Saturday, October 31, 2015

Senior Couples Retreat

Today was the final activity of our Senior Couple Conference. We met at the mission home before being loaded onto Tuk Tuks and headed for the river front for a boat ride to Silk Island. Cambodia is famous for their silk, which are still produced by hand. It was amazing to see how silk is produced. They still do so much by hand her in Cambodia. One piece of equipment they used was created using a bicycle wheel. The natural color of the silk is yellow, then they use leaves, bark, berries, and other natural things to create their dies, which are boiled into the fibers. We saw the intricate weaving of  this delicate fabric. Banana and Anathoth trees were two mentioned that they use for some of the colors. The fruit on the Anathoth tree has a green she'll, but opens to expose bright red center. After the color is boiled into the thread, Allum is used to set the color.

Here is a list of the couple missionaries serving in the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission with their assigned focus:
*Elder and Sister Meinzer, LDS Charities, are serving in Cambodia . They make a 1,000 kilometer trip around the country a couple of times a month checking on their projects.
*Elder and Sister VanBrocklin, Public Affairs. They meet with government officials, as well as taking pictures and posting to social media. They are the ones who keep the history of the church in Cambodia.
*Elder and Sister Spencer, Member Leader Support (MLS), serve in Battambang. They do so much in looking out for members and missionaries out in the far North sections of the mission.
*Elder and Sister Leavitt, office missionaries. Elder Leavitt is the finance secretary. They are amazing at keeping the paperwork done for the mission.
*.Elder and Sister Hymas, LDS Charities in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. They have special projects they are working on. He grew up in Murray, in the same stake as Elder Oveson.
*Elder and Sister Hassell,  MLS in Hanoi, Vietnam. Elder Hassell is a Pathologist by profession, so he spends time every week doing training in the hospitals. Sister Hassell teaches English classes, and they teach Family Relations class in the community.
*Elder and Sister Noorda, LDS Charities in Hanoi, Vietnam. They have been out about 6 weeks on their third mission. They have spent the past few days in Phnom Penh waiting for visas. They return to Hanoi on Monday.
*President and Sister Christensen do so much for the members and missionaries in The Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission. President is over all the missionaries in Cambodia and in Vietnam, as well as being over all the Districts and Branches here. Sister Christensen is responsible for the medical needs of the missionaries. They hardly slow down. They probably wonder what it would be like to have a mission with Stakes and no districts.
*Elder and Sister Oveson - our assignment as Self Reliance and PEF missionaries keeps us busy and round out the needs for the members here.

We are so blessed to serve with these wonderful and talented missionaries. So happy we were called to serve in the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Learning Together With The Other Senior Missionaries

There are times in life when you sit in a meeting and look around and say, how do we get invited to be part of such a wonderful group of people.  That is exactly how it felt today as we gathered for a day long session of learning at the Cambodian Service Center with the other Senior Missionaries.

The agenda originally said that we would start at 8:00 a.m., but last night that was changed to 8:30 a.m.  It did not take long for them to say do not worry about the times on the agenda, we will get through what we need to, when we need to.  President Christensen gave us a state of the mission report, sharing baptisms this year compared to previous years.  The peak year for baptism was 2013, but the Church is really focused on retention.  We want to baptize those who are ready, that have faith, that understand repentance and that are willing to make and keep covenants.  There was a period in the past where people were baptized because of what the Church gave them, that day is far gone

We got to learn a little about each couple's current assignment and what they do during the day.  That was intended to be about ten to fifteen minutes per couple but turned into a lot more with questions and comments.  It was good to understand what our fellow Senior Couples are doing.

We went to a wonderful lunch at a near by restaurant that we just walked to.

A favorite part of the conference was reviewing some talks given at the recent Mission President Training by Elder Holland, Elder Oaks, Elder Anderson and Elder Nelson.  They spoke about retention and that one of the problems is that the investigators had fully understood repentance and the true change that it has to be.  This is very profound and important.

We finished the day with dinner at the Titanic Restaurant.  We usually end up with "take away" or leftovers, but we did not tonight.  Now we both feel like we ate to much.  No weight check for a few days or we are sure to be up right now.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Senior Missionary Couple Conference

There are nine Senior Missionary Couples, counting President & Sister Christensen, here in our mission.  This evening all nine couples gathered at the Mission Home for a wonderful Curry dinner and to get to know each other better.  There are three couples in Vietnam, we had met two of the three couples previously, and the Spencers up in Battambang, the rest of us are here in Phnom Penh.

As we arrived at the Mission Office/Home we met the third couple from Vietnam.  Elder Oveson immediately recognized the husband, Dan Hymas.  Dan's family grew up in Murray in the same stake that Elder Oveson's family lived in.  Dan was the same age as his older sister Carol and he knew his brother Bob as well.  We live in a small world that just keeps getting smaller.

Since today was another holiday here in Cambodia, the King's Coronation Day Celebration, we stayed home this morning, but that does not mean we did not do our work.  We had a Skype call with Elder and Sister Powell in Hong Kong and a phone call with Chad in Taiwan.

This afternoon we went and helped a little with a YSA activity out in Steung Mean Chey.  They were hoping for about three to four hundred YSA, but they did get a little over a hundred, which was good.  The most important part was they had fun.

Because we will be involved in the Senior Missionary Couple Conference activity on Saturday morning we FaceTimed and/or Skyped with some of our children this morning.  It is so fun to talk with them and make faces and just have fun.  We love them so much and appreciate the opportunity to see them.  This evening one of the sisters said that FaceTime was created so Grandma's could serve missions.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Paint and Peanut Butter & Nuttella for Lunch

We arrived this morning to a newly painted office and had to put the room back together. As Sameth came to help we told him it has been a few weeks since he practices his moving skills, so he helped us put the desks and tables back into place.

We had less  pressing emails and calls today, but still had a few with attorneys. We did, however, have another visitor show up at our office. Elder and Sister Meinzer had Patrick from the Asia Area LDS Charities office in Hong Kong. Patrick and the Meinzers wanted to talk about a LDS Charities project with chickens in the provinces. They would like to establish a stipulation that members can receive chickens (four hens and one rooster) to start a business, but only after competing a "Starting and Growing My Business" Self-Reliance course. We totally agreed. They think these people will do better in caring for a business if they have learned these principles, and they also want them to be for a Cash project, not just for family meals.

