of compassion that will surface that will change your heart at the right time.  It is the days that they wonder, "where is God today?" because they are just not sure they can hear Him.  It is feeling the Savior's embrace at the most unexpected and sometimes we feel the most undeserving times in our lives.  (Really those turn out to be the most deserving and needed times.)  It is in the daily sweet reminders that God knows who you are, where you are, and what you need that day. 
Its trying to make the most of it by having fun and getting together while you are away from your family on special holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas even though you miss them terribly.
It is your first day in Cambodia away from home.  We look after Sister Schwab while back in Wyoming her parents and Adrianne's family cross paths occasionally and share Cambodia stories!

Some missionaries deal with their situations more gracefully than others but nonetheless they accomplish what the Lord wants them to do.  They are out there slugging away at each day.   They are biking from house to house no matter what the weather is like that day, rain or shine (since that seems to be the only contrasts that Cambodia has!)  They deal with health problems and they deal with emotional problems.  (Sometimes those problems flow in and out of each other so readily that it is hard to tell which is the more dominant.)

The magnificent blessing of working in the mission office is that we get to see them everyday.  We very rarely get to see or hear about the 5 days, but better yet we get to see them during a lot of those 725 days.   These young missionaries are remarkable!

So, when your missionaries come home.... ask about the 725 days!