Sunday, September 28, 2014

A week full of miracles!

Hello everyone! Man this week was another week full of miracles! I don't really know where to start but I guess I will just start from Monday and go from there! ha So on Monday we were just having a regular p-day and then we got a call from one of the members and he told us that he had a referral for us and wanted to know if we could meet him later that evening. We agreed that we could meet at 4:00 and we would just end our p-day a little bit early! So at 4:00 we went to the member's house so he could take us to the house of the guy that wanted to learn with us and when we got the the investigator's house, he and his 9 OTHER RELATED FAMILY MEMBERS were all sitting down waiting for us to come and teach them! This was definitely one of the cooler pictures I have seen while in Cambodia and I will never be able to forget it! Oh and when I say 9 other related family members, I am referring only to adults! There were 7 kids and 2 or 3 are above the age of 8. It was the first time for some of the kids being up close to a white person and so they all just wanted to touch my skin haha and I think it was everyone's first time hearing a white person speak Khmer because for the first 5 minutes they all could not stop laughing because they thought it was so incredible haha. It's weird to think about, but up until this point in their lives they have never even been able to have a real conversation with a white person! So this was a cool new experience for them! Anyway, we taught them the first lesson and they were all so attentive and wanted to learn more! We invited them to be baptized at the end of the next month and they all accepted! We taught them 3 more times this week, including the Word of Wisdom because all of the 5 men struggle with drinking or smoking, but when we committed them if they would start to obey the Word of Wisdom they all said yes! SO AWESOME! They are all very poor and don't have transportation to get to Church but we explained the blessings of coming to church and invited all of them, including their kids, to come to church. Sure enough when Sunday came, not only did they come, but they came an hour early! haha So awesome!!!! They are all so ready to hear the gospel and with the faith that they have I know that they can overcome some of the addictions that they have right now! So that was the first miracle that happened this week! 

The second miracle that happened was that President Moon showed up this week for church and announced to our great surprise that Stake Siem Reap was going to be splitting into 2 Stakes!!!!!! WOW!!!!! We were all so shocked! Needless to say, none of us saw it coming and it was very well hidden! This was just another confirmation that the Church here in Cambodia is getting bigger and bigger every day! It's going to be a lot of work the next couple of weeks figuring out where we want to split it and making sure there are enough people in each stake, but it really is going to be so awesome and I think that it's going to help both stakes grow even more! 

I know what you're thinking right now... Elder Steadman, that's enough miracles for one week! Sorry I have one more! :) This week President also told us that in 2 weeks when this next transfer ends, we are going to be opening up 2 NEW AREAS!!! hahaha The names are Pursat and Prey Veng! I was so excited to hear about this!! It's going to be a lot of work opening up a new area, but also tons of fun as well! Lots of contacting and starting from scratch!!! How sick! :) I hope I get to go and serve in one of those Areas while they are still super new! :) Wow, this week has been so awesome! I try to express how happy I am in emails but it's so hard! You're only getting a small portion of how happy and excited I really am! We have some awesome investigators right now and I also get to see huge growth happening in Cambodia! I'm so very lucky to be serving here at this time! :) I love all of you so much and I hope that you have a great upcoming week! You are all in my thoughts and prayers! :) 

With love!
Elder Steadman

Monday, September 22, 2014

Power House Missionaries

Hello everyone! :) Another great week over here! To start the letter off this week I want to share with you all a little bit about Zone Conference! This week I had the opportunity to go to Battambong and receive some training! During this Zone Meeting we talked about being a "Power House Missionary". We talked about what an actual power house is (if you don't know you should look it up! ha) and then we talked about things that we can do to become a Power House Missionary! We came up with a formula for what it takes in order to be a Power House Missionary and that is Faith+Obedience=Power. I really like this and I believe 100% that it is true!! It is so important that we have faith! If we do not have faith in what we are doing or faith in our Heavenly Father, we are all out here just wasting out time! As humans we like to see evidence and then move in a certain direction, but with faith it asks us to step outside of that comfort zone… to walk a few steps in the dark. And then, once you have taken those few steps, you start to see the light! There are many examples in the scriptures where through faith people are able to see mighty miracles! The second part of the equation is obedience! Obedience is equally important as well! These are our Heavenly Father's children that we are talking to and teaching and if we are not being obedient to the rules that He has set for us as missionaries, He is not going to trust us with his precious children or the miracles that He has in store for us! So when we do these two things, when we are faithful and obedient, we will have power to preach the gospel with effectiveness and in a way that the people we teach will know that it is a message from God!

