Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pioneer Day, Cambodian style

Hello everyone!!:) Well, this week went by especially fast for some reason!! I feel like I was just writing you all and now we are already to another Monday!! I hope you all had a good week!:) For me this week was really good! It was a good pick me up week!:) We were able to meet with lots of our members this week, which was really good! This week they also had a Pioneer Day celebration and that was super fun! They did that on Thursday and they invited the Elders to come as well so we got to go and help set up and stuff and then once we had set everything up, we watched a pioneer movie! I forgot what it was called, but it was just one of the old ones that our church has done in the past!! The members loved it so much, except they all kept asking me if that's how America still looks today! Haha it was kind of difficult to explain to them that America has changed a lot since then because Cambodia looks like what America looked like 200 years ago, but they are all just super excited that they got to see actual footage of America! Haha it was super cool! Then after that the young men and the young women did a dancing performance! They have been practicing it for a couple months now!! They did the square dance! Or at least tried to! Haha it was a square dance with a little Cambodian style mixed in as well! Haha it was so funny! All the guys were super embarrassed to be grabbing the young women's hands because that's just super weird to do here haha, but I was having a good laugh watching all of them!:) I tried uploading a video, but it would not upload so maybe I will try again in a week!!

Then the Relief Society made food for an entire army!! Like seriously… an army!! If you think Americans go hard when it comes to food, you have not seen anything yet!! It was seriously tables and tables full of straight food!! Haha and of course we had an insane amount of extras!! They tried to make my companion and I eat until we threw up! Haha they always say we have bigger stomachs than they do so we can eat 3 or 4 times more than them, but I have been here for like a year and a half now and I feel like I have the same stomach size as all of them (or maybe even smaller)! Ha but they still make me eat way more than they do!! Haha oh well, I am used to being insanely full!! Hey Mom, maybe when I come home and overeat on Sundays I won't be couch-ridden anymore!! ;) Haha anyway, the party was a lot of fun!

Then on Friday it was kind of a sad day! I got one of those phone calls that no missionary ever wants to get! I got a call from my group leader out in Brae Choe saying that one of the members over in that area had passed away. Her name was Ohm Nuan and she has been a member for a couple years, but lately she has been super sick and I guess on Friday she was in her house and she was taking some medicine, but when she took the pills they got stuck in her throat and her husband was not at home and by the time she ran to the neighbors house it was too late! My heart sunk when they called me! I left Kampong Cham as soon as I could and went over to my other area! We went and visited her husband and he seemed to be doing pretty good. Culture here in Cambodia is that when someone dies, the people who knew them the very best are supposed to stay as busy as possible getting food ready and setting up for the funeral for the next day! You feel kind of bad to see them running around super busy, especially after what has just happened to them, but then at the same time it's kind of a good idea because it keeps their minds from just dwelling on what has happened! So we went over and visited him on Friday and then he invited us to the funeral on Saturday morning. So the next morning we went to the funeral! It was super cool because when we got to the grave site they did some Buddhist prayer thing because all of her extended family and kids are Buddhist, but then after they had finished they invited us and all of the members that had come and attended as well to gather around her grave and we were able to say a prayer that she would be protected until the second coming and that she would learn in the spirit world and also be able to help others come to a knowledge of the gospel on the other side of the veil! It was really cool to see two different religions come together in one purpose! Both of us want her to find peace and happiness in the life after this one, but we just believe a little differently! Anyway, so that was a super cool experience!! It's crazy to think that everything that she was learning about this Gospel just became so real for her! I am happy for her that she was able to leave her very sick body and be able to move on to the next step! Please everybody keep her husband in your prayers this week as well! His name is Pu Yeng.

