Monday, June 30, 2014

First baptism!

Hello everyone!! Well this week has been super awesome with lots of great eventful things!! To start off I will talk about my experience at the Killing Fields. So right when I got off of email last week, we headed to the Killing Fields. On the way there I did not really know what to expect or what emotions I would have, but when we did get to the area and walked around, it was such an extreme amount of emotions that flooded into my heart it is too hard to explain. I will never be able to comprehend the things that happened only a few decades ago here in Cambodia, but going to the Killing Fields gave me just the smallest taste of how tragic the history is here. We were given a headset coming into the gate so we were able to hear stories from soldiers and stories of each of the different sites that they have marked off and some of the things were hard to listen to. As we were walking around, we came to a site where there were 450 dead that were buried in just a small pit. Some were buried dead and some were buried alive. As we stood there, I could feel the Spirit so strong in that particular area. I knew that these were God's precious children that had been so brutally killed, and I gained a strong testimony of the power of Family History work and giving these people the chance to receive everything that they could have received in this life in the next. Overall it was a very emotional, but very amazing experience! It amazes me that even though these people have such a hard history, they are still so happy and so so kind! I have the best mission ever!

The second event that happened this week is that when we got back to the apartment after the Killing Fields, we found out that one of the AP's (Assistant to the President) was going to come on a transfer with us the next day! So we were pretty excited for that! The next day we met him at the church and we went straight out to go contacting because one of our appointments fell through. So we were walking and we pass this big group that was eating and the AP was like, "Hey, let's go talk to them!" So we were like, "Ok, yeah, we're down!" haha So we walked over and my comp just starts like yelling to all of them about our church! It was SO sick! We felt like the missionaries from back in the day that stood up on the boxes and started preaching! haha It was a super cool experience! But the rest of that day was super good! Except when we got home our A/C was out and we had a notice saying that we did not pay our bill ha, which was not true. We had paid it like 2 weeks earlier. So I had my first night without A/C and that was not fun!!! haha Needless to say, this guy did not get a whole lot of sleep!!! But it was still an experience you have to have sometime ha :)

Ok, last bit of news for this week! I saved the best for last!!! So this week I was lucky enough to be able to baptize someone!! We have been teaching this family and their names are Bine, Khlung and Dome, and they are all so amazing!! So we asked them who they wanted to baptize them and they each chose someone different! Bine chose Bong Narit (her son-in-law) and Khlung chose my companion (Elder Lao) and Dome chose me :) I felt so lucky to be able to be chosen by her! She is so cute! She is 12 years old and the nicest, most hardworking girl you have every met!! So on Sunday, I was trying my very hardest to memorize the baptismal prayer and just saying it over and over again so I could try and make this the very best experience possible for her! When the time came, my heart was beating like crazy and I was SO nervous, but when I started to speak the words just flowed right out, just like they were supposed to, and when I lowered her into the water and brought her back up, I was overwhelmed by the Spirit! I felt so honored to be able to help Christ in bringing people into His fold and serving here in Cambodia!! Everything about the baptism was perfect and it went better than I could have ever imagined!! I know I have already said this a million times in this letter but I AM SO LUCKY!!!

From left: Dome's friend, Elder Lao, Bong Narit, Khlung, Dome,
Elder Steadman, Bine (Khlung & Dome's mom), & Seanna (Bong
Narit's wife & Bine's daughter); I don't know the cute babies' names.

Gosh it's so amazing to be able to watch people change their lives and see them come closer to their God! I always thought of a mission as a huge sacrifice but really this, so far, has just been a huge blessing! There are hard parts and there are things in my future that I just don't know about anymore! But I have never been at more peace about where I am in life than I am right now! I KNOW I am on the Lord's errand, and when you are on the Lord's side, He has a way of giving you a better future than you could have ever imagined :) Just like He did with the wonderful baptism experience I had this week! I love my mission and I love all the wonderful hard things about it! Thanks for all the love and support you have all given me!