We also came up with 5 different points that we can look at each night to decide if we were a "Power House Missionary" for that day. Those are: Find, Teach, Baptize, Retain and Activate! If we are constantly trying to do these things then when we go to bed at night we can go to bed knowing that we are giving it our all! I loved Zone Conference this last week and I felt like I received so much information and inspiration on what I can be doing, and some things that I can start applying in my proselyting, so I can eventually become a "Power House Missionary"! So Zone Conference was amazing!

This week we did not have a lot of people show up to church because here in Cambodia it’s a 15-day holiday! ha Not sure what it’s called but it goes forever and so lots of the members went back to their homeland for those 15 days, so we are hoping by next week we will have lots of them come back home and be able to attend church! At church this week we had 2 people show up that want to start learning with us, so that was super cool! haha It really shows you how lucky I am to be serving here in Cambodia when people come up and contact me! haha This is the best mission ever :) Anyways we are looking really forward to meeting with them this upcoming week and hopefully they will have a desire to accept the gospel message we have for them!

Well that's pretty much all that I have for you all this week! I just want you all to know that I KNOW that this church is true! I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church with the FULLNESS of Christ’s Gospel on the earth! I know we have a living prophet on the earth today and he receives help and guidance everyday from our loving Heavenly Father! I am so grateful to have the knowledge of this truth and feel so very honored to share this wonderful message with the people of Cambodia! I love you all so very much and hope you have a great week! Don't be too jealous! :) Try to enjoy America as much as I am enjoying Cambodia! :)

Good luck and I will talk to you all next week! :)

Elder Steadman

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Frog legs and humility

So.....frog actually does not taste that bad! haha Hello everyone! I hope you have all had as good of a week as I have had! :) For me it was just another week in missionary paradise haha, but here are a few specifics just so my mom does not kill me! :) First of all, at church this week we had four of our investigators receive the Holy Ghost! It truly was a special experience to be a part of and I felt like afterwards they even had a different countenance about them! One bummer was we did not have a lot of people attend church this week! My companion and I decided that we are going to try and work extra hard this upcoming week by contacting our less-actives and trying to meet with as many of them as we can, and then on Saturday night we are going to call everyone and invite them to come to church this Sunday so hopefully we can have some more people come to church and have the opportunity to take the Sacrament! Well I don't have a whole lot to share this week but if I leave it this short my mom might come to Cambodia and kill me:) 

Me: You really ate frog?
Austin: I ate 3 haha
Me: Shut up!!!!! 3 Frogs? So you didn't offend or because you really like frog? 
Me again: The whole frog... or frog legs?
Austin: Frog legs are the best part!!! At first not to offend and then it 
ended up being I actually liked them :)

