Monday, November 30, 2015

Episode 9: The One with Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone! This week has been awesome and crazy, partly because it was my last week in the Missionary Training Center, and partially because of Thanksgiving.

It seems impossible that I have already been here for 9 weeks. In a weird way the MTC has started to feel like home. I'm really going to miss it here (I don't know if I ever thought I would say that!), especially the people. Everyone I have met here is so amazing and I have grown with them and because of them. My district particularly is super close. We like to say we are a big, weird family. It's going to be hard to leave them tomorrow, but I know they are all going to do amazing things in Cambodia, and that there are equally amazing people waiting for me in Tacoma.

Now, Thanksgiving. It was amazing! Elder Oaks, one of the twelve apostles, came and spoke to us in the morning, and his daughter, Jenni Oaks Baker, played the violin (she is a professional violinist with the something-or-other symphony). It was a great way to start the day. Then, we had a thanksgiving meal, with tons of amazing food. They even had eggnog and apple cider, and a Utah favorite, fluff salad. I thought I was going to be disappointed, but the food was actually amazing. Different from what I eat at home, but still delicious. After lunch, because I am in a leadership position, I helped set up for our humanitarian project while the rest of my zone had a discussion of the devotional. We then went to another devotional about the importance of humanitarian work, and how we show gratitude through serving others. After the devotional, we vaccum packed meals for needy children in Utah and some surrounding states with a group called Feeding Children Everywhere. They are really cool organization, and you should look them up. We packed over 357,000 meals, and they had to stop us an hour early because we had used up all the supplies they had brought! It was super fun, and it felt so good to know we wer4e helping so many people. When we were done with the humanitarian project, we helped clean everything up, and then ate sack dinners in our classroom. We then watched the movie "17 Miracles", which I thought was going to be super cheesy, but I actually loved it. Then, to close out the night, we went to a "gratitude tribute", which was a combination of talents, short talks, video clips, and singing. I don;t really know how to explain it, but it was an amazing experience.As we left the auditorium to go home, the ushers gave us all a candy cane to kick off our Christmas season, and all the trees on campus were light up in different kinds of light. It was kind of magical.

Speaking of Christmas, this year's Christmas video clip came out on Sunday, and it is super cool. Here is the link if you haven't seen it yet, or if you have but you want to see it again. Just click the play button right under the words "A Savior is Born"

In other news, I have spent all day packing. It is hard to fit everything I need for 16 months into only 140 lbs (2 50lb suitcases and 1 40 lb carry-on bag). But as i was packing and feeling stressed about making everything fit, and wishing I wasn't limited to 140 lbs, I thought of all the people in the world who don't even have 140 lbs of anything, and here I was complaining that I'm only allowed to bring that much on an airplane. It really changed my attitude, especially because the faces of some of the Cambodians that my teachers taught and my companions will meet came to my mind, and suddenly going with out a few of the things I wanted to take with me didn't seem so hard.

Also, we got our Cambodian script name tags this week! Mine says Sista Lehmin. It's so cool!

These past few days, I have had the song "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" stuck in my head. If you have never heard it, I highly recommend you go to youtube and look up Vocal Point's rendition of it. It is awesome. Anyway, the lyrics are amazing, and are an amazing poem even without the music, but then the melody really brings out certain words and it's just an amazing whole. So, on Friday morning, I analyzed the lyrics as if I were analyzing a poem (because I'm a big nerd and that kind of thing is really fun to me), and I was studying some of the scriptures that the lyrics come from. One of them is Alma 5:26, which says " And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" The answer of course is yes, and I love that. If you have ever felt joy in your life (which i know you all have), you can feel that joy always, you just have to choose what aspects of life you are going to focus on. Now, I'm not saying life isn't hard, because that would be a ridiculous statement. But I have come to realize over the past several weeks that good things and bad things will both always happen, but the ones that affect us most are the ones we focus on. I can choose to focus on the fact that I'm struggling with reading Cambodian, or i can be excited and grateful that I have the chance to learn such an amazing language and use it to help people. Realizing this has helped me develop a positive attitude, because even though things are hard, life is also an amazing gift.

Well, I have run out of time. i will write you all again next week, this time from Tacoma!


Sister Lemon

This is my district with one of our teachers, Lokruu (the title for a male teacher) Mickleson. Saturday was his last day of class with us because he got promoted, so after 3 years, we are the last district he will teach. I feel really lucky that I got to learn from him, because he is an amazing teacher and he really cares about all of us. Also, pardon my cheesy grin. I was laughing at something. I don't remember what.

Episode 8: The One with the Flight Plans

Hello everyone!

So, we were supposed to get our flight plans on Friday, and we went at lunch to pick them up. They weren't there. We went after dinner. They still weren't there. We were all very sad, thinking we wouldn't get them until today. But then our district leader got them right before the place closed, and surprised us with them right before we all went back to our residences that night. It was super sneaky of him, but we were all so happy!