Until next week,
Elder Steadman :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Best week so far!

Hello Everyone!! Wow the weeks are going by just too fast!! This week has been so awesome! Before I tell you all anything, I have to share a small little experience with you! So last week at the beginning of the week I was feeling kind of down on myself and just was not feeling the best, but then I read the quote book my sister gave me... (P.S. My sister Aubree has made me a quote book with a quote for every single day of my mission... yeah, I know, she is unbelievable!) Anyway, I read the quote for that day and it was, "Every little thing, is gonna be alright." It was JUST what I needed to hear and I decided that everything WAS going to be all right!! There is no point in sulking haha... it's such a waste of time!!! So I turned my attitude around and we had the best week so far on my mission!! My companion and I set a goal that we wanted to reach every single goal that we had set this week, and we hit them all! It was a super, super busy week and every night we were sufficiently tired, but at church this week we had 98 people! :) Last week we had 70 people so we were super happy that we were able to see our work really show!!

Ok, so other big news that I have for you all this week is I had to give a talk in Sacrament meeting! haha The first counselor came up to me on Friday and told me that he wanted me to give a talk on the Plan of Salvation this Sunday! Well, I did my best to prepare as much as I could. My goal was to just write down my thoughts in English and translate so I was not just reading a piece of paper the whole time. Oh, and I also decided that I wanted to read a verse of scripture in front of the congregation! So on Sunday I almost immediately regretted that decision hahaha :) There were so many people and I was so nervous because pretty much every one of our investigators showed up! So anyways, I got up and gave my talk and everyone was super nice and had a big smile one! A member from the Gasol family gave me the thumbs up with a huge smile on her face the whole time! It was so nice and very encouraging! Oh, and when I read the scripture, everyone just yelled out and helped me when I was not reading it fast enough hahaha :) It kind of threw me off, but it made me smile! The people are so loving and caring here it's unreal! Anyways that was a super good experience for me and even though it was super scary, this week has been the first week that I feel like I can kind of understand what people are saying and that I feel like I can try and reply to them haha :)

Ok, funny story for this week! So we were out proselyting on Thursday and the dark clouds started coming in hot, but it was not raining yet so I was not too worried. But then the rain started to come down pretty hard so we pulled over so I could put my poncho on. I put it on real fast and then we kept on biking. Well no less than 5 minutes later the rain stopped! I was a little bummed that I went to the trouble of putting my poncho on and then it wasn't getting put to use! The clouds were still dark so I kept it on for a while, but eventually it was just too hot so I took it off again. Well, no less than 5 minutes later it started sprinkling again, so I am just like, "Ok, whatever... it's not too hard of rain. I don't mind!" But then it just started down pouring. So again, I pulled over and put the poncho on and I am not kidding you, as I pulled it down over my body, the rain literally stopped! My companion was rolling and I was just in straight shock! hahaha We decided that God has a pretty good sense of humor and it was a sign to us that he wants us to laugh every once in awhile too! :)

Overall this week has been super awesome and I have learned lots of valuable stuff that I will never forget! I am so grateful to be serving a mission at this point in my life! Sometimes I wondered if I would regret coming out here because the future would not be as set in stone as if I just stayed home. Well, that is definitely true. I don't know what the future holds for me... more so than at any other time in my life. But I could not be happier and I know that if I keep doing what I am supposed to be doing and walk in the path that God wants me to walk in, that God will give me a better future than I could ever imagine! I find a lot of comfort in that! That promise is all over in the Book of Mormon and I know that it is true! I am so grateful to be here in Cambodia! This is the best mission in the whole world and I am loving every minute of it! Hope you all are well! Try your best not to be too jealous and enjoy boring old America! ;) Love you all!

