Sunday, March 27, 2016 I need a do-over?

27 March 2016

I am usually annoyed by the commercialism that the Easter holiday brings but, this year, I even feel cheated from that part of the holiday.  Not one chocolate bunny or colored egg.
Not one store had multi-colored baskets with fake green, pink, or yellow grass.
I even feel cheated of being able to roll my eyes at the little girl's basket created by the OCD mother who was obviously tutored by Martha Stewart herself (at least on-line!)! 
There was no build-up to the holiday at all.   Now that I think of it.... Good Friday was just a regular end of the week kind of day! 
It's Easter Sunday but I have seen no evidence of that!  We have gone from dawn to dusk and my Sunday is finished.  We attended two different Branches today.   Six hours of Church but not one mention of the Last Supper.
Not once did I hear about Gethsemane or Peter's anguish because of his predicted denials.
Not one talk focused on the Savior and His incredible, selfless, atoning sacrifice. No mention of a crown of thorns

or nails in His hands.
Neither in Sunday School or Relief Society was any word of His life or death.  I left both Church buildings thinking that this is the most empty Easter Sunday I have ever experienced.  How could a whole country miss Easter?

Then I was reminded (again)... I keep forgetting that many of our Cambodians are first-generation Latter-day Saints.  They know nothing about Christian holidays.   My bubbled shelter is showing, isn't it?   Just because I live in a Christian world doesn't mean everybody else does.   So Cambodia continues to surprise me and teach me every day.  

I have thought about today's Conference talks that were at the center of my Sabbath day.  They were about faith in Jesus Christ and the happiness and joy that He brings.  The question, "What Lack I Yet?" was also a focus .... wondering if I am really brave enough to sincerely ask that question?  And ultimately, would I be able to hear the answer and be obedient "with exactness" and allow the atonement to help me make that change? 

Maybe that's not such a bad Easter message anyway?!   

Friday, March 11, 2016

One Such Little Child

11 March 2016

In one of those far away moments when the disciples were the captive audience of the Savior they asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
As you read these scriptures you get the feeling that there was no hesitation when the Savior responded by calling a little child to him and "set him in the midst of them" and began to teach,
            "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the 
             kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, 
             the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Then He identified the reward of such behavior,
           "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me."  
Last week we stood among the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven".

It started with Elder and Sister Meinzer, our LDS Charities Sr. couple.   They had heard of a little school up in the hills of Cambodia that needed school supplies and clean water.   It is a one-room school with 110 students.  Because the one-room won't hold all 110 students at a time they split the day with 55 students in the morning and 55 students in the afternoon.   The Meinzers asked if the Sr. couples wanted to be part of a service project.   Of course, we said, yes.  We started with filling 110 backpacks with school supplies.
We got help from several missionaries throughout the day at the mission office.  Elder Meinzer in the forefront of this picture could talk an Eskimo into building a bonfire in the middle of his igloo!

  Pencils, pens, paper, rulers, erasers, colored pencils and some candies.... they were all there and ready to be assembled in the backpacks. 

The missionaries were in place ready to work.

This was the last day for some of these missionaries.    They went home the next day.

What a great way to complete your mission! 
Elder Meinzer and Elder Leavitt were boxing up the backpacks.  The parents of one of the missionaries who were going home came with a suitcase full of soccer balls and donated some to our little school.  So our four Sr. couples and President and Sister Christensen loaded with 110 backpacks, 3 huge whiteboards with markers, 3 water filters, and 6 soccer balls headed out of Phnom Penh.  It took us 3.5 hours to drive to the Phum Thmey Kirirom Primary School.

From the very moment we arrived I was overwhelmed with the evident presence of the Spirit. I felt as if the Holy Ghost were a common and welcome guest here where no introductions would be necessary.  Large, beautiful canopies of trees embraced the school, but this hardly compared to the open arms filled with abounding love we were about to receive from the school children.  When we got there the school children, their parents and their siblings were all there.   The children formed two lines and as their honored guests we were to walk down the path they had just formed.  The children clapped and cheered as we walked by.


This is the school.  It literally is one-room...nothing else.  But this is where the education takes place.   This where their little lives change because they can read, write, and add.

The teacher was so humble and appreciative of the gifts.  

Two little girls used their new supplies to draw me a picture.  They each wrote their name and "I love you" on the papers.   

Unequivocally, this has been the best day of my mission... the day I got to rub shoulders with "the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven" and reap the reward offered because of  "one such little child"!