Speaking of flight plans, I am flying all by myself because I am the only missionary in any language going anywhere in Washington on Tuesday (as in a week from tomorrow). I never thought I would say this, but it is going to be so weird not having a companion with me for a few hours! I have to report to the travel office at 4:30 A.M., and I will be in Tacoma by 10:00. That's before the rest of my district even reports to the travel office!

This week has been relatively uneventful otherwise. Mostly everything is just the same. But this upcoming week is going to be crazy! We have a bunch of departure meetings, and Thursday is a crazy day because it is Thanksgiving. Actually, I'm really excited for Thanksgiving. We are going to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal, 3 devotionals, a giant service project, and a talent show. It should be really cool!

We taught another Skype lesson this week, and this time we taught 3 people at the same time, and one of them isn't a member of our church! I was really nervous about it, but it went better than I expected, and afterward she told our teachers that she thinks she would like to learn more about our church from the missionaries in Cambodia!

On the language front, this has been a really good week for me. My fluency has gotten a lot better, and I rarely need to use English. I think one day this week my whole district is going to try to go a whole day with no English, which made me really nervous before, but now I feel like I could do it no problem! My pronunciation is not very good right now. but even that is getting better. And I can read without looking at my alphabet! Well, I still need it for some of the letters, but mostly not. This all gives me hope that maybe an actual Cambodian could understand me. Yay!

I want to leave you with a thought from John 4:18, which says "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear". I have been thinking about this scripture a lot this week because there are lots of things about leaving the MTC and heading out into the real world that scare me. But I know that there is nothing to be scared of when we have our Heavenly Father on our side. He loves each of us perfectly, and therefore will not let anything happen to us that we cannot handle.

Have a great Thanksgiving!


Sister Lemon

Monday, November 16, 2015

Episode 7: The One with the Snow!

Hi everyone! It snowed all morning here and I am super happy about it! I'll send you pictures of it after this.

This week we taught a lesson via Skype to someone actually in Cambodia! Her name is Somaly, and she was super nice. I was super nervous about it, but it went really well, and now I am a lot less nervous about teaching real people rather than role plays! I'm also feeling both more confident and more lacking in my Cambodian language all at once, which is weird, but motivational.

In other news, I get my flight plans this Friday! it seems so crazy that I leave the MTC in 2 weeks. I started feeling like I was never going to leave. I love the MTC and the people here, but I am so excited to get to Tacoma and teach real people!

I sang in church yesterday. I was shaking the whole time because I was so nervous! But I think it went OK. The number is called "His Hands" by Kenneth Cope, and it is super beautiful. If you have never heard it, you should look it up. The lyrics are amazing.

I have started working on free throws every morning during gym time, and on Friday I made 20 in half an hour. That is not really important, but I thought you all might like to know.

We had the chance to do a new missionary orientation for some English speaking missionaries this Wednesday. It was really cool to have a glimpse back to my first day 6.5 weeks ago and see how much I have learned and grown since then. It was a very unique experience, and it really helped me appreciate that all my hard work is actually paying off.

This week in choir we sang "Nearer My God to Thee", and it was so powerful! Did you know that hymn tells the story of Jacob wandering in the desert as he is running away from Esaw who is trying to kill him? If you listen to it with that story in mind, it takes on a whole new layer of meaning. For example, it says "darkness be over me, my rest a stone", which I always assumed meant the singer was sleeping very soundly, but what it really refers to is Jacob sleeping in the desert with a rock as a pillow.

My favorite line from "Nearer My God to Thee" says "So by my woes to be, Nearer my God to Thee", which I absolutely love! I wan't to be the kind of person who uses my hard times to grow closer to my Heavenly Father rather than make me bitter or sad.

I want to leave you with a scripture from John 13:17. It says "If ye know these things, happy are ye if you do them". I have been thinking a lot this week about how to go from someone who knows a lot about the gospel to someone who shows they know a lot about the gospel through their actions.

Well, that is all for this week! stay warm everyone.


Sister Lemon

My district in the snow!

Look how beautiful the temple is in the snow!

This is my companionship playing in the snow this morning. It really was snowing. I don't know why you can't see it in this picture.

Is this artsy or boring?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Episode 6: The One with the Dairy Allergy

Hello everyone!

This week has been great!

To start out, I have discovered I am allergic to dairy. I was feeling sick after most meals, and I couldn't figure out why. I figured it must just be that the food was heavier than I am used to. Then, last Sunday, I threw up everything I ate, which was a little unfortunate, but I decided I needed to figure out what the problem was. After some experimenting, I have discovered that it is dairy. I'm ok if I have a little cheese or ranch, or if it is cooked into something, but milk, ice cream, or cream based soups are a problem. But the MTC has 3 different kinds of non-dairy milk available for me and non-dairy ice cream that is super delicious, too! And I feel a lot healthier and happier, which is what is really important.

