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".