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.