It snowed for the first time since I have been here this week! It was just a little bit, and none of it stuck, but it still made me really happy. The weather here is beautiful and fall-y, but the buildings are always freezing! I bring a coat to wear during class and then take it off when I go outside!

Also, for those of you who know about my Cambodian scripture case, I met the girl who gave it to me this week! For those of you who don't know, I met a girl on an online advice site who gave me lots of advice about the Cambodian language, and sent me a Cambodian scripture case because I won;t have the opportunity to get one. It was really awesome to meet her and to be able to thank her in person.

Now for the funny story of the week. I was teaching a lesson on repentance, and I was talking about how repentance has two parts: praying for forgiveness and help from our Heavenly Father, and changing our actions and desires to be better. I was really into it and feeling really good about it, but when I finished my thought, the person had this super confused look on his face. Sister Pace asked if he head a question, and he said "repentance has two what"? Long story short, I told him repentance has two stars. I clarified "not stars! Parts! Repentance has two PARTS!" We laughed about it, but then he said he understood and it makes sense to him.

My biggest takeaway this week has been that life is all about the attitude you face it with. My district all has an amazing outlook on life and a desire to grow and become better, rather than complain or get discouraged. It is amazing to see how far that outlook takes us.

I want to leave you with a quote from Tuesday's devotional by Elder Richard J. Maynes. He said"keep your faith higher than your fear". I love that! It is ok to have fears or worries, as long as you don't let them overwhelm your hope. Life isn't easy, but we always have our loving Heavenly father on our side, and with His help, we can do anything. Therefore, our faith should always be higher than our fear.

I love you all! Have a wonderful Monday!


Sister Lemon

P.S. This is all the sisters in my district in our Halloween costumes. The first is us dressed up like each other, and the second is us in our own clothes so you can compare and see what a great job we did!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Episode 5: The One with the Apostle

Hi friends!

Wow, this week has been amazing! First of all, an apostle came to the MTC!! Tuesday devotional was given by Elder Neil L. Anderson. He spoke on overcoming adversity and finding deliverance through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He said to think "opposition isn't going anywhere, am I?" I love that! Life is always going to have struggles, but we can always choose to let it hit us, or to fight back.

Also this week my companions and I were asked to serve as the Sister Training Leaders for our zone. This is an assignment similar to being an RA at college. We each meet with one third of the sisters once a week to see how they are doing and to help them resolve any concerns they have. We also do an orientation for new sisters on their first day, among some other things. And we go to lots of leadership trainings on Sundays! We work with the other Cambodian sisters, as well as the Cantonese and Thai sisters. It's a lot of work, but I am so excited for this opportunity to serve these sisters. They are amazing!

In fun Cambodian language tidbits, this week I learned the word for twins. it literally translates to "two of the same child", which sounds pretty accurate to me! I just think it would be super funny to say "he gave birth to two of the same kid" or "they look so similar, they could be two of the same kid".

Every Saturday we do an activity called Teaching Resource Center, or TRC, where we meet with returned missionaries that have come back from Cambodian missions, and we talk with them (in Cambodian) about the gospel and their experiences with it. In the past, we have only met with missionaries who served in Cambodia, but this week my companionship met with two volunteers who both served in Boston speaking Cambodian! It was really cool for me, because that is literally the first time I have talked to anyone who was or is Cambodian speaking in somewhere other than Cambodia. And they were both really good at the language, which gave me a lot of hope that I will improve even without full immersion.

In other random thoughts, I tried a persimmon this week. It tasted like a cinnamon peach kind of. i liked it a lot, which is good because apparently Cambodians eat a lot of them. When i get back from my mission, I may only be able to get my new favorite foods at Asian markets!

Also, for halloween, my district all dressed up as eachother, and it was really funny, but for some reason i don't have the pictures yet, so I will send them next week!

To close, I want to share a thought from one of my excellent teachers. We were talking about a particular person we are role play teaching, whose name is Radii. He doesn't have a job or a family, ad he's really sad. The one thing that makes him happy is his friend who is a member of our church. We were getting stuck with how to show him that the gospel can help him be happy. Our teacher asked if we had asked him to pray for help finding a job. We said we had taught him how to pray, but hadn't told him specifically what to pray for. Our teacher said "If Radii finds a job now, he will have received a job. If he prays for a job and finds a job, he has received a miracle. The miracle isn't the outcome, it's the faith that leads to the outcome." Heavenly Father wants to give us miracles, not just experiences. I know that God will bless us whether we pray or not, but that if we pray, he will show us miracles.

I love you all, and I hope to hear from you soon!


Sister Lemon