After the visitors left we had about ten minutes to eat an apple with Nuttella before an hour and a half  on line training with the Asia Area Self-Reliance team. We were pretty hunger when two o'clock rolled around and we hadn't eaten lunch yet. We again pulled out the Nuttella, along with a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and jam. (Yup! This is one of our regular lunches here in Cambodia!)

We have (you might have guessed) another holiday tomorrow! This is the King's Coronation Day or something. We will take the day off from the office, do a batch of laundry, go grocery shopping, go help with a YSA activity in Steung Mean Chey in the afternoon, then tomorrow night we get together with  all the senior missionaries for the beginning events of a three day Seniors conference. We think this is a great way to celebrate Halloween.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Painting Our Office And The Location Of Our Future Office

Over the eight months that we have been here in Cambodia we have seen a lot of remodel work on the Phnom Penh South Stake Center.  Today it was our office's turn for a fresh layer of paint.  We chose today because we knew that we had some meetings away.  We did go to our office and moved a lot of the little furnishings across the hall to make room for the painters.

We have been invited to attend the weekly devotional at the Service Center, so we decided today was a good day to go.  We did not know that Phanna would be conducting, they rotate through the managers of the various departments.  He did a good job.  After the meeting Samnang the Service Center Manager wanted to show us his idea of moving us to the Service Center.  In most countries the Self-Reliance Team is in the Service Center already.  They will need to do a little add-on and move one employee, but it will work.  The picture for the day is where they are going to enclose a balcony as part of our new offices for Self Reliance.

Samnang also had received some documents that the local attorneys needed to finish the filing for the Church, so we stopped there on our way back to our offices.  We actually were lucky and caught the attorney that we needed to talk to and had a brief conversation with him.  They will have the documents finished and ready to be signed tomorrow at 11:30.  Then they will file them with the government in the afternoon.  They want to get it done before Thursday, another holiday here in Cambodia.

Also, over the last eight months we have both been fairly healthy, there have been a few tummy aches, but that is to be expected in a completely new environment.  Well today Sister Oveson woke up with a sore throat and despite her best efforts it has settled into a cold.  We came home and worked from our apartment this afternoon so that she could kind of take it easy.

Monday, October 26, 2015

We Are Happy To Do All We Are Asked

We had been at the office almost a hour and were surprised no one else had come in. We knew Phanna had the day off, and Sophornn went out of town to do some training. Sameth finally came in at about 8:45 saying traffic was terrible. It had taken him almost two hours to get to work, then reached into his pocket and realized he had forgotten his office keys at home, and to top that off he didn't have a house key with him, so going home for a key would have been useless. We made room for him to share our office. He even tried calling Phanna, but received no answer. He was able to get one loan approved before Phanna peeked in through the door. Sameth was grateful.

Our emails started with an invitation to visit with Elder Funk of the Asia Area Presidency, along with his wife. It was scheduled for 2:00 this afternoon. We have been asked to help with another little project, and we just got pulled into the middle.

There are more visitors scheduled to come to Cambodia in two weeks, and we have been asked to help with planning and pulling together groups for meetings. Sister Cheryl Esplin, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, will be coming along with Sister Neill Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women's General Presidency, along with their husbands. Oh, and there will be a film crew joining them. Could we please help arrange for visits to members homes, specific groups for them to meet with for training, and the handouts and get the announcements out to the leaders to be announced the next two Sundays. We don't have to do this alone, but we have been asked to take the lead on this project.

This hour long Skype call with Elder and Sister Funk led to meeting with President Christensen and a couple of others, moving forward with more of the planning and delegating. As we finished with that meeting, Elder and Sister Leavitt invited us to join them for dinner. We accepted since it was dinner time, and by eating first the typical Khmer gridlock on the roads should be cleared up before we headed home.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The End Of A Very Un-normal Week

If there is such a thing as normal, this has not been a normal week in any way.  From a variety of visitors, to meetings, dealing with attorneys on several different issues, eating out more than eating at our apartment, floods, large Institute class and of course a holiday.  So of course today could not be a normal Sunday either.

The Phnom Penh South Stake, both wards that we attend are in that stake, decided to hold off showing General Conference until after Pchum Ben, in other words until today.  The Phnom Penh East District, that shares the Stake Center with them had their District Conference today.  So all of the South Stake went to Steung Mean Chey to watch General Conference.  Since we do not understand Cambodian and because we had already viewed it in English, we opted out of going to Steung Mean Chey.

Today we went to the International Branch for Sacrament Meeting, and then after a short time at home, we went to the Tuek La'ak Ward, where Sameth is the bishop, for their Sacrament Meeting.  So I guess going to two Sacrament Meetings is almost normal, just not the two we regularly attend.

We had a little extra time at the apartment this afternoon so Sister Oveson made some crustinies to go with our dinner this evening.  We do not have a regular oven so she had to use what we affectionately call our easy-bake-oven.  So that is our picture for today.

This evening we had to write our weekly letter to our mission leaders and home and get ready for another very unnormal week ahead of us.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday -- Institute and a Welcome Reprieve

This week has been so busy and power packed, we welcomed our Saturday reprieve in spite of an early start. That didn't come without adventure however.

We rose with our alarm at 5:00 a.m. and headed to the church before 6:30. As we went into the church wing where our office is we found a surprise ... most of the wing was flooded from a problem in the rest room. We were relieved to find the water had not gone into our office, but the classroom we use for Institute had about an inch. The guard who unlocked the door called the Physical Facilities Manager to report the problem. Then as we made the decision to move our class to the ground floor in the High Council room, he came to unlock that door and we discovered the water seeping down and flooding the classrooms below our office. We were grateful we were relocating into the other wing which was dry.

We were happy we didn't have to cancel, and our class soon arrived. We started with about six, then more and more arrived. We had our largest Institute class we have ever had with 28 participants. What a wonderful spirit accompanied our class today as we talked of our Savior's birth and baptism, and  how his life and mission relates to us.

As our class finished we went to our office to make Skype and FaceTime calls to family and found people starting to take care of the flooded mess. While we made our calls we could hear a shop-vac sucking up the water. They were finished before we were ready to leave and found the classroom carpet looked much cleaner than it has in months. We commented this was really not the most practical method of getting the carpets cleaned.