Anyway, I think that's all that I’ve got for you this week! I am so happy that I have the knowledge of this gospel!! To know that death has no sting! I know that one day we will all see each other again! We will be able to meet with all of our loved ones again in the kingdom of our Father! How lucky are we all to have that knowledge!! He has given us so much hope in this life and now it's our duty to go and share this wonderful message with other people who still don't know of the wonderful plan that our Heavenly Father has made for us! This week I encourage all of you to share with just one person about the Plan of Salvation! I testify to you all that as you do this you will be filled with the light of Christ and the person that you share that with will feel in their heart that what you are saying is true! Whether or not they accept your message is up to them, but our duty is to spread it to every person on the face of the earth! The missionaries cannot do that all by themselves!! All members need to be missionaries as well!! I know that as we share the gospel we come to find a love for all of God’s children and we ourselves will also be happier each and every day! There is not a happier and more important work on the face of this earth! I love you all so much and hope that you have a great week! You’re all in my prayers!

Much love!
Elder Steadman:)

P.S. from Mindy: Austin got word this week that he will be staying in Kampong Cham and Brae Choe for another transfer. I’m sure any prayers to sustain his energy to continue working in two areas would be much appreciated!

Monday, July 20, 2015

"Great week... with a little bit of heart wrenching"

Hello everybody!!:) I hope you all had a very great week!:) For those of you who do not know, this week is a very important week in the Steadman home because this week they are all celebrating the birthday of the best mother in the whole world!!:) Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to make it to this year’s party so I need all of YOUR help!! Please all of you take 2 minutes out of your busy schedules and give my amazing momma bear a phone call and tell her how much she is loved!! Or better yet, if you live close enough you can just run over to my house and give her a quick hug and a kiss and let her know that you’re giving it in place of me!:) I could not ask for a better mom in the whole world!! Happy birthday momma bear!! I love you so much!!:)

So my week was pretty good! I had one experience that I have not yet come across on my mission until this week, but I will tell you about that in a second! Before I tell you that, I will tell you some other things that happened this week!! So this week we were able to meet with a lot of our recent converts in both of our areas which was super good because last week we were not able to have a ton of lessons with President coming, as well as with having zone meeting! So this week we worked our butts off trying to meet with everyone! The only hard thing with that is that people can only really meet in the evenings so we are pretty free until like 3, but then from like 3-8 we have like 10 lessons planned! Haha and some of our lessons are quite a few miles away from each other so it's a lot of bike riding and a very sore គូទ (butt) haha, but it's worth it because I love all of my recent converts so much!!:) So that was one thing that was super good about this week!

Another cool thing that happened was that I got to give a talk! I did not find out I was giving it until Saturday evening when my branch president called me and asked me if I would speak! Haha of course I said yes though! He gave me the topic of speaking of pioneers and what they did! I thought that was kind of a cool calling considering that we celebrate all of that stuff over in America around this time of the year!! I didn't really know what exactly I wanted to share with all of the members about pioneers, but as I was preparing and praying to receive guidance I ended up preparing what I thought was a pretty good talk! Ha when Sunday came around I stood up and I gave a small little history lesson for the first like 5 minutes about what the pioneers did in America and how crucial they were in the progression and growth of this church! Then after that I related to them that they are the pioneers of Cambodia!! The church has only been in Cambodia for 20 years and so they are currently leading the way for future generations to be able to look back at the amazing examples that they were in order to help the church grow here in Cambodia!! I think the talk had everyone pumped up because all eyes were on me as I was talking, which might sound normal for a congregation in America, but here in Cambodia that is like unheard of!! Haha it was super cool! I felt like I was like a football coach or something, trying to pump up my players right before the big game!! At the end I committed them all to continue to be good examples and to ALWAYS share the gospel with others! Not just through their words, but also through their actions!! I think it's safe to say that actions speak louder than words so the importance of always being a good example is so huge because people are always looking at what we are doing! Especially here in Cambodia!! It's odd if you’re Christian and it's even more odd of you’re a Christian from America in a white shirt and a tie that rides on a bike all day! Haha people are ALWAYS watching! So we constantly have to remember whose name we have on our chest and always honor that name in every way!! I encouraged all of the members that they also wear the name of Jesus Christ! Before they were baptized they all promised that they would take upon them His name and always remember Him! That's our duty! Just because you don't have a black badge saying His name on it doesn't mean that you are not a representative of Him...ALL members are representatives!!