Elder Steadman

This was some fun event the senior missionaries planned :)

Eighteen inches from head to tail... he said I don't want to know
how they killed it. I'm guessing the wooden object next to the
deceased is the murder weapon...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Investigators of all kinds

Hello everyone!! :) Another great week down in the books!! I decided for my letter this week I would start out with a funny story that happened to me the other day!! So at the end of the day on Thursday we were just talking to random people and we had stopped at a shop to grab some water when this lady with absolutely no teeth and smashed drunk came walking up. We said hello to her and she got super excited and kept on telling me to talk to her in English... the only problem with that was she did not know one word of English hahaha :) So anyway, that was super weird so we left and walked over to the lesson with the family that we were going to teach, which was just a few houses over. We went in and sat down and were just chatting with them for a bit before we started the lesson. Just as we're about to start, the crazy drunk lady walks in and takes a seat on the floor! I was straight up stunned and did not know what to do! She would not stop looking at me! The worst part was there was not anything that we could do about it because it was not our house to kick her out of, and Cambodian people are way, way, way too nice to ask someone to leave their house!

So there is like a moment of awkward silence because we have no clue what to say or do, but then Net Ming (the mom) breaks the silence by starting to teach her the Word of Wisdom! hahahahaha I was dying inside!!! Somehow that did not seem to get rid of her, so we just decided we would teach with her there!! We explained that we always start out our lessons with a prayer, and right when I said that she took the Book of Mormon from out of one of the little kid's hands and held it up to her head and started to give a Buddhist prayer! My companion and I just looked at each other in absolute disbelief, doing everything we could to hold in the laughter! About 20 seconds into the prayer, Lokpu (the father of the family) told her that we were Christian and that his wife would be the one giving the opening prayer haha. So then we went into our lesson and things were going good! She was sitting there quietly and listening, when all of the sudden she just started to bawl her eyes out! Neither of us could really understand what she was saying, but after she had settled down we told her that God could help and we taught her how to pray. After that, we finished our lesson and we asked Lokpu to give the closing prayer. Right when he started to give the closing prayer, she started to give another Buddhist prayer during his prayer. Well, he just kept on praying and so did she! hahaha After the prayer was over, she just got up and peaced out without saying another word! Needless to say, this was definitely one of the highlights of my week and so far the weirdest experience I have had here in Cambodia! haha Ok, so that's my funny story for this week!

I do have a great spiritual experience that I had happen to me this week! So we have been teaching a recent convert's mother and right now she belongs to a different Christian church. She has a great love for God, which is just awesome, but right now she is struggling because she knows that the Book of Mormon is true but she is really scared to go make new friends at our church. My first thought was, "No problem. Tell us who your friends in the other church are and we will go teach them!" :) ha But in all seriousness, we were really trying to get her to come to church this last week so she could meet some of the members. Before church we went out and met with some of the people who were her age and let them know that she would be coming (to make sure that they would sit by her and make her feel super welcome!) So when she came, she had people there for her and it looked like she was having a good time, which was awesome!! It is very true what President Hinckley said about new converts- every new convert needs a friend in the Church!! We went to visit her later that day and she had had a great experience and now Lokpu (her husband) is going to start to sit in on the lessons as well! She has a baptism date for the 6th of next month!

It's so amazing to see people come closer to God and gain a testimony in this Church right in front of your own eyes!! The people here are all so willing to listen and are humble enough to change!! It's hard to find that in the world we live in every day!! I say it every letter, but I mean it every time! This is the best mission in the world and the best people in the world! I would not want to be anywhere else right now than right where I am! Hard times come and sometimes there are hours where I want to come home and sit in a nice cold air-conditioned house and be with all of the people that I love, but every time I think of that I think of how much I would be missing out on over here!! I have already had so many amazing experiences in the short month that I have been here! There is no way I am leaving!! :) I love you all and appreciate all your love and support!