With all the visitors and meetings we have had recently it was a welcome reprieve to be able to go home to our apartment for the rest of the day and relax. It was nice to have nothing scheduled and nothing pressing for the day. Tomorrow should be a lighter schedule for a Sunday as most of the Stake will be viewing General Conference. We will attend Sacrament Meeting with the International Branch, then visit Sameth's ward for his Sacrament Meeting as well. Two sacrament meetings instead of two three-hour blocks of meetings sounds almost like a vacation.

Friday, October 23, 2015

We Love the Senior Missionaries Here In Our Mission

Next Friday and Saturday there will be a Senior Missionary Conference here in Phnom Penh for the whole mission.  You would think that we could wait to get together until then, but tonight we had six out of the nine couples, including President & Sister Christensen, go out to dinner together.  Elder & Sister Noorda that serve in Vietnam are here waiting for their visas, so it was great to include them in the group tonight.  We went to a restaurant called Magnolia that serves Vietnamese food.  We had a large Vietnamese pancake, similar to a thin and crispy crepe, stuffed with chicken, shrimp and mushrooms, and a separate dish of stir fried pork.  It was very good, but we ate way too much.

We realize that this will shock the regular readers of our blog, but today was a holiday here in Cambodia, to honor the signing of the Paris Peace Accord.  We have already had five holiday days this month and there is one more next week.  Six holiday days in one month is unbelievable.

Even though the Self Reliance office was closed for the holiday we went in to work on our Institute lesson.  We usually have it well planned by Friday, but not this week, it has just been too busy.  It took us two to three hours, but at least we now feel comfortable with what we need to teach.  While we were at the office Brother Touch Sophornn brought a Seminary and Institute visitor from Salt Lake to meet us, Brother Scott Wilde.  We had a great talk and learned that we have several mutual friends.

Since we had some time Sister Oveson wanted to adjust one of her tops, she has lost enough weight that it did
not hang right and she cut off her one pair of paints to capri length.  The Mission Office has a sewing mission that Sister Christensen told that she was welcome to use whenever she needs to.  It was time well spent and she is very pleased with the outcome.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What Every Missionary Loves To Get - Young and Old

A month ago our children sent a package, we needed a prescription filled and some other meds.  With the holiday last week, it took a little longer to get here than normal, so when we were told that it had arrived we had to make a visit to the Mission Office.  Of course it had the things that we had requested, but the fun and joy are those things that we had not expected.  Several years ago at this time of year we found a new treat that we really liked, pumpkin pie almonds. They are an almond with a thin coating that tastes like pumpkin pie.  We shared a few of our precious treats with Sister Leavitt and she said she just tasted Thanksgiving.

Over our months here Elder Oveson usually has found a little time each day to look at the local English newspaper and keep up with news on the internet.  Things have changed so dramatically that he does not even have time for that any more.

Today we had our weekly Skype call with Sister Powell, the Senior couple in Hong Kong.  Those are always a joy and last week they were included in the training of the Self Reliance Managers in Taiwan.  In Hong Kong there are quit a few Philippine women that go there as domestic workers to support their families back home.  The Powells have been working on a Self Reliance program to help them return and be with their families.  They are so excited about it.

This afternoon we had a conference call with Elder Powell and the other Asia area Self Reliance Senior Missionaries.  We were taught about working with our country managers and getting to know them a little bit better.  It is so good to have those opportunities to work and chat with the other missionaries and finding out how they are doing.

It would not have been a normal day if we did not have additional correspondence with several attorneys today.  We can see the end in sight and we may be through with both projects that we have been working on at the end of next week.  We will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Called to Serve" and Create Many Friendships

"Called to Serve" is why we are here in Cambodia, but the array of service we have been giving, and the group of wonderful people we serve with has proven to be incredible! Today was the conclusion of a visit from Self-Reliance and PEF leaders from HQ and Asia Area, and there has been so much we have learned during the past few days.

We had a FaceTime visit with Chris this morning, then before we were quite ready to walk out the door we received a call from Trent wondering if we would be willing to pick him up from the hotel as the other three had a Skype conference and he felt like his time would be better spent in our office getting some of his work done.

We had opportunity later this morning to have a meeting with the Cambodia PEF Committee, along with our four visitors. This committee includes President Christensen as the chairman, the Service Center Manager (Sea Samnang), the Financial Officer (Long Saret), the Self Reliance Manager (Yi Phanna), country PEF specialist (Meas Sameth), and the SR-PEF Senior Missionary couple (Elder and Sister Oveson). Since our visitors represent Self-Reliance and PEF in the Asia Area (Chad Furness and Marco Lok), and HQ in Salt Lake (Jared Sasser and Trent Jacobson), this meeting was scheduled in conjunction with their visit.

This PEF Committee meeting is the first to be held since we have been in the country, so it is the first since President Christensen has been here as well. With those here from HQ and Area we were trained as to our responsibilities with this committee as well as making some decisions. This committee is to make decisions regarding some of the PEF concerns in the country.

We said goodbye to Jared, Trent and Chad before our meeting concluded. After the meeting we went to lunch along with Marco, Sameth and Phanna, to the Khmer Surin Restaurant. This gave us one more chance to visit, and we were able to count this meeting as our Staff Meeting which we have missed for a couple of weeks.

Lunch out was followed a few hours later with dinner at Brooklyn with the Sister Training Leaders, Sisters Spangler and Uresk. Transfers are tomorrow and Sister Spangler is being transferred. We have become very close to these two sisters. As we left the church they didn't want the elders to see them, and really didn't want to have to answer where they were going. We had another great visit, and ate too much. We are not sure we will need much to eat tomorrow after eating out so much this week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We Are Always Amazed At What Is Next

Last night as we were getting ready to call it a day we received several emails from an attorney in Salt Lake City that we have been working with on a project.  There is an application that needs to be in to the Cambodian Government by the end of the month and she needed our help on the ground.  She was trying to set up a conference call with the Church's attorney in Hong Kong, but he was catching a plane early this morning.  With not knowing if there was going to be a call or not made last night's sleep way less than restful.

