Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Orphanage!

23 Jan 2016

The Sr. Couples try to have a Family Home Evening together once a month.  This month we went to Botevy's orphange.  It has a real long name that I cannot remember. Botevy and her husband run the orphanage. Botevy is the woman in the purple shirt. She and her daughter were getting things organized for the program. 
 Botevy and her husband are members of one of the Branches in Phnom Penh's North Stake.  They have always been up front with the parents that leave their children there.  They are told that they children will have a christian influence in their lives.  They have near to 30 orphans that live there.  I hate to refer to them as orphans because that gives you the feeling that no one wants them or loves them.  That could not be further from the truth.
As soon as we arrived these loving children swarmed the van.

They had a dinner and a program all prepared for us.   They were so cute in makeup and costumes.

They really made it look beautiful.   See the fancy folded clothe napkins.

It was a frenzy of activity.  We had the most wonderful welcome into their home.

Elder Le Nguyen and Elder Monson were there too.  They are fine missionaries. 
The dinner was just like the children... unassuming and lovely.   They made a traditional Khmer curry with rice and lots of fruit.  Then the program began with all the children singing some Primary songs.  The Spirit was overwhelmingly present.
The program continued with traditional Khmer dances.

 The girls are so beautiful and graceful while the boys did their "monkey" dance.
Before we left Botevy showed me her garden that is one of Elder and Sister Meinzer's LDSC projects.   She was very proud of it. 
It was a wonderful evening.  I hope to go there again just to see the children.  One of our sister missionaries, Sister Soem, grew up in that orphanage.   She is a welcome addition to our missionary force.

Friday, January 22, 2016

All Things Are Done in Wisdom and Order..... TODAY!

21 Jan 2016
Phnom Penh is full of beauty....a sunrise
a public park.....
 It is her daily chaos and lack of order that frustrates me the most.  Many scriptures come to mind beginning with Doctrine and Covenants 93:43 "And now a commandment I give unto you- if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house."
Order plays such an important part in a Latter-day Saint's life.  We love order.   We expect order especially when it comes to the Church.    Our Heavenly Father loves order.  The Prophet Joseph learned in 1830 when the Lord tutored him "For all things must be done in order, " (D&C 28:13).  And again in 1843, "Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion."
Phnom Penh obviously did not have city planners.   Maybe my pictures can explain that.  We live on Street 222. 

Mission office is on the right.
 The Russian Embassy/Science Cultural building is on the left.   Honestly, I hear roosters crowing from that Russian compound!  Our little street is sandwiched between the first street to the north which is:
and one street south is:

I KNOW.... the numbers don't jive!   And the block after Street 228 is:
 and one block past Street 240 logically is Street 242????
If you are trying to rationalize a number order.... don't bother.  And just to let you know streets run north and south .... and east and west are also STREETS!  It is virtually impossible to find a street address (providing they have an address!).   There are also no zoning laws.  
 You can see a gated, guarded mansion and next door

you have the everyday people eking out a living.  
We have been told that "someone" who first lived on this road said "I want the street that I live on to be named 222" and so it was.   Phnom Penh has a post office, but with no explanations necessary,  there is no door to door service.   Very few can afford a PO Box, therefore, communications in Phnom Penh is a bit stifled.   Water bills, electric bills, rent notices are hand delivered.  There is no "bill me later" business.  That's why it is a cash only society.   A grocery store is the only place I have been able to use a credit card or debit card. 
I have come to realize that the postal systems bring "order" to a city.  In order to have a functioning postal system you have to have orderly streets that, heaven forbid, would line up sequentially!  It also requires homes, buildings, places of business to line up one after the other and be numbered...... sequentially!   No one has a front yard or back yard.  They have exactly as much space as they need for their house.  If there is a piece of land behind your house someone will build house on it and they are now your neighbor.   So houses are dotted everywhere.  With this kind of disorder, the postal system has no chance or working at all.   Without a postal system there is no communications and no order within your city.   This would answer why EVERYONE has a phone!   They only communicate by phone.
Obviously, in earlier years no one was ever inspired to create a post office or Pony Express, in Cambodia's case maybe that would have been an Elephant Express! It does seem to be a bit of an oxymoron in itself to use Elephant and Express in the same phrase, doesn't it?  And I guess, who were they going to communicate with anyway?  Families seem to stay in one place.  They are not a very nomadic people.  Then there is the literacy factor.   Not many could then or can now read or write, so letter writing is not a big deal.  All the many wars and oppression have played a major part in this since the educated were killed.  In those years, no one was coming forward with reading and writing skills.
Again I come away with gratitude for little things like reading, writing, and having order in all things.  It makes it so clear as to why all of North America was the chosen land where the restored gospel would come forth.   The brilliant, determined, and courageous minds that came to support the Prophet Joseph and build the kingdom of God from Canada, the United States, and Mexico is astounding.  The building of God's Kingdom was not going to be a one-man band.   Canadian contributions from Brigham Young, John Taylor, Hugh B. Brown, and N. Eldon Tanner brought unsurpassed order to the Church.  Fellow Canadians and possible neighbors, Jeremiah and Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt, brought the gospel and order to a family for generations to come.  So we feel a privilege and responsibility of coming from a family (and all the order that that generates) that has had the gospel for 180 years. 
Oh Cambodia.... where do we begin?   I guess we begin today......