Until next week :)
Elder Steadman

P.S. (from Mindy) Someone asked me this past week if Austin he has had the opportunity to teach many people or if it's mostly service kinds of things that he's busy with. I wasn't exactly sure so I asked him in my emails this week and this was his response: "We did so bad last week on contacting and lessons!! We only had 2 contacts the whole week and 12 lessons!!! This week we decided to freakin step it up a notch and we had 21 lessons and 77 contacts and next week we are going for 100% which is 22 lessons and 70 contacts so we're gonna kill it :)" Sounds like he's teaching :)

This is the entrance to their apartment... I don't think the
poncho is necessary indoors, but I can't be entirely certain :)

Apparently they found a pizza place in their area. I asked
him if it was good and he said it was "AMAZING"!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Moving mountains... of bricks & a personal witness

Hello everyone!! :) Man this week just flew by! It seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing all of you and letting you know how my week was!! haha Well I don't have a ton of new stuff to tell you this week, but I do have some fun things and a cool experience I had this week! First of all I want to talk about the service project that I was able to do this week! So there is a family that is in our ward the their names are the Gasols, and this week they were moving houses and asked us if we could come in the morning and help them move some stuff to prepare to live in their new house. So of course we were all about it! We told some of the other companionships about it and so the next morning we showed up to their new house and to our wonderful surprise, the front of their house was almost completely hidden by bricks haha. They explained to us that we needed to move ALL of the bricks over to the side of the house where they could be out of the way... so we got to it!! haha We thought that we would only be there for an hour or so, but this turned out to be an all day project haha. I can't even explain to you all how tired I was at the end of the day! My arms have never been so sore in my entire life, but it was so cool to be able to see at the end of the day that we had moved these couple thousand bricks out of the way so that they could be able to get into their new house! :) I sun blocked before I went, but only once so my arms took a bit of a beating by the sun! Even though they are still quite sensitive, it just reminds me of how hard we worked and how much fun it was! :)

Ok, so the other big news this week is I killed one of my companions this week!! haha I crack myself up :) For those of you who don't know missionary lingo, to kill your comp just means that you are the one that finishes his mission with him! So yeah, one of my companions finished this last Tuesday! It was super weird to see him go, but I was not jealous at all! In fact, it was the exact opposite! He was the one that was super jealous of me! And for good reason too! This is the best mission in the world! Anyway, I am down to just one companion now and we will be with each other for this transfer and then he will probably be heading somewhere else.

As far as investigators go, we have a new one and her name is Rani! She is the mom of Rina and she has learned before but stopped learning all of the sudden. Well, we started talking to her and gained a good relationship and then asked her if she would be willing to take the discussions again and she agree to do so! We are super excited because she already has an amazing testimony and she has told us that she knows the Book of Mormon is true. She just is nervous to progress forward, but we are excited to be able to help her along and find friends in the Church who can help her along as well!

For my spiritual experience... this week I finished reading the Book of Mormon! I have read the Book of Mormon as a family before, but it was not until this week that I could truthfully say that I had read the Book of Mormon front to back. As most everyone knows, at the end of the Book of Mormon Moroni gives a promise that if you pray to the Father and ask Him if this book is not true, that He will manifest the truth of it unto you through the Holy Ghost. Well, I have always known that the Book of Mormon was true because I have had many experiences throughout my life that have confirmed its truthfulness, but up until this point in my life I could not say that I had a true testimony of the promise of Moroni! Well, I decided to take him up on his promise and I went to the very top of our house on the roof and there I knelt down and started to ask my Heavenly Father if the book of scripture that I had just read was true. Before I could even get the words that I wanted to say out of my mouth, I was overcome by the Spirit and I could feel of His warmth and His love that He had for me. It was such an amazing experience and it is something I will never be able to forget.