So I want to share one more experience with you this week that was quite humbling for me! This week I caught myself in a very prideful moment! So we were at the village called Phum Singhae and it’s about an hour and 45 minutes away from our house, so needless to say it is a very long and very sweaty bike ride! haha Anyway, when we got there we came to meet this family (husband and wife) and they said hello to us but they were kind of busy sorting some fruit. My companion told me that we would just hang around until they were less busy so that we could teach them! So we waited around and 20 minutes later we decided to go and contact a little bit because they were still busy. So we went and contacted for 20 minutes and then came back, but they were still busy and we ended up waiting for another 20 minutes until they were all finished and ready for us to teach them! I remember I went into that lesson thinking to myself that this is the last time that I am going to come here! There are only 2 families that live this far and it’s just not worth it to bike all the way out here. I thought that they clearly did not have an interest in learning the gospel and we could be using our time in a lot better ways! Needless to say, heading into that lesson I did not have the Holy Ghost with me AT ALL!!! That lesson we had planned to teach on the Word of Wisdom and as we taught my companion did most of the talking because I was too busy being prideful and bugged. haha But then at the end of the lesson my companion committed him to stop smoking and guess what...he said yes! He said, “I know that what you’re teaching is true and I know it will help me in my life if I obey this commandment!” Boy did I feel like the scum of the earth! I was put in my place!! I had forgotten for a small moment the reason why I came! It was not to only help the people that are already super strong in the Gospel! It was also to help those who are not, and those who do not yet have a knowledge of the Gospel! Starting at that moment I made a commitment to myself that I would no longer judge people, but instead love them as Jesus would if He were in Cambodia serving a mission! I am not on my time anymore! I am on the Lord's time and I gained a stronger understanding for that this week! I am grateful to have a companion who was stronger than me that listened to the Spirit when it told him to wait just a little longer! It’s my new goal to be better at listening to the Spirit and being slower to judge people and quicker to love them! I'm so grateful to be gaining all of these experiences here in Cambodia and feel so blessed to be able to be on the Lord's Errand at this time in my life! I love all of you so much and hope you have an amazing week! All my love! 

Elder Steadman

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"So grateful to be a part of this miracle-working work"

Hello Everyone!! Wow this week has gone by so fast its crazy!! Well I guess I will just cut right to the chase! ha So my funny story this week is another story about weird things outside my house! haha This Friday as we were getting ready to leave the house, I pulled my bike out of the house and as I was pulling it out, I saw something out of the corner of my eye so I stopped. When I looked it was a shirtless man posted up outside of our house sleeping! haha Elder An and I were laughing so hard because he was like mumbling and spitting in his sleep! We sat there and watched him for a good 5 minutes and had some good laughs and then headed out for another day of work! 

This week has been super good! We were able to meet with lots of investigators this week and this Sunday we had 4 BAPTISMS!!! :):) Wow I am so lucky!! Four of our amazing investigators were baptized this week and it was such an amazing experience!! One of the investigators is in a family that has each slowly received baptism one by one by one, which is super cool because they all just go at their own pace and when they have decided that they will be dedicated to this Gospel and follow all of the commandments, you KNOW that they are really going to do it! :) All 4 baptisms were amazing to watch and such a spiritual experience!! After they were baptized they were all given the time to stand up and bear there testimony about what they know. Even though they have really known about the Gospel of Jesus Christ for a couple of months or years, they are so strong and they all got up and bore testimony about how grateful they were to be able to have a knowledge of the Church and of Christ! It was such a great testimony builder to me, and a confirmation as well that I am supposed to be here in Cambodia right now! There is no other place in the world that I am supposed to be or would rather be than in Cambodia! I seriously don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing mission, but I feel so lucky to be here at this time when the work is growing so fast and people are willing and ready to learn about Christ! Some days are hard when you are sweating your guts out and you have sat crossed legged for so long you think you might have self-amputated your legs, but when you get to hear people stand up and bear their testimony about what they know is true, it makes ever single hard second SO worth it!!

This week I have learned that the hard times pass quickly and the good times and good memories last so much longer! We all have hard days or hours or minutes, but we can also remember that it’s just one hard day or minute or hour and that’s it! Then the good times come and the rewards that Heavenly Father has for all of his children get poured out upon us! :) Man I love being in Cambodia and I love being able to work with the people here and learn this amazing language and strive every day to be a better person! I testify that this work is the work of God! Everything I do every day defies human capabilities! I ride my bike miles and miles and speak a foreign language and sweat like a sumo wrestler in a sweat suit and every night hit my pillow hard, but every morning when I wake up somehow I have the energy to do it all over again! I know that this comes from God! Missionary work is impossible without help from beyond our own power! I am so grateful to be a part of this miracle-working work every day! I love you all and hope you all have a great week! Much love headed to you all from Cambodia!

Elder Steadman:)

The temples at Angkor

Monday, September 1, 2014

No "Clue" what's next... but ready for anything!