Anyway, the talk went super good I felt like! Then we went to go to church in our other area and when we got there our leader in that area I guess had forgotten to ask people to speak so when he stood up he told everyone that my companion and I would be speaking! Until he said it over the microphone I had no clue! I just laughed and smiled and nodded my head!! Haha I was fine with it to be honest! I had already prepared a talk!! :) I just felt super bad for my new comp! He was so nervous when they announced that he would be speaking as well!! Haha so I went first and spoke for 25 minutes or so, trying to give him enough time to scramble together a talk! Ha then he took the last 7 minutes or so! :) He did a super good job! He taught lesson 3 about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and totally nailed it!! He is a stud!! Anyway, Sunday was a super good day! Got to talk twice and pump up the members in both of my areas so that was fun!!:)

Ok, so now for the one thing that I was going to tell you that I told you earlier has never happened to me on my mission! So there is this member, her name is Ming Vee! She had been active until about 2 months ago, and then she stopped coming to church! My companion and I have been working with her to try to get her back coming to church! She actually came when president came to visit all of the members in Kampong Cham, so that was super cool, and then that Sunday she also came for an hour to take the sacrament and then she left! Long story short, she and the Branch President don't really get along for some reason! But anyway, on Tuesday we went over to her house and when we first got there everything seemed fine, but then as we sat down she just started stacking all of her church books right in front of me and telling me that she was no longer going to be a member and that she wanted me to take all of the books (Book of Mormon, Liahona, Ensign, Duty to God, personal notes and a whole bunch of other stuff… it was a stack probably 2 feet off the ground) and she wanted me to take all of them and she said if I didn't take them she would throw them out on the street! I tried talking to her and tried to calm her down a little bit and I was able to calm her down just a little, but she was still very adamant about me taking all of the books! I didn't know what to do so I was praying my heart out to try to receive some guidance and I just had the feeling that the best thing to do would be to take all of the books like she had asked me to, so I did, but I was so sad and down I could barley pedal my bike forward. After about a couple hundred yards away from her house, I could not pedal one more foot! I decided to give President Christensen a call and ask him if he thought I did the right thing or not! When I talked to him he said that it was the right thing to do, especially if she was saying she was just going to throw it all away! But he also said that she needed to be put at the top of my list for people to help and teach, and that I should love her as Jesus would and try to help her to come back into the fold! We met with her quite a few times this week and to be honest all of the lessons felt like they were not really going anywhere, but then on Friday she asked us to come over to her house to bless her son that was sick, so we felt like that was a super good sign because she still believes in the power of God that we have been given to use to bless and heal!! Anyway, the reason that I tell you that story is so that you all can keep her in your prayers. I think at one moment in all of our lives we have questioned whether or not the church is true! We may not have told anyone or even stopped going to church, but we have all had that thought cross our minds! I know for me it's been more than once that my faith has lacked and I did not know if everything that I believed in was true or if I really was some crazy brainwashed person like so many people will tell you that you are! But as you search through the words of God in the Book of Mormon and Bible and pray with all sincerity of heart and ask if all of this is true or not, God ALWAYS answers us! In our own special way and in His own special way He will answer our prayers!! It's part of our job to learn the way that our Heavenly Father communicates with us!

I know with all of my heart that this really is the Church of Jesus Christ and that there is no other church on the earth with the fullness of the gospel!! Right now in my mission it's my goal to be able to help Ming Vee realize that again! I would ask all of you as well to please keep her in your prayers, that she will soften her heart and regain her testimony in the truth of this gospel!! Because without this gospel we cannot find a replacement for the happiness that we will receive while living according to the gospel principles that God has set forth for us in His restored church on the earth!! Please keep her in your prayers this week!! For me, that's all that I have for you this week!! Overall it was a super great week with a little bit of heart wrenching, but that's pretty normal in this work!:) I love you all so very much and hope that you have a great week!! Don't forget to wish my sweet mom a happy birthday tomorrow!! Much loving coming your way from the Kingdom!!:)

