Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Don't wait, don't think... if it's good, just do!"

Hello everyone!!:) First of all, I just have to take a second to thank all of you so very much who took the time to email me and wish me a happy birthday!!:) It was fun to be able to get on today and see all of the people who wished me a happy birthday and a Merry Christmas and some of you even threw in a Happy New Year!! Haha I like it! Bust out all of the important holidays in one email! That's my kinda style!:) Seriously though, thank you all so very much!! You have no idea how awesome it is to be able to get online and see that there are still people who love you clear over in America!:) I have to give a huge shout out to my family for the unbelievable birthday and Christmas packages that I received this last week!! Honestly, I could not have asked for better gifts!! Especially the calendar and all of the letters!:) Thanks for all of you that took the time to write me a letter! I love you all:) I HAVE THE BEST FAMILY AND FRIENDS IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!:) Wow I cannot believe that it is already Christmas time!! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE!!:):)

This last week has had some of the most fun and awesome days of my entire mission I think!! So many fun activities and awesome experiences I hardly even know where to start!! I guess we will start with the beginning of last week! As you already know, I turned 21 this year!! This would be the year that if I wanted to go and buy a cold one in America, I could do it legally (don't worry I'm not the slightest bit tempted). Here in Cambodia however, if you are old enough to hold a beer in your hand you are old enough to buy a beer as well!! Haha it’s kind of ridiculous! I wish that they had better rules for that so there weren't so many people with drinking problems here!! Anyway, on my birthday morning I opened my package (which was awesome) and then we got to go and do service at that house that we have been serving at forever now! We did the final step that day though, which was laying down the cement! Not going to lie… it was not a fun job because usually you have a machine to mix the sand and the cement mix together and then the cement mix together with the water to make it like cement, but they did not have that machine so we had to use a shovel and hoe and it was super hard and exhausting!! Ha but when we finally finished we felt very proud of all of the hard work that we had done! The owner of the house even gave us permission to carve our names into the cement so that they would always remember the Elders who built their house:) I thought that was pretty cool!

Next we went to the church and taught some lessons to investigators, which was also really good, and then after that we had English Class! I taught the class on making small talk and then I asked for some volunteers to come up to the front of the class to practice the things they had learned to say that day. It’s important to apply what you are learning because if you don't do that you will never learn!! So I called on one of the students and she came up and we began to make some small conversation and then all of the sudden she asked, "What is your birthday?" Haha how ironic! I told her that my birthday was actually today! The whole class thought that I was lying and didn't believe me so I just let it go and didn't try to convince them that it really was my birthday because I'm not a huge fan of that! But then my companion stood up out of his seat and told everyone that it really was my birthday and then told them all to sing the Happy Birthday Song to me! Ha so the whole class (in Cambodian accents) sang the song to me! Ha it was super cute and I was sufficiently embarrassed:) Then after English Class, our President from our Branch asked if he could meet with me for just a second, so I followed him into the activity room and the room was dark but then he turned on the lights and there were a whole bunch of members and they all screamed happy birthday! They had made a poster with a whole bunch of pics of me and my family and a very pretty cake and best of all there were a whole bunch of my very favorite members!!:) What a great surprise, right!?:) They had me go and stand behind the cake and then turned off the lights again and sang the Happy Birthday Song to me again and then I blew out all of the candles and when I blew them out they sprayed me with confetti and with silly string! It was so awesome!:) I knew that my birthday was going to be a little different this year because I was going to be away from loved ones back at home, but if I could not be with my family this year I could not have picked a better group of people to celebrate my birthday with! It was the best birthday in Cambodia any person could ever ask for!:) I felt so very loved and I was so grateful that I was able to celebrate this special day with all of these amazingly wonderful people here in Siem Reap!!:)