We got up about 5:45 a.m. to an email asking if Elder Oveson could join a conference call at 6:00.  He only had time to get dressed and get the laptop setup to join the conference.  After discussing a few issues we were asked to set an appointment and meet with the local attorneys.  All of a sudden Elder Oveson's questions increased dramatically, so that we felt prepared.  The call lasted about 45 minutes.  Even with the extra call we made it to the office before 8:00.

At the office we printed the material that we needed for the appointment at 1:30 and then went to the Service Center for an Area Training video conference.  With Marco and Trent here in Cambodia the conference originated from here this month.  We definitely learned some things that we did not know before.  There is so much to learn, we doubt that we will ever know everything that we need to, because of that we are sure glad that Sameth is here to do the work.

The appointment at the attorneys went very well and the needed documents are well on their way to being prepared, at least in English, and then they have to be translated into Cambodian.  Our picture tonight is the sign at the attorneys office.

This evening we attended a devotional that Jared Sasser from headquarters presented.  Even though it rained there were still over 70 members that came.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Self-Reliance and PEF Team Visits

We love having visitors to Cambodia. Our visitors this week are Trent and Jared from HQ in Salt Lake,  Chad from Taiwan, and Marco from Hong Kong. Everyone converged on our office first thing this morning, then about 9:00 we divided for visits. Chad, Jared and Phanna went to visit Self Reliance participants, while Tent, Marco, Sameth went with us to visit an auto mechanic school and some PEF participants. It was great to see this school and to feel that this is a good option for students. There are several PEF students already enrolled, and we walked through the school with one of them. Trent had a lot of good questions for those who run the school, and we felt they had good answers.

As we left the school we made our way to Steung Mean Chey to meet up with one of the members who took a course to become a motorcycle mechanic and now runs his own shop. We followed him to his shop, which happened to be just down from a missionary apartment we recently visited and inspected. This was another great visit! His 15 year old son helps with the shop. The member also participated in the South Stake Self Reliance group that completed just a few weeks ago.  Trent asked him if the Self Reliance course, Starting and Growing My Business, had helped him with running his little shop. He stated that he is able to feed his family better quality food now than he could before. He learned to keep records and to truly understand how money worked for his business. It was great to see that is is making a difference in Cambodia.

The entire team had plans to meet at Brooklyn Pizza and Bistro for lunch, but Elder Oveson was asked to be to a meeting with Elder Funk of the Asia Area Presidency at 12:30. That meant he dropped the rest to Brooklyn and placed a request for his lunch. Sister Oveson, Trent, Marco and Sameth waited a while for the others, and finally ordered and started eating without them. They finally talked on the phone and placed their orders because they were on their way. Well, Phanna was driving and traffic was CRAZY today, so their food was waiting for about 15 minutes before they finally arrived. Lunch done, Phanna's group headed out for more visits and Sister Oveson hailed a Tuk Tuk for the rest of the group to return to the office.

Did we mention traffic was crazy today? All those people who have been gone to the Kaits for holiday were back in the city and creating quite the traffic issues today. Trent took out his phone to record the grid-lock where everyone pushes forward to take every inch and not allow others to move out of the way. Again, if people would just follow a few simple courteous moments the mess would clear up much quicker. The Tuk Tuk was able to skirt the area much quicker than a car would have done, $2 for four people was great fare!

The afternoon was spent with Elder Oveson participating in another meeting along with Elder Funk and others; Sameth, Marco and Trent reviewing more PEF materials for the country, and Sister Oveson taking care of a few little things in the office.  There will be more team meetings tomorrow!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Transfers and Taking Our Visitors To Church

Every six weeks there are transfers here in Cambodia, and this coming week is when they happen next.  The transfer calls go out tonight and the official transfers happen on Thursday.  There are several that have been in the Wards that we attend a lot longer than normal, so there is a good chance that today was the last Sunday that we will have them translate for us.  Elder Jarvis has been in Steung Mean Chey 3rd Ward for six months, Elder Neuberger has been an Assistant to the President for five months and helps us in the Chaktomuk Ward, along with Sister Spangler who has been a Sister Training Leader for three months now.  We will have to wait like everybody else to see what happens.  Yesterday when we dropped by the Mission Office we got a picture of President Christensen with his Assistants and Sister Training Leaders discussing the transfers.

Our visitors Trent and Marco went with us to the Chaktomuk Ward this morning.  There was actually a fairly good turn our for their Ward today and Elders Cook and Rom had seven investigators to Church today.  We offered for Marco and Trent to go to Steung Mean Chey 3rd with us, but after eating lunch with us they decided to go back to their hotel.  Trent said that it is hard to only get about half of the Sacrament Meeting, which makes it hard to sit through two of them.  We figure that is why they assigned us two Wards, by attending two it equals a full Sacrament Meeting.

This coming week feels like it will be a busy one, with our Self-Reliance Service and Perpetual Education Fund visitors and other meetings already on the horizon.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Choeung Ek -- The Killing Fields

Today was not a normal routine for Saturday, although we did get up early to teach our wonderful Institute class (We had 19 students there today), followed by Skype and FaceTime calls with most of our family. From that point on everything took a different course than we have taken in the past.

Today we had two visitors arrive at our office about 9:00 this morning: Trent Jacobson from Salt Lake and Marco Lok from Hong Kong. Both are from the PEF team and will be visiting Cambodia until next Wednesday. After visiting with Trent, Marco and Sameth for a few minutes we were on our way to get Elder Oveson's hair cut, and a quick stop at the mission home. Our normal Saturday shopping was done yesterday because we expected these visitors.

After our quick errands, we returned to the office to meet up with the team for lunch at Mama's and a trip to Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields). A few months ago we told of visiting Tuol Sleng Museum where many people were held and tortured during the Khmer Rouge Regime. This was a very dark part of the Cambodian history. Choeung Ek was where the prisoners were taken from Tuol Sleng and were executed. The history of the Killing Fields is not a pretty tale, but it is more peaceful. This is more of a resting place of so many. No one is sure how many were killed and buried there, but the Stupa (shrine building) has about 9,000 skulls plus other bones and artifacts that have been collected in memory of so many who lost their lives. The grave sites continue to have bones, teeth, and other fragments surface each year, additional evidence of those buried there.