អែលឌេីរ ស្តេតមិន
Elder Steadman :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The "work hard and play hard mentality"

Hello everybody!! This week was another great week!:) So last Monday on p-day we went on a giant search for a football!! Turns out that it is next to impossible to find a football here in Cambodia!! They don't even have a word for it! Haha we had to use the word for the actual sport of football and then add on “ball” at the end of it! Ha so we called it, “the ball of the sport where you hug people” (because that's what they call football haha) So anyway, we found this one lady and she did not have one, but she said that she might know someone in Phnom Penh who sells them so she called him and he actually had them! She got him to ship one down to Kampong Cham and 3 hours later we had a football!!:) It's not the best football out there, but it's a lot better that not having one at all!! We have been waking up every morning at 4:45 and going out and playing for like an hour… just throwing it around and running some routes!! It's been soooo much fun! Makes me feel so American!! Haha by like 5:30 when people actually come out of their houses, there are tons of people who stop their moto's and just sit and watch us play! Ha I think it's because they have never seen that sport being played so it kind of interests them I guess!:)

The rest of this week was super fun as well! On Friday we got to meet our new president!! He is seriously so awesome!! He walked in and at first it was just kinda weird because he was shorter than President Moon so it was kind of weird not having my president tower over me anymore! Haha but he is so awesome! When he was a kid he was a surfer bum in Hawaii, but then his parents moved him to Utah so he could, in his own words, "focus on the more important things in life!" He served a mission in Hong Kong for a year and a half and then 6 months before his mission ended, his mission president asked him to go to Vietnam to open up that mission! He told us that his mission president flew him out there and then was like, “Well, you’ve got 6 months… learn the language and share the message of Christ!” How sick is that?!! The coolest part is that he did it!! He and 3 other elders translated all the lessons and also translated the first 20 chapters of the Book of Mormon! He has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon because he saw the people there truly become converted to the Church just from those short 20 chapters in the first book of Nephi! I thought that was so cool! He is such an energetic guy! One of the coolest things that I noticed is that he and Sister Christensen are madly in love!! Haha it was super cute! They were seriously all over each other! I'm assuming they’re still getting used to the whole mission president thing and having to tone it down a little bit in front of us, but I thought it was so awesome! They tried calling each other President and Sister Christensen for like the first 5 minutes and then they were just like, "Oh this is way too hard," and just started calling each other by their first names hahaha:) It was super cute! I wanna be that in love with my wife after 30 years of marriage just like they are!! :) Overall they are so awesome and I cannot wait to be able to spend the next 7 or 8 months with them!!:)

Also, this week it was Elder Lauritzen's birthday!! So on Saturday we surprised him and went and bought some super good pizza and brought it home and we also bought his favorite chocolate milk and when they came home at the end of the night, we had a small little party for him!!:) It was lots of fun! And he was super appreciative!:) AND if that's not enough for you all, we also had a baptism this week! I know… this week was insane!! Bora was baptized this week! He was so excited! He should have been baptized quite a while ago, but because of work he has not able to come to church super consistently until these last three weeks. He has finally been able to come now so on the fourth week he was able to get baptized! I tried to get him to smile in the pictures, but for some reason Cambodians just hate smiling!! Haha I promise he was happy though!!:) I was very honored as well because he asked me if I would be the one who would baptize him! Of course I said yes!:) It was a great baptism and he is very excited to be able to receive the Holy Ghost this next week as well!!:)

So yeah, this week was pretty much jam-packed full of just super fun stuff!! I feel super lucky to be able to be out here serving at this time in my life! It's been so fun serving with my companion too! He is such a cool kid and we pretty much lived the same exact life before we came out on our missions so it's super nice to be able to have someone that you can relate to and also that you can help continue to progress forward and he can also help you to progress forward as well!! And having Elder Lauritzen and his companion in the house just makes it that much more fun! We are all about the "work hard and play hard" mentality in this house!!:) I love my mission right now! I love being able to help the members here grow, as well as the members in Brae Choe!!:) Well, for this week I think that's all that I’ve got for you guys!! I sure love you all! You are all in my prayers! Please continue to keep me in your prayers, as well as my investigators and the people that I teach! I promise you all that the prayers you are sending my way really are felt by me and by the people that I teach as well!! I hope you all have a great week!! :)

អែលឌេីរ ស្តេតមិន
Elder Steadman:)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oops... late post!