So my birthday was awesome!! Then last Sunday we had 3 of our investigators get baptized!! It was a mother and two of her children:) We have been teaching her since I first got into this area and now she was finally able to enter into that sacred covenant with her Heavenly Father! The joy that was on her face after baptism was indescribable! It reminded me that this is what I am out here to do! To give every person that same opportunity… to have that same wonderful smile written on their faces as well! The smile that says that you now KNOW that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you so very much and that you have just entered into a covenant with Him that shows you love Him and will walk down His path all the way to the end so that you can go back home and live with Him again someday! That is a smile of worth beyond what words could ever describe! The baptismal service was beautiful and she even invited her mother to come who is actually a member of another Christian church! When she came she said she felt different that she had ever felt before! This was such a huge answer to my companion’s and my prayers because we have been trying to get her mother to come and at least see what our church is like for over 3 months, but she just never had the desire to come! We understood and didn't try to force her to do anything that she didn't want to do, but just continued to teach her and trust that Heavenly Father would help up is our efforts! Well, He (as usual) came in clutch!! When her daughter invited her to come to the baptismal service, she had originally said no because that was the same day that her church had their Christmas party and it was the same time as the baptism! But when she woke up that Sunday morning she told us that she had the strongest impression that she needed to go to the baptism and watch her daughter get baptized! How wonderful it is to see Heavenly Father’s loving hand guide His own work here on earth! She said she really enjoys our church and wants to be baptized as well so we will be setting up a baptismal date for her as well this week:)

Then last week was also Christmas week!! Sorry that I could not email last Monday! I forgot to tell you that they changed our p-day to Friday instead because that's the day we Skype our families!:) My bad! Haha don't hate me Mom!!:):) So this last Saturday we had our ward Christmas party as well! The members asked us to come to the church last Friday night so that we could help them set up for the Christmas party! So we went over to the church for an hour or so and helped them set everything up so it looked all pretty and Christmassy!:) I made a Christmas colored chain link and then taped it onto the wall in the form of a Christmas tree! It was pretty sick:) Then we had the big party, starting from Saturday morning all the way into the evening! We invited a million people in our contacting to come to the church learn about our beliefs and also there was tons of food and refreshments for after the open house and Christmas performance! Unfortunately, not a lot of people came from our contacting, but there were a lot of people who were inactive that came to the party! So we felt like that was just as good because we were able to talk with them and the members were able to talk with them and invite them to come back to church and told them how much they missed seeing them at church, so that was really cool!!:) When members tell you that they miss you and want you to come back, that means so much more than the annoying elders calling to tell you over and over again that they miss you! Haha overall I would consider the Christmas party success even though we really did not get a lot of new investigators, at least we have a lot of less actives who now know that the member still love them and miss them!:)

Then this Wednesday we woke up at 4:30 am to head to Phnom Penh for the missionary Christmas party!:) In this mission at Christmas time we get to meet all together, all of the missionaries, and share Christmas Day all together!:) And so you know what that means right!? I got to see my boy, Elder Quirante!!!:) Man I missed him so much!!! It was so nice to be able to see him and catch up with him again and we all stayed in a hotel and we even got to share the same room so that was just an absolute party!!:) Please everyone… pray that I can be companions with him again! We would be an unstoppable force of righteousness if President put us together again!;) The Christmas party was lots of fun and we had a little bit of training from President as well, and then on Thursday we got back on the bus and headed back to Siem Reap!! It was a super long ride back! The guy did not know how to drive and it took 10 hours to get home when usually it only takes 6 or maybe 7! Not fun!! Ha but then I got to wake up the next day and Skype with my family!! That was the best Christmas gift ever!!:) It's been since February since I have seen them and I was far overdue to see all of their cute faces!! It was an absolute blast! We laughed our absolute butts off and had the best time ever talking to each other! Or at least I did!;) I LOVE YOU FAMILY!!:):) Can't wait to see you all again in just a couple short months!!:):)