Saturday, January 9, 2016

We're Walking, We're Walking....

9 Jan 2016

Almost every morning Brian and I go for a walk.   We go at 6am... just as the sun comes up and long before it gets too hot.   It teaches me about what it must be like for the missionaries to work in Vietnam.  
 This week has proven to be very historical.   On Friday 8 Jan 2016 the Church made an announcement that our mission, Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission will be split.  Vietnam will now be it's own mission.   The Vietnam Hanoi Mission was created.   Elder Lewis Hassell and his wife, a senior couple,  have been serving in Hanoi since May 2015.   He will serve as the new mission president.     It is so interesting to see how the Lord works.  

In August 2015, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland came to Cambodia on an Asian tour.   As the story goes, when he was in Hanoi, at some point he said something to the effect that Vietnam was ready. So many things need to take place before this new mission begins to walk on it's own.  It will be so interesting to watch it all unfold.   1 March 2016 will be it's solo debut. 

Vietnam has to follow different rules than any other country I have ever heard of.   First of all, the missionaries are not called missionaries.... they are called Branch Builders.  This is because the Church is not totally recognized as an official religion.  They can't even wear their name tags.   The only way that they can teach anyone is if the people approach the "Branch Builders" and ask questions.   Wearing white shirts and ties, being clean shaven, the sisters wearing dresses and always greeting people with big smiles makes them the Lord's "peculiar people".  People will ask questions "why".   So our Branch Builders spend some of their day wandering through parks and the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City hoping someone will stop them. 
We have had a few experiences ourselves in Cambodia on how this can work on our morning walks.  We walk around this public walkway where many exercise and health enthusiasts come.  (Brian and I are really neither.  We just like the walk.) 
 My goal is to smile  at everyone and say hello.  Some people look at you like you have two heads!   In the beginning very few would smile back but instead would look at you with much trepidation.   My goal is to see how many smiles I can get back.   We pass many guards who I am sure they were hired due to their stoic looks.  Many months of smiling has paid off.   I now receive almost as many smiles back as I give.   Even a few of my regular smilers now look for me and will wave and smile long before I reach them.   They are now my friends.  Some of the people that we see on our walk on a regular basis have now approached us and will visit while we walk.   They are curious as to who we are and why we are here.   We gladly tell them.  Last week a woman named, Sherry, approached me.   I noticed that she spoke very good English.  Come to find out, she is from Toronto.   I told her we were missionaries.  She was so excited, "I am Christian too!"   Through the conversation I told her what church we belonged to.   She looked a bit perplexed.  I explained, "We are sometimes called, The Mormons.  Have you heard of us?"  She quickly came back, "Oh, no, I am Christian!"  "So are we!  Sherry, we believe in the same God and the same Savior."  We parted paths at that point.  I know we will have another opportunity to visit again.   It really is just that simple.    
We have seen so many different things while on our walks.  Like this Viet-Cambodian Friendship Dragon Statue.   This is an oxymoron in itself.   There is no real friendship between the two countries and its a dragon!  To me that kind of means war... I don't know.
This is Independence Monument.   Celebrating their braking away from France.  This country confuses me!   Those that got away moved to France at the beginning of the Pol Pot years and Vietnam eventually liberated them from Pol Pot yet they want to have nothing to do with either country.  I don't understand?????
This is a local high school.  They start school early here... 7am and they end at noon.  It's a pretty good deal. 
We have watched them change all the old paving stones to these beautiful granite stones.  It was quite a process to watch.   And of course, there are all the food vendors along the walkway... and beggars.  I don't buy anything because either I don't know what it is and don't know how to use it OR I DO know what it is and wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole! 

Speaking of ten-foot poles.... we get to see a lot of construction to and from the walkway.  This is a bunch of bamboo scaffolding and bricks!   Ready for building.   It's a good thing that Cambodia is not on any kind of earthquake fault.   The buildings here would not last through the least bit of tremors. 
We pass this monument every morning.  We weren't sure what it was at first. 
It looked like it could be the National Flinch Champion Immortalized, but it turns out to be a statue of King Norodom Sianouk. (Flinch is a game the boys made up a long time ago!)  This guy is everywhere! 
We walk past these two gold snakes.   I don't like them.
The granite walks are beautiful and remind me of home.

 All in all, our walks are most interesting.  But still there is nothing like walking along Lee's Creek and around the Cardston Temple.  It is still my favorite walk and look forward to doing that again.  Cambodia has been a tremendous learning experience.  Mostly, I now have a greater appreciation of  home, family, friends, and living in a community where the Church has been established for over 100 years.... oh yeah... and English!