Sorry everybody! I left on vacation this week and forgot to post Austin's latest email home. Better late than never, right? Thanks so much for all your love, prayers and support for our missionary :)
Love, Mindy

Hello everyone!! I hope that everyone has had another very good week over in the good old USA!!! I had to laugh because for two years in a row now I completely forgot that it was the Fourth of July!! Haha where is my American pride!? Anyway, I hope that you all had a great Fourth of July and lit lots of things on fire!:) As for us over here, we celebrated our Fourth of July day by trying to spread the light of Christ to the wonderful people here in Cambodia!! :)

This week nothing special really happened… it was just one of those super busy weeks, but not really a whole lot of crazy things happened to us. Just full of missionary work!! Most of our investigators are progressing very well!! The guy that we met last week at that shack is super awesome! We taught him the second lesson this last week and he really loved it! We invited him to come to church and he said he might be able to… I guess he has to wait for this truck to bring in his shipment on Sunday mornings, but he said that if he got done with that in time that he would come. Unfortunately we did not see him at church this week, but we are hoping that maybe he will be able to change his schedule around a little bit so that he will have the opportunity next week to be able to come to church and partake of the sacrament! Then we also have an investigator who will be getting baptized next week! He is so awesome! He has been super busy with school, but has really tried to make time to meet with us right when he gets out of school and then after he meets with us he goes straight to work! We can really see his great efforts in following Christ! He also has been coming to church every week, so he is definitely ready to get baptized this next Sunday! So if you wouldn't mind, please keep him in your prayers that everything will go according to plan and that he will be able to get baptized next week! His name is Bora!

I also had the chance to be able to teach in second hour on Sunday this week! It was kind of a last minute thing! Haha I was just sitting in the class and then the teacher just never showed up so the adults in the class said that I had to teach it! Haha so I opened up the Gospel Principles book and the first thing that I opened to was fasting so I figured that was as good a thing as any to be able to share with them considering it was fast Sunday! I was surprised that in that class of like 15 adults, only like 3 or 4 of them had ever fasted! So I really stressed the importance of fasting and the blessings that come from it and also the opportunity that we all have to be able to help people who are worse off than us through our fast offerings! I felt pretty good about the lesson! At the end the whole class agreed to fasting next month so I will have to give them a reminder here in a few weeks so that they don't forget!:) Also, when we were at church we heard the sad news about President Packer passing away. As soon as I heard the news I was overwhelmed by the Spirit, just like how I was when I heard that President Perry had passed away. I know that he is in a better place and that he is now teaching the gospel to those who have not yet had the opportunity to accept this wonderful message! He truly was a great man and was not even the slightest bit afraid to stand up for what he knew what was right! No matter how difficult the topic he was given was, he was never afraid to stand up in General Conference in front of all of us and invite us to repent and become better people! He will be greatly missed, but I am so happy and full of hope knowing that we will all see each other again some day! What an amazing plan our Heavenly Father has set forth for all of us!

Well I'm sorry that it's short this week, but that's pretty much all that I have got for you all this week! I sure do love each and every one of you! Especially thank you to all of you who take the time out of your busy weeks to shoot me an email and let me know how you are doing! No one besides a missionary or a returned missionary will ever know how much an email from a loved one means to a missionary out serving!!:) So thank you all!!:) I love you and will talk to you all next week!!:)

Elder Steadman:)

Elder Medley... his new companion!

Pics from a scenic bike ride with the elders in Kampong Cham...