This Sunday was filled with lots of emotions and it was the first time I have had feelings of this kind on my mission. The feeling that was felt quite strongly this week was sorrow. When I got to the church, we had a meeting right away with the President and he informed us of some very sad news. One of my recent converts who has been struggling with a severe skin disease passed away this Sunday morning. When President told me, I couldn't believe it at first. I didn't want it to be real. My heart was filled with heartache because earlier this week I received a random thought that I should really go to visit him at his house, but the thing was he moved and was no longer in my area and so I decided that next week I would plan to put him in my planner and get permission from the other elders to go into their area and visit him. I also told myself that I was way too busy this week with going to Phnom Penh and all of that stuff. Later in the week, I received that same feeling that I should really go see him. Once again, I told myself that it would not be a problem and that I would go see him when I had more time to plan the longer bike ride into our schedule. So this Sunday I came to the terrible conclusion that I had tried to put off the prompting that my Heavenly Father was giving me through the Holy Ghost. It was a rude awakening to the importance of doing as soon as you are told to do! Only God knows the future and what is going to happen tomorrow and so when he inspires us, we need to act on it quickly! Don't wait, don't think, if it's good, just do! After church, we went to his mother’s house and that's where his body was and we went upstairs to see him. Then the missionaries and about 15 other members who came with us (including our President) gathered around him and said a prayer all together. Then after we sang "I Need Thee Ever Hour" and the Spirit was incredible and it was impossible to hold in the tears. I knew as we were singing that he was in the room with us because when we sang we invited the Holy Ghost to come into that house as well. With tears in my eyes I told him I was sorry for not coming to see him sooner. I told him I loved him and was so happy for the opportunity to have been able to meet him and teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I felt his presence as I talked and felt comforted by his spirit. He was very young… only about 30 years old, but he was born with a skin disease and it restricted him from being able to walk or move normally and it caused him a lot of pain. So as sad as it was to see him leave this earth, I was so happy to think that soon he will be receiving a body that is perfect in every way and does not have any imperfections like his earthly body had. Soon he will have a perfected body, but for right now I know he is in the spirit world currently being a missionary himself and teaching people that don't yet know about the gospel of Jesus Christ to receive a knowledge of Him. I know that with that big huge smile that he has, they will all want to hear what he has to say! Please pray for his wife and his daughter that they may both be comforted and blessed during this difficult times in their lives as well.

On top of all of this emotional stuff, it was transfer calls this week and I am getting transferred!! I was super nervous to find out where I was going to be going and I was already pretty bummed out as far as the things that had happened on Sunday. But....transfer calls came in and the news was some of the best news I possibly could have received! I am headed back to ស្ទឹងមានជយ័!!! :):) (Stung Meanchey!) President called me and told me that I would be going back to serve there and that I would be the district leader over there as well!! I was so excited when he told me! I get to go see all of my old recent converts!:) Such a blessing! My companion’s name is Elder Bostrom and he is just barely getting out of training, so I am going to be his “mom” (the person that's companions with someone right out of training.) One of the elders here in Siem Reap is in the same group as him and he told me I am going to like him a lot and we are going to get along just fine!:) Man it was a hard day today, but as usual at the end of the day Heavenly Father cheered me up and showed me just how much He loves me!! The mission really is an emotional roller coaster! You can be at what feels like the very bottom of the hill when all of the sudden you are back on top and feeling like you can touch the top of the mountain! I love all the experiences I am having out here! The difficult ones, the happy ones, the sad ones, the exciting ones, the frustrating ones, the funny ones, and everything in between!! I'm so grateful to be able to take these two years to be able to learn and grow! I know these experiences are going to bless me for the rest of my life!! Well, that's all I have for you this weekend! I am so sorry that it is so long this week!! Just lots of information to catch you all up on!! :) I love you all and hope you have an amazing week!! I'll be emailing you all from my old home next week!!:):) But until then God bless you all:)

With love,
Elder Steadman

Friday, December 19, 2014

Guided footsteps

Hello everyone! This week has been another solid week here in the Kingdom of Cambodia! :) So this week I have a super cool story that I want to share with all of you! This last Thursday my companion and I had about an hour of free time right before we were to go back inside the house for the night, so we decided to ride our bikes down the main road instead of taking a right like we usually do to go to our house! Going straight is longer, but we had time so we did not mind ha Anyway, as we were driving down the street I said a little prayer in my heart that Heavenly Father would point out the people that I could talk to that would spark an interest in the things that I had to say. We kept on riding down that road for awhile and then I felt all of the sudden that we should take a right, so we took a right and we went down this road that I have never been down before and it was a super, super long road! haha We saw people every once in awhile, but it just did not feel right yet to pull over and talk to them so we kept on going. Then we got to a road that we were familiar with and I knew that if we took a left, that we would get back on the same main road that we were on and be able to continue riding. However, when we got to the fork in the road, my companion said that he wanted to take a right instead. I had no clue where that road led to, but we were not in a hurry so I was down:)