After walking these grounds and hearing the stories through headphones, we discussed how much of the purpose behind the regime came down to destroying the family. They were trying to build an agrarian society but the family had no place there. The war on the family continues today. We need to look at what we are facing in todays world and make sure we don't allow this dark part of history repeat itself.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Little About Cambodia And The Church Here

Since it was a slow day we will share a little about Cambodia.  We have not been every where, but we have been to the most populated areas and have learned a thing or two.  The population of Cambodia is a little over fifteen million, of which two million live in the Phnom Penh City area.  The Church has two stakes and two districts here in the city, there are eleven Wards and nine Branches.  Between 60% and 70% of the missionaries are stationed in the Phnom Penh area, but that is right in line with the percentage of Church units also.  Depending on what source you look at, either Siem Reap or Battambang is the second largest city.  Battambang area is a District with three Branches and a group (smaller than a Branch).  Siem Reap has is a District with two Branches.  There is also a District in Kampong Cham with three Branches, they are building a new beautiful District/Branch Building.  There is also a Branch in Kampong Thom which is between Kampong Cham and Siem Reap.  Our picture today are views of Phnom Penh from the roof of our apartment building.

The official country holidays may be over, but our office was still very quiet today.  Phanna should be on his way back from Taiwan, arriving home this evening.  Sameth took a vacation day today.  Sophorn was in his office but we did not see him very much and Kuntheavy was not there, so it must have been a vacation day for her too.  We did go to the office at 8:00 this morning and we even left our door open in case somebody came looking for Sameth or Phanna.  The only one that we saw was Vuth from the Chaktomuk bishopric, but he was there to see Sophorn.  We did ask if he is coming tomorrow, he has been attending our Institute Class, and he said yes.

We answered some emails and did some of our usual reports for the Perpetual Education Fund.  Then we finished preparing our lesson for tomorrow and setup the class room.  We did our daily reading, we are almost done with The Book of Mormon again.  We also did a little cleaning, just to do our part and show that we are doing our best to keep our area tidy.

By about 1:45 we were out of things to do an we needed to go grocery shopping. Tomorrow we will have visitors from the Asia Area and headquarters so we are not sure what our day will be like.  We decided to stay at our apartment this afternoon and do some of the stuff that we usually do on Sunday, like our weekly report letter.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dinner Appointment with President and Sister Christensen

We took one more holiday day today and got a few things done at home before venturing out this afternoon. We were able to get two batches of laundry done this morning, and we even cooked Sunday dinner and have it in the fridge ready for the weekend. We have found it is a good idea to cook Sunday's meal beforehand since Sunday tends to have a more crazy schedule. This week we may have visitors come for dinner as well, so we are prepared!

This afternoon we ventured out to find a different hair salon for Sister Oveson. Her last haircut was not as precise as she likes and this French shop came highly recommended from several of the senior sisters. We missed the shop on the first pass, but found it on the turn around. This shop is a bit more expensive, but they were very attentive to details.  We will have to see how her hair turns out tomorrow!

We can tell the holiday is about over as we see the roads full of traffic again. Shops and restaurants are slowly opening again, but there are still many closed for another day or two. Of course the ones that are closed are the businesses we intended to visit! Go figure.

We spent a couple of hours in our office this afternoon preparing for our Saturday institute class. It was till a holiday there, apparently, as the gate was closed and we had to have the guard let us into the building.

Tonight we arranged to go to dinner with President and Sister Christensen. We headed toward the mission home to meet them and faced very heavy traffic. Yep, traffic is back to overload. The cafe where we were planning to eat dinner was closed, but we found a good second option. We enjoyed the visit and good food at Sunrise Taco.

Our photo collage today is another group of odd things we see here. The little car is actually a Hundai "AtoZ".  We are not sure how many passenger are in the van (bus), but enough that they had to leave the back open. The moto taking a Tuk Tuk ride is amusing.  We have no idear what the red pole is, but there are always strange moto loads out there. Oh, and the little bags on the other moto are food items, and maybe even their beverage. No need to pay for entertainment, we just have to go for a ride and look around!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

We Love Working With the Young Missionaries

Phnom Penh is slowly getting back to its normal crazy traffic.  This morning we went to Steung Mean Chey to meet with some Elder about a project President Christensen assigned us to help with.  We definitely did not have the road to ourselves, but it was not the forty minute drive that often happens in the morning rush hour traffic.  Tomorrow is the Commemoration of the King's Father's Day, which is an official holiday, so it will be interesting to see what the traffic is like then.

The largest industry in Cambodia is garment manufacturing for large brand name companies.  There are more than 700,000 garment workers here.  Each year the companies, unions and government meet to decided on a new minimum wage.  For 2015 it is $128 per month.  The companies wanted no increase at all, but conceded they could accept a 3 3/4% increase.  The unions wanted it to go up to $208 per month.  And the government wanted the other two to come up with a number that was acceptable, which they never did.  The government finally said that the new wage should be $135 and then the Prime Minister stepped in and raised it to $140, there are elections next year.  The average worker is expected to work 45 hours per week, so that is about 190 hours per month, so the new wage is still less than a dollar per hour.

With yesterday being officially declared as a cleaning day, District Meeting was postponed until today.  We attended the meeting for those that serve in the Phnom Penh South Stake for the wards that meet at the Stake Center.  They had a great meeting today talking about what they had learned from General Conference and challenging each other to use it in their missionary work this week.  The words of the living prophets and apostles always carry a great power.

Our picture tonight is a collage of our recent interactions with the young missionaries, it is such a joy to serve with them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pchum Ben: Ancestors Day

We have mentioned before that there are 27 paid holidays in Cambodia. This week is one of the biggest. This week the city of Phnom Penh is very quiet, and most businesses are closed and shuttered with large gates drawn closed around them. Most of the people have returned to their home provinces in celebration of Pchum Ben or Ancestors Day.

We did a little research to learn about this holiday and found that this is unique to Cambodia. According to their tradition there is one day a year that the gates of hell are opened, allowing ancestors up to seven generations back to come closer to the living. In order to help their deceased family everyone goes to the Watt to take food for their ancestors. Some of the write-ups said they may even toss rice balls in the air for the ghosts of their family to be able to receive nourishment from those living.