Hello everyone!! :) Wow this week has just been packed full of events! I am excited that I can actually give you guys some information that is new and exciting! haha So this past week, as you know, I received a call that I was being transferred to a different area! As I said last week, I knew that this was going to be super hard because I have come to know and love the people in Stueng Mean Chey so very well and so very much! So I decided that I was going to make the very best out of my last week that I possibly could! This past Wednesday we had Special Activity Night! I was assigned as English Class Leader this transfer and so the idea that we came up with for this particular special activity night we had been planning for over a month. I was super worried if everything was going to work out the way that we had planned it and if people were actually going to show up or not, but everything went so good! We had over 50 people come that week, which is a new record for Stueng Mean Chey!!! We played the game called Clue!! :) So for the activity we sat everyone down and I was the "Narrator". I told everyone that we were going to be acting like different people, and turned their attention to the back of the room where some of the other missionaries were dressed up (more or less) as actors! I introduced everyone and then I pointed and said, "Here is the professor...oh wait where is the professor?!" And then I looked over to my right and I said, "Professor what are you doing over there by the lights!?" And right when I said that, he turned off the lights so the room went pitch black! When the room went black one of the missionaries made a loud bang (like a gun shot) and then the lights turned back on. One of the missionaries (or actually “the mayor”- was who he was acting out) had fallen on the ground dead. (Earlier that week I ruined one of my shirts, so we drew blood and a gunshot wound on that shirt to make it look as if he had been shot). I ran up to him and yelled, "He is dead!!" Then I told the police officer (missionary) to lock the doors so that no one could leave until we figured out who had killed the mayor! 

So there were 4 suspects who could have possibly killed the mayor: the "Happy Couple", the Police Officer, the Professor, or the Student. I told all of them to go into separate rooms and then I came back to the front of the room and told the students that I needed their help to find out who had killed the mayor! We spilt them into groups of 4 and then each group went to a different station (or room), and each station had a different activity. They had like 10 minutes in each station to play the game and to try to get clues from the actors (missionaries) before the 10 minutes were up! So each group went to each station and then at the end we all gathered back to the "Dining Room", and then they had to walk into the room of who they thought killed the mayor! The majority of the kids thought that it was the student (because it was haha), so they went into his room. Once everyone had picked a room, I ran back to the front of the room (where I had written on the white board who killed the mayor and then turned it around so they couldn't see) and flipped the white board around to reveal that the Student was the killer! Then the police officer came over and arrested him and took him out of the room and then everyone cheered! haha It was so much fun and it was a great success and a great way to go out! :):) 

So after the Special Activity Night I had to pack all of my stuff and get ready to leave! Friday I got to the mission home and I met my new companion there! He is my first native companion! His name is Elder An and he is so awesome! Just a few transfers ago he was AP and he is just the nicest and funniest guy you have ever met in your life! He is never not smiling, which is so awesome, and our personalities match together SUPER good!! :) He knows the Gospel super well and is very spiritual as well! This is his last transfer as a missionary so I am his last companion, but with how hard he works you would never guess that he is at the end of his mission! I love him so much:) Anyway, we made the long drive up to Siem Reap (7 and 1/2 hours) and eventually we made it! :) It is so beautiful here and so very clean compared to where I was serving last! There are seriously a million white people here, which is super super weird and I'm not a huge fan of it to be honest! haha But once you get to the more rural areas here, it’s just the people I know and love (the Cambodians) haha :) 

Mom: Austie, why are you riding your bike in a river? Austin:
Mom, that's not a river haha, that's the path to someone's house!
Elder An :)

This week at church was super cool! Everyone treated me so nicely and as if they had known me their whole lives! :) When I got to church, the Stake President told me he needed me to give a talk on not gossiping (this was about 10 minutes before church was about to start and that kind of sucked because I did not even know the word “gossip” in Khmer until the moment he said it to me!) haha So I stumbled my way through a talk but it’s ok:) haha Then after church we had a baptism! It was super awesome! He was one of Elder An’s (and now my) investigators and he is so strong in the Gospel! I am really excited to be able to keep on teaching him! Anyways that is pretty much it for me this week, but know that I love you all so much and you are all in my prayers! Much love coming your way from Cambodia!! 
Elder Steadman