We went down that road a little ways and right when we were about to turn back, I felt like we should pull over and talk to a person that was sitting outside her home. I asked her if she could help us know how to get back to the main road and she continued to tell us what we could do to get back on the main road. Just as we were about to leave her, an older woman was riding her bike by and the woman that we were originally talking to said, "Just follow her… she knows how to get to the main road." So we looked at the lady on the bike and before we could even get anything out of our mouths she said, "Hello Elders! I haven't seen you guys in a while!" We were both shocked! My companion just took a shot in the dark and asked how long she had been a member of our church, because usually the only people that know to call us Elders are the members. She said that she had been a member for four years! After that we asked her if she could take us to her home really fast so that we could know where she lives and go back and visit her another day. She took us to her home where, as it turns out, another woman her same age lives right next to her who is also a member. My companion and I could not believe it! It was such a cool experience to be able to find these two "lost sheep." It was such a huge testimony builder to me to see that Heavenly Father literally guided each and every one of our footsteps that night! Each and every decision that we made that we originally we thought was our own was, in fact, inspiration coming from our Heavenly Father so that he could lead us to two lost members in our branch and help bring them back into the fold! I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!! I know with all of my heart that this is the work of God that I am doing right now at this point in my life! It’s hard work, but it’s the most rewarding work that I have ever done! It’s always good to have experiences like that one to be able to remind yourself on hard days that God is always watching out over you and his other children! It also has made me worry less about if my thoughts are coming from the Spirit or not. I am learning to just do what feels right and most the time if you’re doing what feels right, you are in fact following the Spirit!

This week we were supposed to have some baptisms, but there were some small complications that arose with work and other things. We are hoping that next week we will have some investigators who will be able to have the opportunity to receive baptism! They have all been working so very hard to bring their lives in harmony with the teachings of the Savior! It truly has been a humbling experience to watch! This week I also got to build another house, so that was fun! I could totally build a house for my wife when I get back home! I don't think that she would be incredibly impressed though, considering houses are a little more extravagant over in America! But if she is down to settle, I can make a dang good bamboo house with tin walls! Hear that ladies!? If that doesn't real them in, I don't know what will! ;) haha

Anyway, I am loving my mission more than ever! It’s so nice being able to communicate with the people here a little easier! At first I had so much love for them, but I just could not understand a single word that they were saying. Now I have even more love for them AND I can understand tons of what they’re saying! What a blessing! I feel bad for everyone who has come to Cambodia and not had the opportunity to learn the language and converse with the people in their native tongue! That is a blessing given to me that I will never be able to repay my Heavenly Father for! I love my mission! I love the people here and I love this work! You are all in my prayers and I hope that you will all be safe this week and enjoy a wonderful Christmas season with each other! :) Love you all so very much!

Elder Steadman

These pics are all from a war museum they got to tour :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Baptisms, testimonies, and Taylor Swift

Hello everyone! :) Well another week is down in the books! It’s been such a great week for me here in Cambodia! I love my mission and I hope all of you have a great week as well! Much love! 

Elder Steadman 

Just kidding haha my mom would literally come to Cambodia and kill me if I really sent that short of a home letter! :) haha My week has been super awesome! First of all, the highlight of my week was that we had two of our investigators get baptized this week! :) It was a middle-aged woman named Ming Mom and a girl about my age named Bong Bou! We have been teaching them for quite a while now and they have seriously been looking forward to this day since the very first lesson that we taught them! I remember in the first lesson they asked if they could receive baptism the next Sunday and although that was music to my ears, I had to explain to them that we had to teach them everything that we believe before they could get baptized so they would fully know what they are going to be covenanting to do rather than just getting baptized and then having no clue what they got themselves into! ha So we continued to teach them and work with them and they accepted everything that we taught them and yesterday they got to make one of the most important promises that this life has to offer! It was a beautiful baptism and the Spirit was so very strong in the room as they both got up to bear their testimonies! 

