Week 11: Magic!
Hello everyone! This week has been magical. A lot to take in at once, but I am learning so much and am so excited to be here in Cambodia. Sometimes when I'm biking around the city and dripping sweat from every pore of my body, I just look around and think "Wow I am really in Cambodia right now." I have been thinking about this time of my life for years and I still can't believe I'm actually here now. I love these people so much.
Julie is getting baptized on Saturday and we are so excited for her! It will be such a special day. I've only known her for a week, but I can tell how much faith she has and the desire she has to be baptized. There is a sister in one of our wards that I met in 2017 at the orphanage in Phnom Penh when Tanner finished his mission and when she saw me, she came up to me and asked if I remembered her. Somehow, we both remembered each other after all of these years. She told me, "It's like magic that you're serving your mission in Cambodia now." It truly is a miracle and being able to serve in Cambodia has helped me to see that God truly is in every detail of our lives. There is no such thing as coincidences. Her older sister and their other friend that I also met in 2017 are both serving their missions in Cambodia right now too which is so awesome. God truly is a God of miracles.
While being in Cambodia is amazing and has been so exciting, it has definitely been hard. I had an interview with my mission president, President Neang, yesterday just to see how I'm doing and how I'm feeling. To start off the interview he told me "Elder Mendenhall, you're so handsome and have a great personality. While that is a blessing, you have to be careful." He went on to tell me that I need to make sure that people and members don't get the wrong idea and remember that I am a missionary. It was honestly so funny. Then he asked me what the hardest thing has been for me so far. I told him how hard it has been to not be able to speak to people or communicate with everyone the way I want to because I love creating relationships with people and getting to know them. With a language barrier it has been really hard and frustrating not being able to say what I want to say or get to know people. President Neang told me that as long as I continue to love the people and have the desire to get to know them, the Spirit will get the message across and help them to feel the love I have for them. He reminded me that the language and everything else will come to me as long as I keep having the right desires. A lot of the younger people in the wards speak English so that has helped me a lot.
I can see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ working through me every day through the Khmer language. I could barely read in Khmer when I first got here, but I have already been able to see so much improvement in reading and speaking this week with the help of Elder Schofield, the amazing members, and God. I obviously still can't say a lot in Khmer, but when I'm sitting in lessons and teaching the Spirit just takes over and helps me to get God's message across the best way that I can. The gift of tongues is real.
In my times of struggle, I know my Heavenly Father will always be there to lift me up and help me to press forward in faith. In Mosiah 24:14 it says, "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions." God knows what each and every one of us are going through and will not give us anything that we can't handle. When times get hard I know I can always go to my Heavenly Father for help. You can always go to God in times of need and He will always help you when you go to Him with all of your faith. Pray to Him always and he will answer.
I love you all and hope everyone is doing amazing! You are all in my prayers.
I started putting all my photos in Google photos so I'm going to start sending a link every week for pictures so everyone can see more pics. Hopefully it works.
All the photos:
Here are a few of them: