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!


  1. Sure love reading your blog Sister Leavitt am learning a lot about Cambodia . Thanks for sharing your experience with us. That is wonderful that the mission has split. Such exciting new.

  2. You have much to learn about dragons. When you get back, you are joining us in a game of Dungeons and Dragons. I shudder to think what you would if faced with a honorable silver wyrm from the north...

  3. Love your post. Thanks for the cultural insights.

  4. I love to read your entries of your experiences. That's exciting about the new "mission". There's a lot of work to be done out there.
    Hugs to both of you!