In church this week it was Fast Sunday as well and Ming Mom got up to bear her testimony and it was the cutest thing ever! ha I was up on the stand doing translations for the foreigners that were there and then she got up to the pulpit to speak and she told everyone that she was super new and that if she said anything that wasn't completely right not to get mad at her. Then after that she just turned to me and started having a conversation with me hahaha She just gave like a mini lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and after every sentence she said, "Right Elder? Isn't that right? That's what you taught me!" It was so cute! haha I agreed with everything that she said but it was literally impossible for me to translate while she was bearing her testimony because really she was just having a full blown conversation with me at the pulpit! :) ha Everyone one in the ward just loves her though because she is so humble and has such a strong desire to follow all of the commandments of God and know all of them perfectly so that she can follow them! She definitely has a special place in my heart as well! :)

As for other news this week! Do you remember when I told you that I would try to do something embarrassing so that you guys could have a good laugh?! Well I did quite a few embarrassing things this week! haha In English class (I teach English 2 times a week if I haven't told you that already ha) I made up an activity for the students because we have really been trying to work on speaking full sentences so that people can understand them! For some reason that is a super hard thing for them to do, so I made up an activity where I gave every student the chance to have me do anything that they wanted me to do (within the bounds of missionary rules), but when they asked me to do whatever they wanted me to do it had to be in a full and complete sentence or else I did not have to do what they asked me to do! I figured I might have to do a couple things here and there, but that mainly we would just be working on how to structure sentences. Oh how wrong I was! It’s like the whole time before that class period, they were just messing around with me! All of a sudden ALL of my students knew how to speak in complete sentences! haha Not only that, but they had great imaginations about what they wanted me to do! The student that went first told me that he wanted me to wrap my tie around my head… that one was not too bad, but then the next student told me to 100 push ups in a row. After that I knew that I was in trouble because now all of the students’ heads were churning thinking of what they could have me do! haha To my surprise the next student asked me to sing 22 by Taylor Swift....how do they even know Taylor Swift!?!? Well I did what anyone would do if you’re forced to sing 22 by Taylor Swift..... I sang my heart out!! ha After that there were a few students who got the sentence wrong, thank heaven! They tried asking me to do the Michael Jackson dance, the worm, and an impersonation of a drunk Khmer.....dodged a bullet there!! haha But then the last two dares that I had to do were to act like a karate master and then sing the Lazy Song by Bruno Mars....they really got a kick out of me singing! haha It was a super fun English class and although it was a little bit goofy, I feel like they really are starting to get the hang of English sentence structure! It did help that if they said it wrong I was not going to have to do what they said! That really made them think about what they wanted to say and then say it correctly so they could laugh at me! :)

Overall this week was super fun! Lots of laughs (well people laughing at me) and also some great spiritual experiences! I sure do love my mission! I love the people of Cambodia and I love making them smile! Even if that includes me embarrassing myself! I encourage all of you this week to find someone you can make smile! A smile goes a long way… you do not always have to embarrass yourself but you can do something Christ-like towards someone so that all people all around the world can feel the wonderful spirit that this time of year always brings! :) Christmas time is such an amazing time of the year! Go and share the love with others so that we can all feel the true meaning of Christmas this year! I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Steadman