As we see it, it seems a cross between Halloween and Memorial Day, with everyone remembering those who have gone on before, but giving treats to the ghosts. Our benefit has been how quiet the city is and how few cars and motos are on the roads. We may have the week off, but we have still been busy and seem to have things schedule that will take us to the office almost every day.

Today was also the follow-up inspection day for missionary apartments. We picked up packages of Pepperidge Farm cookies to deliver as rewards since we really don't have an oven to be able to bake treats. All four apartments were in much better shape than two weeks ago. We even learned of a transfer we were not aware of for one of the companionships. All seemed genuinely please with how much better the clean homes felt. Now we just pray they will keep them clean!

With having cleaned for two days, President and Sister Christensen arranged for a celebration for all the missionaries in the city. All those assigned to areas in and around Phnom Penh gathered to the South Stake Center for a movie (Joseph Smith and the Restoration), and ice cream and cookies for dessert. It is always good to have a celebration. This was also good to have a celebration for the Khmer missionaries during their country's holiday.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The First Day of Pchum Ben

Back home in the U.S. they have learned to put many of the holidays on Monday so that they can have a three day holiday.  Here in Cambodia they don't worry about the holiday being on a Monday to turn it into a three day holiday, they just make their holidays three days long.  Then if by chance any of those days fall on a Sunday they extend the holiday to Monday.

That is what is happening to us here in Cambodia this week.  Pchum Ben is the Ancestor Holiday, we will explain about it in tomorrow's post, Sister Oveson's turn.  The three day holiday started yesterday on the calendar, but today for days off of work.  Not only do they have the three day holiday for Pchum Ben, but on Thursday it is Commemoration Day of King's Father.  With four days as paid holidays a lot of workers took the whole week off.

This morning we had to go to the Mission Office to pick up our office key that we had loaned President Christensen.  There was only one other time that we experienced as light of traffic as we did today, Khmer New Years, another three day holiday.  There are several different routes that we can take to go to the Mission Office, but one takes us through a round about which is always scary.  Today it was very easy to even negotiate through there.  The pictures of the streets in our collage are usually bumper to bumper, but not today.

We went into the office today, even though nobody else was there to reply to some emails from headquarters, Hong Kong and Taiwan, it is not a holiday in those cities.  As we went we knew that we had six emails that came in over the weekend, when we got there, we found six more and before we were finished there were a lot more.  We expected to spend an hour but ended up staying almost three hours.  That was fine with us, it gave us something to work on today.

This afternoon was spent reading the scriptures, working on our lesson for Saturday and more emails.  We enjoyed the holiday, but we also enjoyed having something to do.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

We Gather to Hear The Word of God

As we went to church this morning we had heard that Chaktomuk Ward and the wards in the South Stake were still having regular church even though the East District was planning on watching General Conference. We planned on attending Sacrament Meeting then slipping out to join the other missionaries for conference. We were not alone in this understanding, as we gathered with about 20 members, but no bishopric or Ward leaders. In counseling with the other missionaries it was decided to hold a short sacrament meeting anyway.

General Conference was inspiring and a great renewal of the spirit. We may have been delayed a week to sit and gather and hear counsel given by so many inspired leaders, but the effect is no less powerful, gathering in a church around the world in Cambodia. We still marvel at how the theme from one talk often flows into the message of the next. Being able to hear the messages has given more understanding to the memes we have seen posted during the past week.

We appreciated the message from President Thomas S. Monson, "As we follow the example of the Savior, ours will be the opportunity to be a light in the lives of others", is not just for those of us who wear a black name badge. We need to look for "opportunities to shine ... each day, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. As we follow the example of the Savior, ours will be the opportunity to be a light in the lives of others."

So many other messages will be put into use here. Several of them fit into the Self-Reliance category, all of them will strengthen us and help us become better if we put into practice the principles we were taught. And Elder Bednar's concluding address was a wonderful tribute to so many who have received their "transfer" to the other side of the veil.

At the end of day we took just a few moments to watch as the sun set on another glorious day.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

General Conference In Cambodia

We have mentioned the International Branch previously, at General Conference we watch the downloaded sessions with them in English.  Today instead of sitting in front of the Sisters that serve in Chaktomuk, we were behind them, so we asked if we needed to translate for them today.

What a blessing to watch conference with our fellow saints and missionaries, there is a strength in hearing the words of the living apostles and leaders of the Church with others faithful members.  There were about thirty missionaries and ten local members there today.  The first session was supposed to have started at 9:00 a.m. but the Elders that had the DVDs did not get there until about 9:15.  That was okay, we got to see the session and it was truly worth the little wait.

The International Branch had a lunch after that session that we were invited to attend.  They had BBQ pork sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables, and most important brownies and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  We also went and got our grocery shopping done before the afternoon session.

We did start off our day teaching our Institute class, but since it is a holiday weekend we only had eight there.  That was alright with us we would teach the class if only one showed up.  After conference we saw three of the Young Adult sisters that are usually at the class and asked why they did not come.  They all had various reasons, but also thought that we would have cancelled the class today.  We assured them that we would have the class again next Saturday.

Friday, October 9, 2015

South Zone Training and The End of Another Week

This morning was Zone Training Meetings in Steung Mean Chey, and we enjoy being with the young Elders and Sisters receiving instruction from the Zone Leaders. We are amazed at the power they show forth in their teaching and in their discussions. The training focused on "Work Hard and Work Smart". They were taught to be a "PRO" - P-Pray, R-Read, O-Obey. These are such basic answers, but they are the foundation for our work.  They asked for ideas of how to work smart and it turned into a list of five "P" words. Productive, Prayer, etc (we don't remember all the list.)

Two of the sisters taught about being unified as companions and led the group in a game to see how well they knew their companion. Yep, Elder and Sister Oveson got all of them, but we were disqualified for the prize. That was okay. We were just happy to be there and participate.

After zone meeting we gave buckets to the Elders for the two apartments we are mentoring in Steung Mean Chey. We offered to either distribute them at the church or deliver them to the apartments. Both groups opted to take the buckets of cleaners with them. You would have thought it was Christmas, they were that excited. We asked if they had started cleaning, and they answered that they had. One of them commented on how good it felt to have some of the heavy cleaning already done. It seems President and Christensen's message is taking root in at least some of the missionaries!