Today I want you all to know that I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much and because He loves us so much, He gave us a plan and a way to return back into His presence. I know that God calls prophets at this time just as in times of old, and that through His prophet Joseph Smith we have been given the Book of Mormon. I know that this is a book written from prophets of old testifying of our time, the time that we are living in right now! I know it's true. And even better than that, I know that everyone who reads this letter can know that it's true as well if they are willing to have an open heart and read and have a desire to know if what they are reading is true. I know if ANY person reads the Book of Mormon with a desire to know if it's true, they WILL receive an answer from Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Ghost! What a gift God has given us!! He does not ask us to follow blind!! He has given us the Holy Ghost as a guide and a comforter to know that we are on the right path! I know you will be able to feel its presence close in your life if you listen to the teachings the Book of Mormon has to share and listen to the message that the Missionaries have to share! I know that the message is from God! I am so blessed and thankful that Heavenly Father trusts me with this great responsibility!! I am forever indebted to Him for the wonderful blessings and trials He has given to me on my mission so far! I love my mission! Every wonderful and hard thing about it! Thank you all for all of your love and support!!

Until next week! All my love!
Elder Steadman

Monday, June 2, 2014

Language barrier consequences & a monumental celebration

Hello everyone!! :) So for me it has been just another great week here in the Kingdom of Cambodia!!  Right after I got off from emailing last week, we headed to the salon because we all needed a haircut. Before we got there they were teaching me what to say and so I felt very confident in telling the guy how I wanted my hair done! When we got there I told the guy and he shook his head like he understood what I was saying to him, but then he asked me a question and I had no clue what he said. So I did what anyone who doesn't want to look stupid would do... I just said yes:) haha Well come to find out, what he was telling me was that the only clipper size he had was a 2 because all the other ones were being used, so he was asking me if it was cool if he just used that for everything. So I, of course, said that would be just fine :) haha So he started on the top and right when he went through the middle of my head I just could not stop laughing! haha Never in my whole life had I seen my hair that short!! It was seriously so funny!! If I was at home I would have been furious probably, but here it's just one less thing that I have to worry about!! haha I still get startled sometimes when I look in the mirror, but other than that it's pretty nice to have a buzzed head!!

So another funny thing that I learned this week was the word tomada, which translates to regular. When people ask how your day is going, you can just say tomada (regular), which cracks me up because it makes me think of my brother Luke. When we used to ask how his day was going he would always say, "medium" :) haha Well, now he can say the same thing in a different language... tomada!!

Ok, the big news this week is we had the 20th anniversary of the Church here in Cambodia!!! Man this was such an amazing experience to be a part of!! We had to go at like 9:00 in the morning to the event center that it was being held at, and that's like a 35 minute bike ride, but it turned into more like an hour and a half because we took some wrong turns! That's ok because I got to see almost all of Phnom Penh by bike!! haha So we were super tired and sweaty when we got there and they had not turned on the AC yet, so that was super awesome as well! haha We had to go early to practice the song that we were singing in the performance, but then after that we went and got some food at this super cool restaurant that was like all-you-can-eat! We just stuffed our faces until we could not breathe and then tried to bike back for the event! haha That was brutal!

Look in "More Pictures" to see an up-close pic of what he's
pretending to eat... at least I think he's pretending!

The performances and the talks were amazing and the Spirit that was there was unspeakable!! It was so cool to see people from all over Cambodia gathered together as one body to celebrate the wonderful gift of the Gospel in their country! It was an experience I will never forget!! I have come to realize that in America, we just don't get it! haha Everyone is so prideful and to themselves, but here everyone is just one big family!! It is so awesome! It does not matter if they know you or not... everyone gives everyone big hugs and asks about how your life is going and if you need anything! If the whole world were filled with personalities like the people of Cambodia, it would be such a better place!!

With President Moon (the Cambodia Mission President)

Anyway, other than that I don't have too much other news. Bonyaa got her date moved up to the 21st because she is just doing so awesome! It has been so great to be able to watch her grow these past couple of weeks! A bit of sad news is that the Bong Narit family that I love might have to leave because they do not have the means to stay in the city. It has been super hard on me and I really do not want them to go because they are basically my second family and I love each one of them so much, but I know that whatever happens they have strong testimonies of the Gospel and they will be able to overcome their trials!! Anyway, that's all for me this week! I am so glad to be serving here and to be able to have all these wonderful and hard experiences!! I love you all so much! Thanks for all of your love and support!!

Until next week,
Elder Steadman