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving... Cambodian style

Break out the Christmas music people! Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is on its way here!!! :) I hope everyone has had a great last week full of thanks! :) This week was a fun Thanksgiving unlike any I have ever had before! As some of you may know by now, I am living in a third world country so Thanksgiving technically does not really exist here, but the elders and I here in Siem Reap still wanted to celebrate this wonderful holiday with each other (and it was an excuse to eat American food! haha) Anyway so this Thanksgiving we planned to do a lunch with all of the elders and the sisters here in Siem Reap (8 people total). Each of us was in charge of making different things for the lunch! And President and Sister Moon were nice enough to give us a 2-hour lunch break on Thanksgiving Day so we didn't have to hurry and go straight back to work! ha So I was in charge of making mashed potatoes. I figured that was an easy enough job and that I did not really have to worry about doing anything until Thanksgiving morning! haha Well that bit me in the butt! haha When I went down Thanksgiving morning to make the mashed potatoes I realized that we have nothing to mash the potatoes with! haha Oh the things you just forget you don't have in a third world country! ha Well, that was not going to defeat me! I was still confident that I could make some dang good tasting mashed potatoes without a potato masher! So after I had cooked the potatoes, I bent one of the forks that we had in the kitchen and started to mash them up with a fork! haha Now there were 8 people that I was cooking for so I peeled like 16 potatoes so that there would be enough for everyone to get full and let me just tell you right now, I literally wanted to amputate my hand after I had finished it hurt so bad! haha I had a heartbeat in my hand for a solid hour and a half! The pain was so very real but the results were a success!!!! I mean I hate to brag, but let me just tell you right now that my potatoes were delicious!!!!!!! haha Our Thanksgiving was a total success (except for the deviled eggs....probably because of the name....just sayin’.) You will have to check out the video of how they turned out. 

But all of us ate our hearts out as everyone person should on Thanksgiving! :) It truly was delicious and even though I was not able to be with my family this Thanksgiving, it just made me all the more thankful for the wonderful family that I have back at home and all of the many things that they have given me throughout the years including love, patience, advice, laughter, support, and so many other things that I just do not have time enough to go on and explain! I CANNOT EXPRESS HOW MUCH I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!! I am so grateful to have a family that loves me so much and cares so much for my well-being! That unfortunately is pretty rare in the world now days, but I was lucky enough to get put in a family full of love and full of happiness! I will never be able to thank my Heavenly Father enough for that gift given to me! I am also so grateful to my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to come and serve here in Cambodia! Heavenly Father knew that it would be hard for me to leave behind such an amazing family for 2 years, so he continued to bless me by sending me to the best mission that this world has to offer!! I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have to come and serve the loving people of Cambodia! It truly is an honor to go out every day and share with these wonderful and humble people the beautiful message that we have to share with them! And that is that they have a Father in heaven that loves them and wants them to return back to Him! Some people here do not have the kind of family that I have. They have very hard lives and live under very hard circumstances, but I have the wonderful blessing of giving them knowledge of another father that they have! A Heavenly Father who loves them more then they could possibly comprehend! And He has mounds and mounds of blessings just waiting for them! That is what I get to do every day! How great is my life!!!

I am so thankful for all of the blessings that my Heavenly Father has given me! I do not always feel worthy to receive all of these gifts that He has sent out to me, but I am so thankful that He continues to love and bless me each and every day of my mission! This week has been a great week! It seems like the weeks keep going by faster and faster! I cannot believe it’s almost Christmas already!!! Time is almost going a little bit too fast! haha But next week we are going to have a baptism! It’s one of our investigators who is a middle-aged women and she is so awesome! I am so excited to be able to be here to watch her make these important covenants with her Heavenly Father and to be able to continue down the path that our Father in Heaven has prepared for all of us! Things are super good here in Siem Reap! I love my mission so much!! Thank you all for all of the love and support that you have given me! I really truly can feel the love from you all! It’s your prayers that help us missionaries go hard every single day! Without you all, we would not be able to be as effective! I love you all so very much and hope you had a great Thanksgiving! :) Start busting out some Christmas music and sing real loud for me!!! :)

Elder Steadman

This is Ming Mom... the lady who wanted the
phone number of Austin's boss :)

These next pics are of Austin and the other missionaries helping to build a house for a member. He said they called him "the elephant" because he could lift things that normally would take 3 Cambodians :) He said it was a lot of fun and he's pretty sure quite a bit easier than American home construction!