Back at the office, Sameth had some PEF loans to review and Phanna is getting ready to go out of town next week. There is a Self Reliance Managers Training in Taiwan next week, then Friday night a few Self-Reliance and PEF lead people will come to Cambodia. We will have Jared and Trent visit from Salt Lake, Marco from Hong Kong, and Chad from Taiwan. We could have a few crazy days when they all converge on Phnom Penh.

This coming week is a major holiday in Cambodia, so Phanna is wondering when he will get his holiday days off since he will be working through the entire week.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Little Miracles That We Need Every Day

We have posted several times wondering if everything is becoming common place and not out of the ordinary for us now.  At times even little miracles come so subtly that we fail to see what a true miracle that they are in our lives.

Today we continued to be blessed by little miracles that aid the gospel through out the world, that the world does not recognize as miracles, computers and the internet.  This morning we Skyped with Sister Powell and Sister Roberts in Hong Kong, this afternoon we were part of a video conference that included Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and of course Cambodia, this afternoon we received translated documents that were quickly passed with a few clicks to the attorneys.  Even twenty years ago most of these activities would have taken a completely different communication method and would not have been as efficient.

The world looks at computers and the internet as something that was created for them, but they are the beneficiaries of the miracles of heaven.  Without the internet the worldwide Church could not hear the words of the prophets and apostles, and other leaders almost instantaneously.  This weekend they will see General Conference here in Cambodia, and hear it in their own language.  Computers also are a great aid in the translation of so much of the Church publications and manuals.

Another great miracle is that of transportation.  It took us twenty-five hours or so to fly to Cambodia, but that is way better than driving from Utah to California and then getting on a boat for a long crossing of the ocean.  We also appreciate that we have a car here and are able to get about quicker than if we had to walk.  We have seen the missionaries get to places faster on their bikes than we can in the car, like from our  office to the mission office.

We are grateful for all of the little miracles that we over look, including electricity, running water, food that we can buy instead of grow, and so many others.  We are truly blessed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Church Buildings In Cambodia

With all the materials we have been assembling for one of our projects we have learned a lot about the LDS church buildings in Cambodia. We thought we might share some of that information.

The Phnom Penh South Stake Center (which is really in the East District) is the oldest of the church owned buildings and is about 11 years old. This building is also the largest square foot because it has an extra wing, which is where our office is.  The North Stake building is second oldest, which is about 7 years old. There is a building in Steung Mean Chey which is also about 7 years old. The Steung Mean Chey property is the largest of all the lots, allowing for potential expansion. The church owned buildings look very much like the chapels you might find anywhere around the world. There are not as many classrooms here, however, as we have in Utah.

There are a few other buildings in Phnom Penh which the church has leased that are older than these buildings. These are mostly villas and large houses being used as meetinghouses. There are also some newer buildings around the country. We have seen the chapels in Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Ta Khmao. There are two rented buildings in Kampong Cham that will be replaced hopefully about the end of the year with a beautiful new building. Each of these have a secure gate for protection.

The buildings are a representation of the growing church here in Southeast Asia. The church has been in Cambodia for just over 21 years, and has two stakes and five districts. They are hopeful that one of the districts will soon become an additional stake. There are other areas that members have moved to that really need groups or branches because the distance and lack of transportation makes attending church meetings almost impossible.

All this has brought a greater understanding of how blessed we have been, having so many church members close together. Blessed to have chapels close enough, and good sidewalks, which makes walking to church no problem. Or just being able to get in the car for a short ride to church. We were so blessed to be surrounded by so many temples, again close enough to walk. We were blessed to be surrounded by so much that it took us traveling around the world to see how many big blessings we had seen as just one more little thing in our lives.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Trust Gained and Retained

Today was one of those days where we felt that we were busy all day, but it is also hard to know what to share on our blog.  It was one of those days where nothing spectacular happened, but a lot of good things were continuing.

One of the most important things we have gained and retained is trust.  We have to trust those we work with, since we have to rely on them in so many ways, especially since we are in a foreign land where we do not speak the language.  We also hope that they have to trust us in many ways that together we can all make a difference.

That trust was very important, in our major project for today.  We had promised the attorneys that we would get back to them with the additional information that they had requested.  Most of what needed to be done was to put the information that we had previously collected into the format that the government wanted.  Since this is going to the Cambodian government it has to be translated into Cambodian or Khmer.  Phanna was a real trooper and got everything back to us that he was working on.  There was one more document that the Service Center was helping us with that we are not sure where they are on it, we could not get ahold of the right person to ask.  We sent over what we had, hoping that they can get all of that reviewed and moving forward.

We took a trip to the Mission Home to pick up buckets of cleaning supplies to take to the missionaries that we are working with on cleaning their apartments.  We took one of the buckets to the sisters that we are assigned to, we are sure that they will get their apartment in great shape.  We still need to get with the elders in Steung Mean Chey, but we will see them on Friday at the Zone Training Meeting.

Cambodia has a lot of interesting fruit that we periodically get brave enough to try.  This week Sister Oveson decided to try the star fruit, it has a citrus taste, but is also a little bitter.  It was interesting but will not be on our weekly shopping list.  We are so grateful for the apples that we are able to get here, they are such a treat.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Children of Cambodia

As we thought about what to write for our post today we thought of the reports we have been working on, which are not very interesting to tell about. We have talked about the crazy traffic and the rain. We have mentioned more than once about the missionaries here.

One of the subjects we have not talked much about is the children. As we look around this is a very young society. 65-70% of the population in Cambodia is under the age of 30. You really don't have to look far to see the beautiful children. Most of them have a very simple life. They are taught at a young age to give the Sampeah and bow, showing respect to others.

Because the main form of transportation is by moto, you see families pile on together. It is sometimes hard to see the tiny children standing between people, or just holding on behind. We often see as many as five or six riding on one moto.

One thing we will never get used to is the beggars, most often young children. The five year olds who bring an infant with them into traffic to knock on car windows and ask for money. It's no wonder the very young children are not afraid of traffic. They were out in the streets from the time they were born.

As we look at these little ones we see the future of the nation. We hope and pray that they will have the wisdom to make the changes that will give greater hope for the next generation.

