Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sand Barges and Suitcases

26 Feb 2017

This week I captured a rare photo of two sand barges passing on the Tonle Sap River.   Believe it or not, they are identical ships.   One is full of sand and travels in the depth of the river.  The other is empty and skims across the surface of the river.  

It was fascinating to see them side by side.  Just to look at the ships you would think that the larger of the vessels would be the mightier and most valuable, but on the contrary, it is the smaller one that has all the value and strength. The one that is full.

Seeing these two ships, one coming and one going, has made me reflect on my beginnings here 21 months ago.  (We leave Cambodia in 26 days.)  I came with a large amount of knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.   I know how it works and why.   I came with a fervent testimony of Jesus Christ.  I came fortified with years of scripture study.  

I also came with two huge suitcases and a carry-on loaded with things I knew I would need for the next several months.  (I can't even remember what was in there!)
Interestingly, all those things that I thought I needed ..... I am hardly bringing any of those things back!  My suitcases that originally housed things I thought I needed will now bring back gifts full of memories.  My vessel that I thought was strong and mighty I have come to realize only sat on the surface of the gospel.   Cambodia has given me depth. 

I have re-read and reflected on Jacob 5 and the Allegory of the Olive Tree.  
I always understood my privilege of having been planted on a "good spot" of ground and have felt a responsibility in having had that privilege.  I now have a greater understanding of His "nethermost part of the vineyard".   I have seen the "poorest spot of the ground".  

I have also seen the spot that was "poorer than the first"!
What I know now is that even though this may be the "nethermost part of the vineyard" it is STILL the Lord's vineyard.   Growth can take place here.  Growth has taken place here.  Growth will continue to take place here.   Slowly but surely, just as the small-looking vessel, they will trudge up stream.  Cambodia will be filled with the gospel.   The Saints are beginning to grasp the importance of the temple and more and more temple trips are being organized.   They are not waiting for the Bangkok Temple to be built they are going now!   Even though it is a great hardship for them.   They will contribute one hundred, maybe two hundred dollars (for some this is years of saving) and some even more, toward their temple trip.  The Church's Temple Patron Assistance Fund makes up the difference.  I believe there will be 60 or more Cambodian Saints that will receive their endowments this year.   What a tremendous blessing that will be for Cambodia.

 I can't wait to see my family again but more importantly I want to develop stronger relationships.  I have 21 grandchildren.... one I have never met.   I have things to learn about them.   I yearn for not only a weekly temple attendance schedule again but I want to draw nearer to the Savior with that attendance.  I have Family History that is screaming for attention.   I can now do these things differently with a depth that I never had before. 

Even though my suitcases may come home lighter they will be filled to the brim.  I can't say that I will be "filled" as if to say I am complete.  There are still many more things for me to learn.  I am grateful for sand barges and suitcases that have taught me about what is important in this life.
Thank you Cambodia.   I came to this poor spot of the ground equipped to be the "teacher" but I have clearly been the "student" as I watch the Saints strive every day to make this a good spot of ground in the Lord's vineyard. 


  1. Amen. Thank you Sister L.
    ~Sister Hassell

  2. Oh, Sarah, you have an amazing way with words - this really makes me stop and think about all I have been given.

  3. This is amazing! Thank you so much for taking care of our Elder McDonald. I know he will truly miss you both!

  4. Wow! You have shared such marvellous insight with us over the past two years! Thank you, dear Sarah! Love, Margie & Dave