Even amidst the poverty we look into the eyes of the children and see a bright future. Among those in our pictures are some who call us "Look Taa and Look Yiay" (Grandpa and Grandma). They are happy to see Elder and Sister and run to greet us when they do. Their smiles for us are priceless! If for no other reason, we are happy to be in Cambodia for the children!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Three New Apostles

Last night we stayed up until 11:00 p.m. to watch the first session of General Conference to see if they would announce three new Apostles.  Even though the new apostles were not announced we did listen to President Uchtdorf's talk before going to bed.  We set our alarm for 3:00 a.m. to watch the first part of the afternoon session.  We along with so many other members were thrilled to hear whom the Lord had selected, and it felt like missing a little sleep was well worth the joy.

Over the last few weeks we have been asked multiple times by members and young missionaries who we thought would be called.  Of course we had no idea, but we definitely had our favorites and Elder Ronald A. Rasband was on that list.  Elder Rasband invited Elder Oveson to his office for training with two other Stake Presidents shortly after his call twelve years ago.  We also have a special place in our hearts for Elder Dale G. Renland. He was one of the visiting authorities when Elder Oveson was called as Stake President and he came the next Stake Conference after that with Elder Robert D. Hales.  We have not met Elder Gary E. Stephenson, but are excited about his call as well.

It seemed like the numbers were down in the Chaktomuk Ward today.  There were several of the recent converts that were missing today.  In Sunday School today they announced a Gospel Principle Class and half of the group went to it.  There was a baptism today in the Chaktomuk Ward, the sister that we took to the Mission Home on Thursday, was baptized by Elder Cook.  It was a wonderful baptism, but it took three times to keep her feet from floating up and having to do it again.

We made it to the Steung Mean Chey 3rd Ward also, and the numbers attending were definitely down in their ward also.  We are not sure where those who normally attend were today.  We taught the Gospel Doctrine Class today, Elder Jarvis translated for us.  Many of the members are so new that Gospel Doctrine goes right over their head, but we hope that they got something out of our lesson.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

House Warming and Dedicating a New Home

Today was the beginning of our new Institute class. We always wonder how things will be as we change to a new course of study. We were pleased to have 19 in our class today. These lessons are exciting and we look forward to learning as well as teaching more about Christ.

Our friends, Sameth and Thida moved into their new home a few weeks ago in an area we have heard dubbed "Mormon Acres". There are more than 10 member families who have bought homes in this new Khmer neighborhood. We received a special invitation from Sameth earlier this week to attend a housewarming party and to dedicate their home. He was excited that we accepted the invitation. He helped us create a map so we would make sure to find our way.

Today as we arrived at his home we immediately received a warm greeting from many of the neighborhood children, all of whom we have met at church. They quite excitedly called "Elder and Sister!"

We saw Sameth's home in July when it was still under construction, so it was more exciting to see it completed. This is a simple townhouse with a great room and kitchen on the ground floor, and two bedrooms on the first floor. One nice thing with these homes is the ability to add on by going up.

We were also invited to participate in a traditional Khmer meal. We enjoyed the soup and noodles, and the Ginger Dumplings for dessert were delicious. We tasted the curry and fish soups as well. It is exciting to see so many good friends come together. We had previously met or already knew most of the guests. Having been in Cambodia for seven months really has blessed us with lots of friends.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thank You For Reading Our Blog

When we originally decided to do a daily blog we figured that it would be a good way to do a journal of our mission, if nothing else.  We figured that our children and some in their family may follow it, but that was it.

Our first full month in Cambodia, we had over 1,000 page views, over 30 a day and we were shocked.  The next month went down a little and we figured that the novelty of our blog was beginning to wear off, but then it zoomed up the next month to more than 40 page views a day.  Our fourth month here the page views were almost 50 per day and the fifth month they were over 50 per day.  Then came the sixth month with a little dip back below 50, but in the seventh month our page views dropped below 40 per day.  This month we had 32 page views yesterday and only 4 so far today, we will see what the full month brings.

We are so thrilled by how many have viewed our blog and those who continue to follow our blog, it has made posting every day so much easier.  We had some friends that started a blog for their mission, but by about the sixth month their posts kind of petered out.  We wondered if everything got too common for them or for those who had followed their blog.


Now on to today.  We got an email from the attorneys that we have been working with asking for more information, and for the information already provided to be put on official government forms.  Since we are anxious to get this done and into the government queue we hurried and jumped right into it this morning.  Phanna and Samnang are lifesavers, most of what we have left is in Cambodian, so it is way above what we can do.  We also finished our Institute lesson planning for tomorrow morning and the Sunday School lesson for the Steung Mean Chey 3rd Ward.  Not very exciting to others, but we love it.

Our pictures for today is the moon over Phnom Penh, believe it or not there were no clouds, so we could see it, and another one of those means of transportation that you would never see in the U.S.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Are you busy?"

Today was an "Are you busy?" Day. When we were checking our email as we got to the office there was a message from Sister Spencer in Battambang. She has been puzzling over a question that we have been trying to figure out how to handle as well. So we scheduled a Skype call later in the morning. That really turned out good. Elder and Sister Spencer don't get to join with many of the senior get-togethers, so it was nice to see them. It is wonderful to be able to talk things over and come up with more solutions.

We needed to pick up a few supplies for the office and run a couple of errands after lunch. Traffic is always busy in this city. We stopped in at the mission home as one of our stops, so we had a brief visit with President and Sister Christensen. They just came back from Zone Conference tour in the Kaits, and will leave again soon for Zone Conferences in Vietnam. They are trying to get things done in the few minutes they have between travel. So, they're busy.

After returning to our office we spent the afternoon busily preparing for our upcoming lessons we need to teach this weekend. We were almost ready to go home when Elder Cook knocked at our door, "Are you busy?" One of their investigators was scheduled for a baptism interview with President Christensen at his office, but her moto broke down. We assured him we were not too busy to take this sister to the mission home.

As we travel the streets of Phnom Penh, even when they are busy, it is always interesting what we might see. Rush hour happens here, just like back home (but even worse). Wrong way drivers are common in the traffic that has sprawled across more lanes than are marked (they actually only use the lane markings as a suggested spacing, but traffic rarely stays in the lines.)  Traffic was busy enough we could see some of the events on the sede, like the group burning their trash in a basket on the sidewalk.

We were grateful to get home where we could have an evening where we were not quite so busy.